Luke 10:27 RE: Jim Stump


(Igdy Kajigger) #1

Continuing the discussion from Response to Jim Stump’s Resignation from Bethel College | The BioLogos Forum:

Luke 10:27 New International Version (NIV)
He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’[a]; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b]”

As part of the parable of the Good Samaritan, this verse is very clear that we should do all in our power to help our neighbor. Educators and scientists through their work are doing just that. Isn’t using all of your faculties and making sacrifices to learn and pass on the knowledge you acquire the very definition of doing all you can to help your neighbor? This blog appears to be dedicated to something that as an atheist I have been thinking about for some time, that evolution through natural selection does not have to conflict with biblical canon. Science for that matter does not need to conflict with religious teachings either. Man has been using technology and science for centuries as tools for progress and the betterment of our world, admittedly with some stumbles along the way. Science is, for all intents and purposes, a tool. We till the soil to grow food, we don’t just throw seeds on the ground and have faith that they will germinate and grow. Science looks into nature and reaps knowledge that more often than not supports the magnificence of the almighty. You don’t need faith or belief in what is found through science, the process requires evidence.
Since becoming an atheist, nature to me has become a much more wondrous and special place. If I had it in me to believe in god, I would be even more in awe of his divinity and his power for knowing what I have learned from scientists. Isn’t it amazing that we keep finding how vast our universe is, doesn’t that make you say “wow!” An argument can be made that denying scientific discovery that can be demonstrated with incontrovertible evidence is denying the might of god. All science is doing is figuring out how things work. The unnecessarily confrontational stance of religious leaders is harmful to all humanity. Understanding our world makes it better.

In Genesis, on the sixth day, god grants dominion over earth and all of creation to man, we are responsible for nature. Dominion (rule) requires that we take care of our world, nothing ends well when rulers who neglect and abuse their people and lands as we have neglected and abused the world we’ve been tasked to rule by divine law.

Please reconsider your stance and allow this man of clear integrity and dedication to return to your esteemed school.


#2

Igdy,I’m very sad to hear you say you have become an atheist. What does that mean for you? What did you believe in before? What changed you? How much did it change you?


(Igdy Kajigger) #3

I am 48 years old so I’ve been an atheist longer than I was a christian. The journey has been long and only within the last decade or so have I softened my views on religion because people need to be happy and if believing in god is part of that then, so be it. I’m only atheist by the strictest of definitions: I reject and deny the existence of god(s). There’s a subtle difference there between what is belief and what it is said. I don’t say “there is no god” no one can know that. Engaging believers in conversation does far more good than ignoring them or berating them, which is why I am responding to you. My answers and comments to your questions follow:

I’m very sad to hear you say you have become an atheist.” Why? How would you feel if I said I was sad that you believe in god? I know you mean well, but this is quite offensive to none believers, would you say the same to a buddhist? or a hindu? They don’t believe in god. To them christians are atheists. Which, by the way, did you know that christians were some of the first people to be called atheists by the greeks? atheos means without gods, which is what christians were to them.

What does that mean for you?” Freedom from fear. The idea that I am born of and with sin is offensive to me and I find it abusive to children. Children are born with a blank slate and teaching them that something is wrong with them without cause or reason does more harm than good.

What did you believe in before?” I was a christian.

"What changed you?"
It started with doubt and curiosity about definitive statements of truth made by clergy and the bible, I could find no convincing reason to believe most of them. As I got older I continued finding more reasons to not believe. I have studied christology (history of the bible) at university level and that served to further support my beliefs. I recommend to everyone to learn how the canon was written and finally put together. I also recommend to all atheists to read at least one translation of the bible, more if possible.

"How much did it change you?"
I am kinder and gentler to my fellow man. I don’t judge people for who they are, only what they do. When I do judge people I keep it to myself and say “there for my good fortune go I”. I know myself better than anyone should, it is a two bladed sword. I am filled with wonder at the vastness and beauty of life, nature and the universe. I know that good and evil are not a binary proposition, that we live in a spectrum of both. Good people are as capable of great evil and great good. The majority of people want to and do good. The past few years I have been learning a lot about skepticism and how to use it to parse knowledge. Through skepticism I strengthen and weaken the things I believe in.

As you may gather from my initial post, my thinking has evolved to where belief in god is just fine with me. I have a much bigger problem with using faith to deny the reality that science presents. Stephen J. Gould proposed that Science and Religion/Faith are non-overlapping magisteria - the notion that each is concerned with different aspects of the world. Religion concerns itself with the divinity and the soul and science with the natural and physical world. This, to a certain extent, is how I see things.

I hope this satisfies your questions, please do not hesitate to continue this conversation.


#4

You asked why I am sad to hear you have become an atheist. It was a bit rhetorical of a question, I know, but the reason is that to love God is to live with him forever. To deny God, is to lose that. It’s sad to lose that.
Now, you asked, how would I feel if you said you were sad I believe in God. I would feel sad for that also, because your sadness about that would imply a lack of relationship with God, which is a sad thing to lose. So, if you were to say that to me, that you were sad I believe in God, (which you didn’t directly, but only “supposed” you might ask), I would think you would be sad that I did not have freedom from fear, perhaps, since that is what you experienced. However, I do have freedom from fear already in my present condition… So, if you were to say such, why would it make you sad?

