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R E S P E C T - find out what it means to me and you

Let's Talk Religion

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1richardbsmith
Sep 14, 2012, 2:16pm Top

What does respect or tolerance for other religions mean?

If your religious belief is the correct way to the ultimate goal (salvation, knowledge, release), what is it to respect someone else's beliefs, or lack of belief?

Maybe you may not claim certainty that your belief is the one correct way?

2fuzzi
Sep 14, 2012, 3:07pm Top

I believe that the Bible is correct and the only way to Heaven is through Jesus Christ.

I respect people enough to politely tell them what I believe, once, and give them the option to accept or reject my belief.

I also respect them enough to not try to coerce or force someone to my way of belief: I don't hold a knife to their throat threatening to kill them if they don't convert.

3paradoxosalpha
Sep 14, 2012, 3:40pm Top

"Belief" should be its own reward, and tolerance can include disagreement.

I don't assume that everyone has the same ultimate goal, or that the same means will work for those who do.

> 2 I don't hold a knife to their throat threatening to kill them if they don't convert

Well, that's mighty big of you.

4ambrithill
Sep 14, 2012, 11:48pm Top

I believe anyone has the right to believe what ever they want to believe. However, I also believe I have the right to believe that Jesus is the only way and that without Him we would all die and go to Hell. If Christ is the only way then it is not tolerant not to tell others, it is hating them enough to let them go to Hell.

5Jesse_wiedinmyer
Sep 15, 2012, 3:12am Top

Interesting word, tolerance.

6fuzzi
Sep 15, 2012, 3:37am Top

Upon reflection, I would like to point out that 'respect' and 'tolerance' are not interchangeable words...

Tolerance: The endurance of the presence or actions of objectionable persons, or of the expression of offensive opinions; toleration.

Respect: v. t. 1. To take notice of; to regard with special attention; to regard as worthy of special consideration; hence, to care for; to heed.

2. To consider worthy of esteem; to regard with honor.


I tolerate my neighbor's noisy children, I do not respect them for the loud noise they make at 6am on a Saturday morning! ;)

7Jesse_wiedinmyer
Sep 15, 2012, 3:39am Top

Well, I suppose it's awfully nice of us all to put with people with whom we disagree.

8richardbsmith
Edited: Sep 15, 2012, 4:57am Top

Here are a few variations on the definition of tolerance, from dictionary.com.

1.
a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions, practices, race, religion, nationality, etc., differ from one's own; freedom from bigotry.
2.
interest in and concern for ideas, opinions, practices, etc., foreign to one's own; a liberal, undogmatic viewpoint.
3.
the act or capacity of enduring; endurance: My tolerance of noise is limited.
4.
Medicine/Medical, Immunology .
a.
the power of enduring or resisting the action of a drug, poison, etc.: a tolerance to antibiotics.
b.
the lack of or low levels of immune response to transplanted tissue or other foreign substance that is normally immunogenic.

I might add "allowable error" especially when speaking of measuring something.

I think in this topic we would consider definitions 1 and 2 to have the most applicability. I am tending toward the second listed definition for my understanding as to the sense of the word in this topic.

9johnthefireman
Sep 15, 2012, 4:47am Top

>8 richardbsmith: Richard, I agree that your definitions 1 and 2 are far more useful for this conversation than fuzzi's in >6 fuzzi:.

10johnthefireman
Edited: Sep 15, 2012, 5:06am Top

>1 richardbsmith: For me, all religions are an attempt to understand the divine which is beyond human understanding. It is unlikely that any of them will ever have the whole truth, but most of them will have some of the truth. I consider atheism and agnosticism similarly. I can respect that truth, celebrate with them the things that we have in common, and disagree with them about the things where we differ. My understanding is that the official teaching of my own Church, expressed in Vatican II's Lumen Gentium (particularly paras 15 and 16) encourages this view.

I believe my own religion to be the most appropriate, the closest to the truth, perhaps, for me at least, otherwise I wouldn't be practising it (although I'm conscious of cultural influences here: if I had been born in Saudi Arabia I would probably be a Muslim, if in Vietnam a Buddhist), but that doesn't imply disrespect for the others.

Having been involved in a lot of ecumenical and inter-faith initiatives and activities, I think it works best when done in practice, getting to know each other in gritty reality, not simply as an intellectual exercise based on "official" teachings.

11margd
Sep 15, 2012, 8:32am Top

>10 johnthefireman: ...I think it works best when done in practice, getting to know each other in gritty reality, not simply as an intellectual exercise based on "official" teachings.

Agreed! When we oldest son was in a university-affiliated preschool with classmates from all over the world, the kids celebrated each others' holidays via food, music & dance, crafts. It was a great way to learn about other people--enthusiasm and fun v. "tolerance"!

Years later, youngest son just completed a college class comparing religions, which was great background for him as he tries to reconcile riots in the news, say, with the gentle Muslims in his study and sports groups. (Well, maybe not so gentle about soccer! :)

12nathanielcampbell
Edited: Sep 15, 2012, 9:52am Top

>4 ambrithill:: I think it would better to speak, not of "rights" to believe in something, but of the "responsibility" that belief entails.

Jesus tells me to love God and to love my neighbor, even if my neighbor is my enemy, and to love them as He has love me, i.e. to love them so much that I will lay down my life for them.

That sounds like a pretty good definition of the respect / tolerance / love to which I am called as a Christian.

13ambrithill
Sep 15, 2012, 10:51am Top

The first definition of tolerance as given by Richard above was:

1. a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions, practices, race, religion, nationality, etc., differ from one's own; freedom from bigotry.

May I simply ask why this attitude is not given to Christians who believe the Bible to be the inspired Word of God? Calling someone uneducated, moronic, and other such terms certainly does not sound like freedom from bigotry.

14southernbooklady
Sep 15, 2012, 12:23pm Top

I don't know about "moronic," but "uneducated" is not a character assessment, it is an evaluation of one's level of education when compared against the general standards of what constitutes an educated populace. Also, it would not be applied to someone for their belief that the Bible is the inspired Word of God -- I would assume that many/most Christians believe this on some level. It would, however, be applied to someone who then insisted on the literal truth of the Bible (in say, matters of physics and evolutionary biology, in complete denial of the vast amount of scientific evidence in support of the theories of quantum physics and evolution.

15StormRaven
Sep 15, 2012, 2:45pm Top

13: What you fail to realize is that "a fair, objective, and permissive attitude" means only that your beliefs will be evaluated fairly. Not given credence when they contradict observed reality. In your case, we fairly assess your relative education concerning science and the observed world, and we conclude that it is lacking.

16ambrithill
Sep 15, 2012, 5:44pm Top

> 14 What of those who hold to the literal truth of the Bible with PhDs? Are they uneducated? What about the scientists who do not believe in Darwinian evolution? Are they uneducated? Are the only people who are educated are the people who agree with your point of view, and that is why you can be tolerant of their beliefs?

17ambrithill
Sep 15, 2012, 5:46pm Top

> 15 My primary belief is that Jesus rose from the dead and sits at the right hand of His Father. Can you show me from credible sources a contradiction to the fact that Jesus was raised from the dead?

18StormRaven
Edited: Sep 15, 2012, 6:41pm Top

What of those who hold to the literal truth of the Bible with PhDs? Are they uneducated?

In large part, yes. The luminaries of the "creationism" movement are largely uneducated on the subjects that they opine upon. Henry Morris was a hydraulic engineer. John Whitcomb was a theologian. Ken Ham has a bachelors degree in "applied science". Kent Hovind has a Ph.D. in "religious education" from an unaccredited diploma mill. Hovind is also a convicted felon. Bill Dembski has a Ph.D. in math. Stephen Meyer has a Ph.D. in history and philosophy. And so on.

Note what none of these people have? Degrees in actual science related to biology or cosmology. They are resoundingly unqualified to evaluate the science they claim to be opposing. They have no credibility, their "research" is embarrassingly bad, and their resulting work is incredibly shoddy. The one creationist with a biology degree - Michael Behe - was exposed as an almost incompetent who didn't know the field he claimed to be an expert upon in the Kitzmiller v. Dover case. A case, by the way, that exposed the complete intellectual barrenness of the intelligent design movement.

What about the scientists who do not believe in Darwinian evolution? Are they uneducated?

The handful of scientists who hold those views are misguided. And if you cite the list of "dissenters" put out by the Discovery Institute, I will laugh at you more. That list has been evaluated and most of the people on that list are not scientists at all, but rather electrical engineers, computer science engineers, mathematicians, and other similar professionals, and the scientists listed there are mostly not trained in relevant fields. Of the handful remaining many actually do believe in Darwinian evolution, and most of them were angry at being included on the list. The "list" is a dishonest lie. When the side of the debate that you have chosen to line up with finds it necessary to blatantly lie while making their case, that might be an indication that they don't have much of a case.

For comparison sake, the list of "scientists" that believe that 9/11 was an inside job is about four times as long as the Discovery Institute's list of "dissenters" from Darwinian evolution, and that's without removing all the unqualified people from the Discovery Institute's list. Think about that for a second: many scientists find 9/11 conspiracy theories more plausible than your creationism beliefs.

19paradoxosalpha
Sep 15, 2012, 6:19pm Top

> 17

Absolutely. Jesus did rise from the dead. But that was easy for him, since he was a space alien. Can you show me from credible sources a contradiction to the fact that Jesus was a space alien?

20StormRaven
Sep 15, 2012, 6:32pm Top

Can you show me from credible sources a contradiction to the fact that Jesus was raised from the dead?

Can you show me from credible sources that Jesus didn't shoot lasers from his eyes?

21Jesse_wiedinmyer
Sep 15, 2012, 7:48pm Top

What of those who hold to the literal truth of the Bible with PhDs?

I'd be interested in actually seeing that list of names.

22eromsted
Sep 15, 2012, 8:33pm Top

>21 Jesse_wiedinmyer:
And a PhD in Theological Studies from Bob Jones University doesn't count.

23weener
Sep 15, 2012, 10:18pm Top

Relating to the original topic, one important way I try to respect others and appreciate being respected is to not make assumptions about one's belief or lack thereof. I learned (the hard way, when I was a kid) that not everyone is an atheist, so I don't start conversations about faith until I know a person well enough to know what they believe.

I don't appreciate it when someone asks me what church I go to, brings up their God casually expecting me to share their faith, or knocks on my door expecting that I am interested in hearing about their idea of God. I make it a point not to do those things to others.

24Tid
Sep 16, 2012, 6:41pm Top

I find it hard to respect those whose religion requires such damning certainties of them, that they use words like 'Hell' and 'damned' in relation to non-believers. Yet they are fellow human beings, so I should respect THEM even if I can't swallow their views. Which is why reading posts like 6 above, makes me shudder.

I have always felt drawn to respect such faiths as Quakers, Sufis, Taoists, Vedantists, the Ba'hai, Buddhists, etc, where tolerance of other faiths is built in, in fact is an outcome of their faith.

13

Your question is so Lutheran. Catholics, for example, place the Bible as a bit less important than the fellowship of the Mass, the communion/community aspect being more significant. Doesn't it also say in the Bible, at the beginning of John's Gospel that the Word of God - far from being the Bible - is Jesus himself? And in Corinthians we find "Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life."

25lawecon
Sep 16, 2012, 9:26pm Top

~2

How, ah, generous of you.

26lawecon
Sep 16, 2012, 9:28pm Top

~6

So. what is the application of the distinction between tolerance and respect to this discussion? I presume that you mean that you tolerate those who aren't born again plain meaning Christians, but you don't respect them? (Guess, what, that is not a surprise.)

27lawecon
Edited: Sep 16, 2012, 9:47pm Top

~22

You know, I made a very similar point in an extensive exchange with Tim and Arctic here http://www.librarything.com/topic/139795 at #117 et seq, and no one agreed with me.

Hope you have better luck.

28ambrithill
Sep 16, 2012, 10:01pm Top

> 19 & 20 So you answer a question with a question. While it is true that Jesus tended to use that method at times, I do not think it is very helpful here. I suppose I could ask you when you talk about evolution how do you know that all life on earth didn't come from a far away galaxy instead of from nothing, but what would be the point. There is plenty of evidence of the resurrection of Jesus, most notably an empty tomb, but if you do not want to look at the evidence, that is your choice. And I am not even going to call you names like you do when I don't accept your evidence.

29ZoharLaor
Sep 16, 2012, 10:09pm Top

When you deal with absolutes there is no place for respect and/or tolerance.

It is only when you question your beliefs that you start to respect others.
Questioning your beliefs does not make one less or more religious than others who do not, but I do think doing so will make one a stronger believer (it is what orthodox Jews do their whole lives, for example).

When you stop questioning yourself, when you have reached "enlightenment", knowing absolutely that you are 100% correct is when the problems being. Because if you are absolutely right, that means that everyone else who do not share your truth, whatever that may be, are absolutely wrong and hence "fair game".

30ambrithill
Sep 16, 2012, 10:39pm Top

I have never said that I never question my beliefs. But what if the questions led me to the beliefs that I hold now? How many times must we question our beliefs before we can believe them?

And I can certainly promise that I have never said that I am absolutely right about anything. Only God knows things absolutely!

31prosfilaes
Sep 17, 2012, 12:25am Top

I'd say one line of respect and tolerance involves not taking a martyr attitude when someone disagrees with you, especially if you come into a discussion forum.

32lawecon
Sep 17, 2012, 5:57am Top

~31

Any device or maneuver is justified to get other people to bow down to your idol (or yourself).

That ambrithill now claims that he "never said that I am absolutely right about anything" is total tripe. What the heck does it mean to say that the Bible has a "plain meaning," that it is inerrant, and that you follow the Bible.

Once again, ambrithill, no one believes these evasions, and anyone can see what you're doing.

33ambrithill
Sep 17, 2012, 6:46am Top

You know, lawecon, I find that an interesting comment coming from you. I do not remember you ever saying you were wrong about anything, even when other people have given proof that you were wrong.

34StormRaven
Edited: Sep 17, 2012, 8:43am Top

So you answer a question with a question. While it is true that Jesus tended to use that method at times, I do not think it is very helpful here.

You missed the point of the questions.

I suppose I could ask you when you talk about evolution how do you know that all life on earth didn't come from a far away galaxy instead of from nothing, but what would be the point.

No, it wouldn't. I don't think there is an evolutionary biologist who doesn't accept the idea that there is a small chance that life on Earth arose via directed panspermia or some similar means. But they all agree that if that is the case, the life that arose elsewhere almost certainly had to arise via an evolutionary process.

