This Blog Has Moved!

This Blog Has Moved!
This Blog Has Moved to a more stable environment. Click the graphic above.

Friday, March 5, 2010

It's Friday and I'm going to be quite busy this weekend, so I'm posting my article today.

BORN INTO “SUCKERHOOD”

by Allen C. Dexter


Everybody loves a baby. They are so cute (most of them), sweet and helpless. They are also born without a clue as to the intricacy and insanity of the world they are entering. They are “sitting ducks” for whatever is shot their way. Yes, those innocents will get older and start a rebellious phase when they enter their teens, but there are still a lot of spurious concepts and beliefs they will usually find difficult to avoid absorbing or to shake off later in life.

I know. I've been there.

When I was born, that chilly October day in 1934, I was a totally blank slate. The change of surroundings and the chill in the air probably helped make me cry lustily. I was hungry, so my mother's soft, warm, milk filled breast was about the best welcome I could have received. Being cuddled close while my tummy filled was very comforting. We never outgrow this desire and need to be hugged lovingly.

Because I was born in the upper Midwest in an agrarian and traditionally Christian society (part of the Bible Belt), my upbringing was predictable. Those who didn't attend a church, like my family, still gave credence to the fables of the Bible. My mother played the piano a little, and her favorite hymn was The Old Rugged Cross. If anyone had told her she was really singing about Mithra, not some manufactured Jewish Jesus, she would have had no idea what they were talking about. I, in turn, just absorbed what I had been born into like all innocent little human sponges do.

It's the same all over the world. If you are born into Hindu India, you grow up believing in all the Hindu deities and think a cow is holy. The very thought of eating a t-bone steak would horrify you. You probably would believe you dare not squash a bug for fear it might be a reincarnated loved one.

If you were to be born into a Muslim society, you couldn't imagine not flopping prostrate several times a day, at the command of “the midnight Haranguer,” with your head pointing in the direction of Mecca. Not to do so would leave a great empty spot in your day and you would feel very guilty. Your speech would be peppered with a constant round of Allah this and Allah that – almost like cussing in other parts of the world.

The recorder starts whirling away in our minds from minute number one. By the time we reach adulthood, our minds are filled with beliefs, practices and concepts we find very hard to either question or expunge. It's like ripping a piece of ourselves off and throwing it away. Every connection to those things and people we have known and loved is at stake.

Everything we cling to as ethics, conscience and tradition comes to us first as absorption from the family unit and the society around us. Japanese warriors had no pangs of conscience for the horrors they committed under their traditional samurai code in China and throughout the Pacific war. They had contempt for any opposing warrior who was so cowardly as to surrender rather than die in place or by their own hand. I knew a survivor of the Bataan Death March. Those Japanese soldiers were monsters. Their culture had made them so. Muslim suicide bombers feel no guilt either, and for the same reason.

Rabid fundamentalist Christians see nothing unfair or immoral in ruthlessly persecuting homosexuals. They can point to plenty of scriptures they use to justify treating them as the scum of the earth. A few would still support the enslavement of other human beings because the Bible upholds the practice in several places. They are absolutely convinced that God wrote the Bible. Ask them. They'll tell you so, and your protestations to the contrary will fall on deaf ears.

The battle to overcome ingrained orthodoxy and cultural norms and get people to really think and reason often seems like a losing proposition, even here in comparatively enlightened America. The propaganda emanating from every societal and media source is so overwhelming that progress is painfully slow. Every book, article or online source of reason and truth is drowned out by a flood of the same old blather that has kept humanity in superstitious bondage for millenniums. It's even harder in parts of the world where any and every attempt at promoting reason is met with overwhelming establishment censorship and brutal force.

A question that constantly plagued my mind when I began to see the light and cast off old ways of thinking was, “How could I have been so dumb?” It was hard to understand how I missed all those cues. Cues that would now stand out like the proverbial sore thumb.

I knew where babies came from rather early in life. How could I be taken in by that virgin birth nonsense? When I learned while still at Ambassador College that the oldest New Testament documents couldn't be traced back beyond the fourth century, an elapsed period greater than the entire history of the USA, why didn't I realize how lacking in authority and made up they had to be? Especially, in light of the nonsensical drivel some of those forced by Constantine to attend the Nicene Counsel put forth in some of their other writings.

I had been brainwashed, like all humans are to one degree or another. Hooking up with super-narcissistic Herbert W. Armstrong just put the cap on what had been going on since the day I was born. It wasn't deliberate on the part of my parents and the many good people I grew up around. However, it was very deliberate on the part of a lot of people, both in and out of WCG, who stood to profit from my brainwashed ignorance.

Back in about 1975 or '76, when the upheavals in Worldwide were just beginning, I had occasion to talk for a while with an old student friend who was now a ranking minister in WCG. Regarding all the turmoil, he said what put his mind at ease was the fact that none of it was his responsibility. He salved his conscience, for the time being anyway, by leaving all the questions in the hands of those he regarded as being responsible.

He later bolted into one of the major splinters and rose rather high in their ranks before retiring. I think he still occupies some position of status. He never did see through all the nonsense, or so I prefer to believe. His mind was (I hope) too thoroughly set in the habitual pattern and the nonsensical doctrines programed into him.

I'm thankful circumstances made it a lot easier for me to see through it all, and I'm still in the process. I often wonder what I might have done under vastly different circumstances. Would I, like many, have compromised and become just another hypocritical hireling? I hope not.

I have hope that reason and science will win out in the end, but that end looks very far off when I take a long, hard look at the world as it is. The world seems to be at the mercy (?) of not only religious, but economic, corporatist and political hirelings who care for naught but their own and their masters' welfare.

I pick up a newspaper or magazine, and there is a stupid horoscope feature leaping out at me. Christmas or Easter comes along, and the same old mythological, totally fabricated out of ignorance pap floods radio and TV and all other available media.

I have a step-daughter who is into the nonsense of numerology. Shades of Gerald Waterhouse!

I see Muslim fanatics who would consider it a great honor and an immediate ticket to paradise if they could find a way to blow up an infidel like me and themselves at the same time. They are breeding like back alley cats and spreading everywhere they can. That gives me serious concern about the future of the world.

No “god” has ever stepped forward thus far to stop any of the madness, murder and mayhem extant in the world. Roman legions, Genghis Khan, Attila, the Japanese warlords, Hitler, Stalin, and a nauseous litany of other human monsters have come and gone through the millenniums and no legions of angels ever rode to the rescue of hapless humanity. No archangel Michael or Gabriel ever set his foot on a Worldwide stage and told Herbie, Hoeh or Meredith (or any other blowhard) to shut the hell up.

The purveyors of religious nonsense have always found a way to claim that any fortunate happenstance was attributable to the god or gods they championed, but demonstrable proof he or they were anywhere in the vicinity has always been absent. They were also right there to assert that every disaster was the fault of the average Joe or Judy Blow who didn't contribute, fast or pray enough or do enough priestly ass-kissing.

So, don't blame yourself or think of yourself as “dumb.”

You were set up! You were bamboozled! Just like all those who came before you.

We've come some of the way toward a truly reasonable and sane world, but the battle is far from over. As long as “creation science” can be lobbied for as a reasonable educational adjunct, we're a long way from “there.” As long as fanatical parents “home school” their children to keep them from the “ungodly” public educational system, ignorance will continue to warp far too many innocent children whose minds will be poisoned with superstitious crap for much, if not all, of their lives.

Whatever progress has been made has been at the behest of good, intelligent, principled men and women willing to expend their blood, sweat and tears for the betterment of themselves and their neighbors.

Be encouraged that you now see things a lot more clearly and keep up the good fight. It can seem like a lonely and hopeless quest, but it always has been. At least we now know that the world is not flat nor the center of the universe. We don't, here in America anyway, stone people to death for moral weaknesses and mistakes. However, I did read that some religious nuts wanted to stone the killer whale that killed its handler!

Oy vay! Ay, yi, yi! Give me a break!

Hellooooo! It's a KILLER whale! That's how your “God” supposedly made him! Why don't you try to stone him? Oh, that's right. Nobody has ever seen the mythical guy. You have no clue where to find him, even to ask him why he made the old boy so blood thirsty and non-discriminating in his prey.

