Debate:Christianity vs. Secularism

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(shamelessly PoV forked from here)

The lead-in to this discussion read thusly:



"Eliott Splitzer is teh liberal, deseetful baby-murdering governor of communist New York. Now we can haz understand! Why waz he involvd in ring of prostitution?"

humanUser talk:Human 21:04, 10 March 2008 (EDT)

You forgot "JEW"-- Asclepius staff.png-PalMD --Do I look like I care? 23:09, 10 March 2008 (EDT)
Ssshhhhhh! Good Christians have been pretending to love their Jewish brothers for over sixty years now. humanUser talk:Human 23:20, 10 March 2008 (EDT)

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Are you insinuating that christians are only pretending to love Jews. I know that jews have been persecuted by people claiming to be christians, but you cannot make generalizations based on the actions of a few. --CPAdmin1 00:16, 11 March 2008 (EDT)
Ann Coulter's not a Scotsman. Barikada 00:22, 11 March 2008 (EDT)
CPAdmin1, in the following argument I'm not trying to argue that Christians today are guilty of the sins of their fathers; that would be a logically and morally wrong argument to make. Rather, I merely intend to prove that Christians at one point did (and maybe continue to) prosecute Jews, and in so doing stop you from asserting the fallacy of "No True Scotsman."
You say that no true Christian has ever persecuted Jews. If you're narrowing the definition of "Christian" to exclude people like the Crusaders and other avowedly and openly Christian violent anti-Semites, you're going to narrow the term "Christian" to a meaningless tautology, something like, "no true Christian - defined as someone who wouldn't do anything bad - would ever do anything bad!" Defining "Christian" as it is used in everyday parlance, as "one who has faith in Christ the son of Jesus," etc., there have in fact been Christian persecutors of Jews. You can't keep drawing the definition down so as to avoid association with past criminals (and remember, I'm not trying to imply guilt by association, I'm just saying that there have been evil Christians before).
An example of the same logical flaw is Andy's little "only Christians have faith" argument. When confronted with other religions who do have a concept of "faith," Andy systematically narrows his definition of "faith" until, to Andy, "faith" comes to mean "'faith' as conceived of by Andy Schlafly," under which definition, it is true, only Christians have a concept of faith. But his argument, as reduced and redefined downwards, comes to mean nothing, and his continual assertion as to a broader meaning which he himself has abandoned is fallacy of the highest order.
Savvy?-αmεσ (soldier) 00:48, 11 March 2008 (EDT)
<tangent>A list of 'not true Christians' and associated comments on Jewish people. [1] A pair of books to read - [2] and [3]. Quite interesting from the scholarly approach looking at what is Christianity now. --Shagie 01:02, 11 March 2008 (EDT)
Just to clarify my insinuation: the Holocaust was pretty much a Christian project. Effected by Hitler, but abetted worldwide by Christians. Sins of the father? No, let's say Christianity has had an internal revolution, a renaissance, even a reformation, if you will, and now accepts and loves Judaism. I hope "they" continue to do so. It's only been sixty years, though. Will it take? humanUser talk:Human 02:05, 11 March 2008 (EDT)
There's a considerable difference between "Lots of Christians were involved in or supported the Holocaust" on the one hand, and "The Holocaust was pretty much a Christian project" on the other. --AKjeldsenGodspeed! 10:30, 11 March 2008 (EDT)
Yes, a distinction that I'd be very careful to make if you're fed up with all the "Stalin was an atheist, he caused lots of people to be killed, therefore atheism kills people!" bollocks. Yes, Hitler was a Catholic, and so were many of his cabinet and minions who executed his orders. This is not the as Catholicism killing people. It does however mean that being a Christian is no bar to committing crimes. --JeεvsYour signature gave me epilepsy... 10:36, 11 March 2008 (EDT)
AKj: Weren't Jews persecuted by Christians in Spain after the Muslims (or Moors or whatever) were kicked out? & I recall something about Jews being persecuted in England & made to convert or get out in the middle ages sometime. Susanpurrrrr 10:37, 11 March 2008 (EDT)
The Holocaust wasn't a "Christian operation" but it took the acquiesence of European christianity. The Poles especially were quite...enthusiastic. 10:39, 11 March 2008 (EDT)
Adding to AmesG's reply, the same applies to conservatives on CP - A conservative who does something bad suddenly isn't a conservative anymore on CP. Though of course, Andy will first try to handwave the bad stuff away. --Sid 10:51, 11 March 2008 (EDT)
I believe the term 'ghetto' was coined to refer to the areas to which Jews were restricted by law in Christian European cities. PoorEd 11:38, 11 March 2008 (EDT)

(undent) OK, so I didn't really say what I meant to say very well. (there has got to be at least one grammatical error in that sentence.) A better response is this. Christianity as defined by the Bible does not allow for persecution of Jews (or anyone else) people who claim to be christians (they may or may not be in reality) who persecute Jews are directly going against the Bible. This does not mean that they are not "real" christians, (all men are sinful, including christians.) but what they do is not supported by Bible, so you cannot say that christianity is OK with persecuting jews. Don't start claiming that Hitler was a Christian. Just because someone claims to be a Christian does not mean that they are. I also have serious problems with the crusades. Oh well I think I did better explaining myself this time. --CPAdmin1 12:57, 11 March 2008 (EDT)

