Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

May 31, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

CRACKUP ON THE RELIGIOUS RIGHT?....In our April issue, Amy Sullivan wrote about Randy Brinson, a conservative evangelical who became disenchanted with the zealotry of his fellow evangelicals and now finds himself fighting against them more often than not. Today, via Steve Benen, the Guardian follows up:

"They've been calling my house, threatening my wife," said Dr Brinson. "The first time was on a day when I was going up to Washington to speak to Republicans in Congress. Only they knew I'd be away from home. The Republicans were advised not to turn up to listen to me, so only three did so."

....In his office in Washington DC, Rich Cizik, vice-president of the National Association of Evangelicals, the largest such umbrella group in the US, is also feeling battered. His mistake has been to become interested in the environment, and he has been told that is not on the religious right's agenda.

...."It is supposed to be counterproductive even to consider this. I guess they do not want to part company with the president. This is nothing more than political assassination. I may lose my job. Twenty-five church leaders asked me not to take a political position on this issue but I am a fighter," he said.

Another Washington lobbyist on the religious right told the Guardian: "Rich is just being stupid on this issue. There may be a debate to be had but ... people can only sustain so many moral movements in their lifetime. Is God really going to let the Earth burn up?"

There you have it! God won't let anything bad happen to the Earth, so there's no point in worrying about it. I doubt that anyone will ever be able to talk sense into people who think like that, but kudos to guys like Brinson and Cizik for trying.

Kevin Drum 1:46 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (164)

Bookmark and Share
 
Comments

Seems like I heard God won't send a flood, but a fire next time.

Posted by: cafl on May 31, 2006 at 1:49 PM | PERMALINK

I thought God burning up the Earth (or some other kind of impending apocalypse) was kinda the whole point of the evangelical Christian movement, wasn't it?

Posted by: Dug on May 31, 2006 at 1:51 PM | PERMALINK

...he has been told that is not on the religious right's agenda.

They don't care about the environment. You see, ol' Jeebus himself is comin' back to Earth any time now, so there's no need for conservation or species protection or other such silliness. It's why they ignore global warming. It's not that they don't believe it's happening; it's just that they believe they'll all be up in Magical Cloud Cuckoo Land before the glaciers have all melted and the oceans have risen.

Posted by: Ken on May 31, 2006 at 1:52 PM | PERMALINK

"Is God really going to let the Earth burn up?"

Well then, why worry about anything? Is God really going to let 3,000 people die in the World Trade Center? Is God really going to let New Orleans become destroyed? Is God really going to let 100,000 die in an Indian Ocean tsunami?....oh, wait. Shouldn't a (supposedly) religious man know better than to presume the will of God?

Posted by: Stefan on May 31, 2006 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

Global warming is the fault of the gays and abortionists, just like 9/11 and Katrina and soldiers dying in Iraq!

Read your Bible! Gays and abortion are the only thing Jesus talked about!

Posted by: Freedom Phukher on May 31, 2006 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

Oh no! If we make fun of religious crackpots, they won't vote for us!

Run away!

Posted by: craigie on May 31, 2006 at 2:03 PM | PERMALINK

I'm going to use my God-given free will to get some sushi for lunch.

There have always been wars and rumors of wars and catastrophes and cataclysms.

Posted by: Darryl Pearce on May 31, 2006 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

How about Ms. Sullivan herself?

Is she still in love with the religious nut cases of the right?

That's the overwhelming question.

Posted by: lib on May 31, 2006 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

We'd be a lot better off if we just left God out of the issue of global warming, because He just isn't there.

Posted by: David W. on May 31, 2006 at 2:09 PM | PERMALINK

The quote is from a Washington Lobbyist who works for them. It's a disgusting quote. Most of the evangelicals I know would laugh in the face of anyone who said this.

Posted by: MNPundit on May 31, 2006 at 2:11 PM | PERMALINK

Since God is an angry and vengeful 'thing,' It obviously wants the earth to burn up. Like so many other managers, God has set up the earth for failure.

Posted by: Hostile on May 31, 2006 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

What a Bush!!!

Posted by: Now on May 31, 2006 at 2:18 PM | PERMALINK

Evangelicals are the Wahhabis of Christendom. We need to wage a war on extremist Christo-fascism. They must be stopped! And only the most serious of thinkers are aware of the true nature of the threat to our civilization.

Wait, what are we talking about again?

Posted by: enozinho on May 31, 2006 at 2:18 PM | PERMALINK

These fuckers need to re-read the first few chapters of Genesis. It says pretty clearly that the Earth is Man's to do with as he sees fit. Nowhere does it say "if you break it, God will fix it". Nowhere does it say that Christ's second coming will happen when we deplete all of earth's resources or make it uninhabitable.

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on May 31, 2006 at 2:21 PM | PERMALINK

In his office in Washington DC, Rich Cizik, vice-president of the National Association of Evangelicals, the largest such umbrella group in the US, is also feeling battered. His mistake has been to become interested in the environment, and he has been told that is not on the religious right's agenda. ...."It is supposed to be counterproductive even to consider this.

Well, sure, with the Rapture coming and all...

Posted by: Gregory on May 31, 2006 at 2:22 PM | PERMALINK

"Even the Devil can quote Scripture, when it serves his purpose"
--Shakespeare

Posted by: Quotation Man on May 31, 2006 at 2:22 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe we need to send more hooker's to Falwell's palace.Jesus he loves his Prostitutes.

Posted by: Now on May 31, 2006 at 2:23 PM | PERMALINK

lib

Question. Is everyone who believes in some sort of supernatural being (God) a nut case?

You see I have read Ms Sullivan and have yet to see where she is in love with the religious nut cases of the right as that term is usually understood. Now she does have an interest in not pissing off every left or center leaning person who believes in some sort of supernatural being. So unless you believe that anybody who believes in God is "a religious nut case of the right" your statement doesn't make any objective sense.

I would be most appreciative if you would provide an explanation.

Posted by: Ron Byers on May 31, 2006 at 2:29 PM | PERMALINK

Not to piss a lot of people off but The dead sea scrolls Do not say anything about Jesus.Jesus a Fable? Could be!

Posted by: Then on May 31, 2006 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

Christianity used to be concerned with the common good. But something happened in post-Reformation Geneva and an entirely new religion was born. Personal salvation became the only point, and the Gospel message of deep compassion was the casualty.

We live in a political culture contaminated with religious narcissism. We think we're going to reason with these people but you can't even get them to admit to the rules of logic. It's their Belief, their Salvation, their Goodness. Beyond that, nothing matters.

Posted by: walt on May 31, 2006 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK

Do you suppose Jack Van Impe Quotes scripture when he is on top of Rexella.What a Bush!!!

Posted by: Then on May 31, 2006 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK

walt, you might be interested to know that while driving around the midwest last weekend, I chanced to hear a radio spot on a Christian station saying that giving medical aid to others was the right thing to do because it spread Christ's message. Not because it simply helped people. That would seem to be a prime example of religious narcissism, and while I suppose I should be happy that some Christians take global warming seriously, I can't help but be suspicious of their motives if they insist on bringing Jeebus into it at every opportunity.

Posted by: David W. on May 31, 2006 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

Evangelicals are the Wahhabis of Christendom. We need to wage a war on extremist Christo-fascism.

Indeed. When do we invade Iceland?

Posted by: craigie on May 31, 2006 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

Ron, don't expect any explanation from lib. You can't justify senseless bile.

Posted by: Justin on May 31, 2006 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

Well, sure, with the Rapture coming and all...

For too many evangelicals, environmental policy seems to be reducible to "Let's trash it. It's only a rental".

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on May 31, 2006 at 2:39 PM | PERMALINK

Could an omnipotent God make a world strong enough that he himself couldn't burn it up?

Film at 11...

Posted by: craigie on May 31, 2006 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

"Even the Devil can quote Scripture, when it serves his purpose"

he could even quote Shakespeare, i wager

Posted by: cleek on May 31, 2006 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

I thought God burning up the Earth (or some other kind of impending apocalypse) was kinda the whole point of the evangelical Christian movement, wasn't it?

They lost out to Ahmadinijad's 12th Imam, who is going to return once the real chaos begins and straighten things out. He's just waiting on the chaos to start. Cue the Iranian nuke program.

I fear their fundies more than ours.

Posted by: Red State Mike on May 31, 2006 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

Could an omnipotent God make a world strong enough that he himself couldn't burn it up?

That sound you hear is thousands of wingnut heads exploding.

Posted by: enozinho on May 31, 2006 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK

"Question. Is everyone who believes in some sort of supernatural being (God) a nut case?"

Yes.

LM Wanderer

Posted by: LM Wanderer on May 31, 2006 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK

RSM: The Caos started When Bush was Selected Pres.It has been nothing but Caos.What a Bush!!

Posted by: some on May 31, 2006 at 2:49 PM | PERMALINK

Chaos: See can't even see straight.

Posted by: some on May 31, 2006 at 2:50 PM | PERMALINK

RSM: The Caos started When Bush was Selected Pres.It has been nothing but Caos.

You must be wrong, since The Hidden Imam hasn't unhidden yet.

He's waiting for the 25th WWF Brawl For It All Against the Wall. Now there's chaos.

Posted by: Red State Mike on May 31, 2006 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

Ron Buyers

Most of Ms. Sullivan's writings about religion tend to excoriate the Democrats for not bringing religion into politics as the right wing nut cases like Falwell and Robertson do. Perhaps love is too harsh a word, but rarely does she criticize these nut cases for poisoning the well by bringing God into the electoral politics.

My criticism would be invalid if she paid more attention to the unholy alliance between the Republicans and the right wing nut cases than to Democrats' supposed inattention to religion. Unfortunately, facts suggest that such is not the case.

Posted by: lib on May 31, 2006 at 3:03 PM | PERMALINK

it's just that they believe they'll all be up in Magical Cloud Cuckoo Land before the glaciers have all melted and the oceans have risen.

They are already in Magical Cloud Cuckoo Land.

Posted by: E. Henry Thripshaw on May 31, 2006 at 3:05 PM | PERMALINK

Hey Justin

LM Wanderer answered the question for me. I wouldn't be that blunt. But he did.

Posted by: lib on May 31, 2006 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

I fear their fundies more than ours.

You do know who really runs Iran, don't you?

Posted by: ahem on May 31, 2006 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK

I'd be pretty hesitant before becoming too jubilant over the prospect of a "crackup" on the religious right. This is - maybe - a small fissure, a hairline fracture. The large edifice itself is still pretty solid.

Nothing has changed all that much. To be sure, there are some righties who are less-than-enchanted with Bush, but they are still gung-ho about "conservatism" in general. They'll just go looking for the next empty suit that they think will make all their dreams come true. I say this because, here in Oklahoma, the candidates for state offices have begun broadcasting their commercials - and they are all trying to out-conservative each other. Every one of them is religious, a family man, a true leader, somehow involved in the largest tax cut in state history, blah blah blah - the usual gas. None of them, as far as I recall, mentions President Bush. But they are still dyed-in-the-wool conservatives.

Until we get past that, nothing will really change. And I don't see that happening anytime soon.

Posted by: Alek Hidell on May 31, 2006 at 3:15 PM | PERMALINK

a co-worker told me that in a discussion group about the DaVinci code at his Catholic Church, several of those who were there, stated that even if it were proven that Jesus in fact died and did not rise again, it would not change their core beliefs....

I am sure that they are joined by members from other Christian religions as well.

Posted by: moe99 on May 31, 2006 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

This same thing happens over and over. A good idea gets supported but then distorted when the originator is gone.

Sam Walton based WalMart on ideals that grew the company from nothing to a great empire, but when he was confronted with some issues from his employees he softened his ideals a bit.

Then he died.

Zealots took over the company, and without his wisdom they cling to the ideals in every case, which ironically enough will be the downfall of WalMart.

Evangelicals have great ideals but their lobbiests and some of their leaders are taking these ideals too far. This is what happens when the people trying to carry out the ideals do not share them.

They have no wisdom. They lack what we used to call common sense.

Posted by: Tripp on May 31, 2006 at 3:19 PM | PERMALINK

a co-worker told me that in a discussion group about the DaVinci code at his Catholic Church, several of those who were there, stated that even if it were proven that Jesus in fact died and did not rise again, it would not change their core beliefs....