Hang in there. The fight really is worth it and there has been a little progress.

66 comments:

Anon said...

Good posting.

I remember reading that 5 out of 6 people have the same basic religious beliefs as their parents. Makes the god you believe in much less of a choice than many think.

I'm glad to be one of the 1 in 6 that breaks away from their parent's religion, christianity / wcg in my case.

Realizing that I'm not a sinner and being free of the guilt that is encompassed in the basic tenants of christianty has taken a huge weight off my shoulders.

Life is much better realizing I was born right the first time. No need for gnashing of teeth and repenting over my "sins".

Instead I can spend my time being productive, encouraging others, having fun and working on self improvement based on sound reason, not superstitious belief.

anonSeven21

Ralph said...

Allen, I believe your conclusions are sou nd, and are the necessqary and logical result of any person who struggles for truth.

That's basically an evolutionary process, and as Richard Dawkins pointed out, most likely the result of "selfish genes" that seek to replicate themselves as exactly as possible in each generation.

Unfortunately, Dawkins also extended the same definition of that which he calls the meme, and the meme produces precisely the evil results you describe above.

But what you have accomplished over time, and the awareness you achieve was actually predicted biblically, and results in teachings coming from the New testament, which I have already quoted.

Any attempt by any person to understand truth will, if pursued with devoltion, result in a "calling out" a "separation" a break from collective systems, creating an increaswe of options that ultimately contribute to freedom.

The fact that Constantine created a hodgpodge idea of Jesus from a patchwork of Krishna, Mithra, Zoroaster, and other fictional religious entities, points inevitabley to one necessary conclusion: given time and freedom, people will challenge the power streuctures that seek to control them.

The hodgepodge and patchwork created by Constantine was largely the result of the "democratizing" of ideologies that resulted from the basics of Greek Science and philosophy, Roman law, and Jewish monotheism.

It is not accidcental in this regard that Rome was first a republic with the right of the accused to face the accuser, already taught in jewish law(Isaiah 50:8) and the presumption of innocence(isaiah 54:17), but was a world power that had of necessity accomodated a host of other cultures that each presented their own concepts of collective government.

The assumption that there is no God to come down and deliver us from the evils of the world seems to include the default assumption(by some, not necessarily you) that that if there is no God, then men themselves should create the authority that can rescue other men from the evils that God failed to achieve.

But it must be concluded, in agreement with your essay, that if there was no God to rescue us, if it was our own misconceptions that failed to save us, then the deploymnet of government to that end will have no greater effect in the "salvation" of man from himself.

The abandonment of the collectivist authority of "God" does not lead automatically to any collectivist substitute concept.

If the collectivist "God" did not rescue us, and if there exists no conscience to tell us right from wrong, then it falls to each individual to "work out his own salvation".

Corky said...

No matter how much someone points to their "God" and what "their" God has to say - it's really they who are talking, their God seems to be silent as well as invisible.

From where did they get their talking points? From a god? No. From a book, from books written by men and compiled and edited by other men - men who are long dead.

The meme that this book is from a god and is therefore true, is merely passed from parents to children.

Originally, it was something that was forced on people. Believe it or die. Constantine did that and so did Mohammad.

When a religion becomes a state religion - the meme is not far behind and that's where we are today.

Once a religion loses the force of the state behind it, it begins to die, as Christianity has begun to do. That's why the fundies are raising so much hell and trying to make Christianity the American state religion. It's because they are losing power.

The Muslim religion still has the state backing it up with Sharia Law and such and it will not begin to die until that state force is removed from the religion.

Freedom, equal rights and democracy destroys religion, that's why they hate it so much. Oh, they don't hate it for themselves, they just hate it for everyone else - especially minorities.

Allen C. Dexter said...

wCorky, I couldn't have said it better. I'm glad to see some really good feedback. Appreciated the comments of Anon and ralph also.

Ralph said...

Corky, I agree with you, provided that the book actually says it is possible to organize in God's name.

However, if we accept Dawkins' conclusions that the gene begets the meme, along with Hoffer's statement in "The True Believer" regarding proselytizing, then what we actually see is that "human nature" merely seeks justification for the extension of collective power, which is effectively renounced by Ayn Rand.

However, the foundational statements that cause problems within the New Testament are precisely those scriptures that force individuals to constantly re-interpret their ideas of "God's truth".

Several factors occur here.

First, there is the process of human thought, based on recursison in mathematics. For example, if you look at some of the cosmological conclusions today, you see Many Worlds Theory, where Schroedinger's wave function doesn't actually collappse, but splits into yet another universe like our own, split every time we make a decision to do one thing instead of another. Each universe carries the parallel "me" that still belongs to a WCG that never broke up, or died, or whatever, but with each decision we make, we supposedly create a new mathematically parallel universe that proceeds to infinity.

And then there's the new inflation theory, that leads us to the conclusion that we not only exist in an infinite universe, but that we exist in an infinity of infinite universes, in which everything that can happen has already happened or is now happening.

The point is, it is within the nature of our brains, however we seek to define truth in any form, in any formal sense, we splinter and speciate into a near infinity of separated but related forms.

Reincarnation is also a manifestation of this tendency in our brains. If we can't pinpoint a perfect truth in this life, why not constant reincarnations into new lives until perfection?

And from that we now have the Mandelbrot Set in fractals, in which we discover the principle of recursion, a single shape manifesting itself over and over again into infinity.

The human brain cannot help but think in these recursive patterns to extend itself, like sitting in a room where there is a mirror on the wall infront of us, and a mirror behind us. If we look into that reflection, we see a kind of tunnel of reflected images going on forever.

Because our minds work this way, any perceived truth will seek to extend itself by proselytizing, but that process will also splinter and speciate just like the mathematical systems above.

Any pursuit of formal truth, in any discipline whatever that seeks to understand truth in an absolute sense, will of necessity splinter into an infinity of related ideas of truth.

But that is the logical result of Romans 8:7 as well, and it is why Matthew 10:34-38 says the seeking of "Christ" will result in continual division and breakup. It is merely the manifestation of a predictable mathematical truth.

Does that mean there is no God, or does it indicate that we are proceeding, almost as if we are part of some cosmic mathematical computer program, toward complex intelligence?

It could mean anything at all, but even that conclusion is part of the paradigm I describe above.

Byker Bob said...

Atheism or agnosticism are stimulating to ponder on a purely intellectual basis. Frankly, godless thinking can be of great therapeutic benefit in helping one recover from spiritual rape. Unfortunately, at some point or another, it stops working. And, at that point, either a person's heart will soften up, or become even harder.

Many, many respected historians, believe in the historicity of Jesus Christ, although there are also some alternative theories invoking mythology. When Dr. James Tabor's book "The Jesus Dynasty" was published, since he is a former WCG member, and now a university professor, the book made quite a splash in our little WCG expatriate community. Clearly, you cannot measure an individual's intelligence based on his or her belief, or the lack thereof.

One thing became very apparent, even to me during my agnostic years. You won't find anyone who will categorically state that Jesus' teachings are bad for humanity, or harmful. In many cases, He gets categorized with Ghandi, or some of the others that the New Agers call the "Ascended Masters." What people do object to is the fact that some claim to have been given spiritual authority with which to use and abuse those who do believe. But, that's man-made. And, guess what? You get to say no to it, as well as to the many ways in which people attempt to impose their particular doctrinal approach on you. Transformation of the heart does not cause robotism!

Personal relationship, people. It's the only thing that gets past all of the garbage of corporate church entities! It's very healing, too.

BB

Anonymous said...

Al,

Home schooling I might add creates a child of more intellect that a public school taught child.

Yes the fundies create little monsters out of junior, but those non-religious parents who do so create a child with a better grasp on history, mathematics and command of language. The reason being is the time spent is one on one. Not all of them are nuts.

Allen C. Dexter said...

Anon,I can see that home schooling can be better in some instances, but I think in most cases it isn't, due to lack of skill and adequate time on the part of the educator. I was thinking of a specific couple of cases when I wrote that part of the article where religious fanaticism was definitely the motivator.

Ralph said...

Statistically the home schooled stack up quite well with the public schooled overall.