CPAdmin, you're right, Christianity is not, in and of itself, "okay with persecuting Jews." Fair enough. However, some types of American right-wing Evangelical conservatism IS okay with using Scripture to justify discourses against Jews (the Coulter effect, for example) that reek of anti-semitism. Beyond that, Scripture has been used for centuries to justify not only anti-semitism, but other odious acts like the Crusades and imperialist/colonialist "civilising missions" that resulted in death, despair and destruction for peoples in the Americas, Asia and Africa whose effects are still painfully felt today. That all of that goes against your reading of Scripture is a matter for theologians - in the real world, Christianity has historically been used to justify many if not most of the West's atrocities, and it's more than a little disingenuous to brush all that off as "not really Chrisitanity." PFoster 13:06, 11 March 2008 (EDT)

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I think Human was the first to mention Hitler. FAIL! DogP 13:03, 11 March 2008 (EDT)

I already said I have problems with the Crusades. Just because people use the Bible to attempt to justify their POV, does not mean that it is christianity. Christianity says the Bible is the word of God, and you should be taking your POV from it, not using it or misquoting it to support your POV. I understand that "Christianity" (at this point referring to those who claim to be christians) has done alot of bad things. However, Biblical christianity does not do any of these things. The theory of evolution has also been used to justify mass murder, (see Hitler, Adolf) but that does not mean that Evolutionism itself is OK with mass murder. (though I think that there is more truth to that claim than the claim that Christianity is OK with persecuting Jews) Lets take a fictional Atheist for example, lets say this atheist goes to church every sunday and prays before every meal, If I then use this example to claim that atheists believe in the power of prayer, I would be laughed at, even though this mans actions are no more contrary to atheism, that persecution of jews is contrary to christianity. Just out of curiosity, (I don't really know) what is the supposed biblical basis for anti-semitism? --CPAdmin1 13:24, 11 March 2008 (EDT)
I am sure everyone has some difficulty with the Crusades, but in our current culture they are held to a standard of fixation that is unwarranted. Militarily there were much larger battles and wars during that time period and in terms of atrocities there were much worse instances in other conflicts, but these are generally ignored or bypassed. Even in the Crusades themselves, they are seldom studied apart from the specific areas of discontent that offend our modern sensibilities. Learn Together 04:29, 14 March 2008 (EDT)
Historically the basis for anti-semitism, when an attempt was made to use the Bible, is that the Jews killed Christ. In reality much of it had little to do with Biblical principles and more to do with the status of any minority living in a foreign land. Minorities will always be viewed with suspicion, especially during time periods when outside threats were much more prevalent than today. The question was, can we count on them to support us or would they jump to the other side? In the case of the Jews, right or wrong, the answer as viewed by the majority populations was usually no. Learn Together 04:29, 14 March 2008 (EDT)
I believe that one of the greatest causes of people rejecting christianity is people who claim to be christians acting in a way that is totally unchristian. CPAdmin1 13:26, 11 March 2008 (EDT)
I find this to be partially true. Where I live, city government does not take care of the homeless; it is left to charities. In practice the burden has fallen on dedicated Christian groups that have felt a calling to help the underprivileged. Even in local newspapers the coverage of this is almost non-existent. But if any church leader does or says anything controversial, that becomes big news. I find with many people they have been conditioned to do the same. If you are in a room with 10 people who share the label of Christian and 9 of them truly follows the teachings of Jesus and 1 does not, guess who most people use as their standard of Christianity? Learn Together 04:29, 14 March 2008 (EDT)
Learn, I'm very curious to know how you feel about the way CP condemns all liberals, public school-educated chldren, and atheists, for the 1 in a million who are involved in a classroom shooting event? You might find that the rhetoric of evangelicals implies that being a Christian somehow innoculates one from evil, which might be one reason to point to the blatant exceptions (such as the hatred and intolerance expressed by Christians on CP)PoorEd 12:27, 14 March 2008 (EDT)
Personally, I don't necessarily agree with the style used at CP to describe the subjects you have mentioned above. At the same time, styles aside, I can respect the academic results that Andy has achieved with his home schoolers and I can respect the burden he has taken on in creating Conservapedia, both financially and time wise.
Christians aren't inoculated from evil. In fact, based upon Christian theology, there is an adversary to God and followers of Jesus are high on his hit list. I do believe we have an extra line of protection and more warning lights than others might see, but if one chooses to do wrong, either actively or passively, then nothing is going to stop that. There is conviction, but even that can be numbed if one continuously turns away from it. Learn Together 13:27, 14 March 2008 (EDT)
I am not talking about the "style" of CP, I am talking about the double-standard of applying rules and bans, the incredibly nasty rhetoric about liberals, and the constant attacks on anyone who disagrees with Andy. I cannot understand how you can reconcile such an un-Christian, intellectually dishonest stream of content (embrace deceit, et al) with respect for the "burden" of creating this monstrosity. I can't help but feel that it would take very selective reading of the topics and talk forums to feel differently. PoorEd 13:51, 14 March 2008 (EDT)

