When we humans believe someone else is wrong we have this strong urge to convince them of their wrongness.
Yes, and over the past two years, i have learned to accept that some jobs are just too big, and I need let go of that mindset.
Yeah, I can see that I suppose, I guess one of my issues ( along with a list of others) that I should work on is understanding the purpose of religion and why so many find comfort in it, I just don’t know the origin of religion nor what it’s intended purpose was in its original form however I would love to find out though I am not sure if anyone has done extensive research on such a matter.
To be honest I am not sure why a part of me is drawn to such otherwise irrelevant matters such as religion in regards to the cosmos, maybe it is apart of human nature?
In regards to this statment, may I ask as to how and/or why you became a Christian and when you say quite the contrary I assume you mean one is better than the other?
In one sense, Christianity isn’t a religion, it’s a Person. The purpose is interaction with him primarily, and secondarily other adopted siblings. We’ve already talked about some evidence.
Another factor is truth. A good Christian worldview covers it.
I know I don’t need to know the origins of it, since it’s about a Person. It’s directly analogous to not having to know where my father was born, or my brother, to have them in my life.
I mean that not all versions of theism are better than atheism.
The point is only that some are decidedly bad. Take the human sacrifice religions of the Aztecs for example. I do think there is good religion that has a positive value. But I also think that religion is quite dangerous and extreme caution is needed.
Long story… here are some links
review of Collins book “language of God” where I make comparisons of our past.
Thank you for clarifying, sometimes I misinterpret what someone has meant by there given statement.
Thank you for the links.
I’ve always appreciated how openly you concede that. By the same token I can happily throw any number of atheist worldviews under the bus as being inadequate. Placing a great deal of importance in dismissing the existence of something whose importance is essentially consensual is no great accomplishment.
Atheism isn’t a moral or social philosophy. I would say that atheism could be closely tied to skepticism, but there is no way that a simple statement about a lack of belief can be used to form any coherent moral or philosophical worldview.
I also think that we should cast our gaze a bit wider and look at ideologies in general, of which religion is just a subset. Steven Weinberg infamously stated that (paraphrasing), “with or without religion, good people do good things and bad people would bad things, but religion is the only thing that causes good people to do bad things.” I would disagree with Weinberg and say that bad ideologies cause good people to do bad things. Theist and atheist alike need to be ever vigilant in choosing which ideas they accept and follow.
Yes, I have suggested the same correction to Weinberg’s comment. I also think that in comparing ideologies, whether it includes a belief in god(s), by itself, is not among those things to check in determining whether this is a beneficial or harmful ideology. Yet it can certainly focus the questions you need to ask in the case of theism, such as looking at the character deity which is worshipped, and particularly whether obedience for its own sake is demanded.
I like the moniker “Trippy.” To go right to your question about “why do some think that God and the Bible is nonsense” — I rather suspect it is because they get their theology from people like George Carlin — and from whomever said that sort of thing before Carlin came along. I remember telling myself that people who go to church are hypocrites — and I was a 15-yr-old atheist at the time. Carlin was unknown to me at the time. His thinking is just a mantra that gets repeated until we think it is wisdom.
George Carlin is a fine comedian, known for his snarkiness in all things. He is not an historian or a theologian. Yet I will bet that those “10 things [God] doesn’t want you to do” — are things that (for the most part) George Carlin (or you or me) also do not want people much to do. Lie, murder, sleep with another man’s wife, steal…check out the 10 Commandments and I will bet you like them for the most part…Aside from that, there are plenty of other biblical teachings that you would like. Feed the hungry…be honest in business dealings…care for the sick and needy…care for orphans and widows …stand up for the underdog…visit the dying …etc…much of what falls under the teachings of religion in general is not the abhorrent thing that Carlin’s late-night musings “for a laugh” portrays it to be. And for the most part the people doing the above “right” things have some level of religious or spiritual faith. I think there are studies that show this to be true.
Of course, not all who profess a belief live by it. But I can think of atheists who also do not live well and that does not sour people like Carlin on disbelief.
You would do well to just try reading the Bible for yourself. If you are inclined, maybe try one of the four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John)…or the like. There is a lot more to this discussion than what I have just said. But those are my thoughts for now. Others will add, I am sure.
Nice thoughts, Vinnie. But you did just say “The Bible being nonsense is obvious. People are predisposed to literalism and read scripture through a lens of concordism as if it fell from heaven and reflects God’s divine perspective on every issue. When read in this manner, as an encyclopedia of theological facts, a lot of scriptur”
So how do you know that “your Jesus” is the real thing if the data is laden in such a nest of nonsense?
