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Friday, May 7, 2010

When Believers and Unbelievers Collide

A few weeks ago, I took my car to the mechanic because of a noise in its front end. It turned out there was nothing seriously wrong with it. But car problems are not what I want to talk about. Rather, it's about one of many false impressions that people have about agnostics or atheists in general.

My Christian mechanic is a kind, gentle, honest person and married to one of my late husband's high school classmates. Before he became ill and died, Fred had told this man--I'll call him Karl, but that's not his real name--that I was no longer a believer. Until over a year after Fred's death, nothing was mentioned to me personally by Karl or his wife about my unbelieving status.

(And, by the way, I didn't hold it against my Fred for talking to his Christian friends about my de-conversion. He needed to confide in believers just as I need to confide in my unbelieving friends for support. I'm quite sure Fred asked many to pray for me. When I left relgion, this was one of the few times in our long married life that Fred and I weren't able to express our deepest feelings to each other. Our love was just as strong, but a "knot" formed in our otherwise smooth relationship.)

Anyway, during the course of a conversation around the first of this year, Karl told me that Fred had informed him of my leaving religion and church behind. We then had a short discussion about my humanist atheism. My first book (Dare to Think for Yourself) was mentioned, and I asked Karl if he would like to read it.

"Well," he said, "I'll take a look at it if you will agree to watch a Lutheran TV program that I think you'll find interesting and may change your mind and bring you back to God."

"Okay," I replied, "I have no problem with that." In fact, I watched two of the telecasts and later told Karl that the man was a fine speaker, but he didn't convince me that I am wrong. I told him that he sounded like any other conservative televangelist and offered no proof for his beliefs.

Karl said nothing about my assessment of the messages from the Lutheran pastor whom he no doubt respects and admires other than, "You have too many questions, Betty."

Later, Karl returned my book through an employee of his without a note or a relayed "thank you" or any other comment. So at the recent encounter mentioned in the beginning of this short article, I asked if he read the book and what he thought of it.

I had never heard this gentle man gossip about another person, utter one curse word, or denigrate anyone (except maybe politicians). On that day, however, the expression on his face hardened; and he said, "Betty, I think you're a tool of the Devil."

I just smiled, shrugged and replied, "Well, Karl, I don't even believe there is a devil. In fact, I don't believe there is any so-called spiritual entity of any kind."

"Then I suppose you think that when you die, that's it. No afterlife, no looking forward to heaven or fearing hell?" he spat out.

"That's right, Karl. But I enjoy this life. I look forward to every day. I enjoy helping others and doing what I can to alleviate pain, loneliness, and suffering. I volunteer at a local food bank, contribute what little money I can afford to help those in disaster stricken areas as well as animal welfare agencies."

"Why do you do all that? What do you get out of it when you are an admitted atheist? What do you hope to gain?" he asked in bewilderment.

"I don't know that I personally get anything out of it except the satisfaction of helping others," I responded. "Unlike when I was a Christian I don't expect a reward for doing something good or to earn points with some sort of god or even with other people."

Karl just glared at me without comment, and I took that opportunity to excuse myself and let him get back to his work.

I don't think I'll ask him if he would like to read my recently published second book (The Homemade Atheist). I don't want to antagonize him further and maybe lose the services of a good mechanic--or, more importantly, friendship, if I already haven't, of a couple whom I've enjoyed knowing for about 19 years.

But such things happen. Believe me they happen.

I wonder how many others (both believers and unbelievers) have had similar experiences.

97 comments:

Ralph said...

Betty, you only piss off believers. I piss off atheists and believers. To borrow from your first book title, "Dare To Think For Yourself", I would argue that thinking for yourself is the only way you can truthfully follow God.

My argument to your believer mechanic is the same i resent to atheists(and look how I pissed them off!).

1.If the carnal, natural mind is enity against God and cannot be subject to God, how do you know the Lutheran church represents God?

If he says it has God's spirit, how would he know that, since his natural mind is enmity against God and cannot be subject to God? What possible proof could he offer to a natural mind such as my own? In fact, what proof could he offer even to his own natural mind?

Here's the paradoxical logic I throw at him: If he truly followed the biblical God, he would be forced to admit that there exists no possible proof subject to the natural mind, therefore, logically and truthfully, he would have to reject any proposed authority of ANY religion. As a believer only in truith, he would be forced to take the logical position taken by the atheist, that there is no reason to follow or believe what you cannot prove, which BTW, is consistent with Jesus' statement in Matthew 24:23.

Assuming that God is the sum of truth and only truth, then it is the atheist, not the believer, who serves God in truth!

Can there be any authority over man which cannot be proven legitimately? Certainly not any authority created by the mind of man, since that, by definition, would be idolatry. Any "God" placed before the true God would have to be a God created by human imagination, and since we now know even mathematically that truth cannot be contained by any one system of human thought, every single religion subject to human rules that tries to define one true God must logically be idolatry. That is a mathematical theorem.

In any set of conjoined propositions, if one proposition is false, the whole set is false. Since, in determing an absolute truth, there exist an infinity of undecidable propositions, there would be no human way of knowing if ANY religion at all could truly represent God.

So, by conclusions of logic and mathematics, only the atheist can truly represent God!

Now beat that argument! The only way you can is by proving that there actually exists a system of human thought that does represent God. Neither the atheist nor believer can do so, which leaves "God" outside human definitions, and therefore open to infinite interpretations.

The argument "for" or "against" God would be irrelevant in terms of "God's will", which takes us rioght back to Romans 9:16-22.

Betty Brogaard said...

Ralph, I don't want to offend you; but I am usually confused by your posts. (But maybe I'm just not as smart as you are.) Sometimes you seem to be a believer, and at other times, you seem to be an atheist. I wonder if you actually are an agnostic (which I have generally believed there is no such position--one either believes there is a god or there isn't.) It seems to me that you don't really know what you believe. Anyway, thanks for trying to express yourself.

Ralph said...

I know exactly what I believe, and my beliefs are fully consistent with logic.

There exists no decision procedure by which we may get from here to God. Consistent with Godel's theorem. Also consistent with Romans 8:7, 8:29-30, and 9:16-22.

That is precisely what I believe. It is fully consistent with Matthew 24:23.

Therefore, the atheist can only conclude that is is s/he who isn;t sure whts/he believes, since s/he must decide "for" or "against" that which is already shown biblically to be fully consistent with logic.

I propose that it is you(and believers) who are in confusion, because you are deeply convinced that in order to believe in God, you must believe in some human concept of God. Yet any human concept of God would logically be idolatry, which is a violation of one of the biggies. It is you, the atheist, and believer, who is confused, because you try to focus any concept of truth or of God within human definitions, and both arguments, atheism and belief, are subject to incompleteness and inconsistency.

Why propose that I am confused when you admit you are confused?

You are confused by your insence that God must somehow be limited within the confines of human thought, just as the believer is confused for the same reason.

Saying that I must be confused because you do not understand me is like saying "He must be drunk. I see two of him".

Ralph said...

let me add to that. The only thing you can freely choose to believe or not believe in regard to God, is that which you assume to be true about God/no God.

To say that "one either believes or one doesn'f is to assume the existence of something defineable either in terms of the believer's definition or the atheist's definition.

The problem is, there is no way to place such limits on a concept such as God, since one must presume certain aspects of God or no God that "prove" the person's point of view. That is, in order to believe or not believe, it is necessary to first selct the reasons for either, which unfortunately reduces to tautology.

You believe/don't believe because you believe/don't believe.

The problem, as i stated in reference to Godel's theorem, is that there exists no single "package" of knowledge such that itr can prove all truth within that one package.

That is true for God as well as truth, since in seeking God, the individual is forced to seek that which corresponds to truth. Otherwise, one is seekng that which can be shown to be a lie.

The argument, therefore, revolves around an unsolvable dilemma. If the atheist says there is no God, the atheist is forced to admit that s/he cannot possibly possess truth to the degree that it is complete and consistent. God, therefore, would lie outside any ultimate proof the atheist would offer.

OTOH, the christian would offer that, as Neo did, for proof that God reveals himself to certai ways to individuals beyond logic.

But the very proof that Neo seizes on is no proof at all. Both sides are subject to incompleteness and inconsistency.

So, if it is true that one either believes or does not believe, it must be based on what one previously has decided to accept as truth.

Why do I believe the biblical account of God? The simples form of logic. Since the atheist concludes that there exists no decision procedure by which one may get from here to God, and both Paul and Jesus confirm that statement in their teachings about God, it is logical to believe the bible is true because it conforms to truth.

I believe in God, therefore, because of logic. In order to not believe in God truthfully, you must show why the statements to which I refer are logically incorrect, and you can't do that.

Therefore, I am confident in what I believe and offer it in comfirmation of both the bible and logic.

Neotherm said...

Betty:

The temptation here is to write of atheists (a subset of unbelivers) and Christians as if they were two homogenous classes. And, of course, they are not.

I can summarize my experience but it will not be everybody's experience. I have no numbers or percentages to attach to this. My interest level in this topic has never been high enough for me to be motivated to do something like that.

1) Most atheists I have met believe that anybody who is not an atheist is stupid.
2) Most atheists I have met assume that science is on their side and that the existence of God has been scientifically disproved.
3) Most atheists I have met have a reason other than philosophical reflection underpinning why they became an atheist - disappointment, hurt or something like that. This makes me think that atheism is at least as much emotional as it is rational.
4) Most atheists I have met seem to have great reservoirs of anger just beneath the surface. You do not have to question them much to have the volcano erupt in your face. Tie this with the previous point.
5) Many atheists I have met know very little about Christianity. Many of the ones I have interacted with know a lot about Armstrongism.
6) Many atheists I have met have a fundamentalist approach to atheism. They possess, in a sense, a godless religion. And they have a missionary and evangelistic spirit. They avidly want other people to be like themselves. But this seems to stem from a desire for self-validation rather than a feeling that others will benefit from atheistic principles.

