Why I changed my mind

(Susan Linkletter) #442

I don’t believe in any god. I don’t see how that translates into having faith that Jesus is not God. I understand that many people do have faith in Jesus’s divinity.

If you believe in something that cannot be proven true or false, is that not a kind of faith? If you haven’t decided whether or not Jesus is God, then you may have a point to argue about faith. Once you choose a side, aren’t you putting faith in something - even if its just your own logic?


Okay…or maybe it’s because it’s not saying what you think it says.

Jesus says to give to someone who asks without expecting repayment.

Jews would be willing to do that all the time…to family members.

Jesus said to ignore the insult of a smack in the face.

Jews would be willing to do that all the time…to family members.

It’s about treating others (even strangers) as family.

Not seizing the means of production in order to achieve humanness (à la Marx).



The Bible is not reliable? Or is it individual interpretations that are suspect?

That people interpret it different ways is not an indication of the reliability of the text. Otherwise, the law itself is “unreliable” because people interpret it different ways…

(Vlad K. I'm an Agnostic Atheist) #445

My (very limited) understanding of Marxism is that his ideas came up during the Industrial revolution, where the workers, some of whom were children, were exploited. His idea, was that the workers themselves should be the owners and beneficiaries of the factories. I may be wrong on this but I believe this is how Soviets interpreted it. My dad tells me that at his factories, typical worker would earn more than the engineers. Under Soviet System, people pushing paper were not seen as valuable as someone actually doing the work.

Jesus did not claim the same ideas, but he did support (if Luke 12:33 and Luke 14:33 are literal) NO private ownership. Which is the idea of Communism.

(Vlad K. I'm an Agnostic Atheist) #446

The ‘interpretations’ you are speaking of, are just making the text mean anything other than what it says. I’m not ‘interpreting’. I’m quoting the Bible text as it’s written. Of course, modern Christianity has progressed to where inconvenient texts (luckily for Western Christians) often don’t mean what they actually say.

If the Law itself lends itself to different interpretations, then it is unreliable and must be corrected.


Marx took Hegel’s dialectic and applied it directly to history–the inexorable progress of thesis-antithesis-synthesis. This was not just about historical progress, but human progress. For the proletariat to achieve complete humanity, they had to seize the means of production through violent revolution. The historical results (U.S.S.R., China, and Cambodia are the three iterations with which I’m most familiar) were disastrous, resulting the massacres (both active–systematic murder, and passive–starvation) of literally tens of millions of people, eclipsing any other mass murder in history (with the possible exception of Genghis Khan, who, in his lifetime, was responsible for a higher proportion of the human population).

Remember that for Marx, seizing the means of production through violent revolution is inherent to his theory.

To compare that to Jesus is absolutely mind-boggling!

Jordan Peterson says that Marx may have been right when he said that “religion is the opiate of the masses” (certainly the institutional religion of his day was worthy of criticism, a criticism largely shared by his contemporary, Søren Kierkegaard), but that Marxism is the “methamphetamine of the masses.”


No, because you are ignoring both textual and cultural context, even when it is provided. There is a different between innocent and willful ignorance.

All law is subject to interpretation, as is all text. This is not an issue with text; it’s an issue with humanity. Humans are essentially subjective. We interpret everything we read.

(John Dalton) #449

First, you’d have to define faith for me. If it’s synonymous with belief, that’s one thing. I hold a variety of beliefs, and I am convinced that we could not get along in our daily lives without using belief.

If faith means something else, I’d have to assess things based on that definition.

To me, I don’t believe in the claim that Jesus is God, or more generally, that gods as conceived of by humans exist (at least any I’ve ever heard of). In my estimation, there’s insufficient evidence, and logical and other arguments are unconvincing, so I don’t believe it. To me, that’s a perfectly adequate description of what’s going on. Are you saying that people necessarily must have faith to not believe something? We’d need to have faith in all kinds of things then. Or do you mean something else?

I have trust in my logic, certainly, (faith? need a definition again) but it demonstrates itself to be reliable with a very high degree of regularity. If it begins to fail me, I may have to reassess that, if I’m able. It may even mean I can no longer care for myself.

To go a bit further here, the only way this could make sense is if I say “a lot of people seem to believe in God–can I be sure my conclusions are correct here, and theirs aren’t?” I’m not sure I can be 100% certain about anything, but I’m personally certain for a bunch of reasons. One thing is for sure–we can’t all be right here. I could always be wrong, but I always accept that possibility. Probability is a factor as well, and I don’t see it as a close call. Thinking out loud here a bit I guess, but I’m still not sure how faith comes into all that.