There is plenty of evidence of the resurrection of Jesus, most notably an empty tomb, but if you do not want to look at the evidence, that is your choice.

The "empty tomb" is not evidence of resurrection. The empty tomb is evidence of an empty tomb. First off, it is reported to be empty by a collection of people wholly interested in having an empty tomb, not exactly the most reliable of people. So you don't have an "empty tomb", you have people saying there was an empty tomb. But the reports are all different, which makes them suspect even without the self-interested nature of those reporting it. They couldn't even coordinate their story.

Second, even if you assume the tomb was in fact empty, there are several other much more plausible explanations for a tomb being empty. "Resurrection" isn't even close to the top of the list. Calling an empty tomb "evidence" for the resurrection just shows how weak the evidence for your case is. Among other things, as noted before, do you have evidence that Jesus actually died? He may have appeared to, but there are many known cases of people appearing to die, but not actually dying. So much so that being thought dead and buried alive was a real fear that people had (and took steps to prevent). The body could have been stolen, either by those who wanted to make it look like he was resurrected, or by those who opposed the new cult that arose around Jesus. The body could have been secretly or accidentally placed in a different tomb. And so on.

And I am not even going to call you names like you do when I don't accept your evidence.

That's good, because you don't actually have evidence. You have wishful thinking.

35lawecon
Edited: Sep 17, 2012, 8:51am Top

~33

Once again, an evasion.

You don't have answers regarding obvious contradictions in your views. (e.g. "I've never said I'm absolutely right about anything." vs. "The Bible is always absolutely right, and what I'm doing is following the Bible.")

You don't want to answer straight questions about your views- as in the current fundamentalist thread.

So you try to turn the exchange into a personal insult session.

No one is fooled, ambrithill. You are way too transparent.

36paradoxosalpha
Sep 17, 2012, 9:35am Top

> 28

But I agreed with you! Are you saying that you don't agree with me that Jesus was a space alien? I mean, the evidence is right there: empty tomb!

37ZoharLaor
Sep 17, 2012, 1:02pm Top

>30 ambrithill: - All I know is that when ever somebody pitches me their dogma and if they are 100% sure that they are right (trying to save me from going to hell), and I question them they get pissed, call me names and even turn violent.

38StormRaven
Sep 17, 2012, 1:18pm Top

You can't prove Jesus didn't ride dinosaurs, and I have evidence that he did! Pictures to prove it!

39richardbsmith
Sep 17, 2012, 1:24pm Top

Great job staying in the lines!

40fuzzi
Sep 17, 2012, 2:05pm Top

(37) Violent, really? Because you wouldn't accept their offer of a "get out of jail free card"?

What religious group are you specifically referring to?

41jbbarret
Sep 17, 2012, 2:43pm Top

>37 ZoharLaor:, 40: Ah, turn violent. When I first read it I thought it said "turn violet". Which is a response I sometimes get.

42JaneAustenNut
Sep 17, 2012, 2:51pm Top

Ah, interesting discussion..... I wonder what it is about Jesus or the premise of a Jesus that upsets people so much? The answer might prove to be quite enlightening.

43prosfilaes
Edited: Sep 17, 2012, 5:40pm Top

#42: I wonder what it is about Jesus or the premise of a Jesus that upsets people so much?

What presumption. If the lords of Judea had successfully crushed all his followers, now, 2000 years later, Jesus or the premise of Jesus would be an interesting discussion piece. If Christianity were wearing the shoes that Zoroastrianism is now wearing, then no one would have a sharp word.

When Christianity is the world's largest religion; when Christians stopped using the sword to convert less than 100 years ago*; when it, and various sects of it that believe the other sects are going to hell, are forceful missionaries traveling with the pure goal of conversion; when the world's largest military, with a nuclear force sufficient to destroy any nation, is run by a dominantly Christian nation; when said military is disproportionately controlled by fundamentalist Christians, some of whom have stated they're bringing God's army and engaging in holy missions; when Christians have engaged in willfully negligent actions with regard to nuclear war and global warming on the grounds that it's the end times and that God will protect us from our own stupidity; when Christians are still successfully pushing political positions that we consider highly injurious, like the prohibition of abortion and teaching of creationism in the schools and even the execution of homosexuals; when I look around and find Christians taking Jesus's command to "love your neighbor as yourself--and by neighbor, I mean Samaritan" seriously to be apparently outnumbered; when I've heard much about hellfire and especially homosexuality's direct line to it spoken by Christians; I don't think people are unreasonable about not being comfortable with Christianity.

This is staying pretty current; we could talk about how Germany being a Christian nation did not stop the Holocaust; how Christian nations started and engaged in WWI; how they murdered and enslaved the natives of the Americas and Australia; how they engaged in the Inquisition; etc. etc. You can point fingers at other religions, but if you go to the nations of those religions, you will find people upset by that religion. I'm not sure any worldwide religion could have avoided this, but Christianity took the prize followed by Islam (which hasn't upset anyone, no siree) and Hinduism (which escapes upset only because it's confined to India; those affected by it have a lot of words to spill on the matter, I think).

* Yes, both the US and Australia were still using force to convert native populations less than 100 years ago.

44Tid
Edited: Sep 17, 2012, 6:08pm Top

43

I take some of your points. However (as it's been said often in these forums) there are just as many atheist regimes (Cambodia, Communist China, Stalinist Russia, to name but three) who committed atrocious acts. It's a concomitant of political power allied with a dogmatic sense of being 'right', rather than a religion which triggers such. And Nazi Germany may have been nominally Christian, but they were acting out their Nordic Aryan fantasies when they perpetrated the Holocaust - a crime that swept up not only Jews, but (in smaller quantities) gypsies, gays, Communists, and those who disagreed with the regime.

As for the point about "Samaritans", that would have been a recognisable example in 1stC AD Palestine, but it is obviously not relevant now, and we could substitute Iraqis, Afghans, gays, and any number of oppressed minorities to give an example of "who is our neighbour?".

45southernbooklady
Sep 17, 2012, 6:21pm Top

>44 Tid: It's a concomitant of political power allied with a dogmatic sense of being 'right', rather than a religion which triggers such.

Is there such a thing as a religion that does exercise political power? Just be virtue of being an organized group of people, is it not a de facto political power? Can you really consider the religion without the politics?

46nathanielcampbell
Edited: Sep 17, 2012, 7:12pm Top

>43 prosfilaes: and 44: I'd point out that the Catholic Church has canonized (amongst others) Edith Stein and Maximilian Kolbe, both of whom were Christians killed by the Nazis in the Holocaust.

47prosfilaes
Sep 17, 2012, 7:15pm Top

#44: There aren't just as many atheist regimes. You named three and outside those and their puppets, you've exhausted the list. Unless I'm missing some historic example, we haven't hit the 100th year anniversary of the first atheist regime. Germany has never been nominally Christian; whatever you say about the Nazis, the Germans who didn't raise a hand against Hitler, who served in his armies, even those who voted him into power, were largely Christian.

In any case, I'm not saying "I wonder what it is about a world free of God that upsets people so much"; I recognize the unfortunate connection of communism to atheism, as well as the current political issues. I'm frustrated when Christians disingenuously act as if they aren't a member of the religion that's not only the largest, but is connected to the most political, economic and military power, as if for many of us, Christianity and our position in relation to it has not been a major or even defining part of our lives that carries along a lot of emotional baggage.

48nathanielcampbell
Sep 17, 2012, 7:22pm Top

>47 prosfilaes:: But add up the number of people killed by just those three regimes (Stalin's Russia, Mao's China, and Pol Pot's Cambodia) and you reach into the tens of millions.

But hey, what's a few million here and a few million there?

49prosfilaes
Edited: Sep 17, 2012, 7:57pm Top

#48: Is that the game you really want to play? I mean, WWI was 17 million dead primarily between Christian nations. The Congo Free State killed by some estimates 20 million. There's your tens of millions.

But hey, what's a few million here and a few million there?

50nathanielcampbell
Sep 17, 2012, 8:42pm Top

>49 prosfilaes:: Was World War I fought for religious reasons? Or was it fought because somebody killed the Archduke and everybody else was obligated by a mess of treaties to go to war over it?

You keep peddling this ridiculous notion that religion is responsible for all the violence in the world, without stopping to consider how endemic violence is to the human condition, quite apart from religion. (Which is why the "atheist" nations were introduced as an example: even when there is no widespread religion, humans still kill each other with frightening regularity.)

Furthermore, you regularly and completely ignore the fact that the vast majority of all peacemakers in the world have been motivated, not by atheist or secular reasons, but by religious ones. Leaving aside such oldies (but goodies) as Peter Damian, Francis of Assisi, and the Buddha, and limiting ourselves to the twentieth-century, we look down the list: Gandhi, Mother Theresa, Martin Luther King, Jr., Edith Stein, Pope John Paul II, Albert Schweitzer, Simone Weil, etc. etc. etc.

So the evidence is that (1) violence is endemic to the human condition and most often triggered, not for religious reasons but for secular / political ones; and (2) a large majority of peacemakers are motivated by religious reasons.

Maybe you should reformulate your "religions cause all violence" meme...

51prosfilaes
Edited: Sep 17, 2012, 10:09pm Top

#50: Was World War I fought for religious reasons?

It seems bizarre to lay the deaths in the Soviet Union and China at the door of atheism, if officially and predominately Christian nations attacking each other can't be laid at the door of Christianity.

You keep peddling this ridiculous notion that religion is responsible for all the violence in the world

I have no idea who you think you're attacking, but I've never made that claim and do not believe it. This was never Christianity versus atheism; #42 was simply that Christianity is and has been involved in things that make people validly upset. So has atheism; so have pretty much every major belief system or set of ideas.

52lawecon
Sep 18, 2012, 12:39am Top

~50

"You keep peddling this ridiculous notion that religion is responsible for all the violence in the world, without stopping to consider how endemic violence is to the human condition, quite apart from religion. (Which is why the "atheist" nations were introduced as an example: even when there is no widespread religion, humans still kill each other with frightening regularity.)"

Dang, I thought that the religion of peace and love was suppose to do something about the human traits that are "endemic to the human condition" but unpleasant. Isn't that something like Paul was talking about?

How would you say that has worked out after the first 20 centuries?

53johnthefireman
Sep 18, 2012, 1:22am Top

>43 prosfilaes: when Christians are still successfully pushing political positions that we consider highly injurious

It's called democracy, like it or not. Many pressure groups are pushing positions which I consider highly injurious. The military industrial complex is one. The National Rifle Association in the USA is another. The Tory party in the UK is another. Citizens have a right to push positions and they have a right to do so in groups. If you don't like the position, fight it on the issues, not by criticising Christians for pursuing the democratic process. You'll find many Christians agreeing with you and campaigning alongside you on many of the issues which you consider injurious, a process which might go more smoothly if you stopped attacking them for being Christians.

nominally Christian (several posts)

"Nominally Christian" does not mean "Christian". The dynamic might be different in the USA, but in Europe the fact that many of the people in each country are Christians (and many aren't) does not make the government act in a way which is "Christian".

>47 prosfilaes: the Germans who didn't raise a hand against Hitler, who served in his armies, even those who voted him into power, were largely Christian.

I think you'd have to walk in their shoes before you make too much of that argument. It's not about religion or otherwise, it's about a dynamic faced by many populations faced with a totalitarian regime. Most collude to some extent or other, a courageous few resist. It's not simplistic.

>52 lawecon: I thought that the religion of peace and love was suppose to do something about the human traits that are "endemic to the human condition" but unpleasant.

So we haven't been very successful. That's not quite the same as being the root of all evil.

54prosfilaes
Sep 18, 2012, 2:53am Top

#53: It's called democracy, like it or not. Many pressure groups are pushing positions which I consider highly injurious.

Read the context in #42. To me, it's claiming that people getting upset with Christianity must be upset with Jesus, and that the reasons for that would be "enlightening"; i.e. nobody has valid reasons here, we just don't want to accept God. The point of 43 is that there's a lot of reasons why people get upset with Christianity, and acting like they aren't obvious is being disingenuous.

"Nominally Christian" does not mean "Christian".

Right, which is why the Catholic Church is not really Christian despite claiming it is. In fact there's only 42 real true Christians, though I'm not sure which 42.

When a bunch of Christian people act as a whole in an officially Christian organization, they get the label "Christian" applied to what they do. Trying to avoid that isn't going to win you any points in debate.

I think you'd have to walk in their shoes before you make too much of that argument. It's not about religion or otherwise, it's about a dynamic faced by many populations faced with a totalitarian regime.

That has some truth with Nazi Germany. But the Weimar Republic was not a totalitarian regime, and 37% of Germans voted for the Nazis at one point, with 33% of Germans voting in the last election, and all of Germany watched Hitler seize power.

55johnthefireman
Sep 18, 2012, 3:02am Top

>54 prosfilaes: which is why the Catholic Church is not really Christian

I don't think that follows, particularly in the context of the discussion on "nominally Christian" countries. A Christian Church is a specifically Christian institution made up of people who self-identify as Christians, however much you may disagree with their criteria for self-identification. The government of a country is not a specifically Christian organisation even if many of its citizens self-identify as Christians.

When a bunch of Christian people act as a whole in an officially Christian organization, they get the label "Christian" applied to what they do

Which is precisely why the governments of nominally Christian countries are not Christian.

56prosfilaes
Sep 18, 2012, 3:06am Top

#55: The government of a country is not a specifically Christian organisation even if many of its citizens self-identify as Christians.

A country of mostly Christians with an established Christian church intertwined with the power structure, with Christianity written into the laws is indeed a specifically Christian organization.

57johnthefireman
Sep 18, 2012, 3:09am Top

>56 prosfilaes: Well, I disagree.

58ambrithill
Sep 18, 2012, 5:57am Top

>54 prosfilaes: Props for figuring out how to make 42 the answer even on LT.

59Tid
Edited: Sep 18, 2012, 7:08am Top

56

Look, if you've been arguing that nominally Christian nations, leaders, politicians, etc - or even the organisations and structures that emerged from a religion - have acted throughout history with political motives, sometimes headed by power-hungry individuals with their own agenda, and been responsible for some major atrocities, you'll get no argument from me. That is indeed how it has been. And that's been the major drawback with organised religion - it's too easily corrupted and manipulated by either zealots or politicos or governments, who have their own agenda that is usually unrelated to the original aims established by the first followers of a religious teacher.