I've never been a fan of public or state controlled school systems, even though I did go through college and did quite well.

I quit college the first time, when I got into an argument with my biology teacher over viruses back in 1980. I pointed out to him that viruses act as information systems to organisms and provide rapid means of adjusting to the environment.

I further told him that viruses are most likely the driving force in evolution. He failed me for my arrogance.

I learned my lesson, returned to college, questioned nothing, spit back the information I was given like any well programmed computer, and remained on the Dean's List my time in college.

I remember the dean asking me if I was proud to have maintained my high grades, and I told him not really. Any good android could do pretty much the same thing.

I was far more proud of my "failure" back in 1980. That very conclusion is part of a new branch of science called epigenetics.

Retired Prof said...

Allow me to broaden the perspective on home schooling even though it is a peripheral subject to Allen's post.

Religious fundamentalism is not the only reason for home schooling. My wife and I are unbelievers, and we home schooled (as many people do) entirely for the pedagogical advantages: pacing governed by the child's own talents and interests (within limits), not the lockstep of the school day/week/semester/year; increased amount of one-on-one instruction; and reduction in the amount of unproductive time such as standing in line and doing Mickey-Mouse projects.

Conscientious parents who recognize their own limitations will know when to hire tutors. We did, even though my wife and I are both college-educated and had the part-time assistance of two grandmothers who were former elementary teachers. When we realized we had taken the kids as far as we could, we enrolled them in school. Our local high school had very few courses our daughter could profit from, so she finished up her high school requirements with college credits. We found a nearby high school for our son with good Advanced Placement courses. Both kids got into good colleges: Rice University and Macalester College.

I understand misgivings about fundamentalist home schoolers and share them. Just wanted to assure everyone here they are not the only kind.

Allen C. Dexter said...

Thanks, retired Prof. I appreciate your very solid points and the very authoritative background behind them. You've helped me see the subject from a much broader and more balanced perspective.

Allen C. Dexter said...

Ralph, I don't mean to leave you out. Your comment was also very good and balanced. his is what the old saying about iron sharpening iron is really all about.

PT Reader said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
The Third Witness said...

“It's the same all over the world. If you are born into Hindu India, you grow up believing in all the Hindu deities and think a cow is holy.”

Isn’t it ironic that HWA used this as one of his strongest arguments for getting people to question why they believe what they believe? Richard Dawkins makes exactly the same point, and, of course, it is a valid point. In fact, this must be one of the few points that all of us can actually agree on. The hard bit is what happens after that realisation. And, as Ralph has been trying to tell us, it is here that, sooner or later, division seems to be inevitable. Whether you agree or disagree that any human attempt to understand “God” will lead to differences of opinion, either way you have just proved him right! Holy cow! Maybe that’s something else we can all agree on!

The Painful Truth said...

PT Reader, your comment has been deleted for violating the X-HWA Civil Rights.



X-HWA Civil Rights: A class of rights and freedoms that protects individuals from unwarranted action by an individual(s) and ensures their ability to participate in a civil discourse without discrimination or repression from others for being of different race or opinion.

Ralph said...

Let me apologize if I created false impressions regarding my statment about epigenetics. I didn't mean to imply that I invented epigenetics. Obviously that would be an outright lie.

However, when we began studying viruses, I began to realize that it was viruses that actually did serve to inform our bodies and allow us a process of adaptation. The stages are pretty basic:
1.the virus informs the body
2.The body begins a process of purging(vomiting, diarrhea, sneezing, etc
3.The body idnetifies the invader, labels it, and neutralizes it so it can cause no more damage.

However, it occured to me that this can have beneficial advantages, which I pointed ut to my professor.
1.By causing the body to purge, all useless toxins are cleansed, allowing the body to "focus" on the threat at hand
2.Once the virus has been identified, it actually enlarges the body's "database' of defenses, so that the same virus cannot harm the body again.

The purging process, however, spreads through other bodies within the same or related species, multiplying a kind of adaptive effect.

Since viruses were considered an evil to be destroyed at that time, my professor doubted that I was correct. Since then, a number of researchers have discovered this to be the case, to a great extent, and as Purplehymnal wrote in one response, much of the DNA within our own bodies comes from former viruses.

This of ocurse is slightly off subject, but it was something I realized many years ago, and yes, if it seems like bragging that I came up with that idea on my own, call it bragging. I think everybody has a right to brag if they come up with something that actually works!

After all, we can all brag that we finally got through that confusing religious crap and are now exploring freedom!

Ralph said...

Third Witness, it seems you realize where I'm coming from.

Regarding atheism and agnosticism, it occurred to me that we can claim atheism up to a certain point.

If you asked me, "Do you think there is any religious organization, anywhere in the world, of any religion whatever, that truly represents God?"

I would answer with mathematical certainty that no such organizations exist. In that regard, I would be an atheist, but my atheism would not be based on belief. It would be based on certain knowledge coming from two separate sources: Godel's theorem, and Romans 8:29-30.

Since Godel's theorem has proven mathematically that we cannot represent either truth or God in any absolute, complete, consistent sense, we can say with certainty(absolute?) that no, there exists no human organization anywhere on this earth that truthfully represents God, if God is consistent with all truth.

Romans 8:29-30 is fully consistent with this statement, since it cancels any possibility of ahy person organizing "God's church" by their own decisions.

In that sense, it is quite possible to believe the bible, as far as it can be proven, and claim atheism!

As to the various myths and fables that people make up to represent God, that can be summed up in Romans 8:7. Since the natural mind cannot be subject to God, the logical result will always be a near infinite amount of unprovable ideas about God.

As a result of that, we can state, in regard to any human idea about God, that atheism is the correct position to take.

However, if we take it further than that, we are assuming something that Godel's theorem says cannot be proven. This refutes logical positivism, which says, basically, "if we can't know it, it doesn't exist".

That may also be considered a variation on the Copenhagen interpretation in quantum physics.

We can measure the position or the velocity of an electron, but not both. The positivist conclusion is that it doesn't exist if it can't be measured.

Einstein rejected that conclusion in regard to reality, as did Godel, who was a member of the famed "Vienna Circle", where logical positivism was taught.

As to any form of organized religion, we can safely and securely profess atheism. Beyond that, we simply cannot know.

Byker Bob said...

Many of the early problems surrounding the home schooling issue have been dealt with. There are standardized tests which have been created, loose associations to assist parents, and even get togethers and activities for home schooled children to help out in terms of social development and skills.

Home schooling remains, however, a huge task and fervent commitment to consistency.

One of the experiences some who grew up in WCG, however, could apply to some of the home schooled.
The cloistering effect, the excessive control, and then the rebellion which causes the freshly liberated to often run amuck could certainly come into play. But, I'd have to guess that whether or not this happens would be largely a function of the parent's reason behind the decision to home school in the first place.

BB

Corky said...

Hey Bob,

Why don't parents get together, build a schoolhouse and just hire some competent teachers and have regular school?

Oh yeah, I forgot. We used to have that in communities all across the country but for some reason people thought state run would be better. Then for some other stupid reason, people thought that consolidation would be even better.

Then came busing, intergration and no child left behind etc. Along with all that came guns and knives and violent crime in schools.

How about a return to my first paragraph?

Ralph said...

Corky, that's outstanding! I'm in full agreement there. I was reading a book on the comments of Madison, and it seems the founders never intended such control over schools in the first place.

I'll look it up if anyone's interested. Personally, I'd rather have free competition among the school systems with community control, even if many are the fundamentalists, for the very simple reason that there will be opportunity to look at things from all angles.

With the government and religion fighting over who's gonna own your soul, free competition of ideas in the marketplace of ideas sounds a lot better.

Allen C. Dexter said...

Now, this is getting to be the kind of discussion I love -- no abrasiveness or bad temper -- just outstanding thoughts exchanged in a spirit of good will. I congratulate all of you on some well thought out posts.

Jezzebels last husband said...

We don't, here in America anyway, stone people to death for moral weaknesses and mistakes.


I think it should still apply to children and cheating ex-wives.

Ralph said...

"Jezzebel's", you sound like someone who has definitely gone through some pain.

