Sunday, 24 July 2016

Thought for a Sunday: Yahweh’s to-do list

 

GoodGod

[Pic by The OFFICIAL Twitter account of God]

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19 comments:

  1. I am going to charitably assume you are just clumsily trying to yank the chain of Christians, rather than display your woeful ignorance about Christianity.

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  2. If you are going to be charitable, I shall then be respectful in asking: so in which of the tasks above do you detect the most woeful ignorance?

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    1. Speaking as a former Roman Catholic:

      1) Okay, I'll give them this one. Humans have a human-centric view of how the universe works, one you run into in discussions of evolution all the time. The whole reason textbooks talk about the Age of Fish, Age of Reptiles, and Age of Mammals is because it plays into the idea most people have (usually unconsciously) that humans are what everything was working towards. It makes birds all sorts of fun, because they're a side-branch that has nothing to do with humans!

      2) "For no reason" is false. The reasons are pretty explicit in the holy books that include this sort of myth. They're BAD reasons, but bad=/=nonexistent. Statements like this cost atheists attempting to discuss religion credibility. Why should a theist talk to us when we obviously are going to ignore what the theists say anyway?

      3) Complicated stuff. I won't get into whether they think it was himself crucified or not; you can ask them if you want to get into that debate. The real issue is why it happened. Winning back trust was never the issue--there were always faithful in the Jewish region, otherwise the plan wouldn't have worked anyway. The cynic in my says that the pseudo-crucifixion was for the press; the believers think it was the fulfillment of the old covenant and the establishment of a new one.

      (On that note, Christ was not crucified in the book--he was at best stabbed to death, and FAR more likely merely slipped into a coma. Crucifixion was a horrifically brutal means of killing someone, specifically because it lasted so long [plus other details I won't get into because they don't bear thinking about]. Three hours was far, FAR too short a time for the person to be asphyxiated [leading cause of death in crucifixion], and the soldier that stabbed Christ was obviously circumventing the law.)

      4) REALLY complex stuff. The Cult of the Saints is old-school paganism tacked onto Catholicism way back during the Roman Empire. As I understand it, it wasn't so much an attempt to appease the masses, as much as the masses telling the elite "This is what's going to happen, deal with it or die". LOTS of debate on this topic back then, including a few cities wiped out due to riots/conflicts. Still, the end result is that most followers of some brand of Christianity accept that saints act on our behalf (it's a formal requirement for sainthood in the Roman Catholic Church). Then there's the Eucharist, which is accepted as an act of intercession by God. Then there are things like Joan d'Arc and the like. Trial by Combat was ostensibly a way to allow God to dictate the results of a legal trial (and in reality it shored up the nobility, because they could afford better fighters, and God mysteriously seems to favor those in individual combat). Again, I'm not saying these are real acts by God--merely that any believer worth their rosary beads can list post-New Testament acts for as long as you care to listen.

      This list is funny to non-believers, but to believers it'll come off as empty mockery--about like atheists view "Without God, what stops you from killing, raping, and whatnot?" This sort of thing has value: in a society where religion is so widely accepted, just knowing you're not alone and that it's okay to mock religion is useful. But it won't convince anyone of anything.

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  3. Tough question. 1 & 2 are very old so need to be looked at with ancient eyes to make sense of it - as far as we can. I can't even confirm WW2 colours for lots of my model aeroplanes. 3 is rubbish and ignores what is going on and in respect of 4 I wasn't aware that time was ended. The last is especially annoying as I was looking forward to the Hurricanes winning. Bugger.

    3:16

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  4. With my attitude to Islam, I decided I would like Christianity, whether I liked it or not.
    Sometimes you will investigate a Christian, and find he has studied zoology or evolution or medicine.
    Like Mac here, and it doesn't make sense to me, the way we can hold opposing beliefs.
    The evidence about Jesus is flimsy, and fabricated, and God, no evidence at all. Anyway its no wonder they drowned walking across the red sea, only Jesus can do that.

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  5. 'Sometimes you will investigate a Christian, and find he has studied zoology or evolution or medicine.'

