Introducing myself with an explanation of basic terminology like objective and absolute

I don’t believe in proof with regards to ANY religious issue. It is ALL subjective and opinion and nothing more. The above is only a “refutation” in the sense that I refuse them not in the sense that there is an attempt to disprove them. But of course I think I am right, otherwise I wouldn’t believe it. But I put ALL my faith in God and absolutely NONE in my religious opinions – that would be standing on shifting sand indeed. Thus I would not dare to judge anyone on such grounds for I would not like to be judged by such things myself. I believe in the Christian gospel of salvation by the grace of God, not the Gnostic gospel of salvation by “sound doctrine.”

I do not say that one cannot make links between the 5 solas and Calvinism, but only that I do not. I see no connection whatsoever.

You can choose to use words however you’d like, but the word ‘religion’ does indeed imply a particular system of faith and worship, not just any old Joe’s personal beliefs.

??? responding to Christy not heddle ???

It is only ridiculous if secular government goes beyond the duty of protecting us from the excesses of religion to that of ordering our lives in general which is way beyond that mandate. This is why I prefaced my statement with the caveat “as long as the secular exists to protect us from the excesses of religion.” But perhaps a slight rewording is needed for greater clarity: as long as the secular is acting to protect us from the excesses of religion…

On this we are only left with the option of … agreeing to disagree.

I consider myself to be a Calvinist as far as salvation is concerned (I am an Anglican however, and accept some catholic ideas such as transubstantiation and clerical celibacy, my main disagreements with RC are with salvation and Mariology), that is my interpretation of Ephesians 2:8 at least, but I won’t judge.

The responders to this forum challenge me to rethink some of my cherished beliefs and how I express them. Judging from your first contribution, you will certainly add to those challenges in a rather elegant manner, and so you are most welcome.

You need to expand upon the statement that you place no importance on patriotism. As it stands this statement is so obviously false that it casts doubt on the sanity of the stater. Millions of soldiers (and uncounted numbers of civilians) died in WWII responding to the call to “uphold the Fatherland”. As a ‘dogface’ in that conflict, I was willing to put my life on the line in the patriotic belief that our kind of democracy offered a better life for further generations. Patriotism on both sides was, to some extent, misleading, but unimportant? No Way!

In these times I see patriotic nationalism as, perhaps, the greatest threat to the future of the human race. There is a red button in easy reach of each of the leaders of a half dozen nations that could literally set this world on fire. The shrapnel that knocked a hole in my skull (Jan. 1945) may have knocked some sense in as well. Now I see the concept of “globalization” as the ultimate goal–at least as worthy as sacrificing for Uncle Sam was in 1940. As fellow passengers on “Spaceship Earth” we cannot continue the deadly rivalries that are fueled by nationalistic patriotism. When Jesus commanded us to “love thy neighbor as thyself”, he meant the native on the opposite side of the earth as well as the Samaritan next door.

I would love to continue this discussion with you over a glass of port in my living room. But lacking that opportunity, I hope you continue an interaction on this forum.
Al Leo

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I share your use of the word “religion” but I’m sympathetic to the distinction William James made between “religious experience” and the “theology and the organizational aspects of religion”. It seems to me that many religious people report of having religious experience. That need not include anything wildly mystical but it does seem to be integral to religion becoming highly valued in a believer’s life. The wiki entry on James’ book “The Varieties of Religious Experience” makes the distinction this way:

James was most interested in direct religious experiences. Theology and the organizational aspects of religion were of secondary interest. He believed that religious experiences were simply human experiences: “Religious happiness is happiness. Religious trance is trance.”[3]

He believed that religious experiences can have “morbid origins”[4] in brain pathology and can be irrational but nevertheless are largely positive. Unlike the bad ideas that people have under the influence of a high fever, after a religious experience the ideas and insights usually remain and are often valued for the rest of the person’s life.[5]

So indeed whatever any Joe Blow may believe should not be described as a religion. But what a person believes and the value they attach to it may originate from similar experiences. I don’t think there is any reason to restrict religious discussion to the doctrinal canon of established religions only. Or if there is I’d be interested to know what that may be.

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I was objecting to the idea that any cherished belief we can’t prove to others is a religious belief, as stated in the OP. I could believe with my whole heart that dogs deserve the same rights as humans based on my intuition that they have a soul to soul connection with us (something I can’t prove), but that doesn’t make it a religious belief or my experience relating to my soul mate dog a religious experience. I don’t think all “beliefs” are rightly categorized as “religious.” Maybe that was not what the OP intended to communicate, but it sure sounded like an attempt to put specific labels on all possible kinds of truth.

