Saturday, February 13, 2010

Coercive Morality; Love Me Or Else!

"Fear of God is a barrier to real morality, not a path to it."
-Saint Brian the Godless

"Learn to think before you learn to believe, or you’ll soon believe that you don’t need to think.
-Saint Brian the Godless

"Jesus Christ is good enough to hide an awful lot of evil in a man."
-Saint Brian the Godless


The Christian God is Mysterious. We cannot even guess His ways. He loves us, His most prized creation. He loves us over all else. We are as His children, and He is our Father in Heaven, as the prayer goes.

However, while He tells us not to judge others (through Jesus) it appears that He does so not because it is wrong to judge others, but because He reserves *that pleasure* for Himself. He not only judges us all, but feels free to act upon that judgement and relegate our poor souls to a place of eternal torment when we die, and also from time to time feels free to hasten that demise in certain circumstances if we displease Him enough.

His actions belie His words, and vice-versa. We are in essence told to 'do as I say and not as I do' by God.

So what does this teach us? Where does that leave us psychologically as a society that is admittedly largely based in the Judeo-Christian mythos?

It teaches us that a being who is willing to absolutely lay us out and fry our ass until the stars go out, willing to torture us forever for just the 'act' of not believing in Him with zero evidence, willing to kill people instantly for just being curious or for other silly 'mysterious' reasons that only HE knows, a being that can and has laid waste to whole cities and even committed genocide and even nearly destroyed the whole world once except for one family, loves us. Somehow, that horrifically fearful and easily provoked being loves us in spite of all that. Loves us more than anything, so much so that He'll send us straight to hell if we give Him one ounce of 'lip.'

It makes people believe that love can involve abuse. It teaches the abusers that it's okay to abuse, and it teaches the abused that they should just 'shut up and take it' because He (he) knows what's best for you, because He (he) loves you in spite of the beatings or whatever.

And that one thing my friends, has sown one hell of a lot of domestic misery in the world. Think of the psychology of it, really think about it, and you'll know that what I'm saying is true.

God sets very bad examples for us, and then we do our best to follow them. It's not even conscious. Of course we do. He's God. The Ultimate Father Figure. And like all parents who tell their children to just 'do as I say and not as I do,' we His children invariably do as he does and not as he says. Actions always speak louder than words, after all.

So we have 'Divine Sanction By Example' of such things as Wrath, Self-Righteous Indignation, Pride, Murder, Jealousy, War, and all sorts of abuse, both physical and psychological. No, God does not tell us to do these things to each other. God does them (or has done them in the past) to us Himself.

It's been wonderful for our collective mental health. Just watch the news sometime.

It is the nature of genuine morality based in empathy that it cannot be taught at gunpoint. Even less can it be taught by threat of eternal damnation. It cannot be coerced in our children, nor can it be coerced in God's Children. What can be taught us by coercion, is fear.

272 comments:

  1. Right Bri. We keep talking about this book, as if it's actually a book.

    Your ambiguity comment inspired me.

    I think we forget over and over much to our detriment that god/s, goddesses, and other such noumenal things were THE epistemic limits.

    Everything took place within those confines, including politics.

    I should remind myself not to look back at whomever with any knowledge I've gained just by being me in my time.

    ...ok, so, it's a group of writings put together for the political purposes of the day. To them (the Christians) it would be just like Congress going in to argue over some stupid bill.

    The ambiguity is inherent in it's very creation as a book. Holy crap, I can't believe I didn't realize that before...it's like a bad mixed cd/tape, whatever. Except with something like that we are aware of our wondering, "Why the heck did they put this song after that song?" Or "Why did they think I'd like this?"

    Not only are believers guessing about the real origin of each piece of writing, but the book itself.

    Like Frank Herbert wrote in Dune...it's like "feints within feints."

    See Bri, that's why you're the flippin saint. I'd kiss your icon but that would smudge my screen.

    So to recap, everything was religious...noumenal stuff was a cognitive (not actual) fact. War, politics, sex, death, all took place within those confines. Because of this, the council of Nicea was not, absolutely was not a religious gathering the way we think of religious gatherings these days. It was a political debate, resulting in a political solution over extant material.

    The bible can only be contradictory. It can't be anything but...and that's something one can know before it's even opened!

    Imagine if we told the story about how this non-book became a book...sans opinion no less, to kids before they read it.

    You rock Bri.

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  2. I do agree with you on this post. The question I have is what do you gain from pursing this type of thinking? Without question the God described in the bible is a myth, and a poor one at that. I just do not understand why you are going over and over why that is so. What is your objective?

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  3. Jerry,

    I can't speak for Brian, but I can put this notion in your noggin.

    To be told that you have inherent value, along with everyone else on the planet, and at the exact same time told you are worthless...is one of the most pernicious lies ever told.

    It is the exact pattern of an abusive relationship.

    The compilation of books called 'The Bible' models the most unhealthy relationship human beings can have and calls it 'authoritative.' Not to mention you can't see your abuser.

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  4. What is your objective?
    ---------------------
    To undeline the basic flaws in the Christian system of morality. I don't think most people see them. You do, so perhaps I'm seeming a bit obvious.
    As to that God being a myth, most of the people in this country would disagree with you.
    Hence, most of the people in this country subscribe to a flawed moral system.
    I'd call that pretty big news.

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  5. Oneblood, that post worked here, too! Glad you didn't waste it...

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  6. Because of this, the council of Nicea was not, absolutely was not a religious gathering the way we think of religious gatherings these days. It was a political debate, resulting in a political solution over extant material.
    ---------------
    Yes.

    Pretty cool, huh?

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  7. The Christians are bringing up the drag that slows us down enough to save us from unraveling.
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    The way I see it Jerry, the Christians are contributing to our demise, and have been for some time. Our moral fiber was never that great in the first place. Morality based in coercion is false morality. We have tons of that kind nowadays.

    I do agree with this, and again agree with your statement. I think the regression that we are experiencing, probably the high being at the time of Christ, is a normal step back in the overall continuing evolution. I think it is some what like looking at a chart of the Dow for a period of one year on a daily chart. It goes up, and down, admitting to periods of regression which seems to me to be a very common occurrence in nature. So while it is frustrating to have times of taking a step back, it will end and we will go forward as evolution dictates. There is another part that one can over look in their view of the overall view of society. That being our own growth as individuals in comparison with the general society can produce an illusion that, with in reality, the comparison of the two is like comparing apples, and oranges. If I compare the ignorance of youth with my wisdom of time without the idea that the youth of now will be more advanced by the time they reach my age, and the wisdom they will posses at that time, I am doomed to buy into the idea, the youths are going to hell in a hand basket.

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  8. Oneblood, all your points are valid (re: Nicea) and it sure bears thinking about, doesn't it?

    It was a political debate over existing materials, very varied in nature. Such a debate can and did result in the end product being highly ambiguous, but still supportive of the general agenda that was agreed upon at that debate. It's all pasted together.
    And to the rest of us, all these years later, it has become something more dignified and God-inspired somehow. Well, 'somehow' because that's how they wanted it to be thought of at the time.

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  9. oneblood

    I am not sure I understand your post. It seems that your are thinking that I endorse Christianity, and or the bible. If so we do have a misunderstanding.

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  10. I think the regression that we are experiencing, probably the high being at the time of Christ, is a normal step back in the overall continuing evolution.
    --------------
    I don't see the time of Christ as our moral high point in history, if that's what you're saying. No, we're at that point now, unfortunately. The 'halcyon days of yore' are a perpetual illusion that revisits itself upon each succeeding generation. In reality, yesteryear sucked, and sucked more in direct proportion to how long ago said yesteryear was. So we're making progress. The religions of the world, most especially islam and christianity, are there to retard our growth toward the point where world peace is a possibility. Religions such as these, by their very nature, insist on changelessness, on keeping things as they are, or even returning to yesteryear if they can manage to. Religion = Stagnation. That is why I oppose it. It is indeed the 'brakes' as you said Jerry, but it 'brakes' our progress toward a better world. On purpose. Because in that better world, where all people have eyes with which to see, it can't exist.

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  11. Religion = Stagnation. That is why I oppose it. It is indeed the 'brakes' as you said Jerry, but it 'brakes' our progress toward a better world.

    ------------

    I have been following for a while, now. Over time there have been some intriguing arguments, but I have wondered at your motivation. You stated the above, Brian, in a fashion that indicated that such is your motivation.

    You must know that few Christians are so adventurous as to wander into such an inhospitable place as this, and so you join so many of us in the blog realms who find they are preaching to the choir.

    As a Christian convert I also wondered at the tendency for organized religions to support the status quo to such a degree as to intentionally impede the advancement of human knowledge.

    Indeed, I often wondered why Christians were not at the forefront of such advancement. I am still disappointed that Christians and Christianity are not the leaders in great thought and deed. After all, we claim to be linked to a mighty God.

    Unfortunately, like most humans Christians suck. It is almost like they need redemption by some higher power, or something like that. But I digress.

    What causes you to assume that sucky humans are progressing toward a better world, and would arrive there sooner if religion would just get out of the way?

    Your choir is welcome to chime in, of course!

    Mike

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  12. My powers of observation tell me that, Michael.

    If my thesis about religion is correct, you cannot see what I can see about your faith. So you must answer me as you have. You cannot help it. You cannot see what your faith is really based in, what your religion has done to us since it's inception. What good was done was far overshadowed by all that horrific evil, but you've been conditioned to see only the good. You have been blinded to the other part. Perhaps if you hang around and really think about things, talk them out as it were, you might come to a place where certain things become visible to you that are now hidden.
    As for now, that's probably about the best answer that I can give you. You're not open to anything that contraindicates your belief system at this point. Even hostility on your part might result, as your programming is ego-linked and thus you must react in anger to any threat to it. Thanks for stopping by, though. You're welcome to stay as long as you like.

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  13. I do commend you Mike, on venturing into this satanic den of iniquity here that I call home.

    Perhaps there's hope for you yet.

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  14. It is almost like they need redemption by some higher power, or something like that. But I digress.
    ---------
    Nah, that's just a vicious rumor that distracts us from believing that we can change for the better on our own.

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  15. Although I should say that it's too late for religion to just get out of the way, even if it wanted to, which would never happen. We're addicted.

    We as a society have been formed around it. It's too deeply embedded in so many of us now. We'd all need to learn coping skills that we never had to learn. It'd be like having to cult-deprogram an entire planet almost, one person at a time.

    We were predisposed to have a religion as a species. It was how we evolved socially. It's just such a shame that one of the main religions surviving that primitive era is one of the most controlling and oppressive and intellect-negating that ever existed. If not THE most. Which come to think of it, is probably WHY it survived.

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  16. "I am not sure I understand your post. It seems that your are thinking that I endorse Christianity, and or the bible. If so we do have a misunderstanding."

    Jerry, I don't know if you ever detailed your spiritual beliefs on the DD blog, but I distinctly remember them being different than Christianity.

    So I wasn't addressing you as a Christian.

    But you asked about Brian's persistence. I posited that his reasons for visiting the same ground are similar to the others from DD's blog/pulpit. Or anyone who finally frees themselves from the confines of a relentless paradox.

    I do apologize for any confusion. My intent was to be explicit...not imply anything about you.

    Looking back at the post now, I see what you mean.

    That first sentence doesn't really lend itself to my intent. Hmmm, not sure how to express a sheepish look on a blog.

    Mea culpa.

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  17. Our hope lies in the youth of today as the older people will never get past the program they have been indoctrinated with. It is a shame that the government let some of the religious groups open regular schools, which will be a large detriment to getting free from the dogma of religion.

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  18. Actually Jerry,

    Are you Ba'hai or something like that?

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  19. oneblood

    No problem. I see what you mean, thank for clearing that up.

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  20. To an extent Jerry has a point.

    We can look to themes that Christianity has taken from other religions and dump them: some miracles, the resurrection etc.

    But if Jesus actually was teaching a compassionate version of that time's rabbinic interpretations, it would be 'different' enough to qualify for Jerry's proposition.

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  21. I would like to qualify it though.

    I believe Jesus had some bigotry issues. Which would mean most Christians are taking a culturally, perhaps ethnically specific teaching and using it pragmatically.

    Calling that Canaanite woman a dog was a red flag for me.

    I'm of course presupposing that those texts have any veracity at all.

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  22. I do not think I fit with any group. It would be nice to fit some group but so far have not found such. Part of the reason I believe is I am to flexible for any certain belief system. My main game is to choose my thoughts by their fruit and what they can do for all our lives.

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  23. When I was in Texas I used to go to a Unitarian Universalist Church. It was pretty allright mostly, if you just want the social intereaction of belonging to a church without having to believe in anything in particular. There was even one wiccan in the congregation. Maybe we need more institutions like that. It was kinda corny, but I could see that they all seemed to enjoy it a lot. It brought people together thinking thoughts of love and peace, so I couldn't disapprove of it.
    Their pancake breakfasts were really great, too.
    And most of the people were fairly smart. Even the editor of the local paper was one of the congregants. For me it was an island of relative sanity in a sea of fundamentalist blockheads.

