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Monday, April 26, 2010

The Future

One of the first things people seem to want to ask Christians about is what they believe may happen in the near future. Frankly, I'm not sure we know any more than does anyone else. It's not quite so important to fully understand in advance what God is going to do as it is to realize after the fact that He is always faithful in the fulfillment of His prophecies. But, prophecy was such a hot button issue for those of us who were exposed to the Armstrong problem, because "the end" was used first as a marketing hook to get us or our parents involved, and later as a fearsome cat of nine tails on members once they were inside, always whipping them into shape. Most of us, today, are tired of hearing about it in any form, because of the ways in which it was used to manipulate and exploit us. Oddly, I don't recall the spectre of the end times being raised by mainstream Christianity until the so-called "Jesus movement" of the 1970s. Yet, who hasn't heard of the "Left Behind" series these days? It would appear that "the end" has permanently entered the popular lexicon, and not only from Christian sources.

Politicians have jumped on this bandwagon, and although they are not quoting Bible verses, they are quoting statistics related to the accelerated rate of melting of the glaciers around the world, the accumulation of CO2 and destruction of the ozone layer, the radical changes occurring in the oceans, the destruction of the world's rain forests, and the near extinction of numerous species of animals. While these are all problems which may respond to scientifically oriented solutions, it is unlikely that man would be able to effectively remedy other problems, such as the anticipated reversal of the earth's magnetic polarity.

The news media also seems to want to weigh in on all of this, selling newspapers and boosting ratings as they go by fanning the flames of avian flu, "mad cow" disease, Ebola, the golden algae threat, the resistance to antibiotics of strains of diseases once thought eradicated, the growth of the atomic club, and other issues. Clearly, we have a growing number of existential threats, and everybody seems to want to audition for the role of Chicken Little.

Some or all of these problems or challenges will end up needing to be dealt with, while others will simply fade into insignificance, dying a quiet and natural death, becoming non-issues. In the intervening time, we can expect people to utilize these issues to mold opinion to their own agendas, whether such agendas be scientific, religious, political, or humanitarian.

I am not the type of Christian who claims to have all the answers, or to use information to manipulate people. I did not appreciate being kept on edge about many of these things, in a perpetual state of limbo by WCG, because this kept me from enjoying the peace, tranquility, and many blessings that Christian living is supposed to bring to us on a daily basis in the here and now. Of course, it could be argued very persuasively that we never were Christians, as WCG members, but it is not until we begin to experience some of the good and wholesome things which were obviously missing from WCG culture that we can fully appreciate their value. I don't believe that God intended for us to be continuously whipped into a state of anxiety over what we see around us. I believe that He wants us to trust Him and not focus on "the wind" (remember Peter's attempt to walk on water?). Conversely to WCG teaching, I also believe that God wants us to get involved in helping ALL people (not just members), and helping to minimize whatever societal problems we can. Christians, right in there, at ground zero, helping others, and helping them by example to make sense of it all! Isn't that what "let your light shine" is all about?

There are some general theories floating about, some of which may or may not have a bearing on our future. Though the ACOGs have largely missed this one, because they believe that the Roman Catholic Church is the "Great Whore" of Babylon, one could almost conceptualize a revival of the Roman Empire nations, doing the many things they say it will do, if another "Great Whore", (Islam) were to take root and become the dominating political force there. Jihad co-opting all of the might of Europe would not be a pretty sight. I never could see the Catholics attacking us, but I can most definitely see radical Muslims doing so.

There is also the theory concerning the prophetic sprouting of the tender branch, supposedly representing the rebirth of the nation of Israel. Now, the presence of Israel is actually required for the end time prophecies in Revelation to take place. If in fact this theoretic interpretation has validity, it would be easy to draw the conclusion that the time period is linked to the "baby Boomer" generation, since Israel was reborn as a nation in 1948. So, for all of the younger people here, the baby boomers should nearly all be gone in about twenty years, placing a bit of a timeline on this theory. You'll know a bit more by then........or not.

The Christian community in which I participate is aware of possible end time scenarios, but is not hung up on them. We're more concerned with our daily Adventure with Father God, and the blessings and education we are experiencing. Building a "kingdom" skill set. In the past several years, I've participated in several high profile events where the focus has been prayer for a spiritual awakening, a healing and revival in our nation, and around the world, returning our nation to the largely Christian principles and practices on which it was founded. We believe that the current economic crisis has caused many people to turn to God, and frankly, considering the volatility of past decades, that in and of itself is counter intuitive. It is amazing that we are not experiencing massive civil unrest in response to the hardships people are experiencing. But, in fact, many of our core crime statistics are actually trending downwards.

We may be in the end times, or we may not. So, to me, the only way to live life is to do it in as ethical and loving way as possible. Frankly, that's good advice in any case. Be on the side of good, part of the solution rather than part of the problem. Think of each act in terms of its implications for those around us, be they individuals, animals, or other nations, or our planet.
I don't believe that we have any stupid people on these blogs and forums. Opinionated, yes. Stupid, no. Back when I was a non-believer, in a discussion about the end, I said something which I feel still makes good sense, and bears repeating: If the events outlined in the book of Revelation suddenly begin unfolding in an unmistakable or undeniable way, exactly as they are written, I believe that all of us, be we believer or nonbeliever, will at that point know exactly what is happening, and what to do.

BB

57 comments:

Casey Wollberg said...

"Most of us, today, are tired of hearing about it in any form, because of the ways in which it was used to manipulate and exploit us."

Well, Bob, some of us are tired of hearing about it because it is an irrational superstition for which there is not a shred of evidence. Ancient writings do not predict the future, except in fairy tales. Sure you can go back after the fact and try to make things fit, that's easy. But that's not a prediction, that's a combination of wishful thinking and creative interpretation. And you can use any piece of fiction to do it, provided it lends itself to the kind of allegorical wrangling required. The Bible is good for this, but so are thousands of other cryptic and fantastic tales from a hundred different cultures and literary genres.

Ralph said...

Obviously anything in the bible can never be proven as coming from God, since if we could prove the truth of any statement in the bible, it would merely be the result of our own reasoning and not special revelation. Each proposition would have some sort of axiomatic foundation from which we could proceed and demonstrate its truth.

There is no axiomatic foundation which declares "God exists, therefore...."

Any biblical statement about the future, if proven true, would merely indicate that someone, somewhere, could either foresee the future, or his/her reeasoning was sufficient to demonstrate its occurrence.

My own focus on future predictions is in regard to Nebuchadnezzar's dream in Daniel chapter 2.

What it seems to indicate, and partly confirmed by Daniel is a form of human government. Since godl and silver are obviously forms of money, we can see the usage of money as it "cheapens" from gold, to silver, to bronze, iron, and finally iron mixed with clay.

If we look at the various empires following Babylon, we see these events unfolding. But with the cheapening of each metal as a use for money, the power of government grew.

Since Persia not only added silver to gold and expanded its power of trade, it also added coinage, which pre-weighed coins and was a tremendouns advantage over the old method of weights and balances.

Greece added bronze coins, along with images printed on the coins representing sprecific power, and Rome found it could use iron as a form of money with only the image of caesar as the legitimizer of its value.

What this points to is that the state evolved toward a process in which it only needed the use of imagery to establish its power of trade and commerce.

Regardless of the time period of this story, it shows tremendous insight into the nature of money and the growth of state power.

As to the "whore of Babylon" if you follow that stuff, we can see that the state evolveds to a point in which no one can buy or sell except s/he has a "mark" that legitimizes trade. That is merely the continuation of Daniel 2.

But the "whore of Babylon" would not be the catholic church. There is only one group that would fulfill such a prophecy biblically, and that would have to be Israel.

Since God made no covenant with any other group except israel, and since it was israel alone to whim God was married(Amos 3:2, Deuteronomy 5), no one else would fit the bill. At best, the catholics could only be the "daughter" religions, right along with Islam, since Islam claims Abraham as well.

The fact that Jews created the banking system we have today, and that the Talmud, which is their main system of doctrine, was developed in Babylon, well....

So basically, if you follow any religion that is an offshoot of Judaism, then you're part of the "whoredom", whatever religion you choose, including Islam.

You can't serve od and mammon. The love of money is the root of all evil. It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle...