On the other hand:

1)I know of many Christians who never think about atheism.
2) I know of Christians who feel sorry for atheists.
3) I now of very few Christians who take the time to try to understand atheism.
4) I know of very few Christians who are interested in persuading atheists to be Christians, although I do not move in evangelical circles.
5) Some Christians believe that atheism is a much larger and much more important movement than it really is. (I think secular humanism is a much larger movement.)

So there are a couple of short lists. But you can see that there are many inherent points of conflict. This is why atheists and Christians collide.


-- Neo

Ralph said...

Atheists and christians collide because it is impossible to prove or disprove the existence of God.

To choose either position is irreconcible.

However, more specificaly to the point, in this group, atheists have rejected the bible as a valid indicator of truth, and even assuming it has some truth, that truth is not sufficient to warrnat belief.

You, however, in your zeal to believe, simply cast out very basic and fundamental statements within the bible in order to believe.

Therefore, both sides are guilty of believing/not believing based on what they choose as valid information.

Neither side is correct, nor can be. That's logic, and that's mathematics.

Until either side can show a complete and consistent verification of their choice, there is literally nothing to believe for either side. There are merely opinions, resulting in various forms of non belief, just as there are opinions reflected in various forms of belief.

Much like the blind men and the elephant, except for the blind men, there actually was an aelephant that they could only partially describe.

Both atheists and believers are forced to invent parts of the elephant which they then reject or accept.

Byker Bob said...

While I find myself agreeing with the points Neotherm has enumerated, basically I believe that if we as castoffs from the Armstrong experiment didn't have the believer-nonbeliever thingy to discuss, we'd find other polarizing topics.

Corky, James, and perhaps some of the others here will remember the incredible flaming wars we had on the PT Forum, about 3-5 years ago. The topic? Politics. And, it was a knock-down drag-out. We actually ended up running off the website manager of that era, because it appeared he was using his position to enforce his own particular views! It got pretty bloody. And, you know what? All of us who were involved in the discussion were actually atheists and agnostics at that time. We agreed on our non-belief, but were totally polarized as liberals and conservatives. One of the libs actually compared me to Charlie Manson, and the Unabomber, simply because I believed in supporting President Bush!

There are always going to be huge differences of opinions, so long as humanity's condition remains the same. And, by huge differences of opinion, I mean the kind that people are willing to go to war over! That is one reason why Christians believe in making Jesus Christ our #1 priority. By centering on Jesus, much about which we'd tend to argue simply melts or evaporates in the background. Issues like prayer in school, abortion, civil rights, pornography and sexual perversion would become non-starters.

Any freedom, abused, or taken to extreme, becomes detrimental. I believe that most of the issues being discussed today, and some of our general customs and practices, would be so beyond the imaginings of our founding fathers that they'd need extensive therapy if revived to live in our times.

A Christian brother on another forum turned me on to an incredible book several years ago. The book is titled "Reimagining Evangelism", and it really changed my approach. The premise of the book is that, as Christians, we should look and try to discern where the Holy Spirit is working, and blend in and do what we could to assist. You can't reason with someone, either at the supermarket or by going door to door, and convince them intellectually to initiate a personal relationship with Father God. God has to do the work of unlocking each of our minds before His ways, and His unconditional love for us can make any sense. And He works in mysterious and wondrous ways! I marvel, every time I kneel in prayer, or study God's word, that I am no longer hostile to these activities, and actually look forward to them as a very necessary and wonderful part of my life! By comparison, the life I was leading even five years ago, and my daily thoughts at that time, now seem reminiscent of what we are told happened to Nebuchadnezzar. No Christian, regardless of their good intentions, could have reasoned me out of that mindset. I was totally hostile! Only God could do that for me. And, I'm convinced that that can happen for other of God's children, as well.

BB

Ralph said...

You supported Bush? Since Neo mentioned it indirectly, and you bring us back to politics, should christians vote?

If a christian says yes, he's arguing in favor of an economc system which the bible repeatedly refers to as an abomination. I'm talking about an economic system based on debt monetization and "money created by loaning it into existence.

If you vote for either party, Republicans or demoncrats(republicrats), you vote for an economic system designed to enslave people.

As either christian or atheist, I would not vote for such a system unless both parties agreed to eliminate the Federal Reserve Board.

BB, even claiming the freedom of being a christian, you would have to argue for freedom to live as you see fit without government coercion, which means that the government would have to give up its claimed sovereignty to print paper money, and return to its constitutional statement that if a power is not delegated to the constitution nor prohibited by it to the people, then that power remains with the states respectively, or the people.

The ban on debt based money, interest, and paper money is condemned by the US Constitution under Article 1, Section 10, to the states, and since no such power is delegated to the constitution by the states or the people, and condemend by the bible as well, there is no authority to collect taxes in the form of unconstitutional money.

A christian, therefore, should not vote or support any political office that supported such a monetary system. Nor should an atheist who really believes in individual freedom.

Now, if you argue that the law is "done away", then I would have to ask, which law? The oppressive law of Giod or the oppressive law under the pretended sovereignty of the US Constitution?

If I'm going to be free of law, I'm going to be free of all laws, and not just "feel good" that I'm being screwed while I smile about it. The least the government could do is kiss me.

Tony said...

Excellent post Betty, you go girl!

Like you I also find Ralph's post hard to understand, a bit illogical actually.

Retired Prof said...

I try to remain non-confrontational, but I do try to say things that cause people to reconsider their assumptions about the way the world works.

Sometimes if people are sharing their experiences with angels, demons, ghosts, or other supernatural entities, I tell this personal anecdote.

Hunting deer with a muzzleloader, I was moseying along a woods road so I could walk silently by staying out of the noisy dry leaves. I heard something walking in the leaves alongside and strained to catch a glimpse of it, but couldn’t see anything. Then I realized the noise was close by, and that nothing walking along that close could have escaped my notice. I focused my attention on the spot where the footsteps seemed to be, and actually saw the leaves shifting, apparently under the feet of an invisible creature.

The hairs went up on the back of my neck. I had never seen an invisible creature before, and I couldn’t decide how to act around it. It is very difficult to judge the intentions of an invisible creature. And then, if I had determined this one was hostile, it would have been impossible to know where to aim for a killing shot. Besides that, it would have been just about as hard to know where to direct the blows if the single shot failed to neutralize the threat and I had to club it with the empty rifle.

I noticed that the footsteps were heading toward a patch of bare ground, and watched carefully to see what kind of tracks the creature would produce there. When the “footsteps” reached the end of the stretch of dry leaves, a vole ran out from under them and scurried across the patch of dirt.

It had actually been rustling the leaves from underneath, and my presuppositions had caused me to jump to the conclusion that their noise and motion must be caused by something pressing down on them.

Purple Hymnal said...

I'd get a second opinion from a different mechanic on the work "Karl" recently did, Betty; for all you know, he could have disabled your car in a way that you won't realize, until it's too late! Especially if he feels you're a "tool of the devil".

I would NOT put it past him to make his own personal "Christian" mission to "fight the Adversary" by trying to remove one more "tool of the devil" from the world.

I really mean it. You need to get your car checked by another mechanic. SOON. I'm really worried, Betty....

Purple Hymnal said...

"(But maybe I'm just not as smart as you are.)"

Why do people keep saying this? Ralph's overly-lengthy obfuscations boil down to a simple-minded, Biblicist version of Pascal's Wager, with a little bit of Victorian mathematics thrown in, for good measure. Oh, and Ralph's inerrant Scripture only consists of three or four dubious "Pauline" verses, plus a lot of legalism, courtesy the Old Testament.

Very straightforward. I fail to comprehend why people keep insisting Ralph must be smarter than them, because they can't understand his deliberately confusing rhetoric. It has nothing to do with him being smarter, and everything to do with him being confrontational, argumentative, and engaged in a completely closed loop of logical fallacy/circular thinking, which he continues to berate us all with, on a repeating-loop.

Ralph is a one-note wonder, and thinks he has found the Ultimate Truth. Which would be fine, if he only acknowledged that it was merely HIS own Ultimate Truth that he has found; however, as with all of those cut from the Ambassador College oratorial cloth, Ralph believes he has found THE truth, when there ain't no such animal.

As many of us have repeatedly tried to inform him of, over the course of this blog's very short lifetime.....

Neotherm said...

Betty:

One other point. If someone starts talking smack on this post, I bet it will be and unbeliever.

-- Neo

Purple Hymnal said...

"One other point. If someone starts talking smack on this post, I bet it will be and unbeliever."

As opposed to believers saying we are amoral, "tools of the devil", narrow-minded, or engaging in personal attacks....

Funny, there's this verse, about beams and splinters? Have you, perchance, happened to read it, Neo?

Betty Brogaard said...

Thanks, Purple Hymnal, for your concern. I really hadn't considered that "Karl" might place me in danger. So maybe I will seek out another mechanic. After all, "Karl" is now retirement age; so I'll have to do that soon anyway.

BTW, I was being facetious when I said to Ralph that "Maybe I'm just not as smart" as he is. I don't think I'm a genius, and I know personally very few who appear to be even though they may have an above average IQ (which changes up or down over time). I am acquainted, however, with some who think they are geniuses!

Purple Hymnal said...

Oh, and Neo, I still maintain you're hanging out with the wrong atheists; there ARE unbelievers who aren't fundagelical (to borrow Gavin's term) about their non-theist beliefs.

I will admit that I have been a fundagelical atheist, in my day; however (whether you believe this or not), I have tempered my fundamentalist atheism greatly, in the last few years.

That being said, I still have more tolerance towards/interest in non-Christian religions, than Christian ones, but my online involvement with a particular subset of the RSoF has, I feel, gone a long ways towards reforming my formerly-fundamentalist atheist position. I am also fortunate to have fallen in with a group of fellow non-theists who have no compunctions about telling me when I am backsliding into my "fundie" ways!

You may disagree with this, and that's fine. I only wish that the Christian believers on this blog would demonstrate even one scintilla, of the open-mindedness to other religions and their adherents, that members of the Religious Society of Friends (both believers and non-believers) demonstrably practice on a daily, personal, ongoing basis.