For this comment alone, Tim, I thank you. DogP 14:05, 11 March 2008 (EDT)
The "supposed biblical basis for anti-semitism" is simply the notion that Christianity/Chrisitans are somehow better/more correct/ closer to the truth than Jews, and therefore in a position to push then around. As for what biblical passages they use/misinterpret to justify that sort of thing, I have no ides: ask them, or anyone else who sees Jews as "imperfect Christians." But hiding behind the claim that "Biblical christianity does not do any of these things" is a convenient -and intellectually dishonest - way of avoiding the argument that Christianity has a horrible history of justifying the worst human behaviour, and falling back on the "no true Scotsman" defense does not change that one iota.PFoster 13:32, 11 March 2008 (EDT)
(I suspect & hope that the deletion of cpAdmin's comment was accidental) Susanpurrrrr 13:45, 11 March 2008 (EDT)
It was - my bad - I pasted something over it by mistake. But a good Christian type like him should be forgiving, no? PFoster 13:48, 11 March 2008 (EDT)
Of course. CPAdmin1 13:50, 11 March 2008 (EDT)
I understand that "christianity" has done many things over the years that are totally wrong. I am saying that their actions were (are) totally in opposition to the Bible. I don't think it is a fallacy to claim that their actions are not indicative of christianity when it is in direct contradiction to the Bible. Lets say for example that an environmentalist takes issue with the methods and materials used to build some buildings because they are not environmentally friendly. Further suppose that he burns down the buildings thus releasing untold amounts of harmful gasses into the atmosphere. Is it then just to claim that environmentalism is in favor of burning down buildings? CPAdmin1 13:56, 11 March 2008 (EDT)

Funny how the subject of discussion changes. look at the heading we are discussing under. CPAdmin1 13:58, 11 March 2008 (EDT)

The problem with taking your POV from the Bible, is that the Bible largely supports behaviours that civil society would regard as immoral. Capital punishment, for example, is firmly entrenched in the Bible, while the most of the world now finds it thoroughly abhorrent. If you are a Christian who believes the Bible is the word of God, then the crusades were not only justified but entirely moral. Not crusading is the immoral act in that world view. If you see a man charging towards a cliff he hasn't seen, it would be immoral not to call a warning to him. Similarly, it is entirely immoral to know that people who die without faith in Christ go to hell for all eternity, and yet do nothing to spread that word to your neighbours. Where your neighbours have their own equally jealous (but presumably false) gods, then obviously the use of force is required.
It is simply the case that the Bible is the crystallised morality of bronze age middle eastern herdsmen. It should come as no surprise that that morality is simply not compatible with modern civil society. One can hardly claim to be a Christian and simultaneously decry the Taliban smashing statues of Buddha. The precedent is right there in Exodus. God says it is good, you should applaud the act. A secular society may decry smashing false idols, these are important archaeological and artistic works. You must admit that modern morals are fundamentally incompatible with those of the Bible, and make a choice. Hypocritically claiming you are Christian while failing to follow the ethical code is deplorable. Using your hypocritical platform to force the ethical code on others such as homosexuals and women seeking abortions is thoroughly despicable. You must jump one way or the other. I'd advise joining the secular side, it's much nicer. --JeεvsYour signature gave me epilepsy... 14:00, 11 March 2008 (EDT)
Any religion is at risk for a No true Scotsman fallacy. A religion, being inherently irrational, can only be judged by the actions of its followers. Most of the teachings of Jesus are ideas that most people would agree are a good thing. Many Christians practice a form of Christianity that focuses on living a moral life, and on good works. But we cannot say that because one Presbyterian does it, all Presbyterians are good, any more than we can condemn Jehovah's Witnesses if one of them kills a cat. Because religion only exists through human interpretation (God doesn't come down to tell us what to do), only individuals can be judged, and only by their acts. Some religions, that have strong central governments, may be a bit different, but even the Catholic laity has a lot to say about Church policies.-- Asclepius staff.png-PalMD --Do I look like I care? 14:11, 11 March 2008 (EDT)
I disagree with you on several points. For one, Christianity is not "inherently irrational. I keep on saying, but nobody seems to understand that if you do not follow the beliefs of a religion, you can hardly be called a follower of that religion. The bible explicitly states that Christianity is not based on good works, but on faith. Man is inherently sinful and cannot be good enough to go to heaven. Salvation is only through faith in Christ, and the forgiveness that comes with it. Actually God did come down to tell us how to act. His name was Jesus. As for central government and the catholic church, I have issues with that as well. It is unbiblical to put man's ideas at the same level or above the word of God. CPAdmin1 14:22, 11 March 2008 (EDT)
I have to disagree with you. You have to understand the difference between the Old Testament and the New Testament. Before Christ came, man was given the Law (see exodus leviticus etc.) Once Jesus came, the law was no longer required. See Romans for example. As for capital punishment, I am undecided on the issue. Right now I think that if I had to choose I would say I was against it. (based on the Bible actually). As for smashing Buddhas I am against that too. I also don't see the crusades as being OK biblically. Christians are under obligation to "spread the word" so that argument goes nowhere as well. Your entire argument seems to be based on little understanding of what the bible actually says. CPAdmin1 14:09, 11 March 2008 (EDT)
And your argument seems to be based on "cherry-picking" the parts of the Bible taht support you, and ignoring those parts that don't - much in the style of the people you're railing against. PFoster 14:11, 11 March 2008 (EDT)
I disagree. It would be hard to read the Gospels in their entirety and the words of Jesus and come across with support for the negative actions that you have brought up. The 'cherry-picking' would be required to find a reason for justification. Learn Together 04:34, 14 March 2008 (EDT)

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Damn. For one of the first times ever, I'm siding with CPAdmin against the majority of Rationalwiki. The post above ... what?