Tocqueville pointed out in "Democracy In America" that while democracy doesn't kill the infidel any more, it does tend to isolate that offender. It says that the offender is free to go his way, but if he ever tries to become a larger part of his culture, if he tries to find a place for himself, he will generally fail. The democracy, said Tocqueville, will tell him to go his way in freedom, but that freedom and isolation can often be a fate worse than death.

As to stoning, while it was a bit extreme, all offenses were to be proven by the testimony of two witnesses(Deut 17:6), and ancient Talmudic law said the defendant could not be held guilty as a result of his/her confession.

Especially death penalties demanded proof not only of at least two witnesses, but it was also determined that the offense, if possible, should be warned against, so the offender would be certain to recognize the penalty.

A "witness' in that sense required two basic functions. Not only were you responsible for telling what happened, but also responsible for warning in advance of what was to happen, which is probably how some of the "christian" ideas of "witnessing for Christ" evolved.

Of course, what most of the "witnessers" now ignore is that they aren't to entertain vengeance, or an "eye for an eye".

DennisDiehl said...

A couple of weeks ago I was asked to "debate' a former ministerial collegue from my WCG days on the problems or lack thereof with the Bible. It was held in Tyler, Texas in a COG Hall. We covered whether Genesis 1-11 were literally true (they aren't) and the Apostle Paul's really being the founder of Gentile a and Hellenized Christianity not Jesus. (He was).

We also covered why Paul never quotes Jesus, tells us any teachings when it would be to his advantage, recounts any miracles or repeats a parable. The reason is that Paul never met a human Jesus and his Jesus was hallucinatory. Of course, that was rebutted as false. (It is not)

The best quote from the Oxford Scholar was that "the fossil record shows NO evidence of evolution." Oi...that's all I can say...

While my former collegue (Art Mokarrow) brought his "Oxford" trained scholar with him, it was a lesson to me that no matter one's education etc, their bottom line beliefs can be tainted by an unwillingness to clearly see that the Bible has inherent problems in it's transmission and is forced by Western thought to mean what it never meant to mean.

For an "Oxford" trained Hebrew Scholar to find the story of Adam and Eve to be literally true is appalling. But having soaked in the Bible for decades in the WCG way, I understand why it is difficult to utter the words, "It's mythology and not literally true." Of course none of my WCG education knew anything about the mythological aspects of Genesis nor it's origins in borrowing from even older creation and flood tales.

The problem seems to be that to deny the literalism of the Bible is to run out of reasons for the need to have everything from our Original Sin to abhorrent desperately wicked selves atoned for.

No Adam and Eve, no control over women who sinned "and not the man."

No Adam and Eve, and no reason demand atonement by execution.

No Adam and Eve and women CAN speak in the church.

No Adam and Eve and we might have to admit men indeed DID come from women so women can too speak and ask questions in church.

No Adam and Eve and women might be allowed to be more than petri dishes for childbirth, not considered as mere property to men and perhaps even a kinder more gentle form of religion honoring the feminine principles so undermined in the Bible.

The fact is, there was no literal Adam and Eve and it is frightening to fundamentalists. DNA testing will prove just as frightening to the literalism in the Book of Mormon. Someday I promise they will have to switch it from literally true to "spiritually true" somehow. Ron Weinland does this when he flubs up a lot too.

As a kid I always wondered why God had to use a book filled with confusing and violent stories and teachings. Why not just show up, be nice, have nice classes with all the host of Heaven obviously there to help and prove himself (herself?) Too easy I guess. We have to have all this chaos and ten thousand ways of reading and enforcing God's truth on humanity so we can be truly miserable.

Oh I forgot, there would be no money in it for the priestcraft if there was no book to bash people with, should a real God just show up for seminars on this and that with a nice lunch for all mankind in between...

The deception and literalism of Adam and Eve runs deep. All the Bible figures obviously believed it, including whoever Jesus really was. That does not necessarily prove it is true.

I wonder what the answer would have been if one could have asked Jesus just whose bones are those deep in the caves of Carmel? They were Neanderthal...

Purple Hymnal said...

"But having soaked in the Bible for decades in the WCG way, I understand why it is difficult to utter the words, "'It's mythology and not literally true.'"

Funny, but that approach was actually what allowed me to open the Bible again, without that sickly feeling of dread and terror. Taking the mythological approach is the one and only gateway I've found back into the ancient texts, both canonical, and non-canonical.

Ralph said...

Of course it is necessary to accep the teachings of the bible as mythology. But that is what Paul pretty much told us in his teachings. Did he begin a hellenized christianity? No, he couldn;t have, simply because of Romans 8:7, 8:29-30, and 9:16-22, which cancels any possibility of the "saved by freewill choice" that christianity teaches.

In fact, by teaching of the impossibility of such choices, paul made it possible for us to simply reject ANY authority that came "preachig Christ", whether church or state.

Did Paul establish a church authority that demeaned women? Again, he could not have, since there is no way for anybody to establish church authority when God himself has already decided who "his" children are.

On the other hand, suppose that Romans 8:29-30 is false. Then we have the same result. There is no way anybody can claim authority as God's representatives to demean women.

In either case, the so-called christian church never had such authority, nor could it have. We merely rebel against the false authority of men.

DennisDiehl said...

"Did Paul establish a church authority that demeaned women? Again, he could not have, since there is no way for anybody to establish church authority when God himself has already decided who "his" children are."

Nonetheless,and because of Paul's writings, that is the way it literally turned out for women....demeaned, demoted and dethroned.

Ralph said...

Dennis, If Paul taught a plain doctrine that cancelled human authority in God's name, to say "nonetheless, that's how it turned out", is like me saying to everyone that 2+2=4, yet everyone else decides arbitrarily it equals 5, and then saying, "yes, but nonetheless, that's what we believe".

In order to demonstrate this, you would have to say that Jesus and Paul somehwere, somehow, authorized this to happen, and there simply is no way it can be done.

We are left with very basic teachings of Paul in this regard. First the carnal mind is enmity against God and cannot be subject to God's laws. This statement in itself will produce, ultimately, exactly what we see today: thousands of religions claiming to represent God, yet none of them ale to prove it. To argue "nonetheless' this is what happened" is to argue that someting other than the teachings of Paul brought it about. We can logically look to certain sources, such as Richard Dawkins' explanation of the selfish gene, which predisposes us to organize cultures that minimizes differences in the interest of survival. Or we could look to the statements of Marshall McLuhan, that the "medium is the message", and the standardization of texts, combined with Gutenberg's printing press, created stress on "one way" of doing things, leading to nationalization and standardization of religious beliefs.

In fact, it was just these results that Paul countered by saying there exists no decision procedure by wich we can get to God, and further, that God already knows and has preselected his children. That, in itself, simply cancels all human choices in the matter, and reduces to Jesus' statement in Matthew 24;23. If any man says Lo, here, is Christ, or there, believe it not.

To blame Paul for something that occurs naturally according to our own human tendencies is to follow no process of logic at all.

Byker Bob said...

Corky,

In my state, we do have schools such as the independent ones you asked me about. They are called "charter" schools, and I know about them because I've done business with some of them. Some of them have had problems with economic viability, while others are fairly successful.

Republicans have been trying to get a voucher program going for years, so that parents would have more choices between public and other schools, but one of the factions which falls under the umbrella of the Democratic party involves the teachers' unions, which unfortunately have proven to be fairly effective lobbyists.

BB

Byker Bob said...

I believe we're getting into some factional oversimplifications here. Amongst the mainstream Christian resources to which I've recently been exposed, both Paul and Jesus are seen as having broken with Jewish protocol, in that they freely spoke with women (a taboo in that era), and Paul had some prominent women deeply involved in his ministry. In our church (not an ACOG or GCI splinter!) there are some learned women involved in neighborhood ministry, and this is seen as being a huge positive for many reasons. Simply stated, they can reach some people that perhaps the men cannot. And, that's what the Samaritan woman from the well did! She went back and shared with her whole town!

Although this was hard for me, I've also come to regard the Holy Bible as being a "Spirit protected" document. It may have been changed and edited in many ways over the past millennia, and we could choose to focus on that if we want, but basically it says what God wants it to say for us today. Now, of course shepherds and other agrarian types of people who lived close to the land would not have been able to comprehend Einstein and relativity, or the big bang and an evolutionary creation process, so God inspired the simple concepts and verbiage of Genesis 1 to put creation into understandable terms which quite frankly had been very adequate right up until about 150 years ago.