Unfortunately, both you and Bob seem mired in the idea that there can be only one (cue Highlander music) flavour of "Christian", and that's your flavour; topping that, no other religion's adherents have any value to either of you, even as fellow human beings.

(Bob, especially, demonstrated this with his clearly racist post regarding the "two Arab ladies" who he believes "probably worship Allah" -- for all he knows, they weren't even Arabian! Let alone Muslim....)

You have mentioned earlier on previous blogs, that you had some interaction with the RSoF, but gave it up, in favour of going back to Junior's sickening embrace. I certainly hope you're not presenting ideas you have heard from the pulpit, in your exchanges on this blog!

(Although the bit about thought processes being external to the provable, measurable, chemical reactions in the human brain, does sound like something an AC alumnus might put forward, either in a sermonette, or during fellowshipping.)

I really have to wonder, why none of the ecumenicism and tolerance of the RSoF managed to even make a dent for you, when you were actively participating. Or was that why you discontinued attending, and instead went back to the church?

Or are you now free of the church as well? I certainly hope so, but I do wish you (and Bob and Ralph) would be more open-minded towards the rest of us that you share this planet with, for better or for worse.

The Painful Truth said...

Ralph said..."As either christian or atheist, I would not vote for such a system unless both parties agreed to eliminate the Federal Reserve Board."

Amen brother!

Ralph said...

Actually,Tony, if you think it;'s illogical, prove it. otherwise, it's useless ad hominem.

Ralph said...

Purple, let's analyze your 'direct' response to me once again:
"Simple minded, biblicist version of Pascal's wager" I already admitted to a form of Pascal's wager, but with no need to obey religion or government. Nothing outside what I've already stated.

"Three or four dubious 'Pauline' verses".

As I've pointed out many times, let's asume there never was a Paul. 1.Is the mind subject to God? Can the mind even prove there is a God? More important, Purple, can YOU do so?

From Romans 8:7, we are left with two conclusions regardless of who said it, when it was said, or any other qualifying conclusion. If the carnal(natural) mind is enmity against God and cannot be subject to God, the logical result will be continual splintering and speciating of ideas about God, whether there is a God or not. Therefore, as far as the statement can be shown, it corresponds to the obvious physical evidence, therefore it is true.

You, Purple have yet to respond to that simple statement and show me its flaws, which makes your response, yet again, an ad hominem fallacy.

"Victorian mathematics". Possibly an effect of Victorian thinking, except Godel did make his discovery in 1934, and he was Austrian, and it is a proven theorem. Another ad hominem response, since the possibility even that it might be Victorian has nothing to do with its truth or falshood. Ad hominem fallacy.

"Closed loop of logicalfallacy/circular thinking"

I don't see any example of that, or any evidence yet provided. Ad hominem.

"Ralph is a one-note wonder, and think he has found the ultimate truth". Now yopu're REALLY pushing the ad hominem fallacy :)

Godel's theorem demonstrates it is impossible by any process to find "ultimate truth" in one complete, consistent package, and I have repeated this quite consistently, plus the fact that there exists no decison procedure to get from "here" to "there" as you, Purple, have also stated.

Since that statement corresponds with Paul's emphatic statement that there is no possibility of making such a choice, then I must have stated the truth.

You have yet to offer any proof to the contrary. It's really very simple. If a statement corresponds to the physical evidence it must be true, real "duh" kind of stuff. I haven't even started actually stretching my mind yet, Purple, because you have yet to show the flaw in my reasoning. The best you can do is make disparaging remarks about it, which is irrelevant, and therefore ad hominem.

"HIS own ultimate truth that he had found". To borrow from Ronald Reagan, there you go again. Since I have stated emphatically that it is impossible to discover ultimate truth by any decision procedure, and since Paul has made the same statement, the statement itself is true. If not, simply show me why. That's a very simple request. If it's so easy, surely you could just say, "Ralph, your statement is logically flawed because...."

I'm waiting.

"Ralph thinks he has found THE truth, where there ain't no such animal".

Your statement here is flawed logically for two reasons(actualy three, since it falls into the ad hominem fallacy again)

1.I have repeatedly stated that it is impossible for all truth to be contained in one complete, consistent package, and therefore whether you are a believer or non-believer, it would be impossible to judge as to the existence/non-existence of God. 2. If you say there ain't no such animal as the truth, then the statement you have made itself is true, which means you have made a logical contradiction.
If you say there ain't no such thing as THE truth, that also would fall short of truth, since it is proven mathematically impossible to make such a statement.

Empty ad hominem. Shame.

The Painful Truth said...

Betty wrote...
"Why do you do all that? What do you get out of it when you are an admitted atheist? What do you hope to gain?" he asked in bewilderment.

"I don't know that I personally get anything out of it except the satisfaction of helping others," I responded. "Unlike when I was a Christian I don't expect a reward for doing something good or to earn points with some sort of god or even with other people."

Betty I have the same conversations with believers.

For the most part their good works have a price. They expect a payback someday, either now or at some future point in time.

What they do not consider is that some people just naturally keep the most important part of the "law" even as they persist in unbelief. They visit the widows, assist the orphans, take good care of their animals, love and cherish mankind everyday that they continue to live.

Considering what modern religion has become here in the USA, I think back to a simpler time where people lived their religion. Communities were drawn together, not torn apart. They contributed to the good of society, not taking advantage of everyone.

Now days the corporate church is the whore on the street corner. Its members are protesting some social cause trying to force the government to do what the church should be doing. Religious leaders dividing people into groups using race, economic status, or nationality.

Then there are those crust old politicians that level filth and slime at everyone opposed to their obloquies. Ask yourself this. Are they not dividing us also into opposing groups? Do they not use the same tactics?

This type of degeneracy has permeated the whole stratum of society. Whether it be the politician or priest, or the news media that molds the public's attitude, all are enemies of the people.

Ralph said...

Betty, I' ve never taken an IQ test, and would probably score low. Never bragged about being smart. Just pointed out that there is a logical consistency between what Paul wrote, and what is actually occurring.

Hav yet to see the first word, except from Corky, to refute it.

Has nothing to do with smart, or ego, or anything other than either it is true or it is false.

Simple stuff.

Corky said...

Neotherm said...
1) Most atheists I have met believe that anybody who is not an atheist is stupid.

Could be Neo hasn't met the same atheists as I have but most atheist I know just think that if you are a Christian, you are either stupid or brainwashed.

2) Most atheists I have met assume that science is on their side and that the existence of God has been scientifically disproved.

Most atheists I have met know that science is on their side and the literal interpretation of the Bible has been scientifically disproved. None that I know of, and I know a lot of them, claim to be able to prove a negative.

The other points Neo enumerates are just as lopsided as these two were. But, what do you expect from someone who thinks that "atheist" are a sub-set of "unbelievers". He should know that the words are synonymous but, well, who knows the mind of God he possesses?

Retired Prof said...

PT notes that " some people just naturally keep the most important part of the "law" even as they persist in unbelief."

I once knew a man who did that and called himself a "secular christian," a christian with a small "c." He could not make himself believe in the virgin birth or the resurrection or the transubstantiation, but he still felt moral obligations. He said secular christians follow two commandments:

1) Never take up more than one parking space.
2) Always be kind to drunks.

Beneath the facetious phrasing, he sincerely meant that we should not arrogate to ourselves so many resources that we make someone else go without, and that we should be ready to forgive people when they screw up. Two major aspects of "Love thy neighbor as thyself."

He got along well with believers and non-believers alike.

Retired Prof said...

Corky, the word "atheist" has more than one standard meaning. You and Neo are just using different ones.

For those who want to fit more people into the atheist tent, the term includes everyone without faith that gods exist. This is justifiable because etymologically the word means "without god." This is your sense of the word.

Some people, in an attempt to make distinctions among degrees of unbelief, limit "atheist" to people who have faith that gods do not exist. Thus they distinguish atheists from agnostics, who express no commitment either way. Neo understands the word in this narrower way, and seems (in context) to limit it further to cover only the kind of atheists who proselytize.

These remarks are broad and oversimplified. For a fuller understanding of the semantics involved, search "Definitions of Atheism" on the PT website, where you can study a sequence of dictionary entries.

Corky said...

I've seen many made up definitions of the word "atheist" but all it means is "not-theist".

Dictionaries give the common word usages as definitions of a word. However, atheist means not-theist and that's all it means in spite of christians making up other meanings for us that end up in dictionaries.

It is not a belief either, it is a non-belief (in gods and other fairies). It is not a religion and does not have a SoF that atheist must follow. Atheists are simply unbelievers (in gods).

My kind of atheism, which some call hard-atheism, is really anti-theism. Anti-theism means I am against religion.

Anti = against.
Theism = religion/belief in gods.

That doesn't mean that I am against people who are deluded and suffering from a religious delusion - no, I'm against their delusion.

Hate the sin love the sinner?

Neotherm said...

Betty:

I do not mind atheists being atheists. I do not mind when they think that Christians are stupid.
After all it says in the Bible:

"But the natural man receiveth not the things of the spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them because they are spiritualy discerned."

So far the course of this thread nicely corroborates this and will continue to do so as it progresses. And, of course, this is why believers and unbelievers collide.

A point of curiosity is whether our smack talkers are that way because they are atheists or because they would be discourteous in any context.

-- Neo

Corky said...

Neotherm said...
After all it says in the Bible:

"But the natural man receiveth not the things of the spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them because they are spiritualy discerned.
"

So, are you saying that you are an un-natural man or supernatural man or what? PROVE IT!

Retired Prof said...

Okay, Corky, okay! We understand what you mean by “atheist,” and I hope we will all keep it in mind, to avoid misreading you. Just be sure to make a similar adjustment when you read what others write.

In the letters to the editor in The Plain Truth once, in the mid-60s I think, Garner Ted showed what can happen when readers fail to do so. Some guy asking about the nature of god began his question “Do you allow God to have . . .?” He was obviously using “allow” to mean “admit, concede, or propose.” This sense is used both colloquially (in parts of the U. S.) and formally (in the special context of a debate.)