One can hardly claim to be a Christian and simultaneously decry the Taliban smashing statues of Buddha.
I am a Christian; I decry the Taliban smashing statues of the Buddha. Happy now?
The precedent is right there in Exodus. God says it is good, you should applaud the act.
That explains perfectly why Paul just said that they were a poor substitute for worship and was done. Unlike your 'in Exodus', I can provide an actual passage: Acts 17:16-31. Don't see much exhortation to smash there, do you? He even uses the statue of the unknown god as teaching.
A secular society may decry smashing false idols, these are important archaeological and artistic works.
Yes - but it certainly wasn't religious fervour that advocated smashing apart Greek temples, stealing the choice bits, and returning them to Britain as 'archaeological and artistic works'.
You must admit that modern morals are fundamentally incompatible with those of the Bible, and make a choice.
Must I? Oh well. If modern morals are incompatible with 1 Corinthians 13:1-13, and a religion whose founder summed up its teachings in their entirety as 'love God' and 'love everyone else', then I think I know which I'll choose.
What about the mandatory stone of adulterers and punishment of homosexuality by death? Do you choose those too? - Icewedge 15:26, 11 March 2008 (EDT)
You've activated my John 8 trap card! A costly mistake! --מְתֻרְגְּמָן שְׁלֹום
Heh Heh, but I pull of an Andrew Schlafly interception. - Icewedge 16:34, 11 March 2008 (EDT)
You must have missed the part about Christ coming, and man being no longer under the Law. --CPAdmin1 15:30, 11 March 2008 (EDT)
Hypocritically claiming you are Christian while failing to follow the ethical code is deplorable.
What do you mean by 'the ethical code'? All the stuff about peace, unconditional love, and social justice that Jesus taught?
Using your hypocritical platform to force the ethical code on others such as homosexuals and women seeking abortions is thoroughly despicable.
Some would argue that persecution and murder of doctors wasn't exactly integral to Christianity.
You must jump one way or the other.
Lol false dichotomy. I seem to remember someone saying something about being 'either with us, or with the terrorists'. A fan?
I'd advise joining the secular side, it's much nicer.
You don't mean secular. You mean atheist. --מְתֻרְגְּמָן שְׁלֹום
Yes, I've heard that one before. Jewish law no longer applies to Christians. Except the bits they're willing to let apply to them. You simply can't have it both ways. Either Jewish law does apply to Christians, in which case you're perfectly entitled to abhor homosexuality and destroy graven images, and you have to keep kosher. Or it doesn't and you don't have to keep kosher, but you aren't entitled to comment on the morality of homosexuals or that of destroying graven images.
There have been significant schisms in the Christian church over just such issues. Is it right to have graven images in the church? Catholics think so, protestants do not. After the English civil war, was it correct for the puritans to go round English churches and smash the papist decoration in them? If I were to believe the Bible, I should think so. As a secularist, I think we're deprived of some interesting works of art by that act.
I think the problem is that I understand the Bible all too well, it is you who are in denial about its contents. --JeεvsYour signature gave me epilepsy... 14:23, 11 March 2008 (EDT)
Actually the New Testament explicitly condemns homosexuality. As for destroying graven images, there is nothing in the NT that says it is OK, and as it goes against other commands, (love your neighbor, etc.) It is also a no-no. I am not in denial about it's contents. Also, you have yet to counter my argument concerning holding the actions of some who go against the Bible as an example of what Christianity is OK with. CPAdmin1 15:28, 11 March 2008 (EDT)
Well, I know Paul says it, but I know nothing in Christian dogma that says that the word of any man must be taken as law. Neither effeminate be and all that, but is this Paul taking insight from Jesus or from his Jewish upbringing? Gospel writers are clearly mistaken about many things, Luke either lies either first or second hand throughout his entire gospel. Yet, this you say we must take as er, gospel? Are the laws of God null and void if Jesus had nothing to say about them one way or another? I don't remember Jesus ever having anything to say about homosexuality. --JeεvsYour signature gave me epilepsy... 15:37, 11 March 2008 (EDT)
Arguing "from silence" is always problematic, but the fact itself that Jesus has so little to say about homosexuality might in itself be a pretty good indication that it should not be considered such a big deal as some want to make of it. --AKjeldsenGodspeed! 15:40, 11 March 2008 (EDT)

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Also, on a point of semantics "You don't mean secular. You mean atheist." No, I mean secular. As we must tireless point out to Conservapedia's blockheads, Atheism does not imply any specific code of morals. Secularism does, albeit a rather small code. --JeεvsYour signature gave me epilepsy... 14:28, 11 March 2008 (EDT)

Secular means something that is not an affair of the church. What you describe, vis a vis the side that isn't religion, is atheism. Also, nice of you to help polarise it so much. --מְתֻרְגְּמָן שְׁלֹום

Again, you're wrong. Atheism is not a moral code. A moral code can and is derived from civil society.
Atheism is belief that there is no god, and, hence, no religion. You are saying that there should be no religion. You are, therefore, arguing from and atheist-ist point of view. What secular means, on the other hand, is anything that doesn't happen under the purview of a church/organised religious group. The entirety of my life not spent in a church is secular. At least admit what you discuss is secular-ism.
Should I apologise for polarising the debate? I think not. It is necessarily adversarial.
As I said above, it was the great George Bush who cut away any chance of a middle ground, and stated that 'you are either with us, or with the terrorists'.
The sooner we are done and dusted with the poison influence of religion the better. The great religions are necessarily incompatible with the morals of today, and I don't find the morals they propose at all appetising.
Which ethics are those? The Christian statement that unconditional love and compassion is above all things? The Islam-mandated system of social welfare for the most disadvantaged? Or perhaps you mean the Buddhist ideal of ahimsa?
Our view of life under the Taliban should tell us that such a life isn't desirable.
Right, so all religions are the Taliban. This is surprisingly reminiscent of a certain statement I was reading earlier today] ... --מְתֻרְגְּמָן שְׁלֹום

