I love the bible more than before – 8


OPEN LETTER TO A BLOGGING CHUM

Dear Ark,

I value our comment boxes conversation. You have led me to the opinion that all “Christians” should be subjected to an atheist forum.  Not to convert or defend but to learn and share.

But as with any relationship over time “stuff” creeps in.  Yet you insist you have no interest in a conversation.  You offer open-minded discussion, but deliver closed-minded rhetoric and “evidence”. As soon as the “conversation” strays into asking you to step outside your “Ark based belief structure”, you pick up your ball and refuse to play anymore (and accuse me of being a faux-Christian).

So your latest “open minded” suggestion that I find five “good things” that can only be found in religion (that if it were not for religion these five good things would not exist).  And that once I have found and laid them out (like a “show and tell”) we will “discuss them” as two rational beings …

Is about as “closed” as one can get.

Your criteria separates (again) anything of a “spiritual something” from the “physical world” that you can see, feel and touch – every time – the same – without change – to your own satisfaction (what Tildeb described so well as “universal observable evidence belief”).

For me, it is your insistence on “separation” – your “this is how the question and answer will be framed” – your “no wriggling allowed” – your “stop writing so many words” (that you admit to not reading but only scan/skipping) … It is all of “that” I find no different to the very religion you detest.

It is a “you will think this way” approach.   It has no freedom for me to be me.  It imposes and delivers exactly the same results as religion did for me: “Think like this.”   Except I talk about Love and finding love in everyone and everything (as much as I can) – and you don’t.

You find only “vile” and despicable crimes of (wo)man to (wo)man and especially children. You compare my talking about Love – if you see (in any shape or form) as connected (even remotely) to anything you deem “religion” – as spreading a “sexual disease”.  You  make love – if found in anything tenuously “religious” – to be poisonous.

And the thing I have found about any “me based belief structure” (always a choice of structure we each choose) is this: “I will find proof and evidence of “that” anywhere I look.”

That is science.  That is universal observable evidence belief.

If I buy a new car I will see that same make and model everywhere. If I have been talking about something new, I find others having that same conversation. If I expose myself to something new (or hang on to something old) I will see evidence of that “something”.

And that is why I walked away from religion that said I must “believe the bible  – because the bible says so”.  And that – “because the bible says so“ – I must always look for sin. Because (I was taught) sin creeps in when I am not looking and – unless I look for sin – I will be lost forever.

The bible also says love one another.  But it seems that because the bible says “we are loved” we don’t have to look for love. Only sin.

All because of ”The Fall”. And because of “The Cross”. And because of sacrifice and paying a debt (that we never can). And that is why I was taught to look for sin: “because the bible says so.”

Just as it says “love”.

You call yourself an ex-“cultural Christian” (as I was).  But you seem to have chosen to keep all the sin-searching that comes with being a “cultural Christian” (I love that term by the way – the church is stuffed full of them). Which kind of makes you more “fundamental” than the “fundamentals” you despise.

I cannot find “five good things” exclusive to “religion” for two very simple reasons:
a) Your “cultural Christianity” (religion) is only of this world.
b) My definition of Love is of everywhere and everything – including religion and you.

So if you insist on reading my posts – as both fundamentals AND cultural Christians read the bible – you WILL find whatever “vile” you need to find.  And my question is this:

How are you so different to those you condemn?

With affection –

Paul

(and I will lovingly add your response(s) as the “middle bit” of the next post – just to encourage you to read the whole post!)  🙂

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48 thoughts on “I love the bible more than before – 8

  1. How are you so different to those you condemn?

    Simple: I don’t abrogate any of my personal responsibility to a .fictional, post-Canaanite genocidal, meglomaniacal deity or the metamorphosed man-god, the 2000 year old narrative construct, Jesus of Nazareth.
    Neither do I in any way attempt to indoctrinate my beliefs into children by threatening them with eternal torture, Hell, created by the god that supposedly loves humans! WT F if they do not comply. WTF!

    I encourage open ended discussion and critical thinking, especially with children, do not hand-wave away the vile, heinous text, including such marvelous deeds commanded and or condoned, as slavery, rape, incest, genocide, misogyny, infanticide,mutilation,etc etc ad nauseum that this ridiculous religion, its forbears or derivatives has spawned and its adherents, people such as William Lane Craig and other such disgusting apologists,who tout as fact and truth, and if religion were not given a Free-Pass would likely be prosecuted for some form of hate speech.