That may be fiction and creative interpretation, but there it is. We are headed toward one world govwernment. Israel and the US are working together to establish a peaceful kingdom in the Middle East. Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran.

The US government violated its own constitution and created legal tender with a central bank to issue it. Money is controlled exclusively through the power of icons and imagery, mass media politics and corporatism. And the peole are trying to make 'one nation under God".

Maybe the bible can't tell the future, but it's pretty damn good.

The Painful Truth said...

Casey pens:
"Ancient writings do not predict the future, except in fairy tales."

Yes, but all of us here have fallen for the ones that Armstrong, Flurry, or Dave Pack have invented.

Remember that the cult has a hidden agenda.

For example, many cults will, while raising funds, claim to be very busy solving social problems like alcoholism, drug addiction, homelessness, poverty, or abandoned orphans. But when the money is spent, little or none of it goes to the good cause; rather, the money is used to support the cult, and further its hidden agenda, and finance the leader's luxurious lifestyle.
******************************

I don't believe that all Christian organizations have (what I wrote above) as their main premise an agenda to purposely deceive people with malice. What I do believe is that they have not been objective with their investigations as to the foundation of their believes.

What we see as fairy tales, the Christian see's as fact. It is the "faith issue" that draws the line for us atheists/ agnostics. The Christian has faith that we do not have. This is what makes the whole enchilada palpable for them.

Casey Wollberg said...

"Maybe the bible can't tell the future, but it's pretty damn good."

Good at what? Predicting the future? No. It's good at providing literary fodder for people who want to spin meaning out of cryptic passages, which is what you do whenever you try to wrangle a "prophecy" out of it, *after the fact*.

Please note the difference between that and a genuine prediction. A prediction tells you what will happen before it happens. Going back *after* something happens to find out if you can find a prediction for something that already happened is not very impressive, especially if you are making wild interpretations from literary symbols. Any imaginative person can do it and it is not even *bad* evidence of a prediction. It quite simply doesn't count.

If I said, "Tomorrow at 2 p.m. a bear will attack your car and break a window," that would be a prediction. If I say, "The clouds are swirling and the bag falls into the lap, but Jeremy is not availing himself of the boon," that is likely just nonsense--but I'll bet someone could pull a prediction out of it after the fact! That's because we're good at finding patterns where there are none. It proves nothing.

Ralph said...

PT, I'm sure there are many well intentioned religions, but the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Hitler probably had good intentions.

If you have faith in anything higher than yourself, then all it is, is faith. There is no way to prove it. Even an electron's position and velocity can't be measured at the same time, so it exists in one form or the other, but nothing so complete as to be represented as both position and velocity.

Once you start developing higher realities, "gaps" start appearing in your conclusions. You bridge the gaps with faith, and pretty soon, you start lookijg for people to help you fill the gaps. You associate with those people, and you find it easire to hate, bully, and kill those who disagree, especially as your group grows larger and you have less voice in the function of that group.

I find it quite easy to believe in God, but not religions. That is, I believe in love, peace, goodness, gentleness, etc., but I don;t need a religion to demonstrate it.

Casey Wollberg said...

"The Christian has faith that we do not have. This is what makes the whole enchilada palpable for them."

Oh, yeah, definitely. But I'm making the point that it isn't logical, not that it isn't comforting.

Ralph said...

Casey, if you'll notice, I prefaced my commnent with the impossiblity of proving any connection to God. What i did show, and wht you ignore, arre general patterns that are confirmed quite well within economics.

Suppose someone actually did makre an exact prediction of the future, such as "tomorrow at 10AM in New York City, the World trade center will re-appear", and it actually did! What, exactly, has been proven?

Would you then clear out your bank account and say this man comes from God? I wouldn't. I'd say "Holy Shit! This guy's good! I wonder if he can tell me how to make a lot of money?"

He might be able to do it, but I'd tell him to invest his own money for me, and if it made the profits he declared, I'd give him the portion of money that equalled my investment and take the rest. Of course, I'd keep my own investment in the bank.

If the same man sais he was the truwe representative of God, I'd say, "show me God. Why does he need you to prove his existence?"

Even by your own definuitions of future predictions, nothing is proven except that the future was predicted.

OTOH, if I rread what I described above, along with the assertions i made regarding Romans 8:7, 8:29-30, and 9:16-22, along with Jesus' warning to follow no man who came saying "here is Christ", I would see a philosophy geared to individual freedom. If I also looked at that system and realized that we are actually heading toward a world in which our freedom is gradually usurped by false belief systems, and we are warned against those belief systems, I would have all the necessary evidence I needed that it was true.

What would you propose as a worthy process to follow?

Casey Wollberg said...

Another "prophetic" strategy is to "predict" something that is basically inevitable, while being vague or silent about the time of supposed fulfillment. This was the case with the much-touted ONE time Armstrong "got it right:" the German reunification. Any day now, the diligent efforts of the German people and their long-disparate governments will finally come to fruition! Wow, impressive. Uncanny! Supernatural! Prophecy! No, not quite. And remember to count the misses, folks. How's the track record--does it measure up to pure chance?

Ralph said...

Casey, exactly my point. Even assuming that HWA had got it all right, what did it prove? It proved only that he got it right, while he milked the hell out of everybody for all the money they could offer.

By simple biblical teachings, he could not have been who he said he was. Even if he could have raised the dead, it would have proven that he could raise the dead, and nothing more.

He might have been an improvement on Viagra.

OTOH, if i see from the "cryptic" prophecies of Daniel 2 an evolving centralized system of controls that employed the "etherialization' of money as it expands to control the masses, I'd see that the truth being preached was trhe need to recognize the source of enslavement.

Now, have the world economic system not grown into sophisticated system that control us? Are we not heading toward a one world government? Everything the existing government does is a movement toward greater control.

If Jesus himself told us not to follow any man who said "here is Christ", and if Paul said there is no decisin priocedure by which we can get from "here" to "God", have they not told us the truth, and are those teachings inconsistent with a prophecy warning us of the coming etheralization of money?

Predictions of the future mean Jack. They can be used to enslave us. But statements that translate to vigilance against human control and against religious brainwashing, that's the kind of truth I like.

Casey Wollberg said...

"Casey, if you'll notice, I prefaced my commnent with the impossiblity of proving any connection to God."

And I made no mention of God. I was addressing the possibility of prophecy and the difference between a genuine prediction and going back after the fact to wrangle one out of scripture.

"What i did show, and wht you ignore, arre general patterns that are confirmed quite well within economics."

I didn't ignore anything. I addressed this. What you see as a pattern is anything but. You have invented an allegory between events you see in the world and a cryptic set of symbols in a literary work. I could do the same thing with The Hobbit. Like I said, not only does it fail to prove anything, it doesn't even count as evidence for anything.

"Suppose someone actually did makre an exact prediction of the future, such as "tomorrow at 10AM in New York City, the World trade center will re-appear", and it actually did! What, exactly, has been proven?"

Nothing at all. Anybody can be right once, by pure coincidence. It would be far weirder if the opposite were true. I would, like you, have to see him demonstrate his predictive ability in a more rigorous way--for starters, a bigger sample. As for the World Trade center spontaneously appearing out of nowhere, well, that would require some explanation. Nothing like that has ever happened before, as far as I am aware of.

"Even by your own definuitions of future predictions, nothing is proven except that the future was predicted."

Well, of course! So?

Allen C. Dexter said...

I'm also very tired of hearing all this faith stuff. Been there, done that. Didn't like the results.

Revelation is a ridiculous book written by someone who had a bad dream, a vivid imagination or a mushroom trip. I will no longer waste any time reading it -- or any of the rest of the Bible, for that matter. Daniel came out of some zealots rantings and abortive attempt at history in the time of the Maccabbees. It's an equal waste of time. I have no regard for any other prophecies and won't waste time on them either.

Go ahead and bask in what you think you have found, Bob. There are some good people out there in the Christian world, and you're obviously one of them. Christianity itself is a hodgepodge religion dreamed up by ignorant people with an agenda to control others. Its history is no better than the history of the other so-called great faiths. In many ways, it's been one of the worst.

I just heard on the news what the Taliban has been doing in Afghanistan to keep girls from going to school -- gassing them and throwing acid on them. Just another example of what religion does to people in the end. It makes monsters out of them.