Jeez. I know this is just hearsay, but it has the ring of truth. Someone needs to inform these people that the apostle Paul himself said such an idea was absurd (in I Corinthians 15, IIRC).

Nothing new or unusual, though, about religious people who don't know their own scriptures.

Posted by: Alek Hidell on May 31, 2006 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

awesome! LOL.

Posted by: minerva on May 31, 2006 at 3:25 PM | PERMALINK

moe99,

even if it were proven that Jesus in fact died and did not rise again, it would not change their core beliefs....

That may or may not be absurd.

If their core beliefs are that we are all equal children under God with a duty to care for each other then what is the harm in that?

Don't lump zealotry in with the people who use religion to form a compassionate system of morals.

In my opinion compassion and morals are GOOD things and there are many paths for obtaining them.

Posted by: Tripp on May 31, 2006 at 3:25 PM | PERMALINK

If God won't allow anything bad to happen on earth, why did the pope, during his recent to Auschwitz, ask God why she/he/it didn't have anything to say about the holocasut when it was occurring?

I find it bizarre in the extreme for the pope to ask such a question. A more appropriate question would have been why did the catholic church abet the holocaust?

Posted by: Chris Brown on May 31, 2006 at 3:27 PM | PERMALINK

Chris B., because it's safer for the Pope to ask hypothetical questions than actual ones.

Posted by: David W. on May 31, 2006 at 3:29 PM | PERMALINK

why did the catholic church abet the holocaust?

Because Christ didn't have anything to say to the Pope at that time.

I don't agree with that belief system, but I can see that it is internally consistent.

Posted by: Tripp on May 31, 2006 at 3:38 PM | PERMALINK

Hey everybody. It's a beautiful day in Heaven. My plasma TV just arrived!

OK, well, here's the deal. George Bush was a practical joke that sort of went wrong. I'm sorry about that...long story. Anyway, he goes straight to hell when he dies, end of story. So don't worry about that!

This global warming thing, don't sweat it. (Haha! God made a funny!). Really, though. Bill Gates - one of my uglier angels - is perfecting steam-power as we speak, it should be out next fall - here's hoping he doesn't push the ship date back! But that'll give you plenty of time to turn that whole ozone thing around. I hope.

Also, cold fusion looks like it's coming down the pike, just a few more centuries.

Don't blame me for the wack-job Christians. They're on their own trip, I've got nothing to do with it.

Aggghhh - that's my cell. More later. Love, peace, and hair grease, peoples!

Posted by: God on May 31, 2006 at 3:45 PM | PERMALINK

Uhhh yeah....why do I have to take Bush? I don't need a dumbass hellspawn, lemme get Cheney!

Posted by: Satan on May 31, 2006 at 3:50 PM | PERMALINK

Jesus Christ, if he existed, was probably the same old shithead fascist that these folks are.

Posted by: Matt on May 31, 2006 at 3:57 PM | PERMALINK

Ahem
You do know who really runs Iran, don't you?

I give up. Freemasons?

Posted by: Red State Mike on May 31, 2006 at 3:59 PM | PERMALINK

Jesus Christ, if he existed, was probably the same old shithead fascist that these folks are.

Oh, come now. I'm as lapsed a Catholic as anybody, but leaving aside whether Jesus of Nazareth was the One True Messiah, "shithead fascist" hardly describes what we know of his life and teachings. Would you say Buddha was a "shithead fascist" too?

Posted by: Gregory on May 31, 2006 at 4:04 PM | PERMALINK

The Hidden Imam,I thought that was Cheney in a bunker.Lord Chaos.What a Bush!!

Posted by: some on May 31, 2006 at 4:04 PM | PERMALINK

RSM, our nutcases already have nukes, theirs don't yet.

Posted by: Boronx on May 31, 2006 at 4:10 PM | PERMALINK

some
The Hidden Imam,I thought that was Cheney in a bunker.Lord Chaos.

The Hidden Imam doesn't bring the chaos. He surfs it like the banzai pipeline.

He almost came out during the 2004 Democratic National Convention during the balloon drop faux pas. Now that was chaos!

Posted by: Red State Mike on May 31, 2006 at 4:11 PM | PERMALINK

RSM, our nutcases already have nukes, theirs don't yet.

And your point? That we'll be safer when theirs do? By that argument, we should mail some to a dank cave along the Afghan-Pak border right now.

Posted by: Red State Mike on May 31, 2006 at 4:13 PM | PERMALINK

Gregory,

I agree. On the "shithead fascist -- messiah" scale it is generally agreed that Jesus is at least in the top quartile.

Posted by: Tripp on May 31, 2006 at 4:14 PM | PERMALINK

The final statement about God protecting the earth reminds me of a particularly heated political discussion among coworkers, one of which is a die-hard Republicant, Bush lover ("the best Amurca's ever hayed") and christian from Texas, who insisted that gay people were the work of the devil, because God created everyone in his image, and God wasn't gay. "OK big fella, what about children born with disease or disfigurement, Down's syndrome, etc.?" "Well, their momma's must have done drugs or something, because God creates everyone perfect".

Floored, shocked, and angered - I had never realized the ridiculousness of faith before that moment. It really is sickening.

Posted by: Thinker on May 31, 2006 at 4:16 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, RSM, that was my point. We should be giving nuclear weapons to whatever mid-east nutcase wants some.

Posted by: Boronx on May 31, 2006 at 4:17 PM | PERMALINK

The AmTaliban are just a bunch of Cargo Christians - they just use selected parts of the Bible to support their greed and theft!

Posted by: CParis on May 31, 2006 at 4:19 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, RSM, that was my point. We should be giving nuclear weapons to whatever mid-east nutcase wants some.

I was hoping we could trade them for oil at least. Or a promise not to chop our heads off.

Posted by: Red State Mike on May 31, 2006 at 4:20 PM | PERMALINK

Question. Is everyone who believes in some sort of supernatural being (God) a nut case?

No, I don't think so. They're stupid, but usually not insane.

Posted by: Atheist on May 31, 2006 at 4:56 PM | PERMALINK

I have NEVER seen a statement about "God's will" that has any logical backing. For example, someone says "we shouldn't do because we would be playing God or thwarting His will". To which I say, "But didn't God give us brains? Why couldn't it be His will that we have that procedure in the first place, and that we then use it?" How, pray tell, is anyone supposed to be sure that THEY know God's Will when apparently nobody else does? The way I see it, we've been given free will and we're expected to make good use of it, to rise or fall on our own merits. If we trash the Earth, it's our own danged fault and we're going to have to clean it up and live with the consequences. The inherent hubris of these people claiming to know God's Will is staggering.

Posted by: brainchild on May 31, 2006 at 4:56 PM | PERMALINK

I have NEVER seen a statement about "God's will" that has any logical backing. For example, someone says "we shouldn't do [insert name of "questionable" medical procedure here] because we would be playing God or thwarting His will". To which I say, "But didn't God give us brains? Why couldn't it be His will that we have that procedure in the first place, and that we then use it?" How, pray tell, is anyone supposed to be sure that THEY know God's Will when apparently nobody else does? The way I see it, we've been given free will and we're expected to make good use of it, to rise or fall on our own merits. If we trash the Earth, it's our own danged fault and we're going to have to clean it up and live with the consequences. The inherent hubris of these people claiming to know God's Will is staggering.

Posted by: brainchild on May 31, 2006 at 4:57 PM | PERMALINK

Another Washington lobbyist on the religious right, "... people can only sustain so many moral movements in their lifetime."


Only somebody who hasn't been able to sustain even one would say that.

Posted by: cld on May 31, 2006 at 4:57 PM | PERMALINK

I remember some quacky religious nutcase writing to the local editor that 9/11 was God's punishment for America banning prayer in school.

Ignoring for the moment that no such thing ever happened (a ban on prayer in school, that is, not 9/11), one wonders what drove God to impose Pearl Harbor on us . . . the New Deal?

Posted by: Advocate for God on May 31, 2006 at 5:00 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, come now. I'm as lapsed a Catholic as anybody, but leaving aside whether Jesus of Nazareth was the One True Messiah, "shithead fascist" hardly describes what we know of his life and teachings. Would you say Buddha was a "shithead fascist" too?

Well, unlike the Buddha, Jesus of Nazareth taught that the just fate of the wicked and sinful is to burn in hell for all eternity. I don't think such a teaching compares particularly favorably to fascism.

Posted by: Atheist on May 31, 2006 at 5:05 PM | PERMALINK
Well, unlike the Buddha, Jesus of Nazareth taught that the just fate of the wicked and sinful is to burn in hell for all eternity. I don't think such a teaching compares particularly favorably to fascism.

Well, Don, there are two possibilities.

1) Its true, in which case such a teaching is a description of simple fact, not morally condemnable, or
2) Its false, in which case such a teaching is considerably better, I would say, by any reasonable moral standard than advocating that those different be subjected, by human action, to hell-on-earth, a position taken frequently by fascist regimes.

In either case, I think you are wrong, and it stands up quite favorably to fascism.

Posted by: cmdicely on May 31, 2006 at 5:29 PM | PERMALINK

The notion that we don't have to act to do good or prevent bad, because G-d in his mercy will take care of it, is in religious terms not just a mistake, but a sin. These people are moral and religious cretins.

Posted by: larry birnbaum on May 31, 2006 at 5:52 PM | PERMALINK

There you have it! God won't let anything bad happen to the Earth, so there's no point in worrying about it.

Or to look at it from another perspective, God's going to destroy the Earth in the Apocalypse so why bother to try to stop it from happening. That's what they *really* think, I bet.

Posted by: E. Nonee Moose on May 31, 2006 at 5:59 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely,

1) Its true, in which case such a teaching is a description of simple fact, ...

Well, Blanche, how can a claim about what is just or unjust be a claim of "simple fact?" How may we test allegedly factual claims about what is just to determine whether they are correct or incorrect?

2) Its false, in which case such a teaching is considerably better, I would say, by any reasonable moral standard than advocating that those different be subjected, by human action, to hell-on-earth, a position taken frequently by fascist regimes.

Huh? Why is advocating that the wicked and sinful be subjected to eternal suffering "considerably better ... by any reasonable moral standard" than what fascism advocates?

Posted by: Atheist on May 31, 2006 at 6:22 PM | PERMALINK

The notion that we don't have to act to do good or prevent bad, because G-d in his mercy will take care of it, is in religious terms not just a mistake, but a sin. These people are moral and religious cretins.

It's your statement that's rather cretinous. First, not all religions posit a God or Gods (or even a "G-d"), and those that do take all sorts of positions about the nature and will of their God or Gods. So the claim that any particular doctrine about God is "in religious terms ... a sin" is just nonsensical. It may be a sin under a doctrine of your particular religion, but you cannot attribute that doctrine to all other religions or to religion in general.

Posted by: Atheist on May 31, 2006 at 6:30 PM | PERMALINK

Thinker,

Floored, shocked, and angered - I had never realized the ridiculousness of faith before that moment. It really is sickening.

Yes, indeed. I think society as a whole is gradually coming to realize the danger and absurdity of faith, especially religious faith. This process is much more advanced in Europe than it is in America.

Posted by: Atheist on May 31, 2006 at 6:42 PM | PERMALINK

I see Don P has fled to greener pastures.

Plenty of unwitting chains to jerk here, eh Don?

Imagine enjoying the role of cantankerous, anti-social jerk.

Posted by: obscure on May 31, 2006 at 6:50 PM | PERMALINK

obscure, shut the fuck up.

Posted by: e1 on May 31, 2006 at 7:00 PM | PERMALINK

Religion is a powerful force that holds deep meaning for a lot of people. It can be used for ill, or for good. You can say the same thing about civic ideas such as democracy - which can be used to steamroller minority groups and opinions. The downside of democracy goes back to its invention; the Greeks had demogogues.