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  24. Bri,

    If it doesn't give away too much, where in Texas? As a kid I was a Corpus Christi resident for about five years.

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  25. Amarillo. The panhandle.

    It was pretty grim for a northeastern atheistical boy like me.

    For most of my life I had thought Christianity a harmless and even beneficial delusion, not for me but it seemed to help other people cope with life etc... but my time in Amarillo, only eight months, all by my lonesome, opened my eyes to the Psychosis of Christianity. And it can be a legitimate psychosis, no doubt about it. It was everywhere and in your face, at all times. It's an undercurrent to everything there. If I was waiting on a customer (Jewelry Store, diamonds) and I made a good impression on them as I always try to do, well they'd invite me to their church instead of out for a cold one at the local tap or something normal like that. It was on every car and every other billboard, and a church was on every other block. I'd never been exposed to hardcore christianity before. At first it seemed okay, since everybody seemed so durn nice and all. Strangers wave to you on the street, people in cars say hi to you at red lights, heck, it was like being in Mayberry. But they could spot me for what I was eventually, a leper-outcast-unclean atheist... And then for some reason they weren't so nice to me anymore. I spent the last couple of months literally feeling both the intelligence and the will to live being leached out of me. I'm lucky to have made it back to reality.

    There's a lot of stupid down there. I know that sounds politically incorrect, but I have to call it like I saw it. And a real lot of guns, too. They're everywhere. And big knives. One time when I was leaving a nightclub some big cowboy type whipped out a folding knife with about a seven inch blade and kindly offered to cut off my nylon bracelet they give you to prove you're old enough to drink. I accepted just as kindly myself of course. No sense in riling him. He obviously loved his knife. It's not like he worked there or anything.

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  26. I used to take long drives out of town... Just to see the country. Once I found meself in Clovis, New Mexico, a place famous for it's points, as in, ancient knapped flint arrowheads. I went into the local bar and found myself in Gunsmoke. I was suddenly an extra in a bad western. A bunch of old cowpokes sat drinking hard liquor around a table talking loudly and incomprenensibly in a Festus Hagin dialect, and I think the Bartender wore a star. (not really, but it would have fit)
    They wore old cowboy hats with high centers, not folded in but puffed up, and western attire, maybe chaps, can't remember. I do remember that they were all fucking dirty as hogs in a waller. Which is what made me realize that this wasn't a bad western after all, this was real day-to-day life here in Clovis.

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  27. The towns you go through out there along the rail line from amarillo into new mexico generally consist of about a hundred or so houses and a couple of stores if that, a filling station, and a big mothafucking multi-silo grain elevator. The grain elevator is basically what defines the town. And every now and then you drive by a black-and-white sea that stretches to the oh-so-flat horizon. A sea of cows.

    The smell is indescribable. Although not as bad as a Delaware chicken farm that I once stayed about a half-mile away from for a week. Pretty darn bad though. In fact, even in Amarillo I'd smell it wafting on the breeze, every morning, and really bad after any rain. The locals called it 'the smell of money' to make themselves feel better about living in a shithole.

    It's a blast from the past, to be sure. Interesting. I don't think I'd want to see it all again, though. It was an experience.

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  28. My family would take trips out west of town, and it's kind of amazing I guess, but most of Texas at least feels the same.

    Your experience was bad, mine was good (relatively speaking), ah but everything your describing is Texas with a capital WTF.

    Only in Corpus we had a lot of immigrants. Immigrants sheesh, we were the immigrants. I should say natives to the area whose land was co-opted by our wonderful government.

    Anyway, it was where I learned my first bit of Spanish, and about the absurd rivalry between Mexicans and Puerto Ricans.

    I guess it would be like Australians and Scots having a rivalry.

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  29. Hey Brian ,I found your short story very entertaining and interesting. Is there a book/ movie in the making?
    If not, write some more here if you don’t mind, and don’t leave out the details.
    I truly enjoyed it.

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  30. My short story? I guess it did get a bit like a story. Nah, no movie.

    And I left out the juicy parts. I mean, I did find things to do for fun down there. But I can't really talk about them without sounding like Caligula.

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  31. One thing I did like about Amarillo. Palo Duro Canyon. Who knew that I would be living twenty minutes away from the second largest canyon in the world, next to the Grand Canyon? One thousand feet deep and like over a hundred miles long, and really beautiful with a lot of wildlife in it that you don't see elsewhere. I hiked it several times. Very nice. That I wouldn't mind seeing again.
    Here's a pic, but it doesn't do it justice.

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  32. See this for some insightful comments on the Catholic understanding of Hell.

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  33. And see this for an insightful understanding of how all the other christians see hell.

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  34. Okay, check out both, but *then* ask which one makes more *sense*, *given* the big picture (including, but not limited to: conceptions of God, multiple passages in scripture, understanding of the human person, nature of love and freedom, the development of tradition and doctrine, etc.).

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  35. Eric, I watched him for about half the recording before I just had to stop.

    When he said "Even Jesus mentions hell as gehenna, a place of fire" I had to laugh. It's like "Well, Jesus, the one true authority, clearly defines Hell, but let me tell you what it REALLY is, what He REALLY meant..."
    Such pride. Changing the meaning of hell to make themselves feel better about it. So silly. Religion makes such fools of men.

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  36. but *then* ask which one makes more *sense*,
    ----------------
    Whenever I do that I come up with 'Having no religion makes the most sense...'

    You can't redefine something in the bible just because it doesn't make sense to you the way it is. NONE of the Bible makes sense to me, and you don't see me redefining it till it does. No, I do the sensible thing and discard it altogether.

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  37. "When he said "Even Jesus mentions hell as gehenna, a place of fire" I had to laugh."

    Brian, do you know what 'Gehenna' was?

    It was a garbage site in Jerusalem in which the waste of the city was consumed by a fire. If we use the "Saint Brian the Godless's Principles of Hermeneutics," we must take Jesus to be saying that Hell is located in the Valley of Hinnom. We can go visit it today.

    Are travel agents aware of this?

    Now do you see why you must read these texts carefully?

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  38. Brian, do you know what 'Gehenna' was?

    It was a garbage site in Jerusalem
    ---------------
    Yes, but that just means that Jesus called hell a garbage dump for souls, complete with incinerators. Not that He was actually referring to souls going to the local dump after they die. That is pretty much consonant with the typical flames and eternal suffering theme mentioned elsewhere and generally believed by most christians today. Except for catholics of course, who know better. (lol)

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  39. I love how catholics know so much about how God thinks. It's very impressive.

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  40. Now do you see why you must read these texts carefully?
    -----------------
    Nope. And frankly I can't even see why we should be reading them at all. They're useless as tits on a boarhog.
    But you guys seem to like them. It gives you something to argue about, I guess. And after two millennia of argumentation you've finally defined it all, so the rest of us can now positively know what it all means. To you.

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  41. John 14: "If you love me, you will obey my commandments.16 I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, who will stay with you forever.17 *He is the Spirit, who reveals the truth about God*... 25 I have told you this while I am still with you.26 *The Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and make you remember all that I have told you*."


    That "Helper" is what Catholics believe is at work guiding the Magisterium (i.e. the teaching authority) of the Church. These passages clearly indicate that the Church will grow and develop its teachings and doctrines after Jesus' death (it will "teach you" and "reveal the truth about God"), but will do so with His authority.

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  42. "And frankly I can't even see why we should be reading them at all. They're useless as tits on a boarhog."

    Ah, the decline of Western culture. Try understanding Milton, Dante, Chaucer, Donne or Spencer without them. Try understanding much of Beethoven, Bach or Mozart without them. Try understanding the development of Western philosophy from Augustine to Nietzsche without them. Try understanding the history of Western science from Copernicus and Bacon on without them. Heck, *try understanding yourself -- a product of Athens and Jerusalem -- without them*.

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  43. That "Helper" is what Catholics believe is at work guiding the Magisterium (i.e. the teaching authority) of the Church. These passages clearly indicate that the Church will grow and develop its teachings and doctrines after Jesus' death (it will "teach you" and "reveal the truth about God"), but will do so with His authority.
    -----------------
    Dude, stop. It's only making me nauseus. You people have made such a huge deal over an old book. Can't you guys get real lives or something? You've based your whole existence on interpreting a reeeeeeaaaaly old book (collection of disparate books, actually) which is utterly and completely based in magical thinking, as if it were hard fact, and it's just silly looking from the outside. Can't you see that? What I'm hearing when you talk is like a grown man telling me the 'real hard facts' behind the 'legend' of Humpty Dumpty and why it's of vital concern in our lives. The Dumpty Magisterium just isn't impressing me.

    It just isn't. It's all fake. Elaborate as hell, too, to conceal how utterly fake it is.
    And you guys are the ones that put it all together and packaged it as the Lie that keeps on telling itself, the Greatest Lie Ever Told.

    Constantine was an asshole, you do know that, don't you?

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  44. Ah, the decline of Western culture. Try understanding Milton, Dante, Chaucer, Donne or Spencer without them. Try understanding much of Beethoven, Bach or Mozart without them. Try understanding the development of Western philosophy from Augustine to Nietzsche without them. Try understanding the history of Western science from Copernicus and Bacon on without them. Heck, *try understanding yourself -- a product of Athens and Jerusalem -- without them*.
    ----------------
    I can understand the misapprehension under which all of those people lived and worked just fine, and that's enough to understand them. They produced good works IN SPITE of their beliefs, and not because of them.

    Try understanding the Buddha, why don't you? Try looking at something that is GENUINELY profound instead of an elaborate concatenation of useless made-up terminology that gives the impression of veracity just due to it's complexity. You guys fake profound very well, but you can't understand really deep thinking if it slapped you across the face.
    Does a a dog have Buddha nature? Riddle me that, my wise catholic sage friend.

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  45. Or even better than that koan, try understanding the Diamond Sutra.
    Now THAT'S a profound, holy book. That's what it should be.

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  46. "Try understanding the Buddha, why don't you? Try looking at something that is GENUINELY profound"

    I have studied Buddhism, and I agree that there's a great deal of wisdom, especially about the nature of dukkha (roughly, suffering). But I don't accept Buddhism's solution, which is (ultimately) the dissolution of the self (desire). And the reason I don't accept Buddhism's solution is that I don't accept its statement of the problem, which it derived from Hinduism, viz. rebirth. And I'm much more impressed with Christianity's emphasis on a proactive agape, or active divine love, than I am with Buddhism's emphasis on a more passive compassion (which results in the common saying in Buddhist nations, "The tears of strangers are only water"). If you doubt this, compare how much Christian dominated nations give to charity and disaster relief with how much Buddhist dominated nations do. (Sure, the Christian nations are wealthier, but even if you adjust for this difference, it's still not even close.)

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  47. I don't agree with dissolution of the self either. It goes too far. But it's in the right direction I think. Detachment is key to many things, but one must attain a balanced state of detachment-attachment.
    I also pay particular attention to the doctrine of Maya.

    I see much of Christian charity as selfish rather than selfless. More members, more converts, missionaries out in the bush converting the natives by dangling a sandwich in front of them. Reprehensible.

    Hey, sorry I've been so hard on you, btw. I read back and I seem pissed off or something. I'm not. Just incredulous, I guess. You're a smart man that to me, is believing in the ridiculous with a fervor. And even re-defining it so as to make it more sanitary and acceptable. Of course, that's your church and not you, but still, you buy into it.

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  48. "I don't agree with dissolution of the self either. It goes too far. But it's in the right direction I think. Detachment is key to many things, but one must attain a balanced state of detachment-attachment."

    There's something very similar to this in Christianity, which is usually put colloquially as "dying to self."

    "I see much of Christian charity as selfish rather than selfless."

    I agree that this is often the case. Chesterton said that the greatest argument against Christianity is Christians. He also said, "The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried." We see this ideal clearly in 1 Corinthians 13, a beautiful exposition on the nature of Christian love (interpreted as "charity" here):


    "Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
    2And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.
    3And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.
    4Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
    5Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
    6Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
    7Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
    8Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.
    9For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
    10But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
    11When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
    12For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
    13And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity."

    Beautiful, no? (And there's another wonderful thing about Christianity, to wit it's identification of beauty, truth and goodness, that is to say, it's recognition that the true is the good is the beautiful. You don't get one without the others.)

    Let's not dismiss Christianity because of horrible Christians. To borrow from Chesterton again, Id say that as Christians we all know what's wrong with the world: "I am" (the pithy response Chesterton gave to a request for an essay on the question, "What's wrong with the world?").

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  49. "Hey, sorry I've been so hard on you, btw. I read back and I seem pissed off or something. I'm not. Just incredulous, I guess."

    No problem. You don't seem pissed off to me -- just passionate. I'm passionate about ideas and the truth too. There's nothing to apologize about.

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  50. "And there's another wonderful thing about Christianity, to wit it's identification of beauty, truth and goodness, that is to say, it's recognition that the true is the good is the beautiful. You don't get one without the others"

    Hello, that should be "its," not "it's." That's what I get for not proofreading.