You may have seen my appeal to Bonhoeffer’s hermeneutic before?
II appreciate the reference. Have always “meant” to read Bonhoeffer (Cost of Discipleship is somewhere around!) but not really had or taken the moment…I especially like the below. And so true:
f it is I who determine where God is to be found, then I shall always find a God who corresponds to me in some way, who is obliging, who is connected with my own nature. But if God determines where he is to be found, then it will be in a place which is not immediately pleasing to my nature and which is not at all congenial to me. This place is the Cross of Christ. And whoever would find him must go to the foot of the Cross, as the Sermon on the Mount commands. This is not according to our nature at all, it is entirely contrary to it. But this is the message of the Bible, not only in the New but also in the Old Testament…
Yes, I did just say that. What level are you asking your question on? If I zoom all the way out, to be 100% honest, I don’t have any intellectual certainty I get it right and everyone else is wrong in regards to the deepest questions of existence. I have faith in the God I experience through Jesus in reading the Gospels. I can only offer someone the Gospel and occasionally interpretations of it that many non-conservatives might find more palatable. I find the best witness is usually living the Gospel. Preaching it on a street corner is not my calling. Some are pulled in that direction for sure but I feel called to just be the salt of the earth. I need to let God’s love show itself in my life and behavior. I am ashamed to admit that light can be dim at times. Beyond that its all about the person and the Holy Spirit to me in most cases. God saves, not apologetics and certainly not apologists. That doesn’t mean they aren’t useful in many circumstances though.
On a more zoomed in level, I am as certain as is humanly possible things like a global flood and a concordant reading of scripture produce insurmountable intellectual errors and problems. Or were you asking a more focused question on Christian interpretation compared to itself? How can I know what is true in the Bible compared to what isn’t? What is accommodated and what isn’t? My answer would be to use science, archaeology and history, and to examine scripture fairly. I don’t see how one could examine Matthew and Luke fairly and conclude they don’t contradict on Judas’s death. Add in a third contradictory account–ca 110-- by Papias to the mix. Then recognize his version survives in two different forms! We can invent all sorts of hypothetical scenarios because we have already convinced ourself the texts couldn’t possibly ever contradict in any way, but to me, that is not approaching the Bible fairly. It is not treating it as I treat other truth claims. It is not letting it speak for itself. If God wanted us to have that sort of theological encyclopedia, he would have given us one.
How do I interpret the Bible? Jesus and the incarnation is my hermeneutic. If it coheres with Jesus I can affirm it. If it seems to be against Jesus I deny it. As a Christian, Jesus is my image of God and the lens through which I see the world. Christ-ian not Bible-ian. Jesus is the hinge of scripture. All interpretation swings by the Cross. Its WWJD not WWBD? Because sometimes when asking WWBD the answer is to kill your neighbors and take their land. Jesus told us the parable of the good samaritan and to love our neighbors.
So you are worried about Papias and how Judas died — but you are willing to give George Carlin a pass?
See below for part of Trippy’s musings…
eligion convinced the world that there’s an invisible man in the sky who watches everything you do. And there’s 10 things he doesn’t want you to do or else you’ll to to a burning place with a lake of fire until the end of eternity. But he loves you! …And he needs money! He’s all powerful, but he can’t handle money!” -George Carlin
George Carlin is a comedian.Personally, I find what he wrote humorous. If he were a militant atheist and pushing that agenda I wouldn’t support him but the joke itself is just akin to having a laugh at flat earth proponents. Fundamentalism is intellectually embarrassing. But if you don’t like comedy in general, that is another issue altogether. I can laugh at a stereotype of religion or atheism from a comedian without getting upset or trying to cancel the individual because he or she hurt my feelings.
Papias doesn’t concern me. I am convinced none of them had any idea how Judas actually died. They just assumed he must have had a conding ending considering what he did, even though in apologizing for the embarrassment of Jesus choosing a disciple that betrayed him, we are left wondering if poor Judas even ever had any free will or say in the matter to begin with. Judas wasn’t the first or last infamous individual to be giving a fitting demise for his crime in antiquity.
My point was also less about Judas and more about evaluating evidence fairly, something I feel many conservative Christians struggle with. When someone holds evidence supporting their views to different standards than evidence that controverts it, they aren’t being intellectually honest with themself. But that is a problem many people have, not only conservative Christians so it would be very ungracious, unfair and dishonest to relegate it only to that group. None the less, it is practically impossible to discuss New Testament issues with conservatives because the conclusions of the discussion are already known before the evidence is even evaluated.