I have a deep intellectual disdain for people who hold that complex phenomena like religion are intrinsically evil or some mass delusion. It isn't just politically counterproductive; it's not even defensible as an idea. Religions can be nontheistic (witness Buddhism). The God of Spinoza is not an old man with a beard. There is a long Christian tradition of interpreting the miracle stories as metaphorical, and their most profound meaning to me is precisely at that level.
Loaves and fishes? This is much more a lesson about sharing than a lesson about a guy who waved a magic wand and produced food. I see no less zealotry from some of the atheists here than from their supposed opposites on the religious right, although I find labelling this as a "religion" silly. Labelling such comments as intolerant and narrowminded, however, is perfectly fair.

Posted by: Marc on May 31, 2006 at 7:12 PM | PERMALINK

Some apologist for religious nutcases writes
"
The quote is from a Washington Lobbyist who works for them. It's a disgusting quote. Most of the evangelicals I know would laugh in the face of anyone who said this.
"

No-one gives a fsck about the laughing habits of your friends. What matters is how they vote, and they have so far voted for GWB, Mr Global Warming himself.

Posted by: Maynard Handley on May 31, 2006 at 7:19 PM | PERMALINK

I have a deep intellectual disdain for people who hold that complex phenomena like religion are intrinsically evil or some mass delusion.

I have a deep intellectual disdain for people who claim that religion is morally neutral. The influence of religion on human welfare is overwhelmingly negative. See, for example, Sam Harris's The End of Faith for elaboration.


Posted by: Atheist on May 31, 2006 at 7:22 PM | PERMALINK

Religion isn't evil. Smug faith that ignores reality and human suffering is evil. It's just that most people are religious, so the smug callous faith held by most people takes a religious cast. Same way most of the lunatics screaming on street corners choose JEEEZUS to yell about. It's what's there. But there have been plenty of callous, smug faith-holders of other varieties -- communist, animal-rights, objectivist, and capitalist, to name a few I have met. They're all schmucks. Some of them outgrow it.

There is this, however, about the religious ones: they get a lot more social support for being schmucks than most of the other types do. So they're less likely ever to notice what they're doing wrong and grow up.

Posted by: trilobite on May 31, 2006 at 7:23 PM | PERMALINK

"Religion isn't evil."
Bullsh*t. The point of religion is faith --- ie believe something that appears ridiculous because someone else told you to do so. The opposite of religion is believing something based on evidence.

In what way is it not evil to encourage people to believe whatever others tell them to, based on no evidence whatsoever? Is this your prescription for a sane healthy society?

Posted by: Maynard Handley on May 31, 2006 at 7:27 PM | PERMALINK
Well, Blanche, how can a claim about what is just or unjust be a claim of "simple fact?"

The claim that sinners are eternally punished is not a claim about what is just or unjust. Since that is the claim at issue, your question is irrelevant.

How may we test allegedly factual claims about what is just to determine whether they are correct or incorrect?

The claim that sinners are eternally punished is not a claim about what is just or unjust, therefore, this question too is irrelevant.

Huh? Why is advocating that the wicked and sinful be subjected to eternal suffering "considerably better ... by any reasonable moral standard" than what fascism advocates?

Your statement was that Jesus states that the sinners do in fact suffer eternal punishment, that, in your words, "just fate of the wicked and sinful is to burn in hell for all eternity". This is not advocating anything.


If your claim was, as you now seem to want to modify it to have been, that Jesus advocated that his followers subject sinners to eternal punishment, well, sure, that might arguably be morally worse than what fascism advocated, since it advocated that its followers subject its opponents to finite if terminal suffering, but then your problem would be trying to support the claim that, either in any version of the Bible or in any major system of Christian belief, or in information from any other significant relevant source, Jesus advocated anything like that.

You seem to have a problem distinguishing between stating "X is true" and the advocating "You ought to act to cause X".

Posted by: cmdicely on May 31, 2006 at 7:28 PM | PERMALINK

"Atheist" writes:

I have a deep intellectual disdain [...]

I haven't seen any evidence you have the capacity for a "deep intellectual" anything.

Posted by: cmdicely on May 31, 2006 at 7:30 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely,

The claim that sinners are eternally punished is not a claim about what is just or unjust.

The teaching of Jesus that I described in the statement you quoted and were referring to ("... the just fate of the wicked and sinful is to burn in hell for all eternity" [emphasis added for the reading impaired]) most definitely is a claim about what is just.

Your statement was that Jesus states that the sinners do in fact suffer eternal punishment,

No, my statement was that Jesus states that THE JUST FATE of sinners is eternal suffering. Contrary to your nonsensical claim, that is a statement about what is just.

that, in your words, "just fate of the wicked and sinful is to burn in hell for all eternity". This is not advocating anything.

More nonsense. The claim that any fate is JUST is obviously advocating a position about the nature of justice.

If your claim was, as you now seem to want to modify it to have been, that Jesus advocated that his followers subject sinners to eternal punishment, well, sure, that might arguably be morally worse than what fascism advocated

My claim was, and is, that Jesus taught that eternal suffering is the just fate of such people. That teaching is indeed worse than what fascism advocates.

You seem to have a problem distinguishing between stating "X is true" and the advocating "You ought to act to cause X".

I don't have any such problem. You have a problem understanding plain English.

Posted by: Atheist on May 31, 2006 at 7:43 PM | PERMALINK
The point of religion is faith --- ie believe something that appears ridiculous because someone else told you to do so.

I would say that's doubly wrong -- both on the idea that "the point of religion is faith" and that the definition of faith as to "believe something that appears ridiculous because someone else told you to do so."

Posted by: cmdicely on May 31, 2006 at 7:43 PM | PERMALINK

I haven't seen any evidence you have the capacity for a "deep intellectual" anything.

Ah, good one. I haven't seen any evidence that your intellectual capacity is greater than that of pond scum.

Posted by: Atheist on May 31, 2006 at 7:44 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely,

I would say that's doubly wrong -- both on the idea that "the point of religion is faith" and that the definition of faith as to "believe something that appears ridiculous because someone else told you to do so."

What is "faith," then? Give us your definition.

Posted by: Atheist on May 31, 2006 at 7:47 PM | PERMALINK
My claim was, and is, that Jesus taught that eternal suffering is the just fate of such people. That teaching is indeed worse than what fascism advocates.

No, its not. Because its not advocacy. What does Jesus advocate people do? What does fascism advocate people do?

Fascism advocates people deliberately harm other people on the basis of their race, creed, etc. Jesus advocates people refrain from harming other people, even when they feel they have subjectively good cause, and even when the person, in Jesus description, deserves eternal punishment.

I would say that there is something seriously broken with the moral sense of anyone who argues that the latter is worse than the former.

Posted by: cmdicely on May 31, 2006 at 7:50 PM | PERMALINK

I would say that's doubly wrong -- both on the idea that "the point of religion is faith" and that the definition of faith as to "believe something that appears ridiculous because someone else told you to do so."

Right...
So you believe in the christian religion not because that was how you were raised but because you took a whole lot of time to look carefully at all the various alternative theories of the nature of the universe --- buddhist kharma, hindu multiple deities, various forms of mysticism, islam, judaism, mormonism, many many forms of paganism, and, of course, modern science --- and your considered opinion was that
(a) they all had real evidence to back them up --- please share it
(b) that of all that evidence, that presented by the christians (specifically your brand of christian as opposed to the others, whether they be catholic, calvinist, orthodox or evangelical) was the most compelling, more compelling *as evidence* than even what science presented.

Sure, that's what happened.

Posted by: Maynard Handley on May 31, 2006 at 7:53 PM | PERMALINK

From Bertrand Russell's Why I Am Not A Christian"

"...There is one very serious defect to my mind in Christ's moral character, and that is that He believed in hell. I do not myself feel that any person who is really profoundly humane can believe in everlasting punishment. Christ certainly as depicted in the Gospels did believe in everlasting punishment, and one does find repeatedly a vindictive fury against those people who would not listen to His preaching -- an attitude which is not uncommon with preachers,

"... Then Christ says, "The Son of Man shall send forth his His angels, and they shall gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity, and shall cast them into a furnace of fire; there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth"; and He goes on about the wailing and gnashing of teeth. It comes in one verse after another, and it is quite manifest to the reader that there is a certain pleasure in contemplating wailing and gnashing of teeth, or else it would not occur so often. Then you all, of course, remember about the sheep and the goats; how at the second coming He is going to divide the sheep from the goats, and He is going to say to the goats, "Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire." He continues, "And these shall go away into everlasting fire." Then He says again, "If thy hand offend thee, cut it off; it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into Hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched; where the worm dieth not and the fire is not quenched." He repeats that again and again also. I must say that I think all this doctrine, that hell-fire is a punishment for sin, is a doctrine of cruelty. It is a doctrine that put cruelty into the world and gave the world generations of cruel torture;"

Posted by: Atheist on May 31, 2006 at 7:54 PM | PERMALINK
What is "faith," then?

Relevant to the discussion here, I'd follow American Heritage and say "Belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence", though I'd prefer "empirically verifiable" for "material".

While believing "something that appears ridiculous because someone else told you to do so" would be a subset of faith, it is not the definition of faith, in the same way that "the Nazi regime that existed in Germany" is not the definition of "government".

Posted by: cmdicely on May 31, 2006 at 7:56 PM | PERMALINK
So you believe in the christian religion not because that was how you were raised but because you took a whole lot of time to look carefully at all the various alternative theories of the nature of the universe --- buddhist kharma, hindu multiple deities, various forms of mysticism, islam, judaism, mormonism, many many forms of paganism, and, of course, modern science --- and your considered opinion was that (a) they all had real evidence to back them up --- please share it (b) that of all that evidence, that presented by the christians (specifically your brand of christian as opposed to the others, whether they be catholic, calvinist, orthodox or evangelical) was the most compelling, more compelling *as evidence* than even what science presented.

Well, no.

The first error is in the premise that I believe in Christianity to the exclusion of those alternative theories (particularly, but not only, modern science) as an explanation of the "nature of the universe".

As the rest of the question is about competing explanations for this false assumption, and therefore is entirely pointless.

Posted by: cmdicely on May 31, 2006 at 8:00 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely,

No, its not. Because its not advocacy.

Utter nonsense. Of course it's advocacy. It's advocating the position that it is just to inflict eternal suffering on sinners. It's advocating the position that sinners deserve to be subjected to unlimited suffering. Nothing fascism advocates comes remotely close to the sheer monstrous cruelty of this doctrine of Jesus Christ. Jesus was a real sicko.

Posted by: Atheist on May 31, 2006 at 8:00 PM | PERMALINK
From Bertrand Russell's Why I Am Not A Christian

Yes, Don P, even before you changed your name you liked to quote that without any sign of original thought.

Posted by: cmdicely on May 31, 2006 at 8:01 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, you got me, cmdicely, with your tricksy wordplay. Clever you.

Now explain to stupid old me exactly how your definition of faith is *materially* different from what I said.

Is it that what you believe through faith does not actually appear ridiculous (good luck with that claim).
Is it that you believe it not because someone else told you but because god himself spoke to you?
So you and your christian friends believe what you do because of a direct pipeline to god, but all those other believers out there, mormons, muslims, hindus and so on, well they're just stupid and obviously their faith is the result of being lied to by people around them --- since obviously they can't have the same pipeline to god that you do.

Posted by: Maynard Handley on May 31, 2006 at 8:05 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely,

Relevant to the discussion here, I'd follow American Heritage and say "Belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence", though I'd prefer "empirically verifiable" for "material".

Why is any such belief about what is true justified? Given two or more mutually contradictory faith beliefs, how do you choose which, if any, to hold? Random choice? Whichever one makes you feel better? Whichever one you most want to be true? Whichever one you were raised to believe? Or what?

Posted by: Atheist on May 31, 2006 at 8:06 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, indeed. I think society as a whole is gradually coming to realize the danger and absurdity of faith, especially religious faith. This process is much more advanced in Europe than it is in America.

You haven't been to Italy or Spain, have you? Or Poland, for that matter.

52% of Europeans believe in a god; 27% believe in some sort of spirit or life force beyond the physical. (Source: Eurostat Eurobarometer poll, 2005) Even in Sweden, where only 23% believe in god, 53% still believe in some sort of intangible spirit or life force. It must also be pointed out that many of the less-religious European countries are countries in which religious belief was suppressed, as competitors to communist ideology. But in most European countries, the majority of people believe in either a specific god, or some form of existence beyond the physical. Hardly a place devoid of faith.