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  51. with Buddhism's emphasis on a more passive compassion (which results in the common saying in Buddhist nations, "The tears of strangers are only water").
    -----------------
    Oooh, swing and a miss. Not Buddhist, but Indian. Wanna try for Hindi?

    It's an Indian proverb, or a Russian one, depending on what sources you believe. And one Indian person that uses it and says it's from his youth, is Dinesh D'Souza, who doesn't seem to associate it with buddhism as you did. He used it in Boulder against Hitchens a year ago in fact.

    I find that interesting, don't you?

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  52. "Let's not dismiss Christianity because of horrible Christians."

    You are right, Eric. I do not dismiss Christianity because of horrible Christians. I dismiss it because of its horrible god.

    In the video you gave us, Fr Barron tells us, 'God is love. Simply, he is love, not in love, not near love. But he simply is LOVE'. (paraphrased, of course)

    Surely, love is unconditional. Christians like to refer to it as Agape?
    But, the Christian god DOES place conditions on his love.
    If God's love was unconditional, Hell would not exist. There would be no need.

    "God is Love. If we accept it, we'll be in heaven." = BIG condition!

    Even if we accept Fr Barron's idea that God isn't sending us to Hell, we must surely see that he IS turning his back on us, at the very least?

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  53. 2And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.

    This statement shows ignorance of where charity comes from and why. One cannot have the true gift of prophecy, understand all mysteries, and have all knowledge without first having charity.

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  54. Let's not dismiss Christianity because of horrible Christians.
    --------------
    Oh let's!

    And the horrible christians are a natural result of the hypocritical morality system they have, where love is coerced.

    Your book has pretty words which people don't pay attention to unless they're in need of a quote to show someone like me that there are pretty words in it. Pretty words that, if followed, would likely have good results, but are not followed. Your selection there speaks of charity but the book is so morally skewed that most of the people reading it can't even tell what real charity is. And definitely can't tell what real empathy is.
    Your religion has a HUGE empathy defecit, you know. It doesn't speak well for it.
    So back to the pretty words you showed me. They're like a flower garden by the side of the road with a car wreck that just happened in front of it and bloodied people hanging out of it. Not too many passers-by will notice the garden.

    The car wreck in my little story is all the negative hateful hypocritical brainwashing crap that's also in the book, along with the pretty words.

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  55. Unconditional Love?

    I would say my dog comes closer than god. But, she's a Lab, so she's smart ;-)

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  56. Now that is serious. Comparing a dog with the Christian God, and god comes up wanting.

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  57. "It's an Indian proverb, or a Russian one, depending on what sources you believe. And one Indian person that uses it and says it's from his youth, is Dinesh D'Souza"

    Well, I heard it was a Chinese proverb (The tears of strangers are only water: 中文(简体), and Dinesh says as much in his book. But it doesn't matter if it's not: the facts about the nature of compassion (karunaa or dayaa) in Buddhism, and the practice of it by Buddhists, speak for themselves.

    "If God's love was unconditional, Hell would not exist. There would be no need."

    You have it precisely backwards. Love cannot, by its nature, coerce, and it is for this reason that, if God is love and we are free, we must accept the reality of Hell.

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  58. I think you had better check if the meaning of the word coerce. Coercion is Christianity's main game.

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  59. "Coercion is Christianity's main game"

    This is ambiguous. Do you mean to say that Christians are often coercive, or that Christianity is essentially coercive (or both)? If the former, I agree; if the latter, I'd love to see a theologically informed argument supporting it.

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  60. Both,

    The whole concept of the necessity of Jesus dying on the cross for someone's (anyone's) sins, and needing that for salvation connected to love in any way goes so far over the top, it speaks speaks to a comical tragedy. I would agree that the love of God is without coercion, but Christianity is based upon it.

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  61. "I would agree that the love of God is without coercion, *but Christianity is based upon it*."

    Right, I already know that's your conclusion, but again, do you have a theologically informed argument supporting it?

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  62. Eric, your arguments are quite interesting and I have enjoyed seeing the interchange. It is far more interesting than the "preaching to the choir" I had claimed earlier. Thanks!

    I am curious why you are then an Internet non-entity. I check your profile and get nothing. No links, no blogs, nothing much at all.

    Anyway, you provided some spice to this stew.

    Mike

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  63. Are you looking for the undeniable truth of the matter, or you are looking for some name that is recognized as a theological authority?

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  64. On the subject of hell, I would like to call your attention to a story Jesus told concerning a CERTAIN rich man who lived in the time of Moses. This is not a parable.

    19There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day:
    20And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores,
    21And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.
    22And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried;
    23And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
    24And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.
    25But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.
    26And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.
    27Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father's house:
    28For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment.
    29Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.

    Hell is most definitely a place of torment according to Jesus.
    I also would like to add that the rich man did not go to hell because he was rich. The reason he went to hell was because of unbelief. The Law instructed the Israelites to give unto their neighbors if they were in need. If the rich man had believed in God he would have shown mercy to the poor beggar as God had been merciful to him.

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  65. "Love cannot, by its nature, coerce, and it is for this reason that, if God is love and we are free, we must accept the reality of Hell." - Eric

    No.
    Eric, you do realize the above sentence is an oxymoron?

    Love has no conditions. None.
    The thing with my dog was only half a joke. If God is love, surely we could be forgiven, without fail, for anything we might do.

    What kind of entity wishes its subjects to grovel? There's no way around it. Either submit to god or be cast off.
    That is not Love. It's possession, ownership, control. Anything but love!

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  66. Eric,


    While you might not consider Observant an expert on theology, his post proves my point. Coercion is the only way those that claim to be Christians ever think.

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  67. Never claimed to an expert Jerry.
    Nor should anuone else.

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  68. You have it precisely backwards. Love cannot, by its nature, coerce, and it is for this reason that, if God is love and we are free, we must accept the reality of Hell.
    -------------------
    This is insane, you know. Your reasoning here is fallacious in the extreme.

    If God is love and we are free then God is always nice to us and tries to guide us gently instead of any threats, implied or actual. There is no Hell nor Satan. Oh, and we all can see that God is real too, if God is love, since that would help us along a lot, instead of God leaving us to play guessing games about His very existence. Maybe an occassional appearance in the clouds above a la monty python's God, to chat a bit. He should allow photographs, too. And make everything crystal clear once and for all.

    If you think that hell is necessary because God is love, then pardon me, but you're a perfect illustration of my entire post here. If this is how you see things, how are you not already insane, driven to think torture is necessary to love? You are, my friend. You are. If you believe these things, you are not sane. Probably because you were coerced to love your religion all your life. It screws up the very definition of love in your head. You know, to the point where you might think hell is necessary to a loving God or something.

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  69. Observant,
    What would you call someone who claims to know what God wants, thinks, and knows the only version of the bible that is God's word if not an expert? I do not think you ever tried to say you were an expert on theology.

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  70. I am curious why you are then an Internet non-entity. I check your profile and get nothing. No links, no blogs, nothing much at all.
    ---------------
    Michael, that is because it's not his real name and he doesn't want us to know that he's Dinesh D'Souza.

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  71. Eric; "if God is love and we are free, we must accept the reality of Hell."

    How so? If god's love is unconditional, then it's without conditions. I.e. No conditions!

    What does unconditional love have to do with choices we make?

    If it's dependent upon our choices, it's CONDITIONAL!!!

    Hell is an unnecessary invention. It exists simply as a stick to heavens carrot.

    You are conflating the issues.



    Word Verification; "grampai"

    I'd rather be in hell with my grampai, than in heaven with Pat Robertson.

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  72. Mike; I disagree with you on everything except your love of the movie Fletch.

    Good taste.

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  73. Yeah Ryan, he likes python too, so he's cool. He can stay.


    (joke)

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  74. How so? If god's love is unconditional, then it's without conditions. I.e. No conditions!

    What does unconditional love have to do with choices we make?

    If it's dependent upon our choices, it's CONDITIONAL!!!
    -----------------
    AHA! ENGLISH! I love English! It's so, so... understandable to me.

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  75. Ryan, Was thinking about you today, and was wondering how your little girl is doing?

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  76. Jerry,
    I don’t know anyone who has made such a claim. Do you?

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  77. Jerry; she's doing great. She just entered what I've heard described at "the language explosion". And she's started getting shy for some reason. So much fun.

    Hope you are doing well.

    PS: Brian, speaking of Python, I accidently taught my daughter to say "A duck" like King Author in the witch trial scene in The Holy Grail.

    It's hilarious, we'll be looking at a book with animals in it and she'll identify them... "moo, dog, goat, meow, pig, A DUCK!, sheep..."

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  78. Mike: "I don’t know anyone who has made such a claim. Do you?"

    Um, that would be anyone who believes the bible is the inerrant word of god.

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  79. Brian; so if Eric is Dinesh (hahaha!), perhaps he'd like to comment on his fatally flawed argument which uses the concept of hell against the idea of religion as wish fulfilment.

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  80. Actually, the best case that I can see for Eric not being Dinesh is that Eric seems just a jot more sensible. I have less trouble finding the linchpin flaws in Dinesh's argumentation. His generally glare out at me more, is my point. Eric seems smarter somehow.
    Of course, that could be affected by a Master of Disguise.

    Eric, if it's you Dinesh, it's okay. We all like you anyhow. You can 'come out' here. Go with you heart here. You're among friends.

    And we won't tell a soul. Promise!


    (Of course, the fact that many of us here do not believe in any such thing as 'souls' adds an element of interest to the whole equation, but what the heck, nothing ventured...)

    (Was 'come out' too strong?)

    Eric, who is likely not Dinesh but still remains a Schroedinger's cat to me in that regard because I am an eternal skeptic, the thought occurs to me that I have never asked you to show me, or rather us, any proof that you are not Dinesh. But then the other thought that occurs to me right after that, is, amazingly, it's really none of my business, any more that it was Kenneth Starr's business that Clinton got a hummer in the oval office.

    So be Eric, that's cool. Hell, if you are Dinesh, this facade/alternate existence might be the only thing keeping you from bringing a concealed firearm to your next debate with Hitchens.

    (I know you hate him. That corpulent drunk. What a snot.
    You can admit that, too. Let's be friends...)

    (And I know about the Shermer Voodoo doll under your bed, too.)

    :-)

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  81. Mike: "I don’t know anyone who has made such a claim. Do you?"

    Um, that would be anyone who believes the bible is the inerrant word of god.
    -----------------------
    He's got you there, Mike. I mean, you know better than C.S. Lewis himself, don't you? And he's definitely an expert, so considered by many, myself included. In fact, one of the great experts. So, by your own word my friend, you are an Expert's Expert. An uber-expert, if you will. That's okay though, because it's not really you, it's God speaking through you, his vessel.

    (Vessel. Heh. Heh heh.)

    Sooooo, if I wanted to know some mere man's 'theories' about God and the Bible, well, I could read Lewis. Buuuuut, if I wanna hear what the Big G has to say on the subject, then I hafta go straight to you, His representative.

    Or do I have that wrong somehow?

    I've tried for long enough to get through to you that it's always possible that you could be wrong, even about your 'born-again' experience. I've tried and I've tried, and nope, you're certain beyond any doubt whatsoever that you have everything just right. So, you in essence claim to be directly influenced by the Divine, and thus beyond possibility of any error.

    Do I have it wrong somehow? I don't think so.


    Lay it on me, brother Mike!

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  82. Brian; so if Eric is Dinesh (hahaha!), perhaps he'd like to comment on his fatally flawed argument which uses the concept of hell against the idea of religion as wish fulfilment.
    ------------------------
    Allright, I'll just guess since I haven't read any DD lately.

    Hell against the idea of religion being wish-fulfillment? That must be 'how can it be wish-fulfillment if there's hell? We wouldn't WISH for that?'

    Am I close? It's on the level of denying climate change due to a snowstorm, so I figure that's about right. But I was only guessing.

    Not considering of course that the wish-fulfillment part refers to the afterlife and not to damnation. Once it was clear that people wished for an afterlife, then some mere mortal man put in the idea of hell to take advantage of that wish and control the people.

    Let's try to think of the absolute worst thing that can happen to a person. Way worse than death. Death is a pansy by comparison. Eternal torture with no release of death! Brilliant! Now that's what I call a STICK.

    Ya know it's made up, because it's that bad. Why would a loving God want to do anything that bad to anybody? Makes zero sense to anyone above the intellect of a nematode.

    The fact that it makes zero sense, is why Catholics are forced to alter it. Dilute it. Make it 'our choice' as if that were true. Make it a place that 'people aren't asking to get out of' but of course it's 'worse than eternal torture' as if THAT were possible.
    That gets to me a bit. And I was once a Roman Catholic myself, mind you.

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  83. By the way, if separation from God is so intolerable, then why can I do it every day of my life and not even notice the discomfort?

    In fact, it's exhilirating. What a sense of freedom! Mental shackles are the hardest to break, you know.

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  84. Brian; "That must be 'how can it be wish-fulfillment if there's hell? We wouldn't WISH for that?' Am I close?"