WCG made a monster parent out of me and especially my wife, and my children will suffer the lingering effects for the rest of their lives. I will never forgive Armstrong for doing that to me and so many others. And, what made us vulnerable was the societal feeling we had absorbed that God and the Bible were real and true.

I see no good in any form of Christianity or any other religion, no matter how sincere and loving some individuals in it may be. It stands in the way of societal progress (birth control, real sex education, condemnation of homo sexuals, etc., etc.) and meaningful education every chance it gets. It's based on a spurious book and a god that is a travesty, in my opinion.

Give me science and humanism (not necessarily organized). Don't warp my mind with revelations that just have to be true because they supposedly came from a god -- not directly, of course. It always has to be from some exalted human who somehow was favored to bring the message, and all we have is his word for it. Hearsay, HEARSAY, HEARSAY!

Casey Wollberg said...

"Predictions of the future mean Jack. They can be used to enslave us. But statements that translate to vigilance against human control and against religious brainwashing, that's the kind of truth I like."

Yeah, me too. But what does this say about the ability of a book to predict the future? Nothing. My arguments stand, as you haven't said anything about them.

By the way, the image of Daniel, as you've interpreted its symbols, could be a description of any economy in history. In other words, your interpretation could be exactly correct, but what it describes is nothing unexpected or novel, and it would be more reasonable to ascribe it to the author's understanding of past world events, rather than to his prophetic vision. So how is it a prediction again? On the other hand, your interpretation could be completely wrong. How would you know? You wouldn't, of course.

Casey Wollberg said...

I'd like to enthusiastically second everything that Allen just posted. Total agreement.

Ralph said...

Casey, I have no problem with comparing the Hobbitt to the bible, or MAD magazine, for that matter, because they do actually have a common theme, the need to liberate the human mind from the everyday ho-hum.

I like any book that gives me the opportunity to say screw the authorities, and I especially like the bible because it is the one book the authorities use, which therefoe makes it ideal to hoist them on their own petard.

This is the main theme of all my writings. The sovereignty of the individual.

Now, suppose I did use thre Hobitt, as an authoritativre source to challenge the systrems of authority. Whoopti do! It would mean nothing.

BUT, if I use the very book they claim to enslave people and stick it to them, what do they say?

I can proclaim atheism and try to yell for individual freedom, but "no true seeker of freedom would claim atheism".

I like to defend those general patterns that emertge from the bible because they prove quite useful in challenging all system of authority.

Are they wrong? Not if they gain freedom.

Now, if after I've done all this, God comes down and says "good boy", I'll take it. But if there is no God, and I can win freedom for myself and others, I've done a good thing, God or no God.

Casey Wollberg said...

"I can proclaim atheism and try to yell for individual freedom, but "no true seeker of freedom would claim atheism"."

Why not? It isn't an institution. It's the (provisional) lack of belief in gods. What could be more free than that? Seems to me I would be less free if I had to hem and haw around the question like a so-called "agnostic." Claiming atheism is (in small part) my way of freeing myself from such constraints. Hey, there's no evidence for any gods? Good, I don't have to bother with them. Simple. Does non-belief in fairies make you less free?

"Now, if after I've done all this, God comes down and says "good boy", I'll take it. But if there is no God, and I can win freedom for myself and others, I've done a good thing, God or no God."

I like this; it's like an inverted Pascal's wager. But you do realize that atheists have been doing this for thousands of years, right?

Casey Wollberg said...

"Casey, I have no problem with comparing the Hobbitt to the bible..."

But you don't address the point I made about "prophecies." I'm going to assume from the rest of your post (which I really like, by the way) that you got it and I don't need to keep pushing it. But I will remark upon something I missed in your original post:

"Any biblical statement about the future, if proven true, would merely indicate that someone, somewhere, could either foresee the future, or his/her reeasoning was sufficient to demonstrate its occurrence."

I agree, but would add a third possibility: that the person was good at synthesizing, after the fact, allegories between perceived real world events and scriptural symbolism. And most people are good at imagining such equations; we are apparently hard-wired for pattern-recognition.

Neotherm said...

GTA used to say that one full third of the Bible is prophecy and ninety percent of it was not fulfilled. Then came the "Left Behind" series.

The Bible contains prophecy. I hold with those who believe that it has already been, for the most part, fulfilled. There are references to the Millenium in the OT that will yet be fulfilled and there are some stretches of passage in Revelation that have yet to be fulfilled. But for the most part, I think the preterists are right.

You can pull a commentary off the shelf and read about the historical fulfillment of, say, the first three chapters of Revelation. But I do not think that would prove anything to an atheist. Most atheists I have encountered believe that if there is any conceivable alternate explanation to divine intervention that the alternate has to be correct. You get nowhere when dealing with that mindset. And,of course, atheists get nowhere when dealing with my mindset.

I am impressed with how little emphasis Christ placed on prophecy. His disciples asked him when he was going to return and he said when you hear the gate open up or something like that. This is tantamount to saying "I'll be there when I am there."

I have encountered many mainstream Christians who regard prophecy as a minor theme of Christianity. For us recovering Armstrongists, it is a big deal and we think Christians everywhere are as absorbed by it as we used to be.

-- Neo

Neotherm said...

How do you demonstrate that Biblical prophecy is true or not? What if your historical sources are fuzzy or unreliable? What if no fulfilled prophecy ever happens in your lifetime? What if you can sit down and think up an alternate explanation to just about anything? What if you are unsure about what the Hebrew or Greek really meant?

I do not believe prophecy can be construed to be a litmus test for anything. Just as futzing with materialism will never verify anything to you about God, futzing with arcane history will prove nothing to you about God.

If you are convinced of the existence of God, the artifacts of this world will take on a meaning. If you are convinced of the non-existence of God, the artifacts of this world are just artifacts.

-- Neo

Casey Wollberg said...

"If you are convinced of the existence of God, the artifacts of this world will take on a meaning. If you are convinced of the non-existence of God, the artifacts of this world are just artifacts."

Right, because only theists can find meaning in life. Or maybe you mean that meaning is only meaning if it is a supernatural meaning. I invite you to expand your imagination, my friend.

Casey Wollberg said...

"Most atheists I have encountered believe that if there is any conceivable alternate explanation to divine intervention that the alternate has to be correct. You get nowhere when dealing with that mindset."

You would get somewhere if you presented some evidence. That's not an unreasonable thing to ask, is it?

"And,of course, atheists get nowhere when dealing with my mindset."

Note the non-equivalence between the two instances of immovability. The atheist would be moved by evidence. What would move the theist?

Neotherm said...

Casey:

The atheist will not be moved by evidence. Any evidence is just an opportunity to make great imaginative leaps into denial. But that is because material evidence is always deniable. If I said there is evidence of healings within the Christian community, you would simply cite other causes and continue in the belief that there is no evidence.

Christians are moved by evidence but it is not material or historical evidence.

So there is really no nexus between atheistic argumentation and Christian argumentation.

-- Neo

Casey Wollberg said...

Neo, that is, quite simply, bullshit.

"If I said there is evidence of healings within the Christian community, you would simply cite other causes and continue in the belief that there is no evidence."

So, are you saying that there would be *evidence* for "other causes?" You seem to be very confused. I thought the atheist is not moved by evidence.

And what is this evidence of (miraculous) healing within the "Christian community?" Do you mean that somebody prayed and then somebody got better? Well, that is a causation fallacy: it does not logically follow that because event A happened before event B, that event A caused event B. Illogical arguments do not count as evidence, Neo. Do you think they should?

Further, it is well known in medicine that people have a tendency to recover from illness and injury, and the biological mechanisms for this are well understood. Would it be reasonable for me to forgo this perfectly logical, evidence-based explanation for some supernatural one for which there is no evidence (besides illogical assertions, which do not count as evidence)?

How is it that you describe this perfectly reasonable approach to life as "great imaginative leaps into denial?" I am still awaiting actual evidence, and I stand by my remark, which you have not addressed:

The atheist would be moved by evidence. What would move the theist?

What would move you from your stance of theism, Neo? Nothing, right? Of course. So, who's in denial?

"Christians are moved by evidence but it is not material or historical evidence."