What possibly has happened in Europe (which would be a bit more welcome in the US) is a demarcation between the realms of science and religion; science answering questions covering the testable universe; faith (religious, humanistic or otherwise) dealing with the questions that science hasn't, or cannot answer. Part of the reason for this is the willingness of prominent European churces (Roman Catholicism; the Anglican church; others) to accept science's greater utility in answering questions about the observable universe. It is not a railing against religion in general, as the popularity of religion in many European states shows.

Besides, getting rid of religious faith could be attempted, if it were desired (as it was in the USSR). How do you get rid of ALL faith, even the non-religious ones? Don't tell me science - science tells us how the world works, it can only be used to tell how the world SHOULD work given a pre-existing morality. If science can give us a cure for a disease, the decision to distribute it free, sell it, or destroy it is not a scientific decision - it is a moral decision.

Posted by: Shinobi on May 31, 2006 at 8:07 PM | PERMALINK
Nothing fascism advocates comes remotely close to the sheer monstrous cruelty of this doctrine of Jesus Christ.

Well, no, this is clearly wrong, as fascism clearly urged not only that certain people deserved every degree of punishment possible in the universe, but that its followers deliver that punishment, which is clearly more evil, in any case, than claiming that sinners (i.e., everyone) deserves infinite punishment, but that the followers of the speaker should, in light of their own similar state of deserving punishment, refrain in any case from doing harm to others based on the fact that they deserve punishment, and indeed should do good to them notwithstanding the punishment they might merit.

Jesus was a real sicko.

Not nearly as much of a sicko as you are, as you apparently think that advocating genocide is less reprehensible than advocating forgiveness.

Posted by: cmdicely on May 31, 2006 at 8:08 PM | PERMALINK

The first error is in the premise that I believe in Christianity to the exclusion of those alternative theories (particularly, but not only, modern science) as an explanation of the "nature of the universe".

You were the guy claiming that you believed based on evidence, not what your parents told you. What are you now claiming: that you did in fact look at all these other religions, weigh the evidence, and believe christianity had more evidence in its favor than hinduism? Please do share with us the details of this.

Otherwise, stop lying. We all know you didn't choose christianity based on rational weighing of evidence so stop pretending that you did. Isn't there a commandment somewhere about bearing false witness?

Posted by: Maynard Handley on May 31, 2006 at 8:11 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely,

The first error is in the premise that I believe in Christianity to the exclusion of those alternative theories

Blanche, Christianity isn't a "theory" and you cannot believe in Christianity without disbelieving other religions, because they contain mutually incompatible doctrines about what is true. It cannot be true, for example, both that Jesus is the Son of God, the Lord and Savior of Mankind, as Christianity teaches, and that he is not, as Judaism and Islam teach.


Posted by: Atheist on May 31, 2006 at 8:11 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely, given everything you're saying I assume you are not a calvinist. So what is your take on calvinism? calvin of course, and all his followers, belived that you were in fact usually born predestined for hell, and that nothing you could do could change that. Your reponse to that is
- well sure, that's the way it is
- no way, that's what happens when you think god speaks to you personally. That's why I only accept empirical evidence.

Do you condemn calvinists as unfeeling bastards who are nothing close to real christians?
Do you condemn the horrors perpetrated in the americas in the name of god?
Do you condemn those who want to run their own little 21st century inquisition against gays?

Posted by: Maynard Handley on May 31, 2006 at 8:18 PM | PERMALINK

"Faith" is what a lisping Asian loses when he's embarassed.

Posted by: Mooser on May 31, 2006 at 8:23 PM | PERMALINK
Why is any such belief about what is true justified?

I don't recall making any claims here about any belief of any kind being "justified".


Given two or more mutually contradictory faith beliefs, how do you choose which, if any, to hold?

I don't recall making any claims about belief being a matter of choice.

Posted by: cmdicely on May 31, 2006 at 8:23 PM | PERMALINK

That's why I only accept empirical evidence.

1) How do you ever make a moral decision?
There is no empirical evidence for right and wrong.

2) To only accepting empirical evidence for a belief or action is a philosophical stance that cannot be proven. It is not required of science; science can be practised while still believing in things beyond it. Plenty of scientists out there with some form of faith.

Posted by: Shinobi on May 31, 2006 at 8:24 PM | PERMALINK

correction:
"2) to only ACCEPT empirical evidence..."

Posted by: Shinobi on May 31, 2006 at 8:26 PM | PERMALINK

The religious right has no interest in the environment. To them we are in the period just prior to the apocalypse. To Falwell's and Robertson's bunch all the signs point to Armagedon. These lunatic fanatics on the religious right are saved and awaiting the rapture, the planet gets wiped, God waves his hand and the lion and the lamb lie down together in the new world. I guess God replenishes everything and gives back a clean place to be populated by the likes of said above evangelical fundamentalists and their planet ravaging hoard.
What happens after that is a good question.

Posted by: demogator on May 31, 2006 at 8:30 PM | PERMALINK
Blanche, Christianity isn't a "theory"

I was, to facilitate communication, using the clear in context, if somewhat imprecise, of the poster I was responding to.

If you have a problem with the usage, take it up with that poster.

and you cannot believe in Christianity without disbelieving other religions, because they contain mutually incompatible doctrines about what is true.

Without saying anything about my belief system, I reject your unstated but essential premise here that all belief systems are, of necessity, internally coherent.

In fact, I'd say that that is empirically false.

Posted by: cmdicely on May 31, 2006 at 8:34 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely,

Well, no, this is clearly wrong, as fascism clearly urged not only that certain people deserved every degree of punishment possible in the universe, but that its followers deliver that punishment,

Show me (not merely claim, but show) where fascism advocates treating anyone even remotely as harshly as imposing eternal suffering on them. It's hard to understand what you think could conceivably be worse than the eternal suffering that Jesus says is the just fate of sinners. Even if there is something worse, eternal suffering itself is so monstrously cruel, so inhumane, so morally depraved, that only a real sicko would actually argue that anyone deserves it.

Not nearly as much of a sicko as you are,

If you assent to Jesus Christ's teaching that sinners deserve to suffer for all eternity, then you're the sicko.

as you apparently think that advocating genocide is less reprehensible than advocating forgiveness.

I don't believe any such thing. You're now flailing around, making things up, because you've been confronted with one of the moral atrocities at the heart of Christianity.


Posted by: Atheist on May 31, 2006 at 8:37 PM | PERMALINK
You were the guy claiming that you believed based on evidence, not what your parents told you.

False.

What are you now claiming: that you did in fact look at all these other religions, weigh the evidence, and believe christianity had more evidence in its favor than hinduism?

Nope.

Otherwise, stop lying.

The only clear lie I've seen in this exchange is your lie about what I was claiming, reproduced in the first blockquote in this post.

We all know you didn't choose christianity based on rational weighing of evidence so stop pretending that you did.

I can hardly stop what I never started.


Posted by: cmdicely on May 31, 2006 at 8:37 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely,

Without saying anything about my belief system,

Obviously, saying you're a Christian is saying something about your belief system. And you have a long history here of elaborating on your particular "Christian" belief system, a history that has come back to bite you on many previous occasions, which is why you are now so reluctant even to express your religious beliefs, let alone try and defend them.

I reject your unstated but essential premise here that all belief systems are, of necessity, internally coherent.

I hold no such premise. I explicitly claim that many belief systems are not internally coherent. I also claim that your position that you can believe Christianity without disbelieving other religions such as Judaism and Islam is utterly nonsensical. The doctrines of Christianity about the nature of Jesus Christ contradict the doctrines of Judaism and Islam.

Posted by: Atheist on May 31, 2006 at 8:45 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely,

I don't recall making any claims here about any belief of any kind being "justified".

So you don't believe your faith beliefs are justified? Good, then we agree.

I don't recall making any claims about belief being a matter of choice.

If you believe beliefs are a matter of choice, how do you choose which faith beliefs to hold? If you don't believe beliefs are a matter of choice, why don't you believe that?

Posted by: Atheist on May 31, 2006 at 8:49 PM | PERMALINK

I'm an Unitarian-Universalist, which is a religion without a creed. Some of us draw our inspiration primarily from Christianity; others from other faith traditions. Many are atheists or agnostics.

It's not hard to see how you can learn from different traditions, even if *taken as a whole* there are aspects that are mutually exclusive.
You can find the Buddhist concept of mindfulness meaningful without accepting the Three Noble Truths. You can think about, say, dharma without accepting the caste systems and its attendannt injustices. You can learn from the parables, and the Sermon on the Mount, without believing that Christ died on the cross for your sins.

Or you can be an arrogant git who thinks that they alone know what religion means to other people. Yep Don - that's you...

Posted by: Marc on May 31, 2006 at 9:14 PM | PERMALINK

Here are just some of the places where Jesus talks about hellfire and damnation.

Matthew:

3:12 "His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clear His threshing floor; and He will gather His wheat into the barn, but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire."

5:22 "But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, `You good-for-nothing,' shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, `You fool,' shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.

5:29 "If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.

5:30 "If your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to go into hell."

8:12 "but the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."

10:28 "Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

13:42 "and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."

13:50 "and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."

18:8 If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; it is better for you to enter life crippled or lame, than to have two hands or two feet and be cast into the eternal fire.

22:13 "Then the king said to the servants, `Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."

23:33 "You serpents, you brood of vipers, how will you escape the sentence of hell?"

25:30 "Throw out the worthless slave into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

25:41 "Then He will also say to those on His left, `Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels;

25:46 "These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."

Mark:

9:43 "If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life crippled, than, having your two hands, to go into hell, into the unquenchable fire,

9:44 [where THEIR WORM DOES NOT DIE, AND THE FIRE IS NOT QUENCHED.]

9:45 "If your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame, than, having your two feet, to be cast into hell,"

9:46 [where THEIR WORM DOES NOT DIE, AND THE FIRE IS NOT QUENCHED.]

9:47 "If your eye causes you to stumble, throw it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, than, having two eyes, to be cast into hell,

9:48 where THEIR WORM DOES NOT DIE, AND THE FIRE IS NOT QUENCHED.

Luke:

12:5 "But I will warn you whom to fear: fear the One who, after He has killed, has authority to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear Him!"

3:17 "His winnowing fork is in His hand to thoroughly clear His threshing floor, and to gather the wheat into His barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire."

16:23 "In Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and *saw Abraham far away and Lazarus in his bosom."

16:24 "And he cried out and said, `Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue, for I am in agony in this flame.'"

16:25 "But Abraham said, `Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony."

16:28 "for I have five brothers--in order that he may warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment."

John:

15:6 "If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned.

Posted by: Atheist on May 31, 2006 at 9:19 PM | PERMALINK

Obviously, saying you're a Christian is saying something about your belief system.

I wasn't saying I was a Christian in the post you quoted, so that has no relevance to the clause you responded to with that sentence.

And you have a long history here of elaborating on your particular "Christian" belief system,

True.

a history that has come back to bite you on many previous occasions,

False.

which is why you are now so reluctant even to express your religious beliefs, let alone try and defend them.

False. While there are contexts in which my own personal religious beliefs might be relevant, and I would have no problem discussing them there, I am uninterested in sidetracking this discussion there because my own personal religious beliefs are, so far, largely irrelevant to the subjects here that are worth discussing.

Posted by: cmdicely on May 31, 2006 at 9:23 PM | PERMALINK

It's not hard to see how you can learn from different traditions, even if *taken as a whole* there are aspects that are mutually exclusive.

Obviously, you can pick and choose bits and pieces of different religions and assemble them into a belief system that doesn't contradict itself. But the central doctrine of Christianity about the nature of Jesus Christ directly contradicts the doctrines of Islam and Judaism.

Or you can be an arrogant git who thinks that they alone know what religion means to other people. Yep Don - that's you...

Well, at least we know that you haven't even learned basic civility from your Unitarian-Universalism. Back at ya: You're a blithering idiot.


Posted by: Atheist on May 31, 2006 at 9:27 PM | PERMALINK

So you don't believe your faith beliefs are justified?