What GTA came back with was something to the effect, “I don’t allow God to do ANYTHING! Humans can exercise no authority over Him whatsoever. He is all-powerful, and His will reigns supreme!”

By shifting the letter-writer’s intended meaning to “permit,” he avoided answering his question. In the process, he squandered any credibility he might have had, because there were only two ways to interpret his answer. Either he was too ignorant to know what the man had actually said, or he was insulting his wider readership by pulling a fast one on the assumption they were too ignorant to see his deception.

Ralph said...

PT, my personal opinion is that your reponse contained brilliance.

You point out a difference between what religion has become, and a time when people simply lived a religion.

"Judge not that ye be not judged" had its equivalent in the law as the right against self incrimination. Every action, under common law, had the protection of your right to question its lawfulness under habeas corpus.

Both Blackstone and Coke, whom Yale law professor Akhil Reed Amar says were two of the "bestsellers" read by the colonists(the bible being the other one), stated that any detainment by the law, and any restraint, however small, was imprisonment. All such restraints, said Blackstone, had to be authorized by warrant or properly designated authority, later shortened in our 4th amendment to "probable cause".

While justices and conservatives argue that there is no "right to be left alone" in the constitution, as judge Calvert Magruder pointed out "Our forefathers, when they wrote this provision(right against self incrimination)into the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution, had in mind a lot of history which has largely been forgotten today".

The Supreme Court of the 1800s pointed out that the Fourth and Fifth Amendments threw light upon each other.

Not only was a person's papers and property not to be violated, but even the attempt to detain them without authorization was imprisonment. The 4th and 5th amendments, as Justice Joseph Story pointed out, are but enlargements of the common law, defining the particulars of a much broader range of ideas that were included already by common law, which Story wrote was considered the birthright of all Americans.

What is not taught, and has become completely ignored by Constitutional experts, is that any deprivation of life, liberty, or property under 5th amendment provisions were not under the authority of the federal constitution, but under common law.

Under the 5th amendment, the states had authority over common law courts, and the federal constitution did not, nor did it derive its authority from common law. Due process was the common law, which was, as Hamilton wrote in "The Federalist", "a bulwark against the encroachments of a limited Constitution".

The "one nation under God" movement, of which HWA was a small part, was to the advantage of corporate interests, with a homogenized concept of religion that dissolved all differences into an ecumenical movement in which "God" was undefined and meaningless, leaving all necessary decisions in the hands of the Supreme Court.

Big problem: The Supremes, deriving the authority from the Constitution, have no authority over due process, which has always been defined as "lawful judgement of PEERS or by law of the land(common law).

Becoming subject to definitions of the Constitution itself, all people became equally subject to guilt as defined by both state and federal constitutions.

It is now impossible to "live your religion" whatever it may be.

Ralph said...

Corky, your response to Neo is excellent, and give me yet a notjher opportunity to explore that very question as it regards atheists and believers.

If the natural mind does not receive the things of God, what, exactly, is a "natural mind"?

By your quote, Neo, the natural man receives not the things of God.

How would one "receive" such things? Simply open up your mind to accept the idea of God? Then you have to deal with jesus' warning against "many who will come in my name".

Obviously it cannot be contained within any system of laws or any rational system of human judgement, because that would of necessity have to be "natural".

In fact, the very ability to define "spirit" would place it in a framework making it subject to laws of physics, logic, and reason.

We must conclude, therefore, that if it can be received from God, it cannot be defined by human thought, which means that no human can ever claim authority in God's name, since there would be no possible way of proving such authority.

In fact, your "proof text" by its statement, eliminates the capacity for proof! It is not subject to natural rules, laws, or natural minds. It is "received".

Even assuming you could receive it by choice, what, exactly, is "IT"?

because it is impossibe to define, the NATURAL, logical, rational, reasonable result will be exactly the splintering and speciation of religions you see today, all claiming to have "IT", all seeking unification under "IT", yet all failing, simply because the very "IT" they claim to have received is still subject to natural definitions, resulting in exactly what Jesus predicted in Matthew 10:34-38.

Consequently, the only possible way to know for sure if you have a "spiritual" mind is to avoid every single human religion, since all such religions are dependent on the necessity of natural laws for definition.

If the natural man cannot receive the things of God, then you must conclude that no religion can represent God, leading us to Matthew 24:23.

And that, again, squares with what Paul wrote in Romans 9:16.

To correctly "choose God", therefore, could only make you individually free from every single human authority system, with the absolute right to question all of them.

Neotherm said...

Corky:

There is no test tube evidence that someone has the influence of he Holy Spirit in their minds.

There are, however, physical manifestations correlated with that presence such as a belief in God and a changed life.

I would not seek to prove anything to you because the Bible unequivocally states that you are incapable of receiving such.

Now you may demonstrate to all that you are a natural man and that the Biblical analysis is correct by responding with derision.

-- Neo

Neotherm said...

Betty:

"But such things happen. Believe me they happen."

This is a little too precious. Supposed Christians and atheists have been committing atrocities for centuries. Think of the Inquisition and the history of the recent Soviet Union.

-- Neo

Betty Brogaard said...

Neotherm,

"A little too precious"?

Do you think I'm trying to diminish the terribleness of the evil atrocities that have occurred throughout the ages and are still happening primarily because of religion? If so, you probably haven't read much of anything I've ever written.

This is one of my personal experiences that I dealt with. It was neither traumatic nor devastating to me. Telling it was simply for the purpose of perhaps engendering intelligent conversation without belligerence from those who don't agree with me. After all, I can learn something from anyone even if it's how not to behave. I see that whatever I may write in the future, however, will develop into a tirade. So be it.

Ralph said...

Neo, you sort of gave away the farm with your last two comments.
The Holy Spirit cannot be proven in a test tube. No, but it can be shown what the Holy Spirit is precisely by Paul's definitions. You are forced to deny the possibility of both physical evidence and biblicqal evidence, wehich leaves you with nothing at all except "changed lives".

But I'm sure Corky, Betty, or Retirwed Prof could all respond that their lives changed for much better when they simply stopped believing in God. Your argument is purely subjective, since both atheist and believer could profess that their lives had been made better by their decisions.

Also, the remark about "supposed christians". I'm sure those supposed christians were so deeply convinced of the truthfulness of their claims that they would have called you a false christian for denying them the right to serve God as they saw fit.

Neo, every arguent you present demonstrates that there is no such proof, and that you have no proof that you are one of "them".

However, since it cannot be disproven that you haven;t received some special recognition, I could just as easily say you atre wrong and actually prove it by plain biblical teaching. Which of us would be right?

And how would anybody else decide? You've offered no proof and therefore no authority, which means that "truth" in "christian" terms is whatever any believer says it is, which further proves no authority whatever for your statements.

Neo, you just played your hand, and you're showing nothing.

Ralph said...

No matter how you argue it, from a believer or atheist perspective, you must ultimately come to the realization that there exists no possibility of authority higher than your own self.

For that reason, the believer/non-believer dichotomy is a false dichotomy. You will end up with a near infinity of propositions regarding belief, and the same near infinity regarding non-belief.

Corky said...

Neotherm, the reason you don't offer any proof is because you don't have any. It has nothing to do with my or your natural mind.

If you had any proof you would have presented it long ago.

That's the simple truth of the matter. Of what use is it to me or to you to make assertions you can't prove?

Quoting the Bible doesn't prove anything to anyone except to those who believe the Bible is what it says it is. To use the Bible to prove God is circular reasoning anyway and absolutely useless as a viable argument.

If the Bible proves anything at all, it proves that the sun orbits a flat earth that has a glass dome over it. It proves a flood that never happened. It proves that Adam's descendants haven't been here as long as the rest of the world's civilizations.

Away with the myths and the ghosts of the myths. Take a breath of fresh air.

Ralph said...

Even by Paul's teaching, using the bible to prove the existence of God would be useless. No special relationship can be shown.

Byker Bob said...

I'd like to, once again, address the false accusation of racism. I've found that this is often used quite inappropriately by the politically correct set.

When I was an atheist or later agnostic, I believed that all religion was superstition, and caused most of the world's differences and problems. I wanted it all eradicated. I felt that if it could be replaced by secular humanism, and if we were all governed by a set of generally accepted standards, we could enter a new, enlightened era of peace and understanding.

In thinking along these lines, I was both consistent, and equally unfair to everyone. Purple Hymnal, on the other hand, if I understand his or her logic properly, would like to diffuse, disprove, totally disrespect and eradicate both Armstrongism and Tkachism, but to be carefully reverent of the beliefs and gods of those who purify their children by doing their hair in cowdung (India), strap bombs on themselves and kill Jewish people (Palestinians), drink the blood of vanquished enemies (Africa), create harems (Moslems, Fundamentalist Mormons), etc. Apparently, if I disagree, and propose Jesus Christ as the universal solution, this makes me racist! I'm sorry, but that appears to me not to be based on any kind of fair standards, but seems to be an attempt to win the theist/nontheist debate at any cost. It is beyond absurd and ridiculous!

Purple, if you are ever in my area of the country, I'd like to take you on my rounds, like maybe on a hike, or on some business calls. You'd see me love and relate to a wide variety of God's children. Like I said before, glad you, there in your living room, equipped with your wonderful keyboard, don't get to be my judge!

BB

Byker Bob said...

To me, one of the universal cravings of humanity is for unconditional love. And, it really doesn't matter if someone is down and out, has been abused, or has made great sacrifices in their lifestyle to rise to the top of their profession. We all feel that this universal love (is 1 Cor. 13 the love chapter?) would vastly improve our sense of human well-being, and general quality of our lives.

Non-belief didn't work for me. It left me totally flat, and empty. I'm a hard-headed person, and it took 30 years for me to realize it, probably because I'd arrived at non-belief as a reaction to an organization which painted a picture of God, not as the author of unconditional love, but as a harsh judge, spying on us and anxious to punish. This organization had also, in advance, destroyed my confidence or trust in any of the Christian churches which had the true understanding of love and grace. Unfortunately, this sent me into a state of spiritual homelessness, and twice as many lost years as I'd initially spent in Armstrongism!