"The evidence of things not seen?" How is that trustworthy evidence, Neo? By faith men have been led to slaughter in their millions. By faith entire nations squander massive wealth on their clergy while their people starve. By faith decent people commit atrocities, die of treatable illnesses, and waste their talents in abject ignorance. And above all, by faith, millions believe things that are *demonstrably not true*.

Whose faith should count more, do you think: the Jews', the Muslims', the Hindus', or yours? And by what standard do you make that assessment?

"So there is really no nexus between atheistic argumentation and Christian argumentation."

Bullshit. It's called logic, and you'd do well to look into it. It does no good for you to pretend like you get to play by special rules just because you believe in magic. A bad argument is a bad argument, and a lack of evidence is just that. You're just dodging because you know your position is weak. But that is typical among those for whom nothing will be persuasive. Lacking intellectual honesty, they cower far away from debate where they can cling to their fantasies. In denial, I should add.

Still awaiting that evidence. (It is really disappointing that I have to clarify that by "evidence" I mean "evidence." Maybe you should consult a dictionary first.)

Casey Wollberg said...

You have to explain something to me, Neo. Why is it that your god only intervenes in situations in which, as you freely admit, naturalistic explanations are readily available? In the Bible, he supposedly did all kinds of things that would have defied natural explanations. He made the "sun move backwards" for fuck's sake (for which there is no evidence, by the way)!

Why can't he heal amputees? Why can't he restore lost teeth in adults? Or does he have to stay hidden? Why not in Old Testament times? Excuses! These are obvious excuses. Only someone in denial, running away from the truth, would employ them.

And how do you feel about Shiva? Or Thor? Or Cthulhu? Think they don't exist? Sure you aren't in denial?

Why is it that theists in practice defer to naturalistic evidence in their everyday lives and embrace logic when it comes to everything except their own supernatural conceits?

Thor? Obviously not. Elohim? Of course! Why? Why, Neo? Why do you believe in one god and not all the others? What drives you to such imaginative flights of denial in the face of all this "evidence?"

Casey Wollberg said...

All theists make the same arguments, Neo, regardless of their favored imaginary friend. First they talk about "evidence," and then when that is exposed as bullshit, they move the goalposts just like you did and start talking about faith.

Look, you're just going to have to take your lumps if you're going to come on here (in my presence, at least) and dis atheism. Strike a more conciliatory tone, admit that atheism isn't nearly as ridiculous as you'd like it to be, and accept that your position is inferior with respect to evidence and logic.

You only have faith. That's all you have to go on. Just admit it, and stop talking nonsense about evidence for gods (that is, unless you have something that actually satisfies the definition of evidence, in which case I'd love to hear it). Then we might have a more pleasant discussion.

Ralph said...

Casey, I put the "no true seeker of freedom would be an atheist" so it would be recognized as the "no true scotsman" argument. I get you, I really do.

I like that idea of "inverted Pascal's wager". And i agree that atheists have been doing it, as they should, as all of us should.

I also suggested the video of David Deutsch at the top of the page, because it does address that ability of the mind to synthesize and draw correct conclusions when given correct data.

I'm kinda walking a path between BB's version of christianity and atheism, and proposing that there is a correct synthesis between the two.

To the extent that a Spiderman movie or comic book promoted individual freedom and responsibility(with great power comes great responsibility), I would promote that book. That would apply to Koran, or any other book.

Humans synthesise, they organize, they build systems where none existed, and then the system takes on a life of its own, and we call it religion and government.

Hoffer saw it as cleartly as possible. Once we join any group church or state, and give our loyaltires to it, we become "estranged from the self", and it becomes possible to lie, cheat, bully, murder, and torture, all in the name of that goodness, which we created in the first place, and which we made greater than ourselves.
Allen is correct when he says that all religion is a waste of time. There exists no possible choice within our power to set ourselves apart from the "world", because we ARE part of the world.

I don't mean to insult Neo or BB, but Paul said it clearly: there simply is no decision procedure by which any of us may declare ourselves in any way special or elect. If you believe in the bible, you are forced to logic, as Casey points out.

If there is a God who is all knowing, then he knows, and has known from the beginning, who will "accept" or "reject' him.

And Paul has conformed to that very logic by stating it with emphasis in Romans chapter 8 and 9.

If God is all knowing, you can't be saved by freewill choice. If you can be saved by freewill choice, then God is not all knowing.

The problem with christianity is that, once it accepts freewill choice in that area, it is forced to use human definitions of God, and those definitions are limited and subject to incompleteness.

There simply is no logical defense of christianity or any religion as representative of God.

Allen C. Dexter said...

"There simply is no logical defense of christianity or any religion as representative of God."

Well stated, Ralph. Casey was also right on.

All religions are the inventions of humans desperately searching for an answer to it all, and by some psychological quirk, they became convinced that they were the conduit. They didn't, I think, set out to manufacture anything evil, but once the movement became organized, all kinds of evils developed out of the drive for power and control.

Retired Prof said...

Ah, yes, Ralph raises the free will question: "If God is all knowing, you can't be saved by freewill choice. If you can be saved by freewill choice, then God is not all knowing."

The most thorough medieval examination of it comes in Book V Part 3 of Boethius' *Consolation of Philosophy*. You can read it here (scroll down to get Part 3):

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/b/boethius/consolation/book5.html#song35

Gerald Waterhouse's least favorite writer, Geoffrey Chaucer, used the major part of it almost word for word in *Troilus and Criseyde*. That's how I came to know it; I never read much philosophy for its own sake.

Ralph said...

Retired Prof, your reference gave me some insights into ancient law, which I've been studying so I could screw with the judge at my next traffic court appearance.

Boethius writes of those who provide information aginst him. This term has followed to the present day, with indictment by information and indictment by grand jury.

The colonists detested indictment by information, since it didn't allow jury trial, and allowed the state to judge according to its own rule, a practice directly condemend in Jeremiah 5:26-31. (common law origins)

I've studied those arguments about evil, God's perfect knowledge, etc. And I find many of Boethius' arguments quite applicable in terms of law, as for example the argument that the state should have mercy on the criminal since he does what he does out of weakness.

This same parallel occurs in Isaiah 54:17, in which the accused is given the protection of God and cannot be found guilty except by accusation and evidence.

Also, the right to face one's accuser in Isaiah 50:8 with the same guarantee.

Law, even from OT origins, presumes innocence until proven guilty by an accuser, and our US law is accusatorial, not inquisitorial.

What is most interesting about inquisotiral law is that the catholic church borrowed it from the Roman civil codes to accuse people of breaking God's law.

Pope Innocent III developed the practice of the "oath ex officio" which was forced on the accused, thus turning the accusatorial laws of the church into inquisitorial laws(see Leonard Levy's "Origins of the Fifth Amendment").

What is largely ignore in dealing with the matter of God's perfect knowledge is that God actually does no condemn. he protects or vindicates the accused. By forcing the accused to swear an oath to testify to "the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth", any question could be used for entrapment of the accused, and he could then be sentenced to death by the secular authorities.

As you know, "inquisition" and "inquisitorial law", worked quite well to murder many innocents by Pope Innocent.

This principle of law had the Roman inquisitorial form according to Roman code law, but the older law was the accusatorial law, demanding an indifferent judge who only saw to the procedurela due process priests of Israel served this purpose in trial, honoring the rights against self incrimination.

With that in mind, look at the tale of the trial of Jesus, who committed no blasphemy, committed no crime, remained silent, but was sentenced to death anyway.

As a consequence, the model built by Paul was a model built around accusatorial law versus inquisitorial law, the right of the individual to face his accusers, versus the inquisitorial power of Roman code laws.

The same laws were emphasized by Jesus, who taught settlement out of court(Matthew 5:25, Matt.18:15-18, based on the two witness rule of Deut.19;15).

The princile under law is simple enough: while God is all knowing and knows our actions in advance, as well as huis own childreen or "elect", the peole are not to condemn or judge(Matthew 7:1), since all are equally guilty of lawbreaking.

The principal aim of law, therefore, was not punishment, but as a 'schoolmaster', bringing us to knowledge of the law, but recognizing the presumption of innocence of all who came before the law.

All that Mithra Zoroaster crap was hodgepodged together by Constantine to avoid the revolution that was occurring from both Jews and christians. he organized christianity and made it a force of his law.

Neotherm said...

Why do atheists care what other people think in general and think about atheism in particular?