    Yup, that's exactly it. The "stick" is a major flaw in his argument, but his argument is also based on humanity only having a sunny side. He forgets about sadistic wish fulfilment for those we don't like.

    "Caananites suck, they're stealing my water, they're like dogs!".

    "Don't worry, they'll burn in hell"

    "Sweet".

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  85. Brian; it would seem to me that most conversion stories or posts I've read involve a loss of the fear of death coupled with a feeling of absolution (and my experience too).

    Everyone has different motives and different experiences, but it would seem that at least that vein of "conversions" is based on wishful thinking. Wishing to live for ever and wishing for an easy way out of your past sins.

    But that fear of death and need for absolution was, like you said, conditioned into us.

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  86. Plus, if religion is a result of wishful thinking, that would be originally, not recently, right? As in, the first religions. Wishful thinking coupled with animism. Christianity though, is the result of careful planning, not wishful thinking.

    I think some people believe today because they 'wish' that there is an afterlife. Not for the hell, though.

    Your observation about hell for other people is I think accurate. So it's both a stick to the Jesus/Heaven carrot, and something to placate those who are enraged at others so they're less likely to become violent about it.

    I'm not sure that it's really true anyhow that people believe due to wishful thinking. More like they've been conditioned into the faith their whole life without even knowing that they've been. They can't really wish for anything else after that.

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  87. I edited my post and you posted in the mean time so now it's after yours and not before, Ryan.

    Yeah, I see your point. The fear of death thing, I keep forgetting how that motivates people. It's been too long for me since I've felt that way about death.

    Ya know, it's possible to come to terms with death, but not so easily if you're religious. That way is an illusion. Sure, some people believe right to the end and it makes it easier for them (due to their belief in a lie) but too often I've seen my christian relatives face death with STARK TERROR. They lose the faith at the end, they doubt, and then they feel the terror mounting. It's not a good way to go. Not dignified at all.

    I like that article that someone posted a while back about the old soldier with the big family that actually BECAME an atheist IN a foxhole! That speaks to me.

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  88. I liked what he said about praying, but then realized the germans were praying to the same god.

    I would wager his story is more common than we know.

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  89. What was your 'foxhole' Ryan? I mean, what was the impetus for you losing your faith?

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  90. A loving God would cure our sinning souls after we die. He's capable of anything, right? So why not that?
    So when Hitler got to the place of judgement, instead of being cast into the pit, God cures his mind, his soul, and then Hitler would be able to SEE HIS OWN SINS and FEEL THEM and then just imagine how horrible he'd feel afterwards. That would be adequate 'punishment' for him and it would fit in with the idea of a loving God. And then he too could go to heaven. Everybody could. All people.
    That's love.

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  91. So if I were God I'd heal everybody after they die. Hitler and Stalin and all of them.

    No need for any hell that way.

    Thus apparently I, a mere mortal, have acheived a much higher level of compassion than the Christian God.

    Cool! It wasn't even that hard.

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  92. Brian; "What was your 'foxhole' Ryan? I mean, what was the impetus for you losing your faith?"

    I remember vividly a "light" going off when I read the footnote on Mark 16:9. I still believed, but that "feeling" that Observant and Fanman refer to went away at that point.

    After that I fought and struggled to maintain my belief for many years.

    It's hard to say when exactly my foxhole was. But I vivdly remember that night in bible study reading Mark.

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  93. Brian,
    I have never lost my faith but the most trying for it is the Christian belief system. People like Observant would spell disaster for me if I was to give them any weight. Botts has a positive effect on my thinking as long as he stays with the first two commands, but when he puts the bible as being the word of God it comes close to the same effect as Observant, DD and the others that cannot make sense of their belief systems. I am a student on thoughts, and thinking. I have a deep curiosity about why we think like we do. I have a good understanding of how we are programmed, the value of being programmed, and the detrimental results of some programs. It is with a great deal of sadness to me to see the lack of understanding in this area, and the faith peoples put into a belief system that takes so little thought to see the obvious flaws. As I have watched you, and Ryan (and others) challenge the ideas of their belief systems, and point out the glaring flaws, they just bury their head in the sand, close their ears, and continue to short change their own lives. Amazing.

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  94. The footnote to Mark 16:9?

    Mark 16:9-20 (New International Version)

    ((The most reliable early manuscripts and other ancient witnesses do not have Mark 16:9-20.))


    Yeah, if you think about that, it might affect one's faith at that. Since it's about the resurrection and all.

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  95. Jerry,

    No-one is so blind as he who has been convinced that he can see the invisible. No-one is so deaf as he who has been convinced that he can hear the unuttered word.

    And no-one can know the meaning of love if they have been convinced that it can involve punishment.

    It is a frustrating reality that the truly deluded will never be able to see that they are the deluded. If they could, they wouldn't be deluded in the first place. This goes for the ignorant as well. If they could see that they are ignorant, they wouldn't be, but they cannot and never will, because they are.

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  96. I think the basic attitude should be one of paranoia almost, as in, if you can see how easily *other people* can become deceived or deluded, then it is logical to assume that you too may be (and probably are) deluded in some way right now, and so one should always think about that and attempt to understand all of one's own delusions and what they're based in.

    In order for this to work, one's ego must be held in check. After all, whenever one learns a new thing about themselves it involves discarding an old thing about themselves. And if you have too much of an ego, that is not possible. Discarding something about one's self is seen as like a death almost, a giving up of a part of one's self. People feel threatened because of this and often will instead react in anger to the new thought and whoever is proposing it.

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  97. "Are you looking for the undeniable truth of the matter, or you are looking for some name that is recognized as a theological authority?"

    Neither. As I said, I'm requesting *an argument*, that is, reasons that support your conclusion that Christianity is essentially coercive (and not merely that some, many or most Christians act coercively with respect to their faith). And when I say I'm looking for a theologically informed argument, I mean an argument that shows some understanding of what knowledgeable Christians (in general -- there are a lot of disagreements among Christians, to be sure, but far more agreement, especially where basic theology is concerned) actually believe, which is I suppose a fancy way of saying I'm looking for an argument that doesn't merely knock down a straw man.

    "I am curious why you are then an Internet non-entity. I check your profile and get nothing. No links, no blogs, nothing much at all."

    Mike, I'm studying philosophy, and hope to get a job teaching it someday. Today, employers often check the web for writings by potential employees, and I would prefer it if my extemporaneous blog posts remained anonymous. I wouldn't want a potential employer to judge me based on a post I may have written off the cuff while half asleep or something like that. Simply put, I want the freedom to say what I want in these sorts of discussions.

    "Love has no conditions. None.
    The thing with my dog was only half a joke. If God is love, surely we could be forgiven, without fail, for anything we might do."

    I love my fiancee unconditionally. Now if she chose to leave me, and didn't want to see me ever again, what would be the appropriately loving response on my part: to force her to stay in my presence, or to honor her decision? I may forgive her for leaving, but I wouldn't be showing that I love her if I forced her to stay with me after she decided she didn't want to.

    "What kind of entity wishes its subjects to grovel? There's no way around it. Either submit to god or be cast off.
    That is not Love. It's possession, ownership, control. Anything but love!"

    What do you mean when you say God wants us to 'grovel'? I suspect you mean prayer and the like, but I'd like you to explain it to me before I respond.

    However, in one important respect God does own us, and we can see this in the traditional definition of God I offered on this blog before (either on this thread or the last one): God is "ipsum esse subsistens," or the subsistent act of being itself. That is, we derive our very being, from moment to moment, from God. (An analogy -- an imperfect one, of course, but a nonetheless helpful one -- would be the way our reflection in a mirror depends on our being in front of it from moment to moment. In other words, God isn't simply the being who knocked down the first domino and then sits back to watch the show; He's what gives each domino its being at moment.)

    "Coercion is the only way those that claim to be Christians ever think."

    No. I don't think that way, and neither do (nor have) most philosophers and theologians.

    "Michael, that is because it's not his real name and he doesn't want us to know that he's Dinesh D'Souza."

    I'm not Dinesh. But of course you'd expect me to say that if I were.

    (continued)

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  98. Eric; "Neither. As I said, I'm requesting *an argument*, that is, reasons that support your conclusion that Christianity is essentially coercive."

    John 14:6.

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  99. Basic Christianity is based on two tenets that are both false. First is the idea of the fall of man. As ridiculous as this idea is I see no way to prove it one way or the other. The second idea is that one need to accept Jesus dying on the cross to pay the wages of sin for each, and all individuals, is the way of salvation. Christianity teaches that a person MUST buy into that idea of the ABSOLUTE need to accept Jesus as one's savior, as being necessary to be saved from whatever (hell) is coercion. If one does not buy into that idea, he/she is sentenced for ever to a fate, taught in the Christian church as a basic tenet, that one cannot get to heaven or worse, he/she will be sentenced to roast in the fire of hell for ever. This is not only coercion, it is a form of insanity.

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  100. "What does unconditional love have to do with choices we make?
    If it's dependent upon our choices, it's CONDITIONAL!!!"


    See the example about my fiancee I provided in my last post.

    "The fact that it makes zero sense, is why Catholics are forced to alter it. Dilute it. Make it 'our choice' as if that were true. Make it a place that 'people aren't asking to get out of' but of course it's 'worse than eternal torture' as if THAT were possible.
    That gets to me a bit. And I was once a Roman Catholic myself, mind you."

    Brian, here's a way to think about it: I can be tortured bodily and retain my dignity, my humanity. I can even be ennobled by my torture (the torture and death of Regulus, the Roman general, at the hands of the Carthaginians during the First Punic War comes to mind). So to think that the worst thing that can happen to a human being is bodily suffering, even eternally, strikes me as wrongheaded. Compare Regulus with Caligula, and suppose that instead of being assassinated, Caligula had lived a long life during which he sunk ever deeper into depravity, and then died peacefully in his bed. Would you choose to live that life, or the life of Regulus? Now imagine that both Caligula and Regulus were immortal, and while Regulus is eternally tortured, Caligula turns deeper and deeper into himself, reaching levels of selfishness and evil we could only dream of. Which fate is worse? I say Caligula's is, and I think you would too, even though Regulus's body is eternally tortured while Caligula's isn't.

    "By the way, if separation from God is so intolerable, then why can I do it every day of my life and not even notice the discomfort?"

    Because, as I said above, you are not and cannot yet be eternally separated from God; your very act of existing at each moment relies on Him as the ground of all being. And you enjoy graces you aren't even aware of (as we all do). Think of all your worst impulses, vices and desires. Were it not for God's grace, you would turn in upon them with dispatch, and it is this horror that ultimately happens when we give God our eternal "No," and when He says to us, "Thy will be done."

    (One caveat: I'm much more comfortable with philosophy than I am with theology, so I urge you to check out everything I'm saying here to make sure I have it right.)

    "In fact, it's exhilarating. What a sense of freedom! Mental shackles are the hardest to break, you know."

    One thing I love about Catholic Christianity is that it adheres to the classical conception of freedom, as opposed to the modern one. To the moderns, we're free to the extent we lack restraints on our actions, thoughts, behaviors, etc. But to the ancients, we're free to the extent we actualize our nature as human beings, e.g. by developing the virtues, by participating in various ways in our society, etc. I think the ancient conception is much richer, and much truer to our experience as human beings, than the modern conception is.

    Re: the wish fulfillment argument, it's simply horrible, First, the fact that I wish something to be true says *nothing* about whether it is in fact true. Second, as Dinesh rightly points out, there are a host of religious teachings no one would ever wish for (whether they were there at the beginning or not is irrelevant, since we're talking about whether people *today* believe because they wish such and such to be true). Finally, the wish fulfillment argument cuts both ways: if I wanted to live my life by my own lights, and not be restricted by moral precepts and final judgments, I sure would wish that atheism were true. So the argument is just plain worthless.

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  101. Eric; "See the example about my fiancee I provided in my last post."

    I did. You misused the word "unconditional".

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  102. Eric; those silly moderns and their concept of freedom led to the abolishion of slavery. This "rich", ancient version you refer to "dignified" slavery.

    Just saying is all.

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  103. "Basic Christianity is based on two tenets that are both false. First is the idea of the fall of man. As ridiculous as this idea is I see no way to prove it one way or the other."

    Chesterton said that Original Sin is the only Christian doctrine we can prove to be true, and we can do so by stepping outside our doors. We can also do so by looking into our own hearts. Saint Paul put it perfectly: "For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do." Can't you identify with this? (I know that "The Fall" involves much more than this, and that some take Adam and Eve literally while others do not, but I'm addressing what is at the root of the Fall, viz. the notion that our nature is flawed, and that human beings are not what they should be.)

    "The second idea is that one need to accept Jesus dying on the cross to pay the wages of sin for each, and all individuals, is the way of salvation. Christianity teaches that a person MUST buy into that idea of the ABSOLUTE need to accept Jesus as one's savior, as being necessary to be saved from whatever (hell) is coercion. If one does not buy into that idea, he/she is sentenced for ever to a fate, taught in the Christian church as a basic tenet, that one cannot get to heaven or worse, he/she will be sentenced to roast in the fire of hell for ever. This is not only coercion, it is a form of insanity."