I don't recall claiming that, either. Frankly, I believe that there are a large number of contradictory senses in which the word "justified" is used in regard to beliefs, that most devates about the "justification" of beliefs revolve around equivocation between two or more of those meanings, and that they mostly are centered around a vain search for superiority grounded in a futile attempt at certainty.

If you don't believe beliefs are a matter of choice, why don't you believe that?

If I don't believe something, its from the absence of anything that would lead me to believe it. Why would I believe that?

Posted by: cmdicely on May 31, 2006 at 9:28 PM | PERMALINK
Here are just some of the places where Jesus talks about hellfire and damnation.

So? Where are the places where he advocates that others inflict harm?

Posted by: cmdicely on May 31, 2006 at 9:30 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely,

I wasn't saying I was a Christian in the post you quoted,

I'm afraid you let that cat out of the bag a long time ago.

But it's good, really, that you're increasingly reluctant to even identify yourself as a Christian, let alone state and defend your Christian beliefs in open discussion and debate. The more religion hides in the corner, the faster it will wither away.

Posted by: Atheist on May 31, 2006 at 9:32 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely,

I don't recall claiming that, either.

Well, do you claim your faith beliefs are justified, or don't you?

Frankly, I believe that there are a large number of contradictory senses in which the word "justified" is used in regard to beliefs,

I'm using the word in the standard sense. With respect to belief, it means something like a belief is justified if there is sufficient reason to hold that belief. What sufficient reason do you think you have for holding your faith beliefs? Why wouldn't you be equally justified in holding a different and contradictory faith belief?

If I don't believe something, its from the absence of anything that would lead me to believe it.

Why do you believe you don't have a choice about which beliefs to hold?

Posted by: Atheist on May 31, 2006 at 9:39 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely,

So?

So, Jesus is a real sicko. He thinks sinners deserve to suffer for all eternity. And we're not talking about suffering in the form of some kind of mild discomfort; we're talking about real, serious suffering. Torture, really. The language Jesus uses to describe this "just" fate--words like "agony" and "torment" and imagery of burning and fire--makes it clear that it's a matter of really harsh, intense pain.

Jesus thinks sinners deserve to be tortured forever and ever. If that's not depraved, then nothing is.

Posted by: Atheist on May 31, 2006 at 9:44 PM | PERMALINK
The doctrines of Christianity about the nature of Jesus Christ contradict the doctrines of Judaism and Islam.

The doctrines of Christianity about the nature of Jesus (that he is fully human) contradict that doctrines of Christianity about the nature of Jesus (that he is completely God).

This isn't particularly a problem, when you look at it from the perspective that the big problem is the limited expressiveness of language: when you realize that the universe is more complex than and cannot be fully reduced to terms comprehensible to the human mind (and hence, that can exist as "belief") and, even so far as it can, the human mind is more complex than what can be reduced clearly to language.

It is quite possible to believe that the Christian doctrines about Jesus communicate important truths and that, for instance, the Islamic idea that God need not (and, indeed, that it necessarily confuses the issue to say that he would) "beget" a son in the way that men do also communicates an important truth.

It is possible to believe that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Light, and to believe, simultaneously, that the Way that can be told is not the true Way.

Posted by: cmdicely on May 31, 2006 at 9:45 PM | PERMALINK

The inconsistency and tortured logic of those on the extreme right becomes more pronounced on a daily basis. As they have felt embolden to show more and more of their true colors, I'm convinced they have set in motion their own diminishing credibility and influence.

What becomes more and more apparent is the underlying prejudice and bias that they have previously attempted to portray as a comprehensive moral doctrine. Clearly, as they have been confronted by an array of moral choices, the glaring incongruences have been illuminated leaving many to conclude that their movement is merely a fraudulent attempt to dictate the selective application of the judgmental and punitive beliefs they support.

To respond to the religious right lobbyist in DC who posits, "Is God really going to let the Earth burn up?"...the answers are many:

1. If God will solve global warming, then why do those on the religious right feel they need to interject their will on other issues...wouldn't the same God solve their concerns for the family and marriage...why do we need a constitutional amendment for some issues and not others?

2. Clearly, the goal of those on the right is to dictate the behaviors they value...especially relating to issues like sex, abortion, and marriage. Issues that relate to the pursuit of wealth at the expense of the climate interfere with the unfettered pursuit of power and influence...since they see the imposition of their beliefs as being dependent upon obtaining wealth which leads to the power to impose. They embrace the notion that he, who has the gold, writes the rules.

3. Does Pat Robertson wants to sell supplements that allow one to leg press 2,000 pounds because he accepts that God has a plan for each of us...or because he is afraid to die and wants to counteract Gods plan that includes the natural process of aging...or because he can make more money off the fear of death if he sells both salvation AND supplements to his followers?

4. If God will intervene to prevent the world from burning up...and at the same time he sent Katrina to punish the immorality of New Orleans (although his aim seemed a bit off since it also damaged other areas), then how will God make the subtle distinctions necessary to punish the bad and preserve the good? Is he only warming areas he dislikes? Will he provide AC to the good people?

5. If they are so convinced that the Lord is going to be returning shortly (rapture crapture) then why build bigger churches and amass wealth...why worry about what the Supreme Court may do 20 years from now...why worry about redrawing congressional districts in Texas to insure that Republicans will hold those seats?

IMHO...Blatant...Biased...Bigotry

more observations here:

www.thoughttheater.com

Posted by: Daniel DiRito on May 31, 2006 at 9:47 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely,

The doctrines of Christianity about the nature of Jesus (that he is fully human) contradict that doctrines of Christianity about the nature of Jesus (that he is completely God).

Do they? So in your view, Christianity contradicts itself, does it?

Whether or not Christianity contradicts itself (does your Pope agree with you on that?) it obviously contradicts Judaism and Islam. They can't all be true.

This isn't particularly a problem, when you look at it from the perspective that the big problem is the limited expressiveness of language: when you realize that the universe is more complex than and cannot be fully reduced to terms comprehensible to the human mind (and hence, that can exist as "belief") and, even so far as it can, the human mind is more complex than what can be reduced clearly to language.

Er, why is a contradiction in a religion any less of a problem than a contradiction in a scientific theory or in any other belief system? You can't just wave your hand and dismiss contradictions as an artifact of language--at least, not if you expect to be taken seriously.

It is quite possible to believe that the Christian doctrines about Jesus communicate important truths and that, for instance, the Islamic idea that God need not (and, indeed, that it necessarily confuses the issue to say that he would) "beget" a son in the way that men do also communicates an important truth.

If Christianity and Islam/Judaism made complementary claims about the nature of Jesus Christ then they could all be true. But they don't make complementary claims. They make contradictory claims. Islam and Judaism deny that the nature of Jesus Christ is what Christainity claims it is.

Posted by: Atheist on May 31, 2006 at 10:41 PM | PERMALINK

So, cmdicely, didn't want to answer my questions about calvinism huh. Happy to rant on and on about how kind and pleasant and optimistic christianity is until faced with an explicit situation that renders your arguments moot.

As for this inane unitarian guy going on about how we all assemble our path from random spiritual junk or whatever. No-one has any real beef with people like you --- we may think you're twits, you think we're twits, we all get along just fine. The point is the crazies who *don't* see the world your way, who are quite convinced that their beliefs are the one true way the world should run. You know, the christian guys who gave us the inquisition, witch-burning and the 30yrs war; the jewish guys who right now believe god is telling them to occupy eretz israel come hell or high water; the hindu guys who think god tells them to burn down mosques and kill muslims.

Posted by: Maynard Handley on May 31, 2006 at 11:09 PM | PERMALINK

Sam Harris, An Atheist Manifesto:

"Why is religion such a potent source of human violence?

"1. Our religions are intrinsically incompatible with one another. Either Jesus rose from the dead and will be returning to Earth like a superhero or not; either the Koran is the infallible word of God or it isnt. Every religion makes explicit claims about the way the world is, and the sheer profusion of these incompatible claims creates an enduring basis for conflict.

2". There is no other sphere of discourse in which human beings so fully articulate their differences from one another, or cast these differences in terms of everlasting rewards and punishments. Religion is the one endeavor in which us-them thinking achieves a transcendent significance. If a person really believes that calling God by the right name can spell the difference between eternal happiness and eternal suffering, then it becomes quite reasonable to treat heretics and unbelievers rather badly. It may even be reasonable to kill them. If a person thinks there is something that another person can say to his children that could put their souls in jeopardy for all eternity, then the heretic next door is actually far more dangerous than the child molester. The stakes of our religious differences are immeasurably higher than those born of mere tribalism, racism or politics.

"3. Religious faith is a conversation-stopper. Religion is only area of our discourse in which people are systematically protected from the demand to give evidence in defense of their strongly held beliefs. And yet these beliefs often determine what they live for, what they will die for, and--all too often--what they will kill for. This is a problem, because when the stakes are high, human beings have a simple choice between conversation and violence. Only a fundamental willingness to be reasonable--to have our beliefs about the world revised by new evidence and new arguments--can guarantee that we will keep talking to one another. Certainty without evidence is necessarily divisive and dehumanizing. While there is no guarantee that rational people will always agree, the irrational are certain to be divided by their dogmas."

Posted by: Atheist on May 31, 2006 at 11:18 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely wrote:

It is possible to believe that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Light, and to believe, simultaneously, that the Way that can be told is not the true Way.

And so it is.

Looking behind the words in this discussion, there is a clear difference in the spirit of the participants. One is filled with hatred, the other is filled with patience.

Don P posting as Atheist wrote:

Er, why is a contradiction in a religion any less of a problem than a contradiction in a scientific theory or in any other belief system?

Because science concerns itself with explaining the physical world. Religion typically concerns itself with ideas about how we should live. Religion exists to exert a civilizing influence on human beings, not primarily to analyze and explain the physical world. That's a pretty big difference.

Posted by: obscure on June 1, 2006 at 12:08 AM | PERMALINK

Congratulations to Amy, who has taken a lot of richly deserved crap around here. This is potentially rich political ground -- disaffected fundamentalists treated deplorably by the religious right -- and she should stay after it. People of faith should realize that their freedom is threatened, not protected, by the essentially despotic nature of the right and the lackeys they have put in power.

Posted by: secularhuman on June 1, 2006 at 12:11 AM | PERMALINK

Maynard Handley,

Human beings will commit atrocities with or without religion.

Posted by: obscure on June 1, 2006 at 12:13 AM | PERMALINK
With respect to belief, it means something like a belief is justified if there is sufficient reason to hold that belief.

This is a vacuous definition. That X is true by definition means that sufficient conditions for X exist, so that, by your definition, if it is true that I believe X, it is necessarily true that X is justified, and it is nonsensical to ask if a belief that exists is justified.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 1, 2006 at 12:25 AM | PERMALINK

obscure

One is filled with hatred, the other is filled with patience.

"Filled with hatred" seems to be a pretty accurate description of you, given your frequent outpourings of abuse and name-calling. They usually seem to occur in hit-and-run posts you make late at night, which makes me think alcohol might be involved.

Because science concerns itself with explaining the physical world. Religion typically concerns itself with ideas about how we should live.

Huh? How does that mean that contradictions in a religion are less of a problem than contradictions in a scientific theory, or any other belief system? A contradiction is a problem whether the issue is the nature of the physical world or how human beings should live.

Posted by: Atheist on June 1, 2006 at 12:26 AM | PERMALINK

cmdicely,

This is a vacuous definition.

No it isn't. But if you don't like it, what alternative definition do you propose?

That X is true by definition means that sufficient conditions for X exist,

That someone holds a belief does not mean that they have sufficient reason to hold that belief. You may believe that the moon is made of cheese, but that doesn't mean you have sufficient reason to hold that belief. Ditto for your beliefs about God, Jesus, the Catholic Church, etc., etc. Why do you think your faith beliefs are justified? Why wouldn't you be equally justified in holding contradictory faith beliefs?

Posted by: Atheist on June 1, 2006 at 12:33 AM | PERMALINK

Human beings will commit atrocities with or without religion.

But more and worse atrocities with religion. See the Sam Harris quote I provided earlier for some of the reasons why religion is a uniquely powerful source of human violence.

Posted by: Atheist on June 1, 2006 at 12:37 AM | PERMALINK
Do they? So in your view, Christianity contradicts itself, does it?