I believe that most people become very partisan in their understanding, and although we frequently accuse HWA as having been selective in his "proof texts", many of us still indulge in this practice, possibly without even realizing it. It is yet another one of Herbie's imbedded time bombs. Take for example focussing on this thing about Mithra or Apollonius of Tyanna, or some other Jesus as providing the pattern for a fictional character upon whom to base a state-sponsored religion following a some sort of conspiracy of epic proportions. That seems to work just fine, until we realize that Josephus did not restrict his writing about Christians only to Jesus, but included Jesus' followers. Also, we have many antiquities from that era, oft studied by fine, highly educated scientists such as Dr. James Tabor. And, don't even get me started on the antenicene Fathers, a credible line of learned individuals, sequentially taught by the original disciples and their students. Then, there is the historical information in the Talmud, and the many documents and records preserved by the Vatican. These are some of the things which nagged me, and the reasons why I came to find my agnostic fantasies and placebos to be inadequate, and totally unsatisfying from an intellectual standpoint, let alone the spiritual.

I thank God profusely and frequently for having softened up my heart, and for helping me to stop indulging in self-deception.
While I admire Dennis' chutzpah in taking on the Armstrongites in a debate setting, I also need to keep in mind that the reality is that he is debating false teachers, in fact some of the very same false teachers who caused this wonderful mess which we're processing, and with which we must deal on a daily basis.

BB

Corky said...

Yes Bob, That's the problem with the schools - politics are involved in them, and religion, don't forget religion.

Ever since the days of the community one room (and public) schoolhouses education comes second to political and religious interests. Remember the Scopes "monkey" trial?

That wasn't the beginning of the problem, just the most noticeable of the interference of state and religion in education.

Nowadays there is even a racial interference in education which has caused busing for equality and crime because of hatreds . . .

I don't pretend to know the answers but it's easy to see that the present systems are screwed up. They are so screwed up that people are turning to home schooling their kids rather than expose them to the guns and knives of the racists and gangbangers.

Private religious schools are just going to turn out more brain washed anti-science people into the world.

Public schools are better if they were smaller, community schools, without state and religious interference in them.

So what if that makes them segregated? It cuts out busing and "white flight" and racial crimes. And, gangbangers shouldn't even be allowed in schools. Let them get their education down at the state penitentiary where they belong.

Simply stated, why should we worry about Roy "the knife" Smith getting an education at the cost of our own children's education?

And, shouldn't biology class be about "biology" intead of "biology vs. God"?

Maybe I'm just too old for the present world . . .

Ralph said...

As to the early stories of Genesis, they are interesting studies into human nature. Erich Fromm, for example, has done some interesting psychological probes into freedom/determinism regarding Adam And Eve.

As to the Tower of Babel, that story indicates that humans actually have a natural desire to organize, but in organizing, their tendency is to restrict and control everything around them, including other organizations.

The lesson carried away from that story is that organization can lead to destruction, not from God, but from such things as overspecialization and entropy.

From the Tower of Babel story, whate weaves its way through the bible, OT and NT, is the idea that humans should be more responsive as individuals and less collective in their behavior.

Israel, for example, in trying to reduce the law to an understandable process, actually splintered into a recognized diversity of various religions, all of which claimed a special understanding of the scriptures.

Historians tell us that Israel was incredibly diverse by the time of Jesus, while other nations were forging empires.

It's also interesting, that Israel, claiming a special calling of God, were constantly forced into a process of adaptation and constant behavioral modification that also allowed them to incorporate quite a few Persian ideas into their theology, represented primarily by Pharisees.

If we compare these results to Paul's statements in Romans 8:7 and Jesus' statements in Matthew 10:34-38, what becomes clear is that "God's law" was never intended to create unity and singular organization, but that was actually good for survival benefits, as it forced people to respond to their environments as individuals.

If you look at the various COGs that were begotten from the original WCG, what you see is this same process of splintering, over and over, as new people emerge with new definitions and understandings of how to obey God.

Remember when they used to argue over the day of Pentecost? Or how about figuring out new moons? What happens when humans try to define God by the use of strict definitions of law, is they cannot avoid constant splintering into yet more and more ideas as to the correct form of worship.

If this is the logical result, and if Jesus said this is just what he came to do, we are forced to conclude that apparently if there is a God, that was his purpose for doing things as he did.

Of course, if there is no God, you get the same result, so you're still forced to look at the world ultimately the same way. If you believe in God, at some point, you have to realize nobody has a monopoly, and if you don't believe in God, you have the advantage of already knowing there is no monopoly. Some are just quicker than others, but the result ultimately must come to the same thing.

It boils down to a most beautiful realization no matter how you look at it: God or no God, you still must realize that we are all equals, and there is no proof whatever that one person is any better than another, which pretty much parallels what Jefferson said regarding "men" being created equal.

God or "something" is really pretty slick.

Ralph said...

Corky and Bob, this brings up an entirely different category of discussion. We need another forum for it, I think. But I think you both bring out good points.

Anonymous said...

Do you have copy writer for so good articles? If so please give me contacts, because this really rocks! :)

Byker Bob said...

Corky, the school issues have become very complex, but I believe we also have many more choices available to us today than when you and I were students.

What's a parent to do? Basically, if you do participate in the public schools, there is one set of problems, and if you homeschool or can afford private schooling, there are other sets of problems.

And, of course, much depends on the particular state in which one lives, and the prevaling culture in your area. I had an atheist buddy who actually sent his kids to Christian school because over there in Southern California, he felt that it resolved more problems than it caused.

BB

DennisDiehl said...

"To blame Paul for something that occurs naturally according to our own human tendencies is to follow no process of logic at all."

Yea fine, whatever, nonetheless..:)

DennisDiehl said...

Ralph, having been a pastor for almost three decades, should have been a paleontologist, one deals with perception of scripture. The perception of what the book says leads the average person and untrained or even trained clergy to inflict various ways of being 'because the Bible, Paul, Jesus, the Book, the NT, the OT says so...

Actually, I have read your postings and, while it may be my fault, sometimes I have no idea what you are talking about half the time. The other half I almost get it, but then..no...:)

DennisDiehl said...

and please understand, that is just an observation on my part. Not a criticism. You obvioulsy are very intelligent. I just could never see the average person who reads the Bible as is as seeing what you are saying. Perhaps that is the problem, but it should not be that complicated.

Probably just me...

Ralph said...

Dennis, I'm not trying to be arrogant about it, but you make my point exactly. Is there any brain, mine included, capable of such ability as to represent a possible creator of the universe?

And yes, people who read the bible from a limited human viewpoint will interpret the works of the New Testament to the very best of their ability. As a result, what will we see? Well, over 38,000 versions of Christianity and growing in number. When I was a kid, HWA used the number 600 I believe, and now, well....

The philosopher Mortimer Adler, in dealing with the unity of truth and the plurality of religion, put it this way: In matters of taste and not truth, a plurality of tastes is good, and even desirable. But in matters of truth and not taste, a persistent plurality is intolerable.

Each of us can certainly believe as we wish, and "visit the church of our choice", but that is strictly within the category of taste and not truth.

But truth itself must be consistent with all truth. If I make a statement and say "this is true", and if it contradicts a statement you know certainly as true, then you also know I'm either lying or mistaken.

In basic logic, in any set of conjoined propositions, if any proposition is false, the entire set is false, though the set can be corrected simply by correcting the false proposition.

How would you correct the false propositions of over 38,000 versions of christianity?

We believed, once, that we could do it simply by following HWA, but now we know that was wrong.

And let's look at Allen's statements that the "gospel" was written 400 years after the fact, so it's probably not true.

Assuming Allen is correct, it would also be logical to assume that there is no reason to follow any person claiming to represent Christ. But that's exactly what Jesus told us in Matthew 24:23.

Also assuming that Allen is correct, it would be logical to assume that there is not any mechanical process, any decison procedure or algorithm, by which we can prove that we are any "closer" or "special" before God.

That is exactly what Paul said in Romans 9:16.