    This is not what Catholics believe. Are any of the Old Testament figures saved? They died before Jesus was born. As I've said many times, the Catholic Church has taught since the early Church Fathers that salvation outside the Church is possible, and the modern distinction between the body of the Church and the soul of the Church shows that this teaching continues to this day. Think of it this way: all who are saved are saved by Christ, even though some may never know of him, or may possibly even reject him, during their lifetimes.

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  104. Eric; "Second, as Dinesh rightly points out, there are a host of religious teachings no one would ever wish for (whether they were there at the beginning or not is irrelevant, since we're talking about whether people *today* believe because they wish such and such to be true)."

    Absolutely wrong. If they become institutionalized, they get legs, and thus their origins are not irrelevant. Plus, like you essentially said, what people believe speaks nothing to the truth of the belief.

    Nice try though.

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  105. Eric; "Paul put it perfectly: "For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do." Can't you identify with this? "

    Why does every christian think that everyone can identify with this? I'm no saint, but I'm no sinner either.

    Plus, isn't it simpler, and more likely that since all nature "sins", that our "fall" is just a natural state of animals in nature. Yeah, yeah, yeah... we can preceive moral responsiblity and animals can't. That just means we've been at the top of the food chain and part of a society longer.

    I think it's no coincident that social primates like Chimps and Baboons have been observed to torture and murder their own and other primates.

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  106. "I did. You misused the word "unconditional"."

    I did no such thing. Rather, you're failing to grasp the distinction between a condition of love (i.e. condition X must be fulfilled if S is to be loved) and what is consistent with love rejected.

    "Eric; those silly moderns and their concept of freedom led to the abolition of slavery. This "rich", ancient version you refer to "dignified" slavery."

    Modernity emphatically did not lead to the abolition of slavery. One of the foundational concepts of modernity is nominalism, i.e. the rejection of realism about universals. That is to say, there can be no such thing as "humanity"; rather, this is simply a label we arbitrarily use because -- well, it's useful. But it's no more tenable than, say, a conception of "humanity" that includes wax and cigar rings. The point is that the abolition of slavery rests on realism about universals -- on the idea that all human beings are fundamentally equal and are in possession of fundamental rights -- a realism one finds in Catholic philosophy and in scripture, where we're all said to be created in God's image.

    Now one of the cardinal virtues is justice, and I agree that if we limit ourselves to the cardinal virtues, slavery can be justified given the classical conception of freedom. But this simply cannot be done (cannot be done conceptually, that is; we can all of course act inconsistently with our beliefs) when we add the theological virtues of faith, hope and charity to the cardinal virtues (courage, wisdom, temperance and justice). The addition of the theological virtues transforms and deepens the cardinal virtues.

    Here's something to ponder: on the modern conception, the lucky, long lived and wicked tyrant is as free as anyone can ever be, since there are no restraints (either external, as in laws, or internal, as in moral precepts) on his actions. On the classical conception, he's the least free among us, and the poor man under his thumb who lives virtuously and is tortured and executed by him for opposing him is the most free.

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  107. I love my fiancee unconditionally. Now if she chose to leave me, and didn't want to see me ever again, what would be the appropriately loving response on my part: to force her to stay in my presence, or to honor her decision? I may forgive her for leaving, but I wouldn't be showing that I love her if I forced her to stay with me after she decided she didn't want to.
    ----------------
    And so once she was on her way out, you'd throw her into hell. I see. Since she rejected you and all. After all, once she rejects you, there's not any point in letting her go on without you in her life. So to hell she goes, if you were God, right?

    Who 'decides' that they don't want to be with God? Who does God 'let go' because they have 'rejected Him?' I certainly didn't, for instance. It's not as if I made such a decision. I observed that there was no God as you describe Him, so I stopped believing in Him. That's hardly my fault. It's not as if I didn't WISH that there WAS a God at the time. God let me down, not the reverse.
    If God had wanted me to believe in Him, then He'd have spoken to me in a way in which I would understand, and then, since I believed in God, I'd NEVER have decided to not be with Him. But it was His 'free choice' to not speak to me in a way that I would understand. He was capable of it of course, being capable of anything, but He didn't do it.

    Eric, with respect, you keep on asking for a 'theologically based' argument, but you're doing terribly at this normal, mundane one. I think you keep asking as if to say "That's not a *real* argument, give me a *real* one" but only to distract from the point on the table, which you are not able to defeat. Or so it certainly seems.

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  108. The point is that the abolition of slavery rests on realism about universals -- on the idea that all human beings are fundamentally equal and are in possession of fundamental rights -- a realism one finds in Catholic philosophy and in scripture, where we're all said to be created in God's image.
    ---------------
    I call bullshit, Eric.

    You wish. That's all I'm gonna say. You wish.

    Christianity, including Catholicism, went right along with slavery, and always did.

    Your dissembling in this matter is insulting and borders on the criminal in my opinion. Or it should be criminal. It was SECULARISM that eventually ended slavery, not your religion. Your religion fought tooth and nail to keep slavery around.
    Please strive not to make light of slavery and christianity's very real role in PRESERVING it through time again. Reality-denial is a lot of fun and all, but you've gone too far here my friend.

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  109. What point, *specifically*, am I not able "to defeat"? (BTW, I'm not trying to "defeat" anything; I'm just trying to point out how most theologically informed Christians actually think about Hell.)

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  110. Now one of the cardinal virtues is justice, and I agree that if we limit ourselves to the cardinal virtues, slavery can be justified given the classical conception of freedom.
    --------------
    Do it. Show me how you can justify slavery and have it be even technically 'just.'


    But this simply cannot be done (cannot be done conceptually, that is; we can all of course act inconsistently with our beliefs) when we add the theological virtues of faith, hope and charity to the cardinal virtues (courage, wisdom, temperance and justice).
    -------------
    Theological virtures? Bullpoopy. These are all simply human virtues, except for faith, which is a lie told to make people stupid.


    The addition of the theological virtues transforms and deepens the cardinal virtues.
    --------------------------
    I would liken them to 'lower emotions' and 'higher emotions. The lower ones are self-focused, the higher other-focused. We all have the lower ones to some degree, but must learn the higher ones as we mature enough to have them. When we don't learn them, we are selfish and usually evil to some extent. The lack of real empathy, perhaps the highest of all emotions, really cripples a person. To not be able to feel the pain of others makes a monster of a man.
    Christianity doesn't really encourage the higher emotions. It just claims to, figuring that's enough to 'get them in the door.' Selfishness and smallmindedness actually help the church. It makes the people easier to lie to.

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  111. What point, *specifically*, am I not able "to defeat"? (BTW, I'm not trying to "defeat" anything; I'm just trying to point out how most theologically informed Christians actually think about Hell.)
    -------------
    Oh good. Well, you've done that. You certainly haven't proved that anything that they think is in any way valid, but if that's all you were trying for, relax, we get it.

    I thought you were trying to actually win a point or something. My apologies.

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  112. "Your religion fought tooth and nail to keep slavery around.
    Please strive not to make light of slavery and christianity's very real role in PRESERVING it through time again. Reality-denial is a lot of fun and all, but you've gone too far here my friend."

    You're simply dead wrong as a matter of history here. Slaves were allowed to receive all the sacraments in the early Church, and were thus considered, within the Church, to be equals with free people. Many Church Fathers spoke out against slavery, and some bought slaves to only free them. Chattel slavery was largely abolished in Europe in the Middle Ages under the influence of the Church (which also attempted to prevent nations from selling slaves abroad before that.) Many Popes had condemned slavery publicly since 1435 (see Sicut Dudum, Sublimis Deus, Pastorale Officium, Cum Sicuti, Commissum Nobis, Immensa Pastorum, In Supremo, which span four centuries from 1435 to 1839). Should the Church have done more? Perhaps. But let's not pretend it was some great supporter of slavery. Face it, you haven't researched this subject seriously at all.

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  113. For instance, Christianity is all about love. That's how they bill it.

    Sure.


    They neglect to tell you that they have no idea what love really is (due to their conditioning which confuses the whole concept in their minds with punishment and coercion) or how to demonstrate it or even what it feels like, so they just condition the hell out of you until you believe that you're a loving person just because you're a Christian. Yeah, as if God loves us selfelessly or unconditionally. As Ryan *so accurately* pointed out, unconditional means NO CONDITIONS. And Hell is one Hell of a condition.

    Although Eric, I was very amused when you actually argued this with Ryan. That was pretty funny.

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  114. Should the Church have done more? Perhaps. But let's not pretend it was some great supporter of slavery.
    -------------
    Oh let's.

    For everyone trying to abolish it, there were ten trying to preserve it, and all of them were christians. Catholics in fact, back in that day.

    And I love it when someone tells me how good the slaves were treated. I think the white plantation owners tried that one, too. Didn't work then, doesn't work now.

    I was referring to slavery in this country. Not in medievel europe. Our christians, perhaps not all of them catholics, fought to preserve it, USING THE BIBLE. Because after all, it clearly sanctions it. Perhaps there may be some truth to what you say about European slavery way back then, I don't know, but I doubt it. More likely you're taking that info from a christian history and not a secular one. Which are generally very biased of course.


    And yes, I tend to group christians together. I don't group them in my mind by class of delusion. From what I can see, the Catholics are more deluded than the rest, not less.

    :-) That must rile you. Sorry. Just being honest.

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  115. Here's a short article with some good information (and the all important Nihil Obstat) on the Catholic Church and slavery.

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  116. Okay Eric,

    You were just presenting to us how Roman Catholic theologians think.

    What do you think?

    Do you honestly believe that REALITY is precisely what all those theologians came up with after two millennia?

    What are the chances? A hundred people can't even whisper a sentence one to the other down the line and have it come out the same sentence at the end. But your thousand theologians or more have argued and agrued, and they finally agreed on something, on a story, and you believe it must necessarily be true and accurately reflect God and all reality?

    Really? I have a hard time with that, if so. You're smarter than that, so I don't even know if I'd believe you.

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  117. "From what I can see, the Catholics are more deluded than the rest, not less.
    :-) That must rile you. Sorry. Just being honest."

    It doesn't rile me at all because you obviously know so little about Catholicism. And don't give me the "Hey, I was raised Catholic" bit. I was too, and I knew nothing about it. I was raised a Catholic, was unimpressed with it, and became impressed with myself and my understanding of philosophy and became an atheist. But, after studying philosophy seriously, I came to see that atheism is untenable, and, after some time studying religion, returned to a Catholic Church I never knew existed. And I can tell that you know as little about Catholicism as, or maybe even less than, I did before I made the move to atheism.

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  118. Theologian Laennec Hurbon asserted that no Pope before 1890 condemned slavery, asserting that, ". .. one can search in vain through the interventions of the Holy See-those of Pius V, Urban VIII and Benedict XIV-for any condemnation of the actual principle of slavery."[6]

    In his 1975 work on slavery, John F. Maxwell wrote that the Church did not correct its teaching on the moral legitimacy of slavery until 1965, with the publication, from the Second Vatican Council, of Gaudium et Spes (The Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World).[6]

    Judge John T. Noonan, Jr. has argued that slavery is one of the areas in which the Church has changed its moral teaching to suit the times, and that this change did not take place until 1890 when, he asserted, the Church finally condemned the institution of slavery, lagging behind laws which had already been enacted to outlaw the practice.[8]

    Avery Cardinal Dulles characterizes Noonan's thesis as being that "social change makes it possible for Christians to overcome the blindness that had previously afflicted their moral vision". According to Cardinal Dulles, Noonan finds that the Church has changed its doctrine, in many cases, effecting "an about-face, repudiating the erroneous past teaching of the magisterium itself."[7] However, Cardinal Dulles asserts that Noonan "fails to establish that the Church has reversed her teaching in any of the four areas he examines".

    Vic Biorseth argues that "In all of recorded history, there is no such thing as a matter of faith and morals on which the Holy Roman Catholic Church has ever changed its teaching."[9] Rodney Stark presents evidence to refute the allegations that the Catholic Church did not oppose slavery until relatively recently.[1]
    From Wiki...
    ---------------------
    Online I see that there are many who agree with you Eric, all of them Christians, most of them with the "Fr." in front of their name. Secular sources seem less clear. As I suspected.

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  119. Eric; "But this simply cannot be done (cannot be done conceptually, that is; we can all of course act inconsistently with our beliefs) when we add the theological virtues of faith, hope and charity to the cardinal virtues (courage, wisdom, temperance and justice)."

    And yet it was for 1700 years. Go figure.

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  120. But, after studying philosophy seriously, I came to see that atheism is untenable,
    -----------------
    Too bad you didn't study more science and less philosophy.

    Didn't you know that a philosopher is often just a salesman, selling his viewpoint to the masses?

    There is nothing in philosophy that renders atheism untenable. Not to anyone that isn't predisposed to believe in God. I can know this, because if there was, everyone would have heard about it. Not just a few philosophy students.