This arbitrary thing of throwing out and invalidating subjective, personalized matters, and making changed lives inadmissable to the argument, is nothing more than sleight of hand. If you read your Bible, subjective and personalized is exactly the way a personal relationship with Father God and Jesus Christ is supposed to work!

In the sales profession, often we're called upon to participate in bids. One of the tricks some vendors use is to set the bid specs so tightly, that only the favorite vendor can meet the specs.
Specs can be used to promote deception by believers or non-believers alike. HWA used this type of manipulative thinking all the time! I guess it's no great mystery that non-believers would attempt to set specs which are so tight as to rule out God, and to utilize these as part of their support mechanism.

BB

Ralph said...

BB, there is no default authority to make the world better. There's you and me and the Golden Rule.

Byker Bob said...

Yes, Ralph, which gets us back to the invisible things of God being perceived through what we can see!

I think that sometimes those of us who live in Magna Carta countries are spoiled. We don't see what happens when the goodness of God is absent. People in North Korea, certain parts of tribal Africa where the warlords exert iron-fisted power, and areas of the Indo-Chinese world where the sex-slave trade is so active have a more profound appreciation of what we have here in our predominantly Christian nations. I for one do not believe that it is racist or chauvinistic to acknowledge and show appreciation for what we enjoy here, and often take for granted!

BB

Ralph said...

He, heh, Romans 1. Paul wasn't talking about "we" as in you and me. He was actualy talking about ancient Israel, who actually was shown such power(or so Paul believed).

Verse 19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it to them".

To whom? Deuteronomy 4:35: "Unto thee it was shewed, that thou mightest know the Lord he is God..."

Amos 3:2 "You only (Israel) have I known of all the families of the earth..."

Buit in Romans 1:17, we see, "...The Just shall live by faith" as quoted from Habakkuk 2:4.

Then, of course, you get into the oft quoted verse 20, hich is supposedly "proof" that God created all things and "we" have no excuse. But Paul hasn't shifted focus. "They" are without excuse, not "we".

In verse 21, he goes into a description of Israel's history.

It would be impossible for the just to both live by faith and know that God created thre world by such evidence they are without excuse. A nd if God revealed hiomself to ungodliness and unrighteousness, which we supposedly were, why would we need faith iof we already know for certain that God di create the universe by obvious awareness?

Trying to make that scripture fit the usual christian interpretations gets you into all kinds of logical trouble.

Corky said...

BykerBob said...
I guess it's no great mystery that non-believers would attempt to set specs which are so tight as to rule out God, and to utilize these as part of their support mechanism.

How is "prove it" setting specs too high?

You wouldn't accept anything else unless it was proved, would you?

Actually, the book itself disproves the supposed author (God) by being full of contradictions, historical flaws, scientific flaws and conflicts of attributes.

Neotherm said...

Ralph and Corky:

What you mean to say is that I have no proof that you would accept.

I could sit with another Christian, we could exchange life histories and both clearly see the hand of God.

The fact that I cannot prove something to you does not mean that it is not true. There could be any number of reasons why there is no acceptable proof. For most of the history of mankind, there was no Germ Theory yet germs existed and the results of their actions were a complete mystery to people.

But there is something that puzzles me about atheists. They look out on the grear suckscape of this world see the myriad results of human wickeness and decide that they are anti-God (technically speaking, atheists would not be anti-God because they do not believe there is a God but my view is that denying the existence of someone is, in fact, intended to be an act of destructiveness towards that person). Why not be anti-human, instead? Why specifically be anti-religion when all human instituions are flawed and produce injustices?

-- Neo

Ralph said...

Neo, I've already stated I recognize no human authority. None of them can represent truth. If you sat with another christian and both saw the hand of God, it is likely because you want to see the hand of God.

Like my story about my shiny floor in the marines. The sergeant took it away from me, and as soon as he got settled in, it rained that night and destroyed his shiny floor. Was that the hand of God? Was God teaching that sergeant not to screw with me?

I could say that, and I bet you most christians would say no, simply because I don't accept christianity. They'd say it was dumb luck. Yet there it was, after I warned him God would get him.

You say there is a God but you cannot prove it. You can look at it as a proposition entertained with suspended judgement, which would have to be done in matters of truth.

As Mortimer Adler points out: "The judgement you make about it may be correct in your eyes, but as I view the matter, it is not correct, but that is not all there is to it, because the proposition we are judging differently is either true or false absolutely without any regard for our differences of opinion about it".

In regard to our former WCG beliefs:
"The judgement made in the past about the proposition was once correct, now it is no longer correct, but that is not all there is to it, because the proposition was false then as it is now, even though it was judged to be true then."

Further: "The propositions entertained as true in religious creeds or in articles of religious faith are entirely beyond proof."

So what is truth? Agreement of thought with reality. Aquinas pointe out that truths of faith and truths of reason were exactly the same kind of truth and subject to the same logic.

Aquinas failed to make a logical connection between reality and the authority of the catholic church. Had he simply read Romans 8:7, he would have known it cannot work.

Paul's teachings in Romans 8 and 9 are true because they correspond with the evidence presented by reality. If the natural mind is enmity against God and cannot be subject to God, the result will be exactly the kind of continual splintering you see today. Because of that fact, taught by Paul and corresponding with the evidence of reality, the next logical conclusion must inevitably follow that no human being possesses any type of decision-making ability lead him or her to God.

Your argument, Neo, cannot be considered true in any philosophical sense, because it doesn't correspond to the reality showing you can make any decision to be specially related to God.

It cannot be true from a biblical perspective because Paul, in conforming to reality, has already stated that there exists no such decision procedure.

Your truth, as you see it, stands outside any kind of possible proof, even biblically.

The Painful Truth said...

Purple pens...
"Bob, especially, demonstrated this with his clearly racist post regarding the "two Arab ladies" who he believes "probably worship Allah" -- for all he knows, they weren't even Arabian! Let alone Muslim"


Unless they have the headgear typical of MUSLIM communities.

You should have asked this as a straightforward question before pushing the publish button.

Ralph said...

BB, on a more positive note, you mention the "Magna Carta" countries, and yes, you do have a point. The usual story from historians is that the christians oppressed the world until the rennaissance, and secular humanism made it all better.

In fact, when William the Conqueror invaded the Anglo Saxons in 1066, he found a well developed system of courts and law, some of which had deviated to trial by ordeal, but the system, as Jefferson would later point out in his writings, greatly resembled the laws practiced by Israel in their desert wanderings.

Who modified these laws? Jews, who were quite developed in techniques of international law and trade, and who modified the court system with trial by jury and the concepts of "due process" developed by Maimonides.

Magna Carta was such a fellow, said England's Chief Justice Edward Coke, that he would have no sovereign. The modification of due process, from Maimonides to Coke's time, was one in which Magna Carta protected king and common man. Neither were to be ruled by laws higher than reason and God.

When Jefferson wrote that all men are created equal, endowed with inalienable rights by "nature and nature's God", he was using terms already established in common law by Blackstone, who established those principles as the foundation of all law.

In the US today, the Constitution was never given general jurisdiction over common law. No branch of government ever had such jurisdiction. The term "due process" in the 5th amendment refers specifically to common law, and no person can be deprived of life, liberty, or property without it. Yet the Supreme Court was never granted jurisdiction over due process, since due process is common law!

It was once the province of the states, but the 14th amendment eliminated that. No state shall make or enforce any law which abridges privileges and immunities of citizens of the US, and the first immunity listed is due process, common law prosecution!

Think about that, there is now no jurisdiction granted whatever over common law, even in the states, yet every person is guaranteed due process protection for any deprivation of life, liberty, or property.

Justice Joseph Story defined due process as "due presentment or indictment" and lawful judgement of PEERS.

You know who the default authority is? Look at any state Constitution. God is recognized as sovereign. If you are accused of a crime, neither the state nor federal constitution has jurisdiction over your prosecution.

It is under due process(common law) with God as sovereign.

Just thought I'd throw that in.

Purple Hymnal said...

"Unless they have the headgear typical of MUSLIM communities."

Said "headgear" can also be worn for cultural reasons, not just religious ones.

Said "headgear" is also worn by both Hindu and Sikh women.

Of course, Bob didn't take the time to even speak to them to find out IF they were Muslim or Sikh or Hindu, he just labeled them as "Allah-believers-who-are-going-to-the-Christian-hell-because-my-god-is-real-and-their-god-is-fake-aren't-I-being-such-a-pious-Christian-by-acknowledging-that?"

That was my point, and I continue to insist that the above attitude is prejudice to the point of bigotry.

The Painful Truth said...

Purple said...
"That was my point, and I continue to insist that the above attitude is prejudice to the point of bigotry."

I bet you are against checking the luggage of young Muslim men at the airport while it is perfectly acceptable to have the airport authorities shake down grandma.

Purple, what escapes you seems to be logic. When you judge some guy you know nothing about and make the assumptions that you have made, I must say that you have an axe to grind. Go grind it elsewhere.

It seems the title Betty put on this last entry "When Believers and Unbelievers Collide" is most apt.

Neotherm said...

Betty:

"Do you think I'm trying to diminish the terribleness of the evil atrocities that have occurred throughout the ages and are still happening primarily because of religion?"

Not at all. My use of the word precious was to indicate that your statement seemd a little ingenuous -- as if your experience was something new and alarming. I am just saying that this is nothing new. This is "no country for old men."

Historically, there has been extraodinary misbehavior on the part of nominal Christians and extrarodinary misbehavior on the part of unbelievers.

Purple Hymnal issued a dire and somewhat affected warning that you were in profound danger from this evangelical Christian. Maybe you were. But we could raise the same alarm if you had been a Christian and Karl had been an atheist. Christians and Jews are widely persecuted outside the Western World. Frankly, I have never heard of large, organized perseutions of atheists. Atheists now are the darlings of the academic community. They are persecuted but it seems to me to be a much more scattered and subtle effort.

-- Neo

The Painful Truth said...

To all my fellow blogger's here.