But even assuming there was no Jesus or Paul to make these statements, they would still be true! In fact, it would demonstrate even more so that they are true!

Both Paul and Jesus tell us in such scripture as John 14:17, Matthew 13:11, Romans 11:7, 11:26, and 11:32, that truth is not a "given". In other words, we are not born with an innate capacity to know truth, and that is now proven mathematically by Godel's theorem!

If truth is not a 'given", if we do not inherently possess the correct choice within our nature, then Romans 8:7 must be true, and if true, any decisions that humans make to "prove" their relationship to God will be flawed, which leads logically to Romans 9:16-22.

So, to assume that something is true because a large number of people historically accepted it so, well, that runs against science, logic, reason, and even the statements of both Paul and Jesus.

Ralph said...

Dennis, I should add that much of the conflict between Jesus and the Pharisees of his day actually revolved around teachings of Rabbi Hillel, who was apparently a contemporary of Jesus.

Faced with the same kind of confusion regarding interpretations of the Torah, Hillel devised a brilliant set of "seven laws" by which we can relate human interpretations to the laws of God.

You will notice in Matthew 23, however, that Jesus said "no way!"

He said, call no man rabbi(and rabbis were Pharisees), and call no man master or father.

You will also notice that he condemned the Pharisees for "shutting up the kingdom of God to men", which would indicate that the teaching of Hillel, that certain "masters" could properly understand God's law, actually caused the masses to be subject rulers or legal experts in a law that was meant for all.

Think about that in context of the legal system of the U.S. today!

Paul's statement in Romans 8:7, therefore, was a direct slap in the face to Hillel's seven laws! And Paul was allegedly a Pharisee!

IOW, there are NO legal experts to "interpret" the kingdom of God for the people.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I get perfectly what Ralph is saying, don't encourage his delusions of self-grandeur, Dennis.

I get the fact that he believes Pascal's Wager by way of Godel's Theorem. I just think it's an unfortunately overly-simplistic view of life, proving Ralph is just as blinkered now, as he was when he was in the church.

The only saddening difference? This time Ralph is doing it to himself.

Ralph said...

Anonymous, a very good response, except for one thing: you offer no proof whatever of what you state, and therefore you fall into the ad hominem fallacy of argumentation.

For example, statement's about Pascal's Wager by way of Godel's theorem. What exactly, does that mean? I'm willing to profess ignorance in terms of what you're saying here, as I'm sure most any teacher administering a test on the explanation of such a subject would likely fail you for not explaining what you mean.

As to being "blinkered", that is the essence of Godel's theorem. We're all "blinkered". That is essentialy what the theotrem states, that in any consistent axiomatic formulation of number theory, or any formal system of sufficient complexity, there exists undecideable propositions.

That is, in the simplest language, all of us are "blinkered".

In order for you to prove me wrtong, logically, you would have to show in fact that we are NOT "blinkered" and that there is a way of perceiving and organizing truth in a fashion that is complete and consistent.

Anonymous, I encourage you to all success in that effort, as it will make you rich and famous even beyond Einstein fro brilliance.

Ralph said...

Anonymous, one other point regarding my "delusions of self-grandeur".

That statement may or may not be true, and in fact, for the purpose of the argument, I will concede that it is.

Even assuming that I am self deluded by dreams of grandeur, this still says nothing to any extent about the rightness or wrongness of my argument. After all, even a broken clock is right twice a day.

I could be the absolutely most insane person who ever lived, and that would STILL be irrelevant as to the truth or falsehood of my arguments. What WOULD prove the truth or falsehood of my arguments, without regard to my state of mind, is to simply show whether or not my arguments, in and of themselves, are either true or false.

Your accusation of my arguments as oversimplifications, doesn't bode well for Dennis' ego, since he professes he cannot understand what I'm saying, and you profess that you do.

In all humility, for Dennis' benefit, as well as others who complained about not understanding, I would ask that you explain the false premises I introduce.

Otherwise, your arguments must logically be included within the framework of the ad hominem fallacy.

Allen C. Dexter said...

Ralph, I have to confess that I'm in the same boat as Dennis. I recognize your high level of intelligence and learning, but have difficulty getting "it." Maybe that's part of our training at AC. We certainly didn't get any background in advanced logic.

I certainly appreciate what you write and try to comprehend.

Ralph said...

Thank you, Allen, and I certainly respect you and your point of view. In fact, I agree with much of what you say. I also deeply apprreciate your effort to develop peaceful discussion in this blog.

I have, over the years, developed a kind of "truth meter" in my efforts to get to the bottom of things.

If you personally are attacked while the message itself is ignored, and people go to every possible extent to attack you while ignoring the statements you make, it becomes almost certain that you've probably hit on something with a very deep principle of truth behind it, or perhaps it is possible that the people simply don't understand it.

It is not my intent to appear "superior" to anyone. What I AM trying to do, and the only motive I ever had, is to show that all truth ultimately leads to individual freedom. If you are to any extent enslaved by someone else for any reason, then you are not following truth, and apparently 2 Peter 2:19 seems to agree with that.

But if any person, anywhere, could understand all truth and place it within one framework, it is a certainty that it would have been discovered by now. The simple fact is, no one can do it. It's simply impossible. There are no human authorities.

Now, if there is a God who represents truth, it simply does not logicaly follow that "He" would show himself in such a way that we all should organize and set up a universal system of power such that any person could kill in God's name.

If the truth really does set you free, then you must be ready to accept that freedom, and follow both truth and freedom as an individual, and not as part of any group.

We've tried organizing, we followed HWA, and suffered greatly as a result. But, have you never stopped to ask yourself if maybe that's exactly what we ARE supposed to learn? That we really should NOT ever accept any human authority over us?

If we, as the decicated followers of "God", have all without exception discovered that there simply exists no such collective "God" to follow, whatever reason we have for doing so, is it not possible that THAT is precisely the truth we were supposed to learn?

Look at James 4:1-3. Now does that mean we're supposed to suppress our individuality and give ourselves over to some higher authority?

Hell no! It means that if all our desires are founded in greed, lust, selfishness, etc, the very WORST thing we could do is give ourselves over to anyone and allow those same evil drives to prevail over us.

As Hoffer pointed out in "The True Believer":

"It is the unification set in motion by these enthusiasms(love of God, love of Christ, love of a nation, compassion for the oppressed, etc)...that transmutes noble impulses into a reality of hatred and violence."

If we are driven at our core by hatred, greed, lust, envy, etc, then collectivizing it into one group simply magnifies that very evil, as we saw from the old WCG.

The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

What I find most interesting is that every individual, having gone through the evil of the WCG, is actually practicing the very freedom that both Jesus and Paul said we should practice, all the time arguing over how we should do it! Isn't that exactly what happened to Israel?

You suppose maybe it was designed that way, as Jesus said in Matthew 10:34-38?

Jesus said, you shall hear of wars and rumors of wars. These things must be. If Hoffer's statement is true, then the collectivization of those traits described in james 4:1-3 will result in intensified war, right down to the personal level, as technology empowers individuals as we see today, evolving into terrorism.

By fighting, cussing, and attacking each other, we are doing exactly what our nature drives us to do, and in that process, by violence, we discover individual freedom.

That's evolution(shhhhh!)

Allen C. Dexter said...

Ralph, I think I've learned that lesson, thus never able to get any enthusiasm to join any organization, no matter how much in agreement I might be with at least some of their approach and program. I no longer need someone to look up to for guidance. I can make up my own mind, and if not, I'll just keep on searching and take full advantage of any resources provided, such as this great site on which I am currently guest editor. Writing and editing is one of my greatest joys, but I hate fighting and ill will.

Ralph said...

And would you have arrived at that conclusion had you not gone through what you did?

Perhaps you might, but yet, it was that very process, that deception, that created you as a free individual.

Is there a shortcut to freedom other than individual struggle?

Anonymous said...

I'm looking forward to getting more information about this topic, don't worry about negative opinions.

Allen C. Dexter said...

Ralph, that's exactly the thought I've had and I mentioned it in my book. Painful as so much of it was, I think what I and many others went through was a blessing in desguise. Quite well desguised though.

Ralph said...

Allen, we each came away with different lessons. And each of us were forced to filter those lessons through our own personal needs, experiences, and personalities.