Fair enough. I’m not sure what the OP had in mind or if this distinction applies for him. But I always enjoy learning what you think and seeing how you express it.

What prompted my response to you is probably a difference in priority in what makes something “religious”. For me that is a natural category of human experience. I think for many it would be experience relating to a particular religion, or in the worse cases, to one particular religion. Frankly I’d rather pursue that difference but it is probably tangental to the thread.

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After a forced break due to the post number restrictions on new participants, I find I will have to be more judicious in writing responses, including combining them as much as possible.

To Reggie_O_Donaghue @Reggie_O_Donoghue
I like the Anglican church. I have been considering that for a next church… means Episcopal denomination here in the states as far as I can tell.

To Albert Leo @aleo
The key word in what I said is the “I.” “I attach no importance to patriotism.” If you read the OP again perhaps you will see why – I had an extremely liberal upbringing. I do not confuse my internal state with reality to say, “patriotism has no importance.” I suppose you can say I am an idealist in the sense that my only loyalties are to what is right and I will not give my family, country, race, sex, species, or world any precedence in that. Indeed, I am more inclined to sacrifice these for the sake of what is right. I pretend to no delusion of anything like pure objectivity. Life requires subjective participation where what I want makes a difference – so of course I will give some precdednce to my own needs and values in the living of my life. Nor does this mean I do not honor those who have made sacrifices for sake of a better world, but why should I honor those of my own country any more than those of other countries?

As for things like globalization and unification, I am very wary of this. The lesson I take away from Genesis 11 is that war is not the greatest evil – a world united in a single evil way of life is a greater evil than that. I place a higher value on diversity and competition between many different ways of thinking – I see this as being as valuable to the survival of human civilization as genetic diversity is to the survival of the species.

To Christy
I am quite frank that all my Christian beliefs are in exactly the same category as the beliefs of other in things like faries, UFOs, psychics, alternative medicine, and ghosts. Just because I believe them cannot change the fact that they are based on subjective justification (such as personal experience) just like these beliefs of others.

And…BTW… I am not a fan of the word “soul.” I tend to use the world “spirit” instead (going back to 1 Cor 15 as my touchstone) and I believe that spirit is something which comes to all living things in accordance with the measure of life they experience (which is highly quantitative).

To MarkD
I share your respect of William James as worthy of some attention. I distinguish different religions like Christianity, Islam, etc according to what they believe. But of course, this does not sum up religion, it is only the easiest and most substantial means of categorization that I personally at least can get a grip on.

To both Christy and MarkD @Christy @MarkD
I see no reason whatsoever to make the word “religion” the property of organized groups, except when trying to get a handle on major labels like Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, etc… I will not deny the value of labels for the purpose of communication so that we can zero in on where particular people are at. But too much emphasis on group categorization can be misleading, for the individuals are not as united in belief, experience, and values as such labels might make it appear.

I wonder if this is also connected with my aversion to the habit of many of the religious in making even God into the exclusive property of their particular religion. We can talk of different gods as a convenient way of speaking. I will even talk about all the different Christian deities which I do not believe in. But I would not confuse the God I believe is real with the any of the various human conceptions of him. Indeed I think their are some issues in theology where this leads to some really big distortions.

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I think after the first 24 hours, during which time the computer overlords determine you are not bent on spamming destruction, there are no restrictions.

To quote people, just select the text in their post and click on the “quote” option that appears. You can do it multiple times in a single response and each quoted person will be notified, even if you are “replying” to someone else. You can also tag people using @ + their user name, which also sends a notification. If you hit the reply button under any post, it will notify the user of the post above the reply button. If you don’t want to reply to any one person and just want to reply to the topic in general, use the reply button at the very bottom of the page under the “This topic will close 6 days after the last reply” line.

I took the liberty of tagging people in your response so they will see it. If you ever want to edit a post, click on the pencil icon at the bottom. If you want to delete one, click on the three dots and then the garbage can.

So ends your whirlwind orientation.

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Last I heard you considered yourself a Catholic. Has that changed recently? Have you been received into the Anglican communion? Note that to be a member of these various religions most other members must also consider you to be a member in somewhat good standing/

There are Anglican fellowships in the US. They are under different bishops (often in Africa or Asia) than the Episcopalian churches, which are mainline. Anglican churches tend to be more conservative on some things.