However, that's a sad fact of human nature - the point I was making in 44 above, is that in a secular age (the 20th Century), the atrocities continued. It wasn't a quality of atheism that drove Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot to their mass murders - it was largely the paranoia of a single all-powerful leader who had his own politico-psychological dogma to pursue. Same as Nazi Germany.

When you look at individuals, a different story emerges. Those who follow a moral dictat - often, though not necessarily, inspired by religious motives - have achieved great things, or served as inspiring exemplars to others. To nathaniel's list in 50, I'd add Dietrich Bonhoeffer (a Christian who stood up to the Nazis and paid with his life), Nelson Mandela, even Bob Geldof. Those are people who - whether it was in their thinking or not, followed in the footsteps of Jesus : not by being "Christians", but by acting on the impulse of Love thy neighbour.

60lawecon
Sep 18, 2012, 8:12am Top

~54

">52 lawecon: I thought that the religion of peace and love was suppose to do something about the human traits that are "endemic to the human condition" but unpleasant."

So we haven't been very successful. That's not quite the same as being the root of all evil.

============================

Quite right on both counts, but perhaps some modesty about one's achievements and less "my way or Hell Fire" should be considered in light of the historical record. If not by you, John, then by certain other nominal Christians who loudly proclaim their Christianity. (And who you tell us are just a Christian as you are..........)

61lawecon
Edited: Sep 18, 2012, 8:16am Top

~54

"That has some truth with Nazi Germany. But the Weimar Republic was not a totalitarian regime, and 37% of Germans voted for the Nazis at one point, with 33% of Germans voting in the last election, and all of Germany watched Hitler seize power."

Sort of like a majority of Americans voted for Bush II THE SECOND TIME AROUND, when they faced conditions nothing at all like those existing in the breakdown of the Weimar Republic?

62ZoharLaor
Edited: Sep 18, 2012, 1:39pm Top

40 > "What religious group are you specifically referring to?"

The two violent occurrences were instigated by Christians (I don't know which sect of Christianity they belonged to) who didn't like me questioning and poking holes in their dogma after trying to "show me the light".

To be fair though, I do think that the Christian right in America should be commended for fighting for their agenda without resorting to violence.

63prosfilaes
Edited: Sep 18, 2012, 2:57pm Top

#59: if you've been arguing that nominally Christian nations, leaders, politicians, etc

I'm arguing that nominally is good old fashioned "no true Scotsman".

And that's been the major drawback with organised religion - it's too easily corrupted and manipulated by either zealots or politicos or governments, who have their own agenda that is usually unrelated to the original aims established by the first followers of a religious teacher.

Organized religion is always an easy target. I think zealots actually prefer religions where they can set up their own shingle. As for the aims of the first followers, if they don't fit the needs of the current followers, they go to the wayside, organized religion or not. I think organized religion helps preserve the original aims by encouraging stability.

Those who follow a moral dictat - often, though not necessarily, inspired by religious motives - have achieved great things, or served as inspiring exemplars to others.

The people against the Civil Rights Movement in the American South followed moral dictats. Pick even the most morally one-sided conflict, and both sides will be able to explain to you, and believe, how they're just doing the moral thing.

64paradoxosalpha
Sep 18, 2012, 2:45pm Top

> 62 To be fair though, I do think that the Christian right in America should be commended for fighting for their agenda without resorting to violence.

They should, if it were true. But many of them engage in eliminationist rhetoric, and only a tiny minority have to engage in violent action to achieve this. What's the common denominator that links "white supremacist," "anti-government," "anti-abortion," and the other principal ideologies manifesting in the majority of such events in the US? Why, it would be ... the Christian right.

Cue the rrrregiment of No True Scotsmen.

65nathanielcampbell
Edited: Sep 18, 2012, 3:12pm Top

>64 paradoxosalpha:: So you replace one fallacy (No True Scotsmen) with another, that of hasty generalization:

A common denominator of white supremacists and anti-government mobs is their professed Christianity. Therefore, all Christians are responsible for white supremacist violence.

(And if your response is that you never made such a stupid implication, then I would ask you to consider this: given that none of the Christians in this thread have advocated for white supremacy, why did you bring it up?)

66paradoxosalpha
Sep 18, 2012, 3:25pm Top

> 65

You are a terribly hasty and sloppy reader. I said nothing whatsoever about "all Christians." I responded very directly to a remark about "the Christian right," carefully preserving the phrase. I also included accurate disclaimers for context: "many" (not all) who talk hatefully, and "a tiny minority" who perpetrate violence.

But do rush yourself on to your digital crown of thorns. I persecute you so.

67Tid
Sep 18, 2012, 3:43pm Top

63

I've looked up the "no true Scotsman" logical fallacy (I hadn't come across this particular form of it) - I don't think it applies! (Well, I would say that, wouldn't I?). However, perhaps I need to explain "nominal" in the context I used it. Jesus was very much a radical, whose message of 'love over rules' rubbed up against the scribes and established priesthood of his day; he allowed authority its day - "render unto Caesar.." - but his own agenda was moral and spiritual, and he saw that as superior to earthly authority where it conflicted. However, when Constantine gave respectability and power and authority to the Christian church, he changed it forever. So I don't believe I'm wrong to label Christian nations and governments, as being far from the original message of Jesus, though not from the shifting sands that Christianity became. I say they are "nominally" Christian specifically in relation to Jesus' message, not to the institutionalised house of cards it has become.

In that sense too, organised religion may well be an easy target, but it's a perfectly legitimate one. It will be interesting to see what happens to Apple when Steve Jobs has been dead for a few years. I'm not suggested that the "cult of Mac" is a religion (despite some internet claims!!) but Apple still carries Jobs' DNA and I wonder how long that will remain true? So it is with religions.

I don't deny that 'current followers' have their needs. If Christians were all anti-science, anti-evolution, like the crazies, the church(es) would wither and die. It's interesting that Quakers revise their Book of Government once each generation, to bring it in line with current thinking and experience. However, the core of Quakerism is the same, still spiritually and morally what George Fox opened 17thC eyes to. If organised religion could retain the essence of the original teacher without becoming tainted by bureaucracy, or by moral shifts, or by being misused, or by indoctrination, or by the concept of heresy, or watered down - it would not be such an easy target.

68JaneAustenNut
Sep 18, 2012, 4:17pm Top

Wow, what a strange discussion.... I simply asked in post #42; I wonder what it is about Jesus or the premise of a Jesus that upsets people so much? No one has actually given an answer yet....... specifically what is it that folks can't quite reconcile themselves to when discussing Jesus? A simple answer might be that God doesn't exist and therefore Jesus doesn't exist. To me; simply stated Jesus is the son of GOD, but, if you do not believe in a GOD or a Jesus then anothers belief tradition shouldn't bother you. I personally don't have a problem with other religions or non-believers and I don't hold any hatreds toward others ideas or beliefs. I think sometimes we tend to make simple ideas too complicated.

69nathanielcampbell
Edited: Sep 18, 2012, 5:19pm Top

>68 JaneAustenNut:: I think it comes down to the fact that Jesus' message to us is, in fact, hard. He demands that we set aside our own puffed-up self-importance and act instead with humility, with love, with compassion.

That may not sound difficult or frightening, but look closer at what he demands:

We all love to read the beatitudes in Matthew 5--blessed are the poor in spirit, the meek, and the merciful. But what do we actually do to live up to those beatitudes? And how do we react when Jesus comes at us a few verses later with this?
For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. You have heard that it was said to the men of old, "You shall not kill; and whoever kills shall be liable to judgment." But I say to you that every one who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother shall be liable to the council, and whoever says, "You fool!" shall be liable to the hell of fire. (...) Make friends quickly with your accuser, while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison; truly, I say to you, you will never get out till you have paid the last penny.

You have heard that it was said, "You shall not commit adultery." But I say to you that every one who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and throw it away; it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell. (...)

You have heard that it was said, "An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth." But I say to you, Do not resist one who is evil. But if any one strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also; and if any one would sue you and take your coat, let him have your cloak as well; and if any one forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to him who begs from you, and do not refuse him who would borrow from you.

You have heard that it was said, "You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy." But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. (...) You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Love your enemy? Turn the other cheek? When somebody tries to take your coat, give him your cloak, as well? That hardly sounds like the American way.

70Jesse_wiedinmyer
Sep 18, 2012, 6:56pm Top

I wonder what it is about Jesus or the premise of a Jesus that upsets people so much?

I dunno. I'm reminded of Gandhi's trip...

“I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”

71Jesse_wiedinmyer
Sep 18, 2012, 6:57pm Top

Which doesn't apply across the board, but...

72prosfilaes
Sep 18, 2012, 10:59pm Top

#68: I wonder what it is about Jesus or the premise of a Jesus that upsets people so much?

I gave you an answer; nothing.

if you do not believe in a GOD or a Jesus then anothers belief tradition shouldn't bother you.

And I answered that in #43; Christianity has had a huge impact on the world that simply can't be ignored by non-believers. Democracy or no, when certain interpretations of Christianity are driving people to ban abortion or introduce creationism into the schools or execute homosexuals, it's not ignorable.

#69: I don't buy it. Believers might have to wrestle with those verses, but non-believers don't have to worry about them more than any other philosopher's words. They're not exactly verses whose Christian interpretation gets in the way of non-believers.

73weener
Sep 19, 2012, 1:43am Top

>68 JaneAustenNut:

Yeah, there's nothing about the premise of Jesus (or any other religion) that upsets me. It's the implementation of these beliefs, especially the idea that these beliefs should be mandated on a large scale. You'd understand if it were a different religion, such as Scientology, that was trying to push its premise on society at large.

74johnthefireman
Sep 19, 2012, 3:58am Top

>73 weener: the idea that these beliefs should be mandated on a large scale

I think this statement needs unpacking (again; it comes up again and again in similar threads on LT).

If you mean that nobody's political, religious and moral beliefs should be forced on the rest of us, I agree 100%. I've lived under two totalitarian regimes based on religious ideology, and one totalitarian regime and one single-party state not based on religion, and I certainly don't recommend it.

But in a democracy every citizen has the right to lobby and vote for the policies that s/he believes in, and to form pressure groups to do so. In that respect lobbying by a religious body is no different from lobbying by the military industrial complex, the National Rifle Association, Save the Whales or a political party. Indeed I suspect that religious bodies probably pour far less money into political lobbying than the military industrial complex and other business lobbies do (although no doubt someone will produce some figures that prove me wrong).

I think it's also very difficult to judge the motive of an individual for the way they vote on a particular issue. An atheist who enjoys hunting and a right wing fundamentalist Christian might both join the NRA and vote for unlimited gun ownership. An atheist socialist humanitarian and a progressive Christian might both vote for universal health care. Each citizen is exercising their right to lobby and vote for what they believe to be correct for their government and their country. Why single out religion?

75prosfilaes
Sep 19, 2012, 5:21am Top

#74: Why single out religion?

Because some issues are very clearly about religion. Abortion, in the US, is clearly a religious issue. Creationism and prayer in schools are also clearly religious issues. Furthermore, there's few people harder to discuss with then those who feel their beliefs are backed by the Bible, and the Roman Catholic Church is more powerful then just about any other lobby group in the world.

In any case, you're in "Let's Talk Religion" and this was a reply to someone who disingenuously repeated the question "I wonder what it is about Jesus or the premise of a Jesus that upsets people so much?" and "anothers belief tradition shouldn't bother you" even after it was pointed out that other's beliefs do affect me.* If we were in another forum, and someone was trying to pass the NRA off as an innocent hunter's guild, I wouldn't focus on religion in my response.

*For example, Ngô Đình Diệm's Christianity is part of the reason Jane Fonda's movies aren't welcome in my father's house. There are more profound impacts, to be true.

76johnthefireman
Edited: Sep 19, 2012, 6:51am Top

>75 prosfilaes: I hear what you're saying, prosfilaes, particularly in the US context. Fair enough.

the Roman Catholic Church is more powerful then just about any other lobby group in the world

I imagine many Catholics really wish that were true! Look, they lobby loudly, but their official view on abortion legislation (which is by no means the view of all Catholics) hasn't made much progress in terms of enacting legislation, because others (including Catholics) are exercising their democratic right to lobby and vote against it.

Edited to add: Indeed worldwide the lobbying power of the Catholic Church is almost certainly decreasing, particularly in countries where it used to be strong: Ireland, France, Italy, Spain, etc.

77reading_fox
Sep 19, 2012, 6:02am Top

Respect and tolerance .... to take the discussion back a bit.

If we're in a restaurant together, (me athiest you religious). I'll respect your belief by not ordering you a beer if you state it's against your religion. You'll tolerate my athiesm by shutting up while I enjoy my beer. Together we'll split the bill fairly - which might include you paying for some portion of the beer you can't drink.

The issue gets more complicated as above, when instead of personal quirks, it gets to be about national politics.

78southernbooklady
Sep 19, 2012, 8:38am Top

>74 johnthefireman: But in a democracy every citizen has the right to lobby and vote for the policies that s/he believes in, and to form pressure groups to do so. In that respect lobbying by a religious body is no different from lobbying by the military industrial complex, the National Rifle Association, Save the Whales or a political party.

It does make one want to yank their tax exempt status, however.

79nathanielcampbell
Sep 19, 2012, 11:37am Top

>77 reading_fox:: "Together we'll split the bill fairly - which might include you paying for some portion of the beer you can't drink."

You must have an odd way of defining "fairly", if by it you mean that, if the food and drink you (atheist) ordered is more expensive what I (religious) ordered, I should pay for the difference.

When I'm with friends, splitting the ticket almost always means, paying for what you ordered, plus tip.

80johnthefireman
Sep 19, 2012, 12:51pm Top

>79 nathanielcampbell: When I'm with friends, splitting the ticket almost always means, paying for what you ordered, plus tip.

With us it's usually the opposite; we simply split it equally between everybody, regardless of how big or small their portion is.

81southernbooklady
Sep 19, 2012, 1:02pm Top

>79 nathanielcampbell: When I'm with friends, splitting the ticket almost always means, paying for what you ordered, plus tip.

In a community, however, that would mean that some people--perhaps many people--wouldn't be able to eat.

I take reading_fox's point thought that these issues can possibly be worked out one on one, even if they defeat us on a wider scale. A couple days ago the Jehovah's Witnesses came to my door. In the past I have always been politely hostile to their visits--I dislike the intrusion, and have always felt that we had no common ground, which is certainly true at a theological level. I'm an atheist, and gay, and thus pretty much completely beyond their reach on every level, as they are beyond mine.