The religious can either entrench themselves in their crystallised dogma, or join with the rest of society to choose what is right based on rational judgements of consequences. There is no doubt at all in my mind which of the two is better for us. --JeεvsYour signature gave me epilepsy... 14:42, 11 March 2008 (EDT)

That's an interesting Othering process you got going there, Jeeves. --AKjeldsenGodspeed! 15:15, 11 March 2008 (EDT)
I'd prefer you didn't intersperse your comments with my own. That seems rude somehow. I also vastly dislike the "take a sentence and rebut it" style of debate, which reduces arguments to childish simplicity.
You seem to like telling me that I'm offering you only a binary choice, "You're either with us or with the terrorists." I am not, I simply pointing out the only two practical choices available to us today. You can either choose the morality of religion, as many states and peoples do. Or you can choose the morality of civil society as the majority of peoples and states do. I'm not looking to deprive you of third places to stand, but the those are far more unpalatable. You can choose the third place of the scofflaw and spend your life in prison for all I care, or the morality of the survivalists who shun society to live in isolation where their own morality can take precedence. I simply do not care, because these thing do not affect me. Religion does, and in an extremely negative fashion.
I don't understand what you mean when you claim "not all religions are like the Taliban." The Taliban were not a religion in and of themselves, but a religious government. All religious governments turn out the way of the Taliban. It is inevitable. If you follow any unchanging word, you end up in the same state no matter what the word is. We have many examples religious and non-religious to testify to this fact. Japan, North Korea, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia. The pattern is the same. To do the best for people, one must move with the times and adapt. Religion cannot. The Church of England now has women vicars, something expressly forbidden in the Bible. They've adapted to stay relevant, but are they now still Christian? It is indeed debatable. --JeεvsYour signature gave me epilepsy... 15:11, 11 March 2008 (EDT)
For several reasons I am a bit of a latecomer to this debate and as it's my birthday I am speaking with the assistance of the miraculously converted shiraz grape. It would seem to me that the 'no-true-Scotsman Christians' are defending their own moral stance without defining what their religion is. Christianity on its own is a fairly nebulous concept and would suggest that most Christian's views are conditioned by the influence of at least one particular church. The majority of criticisms of Christianity are levelled against organised religion in the shape of a particular church, each with its own set of rules and dogma. The Bible was constructed by the early church and forms the basic text for all the major denominations of Christianity. Do these NTS Christians really wish to disassociate themselves from the Old Testament? This runs counter to the major churches, and let's not forget that the ten commandments are part of the OT. It seems that they have a pick and mix version of Christianity and while I could find considerable common ground with them, we should not forget that there are even differences between the gospels so the NT has its own set of contradictions. Furthermore, much of the NT is not the word of Jesus but of Paul, so the definition of Christianity becomes even more diluted. (I would recommend reading Bart Ehrman's book Misquoting Jesus for a greater understanding of how these early texts were altered.) So when CPadmin1 says that if you do not "follow the beliefs of a religion, you can hardly be called a follower of that religion" I would like to know which religion he is talking about. Jollyfish.gifGenghis Marauding 15:31, 11 March 2008 (EDT)

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I'm interested in the point way back at the beginning where Christian claims to know who is a 'real' Christian and who is not. I'm afraid you are going to find lots of different kinds of Christians who place different emphases on different parts of the Bible and interpret it in totally different ways. So to repeat a point made above, to say that someone is not a 'true' Christian because they do not fit your own personal version of Christianity is self-serving and rather arrogant. I'd suggest we have good Christians and bad Christians, not real Christians and fake Christians. Making blanket statements about other religions but reserving only good people for your own is absurd. PoorEd 15:45, 11 March 2008 (EDT)

No one's a 'true Christian', since everyone falls short. --מְתֻרְגְּמָן שְׁלֹום

you are only revealing your particular bias concerning what Christianity is and who is a Christian. Everyone may fall short of being a saint, but being a Christian is being on a path, not claiming to have arrived at the goal. PoorEd 15:50, 11 March 2008 (EDT)
Yes - but 'true Christianity' would be following Jesus to the letter. We don't. Ergo ... --מְתֻרְגְּמָן שְׁלֹום
Is there any obstacle to following Jesus to the letter? I know of only one: The burden of co-existing with people who do not necessarily agree with that way of life, and respecting their culture and customs. If you choose not to follow Jesus, you have no excuse. It simply means you are not a Christian. There are ways and means of following him, you simply have not chosen them. Because you have not made that choice, are you still a Christian? --JeεvsYour signature gave me epilepsy... 16:01, 11 March 2008 (EDT)
Who has the license to distinguish between who is a 'true' Christian and who is a 'false' one. What are the 'true' ways and means of following Jesus, and to which letters he is to be followed? Can you read the mind of God? PoorEd 16:05, 11 March 2008 (EDT)
Well, it is Catholic dogma that the Pope speaks to and for God, so the Pope presumably for one. Presumably this also means all non-Catholics are also not Christians. --JeεvsYour signature gave me epilepsy... 16:09, 11 March 2008 (EDT)
Exactly. So either the Pope is a Christian and all non-Catholics are not, or the Pope is not a Christian. But by the definition of 'true'Christian above, no one but Christ is a 'true' Christian. Interesting how religious discussions based on the idea that only one religion is the 'true' religion always go in circles.PoorEd 16:13, 11 March 2008 (EDT)
Actually, it is Catholic dogma that the Church, not the Pope, speaks for God, through the teaching Magisterium. --AKjeldsenGodspeed! 16:17, 11 March 2008 (EDT)
Darn, missed a lot in an hour. Just wanted to add a quote for, like, 40 paragraphs before, to add Exodus 22:20 to the conversation. "He who sacrifices to any god, other than to the LORD alone, shall be utterly destroyed." I'm not sure what the Bible means by destroyed, but it sounds like death to me.... Sterilexx 17:10, 11 March 2008 (EDT)
Instruction or promise? The LORD thy God is a vague god, open to interpretation by men who would seek authority for their acts. --JeεvsYour signature gave me epilepsy... 17:15, 11 March 2008 (EDT)
Interpretation. Bah! Literal reading! Sterilexx 18:16, 11 March 2008 (EDT)