    I am not a science denying Young Earth Creationist Ass-Hat who indoctrinates kids into believing the Earth is only 6-10,000 years old and that dinosaurs were once vegetarian, coexisted with humans and only grew those nasty pointy teeth after ”The Fall”

    That is how I am very very different to those that follow this religion of any of its derivatives.

    And those adults who do are, in this day of practically unlimited access to open-information, to put it bluntly willfully ignorant.

    And for the record, I have absolutely no baggage to bring to this party. None whatsoever. You know my ”story” of how I became interested in religion, and in particular Christianity, as it is the religion I am most familiar with.
    I watch with growing fascination, and an ever-broadening smile,how scholarly research is turning, albeit slowly at present, but gaining momentum, towards an open admission that the biblical character, Jesus of Nazareth, much like his Old Testament counterpart, Moses, was simply a work of fiction.

    I wonder how Christians will react to this?

    To paraphrase a line from the Life of Brian: ”They’re (He’s) making it up as they (he) go along.”

    Have a Happy Easter Weekend.

    And if you are a Christian reading this then enjoy your death cult celebration and adoration of the cruel and bloody and wholly unnecessary Human Sacrifice of the make-beleive character Jesus of Nazareth Nowhere.
    Peace and love and those wonderful things you find in the bible … well, somewhere else.
    🙂
    Ark

    • Hey, Ark. May I address a couple of things here? I’d like to do so because you have treated me with great respect before, and I read the lengthy back-and-forth you and Paul had a few days ago.

      First, you wrote above, “I have absolutely no baggage to bring to this party. None whatsoever.” I think we all have baggage we bring to this discussion, especially from our treatment of those who subscribe to ‘fundamentalist Christianity.’
      Second, I acknowledge much damage has been done by those who subscribe to those hard and fast rules and dogmas of fundamentalist beliefs – those who steadfastly believe the Bible is infallible and inerrant, and a work of non-fiction, who refuse to learn from science, who preach about sin, condemnation, hell and exclusion.
      Third, there is difference between those fundamentalists who have done such damage, and those of us who truly believe and walk out the transformational shift of unconditional love and radical grace Jesus is quoted as speaking of in the New Testament. The two world views are diametrically opposed.
      Fourth, it feels to me as though most atheists lump us all into the same category as fundamentalists, and we are not – and that saddens me greatly, particularly when we are asked to justify a fundamentalist point of view. And we get stuck because sometimes we do not recognize what is happening.

      I believe a stumbling block occurs when this stereotyping occurs, and this is why we cannot seem to engage in civil conversation. Does this make sense?

      • Thanks for the reply, Susan.
        I’ll be as gentle as I can … not easy for moi – I’m pretty sure you know my ‘’style’’.

        First, you wrote above, “I have absolutely no baggage to bring to this party. None whatsoever.” I think we all have baggage we bring to this discussion, especially from our treatment of those who subscribe to ‘fundamentalist Christianity.’

        I don’t. My mother was the only person marginally Christian in our family and the only times I went to church as a youngster (aside from a few Sunday school sessions) was during Scout Parade. So, I reiterate. No baggage whatsoever. I never even realised there were such things as these idiotic fundamentalists until I began doing research for a fantasy novel I wrote, Sorry to disappoint you, Susan, but I grew up with no interest in religion at all.
        In the spirit of openness my mother returned to the church and active worship and became very devout after one of my brothers died in a car accident. To forestall any questions you have about her faith and my atheism; no we never discuss religion. Though I occasionally tease her about getting discount rates at church, since she is a pensioner. But nothing serious. 😉
        My father has absolutely no interest in religion and never has. Family history done, yes?

        Second, I acknowledge much damage has been done by those who subscribe to those hard and fast rules and dogmas of fundamentalist beliefs – those who steadfastly believe the Bible is infallible and inerrant, and a work of non-fiction, who refuse to learn from science, who preach about sin, condemnation, hell and exclusion.

        Good…

        Third, there is difference between those fundamentalists who have done such damage, and those of us who truly believe and walk out the transformational shift of unconditional love and radical grace Jesus is quoted as speaking of in the New Testament. The two world views are diametrically opposed.