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  121. Eric; But, after studying philosophy seriously, I came to see that atheism is untenable...

    Do tell!!!

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  122. Eric,

    No, I will not accept any part of your answer as being a real answer. You are doing nothing but dancing around will verbiage that has little to no meaning. Paul's quote there has little to no meaning other than to Paul if he really felt what he said. Paul quotes are so full of holes he has no credentials as far as I am concerned. A person that claims to know, and state to his fellow man the deeper truths of life, and at the same time be on such a low level of thinking that he is a male chauvinist is proof enough for me that his ideas are extremely questionable. Can you really say that you are willing to accept a person that thinks on the level that Paul was obviously on as one your would be willing to follow?? If you buy into Christianity that is who you are following. Going forward with Paul and his fallacious ideas caused's me to reject his ideas to the level of one who is willing to say what he thinks without knowing the truth of what he states. Are you not aware that it was Paul, and Peter who spread the lies about Jesus dying on the cross for others salvation, it certainly was not Jesus. Christians are followers of Paul, not Jesus, are you aware of that? The other answer shows you as being one who what's, and probably needs someone to tell you what to think. Like I asked you if you wanted an authority on theology, you said no but it appears that is just what you wanted. Why would you ever believe that God would not let himself be known to the most unlearned, ignorant person on earth? Why do you think you have to follow in someone else's ideas, when God is in fact a spirit in you own mind? You are not making much sense. And in the end Christianity uses coercion, period.

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  123. You moved to atheism but only because your understanding of the religion, what was told to you, wasn't complex enough and well-apologized enough for it to fool your sense of logic and reason, which is the same reason that I left it. You however found another more pedantic variety which DID give you enough of the complex rationalization mazes which you could not see through (because you didn't want to) so you went back. The explanations are elegant, and they captured your fancy.
    Great salesmanship, that.

    I don't think I'd even call that being a real atheist, lol.

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  124. "Like I asked you if you wanted an authority on theology, you said no but it appears that is just what you wanted."

    No, I want an argument. I still haven't seen one in your posts.

    "Why would you ever believe that God would not let himself be known to the most unlearned, ignorant person on earth?"

    Who ever said that? Some people like me need to understand all the complicated arguments before we can come to believe in God; others experience his existence more directly. If you ask me, I got the sh*t end of that stick.

    "Why do you think you have to follow in someone else's ideas, when God is in fact a spirit in you own mind?"

    I have no idea what God being 'a spirit in my own mind' could possibly mean. And I only 'follow' someone's ideas when he or she has got something fundamentally right. I'd rather be right and unoriginal than wrong an original.

    "You are not making much sense."

    ?

    "And in the end Christianity uses coercion, period."

    Yes, yes, yes, I know that's what you think. I've been patiently asking for an argument supporting this conclusion, but I've yet to see one.

    Re: Hell and unconditional love, you've all confused a condition of love with a consequence of love. My love for my fiancee is unconditional, but if she chooses to reject it, and to leave me, she will have to live with the consequences of rejecting my unconditional love. See? Rejecting unconditional love has consequences, and those consequences don't in any way condition the love.

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  125. "Online I see that there are many who agree with you Eric, all of them Christians, most of them with the "Fr." in front of their name. Secular sources seem less clear. As I suspected."

    Brian, the best historians of the Holocaust are almost all Jews. Does this make their work 'suspect'?

    Re: your secular sources, we can refute them with quotes from that link I provided. Your wiki source claimed that " one can search in vain through the interventions of the Holy See-those of Pius V, Urban VIII and Benedict XIV-for any condemnation of the actual principle of slavery," yet in 1435 Pope Eugene IV wrote:

    "They have deprived the natives of their property or turned it to their own use, and have subjected some of the inhabitants of said islands to perpetual slavery, sold them to other persons and committed other various illicit and evil deeds against them... We order and command all and each of the faithful of each sex that, within the space of fifteen days of the publication of these letters in the place where they live, that they restore to their earlier liberty all and each person of either sex who were once residents of said Canary Islands...who have been made subject to slavery. These people are to be totally and perpetually free and are to be let go without the exaction or reception of any money..."

    And in 1537 Pope Paul III wrote:

    "...The exalted God loved the human race so much that He created man in such a condition that he was not only a sharer in good as are other creatures, but also that he would be able to reach and see face to face the inaccessible and invisible Supreme Good... Seeing this and envying it, the enemy of the human race, who always opposes all good men so that the race may perish, has thought up a way, unheard of before now, by which he might impede the saving word of God from being preached to the nations. He (Satan) has stirred up some of his allies who, desiring to satisfy their own avarice, are presuming to assert far and wide that the Indians...be reduced to our service like brute animals, under the pretext that they are lacking the Catholic faith. And they reduce them to slavery, treating them with afflictions they would scarcely use with brute animals... by our Apostolic Authority decree and declare by these present letters that the same Indians ***and all other peoples - even though they are outside the faith**** - ...should not be deprived of their liberty... Rather they are to be able to use and enjoy this liberty and this ownership of property freely and licitly, and are not to be reduced to slavery..."

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  126. Eric; But, after studying philosophy seriously, I came to see that atheism is untenable...

    Please, do tell!!!

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  127. No, please do substantiate that assertion.

    Bottom line, everything you've said presupposes the existence of a god.

    Try presupposing one doesn't exist. I think you'll see all your theology problems go away, they become little more than star trek triva.

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  128. By grovel, Eric, I mean, we must submit ourselves to god.

    He won't accept our love unless we submit to his desires - Another condition!

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  129. Eric,
    "Who ever said that? Some people like me need to understand all the complicated arguments before we can come to believe in God; others experience his existence more directly. If you ask me, I got the sh*t end of that stick".

    The end of the stick you are on is your creation. I am presenting ideas that your refuse to deal with because I am not a formally educated person so you are stuck with getting your head out of the clouds. You are not looking for an argument, what you what is mental masturbation. If you are looking for some intellectual argument from a formally educated person I suggest you try Ryan, or Brian, and with your ideas I wish you luck, you will need it and then some. If you want to discuss spiritual ideas then we can get it on. Up to you.

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  130. My love for my fiancee is unconditional, but if she chooses to reject it, and to leave me, she will have to live with the consequences of rejecting my unconditional love. See? Rejecting unconditional love has consequences, and those consequences don't in any way condition the love.
    -----------------------
    So how did you design the equivalent of hell into your relationship with her? How did you make it so that, should she ever dare to take that free choice she has and use it and reject you and go away from you, she would thenceforth as a consequence of that choice suffer in eternal torment? Neat trick. So you're God then. Nice to meet you. Can I call you tetragrammaton? I promise to not try to pronounce it.

    This is fun Eric, but can you turn it up a notch. This last one was too easy. ;-)

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  131. Rejecting unconditional love has consequences, and those consequences don't in any way condition the love.
    -------------------
    This is sounding dangerously like "They deserve it because they rejected the unconditional love" by the way. I really think you might take this time to examine yourself for any hint of self-righteous schadenfreude here, my friend.

    And btw, rejecting very, very, very conditional love has much worse consequences, especially if it's your God's love for us humans that we're talking about, and we are. I mean, it's hell. Literally. You can't tell me that going to hell if you don't love God isn't conditional love.

    You wanna know what you're ignoring, either to obfuscate or maybe even in your own head?

    You're forgetting which omniscient omnipotent omnipresent being set up this whole system here, including of course Satan and hell and how it's the one and only consequence for poor misguided souls who committed the horrific crime of not loving a non-corporeal entity that leaves no evidence of His existence ON PURPOSE (for how could it be otherwise?).

    That's what you're forgetting. He (Yaweh) set all of this up in the first place. So when anyone goes to hell, Goddidit. Period. He chose the 'tortures of hell forever' system to acheive his nefarious ends. (What, does He jerk off and watch?)
    Not the poor sap whose only crime is having a pair of eyes attached to a brain. Both of which, incidentally were given to him or her by WHO exactly?

    I'm not mad at you. But your God, well, that's another matter of course. How could any moral person NOT be mad at Him?

    Hey, peace bro.

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  132. Eric, I think that you made it past the first tier of the programming sequence and then thought you were free of it, and got caught by the second tier. Philosophical Roman Catholicism. Apologetics. Conditioning for geniuses.

    I hope I can help you break free.

    (Serious comment)

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  133. Brian, the best historians of the Holocaust are almost all Jews. Does this make their work 'suspect'?
    ------------------
    No, but why would they fake that? Plus, being more recent, there's a lot of corroboration.

    They weren't claiming to have been against slavery in the distant past with little to corroborate it other than other christian sources, a claim that would elevate them in the eyes of the world for all time.

    Now THAT would be a motive to lie.



    Unless... Eric. It just occured to me.
    Do you personally think the Jews had motive to lie about the Holocaust?

    Enquiring minds want to know.


    ;-)

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  134. Bottom line, everything you've said presupposes the existence of a god.

    Try presupposing one doesn't exist. I think you'll see all your theology problems go away, they become little more than star trek triva.
    ----------------------------
    Okay, I don't want to use cutesy abbreviations so I'll just type out that I literally damn near came to rolling on the floor with that comment. Thank you for that one, Ryan. Genius in it's simplicity. Truth with a capital 'T.' That is some huge leaping prominant salient point you've got there.

    Star Trek is way more moral, by the way. More moral than ANY religion on this planet. A few creative geniuses back then tried to imagine what morality would look like in the future when we're a lot more 'evolved' socially and even as a species, and they took all the best (as they saw it, and they could really *see* a lot better than most people) and combined it. Captain Kirk was very good, Jeanleuc was amazing, and Jonathan Archer the best. It's frankly hard to imagine a character with more morality, integrity, empathy, and balance. What great role models they are for children!
    Just sayin, is all. Star Trek 'Future' morality is incredibly refined morality. I hope it comes true someday, even without space travel.

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  135. I just want sex with green girls ;-)

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  136. Just some observations from the sidelines; #1 I can see that Eric has not even once tried to convert and yet#2 I see Ryan trying to convert Eric.

    #3 I thought you guys were against "converting" of any kind as that's one of the premises of the article?

    #4 I also can see that Eric has not even once mocked your beliefs/etc nor has he gotten emotional; but rather staying neutral as he succinctly and methodically answers all of your questions.

    #5 I also Ryan/Brian obfuscating and have resorted doing like how they did to Botts: and that is to turn things around and obfuscate. Which to me, is a huge red flag that says you want to talk about something else; get off topic, so to speak.

    Only just saying as one observing from the sidelines....

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  137. Anonymous said... "2 I see Ryan trying to convert Eric."

    Examples please.

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  138. Ryan, have you forgotten your words so quickly? (see below.)

    (Also refer to Brian's comment directly below:

    I hope I can help you break free.

    (Serious comment)

    February 16, 2010 2:04 AM)

    Here's yours, Ryan:

    ".........Bottom line, everything you've said presupposes the existence of a god.

    Try presupposing one doesn't exist. I think you'll see all your theology problems go away, they become little more than star trek triva.

    February 15, 2010 10:14 PM

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  139. I'm not trying to convert anyone, I was attempting to give him enough information so that he himself might have a chance to break his own conditioning. That's humanitarian, for crying out loud. Plus I offered to help, to be here to talk to about it. He's conditioned, and I would be here to help with the deprogramming. It's ANTI-conversion.

    He's conditioned to not accept my help though, and you are conditioned to be a little snot about it all.

    See ya later, mister not-enough-guts-to-even-have-a-name.

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  140. Religion is a form of insanity to me. So if I offer to help someone affected with it, that's not a conversion to anything, it's a deconversion back to reality. You guys do the converting. Cults like yours do that. Not regular people that have the basis of their worldview in REALITY.

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  141. Try presupposing one doesn't exist. I think you'll see all your theology problems go away, they become little more than star trek triva.
    ----------
    This is a conversion attempt? Are you by any chance learning-challenged? Perseptually disoriented maybe? Yeah, that's it. Perceptually disoriented by religious programming. You guys never know what happened to you, do you? You never see the conditioning. It causes you to see people like me as wrong and trying to 'convert' you. As if it were to another religion. Is conversion to reality really a conversion, really? Shouldn't you thank me for it? I offer truth, you prefer lies. Your prerogative of course, but it does make you look very silly.
    Did YOU try it? What Ryan suggested? It works, you know. You're afraid of the fact that it is true, that that's all it is, trivia. That's why you're all pissy about it all. The sheer truth of it offends your incredibly conditioned mind. Well, too bad. It really IS a bunch of useless trivia, more useless by far than Star Trek trivia. That really is how we see it, we who are not magical-thinkers that is. So have fun playing with pixies and following unicorns into groves and attempting to find a rainbow's end for the pot of gold, and oh, good luck with your religion too.

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  142. Anonymous; I see, like Eric has his own definition for “unconditional” and “torment”, you have your own definition for “convert”. But either way, I can see how you would have read that comment that way. I was simply critiquing Eric’s argument’s presuppositions. Seems to me, someone’s presuppositions are fair game, especially if they are unprovable.