But this day, for whatever reason--it was pretty out, I was in a good mood, and I felt a little sorry for the woman who had been startled by my hyper dog--I stopped to talk to her and reassure her that the dog was loud, but harmless. She wanted to talk to me about the Apocalypse, of all things. I guess they pick different topics to discuss when they go out on their missionizing or whatever. But her main point was that the end of the world was nothing to be afraid of because we all could be saved by God's love or whatever. She had materials--a pamphlet that showed scenes of asteroids hitting the earth and then this family enjoying a picnic. I told her I agreed it was pointless to be afraid of the end of the world, and that I thought it made more sense to simply try to live as good a life as possible here and now. She agreed, asked if I had ever read the Bible (I said yes), and then urged me to read it critically and with care, and above all with context, and not to simply latch onto one verse or piece and ignore other parts of it. I agreed with her about that too, told her I was a book reviewer and thus felt it was vital to always consider context when reading. We had a nice fifteen minute chat, during which I was not shy about being an atheist or gay, and she not shy about her belief that God had a plan for humanity, of which she was a part.

It was as civil and pleasant a conversation as I think would be possible between an atheist and a real believer. We neither of us were converted or tried to convert the other to the cause, but we both walked away, I think, with feelings of respect for each other. If I can't respect the religion, I can at least respect the importance of the role it plays in her life, and the fact that it obviously gives her a sense of fulfillment, meaning, and purpose. While she, I suppose, can not really respect my refusal to hear God's call, but can at least respect that I try to live my life with more compassion and kindness than anger and fear. Perhaps she feels that I am unknowingly still part of God's plan.

The truth is, I seem to be able to interact just fine with extremely conservative, even fundamentally religious people one on one. There is almost always some kind of common ground between us that humanizes the issues--we both rescue dogs, we both love to read, we both like to garden, etc, etc. It is only when these things are played out politically, on a large scale, that the common ground seems to disappear from under our feet, and we are left looking at each other across a wide abyss.

82nathanielcampbell
Edited: Sep 19, 2012, 2:04pm Top

>79 nathanielcampbell:-81: Sorry, I didn't mean to hijack the thread with a completely-off-topic query about check-splitting practices!

I agree with the substance of 81, to wit, that civil, open, and meaningful conversation is often best done one-on-one, without the demands of "representing the entirety of worldview X against all those who would destroy it" getting in the way.

Your story about the Jehovah's Witness wanting to discuss the Apocalypse, however, reminds of a similar experience a few years ago. The poor dears had no way of knowing that my academic specialty is the historical theology of apocalypticism...

83johnthefireman
Edited: Sep 19, 2012, 2:08pm Top

>81 southernbooklady: We neither of us were converted or tried to convert the other to the cause, but we both walked away, I think, with feelings of respect for each other

Thanks, southernbooklady. In real life, in my personal experience, I have generally found it very easy and normal for atheists and religious people to work together, play together and discuss their beliefs together with respect, without trying to convert each other or prove each other wrong, and without acrimony.

It's on these LT threads that I have come across militant atheists and religious fundamentalists. Now that might simply be due to the general anger and anonymity of the internet. Some posters tell me it's because this group in particular (although they seem to stray into the Christianity group too) is specifically for argument about religion and atheism (in their opinion, at least; others might feel it is for sharing and learning), so one must expect harsh, uncivil arguments. But the net result seems to be lack of respect.

There is almost always some kind of common ground between us

I agree... but it appears as if many posters here don't.

84JaneAustenNut
Sep 19, 2012, 2:17pm Top

I do not believe asking again why Jesus upsets folks so much; was a bit disingenious........ The restatement has obviously opened up the discussion even further. Additionally, why are Christians singled out as being the bad guys in religion discussions? If one looked at any group of people they would have both bad & good apples. Just because you believe in GOD and Jesus doesn't mean that you hate atheist, homosexuals and abortionists. If I remember text correctly, it is sin that Christians object to and not individuals. Also, all have sinned and come short of Christ....... In Christianity, the only perfect person that ever lived was Jesus, so, folks we are all in the same boat ........ none are without sin.

85southernbooklady
Sep 19, 2012, 2:36pm Top

>83 johnthefireman: It's on these LT threads that I have come across militant atheists and religious fundamentalists.

Well, to be fair I think that one reason is we don't like confrontation in person, and thus shy away from the kind of topics that might cause it. If our conversation had got around to the idea of teaching creationism in science class she would have found me an adamant adversary, since that would be advocating a fraud that would be dangerous for our children.

But of course I can say that here, and a creationist may or may not respond, but the only real consequence will be a couple of heated posts and a few red flags.

So better to avoid the topic altogether, until it is forced upon us--like, say, gay marriage. Another issue in which she would have found me immovable and implacable. The question is, can our mutual respect survive even when our opposition is uncompromising.

86southernbooklady
Sep 19, 2012, 2:43pm Top

>84 JaneAustenNut: it is sin that Christians object to and not individuals.

Ah yes, the old "hate the sin, not the sinner" directive. Which for gay people basically means we love you as long as you don't have sex. Well, fuck that. Pun intended.

Sex--homosexual or otherwise--can be a wonderful expression of love and affection. I'm not sinning when I have sex. But you may be, if you judge me for it.

(that is a general "you" by the way, not specifically aimed at JaneAustenNut--great username--who seemed to be speaking hypothetically, not personally.)

87fuzzi
Sep 19, 2012, 2:49pm Top

(42) (68) Good thoughts. I appreciate your contributions here. :)

(69) ">I think it comes down to the fact that Jesus' message to us is, in fact, hard. He demands that we set aside our own puffed-up self-importance and act instead with humility, with love, with compassion."

Amen. And which directives are not only hard, but often are made even more difficult at times due in part to the "AHA! GOTCHA!" attitudes of those who watch for any mistake on the part of a professing Christian. These mistakes are then often used as proof of the fallacy of belief in Jesus Christ as God.

88fuzzi
Sep 19, 2012, 2:55pm Top

(74) "But in a democracy every citizen has the right to lobby and vote for the policies that s/he believes in, and to form pressure groups to do so. In that respect lobbying by a religious body is no different from lobbying by the military industrial complex, the National Rifle Association, Save the Whales or a political party. Indeed I suspect that religious bodies probably pour far less money into political lobbying than the military industrial complex and other business lobbies do (although no doubt someone will produce some figures that prove me wrong)."

True, and even in a republic there should not be two sets of rules: whether you believe in God or not, you should not be disenfranchised from the election process for your beliefs.

89jbbarret
Sep 19, 2012, 2:58pm Top

>84 JaneAustenNut: : the only perfect person that ever lived was Jesus

Not sure if this has been covered elsewhere but, doesn't that mean that he was not really human?

90fuzzi
Sep 19, 2012, 3:03pm Top

(86) If you believe something is not wrong, but someone else believes that it is wrong, there is no need to get mad.

We can continue to share our love for books and dogs/cats and gardens and such...after all, that's what LT is for, right?

91fuzzi
Sep 19, 2012, 3:05pm Top

(89) He was both fully God and fully man, and yes, it has been 'debated' before.

92paradoxosalpha
Sep 19, 2012, 3:13pm Top

> 84 Additionally, why are Christians singled out as being the bad guys in religion discussions?

Because your victim posturing cries out for it. Did you see us oppressing you? There, we did it again! By the way, when did you stop beating your wife?

93jbbarret
Sep 19, 2012, 3:19pm Top

>91 fuzzi:: And did the previous debate come to any reasonable conclusion on that? Or any explanation on how that could be? Because that appears to be one of the most difficult concepts imaginable.
Is there a link to the definitive answer?

94fuzzi
Sep 19, 2012, 3:33pm Top

(93) No consensus, as there usually isn't.

If you are looking for answers about God, I seriously doubt you'll find them on an internet message board, no offence.

95prosfilaes
Sep 19, 2012, 3:40pm Top

#84: I do not believe asking again why Jesus upsets folks so much; was a bit disingenious

It made me feel that you weren't reading what I wrote or didn't care to respond to me.

why are Christians singled out as being the bad guys in religion discussions?

The martyr complex is one part.

Christians aren't singled out as being the bad guys; the amount of sheer hatred that Muslims get on the Internet is pretty huge. Anti-Jewish sentiment is politically complex, but there's quite a bit of out there, generally either classic anti-Semitism or issues over Israel. On the other hand, if you're talking to Anglo-American non-Christians, it's likely no religion besides Christianity or Muslim has a direct impact on their lives, and it's quite possible they've never really meet a non-Christian religious person. There have been a few pagans that crossed my life, but I'm hard-pressed to put a name to any of them. I've seen practicing Muslims, Jews and Buddhists only from a distance. Politically, Christianity dominates the US political scene pretty completely. I don't have much reason to care about any religion other than Islam or Christianity.

"Survey: Americans overstate size of religious minorities" is another thread in this forum; it says that the actual numbers are 77% of Americans are Christian, 12% are unaffiliated theists, 4% are atheists or agnostics, 2% are Jewish, less then 1% are Muslim and 4% are all other religious groups. Should I stress about the 7% or the 77%? When a non-violent pagan starts talking about forcing his religion to be taught in schools, it's words of the powerless; when a non-violent Christian says that, it's connected to things that are actually happening in real life, a continuing problem that I try and keep an eye on.

it is sin that Christians object to and not individuals.

It's bad punctuation I object to and not writers; and yet still I deleted my comments on #84 on that matter on the grounds they were needlessly offensive. That line does not work; perhaps as something to remind yourself, but never as something told to someone else.

96jbbarret
Sep 19, 2012, 3:41pm Top

>94 fuzzi:: No offence taken, and I don't imagine that I'll find "answers about God" anywhere. More interested here in what people think about the unanswerable.

97Tid
Sep 19, 2012, 3:42pm Top

89

It's been a theological debate for more than 1500 years. The immediate generations after Jesus had no problem with the fact he was a man. Paul introduces the idea that he was born and lived as man, but was 'raised up' by God after his death, because of his perfection. Then the Gospel writers begin to introduce the idea of a 'miraculous birth' (post-Mark), though the full "Son of God since the beginning of time", doesn't appear until John. In succeeding centuries, the idea of a Trinity emerges, with all the complications about how its parts all fit together, and how can you have a God in three parts anyway?

Even before Constantine, there were competing factions who debated how exactly the 'fully human' and 'fully divine' elements worked together (there was the 'take half wine and half water, give them a good shake, and they mix together' theory, and the 'wine and water don't actually mix, but the particular qualities of each are brought to the fore when needed'.)

Modern theologians still struggle with the concept - which is a heresy in Islam, by the way. Progressive Christians are beginning to tend back to the 'born a man, but divinely inspired and apparently perfect' thesis.

Christian fundamentalists are essentially Lutheran, by the way (though many don't realise it), in their adherence to the Bible as the inerrant word of God, and belief in Jesus as the sole path to salvation.

98southernbooklady
Sep 19, 2012, 3:45pm Top

>90 fuzzi: If you believe something is not wrong, but someone else believes that it is wrong, there is no need to get mad.

I don't get mad because someone thinks I am doing something wrong when I decide to have sex with another woman. I get mad when they follow it up with attempts at legislation that will impact my life and deny me equal protection under the law. And I get mad if they insist on imposing their beliefs as science in schools because, as I have said, that is fraud and thus harmful to children, who will be at a disadvantage from their bad education and thus our country will be at a disadvantage because its next generation is so badly educated.

99JaneAustenNut
Edited: Sep 19, 2012, 10:11pm Top

I guess I have upset some posters...... Gosh, I am not trying to write an english essay..... I truly believe that we can all learn to respect one another, and without animosity........... Others have a right to believe what they want and in a democracy I have a right to believe as I do...... During the last few years I think our entire country has lost a lot of respect both at home and internationally. The entire world is in a state of flux; what happened to everyone in America coming together right after 9/11? We are no longer a country of Americans, but, a country of separate peoples and agendas. The old saying of America being a melting pot no longer applys..... very sad.

PS > 98; I noticed from your library that we share 71 books in our libraries. Thus, we do have things in common; everything isn't completely at odds.

100johnthefireman
Sep 20, 2012, 1:25am Top

I understand what the US atheists are saying about the power and influence of Christianity in the USA, which is not necessarily the case elsewhere in the world. I've lived under totalitarian regimes in Sudan which use Islam as their ideology, under Idi Amin in Uganda, who had no apparent ideology (even though he was a Muslim), and under a one-party state in Kenya which again had no religious ideology, perhaps more of a personality cult of Kenyatta and later Moi. I've lived under the aftermath of South Africa's apartheid, which used race as its ideology.

But I still think it's worth exploring whether religion is the right target to attack. A Christian and an atheist might both oppose capital punishment, oppose adventurist wars such as Iraq and Afghanistan, oppose nuclear weapons, oppose allowing military assault weapons into the hands of civilians, support universal health care, have no objection to legislation allowing abortion and gay marriage regardless of their own personal views on what is morally right for them, consider the US Republican party and the British Tories to be beyond the pale, generally have a set of left wing values, enjoy books and both be railway enthusiasts. There's certainly "some kind of common ground between us". What relevance does religion have to this?

Of course there are also Christians and atheists who support capital punishment, etc and who generally have a set of right wing values (and worse still, don't like books and are not interested in railways). Again, where is the relevance of religion?

Those are the two extreme examples, a caricature almost (although I do know people who hold just about all those views), but generally both Christian and atheist will have a mixture of views, opposing capital punishment but thinking war is OK, objecting to legalisation of abortion but not gay marriage, voting Labour but supporting some Tory policies. It would be difficult to stereotype his or her view as "Christian" or "atheist".

Human beings take different positions on issues based on a whole range of factors, which includes their religion/atheism, but also their life experience, education, upbringing, social class, ethnicity, nationality, economic status and more.

101prosfilaes
Sep 20, 2012, 3:30am Top

#99: On one hand, you defend your right to hold your beliefs, but on the other you bemoan that we're not a melting pot? What part of respecting one another involves you holding on to your beliefs but the rest of us giving up ours, or at least being silent about them?

102Tid
Sep 20, 2012, 9:54am Top

101

Not sure I can find anywhere in JaneAustenNut's posts, a request that anyone give up their beliefs, or be silent about them?

103nathanielcampbell
Edited: Sep 20, 2012, 11:05am Top

>102 Tid:: That's because there's a tendency in these fora not actually to read what we write to each other but instead to make assumptions based on a few words.

(And to be fair, I've been guilty of this as much as others have.)

104JaneAustenNut
Sep 20, 2012, 10:59am Top

>102 Tid:; Exactly, I think I stated that in a democracy everyone has their right to believe as they will. No one is asking others to give up their beliefs or be silent. I just simply say that, I believe in JESUS and GOD without demanding that others believe as I do. Why do Christians need to be silent?