Atheists believe fundamentally that there is no spiritual dimension to human mind. We are all just biobots. We are a collection of chemical reactions in both mind and body.

But then atheists show up at your door step and want you to believe the same thing that they do. As if there is a process among all those varied chemical reactions that says this is right and that is wrong. They may even get pugnacious and use profanity.

The question is why should it make a difference to them? Why should dead materialism generate emotion and concern? How does a rejection of good and evil engender value systems that pervade their arguments?

Just curious. My toaster doesn't care what my dishwasher believes about God.

-- Neo

Corky said...

Wow! "The Future" really took off, didn't it?

To know the future . . . wouldn't that be great? We could avoid all the things we will get wrong in the future.

What would we have done in the past if we had known that gold would increase in value from $35 and ounce to over $1000 an ounce?

Believe it or not, some people did know that and got filthy rich. Not only that, they knew when to sell, which caused the value to fall.

However, speculators don't always guess right and end up flat broke and so deep in debt that they can never speculate again. That caused some suicides (or so I've heard) after the 1929 stock market crash.

Surely we cannot seriously consider that a 2500 year old book can predict the future. If so, then we must seriously consider that Assyria will become a powerful nation again (and no, Germany is not Assyria). Assyrians still exist today but are few in number and scattered and only in recent times have Assyrians migrated into Europe.

Obviously a failed prophecy of one of Israel's greatest prophets in the Bible and Israel never ruled Assyria as predicted by that prophet.

This same prophet predicted the overthrow of Tyre by Babylon - wrong again. Wrong twice, actually, because it was predicted that Babylon would win the next time after the first failure.

Finally, Alexander the Great did overthrow Tyre but the prophet neglected to mention Alexander. Well, how could he? Alexander didn't exist yet.

As far as the Apocalypse of John, it was a prediction of something that was to "shortly come to pass" because the time was "at hand". It tells this in the first 3 verses.

Ignoring those first 3 verses, makes it impossible to understand that "Mystery Babylon" is the city of Jerusalem and not the city of Rome.

The only real prediction of the book is the soon return of Jesus, the rest of the things mentioned before that prediction had already happened, i.e., the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple.

Evidently though, by the passing of over 1900 years, the book's one and only "shortly" prediction was not "at hand" and the writer was either mistaken or he was just trying to pump new hope into his followers. In other words, he was lying for Jesus, the same as many others have done down through the many centuries since that time.

Ralph said...

One can get into the Averroist creed here, "I believe it because it is absurd!"

Get around that one! :)

Wouldn't it be great if we could simply put everything in place and know exactly what was supposed to happen?

In answer to Corky, I did pretty well from following the trends of money as I understood them from Daniel 2. Did quite well on the gold thing as well, simply by realizing that the power the state grows as it cheapens money.

But here's the simple realization from all arguments against prophecy. If it could be proven with exact understanding and applied, it would already have been applied in favor of the very powers that now control us, which is church and state.

Those who argue for christianity and for its proofs will be continually disappointed.

The argument that the brain is more than a biobot is also unconvincing, because there is no evidence for that, either.

Based on evidence, atheists win. Based on human knowledge, the only correct default position is atheism. If you believe in God, you must assume the existence of God outside any capacity of human proof.

That doesn't mean there is no God. It simply means there will never be any human organization by any standard of human reason that can represent God.

Even the understanding and control of prophecy by any particular group would give that group a power to coerce and rule, and such power, as we see from history, tends toward corruption.

Now, if there were true followers who wrote prophecy that were lying for Jesus, we would first have to assume that those followers were actually true followers, or if they were as deceived by their assumptions as believers are now.

Well, if any man says to you, Lo, here is Christ...

If there exists no decision procedure to demonstrate any special relation to God, then that would include knowledge of prophecy as well.

Casey Wollberg said...

@ Neo:

Still running away from the arguments. Why can't you just be honest?

"Why do atheists care what other people think in general and think about atheism in particular?"

Scraping the bottom of the barrel here, aren't we? Running out of material? Of course you are.

Just remember who started off insulting a whole swathe of people he doesn't even know, without reasonable basis, just because they don't believe in gods. And now you're doing it again, implying that someone who rejects unsupportable claims must also be devoid of emotion or passion. Ridiculous. Absurd. Stupid. Offensive.

"Atheists believe fundamentally that there is no spiritual dimension to human mind. We are all just biobots. We are a collection of chemical reactions in both mind and body."

First off, atheism is just the non-belief in gods. You may think that strict materialism is implied by atheism, but it is not necessarily the case. I know atheists who believe in ghosts. Hell, most Buddhists are atheists.

Materialism stands quite well on its own merits, however. Obviously you haven't looked into it or you wouldn't have to ask the questions you do. The answers are readily available, if you have the balls to do your own research.

"But then atheists show up at your door step and want you to believe the same thing that they do."

When? When has an atheist showed up at your door to proselytize? Or do you mean this metaphorically, and are laying the proselytizing charge at my feet? If so, this is a red herring.

I'm not trying to get you to change your mind, because I know you won't. But I'm pointing out for the sake of those more intelligent than you the problems with your accusations against atheism. I'm coming to the defense of an often poorly understood perspective that you continue to unfairly malign in your willful ignorance.

"As if there is a process among all those varied chemical reactions that says this is right and that is wrong."

How do you know there isn't? In fact, what at all do you know about the subject? Obviously very little. There is no evidence that morality is a magical substance that is divinely mandated to us by direct transmission through the assholes of preachers. But there is a lot of evidence piling up for a biological origin for morality. Again, do your own research and draw your own conclusions--if you have the cajones even to consider evidence against your own position.

"They may even get pugnacious and use profanity."

Grow the fuck up and get used to it. You started off pugnacious, and I attempted to correct that; apparently it's okay if you are mean and nasty, but atheists are not allowed. They should shut their mouths and know their place, right? Bullshit. And profanity is just words.

"The question is why should it make a difference to them? Why should dead materialism generate emotion and concern?"

Why the hell shouldn't it? Again, do some research. You obviously have no clue about this subject. You're way out of your depth here, and out of your league, I'm afraid. Come back when you know enough to have a conversation.

Casey Wollberg said...

"How does a rejection of good and evil engender value systems that pervade their arguments?"

Who's rejecting good and evil? You continue to put your ignorance on display. It's becoming evident to me that you've never actually encountered a serious and vocal atheist. I hope you are capable of learning something from this exchange, but I doubt you are.

Have you ever heard of ethics? Look it up. Notice that ethical philosophy does not require a supernatural element. In fact, morality and ethics are free to flourish more fully in a humanistic context that embraces materialism, as compared to a religious context, wherein supernatural considerations often trump ethical ones.

For example, do you think it's good or evil for the religious to promote abstinence-only programs in African countries, where their anti-contraception stance has contributed greatly to an already burgeoning AIDs epidemic? Do you think it was good or evil for your precious Yahweh to command the Israelites to murder disobedient children? How about homosexuality? Do you think it's good or evil for "God" to command their murder? Do you think it's good or evil for them to be discriminated against in any way? Your answers to these questions will reveal whether it is in fact *you* who has rejected good and evil.

"Just curious. My toaster doesn't care what my dishwasher believes about God."

I'm not a toaster or a dishwasher, scumbag. You think materialism means nihilism and misanthropy because you are projecting your own philosophy onto me. I suggest yet again that you do some research before leaping to such absurd conclusions about a philosophy to which you have had no exposure. Now, I do have a lot of exposure to your worldview (I strongly believed it myself for nearly 30 years), and I'll say something about your own misanthropy, which you are projecting onto materialism.

Human life doesn't count for much to the superstitious, who think that this life, this "present evil world" has been relegated by their sky-daddy (the only being worthy of real respect, a non-human) to the scrapheap. We humans are just dung to you, right? Without that spiritual element (for which there is no evidence) we would be less than nothing.

Well, that lack of imagination is your problem, not mine. You'll never get it as long as you continue to look at everything with those theistic blinders on. When you come out of the cave of superstition into the light of reason, you begin to see things differently. But I guess you'll never know what that's like, because you have fully embraced the blindness called faith.

But do your research anyway; see what you're actually up against, instead of throwing out arguments from ignorance from the safety and comfort of your cave.

Corky said...