Christianity certainly contains beliefs that, reduced to linguistic expression, are overtly contradictory.

Now, I don't think that, properly understood, they are real contradictions.

Whether or not Christianity contradicts itself (does your Pope agree with you on that?)

Quite possibly not. I haven't had the opportunity for an extended theological discussion with Benedict XVI (nor do I expect to), but I'm certain that there are many areas on which we would disagree both substantively and on the reduction of subjective belief into linguistic expression.


it obviously contradicts Judaism and Islam. They can't all be true.

The internal contradictions are no less obvious; to me neither is a problem. The example of believing Christianity along with believing "the Way that can be told is not the true Way" was not merely illustrative, but rather central to my own belief: I don't see Christianity as a religion of words and bound up in them the way, say, a literalist fundamentalist might. Rather, I see what can be expressed of religion through words as a gateway to understanding that which fundamentally cannot be properly communicated with language, and which, when reduced to language, inevitably contains contradictions, and which even when understood beyond what language can express only imperfectly comprehends what is.

So, reduced to language, or even beyond language at the level they admit of understanding, I don't see Christianity, Islam, or Judaism as being true in the flawless, entirely-free-of-error sense that that word aspires to. Indeed, I don't believe any human belief can be "true" in that sense.

OTOH, contradictions and all, I think a wide range of human religions and belief systems communicate beliefs that are part of the whole of that Truth which ultimately individual human understanding can approach, but never entirely grasp, and never communicate even as well as it can comprehend.

Er, why is a contradiction in a religion any less of a problem than a contradiction in a scientific theory or in any other belief system?

Well, I never said that contradiction was a problem in any other belief system. Its certainly a potential sign of a problem, and a certain sign of an area which requires more reflection.

With science, though, contradiction is a particular problem, because science is by definition a method which seeks to expand understanding through the particular method of empirically verifiable, repeatable, test. This requires that observations, hypotheses, and results all be unambiguously reducible to language, and free of contradiction. Reality itself need not fit this mold, but what cannot be reduced to it is not within the sphere of scientific method. So, naturally, contradiction is a particular problem in science.

You can't just wave your hand and dismiss contradictions as an artifact of language--at least, not if you expect to be taken seriously.

I've never seen any reason to expect you to take anyone seriously who disagrees with you, or even attempt to comprehend what they are saying; as for the handful of other people that may be reading this far into this thread, well, they'll take it as they take it.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 1, 2006 at 12:55 AM | PERMALINK

Of course god would let the earth burn up, what kind of idiotic thing was that to ask? Doesn't that guy read his old testament? Fucking incest, infanticide, a global deluge to kill EVERYBODY but Noah and friends, I mean what WON'T this god do?!?

Anyhow, I am not religious AT ALL, but if I were I would subscribe to Kurt Vonnegut Jr's explanation of mans banishment from Eden. He believed that we are still in the process of being banished, slowly destroying Eden and killing ourselves in the process. God won't let the earth burn up?

He already has.

Posted by: Eric Paulsen on June 1, 2006 at 12:57 AM | PERMALINK
"Filled with hatred" seems to be a pretty accurate description of you, given your frequent outpourings of abuse and name-calling. They usually seem to occur in hit-and-run posts you make late at night, which makes me think alcohol might be involved.

I admit, I find you--Don P/Atheist/GOP--a particularly bothersome presence here. You're here to vent ugly feelings, and that is what you do almost without exception.

A contradiction is a problem whether the issue is the nature of the physical world or how human beings should live.

Wrong. Life is filled with contradictions and most are not problems, or serious problems anyway.

I must eat ice cream. I must not eat ice cream.
People are reasonable. People are not reasonable.
You're so good to me. You're so cruel to me.
Los Angeles is so exciting. Los Angeles is a crashing bore.
We are all separate. We are all connected.

*I don't abuse substances, btw.


Posted by: obscure on June 1, 2006 at 1:03 AM | PERMALINK

He's hopeless cm. Really. It's more than a bit sad. We have an atheist who, apparently, believes that the most literal interpretation of the Bible must be the only one. At the same time, he also thinks the entire ball of wax is a toxic stew.
The possibility that others read the same text and interpret it differently doesn't seem to register, at all. Is it just me, or is he also posting under two names? The venom and inability to engage in a dialog seems quite common between Maynard and Atheist/Don.

I also don't think he appreciates that any moral system requires some sort of axiomatic basis, and that science (which I practice for a living) is a description of how the world works, not a guideline to what a moral person should do.

Posted by: Marc on June 1, 2006 at 1:11 AM | PERMALINK

cmdicely,

Now, I don't think that, properly understood, they are real contradictions.

Well, make up your mind. You previously said: "The doctrines of Christianity about the nature of Jesus (that he is fully human) contradict that doctrines of Christianity about the nature of Jesus (that he is completely God)." You didn't say that these Christian doctrines merely have the false appearance of contradicting each other. You said they do contradict each other. So which is it?

The internal contradictions are no less obvious;

So now you're back to claiming that the internal contradictions of Christianity are real (and, apparently, "obvious").

to me neither is a problem. The example of believing Christianity along with believing "the Way that can be told is not the true Way" was not merely illustrative, but rather central to my own belief: I don't see Christianity as a religion of words and bound up in them the way, say, a literalist fundamentalist might. Rather, I see what can be expressed of religion through words as a gateway to understanding that which fundamentally cannot be properly communicated with language, and which, when reduced to language, inevitably contains contradictions, and which even when understood beyond what language can express only imperfectly comprehends what is.

Christianity teaches that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, Lord and Savior of Mankind. Islam and Judaism teach that he is not. These two teachings contradict each other. They are logically equivalent to "X is true and X is not true." If Christianity is correct about the nature of Jesus Christ, then Islam and Judaism are incorrect. And vice versa.

So, reduced to language, or even beyond language at the level they admit of understanding, I don't see Christianity, Islam, or Judaism as being true in the flawless, entirely-free-of-error sense that that word aspires to. Indeed, I don't believe any human belief can be "true" in that sense.

Chistianity, Judaism and Islam all make many claims of truth. Obviously, it is logically possible that some truth claims of each religion are true and that others are false, so that none of the three religions is "entirely-free-from-error." That is completely irrelevant to the fact that Christianity and Judaism/Islam make contradictory claims of truth regarding the nature of Jesus Christ.

OTOH, contradictions and all, I think a wide range of human religions and belief systems communicate beliefs that are part of the whole of that Truth which ultimately individual human understanding can approach, but never entirely grasp, and never communicate even as well as it can comprehend.

What "beliefs that are part of the whole truth?"

Posted by: Atheist on June 1, 2006 at 1:15 AM | PERMALINK

"A contradiction is a problem whether the issue is the nature of the physical world or how human beings should live.."

Every meaningful moral code requires balancing different principles. If you were uncharitable, you call this a contradiction. Emerson would have said that a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds.

I value personal freedom. I also value personal safety. These things can clash when someone else does something that affects me (exerting their personal freedom to compromise my personal safety, or impinging on my personal freedom). It does not follow that I must simply discard one or the other of these things because they can come into conflict.

Posted by: Marc on June 1, 2006 at 1:19 AM | PERMALINK
So, cmdicely, didn't want to answer my questions about calvinism huh.

Well, actually, I just hadn't gotten around to it. But, now that you mention it.

cmdicely, given everything you're saying I assume you are not a calvinist.

You are quite correct in that assumption.

So what is your take on calvinism?

It contains a number of beliefs that I don't believe to be either true or even remotely useful approximations of truth.

calvin of course, and all his followers, belived that you were in fact usually born predestined for hell, and that nothing you could do could change that.

I don't know that that's true of "all his followers" (I've known notional Calvinists who didn't seem to think that, though of course this is one of those areas where definitional debate allows for infinite semantic quibbling), nor do I think a past tense is really appropriate. Its not as if Calvinism is a dead strain of Christian thought.

Your reponse to that is - well sure, that's the way it is - no way, that's what happens when you think god speaks to you personally. That's why I only accept empirical evidence.

Well, no, its none of the above. That's an amazing false dichotomy. Its quite possible to reject Calvin's ideas about predestination because you think (e.g.) they are based on a false conception of the nature and implications of omniscience (the example is not entirely random, that's really a fundamental problem, IMO, in Calvin's theology), without believing either (a) that those ideas stem in any way from a belief that "god speaks to you personally" (which, IIRC, not a justification Calvin himself ever offered for his ideas and, indeed), or (b) that the only alternative to those beliefs about predestination was to believe only that which is empirically demonstrable.

Do you condemn calvinists as unfeeling bastards who are nothing close to real christians?

No. I don't think Calvinism is a particularly good or "correct" understanding of Christianity, but I've known plenty of Calvinists who aren't unfeeling bastards, and I don't condemn people for believing differently than I do.

Do you condemn the horrors perpetrated in the americas in the name of god?

Sure, though that certainly isn't any special problem of Calvinists. Lutherans, Anglicans, Catholics, and Aztecs, among many other religious groups, were involved in that.

Do you condemn those who want to run their own little 21st century inquisition against gays?

I try not to condemn them, though I certainly oppose that particular idea of theirs. And, again, that desire is hardly limited to Calvinists, and hardly includes all Calvinists.

Now, back to your more recent post...

Happy to rant on and on about how kind and pleasant and optimistic christianity is

Er, where? I don't recall claiming that Christianity was "pleasant and optimistic".

Posted by: cmdicely on June 1, 2006 at 1:20 AM | PERMALINK

"Christianity teaches that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, Lord and Savior of Mankind. Islam and Judaism teach that he is not. These two teachings contradict each other. They are logically equivalent to "X is true and X is not true." If Christianity is correct about the nature of Jesus Christ, then Islam and Judaism are incorrect. And vice versa."

So what? Even if true, this doesn't mean that there is nothing of value in the three of them.
More to the point, you really don't seem to understand that your interpretation of how other people read the Bible is not unique.

For your first point, Unitarians (guess what?) were originally formed under the belief that there was one God rather than a trinity. Universalists believed in universal salvation, e.g. no such thing as hell. Both traditions have always stressed reason and rejected literal interpretations of the Bible. Both were originally Christian, and there are numerous other branches of christianity that hold wildly divergent views about how to read, and whether to pay any attention to, specific passages in the bible. The same is true for Islam and Judaism.
You can't make meaningful statements that "Christians believe xxx", because there is very likely to be a specific counterexample. Now, you probably could make some useful statements about biblical literalists. Such folks are not all Christians, and not even a majority in the USA.

Posted by: Marc on June 1, 2006 at 1:28 AM | PERMALINK

cmdicely,

Well, I never said that contradiction was a problem in any other belief system.

You don't think a contradiction is a problem in a scientific theory? Or a logical proof? Or any other kind of argument in support of some proposition? Seriously? You certainly behave as if you think they're a problem--in any context except your own religious beliefs, where, apparently, anything is legitimate, no matter how nonsensical.

With science, though, contradiction is a particular problem, because science is by definition a method which seeks to expand understanding through the particular method of empirically verifiable, repeatable, test. This requires that observations, hypotheses, and results all be unambiguously reducible to language, and free of contradiction. Reality itself need not fit this mold, but what cannot be reduced to it is not within the sphere of scientific method. So, naturally, contradiction is a particular problem in science.

A typical example of cmdicely gibberish. What is this thing that "cannot be reduced to it" (and what is the intended antecedent of your pronoun "it," here; "reality" or "this mold?"). Why do you believe there is such a thing? Why do you believe this thing is "not within the sphere of the scientific method?"

And how does any of the above paragraph explain why contradiction is less of a problem in science than in religion? Why is a religious contradiction such as "God is both X and not X" less of a problem than a scientific contradiction such as "A star is both X and not X?"

I've never seen any reason to expect you to take anyone seriously who disagrees with you,

Haven't you? Why do you think anyone should take seriously the claim that contradictions in a religion or between religions (such as contradictionary doctrines about the nature of Jesus Christ) can just be dismissed as an artifact of language?

Posted by: Atheist on June 1, 2006 at 1:29 AM | PERMALINK
But if you don't like it, what alternative definition do you propose?