105southernbooklady
Sep 20, 2012, 11:03am Top

I've lost track of what anyone is asking that Christians be silent about. If it is about imposing Christian doctrine onto the legislative process in the United States, then by all means, please be silent.

106paradoxosalpha
Sep 20, 2012, 11:23am Top

If it is about how terribly oppressed they are in the US or on the Internet, blather on, but don't expect smiles and nods of agreement.

107johnthefireman
Sep 20, 2012, 11:49am Top

>105 southernbooklady: But again I ask, is it imposing for a citizen to lobby and vote for her views to influence legislation, or is it simply the democratic process in action? Isn't it, in fact, what every citizen is entitled to do? You, of course, are entitled to lobby and vote for what you believe to be correct legislation, which might well be the opposite of some Christians and the same as other Christians.

108lawecon
Sep 20, 2012, 11:51am Top

~104

Jane, somehow you're not picking up on the fundamental (excuse the pun) notions here. No one I know is challenging your RIGHT to believe in whatever you want. What they are challenging is the substance of your beliefs You don't HAVE A RIGHT to say absurd things publically, advocate that those absurd things become the basis of polices enacted to guide the societal agent of coercion, and then have everyone else RESPECT WHAT YOU BELIEVE BY SHUTTING UP AND NOT CRITICIZING THE ABSURDITY OF WHAT YOU BELIEVE. If you want your beliefs to be met by silence they should be restricted to silence.

109southernbooklady
Sep 20, 2012, 11:54am Top

>105 southernbooklady: Citizens can. Organized religious institutions can't. Or shouldn't. Or should at least lose their tax exempt status if they do.

110nathanielcampbell
Edited: Sep 20, 2012, 12:23pm Top

>109 southernbooklady:: Why are the ACLU and the Southern Poverty Law Center still tax exempt? Don't they engage in precisely the same political efforts for which you are criticizing religious institutions?

111southernbooklady
Sep 20, 2012, 12:58pm Top

>110 nathanielcampbell: it's a slippery slope that all non profits walk carefully. You are allowed to "lobby" but not be "politically active." Basically that translates into a general guideline that you are allowed to lobby for or against legislation, but not allowed to participate in a candidate's political campaign. I have no idea how, say, a teacher's union endorsing a candidate fits into that scenario. The general advice if you are a nonprofit engaging in political issues is get thee a really good lawyer. Of which I'm sure both the ACLU and the the various churches have many.

Still, even though there are some fine distinctions depending on the kind of nonprofit you are, on the other side of the fence it feels like there are some pretty problematically gray areas. I imagine if your priest or pastor says "vote this way" it carries some pretty significant weight.

Here where I live in NC, when Amendment One (defining marriage as between a man and a woman) was put to public vote to be added to the state constitution, many of the voting places were churches--as they have always been for their districts. And many of those churches were actively encouraging their members how to vote. Here in Wilmington, one church/voting place re-did its marquee to read something like "Marriage is between a man and a woman. Vote YES on Amendment One." So that everyone in the district had to pass by this directive on their way to vote, making it hardly a neutral place. The church was taken to court on the grounds that it violated election laws, but it's ability to keep the sign up was upheld.

112nathanielcampbell
Sep 20, 2012, 1:21pm Top

>111 southernbooklady:: I'm just as upset by all the churches where I live (southeastern Kentucky) proudly ordering us to vote against legalizing the sale of alcohol.

But I'm not about to take them to court over it...

113southernbooklady
Sep 20, 2012, 1:32pm Top

If it was a human rights issue, you might be motivated to.

114paradoxosalpha
Sep 20, 2012, 2:02pm Top

> 112

Silly litigious gay people with their frivolous, anti-Christian lawsuits.

115Tid
Sep 20, 2012, 4:16pm Top

108

" You don't HAVE A RIGHT to say absurd things publically, advocate that those absurd things become the basis of polices enacted to guide the societal agent of coercion, and then have everyone else RESPECT WHAT YOU BELIEVE BY SHUTTING UP AND NOT CRITICIZING THE ABSURDITY OF WHAT YOU BELIEVE. "

I'd agree with this. However, I can find no trace of J.A.N. actually saying that. Of course, it's quite possible I missed the relevant post. Could you quote it please?

116lawecon
Edited: Sep 20, 2012, 4:27pm Top

~115

Why don't we just ask J.A.N. exactly what she means when she says that " in a democracy everyone has their right to believe as they will" rather than you and I speculating on what she means. (Apparently she doesn't mean what Spinoza meant when he said that everyone has freedom to their own opinions, so long as they keep them in their own minds, but she must mean that everyone has freedom to express their own opinions publically - as she is doing.)

You may be quite right, of course. Not everyone who talks about their "right to their opinion" means that they have the right to shout their opinion from the roof tops and have others shut up when they do so.

Of course, the proselytizing nature of evangelical Christianity may have some relevance here, as may the belief that your neighbor is going to burn in eternal hell fire unless he adopts your beliefs as his own. But maybe not. Maybe J.A.N. doesn't care whether her neighbors burn eternally in hell fire.

117prosfilaes
Sep 20, 2012, 4:30pm Top

#102: What does We are no longer a country of Americans, but, a country of separate peoples and agendas. The old saying of America being a melting pot no longer applys..... very sad. mean to you? It clearly means that us being separate peoples and agendas is a bad thing, and in the context of this forum that means separate religions is a bad thing.

118southernbooklady
Sep 20, 2012, 4:55pm Top

Sometime during my generation it was decided that America was not a melting pot, but a salad bowl. Then again, they also decided that Pluto was not a planet.

119Tid
Sep 20, 2012, 5:49pm Top

116

Yes, I recognise that J.A.N. did use those words you just quoted. However, I find it an impossible mental stretch to get from "in a democracy everyone has their right to believe as they will" to "advocate that those absurd things become the basis of polices enacted to guide the societal agent of coercion, and then have everyone else RESPECT WHAT YOU BELIEVE BY SHUTTING UP AND NOT CRITICIZING THE ABSURDITY OF WHAT YOU BELIEVE." How did you get from one to the other, or is this a peculiarly American thing which we Europeans just don't understand?

120nathanielcampbell
Sep 20, 2012, 6:28pm Top

>118 southernbooklady:: "Then again, they also decided that Pluto was not a planet."

Would it be playing too much into stereotypes about religious people if I said that I didn't really believe the whole "Pluto's not a planet" thing? :-)

121paradoxosalpha
Edited: Sep 20, 2012, 6:51pm Top

> 120

Uh, what's to believe? It's a simple matter of a conventional definition among astronomers. You can have your own private definition of "planet" if you like, but I can't imagine what it gains you. Moreover, I seriously wonder whether you have such a definition, or whether you have simply fetishized a piece of language ("Pluto"). That wouldn't fit my notions about "religious people," but it would practically emblemize my definition of theology.

122southernbooklady
Sep 20, 2012, 7:06pm Top

sooo....apparently it would, NC.

But Pluto will always be a planet to me, too.

123lawecon
Edited: Sep 20, 2012, 11:56pm Top

~119

I am sorry that you find the "stretch" impossible. It is, however, quite common in the US, when one is cornered in a discussion or feels that the other guy is pushing too hard, to say "Well, we all have a right to our opinion !!" - implying, of course, that all that exists is opinions and that they are all of equal value (and implying further that one should shut up and "not push it" any further). Interesting that you don't have such discussions in Europe. Perhaps one is not entitled to one's opinion in Europe or you have more direct ways to shut people up who are "disruptive" is "disrespectful"?

In any case, I am somewhat amazed that you won't allow JaneAustinNut to simply speak for herself. As I said, it is possible that she didn't mean what most Americans would mean when they say something similar. I just don't think it is likely when the person you're dealing with is an adamant American evangelical Christian. There is a nice thread, for instance, entitled "Reading Your Bible Through In One Year" (http://www.librarything.com/topic/130138#3229987)
where the true believers repeatedly told those who were "being disruptive," by raising questions about the meaning or context of what was being read, to shut up or leave or generally become absent. After all, doesn't one have a right to one's opinion?

124JaneAustenNut
Sep 20, 2012, 7:27pm Top

So much for Respecting opposite view points.......... Carry on with your discssions, for I will leave this forum because the idea of respect is foreign to some who post here. Good Luck with your discussions.

125fuzzi
Sep 20, 2012, 8:07pm Top

(119)Tid, it's not a "peculiarly American thing", that's just the way lawecon "stretches"...imho.

I don't understand it either. :)

126nathanielcampbell
Sep 20, 2012, 8:21pm Top

>121 paradoxosalpha:: Even my emoticon smiley face didn't manage to convey the twinkling humor with which my statement was made. I'm sorry that you took it so seriously.

127fuzzi
Sep 20, 2012, 8:48pm Top

I understood you, nathaniel...

128prosfilaes
Sep 20, 2012, 8:51pm Top

#124: I'm not sure what you were expecting. I personally didn't find your writings very respectful, as they showed an unwillingness to engage those responding to you. As per #95, I don't feel like I'm in much of a discussion when you repeat talking points instead of respond to my answers to them.

129lawecon
Sep 20, 2012, 11:57pm Top

~125

Yept, it is a mystery, isn't it fuzzi? (You will note who started the thread I linked to and who authored one of the first posts thereafter.)

130lawecon
Sep 20, 2012, 11:58pm Top

~124

That is right, Jane, how disrespectful for anyone to ask you what you meant. How dare they !!!

131Tid
Sep 21, 2012, 5:34pm Top

123

JaneAustinNut HAS spoken for herself, and now left this discussion. All I was doing was pointing out that the words you ascribed to her, she didn't actually say. You now say that you were 'reading between the lines' and interpreting her attitude.

I think if you know someone from other discussions, it's a perfectly valid thing to do (though I'd be very irritated if you did it to me!). But it's still a slightly dangerous game. I think people should on the whole - unless they have a history of dissembling - be judged on what they say, rather than an interpretation of what their words are LIKELY to mean (the sub-text). But as I say, if you know her, then I bow to your superior knowledge.

Could it be that you saw her as an "adamant American evangelical Christian", and treated everything she said accordingly? I guess this really IS a peculiarly American thing then. In Europe, if someone says that "everyone is entitled to their opinion" and applies that equally to others as well as themself, my experience is that no-one would find that a controversial statement.

132lawecon
Sep 21, 2012, 7:51pm Top

~131

Thanks for the advice father, I'll give it the consideration it is due (particularly given your vast experience in these forums and with the individuals that inhabit them).

Ever get around to reading that thread I recommended? Thought not.

133Tid
Sep 22, 2012, 1:34pm Top

132

"Ever get around to reading that thread I recommended? Thought not."

637 posts + 719 posts in a continuation + further continuations ...? that's longer than a book. Give me some time, and if I still have the energy and the interest, I'll try to tackle it. I infer from your remarks, that jntjesussaves is JaneAustenNut? Well, I didn't know that before.

"Thanks for the advice father "

Ever get around to visiting my Profile and seeing my photo? Thought not.

Please don't unload your vitriol onto me. You'll find me a bit more intelligent than some of the easy targets you choose to lock horns with. You don't frighten me. But if you treat me with the respect I deserve, and vice versa, I'm sure we'll get along just fine.

134lawecon
Edited: Sep 22, 2012, 8:49pm Top

~133

" I infer from your remarks, that jntjesussaves is JaneAustenNut? Well, I didn't know that before."

No, I'm not saying any thing of the sort.

And let's get the "vitriol" thing straight, shall we? You are the one who came into this thread and these forums and decided to unload your patronizing reprimand on my head when you knew nothing of the context. That wasn't very respectful, was it? Nor did it display a great deal of intelligence. It rather set a tone that you may not have really wanted to set, should you have observed a bit longer.

Now I will, of course, admit to you (and anyone else who should be interested) that I am no John. I am deliberately no John. I don't believe that it is good practice to "turn the other cheek." But that doesn't mean that I am aggressive solely for the sake of being aggressive. It does mean, however, that if you want to "lock horns" you may be in for a surprise. I don't take aggression without giving out aggression, be the first instance passive aggression or something more obvious. (Incidentally, if you think that fundamentalists are per se stupid, you have no understanding of the breed or what they're about.)

Clear?

P.S. I don't quite get what I am suppose to infer from your site. If it is that you are female, O.K., well, some of the most aggressive and dangerous litigators in my profession are female. So should I have said "mother" when you were paternalizing? I'll keep that in mind should you decide to repeat such behavior. (Those correct gender references are, of course, of supreme importance.)

135Tid
Sep 23, 2012, 11:36am Top

134

I WILL take a leaf out of John's book, though I will not turn the other cheek quite yet.

You have blown this out of all proportion. My defence of JaneAustenNut was not intended to be an attack on you, though you have chosen to take it that way. It was just that you seemed to be accusing her of saying things which - when I searched back - I couldn't find any trace of her saying. That is all. No attack on you. No "passive aggressive" garbage. Just me coming in to defend someone who was being - as I saw it - falsely accused of something.

For the record, my first post here in relation to this, was 102, where I said "Not sure I can find anywhere in JaneAustenNut's posts, a request that anyone give up their beliefs, or be silent about them?", addressed to prosfilaes, and replied to by nathaniel, and J.A.N.

My second was a response to yours (108), in 115 where I said "I'd agree with this. However, I can find no trace of J.A.N. actually saying that. Of course, it's quite possible I missed the relevant post. Could you quote it please?". You took no exception to this (and why should you? it was a simple request for clarification, not an attack on yourself) as you replied, in 116

"Why don't we just ask J.A.N. exactly what she means when she says that " in a democracy everyone has their right to believe as they will" rather than you and I speculating on what she means. (Apparently she doesn't mean what Spinoza meant when he said that everyone has freedom to their own opinions, so long as they keep them in their own minds, but she must mean that everyone has freedom to express their own opinions publically - as she is doing.)

You may be quite right, of course. Not everyone who talks about their "right to their opinion" means that they have the right to shout their opinion from the roof tops and have others shut up when they do so.

Of course, the proselytizing nature of evangelical Christianity may have some relevance here, as may the belief that your neighbor is going to burn in eternal hell fire unless he adopts your beliefs as his own. But maybe not. Maybe J.A.N. doesn't care whether her neighbors burn eternally in hell fire."


And I replied to this in 119, and so on, and on, until we reach this point of disagreement, which I find sad and unwelcome. You think I've been patronising? Not my intention, and I apologise if you saw it that way.