(Vlad K. I'm an Agnostic Atheist) #450

This is what everyone says. Gay Christians accuse traditionalists of doing the same thing. I know how the game is played.

Of course, however, homosexuality (as an example) is a felony in some US states!!! Thankfully for gays the laws are not enforced, but it doesn’t mean the laws don’t say what they say. People just work around them, as you work around inconvenient Bible passages.


Have you actually read all the biblical text?

The enacting of law (or failure to do the same) is, in essence, a matter of interpretation.

I do? Which ones?

(Vlad K. I'm an Agnostic Atheist) #452

I only said Jesus was a communist in a sense of calling for no personal property ownership. This is very clear in the Bible. And, Ananias and his wife were killed for hiding some of their possessions form the commune and lying about it. If China Communists or Stalin did that, you would cry foul (and rightly so). But your very Bible (for which you advocate in the 21st Century) shows that these methods were employed by God himself.

Mind-boggling is right.

(Vlad K. I'm an Agnostic Atheist) #453

yes, a lot of it is boring, but I did read it when I was an evangelical. All of it. Some parts multiple times.

I already showed you Luke 12:33 and Luke 14:33

Luke 12:33 Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys.
Luke 14: 31 “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32 If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. 33 In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.

Terms of peace? You can’t win with Jesus unless you have any possessions, get it?

And forget possessions.

Matt. 10:37 “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.

Luke 14:26 “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.

Forget possessions. Even family relations need to be reconsidered.

Luke 6:24 “But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort.

Matt. 6:24 “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.

Matt. 19: 16 Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”… 21 Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” 22 When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven.

What ‘interpretation’ was this rich young man not aware of? I’m guessing the kind that allows him to ignore Jesus’ message and enter heaven.

Now, this is the text! I am aware of the spinsters of the text, but the text itself speaks for itself. You can’t have possessions and be rich and enter heaven (everyone in the US is rich by the standards of the 1st Century Palestine, btw).

And now, a bonus question. What was the alternative to Jesus’ kingdom? An eternity in hell, that’s what one gets for disobedience.

And you complain about Marxist cruelty?

(Susan Linkletter) #454

I do not take the creation story literally, the talking serpent and tree that sends you to Hell represent something that God wants to reveal to us. Nether verse you quoted talks about torture being eternal and I am not sure that weeping and gnashing of teeth refers to anything more than regret one might feel when they learn that they made the wrong choice in life and missed the opportunity to live eternally. Next comes spiritual death and the end of the soul. Weeping and gnashing of teeth would be appropriate, don’t you think?

2 Thessalonians 1:9 They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might.

To me, this verse means unbelievers will suffer destruction and eternal separation from God. Not eternal torture.

(Vlad K. I'm an Agnostic Atheist) #455

I have a different take on the creation story. It appears to me that the snake was telling the truth all along. Everything the snake said will happen after eating of the Tree of Knowledge did take place. And the only reason people die, according to the Bible text, is they were evicted from the Garden of Eden before they could eat of the Tree of Life.

Genesis 3:22 Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might stretch out his hand, and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever”— 23 therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden, to cultivate the ground from which he was taken.

I am not sure eternal life is that pleasant. I think it just a cover for the fear of death that we all experience. I have known Christians who had panic attacks at the thought of eternal life.

Consider also, that this God character has no reason to hide from people. If what he is selling is so good, why not make it known. Every scammer makes a promise that they want you to accept on faith only, without any evidence. There is no evidence for God, much less for any afterlife, like heaven or hell.

And, lastly, consider that this God did not mention Hell until the New Testament. Nothing about Hell in the Law of Moses or pretty much the whole of the Old Testament. Maybe there is something about Hell in the book of Daniel, but that’s about it, but the idea is different from Christian Hell.

Edit. I said consider lastly, but I want to make one additional point. God, allegedly, is the smartest, most loving and most psychologically stable being that could exist. Why does he need to resort to some petty reaction to human doubts? “Ok Vlad, you did no listen to the Bible, you go away and get punished forever, go and start gnashing your teeth at what you will be missing”. Think about it. Who would do that? I could expect an angry teenageer to react like this, but a perfect being?

(Roger A. Sawtelle) #456

Faith is the difference between 100% certain and 90% certain.