The inner fighting and pissing contest is really getting above the top here. Let me share with you something I wrote to one of my fellow blogger's here. Follows:


"Peace has been completely overlooked as a character strength. It seems to include three other character strengths. Social intelligence, forgiveness and mercy, and self-regulation. Social intelligence can help to create peace between groups, but it is not an indivisible part of peace, and certainly not required for personal, internal peace. Forgiveness and mercy is be considered necessary for peace, because often in order to make peace you have to forgive yourself or others.

Peace, when achieved either personally, or between individuals, between groups, is generally elevating. Peace implies not simply a calm, non-violent state. Peace can also create a mutual sharing and helping between groups. Togetherness can even be a result in which the separation between both groups no longer exists and the groups now consider themselves one group. This usually benefits all participants.

So with that said can we strive for some mutual ground here?"

Corky said...

James, the reason why there can't be a mutual ground between theists and atheists is that they are opposites.

Theists have no evidence and they know it and therefore, never present any.

The theist is entirely dependent upon the Bible the existence of God is also entirely dependent upon the Bible. The Bible proves God and God proves the Bible, completely circular.

The reason that "FAITH" is the last stand of a believer is because the Bible emphasizes faith as a redeeming virtue.

Faith is so important, not just because it's the redeeming virtue, but because without faith God does not exist.

The only mutual ground we have here is that we are all ex-wcg and that we are humans (even though some of us have spirit minds and the rest of us don't).

Yes, I was being a bit sarcastic in that last remark but even though we might fight like siblings it's because, in a way, we are all siblings.

In the "world", I don't think theism will triumph or that atheism will triumph. I think that skepticism and free thought will triumph - unless something cataclysmic happens.

Purple Hymnal said...

"I bet you are against checking the luggage of young Muslim men at the airport while it is perfectly acceptable to have the airport authorities shake down grandma."

Now why would I take (on complete "faith" yet) a position such as you've outlined above, that completely defies all common sense? It is wrong to racially profile people during screening, period. No matter if they are blue, purple, green, red, yellow, brown, if they look suspicious (and I mean really suspicious, not the suspicious that trigger-happy customs guards get off on the power trip of), ask to search their luggage...if not, don't. Simple. But the manpower and training required for that is too costly, and it's far easier to let the mistakes slip by the wayside in the name of "homeland security" (Funny...the Nazis used to call theirs the same thing, didn't they?)

Grandma is not likely to be carrying explosives. If she's acting shifty, chances are good something is up. The trick is using compassion and common sense to determine if it is. Regardless of skin colour.

As an example, middle-aged people are the worst shopaholics. I worked in retail, I know this; they're almost on a par with teenagers, seriously.

Purple Hymnal said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ralph said...

Machiavelli pointed out that religion was a mnechanism to produce meekness and servility. It produced a sheeplike quality. He also recommended to those that sought power, that they should always venerate religion.

Do you see the obvious connection between those statements? Machiavelli's reasoning was the basis for Hearst's decision to tell his newspaper editors to "puff" Billy Graham. When I was first "converted" to WCG, I was very servile, wotrked as an "ambassador for Christ", made it a point to smile at everyone, and was well liked. I was the perfect cog in the machine, as HWA taught me with his seven laws of success.

As Machiavelli recognized, all christian religions ultimately serve that purpose, "Deus ex machina", the god of the machine.

If the machine is soulless, religion, by proclaiming the necessary subordination of the soul to the collective, makes the individual subordinate to mechanical rules, a nice combination that works in favor of "Attila and the Witch Doctor" or the "Beast and False Prophet".

What HWA unwittingly did, by challenging the legitimacy of all other religions, was to cause us to begin looking at ourselves as individuals apart from the collectivist assumptions of "truth".

Once the process was begun, however, the slide toward individualism could not be stopped, and HWA was forced into the philosophy shown by Lord Acton: power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

You cannot pursue truth without the realization of your own individuality. It would stand to reason that if God is truth, and if truth sets you free, God will only rule a free person.

Free people do not get along all that well, and I'm not convinced that they should.

Allen C. Dexter said...

I think the mutual ground is that we are all ex-WCG. We took different paths in and different paths out. We have all come to our individual decisions about belief or unbelief for reasons specific to each of us and our unique thinking and experiences.

I've come to the place where I've settled on agnosticism, at least for the present. It is true that we can't prove anything to each other, even though, emotionally, we'd dearly love to do so. We'd like that feeling again of being "right" and being accepted as being "right."

All we can hope for is being mutually respected as honest people doing our level best to think straight.

We are just recovering cultists, and like the recovering alcoholic, we have to recognize that we had a problem and still do. The more we feed that problem with endless argument and our own style of evangelism, the more it will persist.

Exactly how to conduct a blog without its being overloaded with endless argumentation to the point that it becomes unwieldly and tiresome is something that baffles me. But, I'm thinking on it.

Neotherm said...

PT:

In other words Corky is saying there can be no common ground because the atheists are right and everyone else is wrong. Well, I would like to say, as long as we are opining, with equal validity, that Christians are right and atheists are wrong. This is very obvious from our perspective.

But whoever is right and whoever is wrong, there is never a rationale for discourtesy and overweening arrogance.

-- Neo

Ralph said...

I don't think we have any type of problem as recovering cultists. I think we are what we need to be, and we need to embrace that uiqueness, explore it, and be happy with it. Some were accusing me of claiming to be smarter than the rest of you.

I've been in discussion with another person in the net who goes by the name of Barry Kumnick, which may be his real name. He is 'way smarter than me.(If you don't believe me, go to http://beta2.kurzweilai.net, click on "forums" and go to "information is fundamental". Check out Barry's comments)

He was explaining to me the difference between direct representation of reality(which we do not possess) and indirect representation(which causes our present difficulties of disagreement).

He further explained to me that Godel's theorem shows the flaws of this indirect representation of reality by showing that the very process of mathematics itself does not and cannot directly represent reality, so there is an infinity of undecideable propositions within the system itself.

If, in our most formalized systems, due to indirect representation, we cannot ever reach unity, how in the world would we expect to overcome the very process of division resulting from our must fundamental process of communication?

The anwswer is, we can't, and to make such an effort, we would have to stop searching for the very truths that cause our differences in the first place.

You folks are probably far more healthy, both believers and atheists, than the masses who never stop to question, but contribute to their own further enslavement.

You're all ahead of the curve, believe me.

Stop seeing yourselves as "recovering" and see yourselves as free, with the right to live your own life.

We are the logical results of the WCG, and the uniqueness we discover is something to celebrate, not complain about.

Corky said...

Neotherm said...
In other words Corky is saying there can be no common ground because the atheists are right and everyone else is wrong. Well, I would like to say, as long as we are opining, with equal validity, that Christians are right and atheists are wrong. This is very obvious from our perspective.

The only thing is, it's not "with equal validity". There is no evidence to make the Christian argument valid. It's just a belief or, that is, faith - and that's it - with absolutely nothing to support it.

With no reason to believe it and with a multitude of reasons to not believe it, what is the logical thing to do?

When the theist argument is worn down they eventually fall back on faith and threaten hell and/or eternal punishment for not believing them.

In other words, they have no argument and it boils down to believe or face consequences.

However, since the Christian church has lost the power to light people on fire for unbelief, they have now decided that emotional persuasion and a reinterpretation of the Bible might work.

I swear that if they keep on retranslating the Bible they will one day translate it completely out of any kind of recognition of the older translation left in it.

Neotherm said...

"The only thing is, it's not "with equal validity". There is no evidence to make the Christian argument valid. It's just a belief or, that is, faith - and that's it - with absolutely nothing to support it."

Of course it has equal validity. It just does not happen to be in the realm where you do your thinking.

Looking for the proof of God in the physical realm is like looking for the milky way on your living room ceiling.

It is so much a futile pursuit, to say I am looking for the "proof of God in the physical domain" is equivalent to saying "I'm not looking for God at all."

-- Neo
-- Neo

Ralph said...

Neo, if you look for God at all, there will still be noevidence whatever of such existence, even by biblical teachings.

That is exactly the point I made by quoting Mortimer Adler. No matter whether God exists or not, he/she/it/they exist absolutely regardless of your beliefs or of Corky's belief to the contrary.

The existence of God is simply beyond proof one way or the other, and there is no evidence whatever that either of you can prove which will show any actual changes in the history of the world simply because you believe or do not believe.

If you believe in the christian God, then you believe in the christian God. That's as far as you can take it.

If you don;t believe in the christian God, then that, too, is as far as you can take it.

To put this thing in a tautological perspective, it can't be proved because it can't be proved. It is undecideable, and therefore useless to argue one way or the other.

If you believe that God is behind your decisons, then you will act in that fashion. If you don't, then you will act in accordance with that conclusion.

But what you and Corky have ignored is that in eiother case, you're both completely free to act however you wish. Any lack of such freedom is purely from the restraints you place on yourselves.

If I'm going to believe in God, it makes far more sense to believe in one that makes me free from all human authority systems, PLUS, the recognition of those very systems of the existence of God allows me to challenge their authority legitimately.

Either there is a God who sets you free in every sense, or there is no God worth believing in.

But in our present system, if you don't believe in God, you'll have a hard time declaring individual freedom from church and state.

Corky said...

Ralph said...
But in our present system, if you don't believe in God, you'll have a hard time declaring individual freedom from church and state.

One more reason to not believe. And, a very good reason to argue against the belief in the Christian God.

Actually, the Christian Bible itself disproves Christianity's God by making statements in it that can be shown to be false by human acquired knowledge. Thereby, the Bible is falsified and its God along with it.

I reckon you could say that I believe that dinosaurs once existed but Israel's God did not.

It wasn't just Joshua's ignorance that shouted at the sun to stand still in the sky - it would be God's ignorance too if he had written the Bible. Why? Because it reports that the sun stood still and not the earth's rotation.

If one truly worships a God it is the unknown Deist God because Biblegod died about 200 years ago when geology disproved the worldwide flood.

Neotherm said...

"If one truly worships a God it is the unknown Deist God because Biblegod died about 200 years ago when geology disproved the worldwide flood."