Now as far as I'm concerned, we've disagreed, we've both expressed our opinion on it quite strongly, and that's an end to it. You may of course wish to have the final word? Go ahead, be my guest. Or we can leave it here.

136prosfilaes
Sep 23, 2012, 4:56pm Top

#135: For the record, my first post here in relation to this, was 102, where I said "Not sure I can find anywhere in JaneAustenNut's posts, a request that anyone give up their beliefs, or be silent about them?", addressed to prosfilaes, and replied to by nathaniel, and J.A.N.

And I answered it in #117, and stand by my answer. If the sentence I quote in #117 is not a complete non sequitor, we must take it in context, and that's what the context provides.

137Tid
Sep 23, 2012, 6:00pm Top

136

I failed to check that 117 was a reply to me. Mea culpa. However, I understand neither JAN's quoted original sentence, nor the interpretation placed upon it.

138lawecon
Sep 23, 2012, 7:33pm Top

~135

My final word is that I accept the apology, and I apologize as well if I have misunderstood you. I do not, however, retract my evaluation that you jumped into a context and situation that you knew nothing about and made some snap judgments that were not wholly accurate - as I think you're beginning to find out in one of the other threads.

As for JaneAustinNut, you might take a look at her library and her group affiliations. Perhaps you're beginning to understand what those things indicate?

139JaneAustenNut
Sep 25, 2012, 7:52pm Top

Just looking around......... I believe > 135 is very much incorrect about my group affiliations. I am more of a private person and don't particularly belong to any extreme right groups, additionally, I do not belong to a fundamentalist church. I am of the Baptist faith, but, of the more moderate Southern Baptists. And as for you lawecon, I wouldn't subscribe you to any particular group except the one that spews discord. I have tried to afford lawecon a degree of respect but he must somehow try to avoid walking around with a chip on his shoulder when anyone disagrees with his ideas. I just thought I would stick up for myself a little; now I will turn the other cheek and let others have at it.

140prosfilaes
Sep 25, 2012, 8:20pm Top

#139: I am of the Baptist faith, but, of the more moderate Southern Baptists.

Are there any other kind? Okay, so I do know of a few other branches, but I think when most Americans think of the Baptists they're thinking of the Southern Baptist Convention primarily.

141lawecon
Sep 25, 2012, 8:53pm Top

~139

Tell us what the Berean Fellowship is.

142johnthefireman
Edited: Sep 25, 2012, 11:47pm Top

>140 prosfilaes: Are there any other kind? Okay, so I do know of a few other branches

Far from "a few other branches", there are Baptists all over the world. Apparently they form the fifth largest Christian group in the world (BBC). As Wikipedia says, "Diverse from their beginning, those identifying as Baptists today differ widely from one another in what they believe, how they worship, their attitudes toward other Christians, and their understanding of what is important in Christian discipleship". There's even a network of Baptists Affirming Lesbian & Gay Christians. So I don't think US Southern Baptists should be considered as any more normative than any other Baptists.

143prosfilaes
Sep 26, 2012, 12:06am Top

#142: Wikipedia says "The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) is a United States-based Christian denomination. It is the world's largest Baptist denomination and the largest Protestant body in the United States, with over 16 million members as of 2010. This also makes it the second largest Christian body in the United States, after the Catholic Church." And I stand by the thrust of 140; the Southern Baptists are not the more moderate Baptists, in the US they are the standard-setting Baptists. What defines Baptists in most American eyes is the Southern Baptist Convention.

144johnthefireman
Sep 26, 2012, 1:15am Top

>143 prosfilaes: Yes, I take your point that in the USA they dominate. Worldwide they are a minority amongst Baptists, albeit a significant one, 16 out of about 40 million (and a pretty tiny minority amongst the world's two-plus billion Christians). I know that US posters dominate LT, but I still think it's always worth introducing other experiences into the conversation. Who knows, there might even be lessons for the USA to learn from others.

145prosfilaes
Sep 26, 2012, 1:49am Top

#144: And, John, is the Southern Baptist Convention a moderate one among worldwide Baptists?

146johnthefireman
Sep 26, 2012, 2:46am Top

>145 prosfilaes: No, it isn't. Maybe it has something to learn from other worldwide Baptists.

147JaneAustenNut
Sep 27, 2012, 9:54pm Top

Again, it seems all Baptists are being painted as fundamentalist........ The Baptists that I know are not extreme or fundamentalist. They are just a denomination in the fellowship with Jesus Christ. Simply we believe that Jesus was the son of God and that he died on the cross for our sins.

148prosfilaes
Edited: Sep 27, 2012, 11:18pm Top

#147: it seems all Baptists are being painted as fundamentalist

The funny--frustrating--thing here was posts 140, 142-146 were a discussion about how not all Baptists are alike, and the Southern Baptists are particularly conservative on a world-wide scale. Someone else can wrestle with what exactly fundamentalist means, but Southern Baptists are a fairly politically extreme denomination. In 2009, they kicked out a church in Fort Worth because they weren't tough enough on their homosexual members. In 1982, the SBC resolved to push for creationism in schools. In 2004, they practically beatified Ronald Reagan* right after they praised the conservative resurgence in the SBC**; Bill Clinton got officially distanced from in 1993***. In 1993, they complained that faculty-initiated prayers were being stopped in schools.*v Oh, and I thought bringing up alcohol would be a low blow--they didn't mention much in church--but in 2006 they continued a long history of objection to alcohol.****

* http://www.sbc.net/resolutions/amResolution.asp?ID=1139
** http://www.sbc.net/resolutions/amResolution.asp?ID=1138
*** http://www.sbc.net/resolutions/amResolution.asp?ID=1198
**** http://www.sbc.net/resolutions/amResolution.asp?ID=1156 ; "RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Greensboro, North Carolina, June 13-14, 2006, express our total opposition to the manufacturing, advertising, distributing, and consuming of alcoholic beverages;"
*v http://www.sbc.net/resolutions/amResolution.asp?ID=866

Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, and Al Gore were all Southern Baptists who left for other Baptist denominations out of unhappiness with SBC positions. Truman was the only other Southern Baptist president or vice-president.

The Baptists that I know are not extreme or fundamentalist.

What would you expect that to look like?

Simply we believe that Jesus was the son of God and that he died on the cross for our sins.

This goes on my list of your non-communicative statements. That's a property shared with the vast majority of other Christians, including things that have universally been defined as heresy in Christianity for 1600 years. There have communists, libertarians, Nazis, hippies, Republicans, Democrats, peaceniks and terrorists, Catholics, Orthodox, Lutherans, (some) Unitarian-Universalists, and IIRC Mormons who believed that. You're not clarifying much.

149johnthefireman
Edited: Sep 27, 2012, 11:32pm Top

>147 JaneAustenNut: Again, it seems all Baptists are being painted as fundamentalist........ The Baptists that I know are not extreme or fundamentalist

JaneAustenNut, I was trying to point out that all Baptists are not fundamentalist. I was pointing out that US Southern Baptists are only a minority of Baptists worldwide, and that Baptists are a very diverse denomination. I mentioned, as an example, the Baptists Affirming Lesbian & Gay Christians network, which is pretty much the opposite of fundamentalist. Like you, I know Baptists who are not extreme or fundamentalist (eg in Britain). My apologies if I didn't make that clear. I think prosfilaes is right though when he says that "the Southern Baptists are particularly conservative on a world-wide scale" (>148 prosfilaes:).

150lawecon
Sep 28, 2012, 9:18am Top

~147

Once again, Jane, you keep protesting "not me," but you say nothing substantive to justify that protest. In your mind you are not fundamentalist, not extreme, but what views of yours are there that evidence your moderation.

And again, you haven't answered my question about the Berean Fellowship. For the information of other readers, I am asking this question because the most extreme fundamentalists in the Reading Your Bible Through In A Year discussion were also members, and it is an invitation only closed group. Bird of a feather........

151oldstick
Sep 28, 2012, 9:51am Top

Marriage is between a man and a woman.

152johnthefireman
Sep 28, 2012, 9:57am Top

>151 oldstick: Not sure where that fits in to the conversation. Could you indicate if you are referring to a particular post?

153fuzzi
Sep 28, 2012, 5:37pm Top

lawecon wrote: And again, you haven't answered my question about the Berean Fellowship. For the information of other readers, I am asking this question because the most extreme fundamentalists in the Reading Your Bible Through In A Year discussion were also members, and it is an invitation only closed group. Bird of a feather........

And that appears to bother you...

...how do I come to that conclusion?

In post after post in thread after thread here on LT you repeatedly post about the Berean Fellowship group, and the Read Your Bible Through in a Year thread, the latter which you were politely asked to refrain from posting arguments.

Some people like to just discuss their Christian faith without being criticized repeatedly by others who like to 'stir the pot'.

That group is private for a reason: because of intolerant types who can't allow anyone to talk about their faith in Jesus Christ without interjecting rude comments.

Create your own group, lawecon, where you can denigrate those ignorant enough to believe in the truth of the Bible and the saving grace of God.

154faceinbook
Edited: Sep 28, 2012, 9:18pm Top

Read through this thread. Quite amusing since the first post was about respect and tolerance. One poster actually hit the nail on the head regarding the difference between those two words. It is one thing to be tolerated and some thing else altogether to be respected.

Given the definition of "respect", the foundation of the Christian faith makes it very difficult to "respect" those who do not believe as they do. Spirituality is very personal, if one is serious about their belief, it becomes part of who one is and how they define themselves. Hence when dealing with religions who claim to be "the only true way to God" people who are not of like mind, feel disrespected by many Christians. It is difficult not to feel this way.

Left the church when I couldn't get over "the only way" issue. Not that I didn't believe in a higher power or that Jesus Christ was a prophet, blessed by God but I could not believe in a faith that dismisses the wonderful diversity that is humanity. Don't believe that any Supreme Being would creat such beautiful differences, physical, spiritual, cultural and then give all these different cultures from all corners of a world, which varies in such profound ways, only one way to His grace.

I believe that Christianity is the "only way" for some people
that Buddism is the "only way" for some people
also that Islam is the only way some people will find a way to the Creator's grace.
There are also individuals who can mix and match to make their own private way to a spiritual existance.

I hope this means respect ! Because tolerance puts people off and may be the reason that those who talk about their belief as if they and they alone are on the right path, tend to get slammed in some of these posts.

What if when Christ said that he was the "only way to God" he was referring to the example of his life style and not his physical being ? Something to think about.....many people who worship his physical being in hopes of finding favor with God, kind of skip a lot of the examples he set. Which is another problem I personally have with some Christians, or anyone of any faith who is so vocal about their belief. Because they are "right", because they have found "the one true way" it gives a license to judge other's as wanting, as falling short in God's eyes.
Sorry, I don't think anyone alive knows the mind of God. He/she can guess but it is a slippery slope and usually God's thoughts tend to coincide with their personal fears and/or beliefs.

155AsYouKnow_Bob
Sep 28, 2012, 9:16pm Top

#151Marriage is between a man and a woman.

That's true.

And where I live (New York), marriage can also be between a man and a man, and between a woman and a woman.

And those possibilities can be allowed and oldstick's assertion that Marriage is between a man and a woman can remain true.

156lawecon
Sep 28, 2012, 9:20pm Top

~153

fuzzi, I tried to explain nonfundamentalist reality to you and yours many times during the Reading Your Bible Through In A Year thread. Let's me try once again.

When you post to a nonclosed group on Librarything, other people who don't fully agree with you are permitted to (even encouraged to) respond.

Now you are quite right that the same is not the case with respect to a closed "invitation only" group. That is also my point. As far as I can tell, the Berean Fellowship group on Librarything is a group for fundamentalists. The only one of its members who protests that she is not a fundamentalist is JaneAustinNut. The rest who list this Group among those in which they are active are proud to be fundamentalists. So, along with most of JaneAustinNuts library on religious topics, this feature seems to be indicative of something contrary to what she is claiming. I am simply asking her why she thinks, in light of those facts, we should accept her self-characterization of her theology.

Now try to also get this straight, fuzzi. I have no interest in starting a closed invitation-only group of my own. Such groups are only for those whose views cannot withstand critical examination by others, and who KNOW THAT THEY ARE RIGHT AND WANT EVERYONE ELSE TO EITHER INTONE "AMEN" OR SHUT UP. You know the type I'm referring to, don't you fuzzi?

157ambrithill
Sep 28, 2012, 10:33pm Top

lawecon, you are correct when you say, "When you post to a nonclosed group on Librarything, other people who don't fully agree with you are permitted to (even encouraged to) respond." However, you are wrong with regards to those who are Christians (or for that matter, any religion) who just want to talk and encourage one another in their faith. This does not mean that "their views cannot withstand critical examination by others." The two are totally separate ideas. I have an idea that when you meet with your friends or family you do not want someone sitting there criticizing everything you have to say to each other. That is the only idea behind closed groups, at least in my opinion. And I think fuzzi has made that abundantly clear.

158johnthefireman
Sep 28, 2012, 11:09pm Top

>154 faceinbook: Left the church when I couldn't get over "the only way" issue.

Not every church insists on that. They usually think theirs is the best way, otherwise they wouldn't be doing it, but they can still believe that there is something of God's grace working in other faiths.

What if when Christ said that he was the "only way to God" he was referring to the example of his life style and not his physical being ?

Within Christianity there are plenty of interpretations of this, not all of them exclusive.

it gives a license to judge other's as wanting

And yet Jesus told us not to judge. Pity we're all so poor at following him.

Which church did you leave, if that's not an intrusive question?

159johnthefireman
Edited: Sep 28, 2012, 11:17pm Top

>157 ambrithill: "their views cannot withstand critical examination by others."

The problem, ambrithill, is that even to most Christians it does often look as if a particular branch of Christianity is unable to withstand critical examination. Simply answering that God's Word says so is inadequate, as those other Christians also accept God's Word, but they are usually able to explain why they interpret God's Word in a certain way. Bible literalists and fundamentalists, on the other hand, are usually unable to do so, except that it is God's word, which of course no Christian disagrees with but which doesn't explain why you interpret it in a particular way while other Christians don't.

Nathaniel quoted a couple of pieces from Augustine in posts 5 and 7 here which suggest that even in the fairly early Church they did not take the bible literally and they understood that it has to be open to critical examination.

160lawecon
Edited: Sep 28, 2012, 11:41pm Top

~157

I can't quite understand why neither you nor fuzzi are following this point. I, unlike some of your fellow fundamentalists, don't object to there being open groups. I don't object to there being closed groups. (Why would you believe I did??) I am simply pointing out that the evidence seems to be that the Berean Fellowship group is a closed group of fundamentalists.