    Going back to Star Trek, I think Eric (and Jesse before him) rub me the wrong way*, because it’s like a bunch of dudes talking about Star Trek. Which series was best, who was the best captain, why Klingons are badder badasses than Romulans, and of course Mac chimes in about the hotness of green slave girls. But then Eric comes along and starts talking about the energy conversion ratios of dilithium crystals, and of course you can’t argue with him, because he’s right. If you presuppose that dilithium crystals exist, and you accept the presuppositions of some other geek’s description of their qualities, then of course he’s right.

    So, if you meant “convert” in the sense of getting one to recognize their presuppositions and admit they are mere speculating on subjects they cannot actually know anything about, then guilty.

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  143. I also Ryan/Brian obfuscating and have resorted doing like how they did to Botts: and that is to turn things around and obfuscate.
    --------------
    Example?

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  144. Wow! This has been rather exciting. As to encouraging someone to adopt a presupposition and contemplate from that point, I would argue that such is an effort to encourage a conversion.

    I say that from my own experience. During my agnostic period I did just that to explore something of Hinduism, and then Christianity. That presupposition approach led to a true conversion to general Christian faith, in my case.

    I think that to presuppose for the sake of exploration is a legitimate technique, but does run the risk of a real conversion.

    I would encourage those who are presenting some form of faith in God in their posts to be a bit more genuine, using at least an identifiable presence. Better yet, come to the argument as yourself.

    Mike

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  145. Sex with green women. Now, that's funny! And very geeky.

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  146. As to encouraging someone to adopt a presupposition and contemplate from that point, I would argue that such is an effort to encourage a conversion.
    -------------
    So it's also a conversion to encourage someone to ABANDON such a presupposition? When there's an obvious advantage to it, as in, what Ryan said, that all the complexities of your religion collapse and everything is simple and easy to grasp? That's significant. It should indicate something to any logical mind.

    I don't see it. It's not conversion, because one cannot do it to someone that hasn't already been converted and conditioned. And lest we forget, atheism isn't a religion. It's the lack of one. That's really hard for some people to grasp for some reason.

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  147. "Adopt" is also the wrong word. "Consider for the sake of argument" is more what I was going for.

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  148. "Adopt" in my case was the correct word. That was what I did. I "adopted" (to the best of my ability) the beliefs and began thinking and behaving from there.

    It was simply my way of exploring. A technique I essentially created for myself, as I had not seen it anywhere before I began using it.

    And, yes, it is quite subjective. I was exploring for my own sake, and objectivity was not my purpose.

    Mike

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  149. Ryan,
    Glad to hear your daughter is doing well. I find the age of learning language exciting. To listen to a child jabber with all kinds of sounds learning to make the right sound. It is fascinating to think we come hard wired to do that.

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  150. So, Mike, what you are saying is that given the right triggers, state of mind, upbringing and circumstances, you very well could have been a hindu or muslim.

    Forgive my skepticism, but I'm always leery of the “seeker” from a western culture who “finds” christianity at the end of their “journey”.


    Jerry; I just heard a recent study that the way babies cry is dependent on the language that is spoken while they are in the womb. In other words, a French baby cries differently than a German baby. Just interesting.

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  151. Mike; I also agree that presupposition for the sake of argument or exploration isn't bad. It's when you don't recognize or acknowledge your presuppositions that's the problem.

    And in the case of the christian, it's not just one presupposition either.

    Let's presuppose that a god created the universe from a quantum singularity 13.9 billion years ago.

    OK?

    What's that get us or require from us? Nothing!

    You have to presuppose a personal god, humanity as a special creation, free will, original sin, the authority of the bible and a number of other things to even necessitate Jesus' sacrifice.

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  152. Ryan,
    Very interesting. Just a little thing like that is so far beyond our comprehension. If we started off a single cell or less, and evolved into what we humans are today, being hardwired to learn to speak a language. How that got hardwired in shows me how very limited our understanding is.

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  153. I must apologize for my irritation. Reading back, I was not very well behaved.

    I get irritated because I hate the conditioning and what it does to people. And then when one of them speaks of atheism as if it were just another faith to be converted to, as if I were doing that to people, it is very annoying to me. I am trying to stop all conversions. No need to convert from reality. There's only one reality. Science describes as much of it as we can sense and understand at this time, and it is looking like eventually, in time, science will have many more answers for us. We need to be patient and not demand all our answers right now, like children. We can all agree on the world described by science, beacuse that is the world which we can touch and see and sense. That's the beauty of it. Religion masks this fact with subtle lies. Religion claims that there is another reality that is more important. But Religion also has *motivation to lie about that.* The very best motivation to lie that there is. An *existential* reason to lie. For if they do not lie, if they acknowledge the truth, they cease to exist.

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  154. Micdhael Lockridge, you're not Observant Mike, are you? Just wondering.

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  155. The only definition of "Obfuscate" that I am aware of is "To make obscure or confusing".

    I could be wrong, and I'd really love some examples if I am wrong, but it seems to me in the "Botts Battle of Free Will and Omniscience", we were the ones despretly trying to simplify the issues.

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  156. He’s a different Mike, Brian.


    Eric said, Think of it this way: all who are saved are saved by Christ, even though some may never know of him, or may possibly even reject him, during their lifetimes.
    ---------------
    Erick this is not possible.
    The condition set fourth in the scripture prior to anyone being saved is First they must repent, and second they must believe.

    The scripture said how shall they believe in whom they have not heard. Belief is a requirement before salvation can be granted, and there is no possible way for someone to believe without hearing first.

    And Jesus said he that rejects me rejects Him that sent me.

    It’s pretty safe to say they who reject Christ are not going to be saved.

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  157. I believe you are thinking of literally rejecting a person, as opposed to accepting him in spirit without knowing him in person.

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  158. accepting him in spirit without knowing him in person
    ----------------------
    So Observant, can you accept that? Or must one know Christ and accept him to be saved, in your Book?

    Frankly I agree with you Mike. The Bible seems clear on it. But Catholics tend to not accept the Bible as written, because of the little fact that it makes no sense, so they must change it around so that it does. They rationalize the irrational, and the result is a very confusing mess of verbiage indeed.

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  159. Jerry Said,
    I believe you are thinking of literally rejecting a person, as opposed to accepting him in spirit without knowing him in person.
    February 16, 2010 4:41 PM
    --------------
    The subject was, “rejection of Christ”
    If you literally reject Christ you cannot accept him personally.
    The salvation of Christ is a spiritual personal experience between man and Christ.

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  160. What about the person that accepts him in spirit but knows nothing of him in a literal sense? For instance, an American Indian before the white man got to him.

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  161. I see that there's not much to respond to, and perhaps that's for the best. One of the things I'm giving up for Lent is commenting on blogs (I plan to use that time for some good Lenten reading: Wright, Evans, Neuhaus, Borg, and Crossan -- for starters.) Perhaps I'll check back after Easter. Anyway, thanks for the conversation!

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  162. Observant Mike; I think the idea is that a Malaysian Fisherman in the 2nd Century AD theoretically could have been guided by the holy spirit and done everything necessary to "know christ" all without ever knowing who Jesus the man was.

    This is why the Jesus that medieval northern Europeans had "personal relationships" with was always a blonde guy.

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  163. Eric; "I see that there's not much to respond to, and perhaps that's for the best."

    Well, you could substantiate your claim that atheism is untenable.

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  164. Eric,
    If you are into some good reading about Jesus you might try the Urantia book. It is far superior to the bible, at least in my view.

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  165. I think Eric finds our conversation unstimulating.

    Give it up for lent? As in, it's a vice or something? Oh well.

    Too bad he didn't tell us why atheism is untenable. That would probably have been really funny.

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  166. It is far superior to the bible, at least in my view.
    -------------------
    For kindling?

    Now that was cruel, sorry. I can't resist zingers. Gets me into trouble.

    I should have said that I've read *about* the Urantia book, haven't read it myself because hey, I'm not interested, but what I read *about* it, some of its history on Wiki and one other site, sounded (sorry here) like really kinda just as nuts as most of the rest of christianity does to me. Likely superior to the Bible, sure, why not, but that's setting a low bar, no? And it has zero historical claim to knowing anything about Jesus. At least the Bible was written a very long time ago, parts of it by people that lived not long after Jesus. How could Urantia *know* anything about Jesus that it wasn't guessing at based on the Bible, in just the same way the catholic apologists guess at what the Bible really means by attempting to read between the lines and find more rational explanations for it?

    You do know Jerry how a conditioned christian of any stripe will take your comment. As blasphemy, not a book recommendation.

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  167. Do you think I offended Eric with the conditioning thing?

    I guess it is a bit insulting. I just hate to not tell the truth though, and that is what I clearly see in his responses. To not tell him would feel like a lie.
    Plus, I have to give him my reason for why he's so wrong about what he's convinced he's right about. What else could I say but the real reason?
    Sorry Eric.

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  168. Ryan, are you throwing a white himalayan cat at the camera in your pic there?

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  169. If you literally reject Christ you cannot accept him personally.

    The salvation of Christ is a spiritual personal experience between man and Christ.
    -Observant
    ---------------------------
    If B is true, then how do you know A?

    Oh yeah, you have the guidebook, I forget. And in it, it probably says both those things somewhere. So they both must be true then. Too bad they negate each other. But that's okay right?

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  170. Brian,
    It is quite alright with me to zing the raunchy book. That is what a friend of my youngest son called it. I find that many of the thoughts expressed in it are superior to any book I have ever read. That is why I like it, but I do not buy into any book as being infallible. I like using zingers to, at times.

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  171. Brian; a Manx. No animals were hurt.

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  172. Brian; "I guess it is a bit insulting."

    I've worked with enough Philosophy students in my brief time in academia to recognize Eric's very intential insults. I wouldn't worry about it.

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  173. A few very quick responses:

    "Give it up for lent? As in, it's a vice or something? Oh well."

    One doesn't give up vices for Lent; vices should be given up *period*. One gives up *pleasures* for Lent. Not that the Catholic Church is 'against pleasure'; quite the contrary, in fact. Rather, one gives up pleasures to develop discipline, to focus one's mind on God, and to emulate, in some small way, Christ's sacrifice. (See what I meant earlier, Brian, when I said that one can be raised Catholic and know next to nothing about it?)

    "Do you think I offended Eric with the conditioning thing?"

    Of course not. Conditioning arguments are notoriously weak, since they presuppose that the one making it isn't conditioned. Hence, it places a heavy burden on the one making the argument to demonstrate that another is conditioned, and this is incredibly hard to do. Needless to say, you haven't even come close to succeeding here.

    "I've worked with enough Philosophy students in my brief time in academia to recognize Eric's very intential insults."

    I haven't intentionally insulted anyone.

    Re: atheism, I'm going to have to be quick here.

    (1) Atheism comprises both positive and negative atheism.

    (2) A positive atheist believes that God does not exist. A negative atheist lacks the belief that God exists.

    (3) Negative atheism dies the death of a thousand qualifications. A chair, a willow tree, a cat, a feral child, and a theist in a coma all lack the belief that God exists, but it's absurd to say they're atheists. Any attempt to qualify the definition of negative atheism to make up for these (and other) defects transforms it into positive atheism.

    (4) A further problem with negative atheism: A person is either a negative atheist for a reason, or for no reason. If for no reason, his atheism is trivial and not worth taking seriously; if for a reason, then it follows that he lacks belief for a reason. But if he lacks belief for a reason, then he's claiming that his reasons justify his lack of belief. However, to say my reasons justify my lack of belief is rarely distinguishable from my reasons justify my disbelief. So again negative atheism often collapses, under cross examination, into positive atheism.

    (5) Positive atheism -- the belief that God doesnt exist -- would require a successful argument against the existence of God. But the two main categories of such arguments -- property incompatibility arguments, and arguments from evil (whether evidential or logical) -- all fail rather obviously to establish the conclusion that God doesn't exist, and this is the conclusion that must be established to defend positive atheism.

    (6) So there are no good arguments for positive atheism. But if there are no good arguments for positive atheism, positive atheism is untenable. And since negative atheism is a covert form of positive atheism; and since negative and positive atheism are the two subclasses of atheism; it follows that atheism as such is untenable.

    I should add that I think that agnosticism is tenable. However, there are two different types of agnostics: (a) the one who says, "I don't know yet, but hope to know someday, and others may now know," and (b) the agnostic who says, "I don't know and neither do you -- and none of us ever can know." Needless to say, I think that (a) is tenable and (b) is not. But I'll have to elaborate on that some other time.

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  174. (See what I meant earlier, Brian, when I said that one can be raised Catholic and know next to nothing about it?)
    ---------
    That would be valid, except the fact is that I once knew that as well as you do almost, and have since blissfully forgotten it completely. Thanks for the reminder.

    And glad you're not easily offended.

    And hope you find time to post from time to time instead of giving it up for lentils or whatever. I never said that I don't really enjoy talking with you. Just that you're conditioned. And brilliant as well. That is fascinating to me, you know. I truly enjoy having these discussions, actually, in case you thought I was trying to drive you off or thought you were a jerk or something like that.