"Yes - but 'true Christianity' would be following Jesus to the letter." Well, even Jesus didn't meet his own standards, so how any "mortal" can be expected to be perfect by following him seems like a paradox. But Interpreted, you haven't defined what following Jesus to the letter means. There are contradictions between the pacifist Jesus and the more militant Jesus so I would like to know which one you follow. Also there are no direct writings of Jesus, just some second or third-hand accounts of his life and words, the texts of which were written many years after his death, so how do you know exactly what it is to follow Jesus? Jollyfish.gifGenghis Marauding 18:35, 11 March 2008 (EDT)
Heh, except Jesus is God the Father, and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. So, as omnipotent godhead he failed to achieve a goal set for himself. If you're a Christian, it's best just not to think. It saves on paracetamol. --JeεvsYour signature gave me epilepsy... 18:49, 11 March 2008 (EDT)

Intermission - treats and snacks in the lobby[edit]

Jeeves & Interpreted,

I think you started arguing at cross purposes. Jeeves' original points were directed against Tim's literalist take on the Bible, and hold (in that context) as far as I can see.


Apologies if I've got this horribly wrong, but I suspect you believe that, whilst the Bible refers to an existent deity, it remains an imperfect product of many human authors. Therefore, you don't read it literally, but as containing sufficient truth with which to construct a workable belief system, more or less as intended by said deity. Bluntly, you pick and choose - which is the only sensible way to go about living by such a work.

Thanks for being the UN to our Egypt and Israel. Yes, there are some elements of the Bible that I am unsure over, but I'd hasten to add that there's a continuum - I follow primarily Jesus' teachings, which were (nearly) the most recent, and, if you're a Christian, holds the most authority. Paul - well, he's a fairly confused person (c.f. his changing views towards women), and actually admits on multiple occasions that 'not the Lord, but I' say this, this, and this; as such, interpret in line with Jesus' message. Also, although there is some quite obvious editing in the New and Old Testaments, studying it actually helps assess the historicity of the account. Furthermore, there is fairly convincing (as far as you can get, 2000 years after the event) evidence that John's gospel was written by someone close to Jesus/the community around that person. --מְתֻרְגְּמָן שְׁלֹום


If you wish to continue arguing against such a belief system (and why not?), then your best moves are:

  • deny, or question the probability, of the existence of said deity, or
  • argue that, even if it exists, said deity is not fit for respect/worship (problem of evil), and that moral structure can be derived along rational, humanist lines.

--Robledo 16:21, 11 March 2008 (EDT)

It seems unsporting to me to ask theists to provide proof of the existence of their deities. I know full well there is no evidence for their existence or divinity, and most of them know it too. The case against religion is so overwhelming it is trivially fought and won on ground of the choosing of the theist. Their position is contrary to logic, morality and dignity and it is always a grim pleasure to expose it as such. --JeεvsYour signature gave me epilepsy... 16:31, 11 March 2008 (EDT)
*Keeps quiet* --AKjeldsenGodspeed! 16:34, 11 March 2008 (EDT)
If their gods aren't omnipotent enough even to prove their own existence, then what good can they be?
(This is one of the many things that bugs me about the Bible. According to the Old Testament, JHVH was constantly dipping his bill into worldly affairs--speaking to prophets, Smiting cities, occasionally dropping by in person to have lunch, etc. But ever since Jesus got killed, it's like he's been scared off from making any direct appearances. Jehovah as Howard Hughes?) --Gulik 13:55, 14 March 2008 (EDT)

Small theological point[edit]

This will go against the theology of some, but I have argued elsewhere (strangely enough, attracting the only positive Christian response to my blog), that to insist on empiric proof of religion is to deny the primacy of faith. Religion is irrational, and more importantly must be irrational, otherwise there would be no such thing as faith. To believe in gravity requires no faith. To believe in a loving God who sacrificed his Son for your sins requires great faith, because it is so improbable. Apologists look for rationality in religion, but it is the irrationality that makes it religion rather than, say, physics.-- Asclepius staff.png-PalMD --Do I look like I care? 16:41, 11 March 2008 (EDT)