    I belong to a small church and people I try to keep up with include a flash headmaster, industrial chemist, mechanical engineer, pending physicist, medical doctor and so on. There will be a few arts degrees and I know of some business degrees. The pastor is an accountant and studied old Greek and goodness knows what else as part of the four year theological degree. They are nearly all young men and women. Among the greater circle are a couple of evolutionary biologists, both of whom have taught philosophy and theology on the side, and so it goes on. These people do not get off on waving their arms about or talking shite and they do not seem pressed to like stuff they don't like.

    3:16

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    1. The most important thing is to be free so we can follow our dreams and beliefs. Not to be subservient to those that want to force their ideals on to us.

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    2. So you don't want to be subservient to gays, Muslims, transgenders, environmentalists, lefties etc... ? The Christians in 2016 have no real ability to make you do anything at all having lost any group influence over anything years ago. I'm not uncomfortable with that but that doesn't mean I can have no opinion as an individual. The freedoms in life are not limited to just what you like.

      3:16

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    3. I disagree that Christians can't influence politics anymore, Anonymous. I'm in the South, where they can basically run the governments. Take, for example, alcohol. I'm not Christian, don't pretend to be. But due to laws enacted by specific sects of Christianity, I'm not allowed to buy alcohol on certain days in some areas, and not at all in some areas (so-called "dry counties").

      I'm also a paleontologist. I am intimately familiar with attempts by Christians to establish a theocracy, because my field is the front lines of that attack (see the Wedge Document). I am honestly worried that if they succeed I will be put to death (though hopefully that won't happen in the lifetime of anyone I know).

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    4. What you say may be true but that doesn't mean you are seeing Christianity (as opposed to stupidity) in action. If by 'south' you mean the US bible belt many Christians roll their eyes at the literalism, dispensationalism and foolishness that comes forth from this part of the world.

      I'd be just as annoyed as you about the drinking rules.

      3:16

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    5. That sound we're hearing is you shifting the goal posts. CHRISTIANS have enacted laws, and are actively trying to enact laws, to make the rest of us follow their rules. They do so in the name of CHRISTIANITY. Thus, regardless of whether you personally feel that they are following the rules of Christianity, each is an example of Christians exercising political muscle to oppress those they disagree with.

      Whether other Christians roll their eyes at the USA South or not is irrelevant to the question of political pull. Down here, they have it, in spades. Ergo, your statement that they can't influence politics is wrong.

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  6. Belief in God and Evolution in the same person is fundamentally absurd. Evolutionary biology gives insight how we came to be. First little vole things, and then, Mum look at the monkey in the tree talking to us, and waving his hands about. Those are absolute facts. Facts are different from Christian truths.

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    1. I'm not sure who you're responding to. If it's me, I have already stated that I am a FORMER Roman Catholic, and therefore there's no conflict here. If you're talking about Christians who accept evolution, you'll have to ask them. Ask three Christians who accept evolution why, and you'll get five answers. And once you step outside the Desert Dogmas (Jews, Christians, and Muslims), things get REALLY weird (it's a perspective thing; to them, we're weird).

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    2. Evolutionary biology gives insight how we came to be ...

      Christianity is not claiming to compete in that scientific arena because its a why rather than a how. Creationists are misguided in respect of both science and theology and the error compounds because they get the theology wrong and build on that.

      3:16

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    3. So what you are saying 3:16 is that Ken Hamm is not really a Christian. Does he know this? Can you tell him please?

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  7. I'm not saying he's not a Christian. I'm saying he is, according to mainstream orthodox Christianity, in error. I find his views annoying because they place barriers between Christianity and science that need not be there.

    3:16

    3:16

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  8. 3:16

    What you are saying is that according to your Christianity he is in error. The mistake you make is to then extrapolate your Christianity onto the mainstream.

    Perhaps he is an extreme example and too easy to pick on. This response was more aimed at your earlier jab at bible belt Christians, in response to Dinwar. The fact is, there are far more Christians holding these fundamental beliefs in the Bible belt, than there are moderates. That is why a North Carolina Governor can say in defense of Prop H2B that he believes in traditional Christian values, and use a clear majority of Christians to back him.
    that makes his views, by the very definition of the word, mainstream.