If that is right, I am asking JaneAustinNut, who is quite definite that she is NOT a fundamentalist, what she is doing as a member of that group. She keeps ignoring that question and just keeps repeating that she is not a fundamentalist.

Get it this time?

161johnthefireman
Sep 28, 2012, 11:56pm Top

>160 lawecon: I had never heard of Berean Fellowship. I Googled it, and found it rather confusing as there are Berean Christadelphians but they are different from Berean Fellowship and they all seem to be different from each other anyway. I did find a few Berean churches, and they seem to be of the fundamentalist persuasion.

Could anybody summarise for me in one small paragraph what Berean Fellowship is?

162lawecon
Sep 29, 2012, 12:05am Top

Go to fuzzi's website on Librarything by clicking on her name on any of the above posts. Go to "My Groups" on her website. Click on the "Berean Fellowship" link.

I have no idea whether this Librarything website is connected with any other church or denomination using that name. (As you pointed out, there are many such.) I do have an idea who else is a member of that Librarything group, because their membership is listed on their respective Librarything websites. They are all extreme fundamentalists, e.g., go to the Reading The Bible Through In A Year thread. Click on the respective names of the most extreme fundamentalists posting to that thread. Look at their Group affiliations on their websites.

Again, I find it difficult to believe that someone who is "moderate" in her religious views would associate with those who, uniformly, are not. One answer to that concern would be, of course, to point to other moderate Christians who are members of that group. That isn't being done. The inquiry is being ignored. What does that tell you?

163johnthefireman
Sep 29, 2012, 12:19am Top

>162 lawecon: It just tells me "This is a private group". I still have no real clue what Berean Fellowship is. I'd be interested to hear from someone on the inside.

164rwb24
Sep 29, 2012, 5:08am Top

>161 johnthefireman:

Those to whom Paul preached in Beroea are praised in Acts 17 for having "received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily".

I would expect the Berean Fellowship to be a group for devotional bible study.

I doubt we will reach any happy consensus on who should be designated a fundamentalist - as we know there are several overlapping definitions. But as widely used among Evangelical Christians, the distinctive feature of Fundamentalists is their separatism.

eg. "Fundamentalism then has become a rather specific self-designation. Though outsiders to the movement sometimes use the term broadly to designate any militant conservative, those who call themselves fundamentalists are predominantly separatist Baptist dispensationalists."
(George Marsden, Understanding Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism, p.4)

Although the more militant conservative party within the SBC would often be called fundamentalist by its opponents, the Southern Baptists are not separatists. I think this might help illuminate the distinction to which JaneAustenNut is gesturing in #139.

165prosfilaes
Sep 29, 2012, 5:23am Top

#156: When you post to a nonclosed group on Librarything, other people who don't fully agree with you are permitted to (even encouraged to) respond.

I think there should be space for people to talk without resorting to closed groups. Ultimately, if people want to have a non-confrontational open group, other people should respect that. I'm very much for atheists being circumspect about posting in the Christianity group; the people who the group is for would simply use the group for other things rather then arguing about the fundamentals of their belief.

166macmeijers
Edited: Sep 29, 2012, 6:23am Top

There are fundamental differences between belief and religion. The latter is the institutionalisation of the power of people sharing a basic set of convictions or beliefs, unfortunately as history demonstrates generally for the purpose of power and nothing but power - even if most of the time gift wrapped with meaning well the very nature of the process of institutionalisation by both the individual and the group as a rule of thumb results in rigid dependancies of organisation, limitations of mentality for the individual and so forth.

So, like most in the humane sciences (which includes theology I should add) I make the distinction between the two. Belief is a personal matter, and as long as it does not force the individual towards institutionalisation of it in to religion it is always worthy of respect just like people as human beings are always worthy of respect. Ofcourse the natural caveat of "first do no harm" applies as a conditional variable, that should speak for itself. Btw, to clarify, as a European the concepts of respect and tolerance are the same, as they are in line with each other for both the abstract and the concept - neither warrants a status of aparte or special to any party liaised. This in contrast to fuzzi's earlier twist of "to give respect means to give special status / position / consideration". That's just nuts.

But religion, is a very dangerous phenomenon. That is no statement of "XYZ is evil", it is merely a statement of recognition of what we human beings tend to fall prey to when we institutionalise sharing convictions accompanied by limited set of requirements, methods and means.

Take for example christianity, it is both a religion and a belief. History unfortunately demonstrates the issues with the first, and fortunately also demonstrates the benign of the latter. Then again, we should take note that this distinction is generally one which applies to all belief systems, except those which were designed for institutionalisation. To name one example of that phenomenon, consider scientology.

167prosfilaes
Edited: Sep 29, 2012, 7:07am Top

#166: Apparently I just lost my post. So summarizing: of course beliefs and religion are different things. 90% of beliefs range from solipsistic to bigoted against only certain groups of other people, from the bizarrely delusional to the merely self-servingly wrong; many of these are dangerously passed among people outside religions.

Some religious groups are dangerous; this has no necessary connection with power. There are huge denominations that most would agree are pretty darn harmless. There are tiny churches, with a preacher that could be fired at will by his congregation, that are scary because they're spreading "white supremacy" or "vaccines cause autism".

"The institutionalisation of the power of people sharing a basic set of convictions or beliefs" includes a huge number of organizations, like the ACLU and NRA and Esperanto League of North America, that are not generally considered religious. Most any organization that's not a for-profit business can be described that way.

"The very nature of the process of institutionalisation by both the individual and the group as a rule of thumb results in rigid dependancies of organisation, limitations of mentality for the individual and so forth" ignores the fact that there would be no humans on the planet if it were not for certain institutions; man is not a solitary species, and if he tried to be, the bear, the lion, the wolf, the bison, etc., would line up to give ass-kickings. Much larger institutions are needed just to keep the food coming for 7 billion people on the planet. Not to mention that without institutions like W3C, ICANN, IETF, ISO, etc. your message never could have been sent to LibraryThing and resent to the rest of us. They made sure everyone was on the same page to make that work. Institutions can be bad, but they're also necessary.

168faceinbook
Sep 29, 2012, 8:31am Top

>158 johnthefireman:
I believe you are correct in all you said, however, the Christians you are describing would not be those who feel the need to "gently" remind others that they themselves have been "saved". Nor do I think that they are the one's who would publically point out the sins of others....eating blood, sodomy, beastiality are not all subjects on which they would feel the need to "remind" others of being considered "sins". The Christians who are more "respectful" of the faiths of others, I do not think, are quite the same as those who change the laws of the land to suit their personal belief system.

Yes, LIVE like Christ. Much much harder than saying "I believe in Christ" His life is the way.....even his death has been repeated. Throughout history, good people have put themselves out their to try to right the wrongs of mankind and have paid for this with their lives...

"Which church did you leave, if that's not an intrusive question?"

First Congregational and later United Church of Christ. My father was a pastor. Being a pastor's child is an excellent lesson in both the advantages of having a faith and the hypocrisy that is often found within groups of religious people.

169lawecon
Sep 29, 2012, 8:49am Top

~163

Well, you won't hear, because they are not talking. The only source of information, therefore, is to look at the common characteristics of those who are members.

170lawecon
Sep 29, 2012, 9:06am Top

~164

You have a curious form of presenting an argument.

You don't really know what the Berean Fellowship is about. You don't even refer to the the indirect evidence that I have mentioned. Yet you "would expect" that you know what it is about?

None of the people we are talking about, as far as I know, would designate themselves as fundamentalists or extreme. They certainly wouldn't designate themselves as "separatists," because they don't want others to burn eternally in Hell Fire, and are thus here to preach the merits of their beliefs.

The definition of "fundamentalist" I am referring to, as I've said in these related threads about a half dozen times now, is this one http://www.shelfari.com/groups/29350/discussions/74005/Fundamentalism Although that is, perhaps, a little less polite than the variants of that definition as used by The Fundamentalist Project http://www.illuminos.com/mem/cv/fundamentalismProject.html I think it captures the essence of what they were doing.

Like other posters, you don't really know what JaneAustinNut is talking about, but you want to speak for her. Why is that? She is apparently a mature woman who keeps popping up in these Forums and, presumably, can speak for herself.

171lawecon
Edited: Sep 29, 2012, 9:21am Top

~165

So, what would you specify as the proper conduct for someone who adheres to a version of the religion whose texts Christians continuously refer to and interpret, whose practices they continously refer to and use as examples (usually bad examples that Christ overcame - like post #76 here http://www.librarything.com/talktopic.php?topic=135399 ) and who have been a principal target for conversion by Christians throughout the centuries (presumably to justify the previous two behaviors and because the Jewish scriptures said that the Jewish messiah would first convert all Jews and then all Gentiles - although the opposite has been true of Christianity).

I am also curious if this attitude of yours is consistent. Would you say that a group designated to discuss and cheer for a given sports team should never be subjected to critical comments from the fans of other sports teams?

In other words, could you spell out the particulars of your prescriptions of posting etiquette and the reason for those prescriptions?

172fuzzi
Sep 29, 2012, 9:23am Top

(165) prosfilaes wrote I think there should be space for people to talk without resorting to closed groups. Ultimately, if people want to have a non-confrontational open group, other people should respect that. I'm very much for atheists being circumspect about posting in the Christianity group; the people who the group is for would simply use the group for other things rather then arguing about the fundamentals of their belief.

Thank you. I appreciate that. Too bad others don't understand.

173faceinbook
Edited: Sep 29, 2012, 9:24am Top

Taken from the Berean Fellowship websight:

"These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so."

Based on this quote from the Bible, which is on the front page of their websight, they see themselves as "more noble"
(Already my teeth are on edge.)
When feeling pursecuted or "picked on" fundamentalists ought to consider that once they are following a creed that sets them up so as to be "more noble" than then "others" , they are opening themselves up to questioning regarding just how and why they feel justified to place themselves in such a position.

Whether or not they are aware of it, this attitude of "greater nobility" comes across in most open discussions on religion. It seems to me that when done in "secret" this only hightens the curiosity of "others". A closed discussion allows for futher seperation from all "others", those poor souls who are not as "saved"

Having said that, I believe that some people need this type of institution. It is my guess that those who participate are fear based. If it helps those who "fear" "others" it serves a purpose. Unfortuantely it often leads to "judgement" of "others" which is the very thing that most religions caution against. Kind of a visious circle.

174lawecon
Sep 29, 2012, 9:27am Top

Once again, face, you are not reading. There are many Berean groups (apparently all unconnected with each other). This discussion is about the Berean Fellowship forum in Librarything. A closed forum that, apparently, has entirely fundamentalist members (except, of course, JaneAustinNut).

175fuzzi
Edited: Sep 29, 2012, 9:40am Top

(163) It just tells me "This is a private group". I still have no real clue what Berean Fellowship is. I'd be interested to hear from someone on the inside.

It is designed as a place where like minded believers can discuss and share their thoughts and lives without having to endure mocking and denigrating posts.

The rudeness of certain INtolerant people, who would not refrain from snide comments in other non-confrontational threads/groups, made the creation of a private group a necessity.

There is still plenty of bandwidth here to use for debate. :)

176nathanielcampbell
Sep 29, 2012, 9:59am Top

For an examination of the roots of this idea of the Bereans being "more noble", I would recommend the following: http://jimmyakin.com/2012/09/sola-scriptura-the-bereans.html

The author examines the context of Acts 17 to understand why the Bereans are praised over the Thessalonians. He concludes: "Instead, the contrast is between the open-minded Bereans, who were willing and eager to examine the Scriptures and see if what Paul was saying was true, versus the hostile Thessalonians, who started a riot and got Paul in trouble with the authorities, even though he had proved from the Scriptures that Jesus is the Christ."

177faceinbook
Sep 29, 2012, 10:04am Top

>174 lawecon:
Was responding to post 164. Forgot to insert post number. I don't know what YOU are talking about....my post addressed the closed forum that is the group in LibraryThing and why it may be closed.

Generally, I suspect that such a group is closed because they are not looking for disagreement or questioning but affirmation. This is probably more comfortable for them.....nothing wrong with that other than what I stated in my post...it can promote judgement of those who do not belong. But isn't that what all fundamental factions do ?

One of the problems, as I pointed out, is that when on other public threads, their fundamentalism tends to come across and invites ridicule and/or ire. I think YOU said the same thing in different words. and added that checking out their library was also a clue as to where they stand in so far as their religious beliefs.

Obviously the Berean Fellowship group feels the need for a closed group forum.....so ?????

Maybe you and I should have a closed group forum and then others wouldn't be subjected to the constant sniping ?

178macmeijers
Sep 29, 2012, 10:05am Top

A platform of communication that harbours or in spite of intentions furthers segregation should always carefully examine itself and stop to ask how segregation benefits the individual or any group other than those who seek or depend on isolation for continuity.

Quite a common scenario in our human history that one. Most of the time, concepts like respect and tolerance are misused in service of growth of segregation. I do feel it is safe to say that our history demonstrates quite well that segregation tends to have a costly range of consequences for any and all parties involved. In the few cases where the species manages to avoid such traps, it tends to be open discourse and knowledge combined with receptiveness of exchanging both knowledge and perspectives that prevents the madness. That, and a good set of commonly agreed rules with checks & balances for ensuring chosen standards of behaviour. Rudeness is never an acceptable reason for segregation, let's be honest there - all too often rudeness is instigated for exactly that: segregation. By both those internal to a group unit and those external to it alike.

Maybe it's an american thing, I just can't see the benefit of closed forums. Their function, yes that is clear, but that is something entirely different. Isolation never helps, except in disease / contamination scenarios. I seriously hope that people manage to avoid the usual self-victimisation scenarios that all too often follow. Segregation is one of the most dangerous behavioral challenges for the human species.

179faceinbook
Sep 29, 2012, 10:08am Top

>176 nathanielcampbell:
The Thessalonians were all human beings...hence none were more noble than others....they just viewed things from a different view point. Rather than respecting two different view points it became a fracture in a faith.

Somethings never change !

180faceinbook
Sep 29, 2012, 10:11am Top

>178 macmeijers:
Well said !

Will say again that I believe that often segregation comes due to fear. Fear of ideas, fear of differences, fear of questioning oneself. If one can isolate with those who are the same, share the same beliefs or look the same, there is no need to face one's fears.

181macmeijers
Sep 29, 2012, 10:25am Top

> 180

Segregation always comes from reflexive behaviour without taking the time to figure out knowledge, behaviour and our primal instincts as a social animal.