I wholeheartedly agree. I think people who try to "prove" religion deny its very existence by discounting their faith. This is why I think even less of creationists than I would otherwise; they're quite literally sacrificing their religion for an idol!-αmεσ (soldier) 16:43, 11 March 2008 (EDT)
Their god asks them to do as much. "Do not test the LORD your God as you did at Massah." If Christians could do as they are told, we'd all be a lot happier. --JeεvsYour signature gave me epilepsy... 16:46, 11 March 2008 (EDT)
You mean to say the Bible asks Christians not to test their religion empirically? Is that right?
If so, just another reason why, yes, we'd be better if Christians were Christians. Whenever I think, "What would Jesus do?" the answer is rarely "Create Conservapedia as it is now."-αmεσ (soldier) 16:50, 11 March 2008 (EDT)
Ames is right. Also, haha! --מְתֻרְגְּמָן שְׁלֹום
That would certainly be my interpretation, yes. The context is to do with asking God for water in the desert. One could argue that the God is asking people here not to ask him for beneficial acts as a test of existence, but I think in the context of the promised land the meaning is clear. Of course, then you have the wretched issue of this being a Jewish law so maybe Christians are allowed to devise tests.... --JeεvsYour signature gave me epilepsy... 16:56, 11 March 2008 (EDT)
The point is re-emphasised in Matthew 4:5-7. --AKjeldsenGodspeed! 17:02, 11 March 2008 (EDT)
Doc, being the ardent fan of Kierkegaard that I am, I can only agree with you, although only up to a certain point. The fundamental faith in itself is subjective and irrational, something that you leap into in spite of however absurd it may seem, or perhaps precisely because it is absurd. But once you have made that leap, I don't see that there's any obstacle to use that faith as a premise for an entirely rational discussion about your religion and the best way to carry it out in practice. For instance, the various "proofs of God" that have been proposed through the ages should probably be considered in this light - not necessarily as proofs of existence in the usual ontological sense, but rather as theological analyses of a God that is already assumed to exist. Rational discussions, but from an irrational premise that won't make much sense to a non-believer. --AKjeldsenGodspeed! 17:12, 11 March 2008 (EDT)
What's your take on the problem of evil, AK? --Robledo 17:22, 11 March 2008 (EDT)
In 500 words or less? ;-) Briefly, I personally prefer the 'free will' explanation, that evil appears because human beings have the free will to choose to behave morally wrong towards one another, or do so out of ignorance or carelessness. I think the key point in that discussion is that if people did not have this free will to be evil or stupid, it would also completely remove any moral value there might be in being good - is there anything commendable to being a moral hero if you never really had any choice in the matter? Perhaps not so much. So if human morality is to have any meaning at all, there must be a free choice involved, and this in turn means that God must effectively decide to voluntarily limit his omnipotence when it comes to humans.
However, I don't think this should necessarily be seen as a grand, moral choice between Good and Evil. I think that evil is the result of passivity or ignorance or simple prejudice much more often than it is of any positive choice to be evil, cf. Hannah Arendt and the "banality of evil". --AKjeldsenGodspeed! 18:08, 11 March 2008 (EDT)
Kenosis! Kenosis! See, you'd be won over in the end. Now just to persuade you that God chooses to put Godself through human suffering ... --מְתֻרְגְּמָן שְׁלֹום
Is that kenosis? >_> Limiting his power is perhaps a poor choice of words; I was rather thinking that God the Father chooses to place humanity outside of his immediate jurisdiction, so to say.
As for why the God-suffering was necessary, I have a certain affinity for Anselm's (at least I think it's Anselm) idea that God has to present himself as a sort of "temple sacrifice" to himself on behalf of humanity, since no single sacrifice presented by humans would be capable of erasing the fundamental original sin from humanity. But on the other hand, there has to be a penintential sacrifice from humanity to make up for the sin, because otherwise the balance in the pact between God and Man is destroyed. Thus the "fully God and fully Man" becomes the last temple sacrifice to himself on behalf of himself and the rest of humanity. (Or something like that :-D ).
Also: "Godself"? What is this thing? --AKjeldsenGodspeed! 19:25, 11 March 2008 (EDT)
Eh, I just hooked on the phrase 'self-limiting' and ran with it. Still, even putting something out of your grasp is emptying yourself to some extent - like moving down the Sefiroth in Kabbalic mysticism. While Anselm's idea is appealing, it feels too much like scales for my liking.
'Godself' - our theology teacher has a particular dislike for the use of gender-based personal pronouns for the God of classical theism, and 'it' is just annoying. As such, 'Godself' is the only other option. \(0.o)/ --מְתֻרְגְּמָן שְׁלֹום
Kabbalah is officially out of my league - I'm far too much of a Scholasticist to understand that. So I guess you're probably right.
Anselm is a bit ideosyncratic, but very influenced by the politics of his time. I think he often viewed the relation between God and Man in semi-feudal terms, so it was important for him to preserve the "honour of the liege lord", so to speak.
Hmm, "Godself"... Writerself is intrigued, although Editorself screams in horror. Historianself is sort of 'meh', while Lolself thinks we should run the concept by Andy to see how he feels about it. --AKjeldsenGodspeed! 19:58, 11 March 2008 (EDT)
Eh. God as an actor so omnipotent that he has the power to limit his own power. That one seems firmly in the "... Burrito so hot ..." category. As for free will, I'd like to believe it, but I just can't summon any faith in the idea. I've seen complex emergent behaviour from simple systems far too often to be awed by it and label it 'free will'. Even without free will, morality has implicit value as a positive feedback loop. I don't see how the presence or absence of free will impacts the joy of the human experience, so anything selecting for maximal joy would seem to be of immense value to me, DFA or no. --JeεvsYour signature gave me epilepsy... 18:36, 11 March 2008 (EDT)
Well, I was talking about free will from a moral/theological point of view - I don't really feel qualified to discuss the psychological angle of it.
I don't really see where there is a positive feedback between morality and joy, though. There are plenty of times when I know there's something I really ought to do but would rather avoid, or ought not to do but want to do anyway. Doing the moral thing can be pretty unpleasant sometimes.
Nor does free will necessarily lead to any particular level of joy, I think. Quite the contrary: Kierkegaard wrote whole books about the deep existential anxiety caused by having to make all those irreversible decisions that affect both your own life and others'. But the question is: If we didn't have to make those decision, and didn't have the fundamental moral responsibility that they result in, is there any particular meaning to your life? Can you be said to really exist in any meaningful way if you never have to make a decision that can change the world somehow?
And from the perspective of God, is there really any meaning in a creation populated only by automatons with no free will? Seems to make for a lonely God, if nothing else. --AKjeldsenGodspeed! 19:25, 11 March 2008 (EDT)
Not to be (overly) flippant, but free will as a choice to be made (to think of, to "believe in" if you will), is something of a new beast, no? Not that there wasn't always a choice to be made or free will to exercise but that there hasn't really been a time in history when being an atheist and actually saying, out loud, in public, "I'm an atheist", didn't get one killed or jailed. It's all well and good to bring up the agency of free will within the confines of a structured dogma or used to portray the "lost" as in error but to understand it as a mode of living this is quite new and largely unexplored territory.- CЯacke® 19:55, 11 March 2008 (EDT)
If both parties agree on the faith, I don't see as how it would be different from any other axiom. However, let us not pretend for a moment that any discussion built on such an axiom could possibly illuminate anything in the real world. Garbage in, Garbage out. Before you can have a rational discussion, it is needful to verify your axioms really are axiomatic. --JeεvsYour signature gave me epilepsy... 17:29, 11 March 2008 (EDT)
Well, I for one am quite willing to at least pretend that the works of Augustine, Aquinas and Kierkegaard have something to tell us about some of the less obvious aspects of the human condition, so to say. If you can't see that, your loss. --AKjeldsenGodspeed! 18:08, 11 March 2008 (EDT)
As one of the few NOMAists here, I would agree that once you assume belief, you can have rational discussions within that framework. As long as everyone realizes that there is a certain "outside the real world" aspect to it.-- Asclepius staff.png-PalMD --Do I look like I care? 18:11, 11 March 2008 (EDT)