I don't propose a definition. Why should I? I think that arguments about justification of belief are almost invariably vacuous and tend to be based on equivocation or just outright vacuous definitions like yours.

If you want to argue that there is something of meaning to be discussed, propose meaningful terms that can be discussed.

That someone holds a belief does not mean that they have sufficient reason to hold that belief.

If there is any reason at all for their belief, it is, of necessity, sufficient (its possible also that the belief is entirely uncaused, I suppose, in which case it has no reason whatsoever). A set of conditions C is sufficient for result R iff C --> R. If R is caused -- i.e., has a reason -- than the relation C --> R must hold for some set of conditions C which actually exists, which spans the causes of R.

You clearly are using "sufficient" in some other way, and it appears to me you want it to mean something like "morally adequate", such that what you are really asking when you ask "is person P's belief in X justified?" is "ought P believe X?".

But, I have seen no reason to believe that belief is a matter of culpable decisionmaking (it may indirectly result from other culpable decisions, to be sure, but that is a different issue), so I see no validity in the entire concept of such a question.

Of course, if you mean something different, you are free to explain what it is you mean to be discussing when you talk about a belief being "justified".

Posted by: cmdicely on June 1, 2006 at 1:33 AM | PERMALINK

marc,

Every meaningful moral code requires balancing different principles. If you were uncharitable, you call this a contradiction.

I have no idea what relevance you think this claim has to the issue in debate. Christianity teaches that Jesus is the Son of God, Lord and Savior of Mankind. Judaism and Islam teach that he is not. That's a contradiction. Two contradictory claims cannot both be true. Either Christianity is correct, or Judaism/Islam is correct. They can't all be correct. That would be logically incoherent. Comprendez?

Posted by: Atheist on June 1, 2006 at 1:34 AM | PERMALINK

You keep repeating that mantra, even though there are longstanding Christian sects that don't accept it. The Bible has statements in it that are demonstrably false, and it has passages in it that contradict other passages. That's why longstanding Christian faith traditions, such as Catholicism, reject textual literalism. I know this, and I am not even a Christian. It is not a coincidence that fundamentalism is a relatively recent religious tradition, stemming from a reaction to liberal religious interpretations of the Bible that rejected the divinity of Christ.

I think we'd agree that there are popular modern variants of Christianity that are toxic and wrong. We disagree when you claim that all variants of Christianity are like this, or when you project Pat Robertsons' interpretation of the Bible as the only possible one.

Posted by: Marc on June 1, 2006 at 1:40 AM | PERMALINK

Even as a freethinker, I have to side with cmdicely on this one. Religion per se is not a uniquely powerful source of human violence. Any ideology, secular or religious, can when accepted dogmatically be used to justify atrocities. Far more people have been killed in the name of Marx than in the name of Jesus - read your Solzhenitsyn. Everyone - EVERYONE - believes certain things that can't be derived from empirical observation of the universe. It's impossible to avoid doing so, and only someone who fails to comprehend the nature and limits of human reason would make the rather foolish claim otherwise.

What the world needs is not less religion, but more tolerance - the willingness to let people whose beliefs differ from their own live their lives as they see fit. Religion is really irrelevant - religiosity and tolerance are not mutually exclusive, or even inversely correlated, characteristics. The developed world - the part less troubled by sectarian violence - HAS become more secular, but "secular" is not synonymous with "atheistic". Most Americans, and a plurality of Europeans, Japanese, and Koreans, believe in some sort of religious/spiritual metaphysical system, but excepting a few lunatics nobody is advocating violence in the name of those beliefs. And there are plenty of intolerant atheists out there. Furthermore Harris' assertion that religious claims about the afterlife and whatnot make them uniquely pernicious is extremely dubious. Secular ideologies which explicitly reject these things - Maoism, communism, etc. - have a record as bad or worse than those of religious ones. Knee-jerk hostility to religious faith is just as dangerous as blind acceptance of it - in your case, Atheist, it seems merely to manifest itself as bitterness and disdain for people with whom you disagree, but a less reasonable person could end up using it to justify killing believers (as some atheists have). As a nonbeliever with religious friends of many different faiths, I just live and let live. This tends to work out pretty well.

Posted by: Anti-ideologue on June 1, 2006 at 1:45 AM | PERMALINK

cmdicely,

I don't propose a definition. Why should I?

Presumably, because you think some beliefs are justified and others not, or that some are more justified than others. Or do you really think that all beliefs are equally justified? That, for example, the belief that the moon is made of cheese is equally justified as the belief that the moon is made of rock?

If you seriously believe that all beliefs are equally justified then say so now. I'll be happy to remind you of it the next time you argue with anyone about anything.

If you want to argue that there is something of meaning to be discussed, propose meaningful terms that can be discussed.

I already have. I'm not using the word "justified" in any unusual or bizarre sense. I'm using it in the standard sense. A justified belief is a belief for which there is sufficient or proper reason. Synonyms for "justified" would include words such as "merited" or "well-founded." I don't know how to communicate this idea any more clearly. It seems quite clear to me.

If there is any reason at all for their belief, it is, of necessity, sufficient

Really? So, in your view, faith is a sufficient reason to believe that the Earth is only 6,000 years old, is it? Or that the moon is made of cheese? Or that things fall up rather than down when you let go of them? You seriously believe that, do you?

Posted by: Atheist on June 1, 2006 at 1:47 AM | PERMALINK
Well, make up your mind. You previously said: "The doctrines of Christianity about the nature of Jesus (that he is fully human) contradict that doctrines of Christianity about the nature of Jesus (that he is completely God)." You didn't say that these Christian doctrines merely have the false appearance of contradicting each other. You said they do contradict each other. So which is it?

The teachings (or "doctrines")-- which are reductions of belief to language -- do contradict each other. The beliefs they imperfectly express do not.

Christianity teaches that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, Lord and Savior of Mankind. Islam and Judaism teach that he is not. These two teachings contradict each other.

Indeed.

They are logically equivalent to "X is true and X is not true."

Yes, exactly.

If Christianity is correct about the nature of Jesus Christ, then Islam and Judaism are incorrect. And vice versa.

My point is that none are "correct" as in "precisely true", but that, despite being contradictory, each -- and particularly, to me, the Christian and parts of the Islamic views -- is a reasonable, if not the best possible, reduction to language of ideas which are important truths.

Chistianity, Judaism and Islam all make many claims of truth. Obviously, it is logically possible that some truth claims of each religion are true and that others are false, so that none of the three religions is "entirely-free-from-error."

Perhaps I expressed myself unclearly. I didn't mean the comment about none being "entirely-free-from-error" on the level of the entire religion, but on the level of the individual doctrines. Many of the important truths are, at best, imperfectly expressed in language, and the best linguistic expressions of two different truths may be diametrically opposed and utterly inconsistent taken at face value.

What "beliefs that are part of the whole truth?"

I'm not going to give a complete inventory of every expression from every religion I've encountered that somehow expresses an important truth. I've already given examples from Christianity, Islam, and Taoism in this thread.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 1, 2006 at 1:52 AM | PERMALINK

marc,

So what?

I just told you so what. So, either Christianity is correct, or Judaism/Islam is correct. They cannot all be correct.

Even if true, this doesn't mean that there is nothing of value in the three of them.

Of course there may be something of value in them. So what? There is probably something of value in Mein Kampf and The Communist Manifesto too. If this is the best you can say for religion, then you're just damning it with faint praise.

For your first point, Unitarians (guess what?) were originally formed under the belief that there was one God rather than a trinity. Universalists believed in universal salvation, e.g. no such thing as hell. Both traditions have always stressed reason and rejected literal interpretations of the Bible.

Why do they consider the Bible a special or privileged source of truth at all, however interpreted, rather than just a flawed book written by flawed human beings with no better claim to truth or accuracy or reliability than any comparable historical document?

You can't make meaningful statements that "Christians believe xxx", because there is very likely to be a specific counterexample.

Well, I know for a fact that there are some people who call themselves Christians and who do not believe that God exists. I consider that an abuse of language. If "Christian" is to mean something, then there has to be some core set of beliefs and/or practises that the word signifies. If "Christian" can meaning anything, then "Christian" means nothing. The teaching that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, Lord and Savior of Mankind is one of the central defining doctrines of the religion, and someone who claims to be a Christian but rejects that teaching is just abusing the word, in my opinion.


Posted by: Atheist on June 1, 2006 at 2:02 AM | PERMALINK

Atheist,

I read your quotes from the Bible as well as your quote from Bertrand Russell and I noticed something. I see unquenchable fire. I see weeping and gnashing of teeth. I see eternal fire. I see a worm that does not die. Lastly I see a conversation taking place between a rich man and Abraham in Hades which is, not-so-by-the-way, not Hell. It could be, however, described as a place of torment. It isn't, though, Hell and is not intended to be eternal.

I also see from your quotes that Hell is the place where the body and soul are destroyed and where Jesus says the branches are burned (i.e. destroyed).

Could you please show me from the Bible where people are going to be "tortured forever and ever?"

A Theist

Posted by: A theist on June 1, 2006 at 2:05 AM | PERMALINK
Presumably, because you think some beliefs are justified and others not, or that some are more justified than others.

Given that I've said that the statement "belief X is justified" is vacuous gibberish, I'm quite uncertain of the derivation of this presumption of yours.

Or do you really think that all beliefs are equally justified?

No, I think the proposition "all beliefs are equally justified" is as meaningless as the proposition "the sines of all angles in euclidean space are equally pink".

"Justification" is not attribute of "belief".

I'm not using the word "justified" in any unusual or bizarre sense.

This is true; the vacuous use of "justification" when referring to belief is common. That doesn't, however, make it meaningful

I'm using it in the standard sense. A justified belief is a belief for which there is sufficient or proper reason. Synonyms for "justified" would include words such as "merited" or "well-founded."

"Sufficient" and "proper" aren't from similar domains -- one is logical, the other moral. "Merited" likewise is moral, "well-founded" is ambiguous, it can either be aesthetic or moral. Your definitions are confused.

I would suggest that the combination of logical and normative qualifiers you hold out here to be equivalent or related in which they are generally not make sense as you present them only if you accept some set of epistemic principles a priori; thus, your question of "justification" only makes sense within a posited framework, and the implicit premise in your asking the question as if it could be answered universally is that there is one definitive, correct epistemic framework to answer the question within.

The presumption, however, is one which I emphatically reject.

Really? So, in your view, faith is a sufficient reason to believe that the Earth is only 6,000 years old, is it?

The complete set of circumstances which cause any effect is, by definition, a "sufficient" reason for the effect.

Whether the result is proper given the circumstances is a question of aesthetics or morality, and if the latter sense is intended, depends on the result itself being a morally culpable choice of a moral actor, and if the former sense is intended, an agreed set of aesthetic principles is necessary to decide the question, a universal answer is impossible.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 1, 2006 at 2:11 AM | PERMALINK

cmdicely,

The teachings (or "doctrines")-- which are reductions of belief to language -- do contradict each other. The beliefs they imperfectly express do not.

I don't know what "reductions of belief to language" is supposed to mean. The teachings are expressions or communications of the beliefs. That's what language does--expresses and communicates.

Now you're claiming the teachings do not properly express the beliefs. How do you know this? What are the actual beliefs, as opposed to the alleged imperfectly-expressed beliefs described by the teachings? How do you know those are the actual beliefs, if they haven't been properly expressed? And how do you know they don't contradict one another?

My point is that none are "correct" as in "precisely true", but that, despite being contradictory, each -- and particularly, to me, the Christian and parts of the Islamic views -- is a reasonable, if not the best possible, reduction to language of ideas which are important truths.

What important truths? How do you know what these supposed important truths are if they cannot be expressed in language?

I'm not going to give a complete inventory of every expression from every religion I've encountered that somehow expresses an important truth. I've already given examples from Christianity, Islam, and Taoism in this thread.

I'm guessing that your claim "Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Light" is supposed to be one of these "important truths." First, what is it even supposed to mean? The "way" to what? The "truth" about what? The "light" of what? And why do you believe this is an
"important truth," or a truth at all? What is the justification for this belief? What supports it?