        Actually, they are simply different interpretations of the same faith-based dogma contained in the bible. And with all due respect, with 40,000 different Christian sects there is bound to be at least one that you , or anyone, would feel comfortable with. Ask yourself honestly, exactly why on earth do you think there are so many sects or a need for so many?

        Fourth, it feels to me as though most atheists lump us all into the same category as fundamentalists, and we are not – and that saddens me greatly, particularly when we are asked to justify a fundamentalist point of view. And we get stuck because sometimes we do not recognize what is happening.

        No, I don’t lump you all at all. But you all get your own personal version of god-belief from the same erroneous source I’m afraid; the bible. Then it is simply a matter of … excuse the pun … fine-tuning the details until you can arrive at a place where you are able to say: ‘’Yes! That’s what I’m talking about . No nasty Yahweh and genocide and stuff. This is my Jesus of Nazareth and this is my Christianity! Amen’’, which, if you think about it, is probably similar to what every member of those 40,000 (and counting) sects say as well.

        I believe a stumbling block occurs when this stereotyping occurs, and this is why we cannot seem to engage in civil conversation. Does this make sense?

        Of course we can have a civil conversation. Exactly how open are you to having your beliefs refuted by evidence? And I extend the same offer to you to convince me likewise. Are you up to it? If so, ask away.

        • Okay. “Ask yourself honestly, exactly why on earth do you think there are so many sects or a need for so many?” I don’t think there is a need for so many, and as for why – it is exactly as you said – personal interpretations of the Bible.
          And as for beliefs being refuted by evidence – let me say this first to explain my belief system.
          I’m sure you have read Aesop’s Fables, yes? And perhaps you agree there is much wisdom to be had in the morals to those fables.
          For me, the same is to be said for the parables of Jesus – in fact, for everything Jesus said. And I know you can produce evidence to show Jesus did not exist, just as I can produce evidence he did.
          I am also not trying to convert or convince you to my way of thinking, nor do I think you are an idiot for believing your evidence is superior to my evidence. However, my observation and experience tells me the opposite is true.

          The Bible is only one of several books I rely on to support my faith, and my faith changes and grows daily – it is not cemented in rules or doctrine. For example, I may look at a passage in the Bible one day and get a meaning from it, and look at the same passage months later and gain enhanced meaning from it, just as I would from re-reading passages in a book, because I have grown and matured and my understanding is more evolved.

          I also rely on my personal experience to support my belief/faith. I do not rely on church or pastors to tell me what to believe, for I have a spiritual relationship with my God. I know I was born in love, therefore I am able to approach other human beings in love and grace. It is why I am at peace in my life; I know who I am.

          Do I know all the answers? Absolutely not. But I have a heart that believes in miracles, and that at the core, human beings are born good and loving and filled with grace for each other. And I don’t need to ask you a thing to know that you are one of them.

            • The command to “make disciples” for me means to do what Jesus did – love people unconditionally. Jesus never sought to create a new religion, thereby “convert” people. The only folks Jesus exhorted were religious leaders who stood in the way of people connecting with the love, grace and peace of God.

              My intention is to carry out the Great Commission by showing unconditional love and grace the people around me; to write about the ways we can all do that to our neighbors (who, by the way, Jesus said was everyone including immigrants and refugees) and even our so-called enemies.

              For me, it’s about seeing through the eyes of Jesus, looking in a way that’s greater than my own little point of view.

            • I am leaving for a car park in a moment. A small number of us go there each week with hot and cold drinks and packets of biscuits. This has been happening for 13 years (long before my time). It used to be supported by the local churches who have since withdrawn their support.

              I have been going there for three years. I have been asked once about “Jesus” and who “he was”. The only answer I had was that he was my best friend. The response was a curious “oh”. That is the only time I have mentioned “God stuff”. Because we are all committed to one thing: not “proselytizing” and not “making disciples”. If anything all of us desire that the youngsters feel safe and secure being who they are – and to be valued for who they rather than told what they are not (and all that complicated stuff). I don’t know of more than one youngster (who helps on the team) who ever ended up in church.

              I do know that we are treated with more respect and affection that I ever expect to receive. And I do know of one previous team member who was asked to leave because she felt it her duty to “proselytize”.

              We don’t collect names or details. We don’t ask anything other than they respect each other and us. And we think some stock up on biscuits to replace the meal(s) they never had.

              I do know we see young adults who remember the “Bar n Bus” with great affection as they were going through their younger rebellious years (and we have no idea if any of them go to church either).