Problem of evil (< 500 words ;)

I don't buy this idea of the meaningfulness of human morality/existence as an end in itself. No grand enterprise is worth the price in suffering and torment that some have to pay - no matter how noble the enterprise, no matter how long a timeframe it's played out over. No moral deity could permit instances of wanton cruelty of the severity that occur every single day on this planet of ours. It would have to intervene. But it doesn't.

Possibilities: 1.) it doesn't exist, or 2.) it doesn't care. --Robledo 20:21, 11 March 2008 (EDT)

Those are certainly two possible conclusions. But the problem is that if we assume that God exists and that he Godself did decide to intervene against all the nastiness that we commit against one another all the time, the human capacity for good would also be diminished to the meaningless. Doing good, or even just avoiding evil, would be entirely pointless if we were forced to do so by divine command. Humanity would be reduced to an army of zombies without any moral accountability, possibly doing God's will, but out of any voluntary desire. Somehow, that doesn't really seem like an all too attractive scenario, either. --AKjeldsenGodspeed! 20:34, 11 March 2008 (EDT)
Bedtime interruptus - to be continued, fella. In the meantime, please feel free to get down with your Godself. ;) --Robledo 21:05, 11 March 2008 (EDT)
I don't see a need for the constant intervention you describe above. Or even the need for much constraint upon free will for that matter. Simply eliminate the human tendency towards casual sadism and the world is a far better place at a stroke - and one in which ample opportunity remains for courageous moral choices.
But it chooses not to, which takes me back to the two possibilities above. --Robledo 18:44, 12 March 2008 (EDT)
Makes me wonder what Heaven is going to be like. Will humans still have Free Will to do evil there? (IIRC, Jeffrey Dahmer accepted Jesus shortly before his death. Just sayin', is all...) --Gulik 13:58, 14 March 2008 (EDT)
According to Catholic mythology assuming that Dahmer confessed and was absolved of all of his mortal sins, he would be in Purgatory. During this time (not short), there would be painful punishment which would cleanse his soul. When the soul is purified, he would then move on to Heaven. Heaven itself would not contain anyone who had any desire to do evil (that was all burnt away in Purgatory). Similar concepts exist in other religions - Judaism has Gehenna, Islam considers Hell to be only temporary. Once again, I recommend a reading of Hell is the Absence of God for one SF author's take on Heaven and Hell and who goes where. --Shagie 14:27, 14 March 2008 (EDT)
If God can purge T3h 3v1l from us in Purgatory, why can't He do it here and now? Seems to me it would save a whole lot of time and trouble. --Gulik 15:31, 14 March 2008 (EDT)

meta content[edit]

Can I just say as an irrelevant aside, that TmtamesP doesn't appear to have contributed once to this rational discussion. Jollyfish.gifGenghis Marauding 18:43, 11 March 2008 (EDT)

That's probably why it stayed that way :P humanUser talk:Human 20:03, 11 March 2008 (EDT)