Posted by: Atheist on June 1, 2006 at 2:15 AM | PERMALINK

"I would suggest that the combination of logical and normative qualifiers you hold out here to be equivalent or related in which they are generally not make sense..."

s/b:

"I would suggest that the combination of logical and normative qualifiers you hold out here to be equivalent or related in ways in which they are generally not makes sense..."

Posted by: cmdicely on June 1, 2006 at 2:16 AM | PERMALINK

" For your first point, Unitarians (guess what?) were originally formed under the belief that there was one God rather than a trinity. Universalists believed in universal salvation, e.g. no such thing as hell. Both traditions have always stressed reason and rejected literal interpretations of the Bible.

Why do they consider the Bible a special or privileged source of truth at all, however interpreted, rather than just a flawed book written by flawed human beings with no better claim to truth or accuracy or reliability than any comparable historical document?"

I'll have to sign off here, but look carefully at your words. You think the Bible is flawed; some folks think Hamlet is flawed. Guess what? Other people don't. Liberal Christians do tend to interpret the Bible as if it was written by people, not dictated by a guy with a long beard.
I suggest that you read the work of the Jesus seminar to get a glipse of how religious liberals interpret the Bible. It bears little resemblance indeed to how Falwell reads it. And that is my point; you need to stop projecting such a narrow view of a broad swath of humanity.

Posted by: Marc on June 1, 2006 at 2:22 AM | PERMALINK

cmdicely,

No, I think the proposition "all beliefs are equally justified" is as meaningless as the proposition "the sines of all angles in euclidean space are equally pink".

Brilliant. Then you have no basis for arguing for or against any belief about anything--political, religious, scientific, logical, economic, etc., etc. If it is meaningless to claim that any belief is more justified than any other, then you have no basis for arguing in favor of any belief at all.

Congratulations, once again you have managed to argue yourself into absurdity.

I can't wait to remind you that you claim that no belief is any more justified than any other belief the next time you make a claim about George Bush, the War in Iraq, or anything else.

Posted by: Atheist on June 1, 2006 at 2:25 AM | PERMALINK

I don't know what "reductions of belief to language" is supposed to mean.

Beliefs exist in minds. While language may (rather, certainly does) affect the shape of beliefs in minds, the belief is not simply a linguistic construct, and some of the content is lost when it is converted to language to be communicated.

The teachings are expressions or communications of the beliefs.

Yes, and (some) paintings are expressions or communications of feelings. They aren't the same as the feelings, and they don't perfectly convey them. Similarly with beliefs and linguistic expressions.

That's what language does--expresses and communicates.

Yes, and while it may often be the best tool that we have for certain purposes (its compact, easily storable, and, with modern technology, transports easily across long distances) it is rather imperfect at expressing and communicating lots of things people express and communicate.

Now you're claiming the teachings do not properly express the beliefs.

No, I'm saying they often do not perfectly express the beliefs. I am not saying they do not properly express the beliefs, in fact, I'm saying that quite often they express the beliefs as well as is possible with language, which I can't see any reason to describe as anything less than "proper".

How do you know this?

I believe it based on my considerable experience with the limitations of language in expressing complex beliefs, among other things.

What are the actual beliefs, as opposed to the alleged imperfectly-expressed beliefs described by the teachings?

You want me to reduce to language the beliefs which I claim the teachings reduce to language imperfectly but as well as language allows and show you how that reduction differs from the teachings themselves?

Are you even reading what you are typing?

How do you know those are the actual beliefs, if they haven't been properly expressed?

I find that question meaningless on many levels, and the premise (that they haven't been properly expressed) false as well, mostly (in both cases) for reasons explained earlier.

What important truths?

I have neither the time nor inclination to provide a complete catalog of my religious beliefs here.

How do you know what these supposed important truths are if they cannot be expressed in language?

Understanding is necessary, but not sufficient, to form a coherent linguistic expression. You seem to think the reverse -- that linguistic expression is necessary for understanding. This seems to me to be self-evidently false.

I'm guessing that your claim "Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Light" is supposed to be one of these "important truths."

Well, more than one, actually.

First, what is it even supposed to mean?

Reduced to language? "Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Light."

The "way" to what?

The "Way" in much the same sense as the Tao is understood in Taoism, as suggested by the reference to the Tao Te Ching I made in reference to this passage about Jesus earlier in the thread.

The "truth" about what?

Everything. The essential nature of the universe and man's role in it, particularly.

The "light" of what?

The Light by which one sees the Way and the Truth.

What is the justification for this belief?

Have I not expressed to you clearly enough that this question you keep repeating is, as you have defined it, complete gibberish?

Posted by: cmdicely on June 1, 2006 at 2:46 AM | PERMALINK
Brilliant. Then you have no basis for arguing for or against any belief about anything--political, religious, scientific, logical, economic, etc., etc. If it is meaningless to claim that any belief is more justified than any other, then you have no basis for arguing in favor of any belief at all.

This does not logically follow from your confused definition of justification.

I can't wait to remind you that you claim that no belief is any more justified than any other belief the next time you make a claim about George Bush, the War in Iraq, or anything else.

While I understand that you are eager to lie, I have not claimed that no belief is more justified than any other, I have claimed that, as you have defined the terms, the claim that a belief is or is not justified, either absolutely or more or less than any other belief, outside of a posited common epistemic framework, is gibberish.

The claim I actually made is not the claim you are so eager to dishonestly attribute to me. But I will not attempt to dissuade you from your dishonesty.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 1, 2006 at 2:52 AM | PERMALINK

Atheist:

Just a follow-up. I excerpted the following claims you made in your posts regarding your take on Jesus' position on Hell.


1. Jesus of Nazareth taught that the just fate of the wicked and sinful is to burn in hell for all eternity.


2. . . . the wicked and sinful be subjected to eternal suffering . . .


3. my statement was that Jesus states that THE JUST FATE of sinners is eternal suffering


4. It's advocating the position that it is just to inflict eternal suffering on sinners. It's advocating the position that sinners deserve to be subjected to unlimited suffering.


5. If you assent to Jesus Christ's teaching that sinners deserve to suffer for all eternity, then you're the sicko.


6. Jesus is a real sicko. He thinks sinners deserve to suffer for all eternity . . . Jesus thinks sinners deserve to be tortured forever and ever.


I read through your Bible quotes again and the statement by Russell. None of that supports your assertion about Jesus. He did teach that there are going to be some eternal things, but one of them is not eternal torment/torture. Can you point to where the unsaved live eternally?

A Theist


Posted by: A Theist on June 1, 2006 at 3:19 AM | PERMALINK

Fanatic (n.) - one who won't change the subject and can't change his mind

Haven't you people learned not to argue with Atheist/Don yet? His screeds on any thread on this blog that pertains to religion are as predictable as the sun coming up. He's consumed by it. He frequently takes untenable positions, and when you point this out to him, he either a.)insults you, or b.)claims he doesn't know what you're talking about. So, either he's surly, or he's ignorant, or both (I suspect a combination of the two - if he doesn't realize that language is an extremely imperfect conveyor of "truth", he needs to study some linguistics, and if he's not aware that "X is Y" and "X is not Y" can both be true, he needs to study some quantum physics.)

Hell: being trapped in a room with Jerry Falwell and Atheist/Don for all eternity.

Posted by: Anti-ideologue on June 1, 2006 at 6:47 AM | PERMALINK

When Jesus returns to Earth, Republican't "christians" will call him an unAmerican Islamofascist and string him up.
One of you whiners clue me in, WTF is an Islamofacist?

Posted by: merlallen on June 1, 2006 at 7:44 AM | PERMALINK

I really can't add anything that hasn't already been said ... except that I've seen this anti-environmentalist attitude among conservative Christians growing for a long time. Their prevailing worldview is: "Not to worry, God is in control, God will take care of everything."

I'm going on 47 years of age, and in MY LIFETIME ALONE the human population on this planet has DOUBLED from three to six billion people. That should give ANYONE pause. The population could conceivably TRIPLE to nine billion by the time I'm in my seventies. These are people that will (at least in the best of all worlds) need to be fed, housed, educated, employed, and have their sanitary and medical needs met. More forests will have to be cleared to help meet those needs. More greenhouse gases will go into the atmosphere. No one is talking seriously about population control measures, because in Washington the evangelicals that control the Republican party believe that THERE CAN NEVER BE TOO MANY PEOPLE. "Not to worry," they say. "God will take care of everything. And besides, JESUS IS COMING SOON!"

Future generations will curse us for our inaction.

Posted by: Chuck Anziulewicz on June 1, 2006 at 9:01 AM | PERMALINK

Marc wrote: Every meaningful moral code requires balancing different principles. If you were uncharitable, you call this a contradiction.

Don P the Atheist responded: I have no idea what relevance you think this claim has to the issue in debate.

Congratulations, Marc. "I have no idea..." is Don-speak for surrender.

***Idea!

Best contradiction-of-life yet:

What is simple is not simple and
What is obvious is not obvious

Posted by: obscure on June 1, 2006 at 11:48 AM | PERMALINK

What is ultimate justice? In the end, everyone gets what they deserve.

Do you believe in ultimate justice? I do.

Who can administer ultimate justice? Only an omnipotent, omniscient, perfect Being.

What is the alternative to ultimate justice? Human administered justice that is imperfect and consequently may or may not give everyone what they deserve. The alternative to ultimate justice is essentially the law of the jungle. Those who are most powerful make and enforce the rules as they see fit.

So, if your use of reason tells you to reject ultimate justice as non-existent, the only thing left is to take cover and/or load and lock. Your use of reason that results in rejecting ultimate justice seems very dismal and depressing to me. I prefer to exist with hope and joy.

Posted by: eddie on June 1, 2006 at 4:11 PM | PERMALINK

Marc, the God of the liberal 'metaphorically' fed 5000 people with a few loaves and fishes. Well, what good is a 'metaphorical' God ? A God who doesn't deal in certainties isn't worth getting out of bed early on Sunday for. A real God can change water into wine and feed 5000 people with a few loaves and fishes and part rivers. A real God can rearrange time and matter and space any damn way he wants to. If God entered history who the hell are you to tell him what is impossible for him to do ? No wonder liberal churches are rightfully dying. Who needs a 'metaphorical' God ?

I am amused contrasting the supposed 'crackup' of the Christian Right with the sheer bile and hatred towards Christianity on this tread and that apparently pervades the Left. A hatred of which Christians are well aware. So drop the delusion that you can quote a little scripture and the stupid fundies who believe in the Flying Spaghetti Monster will vote for you.

I am equally amused by the delusion that social conservative disenchantment with George Bush (after all, people do tend to get disenchanted when they have been lied to and used) will portend ANY Christian move to the Left. George Bush used social conservatives. But his second term has been completely in the service of a corporate globalist agenda and has totally ignored the social conservative agenda he ran for reelection on (he sure wasn't running on CAFTA and guest worker amnesty in 2004). Christians are disenchanted with Bush because they ARE Christians, not because they have suddenly moved to the Left.

Posted by: Charles Warren on June 1, 2006 at 5:52 PM | PERMALINK

You utterly misunderstand me Charles. The story of the loaves and fishes can be read in many ways. The most meaningful to me is that it is fundamentally a story about people sharing, not a story about God waving a magic wand and having food drop out of the sky. Miracles don't move me. If an all-powerful God wanted people to believe through miracles, he could write Bible verses in letters of fire across the sky. This doesn't happen, and there are sound theological reasons why no one should expect it to. You're apparently a literalist. Try reading the scripture in a different way. You may be surprised.

And all of that hostility on this thread? It's from one person, who is a well-known troll that enjoys arguing.

Posted by: Marc on June 1, 2006 at 6:09 PM | PERMALINK

god is dead. burried in my back yard

Posted by: kilgour trout on June 1, 2006 at 9:13 PM | PERMALINK

Marc, I don't need to go to church to hear warm fuzzy stories about "people sharing". And from liberal church membership statistics, neither does anyone else.

Either God deals in certainties, not "metaphors", or he is a waste of my time. Either he intervenes in human history and makes his presence felt in people's lives or religion is just a hobby.

Posted by: Charles Warren on June 2, 2006 at 10:56 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

Read Jonathan Rowe remembrance and articles
Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

Advertise in WM



buy from Amazon and
support the Monthly