Well, Vinnie…thanks for your explanation. I am glad that you liked the late George Carlin (heart failure , 2008). I know that I heard him in the late 1970s, liked it, but never went out of my way to listen further.
I don’t know Trippy…and maybe neither do you … but he was inquiring about the validity of this statement below:
“Religion convinced the world that there’s an invisible man in the sky who watches everything you do. And there’s 10 things he doesn’t want you to do or else you’ll to to a burning place with a lake of fire until the end of eternity. But he loves you! …And he needs money! He’s all powerful, but he can’t handle money!” -George Carlin
Trippy said “I wonder if this guy had the right idea or if he doesn’t know what he is talking about.”
Really? Maybe George is good for a laugh, as you say. But is he worth taking seriously? And why was he that upset by the Ten Commandments? All ten of them? If we want to lock up the violators of some of those commandments, does it seen unfair to think God also has strong feelings about these things?
Does it really make sense to think that people the world over who believe in God (“an invisible man in the sky who watches everything you do”) do so because of some indoctrination they heard in a large building on the weekend in their youth? It does not explain me then… Yes, Carlin did not like the part about a burning place for all eternity. It is troubling, but even Jesus believed it.
I don’t know what Trippy thinks, but I think he was looking for some conversation on Carlin’s remark. And you said:
The Bible being nonsense is obvious. People are predisposed to literalism and read scripture through a lens of concordism as if it fell from heaven and reflects God’s divine perspective on every issue. When read in this manner, as an encyclopedia of theological facts, a lot of scripture fits into the heading of “BS” to use your terminology. Kangaroos and penguins swimming across vast oceans, tens of thousands of miles, to board an impossibly gigan
It’s your thoughts, of course. But evidently, fundamentalism is not just on the right. If the Bible were as way off in la-la-land as you said, then you would not have people like the Assyriologist A. Leo Oppenheim saying things like "“One can well say that the Old Testament reports with unrivalled excellence and thoroughness on the period following the eighth century BC and throws light in varying degrees of reliability on certain events of the preceding three or four centuries …In this respect, the Bible contains remarks that are far more revealing and exact than, for example, the travelogue of Herodotus on Babylonia …” etc., from Ancient Mesopotamia: Portrait of a Dead Civilization.
I do recall reading 19th century commentators snickering in print about the very idea of lions in dens…and a man named Belshazzar…and then archaeologists excavating in the area of ancient Assyria/Babylonia found that (gasp!) they actually did keep animals in dens in those days!..and Belshazzar’s name turned up on some other historical document or other.
There’s more than this, of course, and yes there are plenty of things for people to discuss and endlessly debate – as happens on this site (lots of flood stories around the world, btw, and many have some similar features–just for example) . But don’t forget, the biblical text is a founding document of Western civilization, evidently has *some * historical credibility (maintained that the universe had a beginning when others said it did not, etc). and has inspired people to promote various social reforms, education, charities, found hospitals, oppose slavery and abortion, and etc. Hard to see that in a text as befuddled as you describe it.
As I said, fundamentalism is not just on the right.
You did explain yourself as adhering to “Jesus and the incarnation is my hermeneutic.” And my question was then – a few blogs back – and now: what hermeneutic if the source of your hermeneutic is a nest of nonsense? How do you even believe in an incarnation? God is not who and what we want Him to be all the time. If He were…then He really IS an imaginary being of our own making, and the only hermeneutic is in your head (which might be different from the hermeneutic of Jesus and the incarnation in the head of the guy across the street from you). That’s not reality. That’s just fantasy — wanting God to be Who you think He is.
God either is – on His terms, not ours – or He really is not. And He definitely is not Who we want Him to be all the time. And neither is Jesus. “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but by Me.” A tough statement in some quarters. Jesus was and is loving and compassionate. But He could be and say tough things. And that is from the perspective that the gospels record reasonably well at least SOME of what He said or taught. You on the other hand seem to have problems with even that. But still…you find a hermeneutic of Jesus and His incarnation?
I addressed that. It is just a caricature, a joke. But it has a ring of truth for some fundamentals beliefs.
What are the penalties for breaking them? Kill children or young adults for disobeying parents? What else? Pick up sticks on the sabbath and get murdered? Yet Jesus’s disciples can harvest some grain when hungry? And Mark can use horrible exegesis to boot to justify his own political hobbyhorse on this? Why are women listed alongside property like cattle in terms of men’s possessions? The 10 commandments have immense value but certainly raise some vexing questions on their own. Don’t treat them as a theological encyclopedia of divine rules. I’d say to read them as part of a progressive revelation moving humanity and salvation history in certain directions. This allows us to be honest and admit their shortcomings while celebrating the graces they simultaneously bestow.