The thing is, Ralph, there are no fulfilled prophecies in the book of books. The prophecies that were "fulfilled" were written after the fact. All the real predictions that the prophets made failed to happen.

Even in the New Testament, the prediction or prophecy of Jesus about the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple were written after 70 AD. There was no such prophecy in the time of Paul because his writings were before the Jewish war. And, as you would expect, Paul makes no mention of the destruction of the temple.

In other words, Jesus didn't make such a prediction, the gospel writers did. The writers probably figured that Jesus could have accurately predicted it, so they put the words into his mouth after the fact, i.e., after 70 AD.

It's pretty easy to make prophecies of things that have already happened, the trick is to make people believe they were predicted before the fact.

How did they do that? The same way preachers always have, by saying that "all scripture is given by inspiration of God".

By laying claim to the gifts of holy spirit, men have laid claim to speaking for God and only they can correctly understand the words they say were written by inspiration of the holy spirit.

2Pet. 1:20-21 says this very plainly. Since men wrote the Bible by the inspiration of the holy spirit, it takes men who are in possession of the holy spirit to interpret it.

In other words, the apostles were in possession of the holy spirit and their words are God's words but no one can understand them except the priests and bishops of the church. You can't interpret them yourself, no private interpretations allowed.

Hell, they even killed people for translating the Bible into English. They did not want the Bible read by anyone except those in ecclesiastical authority in the Christian Church.

Byker Bob said...

Meanwhile, over at Mt. Ararat, there seems to be some excavation ongoing..........

BB

Retired Prof said...

Neo, my best guess is that "dead materialism generate(s) emotion and concern" because atheists have inherited the same set of genes for social interaction as everybody else.

Our species evolved in small hierarchal groups that worked smoothly only if everyone behaved more or less according to expectations. In all cultures, people are expected to dress properly, use proper table (or fireside) manners, speak properly, travel on the proper side of the road, and participate properly in group rituals. People who fail to do so may be ridiculed, punished, or driven out. It is only the impulse to follow group norms that is programmed by our genes; the norms themselves vary according to conventions that develop within the group.

Behavioral norms are usually tied to a group's world views, and we treat heretical notions the same ways we treat transgressive behavior.

Here's where problems arise. We no longer live in small, isolated groups, but we've still got parochial impulses. We give in to them to correct the behavior and the beliefs of others who live in "our jurisdiction," no matter how large and diverse its population may be. We try to persuade them to reject their preferred art, literature, and music and accept ours; we ridicule their dialects and try to teach them ours; we try to convert them to our belief about how the universe is organized.

The Jehova's Witnesses, Muslims, and other evangelicals make such attempts a policy.

I didn't realize till you said something that some atheists follow a similar policy and go door to door as Materialism Witnesses. Where do you live, that they come knocking and try to persuade you to believe in the theological Void? Such a thing never happens around here.

The Painful Truth said...

Byker Bob said...

Meanwhile, over at Mt. Ararat, there seems to be some excavation ongoing..........

Didn't they do that before? It seems some years ago they thought they discovered something like an ark and it turned out to be rock formations.
And if they find an ark does that prove the bible version of the flood?

Ralph said...

Corky, I've never argued for fulfilled prophecy as proof of truth. I argue that there is not and never has been a decision procedure by which we may get to God.

Your other statements about the special priests being the only ones to uderstand the truth, and killing those who didn't believe, well, you totally ignore There are no religions and never were that represented God in truth, which is consistent with Paul's teachings and the statements attributed to Jesus. what I've already stated.

Corky said...

Ralph, I have no arguments with your proof-texts because they really are "the way it is" in the real world and I completely agree with the conclusions you have drawn from those quotes you use.

However, Paul did not have the view of which you give him credit.

Paul was a celibate misogynist, a Roman (as it turned out) who disagreed with the apostles in Jerusalem about keeping the law of Moses.

Neither Paul nor Jesus had a thing in the world against slavery and neither one said anything against it. And, I suppose you know what some slaves were used for? Especially female slaves and young boys? None of those things was mentioned by either one of those famous founders of Christianity.

Even in the resulting RCC of today, the leaders are more concerned about condoms in Africa than they are about pederast priests.

Just as Paul, they throw rocks at homosexuals and other people's sex lives and ignore the beams in their own eyes.

To Jesus and Paul, you either believe and obey the commandments of the church or you are condemned. Jesus himself supposedly said "you are my friends if you do whatsoever I command you."

You have to read all of what they said and not just pick and choose the pieces of paragraphs that you like and ignore the rest.

Repent and believe the gospel, they said. And, what is that gospel? That the kingdom of God is soon coming to rule over the nations with a rod of iron. Of course, that's with Jesus and his apostles as the head honchos.

And, they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.

Didn't happen - is not going to happen, but it's about religion, Judaism in particular and has nothing to do with real freedom but merely a change (repentance) of religious bondage from Pharisaical Judaism's bondage to Christianity's bondage - but still a bondage.

Need a list of New Testament commandments? I have one in hand right now.

What are commandments? Rules you have to follow to the letter to be a real Christian and be "saved". Does that sound like freedom?

Ralph said...

Slavery? 1 Corinthians 7:21.

"Art thou called being a servant? Care not for it: but if thou mayest be made free, use it rather.

Verse 23: "Ye are bought with a price. be ye not the servants of men".

Rocks at homosexuals? Look at Romans 1, where Paul actually does deal with homosexuality. As I ciovered in another post, his reference was clearly to Israel and their habots of homosexuality, even tough they had been shown the power of Gd personally(as fatr as Paul knew). And then points out in chapter 2: "Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest another. Thou condemnest thyself".

Of course Paul said there was no need to keep the law, since the simple logic of his statrements in Romans 8 and 9 eliminated all possibility.

You blew that one out your ass, Corky. And, as I pointed ut earlier, the "kingdom of God" is available now, with the laws set up as they are in the US, with all states recognizing the sovereignty of God.

And your last paragrahp? I've already blown that one out of the water. Why do you make me keep repeating the obvious?

Casey Wollberg said...

Corky's right, Ralph. But you believe what you want, man; at least you are working hard to interpret the scripture in a way that brings it in line with the values of modern secular humanism. But then, why do we need the scriptures? Well, of course, we don't. Our morals come from us, and some of us use them to decide what the Bible ought to say, while others pass on the Bible altogether, as it is obviously irrelevant. Either way, we all agree that we shouldn't remain as slaves if we were "called" that way (as the other part of the scripture you referred to suggests). Right?

Casey Wollberg said...

"all states recognizing the sovereignty of God."

Which god? And this brings to mind that Arkansas, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas, in contrast with the US Constitution, deny non-believers the right to hold public office. How do you like that? Arguably, on average, the most honest, intelligent, forthright members of our society treated like second-class citizens, feared and maligned because of the superstitions of the foolish. Any wonder I get a little...flamboyant?

Ralph said...

Here's the thing about "proof texting". If I point to those texts which liberate and make an individual free of all imagined authority, am I not actually writing truth?

After all, this is the message of the atheist. Who needs God when reason itself can set us free?

All of us, atheiest or religious, believe what we wish, because we simply have no other choice. Godel's theorem.

This by itself would demnostrate the simple truth of Romans 8:7, 8:29-30, and 9:16-22.

It is also these very scriptures that eliminate any authority to Corky's last paragraph concerning commandments. Freedom cannot be contained in law, as Ayn Ramnd pointed out. If it is a comandment, it is to be obeyed by force, leaving no room for morality.

However, law, as presented by both Paul and Jesus allow for liberation FROM the secular forces that would seek to enslave us by such mobocratic forces as rule by the majority.

For example, Jesus' statement that "I cam not to destroy the law".

In fact, he went further to point out that heaven and earth would pass before one jot or tittle of the law would pass.

This becomes the foundation for what was later referred to as "due process of law" as stated by Chief Justice Edward Coke of England and Justice Joseph Story of the US.

That is, if any individual is brought before the power of the state, every jot and tittle regarding his case must be examined, and he has the right to argue his case from the perspective of every jot and tittle.

That very principle, in itself consistent with the philosophy of both Paul and Jesus, empowers me to argue the case for freedom in both a secular and religious sense.

Define "God". Can't be done.

If you study the writings of Paul in conjunctin with the law as stated in Deuteronomy 17:6 and 19:15, the princile of "presumed innocence" becomes paramount before the law.