    I'll get back later to the atheist thing.... a quick glance tells me that you've outdone yourself again!

    May I take this moment to explain something about my personality, a quirk as it were?
    When I get to a point with you where I *absolutely know* that you are wrong, all my alarm bells have gone off, my bullshit meter is off the charts, however it takes me four migrane pills to decipher your arcane comments in order to see where and how, I tend to start to not care as much about rebutting you precisely and start to toy with you. Sorry. But I can't guarantee that it won't happen again. It's too much fun to not do.

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  175. Eric; are you a positive acthuluist?

    You are making distinctions where none truly exist. When there is no evidence for something, one is neither "positive" or "negative" in their lack of belief for it.

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  176. You are making distinctions where none truly exist. When there is no evidence for something, one is neither "positive" or "negative" in their lack of belief for it.
    ---------------
    Thanks again Ryan. I was wondering what was setting my alarms off.

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  177. Eric, #3 makes no sense, chairs don't "believe". But I understand that your belief system CANNOT in any way contend with "negative atheism" which is really agnosticism, so you must pretend it doesn't exist. That way you are only required to argue against "positive atheism" which is just as easy as arguing against any particular religion.

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  178. Eric; are you a positive acthuluist?
    ------------
    That typo is almost lovecraftian, ryan.

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  179. Eric; "A further problem with negative atheism: A person is either a negative atheist for a reason, or for no reason. If for no reason, his atheism is trivial and not worth taking seriously; if for a reason, then it follows that he lacks belief for a reason."

    Actually your #4 writes off the most valid reason for non-belief. Non-belief for no reason.

    You see, there is no external reason to believe.

    We believe because we were scared of the sun, or bears, or night or because every relative we ever knew believed.

    Non belief for no reason... that might actually be divine (whatever that means).

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  180. Dangit! "acthulhuist". I tried.
    -Ryan
    ------------------
    Ahh! Good one, then. Except for the typo of course.
    When I first saw it I thought you were trying for 'actualist' but then I had the thought that you were going for 'acthulhuist' and started to laugh but then noticed the spelling was wrong so I reverted to my first impression and read it as 'actualist.'

    Now I get it. Again.

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  181. But, Eric, YOU are an atheist, too !

    You see. I don't believe in Zeus. Do you? If not, why?
    I don't believe in Isvara. Do you? If not, why?
    I don't believe in Poeninus. Do you? If not, Why
    I don't believe in Bagadjbimbiri. Do you? If not, why?
    I don't believe in Oludamare. Do you? If not, why?

    I could go for days naming non-existent gods. Gods that neither you, or I believe in.
    So we are not too awfully dissimilar in our theologies. I believe in no gods. You believe in no gods - save one (or is it three, being a trinity and all?)

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  182. Does your not believing in Greek gods constitute an untenable position as well?

    But, how could that be?
    OR
    Do you believe every religion that ever existed? Surely, they have merit as well.

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  183. Excellent post Brian. I have some responses to it.

    "We cannot even guess His ways."

    We can guess and question all kinds of things with God. But, there some things that don't need to be guessed. For instance, He has made promises to each of us and has asked us to hole Him accountable to those promises.

    "He loves us, His most prized creation. He loves us over all else. We are as His children, and He is our Father in Heaven, as the prayer goes."

    So He says.

    "However, while He tells us not to judge others (through Jesus) it appears that He does so not because it is wrong to judge others, but because He reserves *that pleasure* for Himself. He not only judges us all, but feels free to act upon that judgement and relegate our poor souls to a place of eternal torment when we die, and also from time to time feels free to hasten that demise in certain circumstances if we displease Him enough."

    First, there is one instance when He encourages us to Judge. And that is when others preach the Teachings to us. "By their fruit you will know them." We must judge the fruit coming from the mouths of those that try to teach to us.

    God does not Judge us. He doesn't need to. We judge ourselves. We make our own decisions. If there is a hell, we have decided by our own to go down that path. Not only will we end up there, but we will experience this internal torture in this life as well. We have the keen ability to experience the kingdom and hell right here, right now, on this planet and in our current lives.

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  184. "His actions belie His words, and vice-versa. We are in essence told to 'do as I say and not as I do' by God."

    What are His "actions"? We decide what we are going to do and where we are going to go. But the "mysterious" part about this, is that I for one have no clue where anyone is going and have no clue what is truly in someones mind, heart and soul. Only God does. And only He knows what path you are on.

    "It teaches us that a being who is willing to absolutely lay us out and fry our ass until the stars go out, willing to torture us forever for just the 'act' of not believing in Him with zero evidence, willing to kill people instantly for just being curious or for other silly 'mysterious' reasons that only HE knows, a being that can and has laid waste to whole cities and even committed genocide and even nearly destroyed the whole world once except for one family, loves us. Somehow, that horrifically fearful and easily provoked being loves us in spite of all that. Loves us more than anything, so much so that He'll send us straight to hell if we give Him one ounce of 'lip.'"

    First, you send yourself to your ultimate eternal destiny. You decide where you're going.

    I believe that there is "evidence" for you to find. It can be found anywhere at any time. And in a lot cases, it doesn't need to be found.

    Secondly, we are in a state of Grace. You can be a horrible person, do horrible things, and when the light switches on and you are remorseful for those thing, God forgives you. We aren't in the state our ancestors were thousands of years ago. Those times are gone. You can try to judge how God acted back then and try to politicize them with your modern day knowledge, but it would be wrong to do so.

    "It makes people believe that love can involve abuse. It teaches the abusers that it's okay to abuse, and it teaches the abused that they should just 'shut up and take it' because He (he) knows what's best for you, because He (he) loves you in spite of the beatings or whatever."

    But those things aren't what's taught. I believe you are falling back to what institutions and cults have done through time. They teach to "fear". They teach to "believe or else". But that isn't what's taught. It's more personal wisdom than anything. But you have to take the time to do the leg work without institutional influence. And that is a hard thing to do especially in this Country of ours

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  185. "By their fruit you will know them." We must judge the fruit coming from the mouths of those that try to teach to us.
    -------------------------
    Botts my friend, good to see you again. I've been meaning to visit your place but haven't gotten around to it yet. Sorry!

    Hey, my response to the above is that you're misinterpreting "fruits" as words, what they say. Jesus meant (I've always thought) judge them not by their words but by their actions. Listen to the words, yes, and judge the words against the 'fruits' which are the way they *act in the world.* Doesn't that make more sense?

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  186. First, you send yourself to your ultimate eternal destiny. You decide where you're going.
    --------------
    Read back, I defeated this point with Eric.
    It would only be true, what you're saying, if God *had not* designed this universe in such a way that the only result of not believing in Him or denying Him whatever that means, is to go to hell. But God did design the system. So why the punishment again, from the Loving God? Don't get it. Your objection did not even address the FACT that it's all God's plan, and no-one elses. He's the punisher as much as Satan is. Satan wouldn't exist withouth Him, and wouldn't have any power at all if God hadn't seen fit to grant it to him, after the rebellion that He didn't kill him for, the rebellion that He either didn't see coming or did and so was a conspirator, since He had the powere to halt it before it became a rebellion.

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  187. What are His "actions"?
    -----------
    What version of the Bible do you read that doesn't describe everything that we know about the actions of God?

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  188. "It makes people believe that love can involve abuse. It teaches the abusers that it's okay to abuse, and it teaches the abused that they should just 'shut up and take it' because He (he) knows what's best for you, because He (he) loves you in spite of the beatings or whatever."

    But those things aren't what's taught.
    ------------------
    So what? I specifically wasn't talking about what's taught. What's taught would deny that this is true, yes, I know. Again, so what?

    Did you read my whole post? The part about the psychology of it all, the Father Figure that we UNCONSCIOUSLY emulate? It's unavoidable. I even remember doing it as a child, involving shooting birds with a BB gun, I'm ashamed to say. Nobody in my christian family saw anything wrong with it, and after all, they're only animals put here for us to use, or abues as the case may be. I remember not having any moral qualms about it, so it was a lot of fun, killing the moving targets, like pointing a finger.... why, it made me feel like GOD.

    Luckily, I grew up, and got higher emotions somewhere. Then I really regretted my earlier actions. But that's how it made me feel.
    'WHAT A RUSH! Point and they die. How cool is that? This is great!' Just how God does it. Even Hannibal Lechter knew that in Manhunter (original version) when he answered the FBI agent's question of "Why does a serial killer do it? What do they get out of it?" with "When one does as God does often enough, one comes to feel as God feels."
    I can't even say that any better myself.



    What I'm saying here, is real.

    Because my friend, by their fruits ye shall know them. OR HIM.

    You're looking at what it 'says' and I'm looking at what God DOES. God's ACTIONS, as described in the Old Testament as well as the New, sorry. It's a part of the book as every common schmuck buys it in a bookstore, and the common schmuck will not see your two sacred commandments for all the laying waste and destroying people left and right and the HELL thing which the common schmuck believes is eternal fire and torture and not just separation from God. Plus even the NT has the idiocy of God sacrificing His Only Begotten Son over something He, being all-powerful, could have done all by Himself.
    Operation Eternal Mindfuck, dude. Bad examples are set. By God. A lot. Huge ones. So huge the become caricaturish and almost funny.

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  189. "By their fruit you will know them."
    -This is weird, because I never realized that Christians didn't see 'fruits' as specifically 'actions' and not just as 'words' or 'teachings.'

    (Part of the
    apologetics/programming on this quote perhaps? To obfuscate it's real meaning so the faithful didn't judge people by their actions but by their words? I bet it is....)

    'Fruits' to me are the final product, the end of the series, not the planning and arguing and discussion phase. More the teachings of the person versus the actions, what the person actually DOES, the 'fruits' of the person, no?

    Okay, if it were just the words and teachings, against WHAT exactly are we supposed to judge them? They're all words, one side of what a person presents to the world. The other side a person presents to the world are their actions. It is logical to judge a person's words (Or God's words) against their actions. If the words are contrary to the actions, this proves said person a hypocrite. Simple, and easy to judge. No frills. Just basic logic. Yay Jesus!

    And God is a hypocrite, when judged this way, by reading the surface level of the bible, as most people read it. God's actions, what the Bible plainly said that God has done in the past, as presented in the Bible, are DIAMETRICALLY OPPOSED to God's words in the Bible! The ultimate 180 degrees of maximum hypocrisy.

    People look to their Father in Heaven like they look to their real father. If your dad smokes and tells you not to, often you smoke anyhow. Basic psychology. Smoking must be okay somehow, because dad does it.

    And if their real father is a devout christian, the chances are excellent that both of them, the one in heaven and the one whacking their ass with a stick, are very, very confused about love, and about so many other things as well. After all, God puishes His children... A LOT!

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  190. German Catholic abuse scandal is hitting the fan.

    Remember, it's not bad because other religions also abuse kids.

    Also, remember, it's not the churches fault, there is a conspiracy of gays infiltrating the priesthood for the dual reasons of satisfying their dark lusts and discrediting the church. Poor defensless church…

    WTF???


    WTF????

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  191. The church can hardly wait to call the last pope a saint, after he was the CEO of the perverts the world over molesting children. It is like they not only play peoples for suckers, they seem to enjoy it.

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  192. Ryan,
    I have been giving some thought to the idea of inclinations. Would you share some more of your thoughts on this subject. It would seem that these could be hard wired in with the possibility of enhancing for goals of positive or negative. If a person was programmed by his/her environment to find a particular inclination to be evil would this lead to some sort of insanity, if that person bought into the program rather than accepting his/her self as nature intended?

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  193. Jerry; how do you define "hard wired"?

    I see "inclinations" as a handy tool to critique free-will, god's omniscence and the problem of evil.

    You said "If a person was programmed by his/her environment to find a particular inclination to be evil would this lead to some sort of insanity"...

    Doesn't that perfectly describe the Tedd Haggards of the world? I think you hit the nail on the head.

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  194. I think of hard wired as a part of ourselves that comes with the package. Like the inner drive to learn the language. Or the natural ability to experience fear, anger, or happiness, and of course the sex drive.

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  195. Doesn't that perfectly describe the Tedd Haggards of the world?

    I always thought that is what happened to Jimmy Swaggart.

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  196. Freud thought the repression of some sort would come out in devious ways. It would not seem these ideas would be the desires of the conscious mind, but something deeper, like maybe inclinations.

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  197. Brian said,
    Hey, my response to the above is that you're misinterpreting "fruits" as words, what they say. Jesus meant (I've always thought) judge them not by their words but by their actions. Listen to the words, yes, and judge the words against the 'fruits' which are the way they *act in the world.* Doesn't that make more sense?
    February 17, 2010 2:00 AM
    -------------------------------------------------
    When you judge somebody’s fruits you are actually judging their actions by the word of God.
    Also Jesus said beware of the leaven of the Pharisees . He was speaking concerning their words of false teachings.
    The Bible also talks about wolves in sheep clothing, Priest, Preachers ,and or teachers who teach false doctrines as in the catholic doctrines of salvation.

    So it is both actions and their words…

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