Some is a meaningless term. I have some money. Bill gates has some money as well. Both are completely accurate statements. Neither one conveys anything meaningful in this discussion.
To me the Bible is rarely ever concerned with pure history. Theology is its game. Derek Kidner wrote,
"We have in the Bible some of the most beautiful poetry: pious, lyrical and erotic, and also some of the angriest. We have narratives of epic proportions, aetiologies andfolktales that are at times stunningly profound and evocative, romances and adventure stories, some of them are ideologically tendentious or moralistic. There is patent racism and sexism, and some of the world’s earliest condemnations of each. One of the things the Bible almost never is, however, is intentionally historical: that is an interest of ours that it rarely shares. Here and there, the Bible uses data gleaned from ancient texts or records. It often refers to great figures and events of the past . . . at least as they are known to popular tradition. But it cites such ‘historical facts’ only where they may serve as grist for one of its various literary mills. The Bible knows nothing or nearly nothing of most of the great, transforming events of Palestine’s history. Of historical causes, it knows only one: Palestine’s ancient deity Yahweh. It knows nearly nothing of the great droughts that changed the course of Palestine’s world for centuries, and it is equally ignorant of the region’s great historical battles at Megiddo, Kadesh and Lachish. The Bible tells us nothing directly of four hundred years of Egyptian presence. Nor can it take on the role of teaching us anything about the wasteful competition for the Jezreel in the early Iron Age, or about the forced sedentarization of nomads along Palestine’s southern flank. . . . The reason for this is simple. The Bible’s language is not an historical language. It is a language of high literature, of story, of sermon and of song. It is a tool of philosophy and moral instruction. To argue that the Bible has it wrong is like alleging that Herman Melville has got his whale wrong! Literarily, one might quibble about whether Jonah has it right with his big fish, but not because the story could or could not have happened. On the story’s own terms, the rescue of Jonah is but a journeyman’s device as far as plot resolutions go. But no false note is sounded in Jonah’s fig tree, in Yahweh’s speech from the whirlwind in the Book of Job, or in Isaiah 40’s song of comfort.”
I see the Bible very differently than you.
I would only agree with “a nest of nonsense” when read concordantly as a theological encyclopedia. I don’t read the Bible in that manner at all so it not an issue for me. The Bible having errors is not a problem. It has adequately demonstrated its accuracy in terms of its intended purpose.
Merging all the statements of portraits of Jesus into one consistent whole through harmonization is pure fantasy itself. My view is the one grounded in reality. In accepting diverse literary works and genres for what they are. Rather, I’d like to think I am reading the Bible in its proper context. My hermeneutic is grounded in reality whereas a conservative one is just a blend of modern ideology being retrojected back into the texts. Sure, that ideology did develop out of it but that changes nothing.
Agreed. But neither you’re or my interpretation should be confused as being synonymous with God or what God says. We offer only interpretations of what God it.
In the synoptic gospels Jesus has to ask who people say he is and swears his disciples to silence. He speaks largely about the kingdom of God. In John he is openly proclaiming his identity and talks a lot about himself. In John Jesus scoffs at the notion that he would ask that the cup be taken from him. Gethsemane in the synoptics shows something different. Reading both as historical biographies is a problem because that is not their genre. Merging these two portraits as if they are both historically true accounts is fantasy. It is creating fiction–a chimeric Jesus. Merging them theologically, is a legitimate endeavor, which is what I do along with several other modern day evangelicals on the cutting edge who realize John and the Synoptics should not be historically harmonized (butchered) on a lot of details.
And Jesus did say tough things. Nothing wrong with that. If he didn’t he wouldn’t be God incarnate. He also said things that today sound mean. But his vitriol was mild compared to the standards at the time as I pointed out in another thread. Its only offensive if we imagine Jesus being a modern person speaking the same way. In other words, we have to strip him of his ancient context and world view. That is not valid in my eyes. We all know Jesus was extremely compassionate–especially to the alienated and ostracized members of society. To children and outcasts!
We have been shaped by 2,000 years of Christian ethics and morality which ultimately is grounded in Jesus, even if it screwed up a lot along the way. There is no reason to suppose we won’t see a bit of ourselves in Jesus when reconstructing him. That is inevitable. We come after and were shaped by what came before.