Most all of us know now that there is no mechanical sky-god who wants us all to act alike, look alike, believe alike.

That statement of Jesus in John 6:44, to be "drawn" has been shown in different biblical passages to mean taken in a direction you didn't want to go, going in a direction you probably wouldn't have chosen for yourself.

I think about this in connection with a statement made by Isaac Asimov regarding scientific discoveries. The great discoveries of science, said Asimov, are not accompanied by some scientist running throgh the halls shouting "Eureka!", but generally consists of someone looking at the results of an experiment and saying "that's odd".

Whether you believe in God or not(and believing in God the way people insist on doing today is a cop-out), you will, like the scientist in the pursuit of truth, find yourself alone, forced to look at the facts for yourself, in a brand new way, reaching conclusions that only you can reach.

Science and truth work that way, regardless of the truth you're pursuing. I'm not preaching, just expressing realizations that come to me.

Purple Hymnal said...

"I'm not preaching, just expressing realizations that come to me."

But it's not your place to "express realizations that come to you" anymore, Ralph. Al is the editor for the month of March, and I for one, would like to discourse with Al about HIS ideas; not read endless retreads of the ideas you are trying to promote, in the comments section.

(However, I have been making liberal use of the "Collapse Comments" button, and urge others who may be put off, to do the same.)

On the one hand, Ralph, you advocate individuality and freedom, and on the other, you preach that others should fall under the spell of YOUR OWN god. It is a very powerful bait-and-switch, one that sucked in the spiritually vulnerable since the dawn of human consciousness, ca. 10billion years ago or so.

Yet you deny that you are preaching this, under the guise that you are only (innocuously-seeming) "expressing [your] individual realization".

If your realization actually is so individual, and specific revelation to YOU only, why would you feel inclined to discourse about it to others at such length? Why would you feel the need, if your god is (as the hymn tells us) "my god alone", for others to believe in your god as well?

Additionally, why would you accuse those of us who politely decline to believe in your god, of engaging in ad hominem attacks? Is your psyche so wrapped up around the idea that your god should be real for others, that you cannot distinguish where your personal id ends, and your god begins? Therefore, any rejection of your personal god, is interpreted, by you, as a rejection OF YOU?

That certainly wasn't what I have intended, with my responses to you, although I understand now, why you have misinterpreted them as personal attacks.

Sorry for going off-point, Al, I appreciate your articles, and the dialogue they've inspired, greatly! Look forward to reading more through the rest of the month!

Purple Hymnal said...

Oh, and Ralph? Logic cannot be applied to any of your statements to prove or disprove them, because I believe that you are engaging in the quite thoroughly-disguised logical fallacy of circular reasoning.

Instead of saying, as the literalists do, "The Bible is true because the Bible says it is," you are essentially stating "The Bible is true because the Bible says it ISN'T true." Or, at the very least, that's a distilliation of what I'm getting, from your extremely convoluted and unclear articles and comments.

Others here may believe they are at fault for not "getting it", or for not understanding what you are trying to say; that, IMO, is the wrong approach as well.

(But, then, we all did do the self-blame dance very well, when we were in the church, didn't we? If we didn't understand something at first, it was automatically OUR fault, and not the fault of the lack of clarity on the part of the doctrine or the church's decree.)

I think this is the point at which you must step back and ask yourself objectively, "if these people are saying they don't understand what I'm trying to say, is there some other way I can express myself to make these ideas more clear or accessible to others?"

I understand what you're trying to say, Ralph, it just doesn't happen to be of any use for me. Unfortunately, you are misinterpreting this as a personal and psychological attack on you, by me, which is what is impeding any dialogue between the two of us.

Purple Hymnal said...

"distillation" damn I thought I proofread that comment :-(

Ralph said...

Purple, thanks for that response. Much appreciated, and I understand it has no use for you.

However, I have responded to Allen's views as I underastand them, and I haven't attacked them.

That's called freedom of speech,and I wouldn't seek to restrict anyone else's freedom to write what they wished as long as it isn't in a spirit of attack.

As I said before I stopped being editor, I would continue to respond freely, agree, disagree, or encourage others as I saw fit.

Anything wrong with that?

However, I would like you to show me how I can in any possible fashion, try to cause anyone to fall under any spell of "my" God, since I've pointed out there exists no possible decision procedure by which I or anyone else can get there?

You're trying to "shoehorn" me while accusing me of doing the "shoehorning". Neat trick.

Let me see, circular reasoning.

First conclusion, can you show me any method by which anyone can prove the existence of God, get to God by any possible human method of reasoning?

Have I ever said you can do so? No, in fact, I have repeatedly said it is not possible. Where is the circularity?

If I make a statement that is obviously consistent with reality by any method you wish to choose, then it must, as far as can be proven, true.

Any circularity?

The only way you can show me the flaw in this statement is to show me that there actually IS some process by which we CAN exercise ANY possible decision process whatever to (provably) get from here to God.

As I understand you, you say there is no such process because there is no God, am I right?

The only possible disagreement from this point that I can see is that you don't think there is a God, and I think there is, and neither of us have any ability to prove one way or the other which of us is correct.

So, the issue is NOT about "my God", but about whether or not the bible has made a statement that is consistent with the point which you and I must logically agree on, above.

From all possible evidence available to both of us, there exists no possible decision procedure, no system of choices whatever, that we may show any possible special relationship to God, whether one exists or not.

That is precisely what Paul said in Romans 9:16-22. The only difference in your argument and Paul's is that you say there is no God, whereas Paul said there is a God but we can do nothing in any way to make us special before God.

The physical evidence, therefore, no matter what we choose to believe, will be the same.

Circular reasoning? Show me.

Here is the point: The Bible is true precisely because the bible says it ISN'T true. That's your point and that's exactly what I have said.

If it is true that you cannot make any possible choice to show any special relationship to God, AND if we agree on that point(God or no God), AND if the Bible agrees on that very point, then that statement is logically correct.

The only way for you to refute it is to say there is such a procedure, and you would really have your work cut out for you.

I have, on at least two occasions, asked "Anonymous" if he had specific questions about the points I'm making to show me specifically what he is referring to, and he has made no such response.

I offer the same to anybody.

The point is quite simple: if you offer an argument regarding truth, and the bible agrees with that argument, then the bible must also be true.

Simple enough.

Purple Hymnal said...

"If I make a statement that is obviously consistent with reality by any method you wish to choose, then it must, as far as can be proven, true."

Your obvious devotion to the inerrancy of the Christian canonical texts is far, far, FAR from "consistent with reality by any method you wish to choose", Ralph. That is where I am afraid we will always have to part ways.

Amicably, I hope? I realize I may not have contributed amicably to our interactions in the past, and likely we will have very few interactions in the future. I would like to part on "agree to disagree" terms though, if that's all right with you, Ralph.

Ralph said...

Purple, no hard feelings. I understand very well where you're coming from. However, to talk "about" my statements and to say from the "outside" perspective that there is no relationship between the statements and the logic is the same as talking "about" the statement "two plus two equals four" and saying that there is no relatuionship between the statement and fact.

Your statement may or may not be true, but there is no way of actually knowing until the statement is examined "as is", for itself.

Does two plus two equal four? We simply have to hold up two fingers, and then two more fingers to know.

Is my statement about the bible related to logic? Well, if I quote Romans 8:7, for example, which says the natural mind is enmity against god and cannot be subject to God's laws, I would have to think about the logical results of that statement.
1.Can anybody claim authority as representatives of God if all natural minds are enmity against God? Answer: No, because if anybody did, how would our natural minds know for sure if someone else was actually telling us the truth?
2.Any attempt by any person to claim such authority would ultimately result in near infinite speciation of ideas about God, EXACTLY as we see from the physical evidence all around us today.

You see, Purple, you have made a statement "about" the flaw in my logic, but you have said NOTHING whatever to show what that flaw is.

Therefore, you "agree to disagree". And guess what? You just proved my point!

Thanks!

Purple Hymnal said...

I'm only asking that we agree to disagree so you'll stop trying to get the last word in, and cease your reverse-psychology tactics, Ralph. Your worldview is sadly narrow and limited, and no, that's not an ad hominem attack, because I feel badly for you.