              That is their gift to us – not the other way around.

              Before I close down the computer and head off – just seemed worth mentioning.

            • I. wouldn’t, unless I thought someone was touting Jesus or I thought they were there with any sort of religious motivation.
              I mean would you ask a supermarket checkout person for example, ”Who was Jesus?”

              And what the hell sort of crud answer is, ”My best friend”

            • Perhaps it would have been more truthful had you responded:
              ”Jesus is my bestist, invisible 2000 year old smelly little make beleive friend in the whole wide world and I talk to him. Even while I am on the toilet ..An’ he listens…. honest. And answers prayers. But he doesn’t look while I pee. He can be your best friend too, if you just confess you are dirty rotten sinner and say he made the entire universe and was crucified for all our sins, including yours too.. And then I’ll give you one of these Jammie Dodgers and a can of coke. How about it? Are you really ready to confess to Jesus?

            • No and no.
              I speak of my own relationship and journey with God; if others wish to read about it, they may.
              My “church” is nature, my gathering with like-minded folks, solitude and contemplation.

            • @Susan
              Excellent! Now if only we could every other god-believer to behave likewise?

              Somehow, I don’t think Ken Ham or the Pope, will go for it, though, do you? Such a shame, really,

  2. Well, to be fair, those who claim religious belief generally and this or that strain specifically itself produces benefit are making a link for which there is no evidence. To claim benefit means that the belief really can be linked to causing an effect… an effect we know something about. So the key here is to demonstrate the connection to support the claim.

    I’m sure you know that rain dancing is a tremendous benefit. It causes rain, you see. The ‘evidence’ is everywhere one cares to look… from puddles to creeks to rivers we have rain dancing to thank, from improving soil moisture levels to creating potable water, rain dancing shows us just how important it is. Yup, rain dancing is quite the benefit.

    Along comes an Ark who asks if you can show how rain dancing causes benefit. How does the rain dancing connect to all these puddles, creeks, rivers, moisture levels in soil for agriculture and silvaculture, all this potable drinking water.

    This is where it gets interesting because the request for evidence to link the dancing with rain is framed as too narrow, too rigid, too much a ‘worldview’ constraining the open and honest dialogue to see ‘the bigger picture’.

    When the request is repeated to show a link between the dancing and the rain before the claim for benefit from the dancing can be justified, all of a sudden the problem is with the people like Ark.

    But is it?

    If the rain dancing was directly associated with, say, human sacrifice and physical mutilation, a constant source of conflict between different tribes of dancers, a reason to make half the human population in each of lesser value than the other, and so on, then surely people like the Ark are asking a very important question that rain dancer supporters need to think long and hard about: is what they support in the name of benefit worth the harm directly produced by it? The key consideration is whether or not there really is a direct benefit because if there isn’t then there is no reason AT ALL for the harm. The harm becomes inexcusable.

    • Hiya Tildeb. My objection to Ark’s question is only this: goodness that is found x5 in religion and not elsewhere. As a ex-“cultural Christian” of a cultural religion, that – to me – is like asking for x5 examples of “good water” not of “water”.

      I learned a lot that weekend of hosting that great conversation. That if religion is anything it is of culture. And culture is of the moment. And the moment is where we all reside. So to isolate the moment of goodness (x5) from culture and religion seems a little “picky” to me. The main thrust of the “religion is bad” argument, it seems to me, is that religion is rooted in “of this world” and nowhere else – that religion is a fiction and not “divine”.

      So Ark’s question of “religion is divine” find x5 goodness not of this world is – unless I am missing something crucial – is like not believing in something I believe in. Having devoted many words explaining why I can carry religion as fiction and also find something divine not of religion ( I can best express as Love … why am I dragged back to “religion” as fiction – to prove that religion is fiction?

      Perhaps if “unconditional love” (which is neither rain dancing nor religion) is also found in the bible – then Love in the bible is not “religion” (with all the fictional bells and whistles), but merely a book with great goodness to be found within (as are many books). Because I see that as where those who “love religion” with all the bells and whistles might be best challenged to change.

      For what else do you seek other than a change of application of belief? It is what has changed me. And I think that is all I would desire of others as well.