Romans 3:9: "..for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles that they are all under sin(law);".

Since sin is the breaking of the law, and since all governments claim the power of law, all are under the power of law. Next verse:

"There is none righteous, no not one".

But what Paul then introduces is freedom from the law by placing everyt person under "honor". As jesus died to pay the penalty of law, so are all who accept that sacrtifice dead to the law, free of the penalties imposed by men. Absolute habeas corpus, which, if you read Blackstone, is fully consistent with common law.

In Romans 3:20, we come to the very logical and commonsense conclusion which is enforced every time you go to court.

"Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin".

Even in a nation like the US, which professes freedom, we all are "under law", bound by constitutional mandate. But is that law the only law? While it is "supreme" in the sense that it rules over the states, it is limited by powers in "pursuance of the constitution", but it is also limited by common law, guaranteed under "due process' in the 5th and 14th amendment.

What was constructed by Paul has developed over centuries to allow any person to challenge the authority of law to deprive him/her of life, liberty, or property.

Try again dudes.

Corky said...

Ralph, what you have done is to read into the Bible what you want to get out of it.

The Bible is all about obedience to God - which includes all his commandments, supposedly given to Israel through Moses.

Obedience to those laws did have force behind them - mostly the death penalty for any infraction by the authorities of the church. Israel was not under secular law, it was a theocracy, they were under ecclesiastical (old covenant with God) law which was enforced by the priesthood.

Paul's advent brought ecclesiastical law of a slightly different flavor and it also was enforced by the authorities of the church. Instead of imposing the literal death penalty of the old testament - infractions were punished by disfellowshipment and turning the offender over to the already existing Jewish and Roman authorities and let them put the offender to death.

The law that Paul was preaching freedom from was the old testament law of Moses. He was not preaching freedom from secular law nor from the new testament law of the church. In fact he was one of the enforcers himself 1Cor. 4:21. He was not joking about that "rod".

Fastforward 300 years and you have ecclesiastical law being enforced by the Roman Empire by the dealth penalty for even unbelief in Jesus.

Fastforward 1400 more years and you have the power of ecclesiastical law being broken by the Constitution of the United States of America - the first free nation on earth.

It's definitely not the kingdom of God, as some would like it to be, because non-believers and gays are allowed to live in it and women actually have rights.

The ecclesiastical powers (that want to be reinstituted) have to be fought for every tiny bit of freedom we have and even beer can't be sold on Sunday in some states yet today. I can remember when nothing but food from the grocery store could be sold on Sunday and I'm only 62 years old. You couldn't even buy a light bulb on Sunday or mow your yard without having the wrath of God pronounced on you.

That's an example of the freedom of the new testament church began by Jesus and Paul.

Ralph said...

Corky, it seems you're proof texting. Read Deuteronomy 17:6 and 19:15. That is known as accusatorial law, supplanted by the catholics with inquisitorial law, mostly beginning with Pope Innocent III, who instituted the oath making the church an inquisitional power to screw people over.

The priesthood, with a separation of powers, a kinf without divine rights, and focus on the law WITH protections against perjury and a guarantee of two witnesses. Priests, however, were in charge of procedural due process.

Corky, look again at Romans 8:7, 8:29-30, and 9:16-22. There is no human authority to enforce any law, because no inbe can make any claim to such authority.

If the human mind is enmity against God and cannot be subject to God's law, by what possible authority can anyone calim themselves as enforcers of God?

Yes, Paul recommended "delivering to Satan". because as we see in Matthew 4 and Luke 4, Satan was the ruler of world governments.

But you will also notice that in Jesus' teaching in matthew 5:25 and in Matthew 18:15-18, Jesus supposedly said that in any trespass, the solution can be worked out between the two involved, or bring along a witness after the rue in Deuteronomy 19:15.

If they couldn;t settl it, it could be brought before the community or church. But notice Jesus' admonition that if a party didnlt accept it, he was to be treated as a "Gentile or tax collector". Why? because the "publicani" were despised and hated as agents of secular government. Jesus did not advocate tax enforced trials.

Paul himself followed this same procedure after recommending that they be delivered to Satan. His statement was that all issues between believers was to be solved by a form of trial by jury. But notice that both Jesus and Pauil taught thayt christians were NOT to seek vengeance in any form(Romans 12:19, preceding the "higher powers" of Romans 13.

Corky, if there is no decision procedure by which to declare oneself "elect" or a son of God, then quite obviously the "fastforward" you suggest is of a false power, as we can reasd from history. Constantine was a believer in Mithra, buit found it more useful to take christianity as it then existed because christianity was opposed to secular power, due to the simple teachings of both jesus and Paul.

Obviously the Constitution violates freedoms guaranteed by common law, with its violation of allowing escaped slaves from being free, also allowed in the bible(Deuteronomy 23:15-16).

Any LewRockwell Von Mises libertarian will tell you what a joke the Constitution is.

Women had rights even under the early christian religion before Constantine, more rights than was offered under Mithra. Gays were not condemned by Paul, though the act was condemned in Romans 1 due to Israel's actions. Romans 2:1 shows that Paul never condemened homosexuals, though he did point out they would not be in the kingdom of God in 1 Cor.6:10, but also noted that among those members "such were some of you".

But even paul could not claim his followers to be elect. He cancelled that with his own teachings.

Again, your examples of the "New testament Chrch established by Jesus and Paul" will simply not hold water, even from a bilical perspective. This is a very literal example of a straw man argument.

"Look at what pweope have done in Gods name!" (straw man) "Why, they have killed and murdered and done all types of evil!"

So have governments. So does our government which seeks to separate church and state.

From Paul's teachings in Romans 8 and 9, and from Jesus' teaching in Matthew 24:23, there is no way you can equat e the evl done "in God's name" as the same teachig of Jesus and Paul.

Corky said...

Yep, I see what you mean, Ralph. It's a new perspective for me and kind of hard to get my mind around it but I must say that it is a solid argument.

If the human mind is enmity against God and cannot be subject to God's law, by what possible authority can anyone calim themselves as enforcers of God?

The simple answer is, they can't.

Of course, they do it, but they really don't have the authority to do it.

They claim to possess the power of the holy spirit as the authority but I have never seen a one of them demonstrate that they actually possess such a power.

"I have the power of the indwelling holy spirit in me", they claim. But, that's all it is, a claim and as far as I can tell, it's a false claim. Do you know of anyone today who can speak in an unlearned language as the apostles supposedly did? No? I didn't think so.

Ralph said...

Corky, when this idea first popped totally intro my mind, it blew me away. I realized I could screw with everybody's head.

Actually my dad gave me the key verse before he died. He gave me the Romans 8:29-30 thing, and my mother came along and read Galatians 3:29, which gfave me this really neat idea.

What if all "true christians" are actually born exactly in the fashion as Isaac and predesitned and foreknown. Then there ain;t no authorities. I can take the bible and evn show the law courts they're wrong.

I can argue for total freedom!

That's why, to my knowledge, I'm the only Marine Private who defended himself in a court martial for desertion, and not only won, but I got an apology and meritorious promotion from the marines!

Yeah, I gues I could argue atheism, but the courts in every state recognize the sovereignty of God. If somebody gives you a race horse, don't go looking around his mnouth. Use that sucker the best you can.

Casey Wollberg said...

"Yeah, I gues I could argue atheism, but the courts in every state recognize the sovereignty of God. If somebody gives you a race horse, don't go looking around his mnouth. Use that sucker the best you can."

Ralph, I've been reading all your comments about this, and I have to be honest: I have no idea what the hell you're talking about. It sounds like obscurantism, but then I don't even know what it is you're trying to say.

Ralph said...

I understand, Casey. My conclusions are based on years of exploration into history, leading me into an exactly opposite direction from what we assume about the teachings of the bible.

A very enkightening book would be Leonard Levy's Pulitzer Prize winning book, "Origins of the Fifth Amendment".

Levy, is a recognized autority in th ehistory of law, and has also written, "Origins of the Bill of Rights".

Atheism has become the 'default" authority in the US and in science, because we are being told outright lies and then we are told that those lies represent the truth about the New Testament.

In fact, they do not, and there is a partnership which has developed between church and state which our founder would have rejected outright.