    Admittedly Christians in NZ are very moderate. This does not mean the world is like that. Whether it's abortion in Ireland, Birth Control all over the catholic world, or the murder of gays in Africa, there is still a lot of oppression in the name of Christ. You choose to turn a blind eye, and say things like "That's not Christianity, that's stupidity" and you will be half right: it is stupidity. Stupidity given power by it's affiliation to your religion.

    Which brings me full circle: Given Ken Ham is saying these things in the name of your God, it puts the onus on you to speak out against him. Can we not therefore take your silence as endorsement?

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  9. Your first paragraph is correct if you take the point to a technical conclusion rather than a practical one. In my experience the fringe beliefs, no matter how common they may be, arise from people who haven't studied under sensible people. I recall a heated row between a couple of Christian biologists and some Open Brethren fundies at an evening meeting. The fundies were embarrassingly ignorant of science and scripture any way you looked at them but they wouldn't look at the options because, in their view, the bible said this or that and that view could not be challenged no matter who questioned it. I'd not let my kids anywhere near them.

    No you can't say I endorse these people because I'm not silent. I've moved churches a three times in about 10 years because of nonsense - its not always pleasant as some people get snarky. Its taken a long time to find qualified and sensible people running things.

    3:16

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  10. There are problems with saying what you're saying, 3:16.

    First, it's historically illiterate. I've studied Christianity in the Middle Ages (I'm a member of the SCA, a Medieval re-enactment group), and to put it bluntly the most conservative and radical Christian today would have been put to death as a heretic back then. And you can hardly say that they didn't study under sensible people. Abelard, Aquinas, Aristotle, Benedict (both of them)--these are not intellectual lightweights. Plus, for your argument to hold true you'd have to accept that ALL theologians up until the Reformation or Vatican II, depending on your myth of choice, were not sensible people. Given the culture of the Middle Ages, where "scholar" and "priest" were nearly interchangeable, that seems absurd.

    Second, we are perfectly justified in skepticism as to the independence of your evaluation of how sensible someone is vs. your evaluation of the doctrine. When I have heard people say things like you are saying, I've usually found that they define "sensible people" (or whatever term they opt for) to mean "agree with my conclusions". The few exceptions have been among scientists, without exception; make of that what you will.

    In reality, what you appear to have done (and if this isn't what you intend, you may want to revise your rhetorical tactics) is to set your preferred view as the standard by which you evaluate all other interpretations. Which in religion is backwards, and dangerously so. You have set YOURSELF as judge (again, or appear to have done so), rather than subordinating yourself to your god. I don't mean to insult you by saying this. It's a common affliction among theists, one that I heard no small number of priests preach against (for the atheists here, the irony is not lost on me!).

    As for combating Creationism, merely moving churches isn't sufficient in my opinion. The only way Christianity can salvage any glimmer of intellectual integrity is to extirpate such views. Not "combat" them, but eliminate them entirely, or at least make every effort to do so. I'm willing to give any Christian group actively speaking out against such nonsense the benefit of the doubt, but as long as Creationism remains an active movement in Christianity, Christianity cannot make ANY claims to the intellectual virtues. It's bad theology; remove the plank from your own eye before removing the speck from your brother's.

    This is not just because I detest Creationism. The issue is standards. Christianity needs to demonstrate that it has them in order for ANY of your arguments to make sense, and as long as Creationism exists it can't do so.

    There are Creationists among geologists, hard as that is to wrap your head around. But no one can claim that geologists sanction Creationism because we have very rigid standards that practitioners of geology must adhere to, without exception. This means that we have an objective method of saying "Those ideas are nonsense", and it's not controversial in the least, even among those who are told their ideas are outside of science. (It's all a lot more complicated in practice, but it's built upon this foundational principle.) Christianity doesn't have that, which is why this discussion is so difficult. It's what lets you move your goal posts without a second thought; it's what allows every Christian to believe their sect is the right one and everyone else is a lunatic; it's what allows you to ignore the cancers in the Church by a token act of dissociation. Because there are no strictly enforced standards, anything goes.

    http://www.uwgb.edu/dutchs/PSEUDOSC/RelLearnSci.HTM

    Here is an essay that basically outlines how religious believers need to act in order for us to take them seriously.

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