You say that you cannot be 100% certain about anything, and neither can I. Nonetheless you are “personally certain for a number of reasons.” It seems certain means 100%, so there is a serious contradiction here. Probably you are saying that you have “personal certainty” or “faith” for a number of reasons none of which are in themselves certain.

This is exactly where the believer stands. The believer has many good reasons to believe, but none of them by themselves are certain. Since believers share their reasons to believe, and non-believers do not, would you please share some of yours so we can discuss?

(Vlad K. I'm an Agnostic Atheist) #457

So how do you distinguish a folk tale from history? How do you determine that the Gods of all other religions are false? there are thousands of deities throughout all of human history.


I have no problem with communism (which can work in the small scale). The necessary appointment of deacons in Acts 6 reveals early problems with it.

But I do have a problem with Marxism.

No, they were killed for lying about it.

“While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not under your control?” Acts 5:4

Nobody was mandated to give.

Yeah, if you avoid the stuff that doesn’t fit your preconceptions…

Wow. That interpretation of Luke 14 betrays significant preconception. It has absolutely nothing to do with “giving away possessions.”

Luke 18:28-30 (some context):

"Peter said, ‘Behold, we have left our own homes and followed You.’ And He said to them, ‘Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who will not receive many times as much at this time and in the age to come, eternal life.’” (italics added)

It’s not about possessions; it’s about heart and commitment.

Right. Hell is your alternative when you choose idolatry and self over God’s self-giving love. How could it be otherwise?

(John Dalton) #459

I intended personally to be the qualifying modifier here. I’m as certain as I can be, while recognizing that it’s impossible to be 100% certain about just about anything, was the intended point. Poor choice of words now that you mention it, but I hope the totality of my statement makes my intent clear.

So faith allows us to claim certainty in the face of a lack of actual certainty? I guess it’s scalable–you need more faith if you’re only 50% certain and less if you’re 99%? It doesn’t really make sense to me. I’d rather just say I’m 90% certain and admit I’m not entirely certain. If I’m missing something, I’m all ears.

Since believers share their reasons to believe, and non-believers do not, would you please share some of yours so we can discuss?

I don’t really see this as the right venue for that conversation. It doesn’t add up to me for myriad reasons, probably as many as you can think of reasons to believe. I’ll give one example that just occurred to me after I read Susan’s last post (and which I have thought about a lot before.) Why would a god base his judgement of us on whether we believe in him or not? We don’t have the information to be certain about it. I’ve made the best conclusion I can, so what more can I do? Should I be a hypocrite about it? Would God really appreciate that? If not, am I really not to be rewarded because I reached the wrong conclusion? Again, it doesn’t add up to me, and there’s loads of things like that.

(Roger A. Sawtelle) #460

John, thank you for your response. This is a very important question that needs to be understood. First of all, you need to understand that the God question is not first about God, it is first about Good. If God created the universe, then God knows how it works best and when it works right it is good.

Assuming that God is good, which is a reasonable assumption, then God would 1) tell us what was good, and 2) help us do what is good. I believe in God because God did tell us and show us what is Good through Jesus Christ and help us to do what is good through Jesus Christ.

Matthew 25:31-46 (NIV2011)
31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne.
32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.
33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.
35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,
36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?
38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?
39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.
42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink,
43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

This depiction of God’s Judgment given at the end of the earthly life of Jesus is the best that we have. Those who are being judged are not believers. They are judged only on one basis, Did they help those in need or not? Those who are in need are identified as the brothers and sisters of the King, believed to be Jesus Christ or God.

Those who helped them with basic needs are judged sheep and go to heaven and those who did not are goats and go to hell with Stalin and Hitler. That is the standard of judgment, which is quite simple.

  1. If Life basically Good, then God must be Good. 2) If God is Good, then we can trust God. 3) If God is Good, then we need to be Good too. 4) God wants us to believe or trust in God, because that is the best way for us to be Good, which means to be fulfilled in our humanity. 5) God wants us to do things God’s way because it is the best way, but if you can find a better way to create joy, peace, and justice that is fine.

God’s life makes sense, works, and is right. That is the best evidence for God that I know, but it is not 100% nor should it be, because we are human beings. We live by faith and not by sight.

(Mervin Bitikofer) #461

This is one narrow kind of fundamentalism and has been thoroughly debunked by people here who know all about languages, cultures, and how they work. Your arguments might find more traction on another web site more along fundamentalist lines, and with only superficial knowledge of scripture. You and, perhaps, Wookin_Panub could get into it on a private chat, but nobody here is impressed by or taken in by this surface treatment of Scripture.