    • What I sincerely don’t get is why theists describe astounding materialistic processes as ‘only’. I’ve met this meme so many times that I realize it’s common, that theists consider ‘only’ to never be good enough, that ‘only’ has to be augmented by Oogity Boogity to really be appreciated with appropriate awe and wonder.

      Yup, there has to be a divine causal agent for this overwhelming emotion we call love to transcend chemical and physical receptors and our profound experiences from them. And theists presume this must be true based on… not accepting ‘only’ as good enough because it’s so remarkable.

      And then there’s this whole atheist-to-theist testimonial phase theists douse themselves in as if it helps substantiate the righteousness of their own beliefs because someone else has come around to fooling themselves into believing stuff for which they have zero evidence. It’s weird.

    • For the sake of transparency, Mel, Tildeb and Ark – I have not looked at the video (just as I have passed on some that Ark has put forward). NB: obviously all my links of videos should be watched avidly! 🙂

      My reason? I feel no need to take a side in this. I am genuinely curious of where this conversation goes. I have learned much from Mel, I have learned much from Ark, and I have learned much from Tildeb. Much as a wall is built brick by brick – it means that no one brick is “the wall”. All the bricks become the wall layer by layer.

      I just can’t see the point of having to choose only one brick to be the entire wall.

      • @Paul

        For the sake of transparency, Mel, Tildeb and Ark – I have not looked at the video

        No,you simply must watch it!
        I am very glad Mel posted this here.
        Jennifer’s marvelous conversion clearly demonstrates just how stupid and uniformed us atheists really are.

        • Hey, none of us are immune from the allure of the illusion. Even atheists! That’s why otherwise perfectly reasonable people – theist and atheist alike – deny knowledge in favour of preferred beliefs… like denying evolution or human caused climate change or think vaccinations are just as dangerous as the diseases they protect us from. But not thinking well is hardly the kind of testimonial advertising so many theists think is effective and in their favour. Au contraire… Even someone as smart and accomplished as a Francis Collins can be fooled… by a trio of frozen waterfalls, no less! That’s a warning and not a reason. But people like Mel just don’t see the problem they themselves are eager to exposed when they post this kind of stuff. Ironic, but I’ve found a good understanding of the term is rare amongst such theists.

          • Oh, I think they (Mel etc) are fully aware of what they are doing, Tildeb.
            Mel, for example, may come over here with a somewhat sycophantic, watered- down approach on Paul’s blog, ( not unlike Unklee) but he loves to push considerably harder when on his own stomping ground or among the full-on Bible or Bust crowd a la Insanity bytes and the Wallys of the world, make no mistake.
            But of course, it must be difficult to maintain the facade of genuine integrity when entering dialogue with non-believers as he knows full well there is nothing he has to demonstrate the veracity of a single claim.

            From what I gather, Collins still hasn’t been able to harmonize his scientific findings of the HGP and his evangelical god-belief.
            And article a while back on Jerry Coynes site stated some of the high brow god believers were being called upon to find a way to harmonize the science and ”God’s creation” (paraphrase).
            Yes, one really does have to fight back the gag reflex.
            Maybe Collins has sleepless nights, or perhaps the increased pay-packet he receives for his current position smooths over those inconvenient little wrinkles of conscience?

            Aaah … Christianity.
            Such a rich, wonderful, and wholly honest worldview.
            Just look at so many of its leaders; conning and lying their way through life and corrupting the lives of so many.
            What a legacy Saint Constantine and that Lying Dipshit, Eusebius left.
            Bless ’em one an’ all.

    • And did you manage to identify all the ”hard questions” Jennifer asked all her former atheist buddies, on her blog, Mel?

      I suppose, like all those deconverts who were never really True Christians this woman was obviously never a True Atheist, right?
      You are a bit of a charlatan, Mel, you really are.

          • Haha…nice one..I’m glad you have a sense of humor. I’m pretty sure it would’ve been the rack or being burnt at the stake for me with Torquemada. 🙂

            • I am sure all the kiddies enjoy your own brand of humour when you tell them that they must love Jesus or eventually be judged and spend eternity in Hell.
              And do you tell them the doors lock from inside ….Mwhahahah!

              That must be an absolute riot! Hey Mel?

              Out of curiosity, have you ever conducted an archaeology class /sermon demonstrating just how fallacious the biblical version of Exodus is Mel?
              Devers and Finkelstein are your go-to guys if you need evidence?