I remember, Ralph, what it was like to know, to absolutely KNOW that I had "the truth". You are presenting exactly that same attitude to us here, but we've all been through the wringer, and I know better. I know you, Ralph, because I've been you, and I really do want better for you. I want you to not be so narrowly-focused as we all were, a long time ago, in a universe far, far away.

You've just (unfortunately) found a creative way to convince yourself that you've found "the truth" once again, by tying yourself up in knots, and accusing others of attacking, or not being able to point out the flaws in your statements, even though we've all BEEN pointing out the flaws in your statements, for two months now.

But, like a good little believer, you just tie your poor brain into a pretzel, so you don't have to acknowledge that your truth is not THE truth.

As I stated before, the sad thing is, you're doing this to yourself. Which is what we're going to have to agree to disagree on, because there's really no point to either of us continuing this conversation.

The more I try to present simple, basic facts, the more you're going to wrap your brain up in the theological knots necessary for your worldview to remain intact.

I don't want to shatter your worldview, Ralph, I've more than enough experience with how that feels. And I cannot go back to that narrow, compartmentalized, microscopic little cage that I inhabited before, that you are clearly still trapped in yourself. Gilded though it may be with what you've convinced yourself is "freedom".

I want better for you than what you're obviously settling for, Ralph; that's the only reason I've been attempting to dialogue with you for the past couple months.

Please know I have not been trying to attack you, nor do I want anything bad to happen to you; I want the best for you Ralph, I really do: I want you to taste of the freedom that I enjoy, on a daily basis. I want you to know what it's like to just live; not to think about "the bible" or if there's anything out there, either beyond the universe or beyond death. Live for the moment, live for the now.

Live, Ralph. Don't throw your time and energy away, waiting for mistranlated and badly-copied three-thousand-year-old dead manuscripts to dictate your life for you. Go for a walk in the sunshine. Watch the birds, as they return in the spring. Delight in the smiles of your grandkids. Spend whole minutes, even hours, not thinking about what everything "means".

Live, Ralph. Be free.

Anonymous said...

The only reason I and some others I know have refrained from commenting on Allen's blog entries here, is because commenting only subjects people to more of Ralph's responses.

Personally, I've found it really creepy that Ralph beats his chest and screams, "I SPEAK THE TRUTH AND NO ONE CAN PROVE OTHERWISE!"

Not to the mention his argumentum ad hominem against himself.
Truly strange.
Who knows? Maybe he's the victim of a military experiment gone terribly wrong.

That's all I'll say on the subject of "the Ralph problem", and will now revert back to my 'not commenting' mode.

Peace out,
Mel

Ralph said...

Anonymous, lwet me take your statements point by point.

First of all, why would mny responses be subject to any restraint or censorship? If I speak a lie, you should be able to prove it. if I speak truth, then it stands as truth. That would apply for any and all of us, wouldn't it?

I have tried to impose no censorship on you. Why would you do so to me?

Whethere I beat on my chest and scream, or state quietly, "I have spoken the truth and no one can prove otherwise", obviously from all evidence I have dcone so, and no one has proven other wise, have they? So, your statement, in whatever context is an ad hominem fallacy.

Argument ad hominem against myself? Have I ever called myself a name? Have I ever insulted myself while ignoring what I'm saying? You'll have to explain that one.

let us say that i am actually the victim of a military experiment gone terribly wrong. Guess what? Even that statement will be irrelevant as to the truth or falsehood of what i say.

That, dear Anonymous, is again what may be classified as ad hominem fallacy.

So the best i can gather as to the "Ralph problem" is that you have been unable to prove me wrong, and you wish I'd just shut up because you disagree.

Sounds a lot like the old WCG to me.

Ralph said...

Purple Hymnal, I save the easiest for the last.
Yor arguments, every one of them, are merely arguments about my psychologicla state, or what you presume me to believe, in effect, imposing on me what you claim I try to impose on others.

Psychological profiling in any sense are irrelevant as to the truth or falsehood of the statement itself.

Either the statement is true, or it is false, and you have not shown the first possible evidence as to why it is false.

The whole point of truth, Purple, is that it is not dependent on the psychological state, or beliefs, or whatever you might wish to impose on another. It is either true or false of its own merits or flaws.

So, admitting all the human frailties you would impose on me, Purple, now simply show why I'm wrong.

Here's your problem: you can't.

Miguel de la Rodente said...

Seems like any prolific poster who has some passionate viewpoints eventually gets attacked. I guess it's the lightening rod principle!

Ralph said...

Miguel, what's really funny to me is that I get exactly the same response from pro-Armstrong groups!

Granted, I'm not the nicest person you ever met, but that's irrelevant to the points I make.

I like the ideas of L.Ray Smith. Wonder what they think of him?

Purple Hymnal said...

"The only reason I and some others I know have refrained from commenting on Allen's blog entries here, is because commenting only subjects people to more of Ralph's responses."

Collapse Comments. The only thing that makes this blog tolerable (besides Allen, Retired Prof, and Anon), is "Collapse Comments". I've tried my best, but there comes a point at which one must simply say "it is done".

I look forward to commenting and seeing others' comments on future essays by Al, and the subsequent editors. As for the rest of it? I did everything, and more, that it was within my sphere of influence to do.

It is done.

Ralph said...

In other words, Purple, you advocate censorship for no good reason. A good ol' boys club, right?

Purple Hymnal said...

"In other words, Purple, you advocate censorship for no good reason."

*sigh*

NO, Ralph, I'm just offering advice to the people who are not commenting here, and who do not participate, because they feel they cannot, or they are feeling put off by the dialogue that's occurring here.

And that's MY final answer. But accusing me of "censorship"? That's so far from the truth that you bleat on about constantly, it's horrifying. I really do wish you could see beyond yourself, Ralph. But if you can't, you can't, and I've said all I am going to say on the matter.

So, go ahead, get your last word in if you must, even if it's just to say that that's what you think I'm doing (reverse projection seems to be your favourite argumentative tactic, after all);

I only responded this one last time because you stooped so low as to accuse me of censorship, which really IS an egregious ad hominem attack, after all the effort I've put in, to try and reach you, somehow, some way, to shine a light, into your terrible darkness.

That's it, it really IS done, this time.

It is done, Ralph! It is done!

Ralph said...

Purple, why do you see yourself as a necessary caretaker for those who do not comment? Is it not possible that they might wish to comment for themselves?

After all, I have never advocated censorship in any form. I have merely stated my case and asked people to prove me wrong.

That's all I've asked of you, and even admitted to every human frailtyt you impose and still asked you to prove me wrong, which you continue to argue around.

What is so hard about simply looking at a statement as presented, and saying "this is wrong because...."
Or, "this is right because...."

And yet you have used every form of avoidance possibly open to you.

The logic is very, very simple:
IF the natural mind is enmity against God and cannot be subject to God's law, THEN the result will be exactly what we see today, which is over 38,000 versions of christianity. AND, since that is exactly what Jesus said he intended to cause in Matthew 10:34-38, we have this very simple, logical conclusion.

Yet you have tried every form of subterfuge imaginable, including the accusation that I am in some terrible, dark world, and yet you have shown absolutely no logical reason as to why that is so.

So, you tell everyone involved to "collapse comments". Purple, I hate to break it to you like this, but when you tell everybody else in a group not to listen to someone, even to shutting out all comments, it's called censorship.

That's not an accusation. That's a simple fact.

Reverse projection? Have I accused you of dark motives? Have I ever implied that you in any way represent some evil plan? Have I ever asked you to do anything at all except show me why my logic is flawed?

Projection of what? I have patiently accepted your psychological profiles, even admitting, just for argument, that they are true, and STILL you avoid simply responding to the simple logic of my statement.

Projection? I have been called names, I have been personally attacked, and here I am, patiently accepting every possible accusation as to my character, and then responding, "Now prove me wrong".

Obviously, Purple, you can't do it. You've exhaustede every possible strategy to avoid a simple question.

The only thing I have acused you of, or "projected' is to ask you to answer a simple question and show me why the logic is flawed.

If I'm so horrible, why not simply show me to be the fraud I am?

I'll tell you why: you can't.