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No, but I align most with Anglican theology.

What happened to Catholicism?

Perhaps I should say a few words about why I am here.

It comes from doing an internet search on the following:
What is the impact of accepting evolution on Christian theology?

But the reason for making this search was not because I cannot see the impact for myself. I have already explained in another thread that I couldn’t be a Christian without the theory of evolution – it provides the only adequate answer to the problem of evil and suffering, that I can see. The purpose of making the search was instead to explore how far Christianity has come in absorbing the facts of evolution. In another forum, I made the claim that Christianity has been a little slow in doing this. When I found this forum, I thought, great, here is a group of people actively exploring this. Unfortunately, what I found instead is only confirmation of my claim and that here too the resistance to accepting the facts of evolution continues and that Christians are still clinging to the defunct Watchmaker conception of the the Creator. I find it quite disappointing.

To explain… here is the choice as a see it…

  1. We have a God so obsessed with power and control that he is frankly a little difficult to distinguish from a devil. He creates out of a megalomaniacal grasping for his own glory and constructs the most disgusting torture chamber imaginable to consign any with a little bravery and self-respect to an eternity of torment. Since all he sees in his creations are tools to serve him then he wants nothing but craven worms and unthinking obedience. This wrath filled being cannot associate with any who are not perfect in their obedience to long list of petty rules, and forgiveness requires an infinite price before he can even consider it. This creature is logically incapable of love because love requires giving up control to others, giving privacy to others, giving responsibility to others – it means taking risks and SHARING.

  2. We have a God who values love and freedom more than power and control and this is why He creates life, which really serves no purpose if all you want are tools, for machines would be vastly superior in every way. This God knows very well that the only moral reason for creating life (in which death and suffering are unavoidable necessities) is unconditional love. Forgiveness is easy for Him and it is only limited by what is best for them, because like any parent He knows that cheap forgiveness does more harm than good. If He is angry it because He sees His children being abused. If He is exclusive, it is because false gods and religions are filled with so many practices which are horrific (like human sacrifice) or degrading (like temple prostitution). He walks among the sinful as a doctor offering healing, filled with sadness at the hell which His children are creating for themselves.

Now it seems to me that the only reason why someone would teach, believe and worship the first of these is that they also are obsessed with power and control and they have every intention of using religion to manipulate, intimidate and lord it over other people.

And what does evolution have to do with this. The watchmaker designer God is consistent with the first of these because all he intends to create are tools to serve him. But in evolution we have self-organization rather than design and this fits with the second of these who seeks those with whom He can share. As equals? Hardly! He is infinite and we are finite, except perhaps in our ability to accept and receive all that God has to give to us in an eternal relationship of love between parent and child.

And what does this have to do with Christianity? Well you see… there is this story… of a God who set aside everything of power and control to become a helpless human infant to grow up among us and then to suffer at our hands and give His life for our sake so that we can see Him as He truly is and what He really values – not power but love, not control but freedom.

Thanks. There are many nuances here, but helpful discussion of extremes.

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We aren’t here to keep “the resistance” out. Here in the U.S. there are many who very much resist any evolutionary science, and so it isn’t surprising that many should come to share their resistance to it here. It is an open forum.

There are also many here who do share your views and your appreciation for how evolutionary understandings have been of immense benefit. They may not always be the vocal ones always popping in here, but some are! So I hope you can still make yourself at home here despite the presence of many who come from a very different history with all these issues than you do. This is one of the few places they can interact with others like yourself and not be censored or shut down for failing to toe a certain party line.

[added]

I am remiss for failing to mention that you can see these issues explored (from points of view more like yours) quite well if you browse the published articles which will be more consistently “evolution-friendly”, though still not in agreement about everything or with Biologos, necessarily.

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@mitchellmckain I think that we are all learning a lot. That’s why Biologos is a big tent. Discourse with mutual grace is one of the keys that I imagine you are looking for. I think that the moderators (and we) are trying to achieve that.

Leading to another tack–do you have thoughts on open theism and Oord? Would that be in your range?

My own tendency is to one type of Christianity, but I recognize that there are areas that I’m very deficient; my brothers in Reformed and other areas have much to teach me about grace, too. It’s a bit like the blind men examining the elephant. We do have a lot to learn from each other.

I appreciate your own discussion.

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A bit of a false dichotomy, don’t you think? Surely you don’t believe that in the vast diversity of global Christianity, Christians all fit in either one of these camps or the other? If you do, you need to get out more. :slight_smile:

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“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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