  3. Just to be clear, I use the rain dancer analogy to try to get theists to better understand what ‘evidence’ means in relation to why so many people do not believe that religion causes benefit.

    Using the rain dancing analogy, evidence in this case means linking the dancing (as the claimed cause) with the rain (the selected effect). It’s easy to claim there is a link, but is there? Evidence for the claim MEANS producing or providing something that can be shared that shows this link, that demonstrates how the claimed cause is directly connected to the selected effect to the extent that if you were to REMOVE THE LINK, the cause would then be separated from the effect, that you would stop rain by stopping the dancing.

    Now here’s the thing that causes theists so much stress: THEY are the ones who can’t do this, who can’t demonstrate evidence, who can’t produce something that can be shared that directly links the divine cause they claim for the worldly effects they select, something that can be demonstrated to be necessary for the selected effect when the LINK to the claimed cause is removed.

    What theists do is import all kinds of stuff that doesn’t do this, doesn’t demonstrate the link, that isn’t EVIDENCE. In the rain dancer analogy, the theist is the one pointing out all the examples derived from rain but who PRESUMES the link is to the dancing. No matter how many examples of rain is brought forward, what remains lacking is the LINK to the dancing. How does the dancing cause the rain; how does religion cause benefit? In exactly the same way, no matter how many examples of benefit is brought forward, what remains lacking is the LINK to the religion.

    Avoiding the request to produce evidence – to produce the necessary link for the claim to be considered true – is not some flaw on the part of the person unwilling to grant confidence and trust to the claim without this evidence. It’s not an imported worldview or some non believing fundamentalism or some unresolved anger that motivates the request. It’s exactly the same kind of reasoning used to meet any causal claim. Is your car being towed right now? Well, you immediately seek confirmation by linking evidence for the claim. Sacrificing a chicken or praying for revelation simply doesn’t do the job. You are not unreasonable to seek confirming evidence any more than the non believer in gods or a god who seeks as much for the most extraordinary claims about some divine causal agency.

    As soon as the theist recognizes and admits holding certain beliefs in spite of having no evidence for them, only then can we advance the conversation together to start to address the real world problems (and THEN mutually seek real world solutions) caused by acting on those unsupported beliefs. But when the theist won’t even go this far before framing the request for evidence as a problem caused by the non believer, then I don’t think an honest conversation can even begin. And this is the most common frustration I have encountered shared by non believers who wish to seek mutual solutions with theists, to reduce suffering and elevate human dignity to be shared by all, in their dealings with those people who continue to support harm being done to real people in real life in the name of piety for their faith-based beliefs.

    • And look no further than our friend Mel, who openly and without shame indoctrinates children with his religious beliefs without for even one moment considering the harm being done. Because the belief is that such piety is good, not for one second is Mel even capable of appreciating the honesty and caring and concern that underlies Ark’s motivation. Mel is simply oblivious. That’s faith-based belief in action…. blind, deaf, and ignorant to the harm being done and ever-so-happily so.

    • The reason I ask is very simple (and without any agenda). If I am a theist does that make me religious (as used by Ark)? And does that mean that I am faux-Christian because I am a theist brought up in England? And does that mean – if I am a theist – that I poison everything (as stated by Ark)?

      I.E. is there no common ground to be found that makes the world a better place? And if not – why not?

      • By definition, a theist is one who believes in gods or a God. By definition, religion is a set of beliefs about gods or a God that is demonstrated through obedience, reverence, and worship.

        So, you tell me: are you religious?

        If you are a self-identified Christian, this necessarily involves believing in certain tenets From Wiki), namely, that you believe Jesus is the Son of God, the savior of humanity whose coming as the Messiah was prophesied in the Old Testament. These tenets are summed up in various creeds, that Jesus suffered, died, was buried, descended into hell, and rose from the dead, in order to grant eternal life to those who believe in him and trust in him for the remission of their sins. The creeds further maintain that Jesus bodily ascended into heaven, where he reigns with God the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit, and that he will return to judge the living and the dead and grant eternal life to his followers.

        If you don’t believe in these basic tenets of the Christian faith then I would say you not a Christian and you shouldn’t claim to be one; however, like most people, you might cherry pick which bits you feel comfortable with and which bits you don’t. Thankfully, most Christians are really bad Christians… mostly because I have found many don’t really know their own faith, haven’t studied the Bibles, haven’t compared and contrasted different Bible versions for their stark differences in translation and interpretations, don’t really know its history or the history of the roots, don’t even bother comparing and contrasting the very different versions of Jesus in each of the four Gospels and presume. They just like to say they are ‘Christians’, that they ‘believe’ in Jesus Christ. I’ll leave it up to you to figure out where you are on this scale.