The original Hebrew does not contain the implication of a worldwide flood, but rather a local flood. It was the King James translators who biased the account in the direction of a worldwide catastrophe. The Biblical flood was a local conflagration that took place in the Eurphrates river valley.

Basing ones conclusions on King James English and Hebrew idiom is in the same mode as HWA using Merriam Websters to figure out what the Bible is really saying.

-- Neo

Neotherm said...

Ralph:

"But what you and Corky have ignored is that in eiother case, you're both completely free to act however you wish. Any lack of such freedom is purely from the restraints you place on yourselves."

I would disagree with this. Belief always leads to action. When one believes in the Christian message, one believes in a certain way of acting because that way is defined in the New Testament.

This is what is referred to as living faith. It is faith that actually produces positive changes in behavior. Living faith is lacking in nominal Christians who have some head knowledge about Christianity but they don't really believe Christianity.

I do not believe that I am free to do as I wish.

-- Neo

Ralph said...

Corky, I don't argue for belief in the christian God. I don't believe in the christian God, and by Paul's teachings, there's no possible authority for the christian God.

But from the perspective of which I was writing, in this country, assume there is no God in existence at all, and we have only some concept of freedom to be discovered by human reason.

That's pretty much what we have at the present time. The complete separation of church and state, which is good, but also a complete ignorance of the basis of laws in our country, which is actually what created the crappy religionists like HWA, Billy Graham, and the whole zoo.

Where men can invent God, it becomes possible to invent a God who is consistent with the power needs of those who seek more power. I described the process in my statements on Machiavelli, above.

The laws of this country were originally based on not only freedom of religion, but the recognition that freedom of religion also was based in reason and natutre, as well as a God who who conformed to both reason and nature.

That was Jefferson's reference in the Declaration of Independence.

If you believed in the God that this media and government has gradually foisted off on us, you would be screwed by both church and state.

I don't believe in that God either.

With no concept of a God at all, the default God becomes the dickhead christian God. And that God gets millions killed, when it can't do the killing itself.

Ralph said...

Neo, obviously you believe you have the freedom to ignore logic and the bible itself.

You think you can freely choose to become a son of God when Paul states, and even insists, that you can't. And you can't because there is no logical way you can define a God whom you could choose.

You choose what you wish to believe and ignore anyting that contradicts your own personal vision, as if you created God.

The Painful Truth said...

Neo wrote....

"Looking for the proof of God in the physical realm is like looking for the milky way on your living room ceiling."

"It is so much a futile pursuit, to say I am looking for the "proof of God in the physical domain" is equivalent to saying "I'm not looking for God at all."



I take it you don't believe the bible:

Romans 1:18 -The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19.since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20.For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

Ralph said...

Well, Romans 1:18, from Paul's perspective, doesn;t actually make the statement which christians try to attribute to it.

Let us suppose it is true as christians say. What proof, exactly, is so evident that men can see God created it all?

There is no proof. Either Pasul simply blew this scripture altogether, or he was talking about something else.

He was talking about something else. He was referring specifically to anceitn israel.

Notice last part of Romans 1:19: "for God hath shewed it to them".

This differs from your translation "God has made it plain to them".

Made it plain to whom? 'ungodliness and unrighteousness".

But in verse 17 we see that the just shall live by faith. Now, assuming that we, according to christian doctrine, were once sinners and unrighteous, it should have been known or revealed to us.

But it would make no sense for God's wrath to be obvious to us as sinners, yet suddenly we live by faith after we start believing.

If, as evil sinners, we already knew, why would we need to have faith?

Or maybe Paul was talking about homosexuals as some idiots try to say. In that case, if homosexuals know for certain of God's wrath, we should actually honor them, because they could prove that God actually does exst!

That whole scripture makes no sense at all fr4om the christian perspective. God hasn't made anything plain. I believe in God, and I see no proof in the universe that God created it. All I see is a universe fare more complex than I can understand.

The only way to make sense of it is in verse 19 "God showed it to them". That would correspond to Deuteronomy 4:35: "Unto thee(ancient Israel) it was shewed..."

Paul was talking about ancient Israel. In Paul's mind, they turned the revealed truth into a lie. It was ancent Israel that was without excuse. And Paul makes the interesting statement that "God gave them over" to this state of mind. He allowed them to do it.

Neotherm said...

PT:

This scripture refers to what is called General Revelation in Christian theology. The idea is that people will recognize the existence of God without being Christian.

This leads many Christians to believe that atheists really believe in God, they just refuse to admit it to anyone. I do not subscribe to that school of thought. I believe when Corky says he doesn't believe in God that he really doesn't -- he isn't just putting on an act.

General Revelation seems to apply to some people and not others. My guess.

-- Neo

Ralph said...

Neo, read qwhat I just wrote. There's no damn "general revelation". Either Paul was talking about anceint Israel or there is no revelation. Paul was full of crap.

There's the whole point, you do exactly as most christians do. You make it up as you go. No logic, no reason, nothing.

Have you ever stopped to think that Corky is atheist because there are believers like you out there, and they're in the majority?

Byker Bob said...

I've said for years that there is a big difference between most atheists, who arrive at their non-belief based on their particular take on science, and their specific filters or recognized system of logic, and the typical WCG atheist. And, frequently, both types appear to use similar (for lack of a better term)dogma. But, to understand the often not too subtle differences, you have to examine the catalyst leading to non-belief for each.

I don't have any problem associating with, relating to, or having "scientific" atheists as friends, because in most cases they are totally neutral regarding God. In fact, I have no problem with the majority of the atheists here on this site. Sadly, there are a few who seem to have a complex they just can't shake because they have not yet healed from a spiritual rape which was perpetrated by false teachers who presented to all of us a detestable counterfeit of God.

And, I understand. Really, I do. I have no problem forgiving them for talking out their butts about Christianity in general, or me personally, because it's not as if I'm totally innocent of having done that myself in the past. Actually, for some people, that is part of the healing process. Getting it all out! It wasn't until my own concept of God was healed that I could even bear to consider that He might exist. That healing process required over thirty years, too!

Many of my life-long issues and pain have been and are being cleared up, and not necessarily soley due to my attendance of a megachurch. Basically, I go to church to share communion, to participate in group praise, and to hear uplifting messages about life. But, I've got my own independent study program going on. That's why I call it a personal relationship with God rather than "religion". Religion is nothing more than a man-made box.

BB

Purple Hymnal said...

"We are just recovering cultists, and like the recovering alcoholic, we have to recognize that we had a problem and still do. The more we feed that problem with endless argument and our own style of evangelism, the more it will persist."

Amen!

Purple Hymnal said...

"In fact, I have no problem with the majority of the atheists here on this site. Sadly, there are a few who seem to have a complex they just can't shake because they have not yet healed from a spiritual rape which was perpetrated by false teachers who presented to all of us a detestable counterfeit of God."

Well, I believe I fall into the former category, not the latter one. We may have to agree to disagree on that, Bob.

Ralph said...

Basically both points of view demonstrate what I've been saying all along. Neo presents a valid point when he saws just because you can't prove something doesn't mean it's not true. His statement is verified by Godel's theorem, Chaitin's algorithm information theory, Tarski's theorem, and a host of supporting evidence.

If BB says he believes in God but not religion, he is merely saying that God, to him, is that which cannot be represented by "objective" criteria.

OTOH, the evidence presented by atheists is that they don't believe in God because there is no proof of such existence, and the teachings of humans has resulted in such confusion, anger, and hatred that there is no point in believing in any of that crap.

It seems that one side believes in that which cannot be proven, and the other side doesn't believe in that which cannot be proven, which leaves a near infinity of sub-categories in between, each for their own humanly defined reasons.

However , this very idea challenges all forms of human authority that would represent "absolute" authority. If the search for God yields infinite splintereing and speciation of religions, then that search proves there is no absolute authority that can represent absolute morality within human imagination.

We are left with the inevitable conclusion that, if religion created by human imagination has no absolute answers, then neither can governments instituted by man.

What people choose is simply what they choose, and there is no way of proving anything beyond that.

In matters of law, therefore, a person's conscience, whether atheist or theist, cannot be violated by any man-made authority of law or any collective process developed by human imagination.

That is precisely why I choose God, because from a lawful standpoint, God is the vindicator of the accused, not the accuser(Isaiah 54:17, Isaiah 50:8). That is the presumption of innocence on the part of law.

That is prrecisely the reason for Jesus' alleged answer to the high priest, who compelled him to testify that he was doing what he was accused of doing.

In answering "thou sayest", Jesus merely reminded the high priest of Isaiah 54:17 and 50:8, not to mention the plain teachings regarding two witnesses in Deuteronomy 19:15.

The priest, by compelling testimony, and in being reminded by Jesus of his statement, was guilty of false witness under law. His job was to preserve innocence, not assume or compel guilt.

Under law, that same premise exists to this day. The accused is presumed innocent without regard to conscience or religious belief, since it is impossible to make judgements on either.

That, from the legal standpoint, is exactly what Paul taught. Those who choose to follow "Christ" are dead to the law, not to be punished by any power of man, since all forms of government religious or secular, are established only by the power of man. And, since Paul stated clearly that there exists no deicsin procedure by which men can rule in God's name, innocence is to be presumed by all human authority.

I believe in God precisely because that is plainly what God is all about, as shown from biblical scriptures I have already quoted.

Neotherm said...

Ralph:

"There's the whole point, you do exactly as most christians do. You make it up as you go. No logic, no reason, nothing."

Ralph. I do not make it up as I go along. Why I speak is Christian Orthodoxy and has a pedigree that extens back for centuries. You can find most of this in a systematic theology.

"Have you ever stopped to think that Corky is atheist because there are believers like you out there, and they're in the majority?"

I have no idea why Corky is an atheist.

-- Neo

Ralph said...

Neo, the entirely of christian orthodoxy is flawed simply by the statements of Paul and Jesus.

Christian orthodoxy produces an estimated 38,000 versions of "orthodoxy". Even if we just stuck to basic mainstream stuff, we still couldn;t locate proof of the truth regarding which one is true.

If you say they are all true because trhey declare Christ, you would contradict Jesus himself, who warned against deception of those coming in his name.