5th amendment and 14th amendment, for example, guarantee that no person may be deprived of life,lierty, or property without due process of law. "Due Porcess" is clearly defined by the founders as common law, not constitutional law.

Here is the value of common law and its right to challenge constitutional law.

1.All states recognize sovereingty of God, so whether you swear as a christian or affirm as an atheist, you are still committed to the sovereignty of God. You are subject to perjury in either case, and you have given the state permission to rule in favor of its own legislation.
2.The accused, under Isaiah 54:17 have complete protection of God against the accuser. No exception.
3.The accused also have the right to face accuser with God's protection. Since God is the recognized sovereign of the state, no statwe may accuse you byt the simple power of legislation. There must be a legitimate accuser, and TWO WITNESSES for any offence(Deut 19:15).
4. No state may abridge these common lawe privileges or deny them to ANY PERSON.

Are we told or taught this? No. The legal system is guilty of the very process of which Jesus condemend the lawyers of his day in Luke 11:52.

Corky said...

Ralph, you make a pretty good case for God not even being real but actually a personification of law, judgment, justice and mercy.

The rest of the Bible would just be metaphor and allegory and symbolic examples of the above.

Ralph said...

Corky, I was reading about Roman law and the Byzantine empire, along with the jewish influence.

Even the emperor, at Constantinople after about 330 AD, made himself subject to the influence of the law.

Look at the scriptures regarding the king of Israel, long before there ever was an actual king. he was to make himself a copy of the law by his own hand and learn it completely. he had no divine right to decide otherwise.(Deut 17:19).

God was personified in law, and no accused man could be presumed guilty, since God(law) would not permit it without the proven testimony of at least two witnesses, and even by Jewish law, a witness had to warn a person of an act if he or she saw the person about to commit the act.

To "witness" under ancient law was to actually warn someone of the consequences befalling them.

Laws against perjury were very strict(false witness). If one claimed to have witnessed another committing a crime, it had to be proven that the witness had, in fact given a warning to make sure the "perp" knew what s/he was doing. They were their brother's keeper.

If one is found lying, then s/he pays the penalty which would have been imposed on the accused.

Since all traffic court tickets are unconstitutional, that means, under the "sovereignty of God" clause in all state constitutions, I shoud collect payment from judge, prosecutor, and traffic cop.

Casey Wollberg said...

"Since all traffic court tickets are unconstitutional, that means, under the "sovereignty of God" clause in all state constitutions, I shoud collect payment from judge, prosecutor, and traffic cop."

That is, since you are supposed to be innocent until proven guilty?

What's the point of calling law "God," though? And I don't have to make an oath to God, legally, in order to subject myself to perjury; I can make an affirmation that my testimony is true, to the best of my ability to make it so, without reference to superfluous divinities.

There is no need to invoke "God" in courts, or in any other public institution, even if it is just an equivocation, as you seem to be suggesting. Law is a human invention, whether "common" or "constitutional," regardless of the superstitions attached to it historically. So, what does "God" have to do with it?

"Atheism has become the 'default" authority in the US and in science..."

I think what you mean by this is that, because of our *secular* (rather than atheistic) culture, we have been taught certain things about the New Testament that you don't agree with, and you are suggesting a less conventional continuum from Talmudic law, through common law, to the modern legal system in the U.S. Is that right?

Science (whether as a method or an institution) is in no sense in subjection to atheism, and the U.S. certainly is not, with some 70 to 80 percent of the population saying they believe in God.

But the government is supposed to be *secular*, and is in no sense "atheist," if that's what you were driving at. And, of course, "secular" just means that it stays out of the business of encouraging or discouraging religious beliefs. And that is just how it should be, according to the founders--and they had sound reason on their side in this contention.

I have to say I'm still not clear on what you are proposing.

Corky said...

Casey, Ralph is saying that since Christians can't prove God exists, then atheism is the default position.

Since Christians can't prove they know the mind of God, then the conclusion is they have only a natural, human mind just like everyone else - including atheists.

(the shorter simpler version).

Ralph said...

Thanks, Corky. Casey, I know trhere is the right to affirm as a witness, but if you asre the accuswed for any reason, that affirmation is just a ruse by the court to get your permission to prosecute you. It goes all the way back to Pope Innocent III, and it has been modified, but, if you look at all state constitutions, tyhe recognize God in some form as sovereign.

So, by law, even if you affirm, you have placed yourself under court jurisdiction to punish you according to statutory law.

The reason for this is that "due process" is common law, not state law or statutory law. It is defined as pre-existing the constitution, and is also defined as "lawful judgement of peers".

Before the 14th amendment, states had the power of common law, but now the states are also deprived by simply copying the 5th amendment into the 14th amendment. All protections, as Jusrice Clark pointed out, by the the copy of the 5th amendment into the 14th give sanction of exclusion against the states as against the federal government.

Consequently, since all states recognize the sovereignty of God, they must get you to swear or affirm before they can proceed with prosecution.

Swearing/affirming is required for all court officers and executive officers under Article 6, Clause 3. Oliver Wolcott at the ratifying convention stated "This is a direct appeal to that God who is the avenger of perjury".

As the accused, you are not required to swear or affirm. You cannot be compelled to testify against yourself.

The US Constitution was no allowed to encourage religious beliefs, but ancient laws pre-existing the Constitution was based in commom law, and all courts of justice are supposed to be common law.

So, actually, you are committing yourself to a religious prosecution when you swear or affirm.

Casey Wollberg said...

"This is a direct appeal to that God who is the avenger of perjury".

Well if "God" is the avenger of perjury then why do we need human penalties for it? Obviously, it makes no practical difference whether common law is the basis for perjury. It is in place for a reason, and it has nothing to do with gods: it is to discourage people from giving false testimony, and the swearing/affirming process is to give the witness fair warning. Same situation as those official documents in which you have to sign a statement declaring the information you have provided is accurate, to the best of your knowledge. It's a way of holding people accountable for the veracity of their remarks in an official capacity, and it is perfectly sensible to my mind, with or without reference to deities (but especially the latter). If no one had ever believed in a god, I'm pretty sure this legal item would still have been invented.

Casey Wollberg said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ralph said...

Casey, one of my favorite comedy routines is of George Carlin, where he talks about swearing to God. This is precisely whayt the accused is told NOT to swear or affirm. Because if my life is on the line, I'm gonna swear my ass off and swear before God it is absolute truth! The principle actualy goes back to conclusions from Aristotle, or the idea of natural law, that any person, faced with necessity, will lie if it keeps him/her alive.

That is why you cannot be compelled, under oath or affirmation to testify against yourself if accused, and you MUST be presumed innocent.

Now suppose the legislature passes a law that makes you guilty, such as a seatbelt law.

This means that whatever laws the legislature passes, if you are accused, you will be guilty in the eyes of the state, should you break it.

"God" is a handy little trick to protect your innocence. If the state (human laws) accuse you, then "God" stands as your vindicator.

Suppose the law says there is no God, nor a need to recgnize such authority. Who then is the authority? The fucking mob. Whatever the fucking greedy grasping mob says is law. If the mob says theyt have a right to take your life, liberty, or property, who are you to argue with the law?

The argument provided by the anti-federalists was that if the US constitution should create a judiciary that decided matters of lawfulness, what was to stop it from simply increasing its own power through passing those laws that increased its power?

What check or balance was there? Force. Whether 2nd amendment, or rebellion, or whatever, force was the only remedy.

Consequently, the 5th amendment reciognized due process, common law, lawful judgement of peers, as lying outside the power of state or federal law.

Is that practiced today? Not really. Why? Precisely because the very concept of God, on which due process was based, has been eliminated from constitutional consideration.

Personally, whether God exists or not, I like to be able to look at any judge or legislature and say "Fuck you, Jack! God says you can't do this, so kiss my ass!"

What is interesting is that the so-called God featring christians today mis-apply "render unto Caesar", totally ignore the original meaning of due process, and tell us that Romans 13 says we MUST obey the higher powers!

Screw that nationalistic ass kissing bunch!

Now, as an atheist under law, what provisions would you offer as protection of your rights? You can't do this! because....because...uh, I have rights!"

"What rights?"

"Uh...due process!"

"You just got due process. You accepted the judgement of the state, and now you go to jail".

For the purpose of law, fictional or not, God is an excellent protector.