        As for theists being religious I think it must be the case because without the former, you can’t be the latter. But I think you can be a deist and not be religious as long as the idea of some divine agency remains utterly undefined, which precludes the obedient behaviour required from any specific theology.

        So, to your question about whether you poison everything, then the answer I think is that whenever you base your action on any faith-based belief, you cannot help but be responsible for those actions and the consequences that come from them. It’s not piety; it’s culpability. This doesn’t make you a bad person because your intentions could be stellar; what it does is it makes you complicit in supporting and promoting ideas that cause harm (remember, we’re talking about RELIGIOUS ideas and not the benefit presumed to be caused by it) You can change that behaviour. I think being aware of this personally responsibility fore your actions yet still acting to support and promote religion that you now know harms people does not and should not reflect well on either one’s intellectual integrity or honesty because one can no longer claim to have stellar intentions. The intentions now become entirely self-serving… just like indoctrinating kids into religious beliefs is an act of incredible selfishness. The argument for acting piously is now an argument about whether that piousness EXCUSES bad behaviour that harms real people in real life and my answer is NO.

        • Tildeb – you give atheists a good name.

          A personal aside – Ark and I struggle. I put that down to style as much as “content”. You write with great love for Ark. I seek nothing different, except that Ark refuses to let me in. I find the same with religion. Religion wouldn’t let me in.

          You have a love for way more words than Ark seems to (at least for my words) – so I have some thoughts to share if you would accept them.

          I believe in “something” that is more than the chemical explanation for love. I have found (in the bible) what I call unconditional love. Religion (and the church) seem to teach that only the biblical Trinity are able to love this way. That the faithful follower finds that love after he/she dies and meets “God” in heaven for eternity.

          I disagree.

          There may be a spiritual place the “soul” enters after death, but that is such a waste of a great opportunity to live a life of unconditional love right now. And is that more than chemically induced profound experiences?

          Unless I am missing something, love that gets nothing back is not a profound experience to be sought day after day. Nor is it “masochism”. Nor is it anything I can find a neat explanation for. But on a personal basis it is liberating beyond life and fear, beyond stress and need. It allows me to host a “hostile forum” and find a lot of love in those labelled “untouchables” by “religion”. It allows me to live a life being “beaten up” by Ark time after time, yet find a connection I value (and hope he does as well some time). But I don’t need Ark to reciprocate. I don’t need him to talk my language. I wish I could talk his so that he didn’t get so frustrated. And it means I don’t see you and him as the same because you are “atheists” – or dangerous – or to be feared (in case you topple my “me belief structure”).

          I have pondered why Ark and I seem to be joined at the hip in this recent spate of posts. Because he has not trashed me on his own blog as he so often does with others. He does not use language to shock “good Christians” as he usually does (and has in the past). There is (if not) respect … “something” … And I cannot figure it. I happily admit to finding “peace” in considering this a connection of “more than” (whatever “more than” is).

          “More than” is more than just chemicals and evidence. “More than” (and this is me thinking aloud) is like a state of mind – but more than that (!!).

          I have some small examples of odd connections with others that I cannot explain – a pattern of “timing” as much as content. And that may be explained by science as well – but is there really harm in having a beneficent “more than” as a friend and guide? One that embraces science, that embraces all no matter why, that connects even when there is no benefit apparent?

          The closest to verbalising that, for me, is unconditional love (which I see as being a common currency most people don’t even realise they already have available to them). And which may be the biggest reason for my wishing to influence those of religion (and cultural Christianity/faith) which is so apt for so many).

          Thank you for listening.

          • I really don’t understand the connection you make between unconditional love and some god. I see the former as a high virtue and the latter as projection without any reason to connect them. I do see biology generally and neuroscience specifically as a fruitful means by which we can come to better understand the foundations for what we call love and, to me, this is profoundly meaningful (as well as applicable therapeutically). It helps me to aim my behaviour towards others as directed at being virtuous for really excellent reasons with the payback many times the cost and keeps me centered on the here and now (and those within my sphere of contact) to make it meaningful. It seems to me that aiming this virtue towards others because it has been derived from some agency other than me undermines the reasons for exercising the virtue and introduces an air of unseen but felt debt to the source, a cost to be borne right now on behalf of this invisible and nebulous Other for some later repayment.