If you argue that you become christian with any special relation to God, you would contradict Paul who pointed out there exists no such procedure to demonstrate such a relationship.

Christian orthodoxy is a very poor argument for truth, even biblically.

Corky said...

I see that Neotherm has fallen for the local flood theory of Noah's flood.

However, you have to ignore the unclean animals and birds in the story. The birds could fly over a local flood and unclean animals existed everywhere in the world 4300 years ago.

You have to ignore that there are no high mountains on the flood plain of the Euphrates.

Then you have to ignore the size of the ark to hold all those animals and birds. Maybe it was a little large for a local flood?

Maybe the only animals and birds that existed in the world were in the Euphrates flood plain? Yeah?

In any case, it is too late to apologise for that, because the NT writers also believed in a worldwide flood (2 Pet. 2:5) before the KJV of the Bible.

And hey, the rainbow was created to commemorate a local flood? Then why is the rainbow seen worldwide?

Someone is not only asleep when it comes to reinterpreting the Bible, they are also dreaming.

Why not make the whole Bible an allegory and just make up whatever story you want? Oh, I forgot, they already do that.

Corky said...

Neotherm said...

I have no idea why Corky is an atheist.

You should, I made a short list of reasons in Betty's last topic. But, for the sake of your short memory, I'll post it in this topic too.

I do not believe because of:
1. Lack of evidence.
2. Faked evidence.
3. False testimony.
4. Contradictory testimony.
5. Evolution.
6. Archeology.
7. Genetics.
8. Geology.
9. Paleontology.
10. Anthropology.
11. History.
12. Blood sacrifices.
13. Burnt offerings.
14. Barbaric behavior.
15. Misogyny.
16. Use of threats and fear.
17. Broken promises.
18. Failed prophecies.
19. Making thinking a crime.
20. A god with human emotions.

Is that enough or would you prefer a longer list?

Neotherm said...

Corky:

My statement that I had no idea why you are an atheist was not a challenge but a statement of my disinterest in the origin of your condition.

There is a well researched study of the plausibility of a local flood. It includes appropriate translations of the original Hebrew terminology.

But I would expect that atheists will forever relish the inaccurate King James language because it gives them a straw man to pummel.

-- Neo

Corky said...

Actually, I like the NET and the NIT Bibles better - they are even easier to rip to shreds than the KJV.

However, since 99.9% of Christians use the KJV as their strawman version of God, that's the same one atheists use to discredit their theories.

Corky said...

The new Bible translations reminds me of something that happened a little while back at the BTDF Christadelphian website.

One guy was arguing for a local flood out of the NIV Bible but when he started to lose the argument, he reverted back to the KJV.

That means that no matter how much they translate the English versions, Christians will always fall back on the KJV for obscuration and make up their own interpretation.

Neotherm said...

"However, since 99.9% of Christians use the KJV as their strawman version of God, that's the same one atheists use to discredit their theories."

That is an unfounded assertion.

"That means that no matter how much they translate the English versions, Christians will always fall back on the KJV for obscuration and make up their own interpretation."

That is an unfounded assertion.

Ad infinitum.

-- Neo

Ralph said...

Neo, Corky's assertion is "founded". Any translation of "God's word" must contain not only flaws, but a tendency toward an infinity of flaws. That is the mathematical results of Godel's theorem.

Any process that would attempt to define God as truth will subject to Godel's theorem, whether you like it or not, and that theorem is consistent with Romans 8:7.

The KJV must be filled with errors at best, just as original documents, assuming they exist in such form, would also contain the same flawed translation errors.

The logical result can only be freedom from all human concepts of God, as Jesus hmself points out in Matthew 24:23.

And, assuming Romans 8:7 to be true, you would have to reach the same conclusions in that regard.

The only honest choice in the name of God(or no God) is human freedom.

Byker Bob said...

A few posts above, Corky did a great job of presenting his logic and reasons in support of his atheist position. So far, so good. As nearly as I can tell, I don't see anything which would set off any red flags for an objectivist. However, as we all know from our system of jurisprudence, different factors have different personalized meanings for individualized members of a jury. Opposing, but equally convincing expert testimony can be evaluated in such a way as to produce opposite conclusions amongst such jury members. That's part of the human condition. And, that's where the subjective comes into play, as humans attempt to make evidence relevant to themselves, and to draw conclusions.

So, for me, there are several additional factors which would tend to inform me, and act as modifiers to Corky's guiding principles. In the world of science, learned individuals make observations, and in some cases postulate the existence of things which they cannot see, based on the behavior of things which they can readily see. There are ample precedents for this. Whether we are studying subatomic particles, astral bodies, or evolution, science does postulate certain quantities or events, and as science evolves, some of these postulates end up being provable. I would cite such things as neutrinos, black holes, a planet or two, and missing links as examples. These things existed long before science was able to detect, document, and quantify. Phrasing this next statement not so much for myself, but for non-believers, it is my opinion that it makes perfect sense to postulate a creator/god based on observable effects. Probablility and statistical analysis certainly weigh in heavily when we consider evolution without God being involved. It seems that there have at the very least been a series of improbable, fortuitous events, optimizing the evolutionary process.

I'd also need to factor in the element of faith. That is somewhat intangible, but let's face it, we all have some form of faith, whether it be in the triumph of the human spirit, or that the law of gravity will not simply go away overnight as we sleep, or even that our cars actually exist in our own garages even though we are on a business trip thousands of miles away. And, if we flew to our destination, faith in the sound design of our modern jet aircraft and in the abilities of the pilot and co-pilot to fly it safely.

What if the Bible actually is a book about Jesus' family tree, and then the birth, life, death, and resurrection of the son of God, and the practical application of these events in our daily and eternal lives? The way of life He taught has been shown to be totally meaningful and workable, and much has been sampled heavily by other luminaries and visionaries. What amazes me, but really shouldn't considering my own life's experiences, is that there is such a high rejection rate, partial belief, and outright skepticism in spite of the extremely high stakes in the outcome.

BB

Ralph said...

As for belief in God(s), I could easily show parallels between UFO literature and biblical teachings.

In fact, several years ago, I contacted Loenard Stringfield, a repected UFO researcher who had been associated with "Project Blue Book". I showed him direct parallels between information discovered from hypnotized contactees experiencing "lost time" and biblical doctrines.

For example, Brad Steiger wrote a book many years ago called "Mysteries of Time and Space", in which he explored similarities in UFO phenomena.

He wrote that there is no better way of taking over a world than by seeding a crossbred race to operate from within our own species.

These children, said Steiger, may be unsuspecting of their special identity, but may actually be waiting for a signal which only they would recognize, and in the meantime shepherded by their "Cosmic Big Brothers" in a process requiring generations of mental and physical progression.

That parallel can easily be captured biblically in galatians 4:1-4, and Romans 8:29-30, along with a number of other bi blical statements.

When I contacted Stringfiled, he was very excited and told me that a number of people who had been interviewed through hypnosis told very nearly the same stories.

There are numerous ways to explain this.

Byker Bob said...

Ah, yes, Ralph. One of the books I've read over the past several years is "The Divine Conspiracy", by Willard. You might say that it's about cross breeding, and operation within the human species. It's about Christianity, discipleship and the restitution of all things to God. But, similar in principle to UFOs, ET, and the X-Files.

Only difference is that Willard's conspiracy is one that many of us would find desirable, with a certain and good conclusion.

BB

Ralph said...

Reading through Willard'as work didn't really stir me. He ignores the fundamental statement of Paul that we cannot choose to be "elect" and there is no "work" than can get us there.

I saw no real value in it.

Purple Hymnal said...

"Reading through Willard'as work didn't really stir me. He ignores the fundamental statement of Paul that we cannot choose to be "elect" and there is no "work" than can get us there.

I saw no real value in it."


Time to answer a direct question, Ralph: Don't give me a long-ass answer, don't quote from holy writ, and don't try to wrangle outdated Victorian mathematics to try and support your claim. Just answer me yes, or no.

Do you, Ralph, believe you have been chosen as the Special Elect of God?

Ralph said...

No. Ands as i said before, even assuming it was Victorian mathematics, what does thayt have to do with the truth or falwsehood of it?

I've answered your question directly, now answer all mine.

Ralph said...

That is, NO, I do not believe myself to be specially elect of God. Since I never made suich a statement why would you insist that I do?

Purple Hymnal said...

"That is, NO, I do not believe myself to be specially elect of God. Since I never made suich a statement why would you insist that I do?"

I wasn't insisting that you did, I was asking if you did. Thanks for answering, Ralph.

Ralph said...

You're welcome. You don't realize how close you and I probably are, except for preconceptions.

Purple Hymnal said...

"...except for preconceptions..."

OK Ralph, I know you're just baiting me, but I'll bite: How is my refusal to engage with Pascal's Wager a "preconception"? The way I see it, I'm rejecting a clear misconception!

Ralph said...

Pascal's wager for me is this: If there is a God, you can live as you wish and be free as long as you harm no other. if there is no God, same thing.

The only real restraints we have on freedom on this planet comes from other people who think they know what's best, and they don't know crap.

Purple Hymnal said...

I can agree with that Ralph, even though I have a tendency to think a bit farther afield than Pascal's Wager, or even the excellent version of it you have explicated above.

Maybe a bit more farther afield than I should, but as I've stated repeatedly, I don't prescribe my own mental meanderings for anyone else; this is just what has worked for me, and at least I have the freedom now, that if it stops working, I can always try something else.

For those reading this blog who have just exited from the clutches of the church, I think they could do a whole lot worse, than falling somewhere in the middle, between your perspective and mine, don't you think, Ralph? Can we agree on that?

Ralph said...

If one realizes that s/he can offer no authoritative solution to some other person's ills, then that is truth.

Purple, you have yet to show me why my statements are in any way wrong.

Ralph said...

Purple, while it may be true that you don't prescribe your mental meanderings for others, you seem to have a proclivity for censorship, as you suggested to others that thwey should simply ignore any comments I make.

That actually is a form of prescribing your own thinking for others.