I have an additional question: what did being a christian mean to you? What was the defining characteristic?


(Igdy Kajigger) #5

Regarding “sad for your/my beliefs” - I was applying the golden rule - I no longer directly express sadness for a person’s belief because it is their “truth” and just as precious as mine, I do feel a certain sadness but I don’t express it to the person directly. More than once in my life, people have gone out of their way to comment on my “spirituality” which I always appreciate. Most recently, a very religious christian asked “what’s inside you brother? You always seem at peace with a smile on your face” When I answered that I enjoy the world as it is and that I was an atheist, he was clearly surprised and started to say “I’m sorry” but stopped before he uttered the sentiment and said, “Huh, that is interesting.” For which I was very grateful. We went on to have a conversation not dissimilar to my initial post.

Being christian was so long ago that I have truly forgotten what it truly meant to me. The strongest feelings I remember where positive at the time but in hindsight I now see them as illusory or somewhat negative. I experienced a closeness to what I thought was god when I was with like minded people in retreats or in church. I never truly felt the same when I was alone as a teenager. As a child I felt mostly fear of the devil and fear of god - I feared the devil for obvious reasons, I feared god thinking that he would punish me for something I did. As a teenager I was active in the church and even sang in the choir but, even then, I knew the elation I felt was more from the music and sense of community than from any sense of worship. I went to a catholic school with nuns for teachers and my faith was of course a bit stronger in that environment, although I started to harbor doubt in the existence of a god. Becoming an atheist was difficult and emotionally painful. Paradoxically, becoming an atheist was the biggest leap of faith I’ve ever taken and I feel all the better for it. As I said before, I have found a much more vast and beautiful universe and nature without god or religion. In my experience, unbelievers tend to be more ethical and loving of their fellow human beings. I certainly am so. Being good for goodness sake without fear of punishment or expectation of reward is highly valuable to me. Knowing that the only time there will be a “you” makes your life so much more valuable and precious to me than believing you’ll have an eternal afterlife.

Please understand that I’m merely answering your questions and expressing what I believe and not that I’m judging you or your beliefs. I wholly accept your faith. My opinion or beliefs do not and should not affect your when your faith and love of god is strong, just as my convictions are strong and are not diminished by your faith.

My question for you is: Do you feel that the knowledge we’ve gained through science conflicts or belittle your beliefs?

Peace, and let’s keep the conversation going.


#6

This is interesting, and I have agreed that sometimes this seems to be the case. Of course, in some cases, unbelievers are more ethical because they fear the opinion of the fellowman. Or because they believe that one good turn deserves another, and so their good deeds will result in others being good to them… But that aside, I have recently often said to my christian friends that it is not what you believe on paper, but how you live that expresses your true theology. This works in two ways, first that if you have the right beliefs, but don’t live by them, you will be a poor witness. On the other hand, if your theology is not completely right but you live the way Jesus wants you to, then you are being more obedient. Your statement about being impacted most of all by the ethics and consideration of people verifies this for me (and I hope for others).

I can identify with what you said here, because it is also part of the reason we are no longer attending a reformed denomination, and are now attending a community church from an anabaptist tradition. This is related to personal experience at the denominational and local level. Of course, people are people in every church and denomination, and none are free from sin, but sometimes we just want some relief from what we are experiencing.

On the other hand, God is with me wherever I go, wherever I am. He will forgive those people as he forgives me, and I cannot ultimately claim to be better than them.

So a couple of questions, then I will answer yours about knowledge. What does “goodness sake” mean to you? Why do you choose to be good, rather than bad? Does “goodness” care whether you are good or bad? and finally, what role did Jesus play in your former Christianity?

So to your question… Knowledge we’ve gained, or knowledge I’ve gained, which may be different than yours, does it conflict my beliefs? Such a general question could have many answers, but in general, I would say no. It does not conflict my basic beliefs. I believe there are explanations for how apparent differences between nature and scripture can be resolved. This is based on the basic principle that science conflicts with the resurrection, and so I cannot place science on an immutable pedestal. Yet, science, as a discovery process, is a beautiful thing, as is the nature that God created. Science itself is God’s instrument to keep us humble, and to demonstrate the increasing greatness of God. (not that God’s greatness increases, but that our awareness and increasing understanding of his greatness increases.).

It is not science that belittles beliefs, but people who misappropriate science who belittle others. God’s creation shows how small we are, but does not belittle us. People belittle others.


(Roger A. Sawtelle) #7

@Igdy_Kajigger

Thank you for your statement and appeal to Bethel.

I certainly agree with you. Christianity and science are not enemies.

The problem I have with your statement is that your ideal is based on the Parable of the Good Samaritan is rooted in our faith in Jesus Christ and not in science.

Now you might have used this story because you were addressing a Christian school, but it is still true. Science does not show people the best way to live, Jesus does.

Now it is clear that many Christians do not understand the message of Jesus in part and maybe completely, but that does not make His message wrong. I am glad that you understand His message of love, and hope that you will give His Church a second chance or two or more.


(system) #8

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