            Now, perhaps it’s because of my study of childhood psychology that makes me more aware of why and how we are attuned to picking up even the slightest hint of deception, so I can’t help but think behaving virtuously for reasons other than desiring to be virtuous in our treatment of others casts a shadow when we attribute something as vital as love to someone and something beyond ourselves acting THROUGH us. That makes us puppets, doesn’t it?

            I don’t know how one can be true to one’s self if one honestly believes we are an assigned agent for this divine Other acting not on our own virtue but because we are acting on a borrowed one. That seems to me to do more than just hint at manipulation not just of ourselves but towards others we SAY we love unconditionally and I think taints what we might assume to be unconditional love to be in our hearts quite conditional… subject as it is to this divine Other’s stamp of approval.

            That’s at the front end of believing love – unconditional or conditional – makes into a conduit between its source and its target.

            At the back end is the consequences of utilizing this sense of acting on a borrowed virtue, which i think passes (or avoids) responsibility on to this other divine agency. And that makes us morally irresponsible for our actions when we make room for this other party called god. But that’s another topic.

            • BOOM! My brain just fell over.

              I would like to check: you see my motivation not being the here and now, but yours is? You see your understanding of love to be helpful whereas mine is not? That I love others because I am directed to love, whereas you love others because you believe you should? I am behaving virtuously as a puppet, you are behaving virtuously because you believe in being virtuous? And this word “agent” which you use. That intrigues me – because either I am rubbish at explaining stuff, and/or you are assuming stuff by filling in the gaps without checking:

              This “more than” does not make me an agent. It makes me “as one”. So I am not seeking approval from “more than” – I am living in balance with me and who I am (and am becoming). Much like driving on the right (the wrong side) or the left (the right side of the road) – the journey and destination could well be identical. And for some it is therapy, for others the gym, for each “something” that connects with the better self “I want to be” (or think I should – and that is another story).

              But what confuses me here is the “why”. Why my “more than” which is me, is flawed compared to your “I am” which sounds suitably biblical (and a phrase I often use).

  4. Hiya Tildeb. My objection to Ark’s question is only this: goodness that is found x5 in religion and not elsewhere. As a ex-“cultural Christian” of a cultural religion, that – to me – is like asking for x5 examples of “good water” not of “water”.

    In case there was a misunderstanding … and to be as fair as I can – I have been known not to make my point crystal clear at times so let me expand a bit, if I may?

    The reason why I pressed for the exclusivity aspect with these questions is this.
    I believe for Christianity to justify all the baggage it requires of believers; acknowledging being a sinner, belief in Hell ( in some form) some sort of acceptance of the veracity of the bible, including a creationist bent, should be able to clearly show why the ”love and goodness” which it purports are the bedrock of its faith (other than blindly accepting Jesus of Nazareth as the only true god/creator) cannot be found in any other field of human activity, religious or otherwise.
    And if this is the case, that these things can easily be found in almost every other sphere of human activity, be they atheist or Hindu or anything in between or outside and even among Manchester United supporters, then why on earth would anyone want to become a Christian or bother with the bible at all?

    • Ark, gotta smile again with affection. Thank you.

      And with that same affection: Christian and Christianity. I wasn’t aware I was the defender of either Christians or Christianity. I see the same “goodness” without all the strings attached in each faith – and in and everywhere outside of faith. In other words, I was simply saying (almost) what you have just said. And that means the bible and even Manchester United and everything around. And does not mean I have to accept all the rest.

      It’s one of the reasons I wish you would find it in you to enjoy these posts rather than skip/scan them! 🙂

      • The moment you condemn the bible for it is, what it has spawned, and for what is used for I might even support Manchester United.
        Until that day … then I am afraid there will always be an element of hypocrisy in your approach, Paul. Always.

        • Oddly – if you actually read the posts – you might find that our language is different, our motivation is different, our journeys are different, our style is different, our destination may be very different (I have no idea) – but that does not mean hypocrisy is inevitable. You might even find that we are closer than you assume. I live in hope. I call it love. 🙂

  5. Pingback: I love the bible more than before – 9 | Just me being curious

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