For example, rudeness as a motivator for segregation? Does not or should not every grouping of social animals have rules agreed upon? All too often segregation is deliberately chosen as a means of influencing the self and affiliated others, for the sake of power - under the guise of often well meaning considerations like "but we have a different opinion / conviction / belief".
So when rudeness is used as an argument, one should really look at the aspects of grouping and the responsabities that come with that. One responsability is the application of rules agreed upon. If rudeness surfaces in an online community moderation is (or should be) the first and foremost application of rules agreed upon, collectively.

But turn it around, say people want to have a place to just discuss their own perspective? Is that a validation of segregation? In many societies it is often seen as such, but that is a prime example of how even well meaning intentions or packaging can all too easily nurture sentiments which again give way to, cause and deepen segregation.

The irony is that opinions, beliefs and convictions alike for both individuals and groups alike demonstrably find strength, meaning and value in exposure to differences in opinions, beliefs and convictions - through the sharing of perspectives, the exchange of knowledge and the will to explore both.

Without that, all you get is yet more causes for segregation. Which again is something which historically is good for real estate (since the result in the end is always blood running through the streets), but never for the species, and certainly never for those who choose segregation. In the long run, the price is simply too high for everyone, especially for those directly involved.

So no, my opinion (personal and professional) is that closed forums should simply not exist for isolation of information, communication or general discourse. It is wrong. It only serves a constant affirmation of too select discourse. The irony there is that historically only those beliefs that do not segregate others and themselves are those which stand the test of time.

Fear is all too often a deliberate instrument of organisation. Whether that is the state in many cultural groupings of western civilisation, or the institutionalised form of religion throughout many places in this world, or even the self chosen or imposed segregation of social or other groupings part of either.

182macmeijers
Sep 29, 2012, 10:29am Top

The real irony in terms of online communities, incidentally, is that it is extremely easy to safeguard against the issues. In most cases though, it is a case of effort.

Do we have to always moderate topic X or Y? Do we always have to explain stuff to people who come in to "our" topic who do not "get" what we believe?

Yes, yes, and yes and yes. This is a responsability of life as a social animal. Anything else, is only ever an excuse. An excuse which can have reasons, but that is where responsability comes in. Why? Because everything always comes at a cost, and no matter how far ahead we want to push the bill, it always arrives. If not for us, than for our children.

Human species, sick species.

183johnthefireman
Sep 29, 2012, 10:34am Top

macmeijers, when I click on your name to see your profile, I get an error message saying that you don't exist. If you don't exist, how are you posting?

184macmeijers
Sep 29, 2012, 10:38am Top

> 183

At the risk of invoking quantum science or philosophy, I do think that I exist :P

I believe it is a bug related to an account name change, which I had misspelled upon creation and later asked to correct. If you insert a "k" after the "c" it should correct the problem.

185nathanielcampbell
Sep 29, 2012, 10:49am Top

>181 macmeijers:: While you make some very good points (and may we all learn to be more circumspect in our judgment and open to learning new things!), there does come a point where "segregation" is both right and necessary. For example, we rightly segregate pedophiles from the company of children. We rightly segregate murderers and terrorists from the rest of society.

The problem that we have to grapple with--and it is a problem whose solutions are rarely easy or clear--is where to draw the line. What behaviors, what constitutions, are so beyond the pale that we rightly call them "evil" and castigate those who engage in them?

We can (usually) all agree about the murderers. Yet it is only recently that western society has gotten around to placing rape and pedophilia on that list of "behaviors beyond the pale", and there are many societies around the world where certain types of rape and pedophilia are openly tolerated. Conversely, up until recently, homosexuality was generally considered taboo--and remains so in many corners of the world.

How do we make these determinations? And if social consensus is the only criterion, then what gives us the right to declare, for example, the Saudi treatment of women deplorable?

186macmeijers
Edited: Sep 29, 2012, 11:18am Top

> 185 Apologies, but segregation is never a good thing. Keep in mind we are discussing perspectives here, things like beliefs, convictions and so forth. We're not diving into isolation as a means of societal safeguarding against aberrant behaviour. Unless ofcourse you want to start equating pedophilia with religion (no pun intended, I should add).

Trying to throw in aberrations or deviant psychology is a bit of a cheap angle in trying to steer a discussion towards an intended end result: the validation of the idea that "we can isolate ourselves because we have different convictions".

Sorry, I have seen too many attempts like that in both political and religious debates :P Unless ofcourse you want to state that pedophilia is not behavioral aberration with roots in deviant psychology but - for example - a belief, religion etcetera. While many pedophiles believe that they are "in the right" (a country just to the north of my own for a while had an attempt at a political party for them - shortlived I should add) it's a "belief" that comes forth out of conviction and aberrant psychology.

Apples, oranges. It's like symbol politics. It is also very much like very common attempts to sidestep the general questions, principle questions and question of purpose in these debates by means of going in to the detail level of sub groupings of organisations of convictions, and so forth. As a rule of thumb, while often of interest the end result is generally that of the fundamental questions being sidestepped.

Segregation is not the same as isolation. The latter being an instrument of organisation, regardless of purpose or function. There is quite a difference.

The problem with most of the sidestepping methods is that they typically aim for either a detail level focus of debate, bypassing the bigger picture, or aim to invoke perceptions of morality or value of statements or convictions. It is entirely understandable, but remains a case of sidestepping. Ultimately there is not one singular cultural grouping, there are many, and all subject to both an internal evolution and an external evolution. Exposure internal, and exposure external.

But that was not the topic :P

Incidentally, nobody gives any rights. As a species, as cultural groupings, as individuals we make or take rights. This independant of the morality of rights or the validity of the concept of "rights" actually existing. It's a case of socio-cultural evolution, a highly complex dynamic.

Still, we can deduce general lessons from observing our history, how those groupings evolve, change, interact and so forth.

One very simple observation is that segregation in the long run simply does not guarantee the continuity of a grouping, on the contrary, it is a major contributor to decay of organisation. Something also quite present as a set of warning elements in political sciences, sociology, psychology, economics and so forth.
The absence of exchange of information beyond internal or internalised perspectives breaks down the foundations of those perspectives. In spite of any best intentions. Exposure creates strength.

It's really a species thing, and yes it contains quite a few elements of variable change - which humans as social animals may choose to resist (but there we come back to the question of continuity). And that is a key element: belief is personal, worthy of respect as long as first it does no harm. That innately requires the ability to exchange information, perspectives, and to accept changing states of elements of both. That is why many human beings desire segregation: they do not wish the risk to change through exposure to other perspectives, or even through exposure to information other than that which they select themselves. Trouble is, everything is subject to change. Through action, inaction, hand of god or nature, it does not matter. Everything can and does change. We just most of the time don't see it as our human perspective does not look further than its own proverbial nose is long. Or our interests.

187lawecon
Sep 29, 2012, 12:55pm Top

~175

Thank you, I think that bears out pretty much what I've been saying.

And would I be correct in assuming that if a given person were known to not be "like minded" they would not be invited to join?

188WMGOATGRUFF
Sep 29, 2012, 2:19pm Top

A propos of this entire discussion, some of you might be interested in this article by Gertrude Himmelfarb that appeared in today's Wall Street Journal. A lucid discussion of William James "Varieties of Religious Experience".
http://professional.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390444032404578006680365283160....

189WMGOATGRUFF
Edited: Sep 29, 2012, 2:33pm Top

What is happening to that cat?? In reply to post #184

190Jesse_wiedinmyer
Sep 29, 2012, 2:35pm Top

One poster actually hit the nail on the head regarding the difference between those two words.

This is the kind of tedious nonsense up with which I will not put.

191WMGOATGRUFF
Sep 29, 2012, 3:15pm Top

I don't know whether this is the proper place to post this thought, but I'll give it a try. I recently purchased a book: "The Great Partnership" by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks. The sub-title gives a preview of what the book is about - finding a peaceable consensus between "Science, Religion and the Search for Meaning". I'm in the middle of it as I write, but its conciliatory tone in its attempt at understanding the basis of the dispute between science and religion is refreshing. It is pacific in approach, not strident as some of the postings in this topic have been. It seems that it might be required reading for all of us interested in these two separate ways of approaching reality.

192rwb24
Sep 29, 2012, 3:25pm Top

>170 lawecon:

The definition of fundamentalism I referenced is identical to that deployed in Volume I, Chapter 1 ('North American Protestant Fundamentalism') of the Fundamentalism Project; pp.7-8 note that the ultimate characteristic that has distinguished Fundamentalists from other Evangelicals, howsoever 'conservative' or 'traditionalist', has been their insistence on separation from others whose beliefs and lives are suspect.

This is not the only, or most generalised, definition of fundamentalism, nor the one you yourself were referencing (though it goes against the grain for me to imagine that anyone who appreciates Jane Austen could be out to destroy the basis of civilisation), but it is the one which serves to elucidate #139 and make sense of someone writing: I don't belong to a fundamentalist church, I'm a Southern Baptist.

193fuzzi
Sep 29, 2012, 3:51pm Top

On separation:

I don't drink alcohol, haven't for years, and didn't long before I became a Christian.

If I am invited to a wedding or other social event I will go, but will not drink alcohol. I try to be respectful of others.

However, I don't go to parties where there is drinking, or hang out in bars. I avoid places where alcohol is the main focus, and I don't hang out with people who drink a lot, how is that 'wrong'?

194prosfilaes
Sep 29, 2012, 5:24pm Top

#186: belief is personal, worthy of respect as long as first it does no harm.

That's not really helpful. No harm to whom? Are we including no harm to animals? Are we including no harm to people who are about to kill you? On the other hand, what do we mean by harm? I have seen theist-atheist arguments where one side argues that believers are more happy so nonbelievers are harming themselves and the other side argues that relying on a non-existent God is harmful. Heck, the whole argument of many groups is that everyone else is going to Hell, so their beliefs are harmful. Heck, I think your statement, 90% of the time, boils down to "no other beliefs are worthy of respect, because they're all false and thus harm their holders."

Like your belief that "belief is good, institutions bad". Very harmful and destructive to an institution-dependent species.

195nathanielcampbell
Sep 29, 2012, 6:35pm Top

>186 macmeijers:: I think we're talking at cross-purposes. As prosfilaes points out in 194, limiting our discussion to "personal" beliefs that have no influence on others is really kind of pointless because it ignores the vast portion of any given belief system that specifically regulates social behavior. Your idea that segregation is bad is just as much a belief on social regulation as is the idea that segregating yourself from harmful people (and their beliefs).

Which brings us back to the question I posed in 185: how do we determine which regulations on social interaction are good and which are bad?

196faceinbook
Sep 29, 2012, 6:57pm Top

>193 fuzzi:
We are talking about segregation as opposed to separation. Though the meaning is somewhat the same, the connotation is a bit different.
To segregate almost infers there is a negative reason to keep one's self separate. To separate as in, men converse in one room and women in another, doesn't hold such a negative inference.

" I try to be respectful of others."

I'm sure your efforts are dully noted !

"However, I don't go to parties where there is drinking, or hang out in bars. I avoid places where alcohol is the main focus, and I don't hang out with people who drink a lot, how is that 'wrong'?"

Neither do I. I find drunken people annoying...I do however enjoy a drink now and then.

Why don't you drink ? Is there something wrong with drinking ? I believe that Jesus drank. Pretty sure most of the disciples did...often had to do with the quality of the water. Alcohol killed the germs. Or is this question too personal ? My husband doesn't drink because he is an alcoholic...hasn't had a drink in almost 27 years. He doesn't seem to mind when I do. In fact once in a while he takes me to a place that makes great Margarita's and treats me. Only have one but it tastes great and is a fun treat.
Have severe arthritis and that Margarita is the best pain killer there is...better than anything in pill form ! Am I sinning ? Guess I can slide on this one cause I do not drink "a lot" But I really find little or no virtue in abstaining from alcohol other than if one has a problem with it.

Guess I just don't understand what Christianity and drinking have to do with one another.

197lawecon
Edited: Sep 29, 2012, 7:15pm Top

~192

I think that you (for whatever reason) want to stop short of the meaning of fundamentalism Fundamentalists, of course, want to separate themselves from nonfundamentalists, in that they are absolutely right and others are wrong. They are the messengers of G-d and others are the messengers of error. They defend The Right, The Good, The Holy, and those who oppose them are witting or unwitting agents of Evil. But the essential claim is not separation, but superiority and exclusivty. See the difference?

Again, as to JaneAustinNut, she is what she is. If she is willing to step forward and tell us the respects in which she is not fundamentalist, great. But she is apparently not willing to do that, and, frankly, it is more than a little high handed and paternalistic for you to speak for her.

198lawecon
Edited: Sep 29, 2012, 7:35pm Top

~188

Thank you for the link. I am particularly grateful because we have this local rising star rabbi in our community who I think very highly of, but who has a quite different sociological and epistemological orientation than I do. He has been telling me (among many other suggestions for reading) that I should read James. I have not done so yet, and now I think that I shall not bother. Let me try to explain why.

The particulars that Himmelfarb gives of James' view are interesting, but they are predicated upon what she says of a contemporary (our contemporary) author, to whit:

"Perhaps in response to the New Atheists (although he does not mention them by name), another self-proclaiming atheist has entered the debate with another provocatively titled book, "Religion for Atheists: A Non-Believer's Guide to the Uses of Religion." Alain de Botton does not attempt to refute religion; he simply stipulates that it is not true. It is, however, "sporadically useful, interesting, and consoling" and can, therefore, be enlisted in the service of atheists. For people trying to cope with the pains and difficulties of life, religions (not religion in the abstract but institutional religions) are "repositories" of goods that can assuage their ills. By appropriating those goods—"music, buildings, prayers, rituals, feasts" and the like—and introducing them into secular society, Mr. de Botton proposes to rescue that which is "beautiful, touching and wise" from religions that are no longer true and put it to use by an atheism that is indubitably true but sadly deficient in such consolations."

This seems to me to reflect a prevalent error in the thinking of most Anglo-Americans today (and James) about religion - that is, it must be "personal" "psychological" "consoling" etc. It is remarkable that there was no such overwhelming emphasis in what we know of religion before the late Second Temple period. Yes, of course, believers could purge, or attempt to purge themselves of guilt over their previous acts through undertaking certain rituals and being otherwise repentant - but the core of religion was not its "internal" effects on believers but its picture of how the world worked.

The Shema http://www.jewfaq.org/prayer/shema.htm , for instance, asserts a casual connection between the behavior of Jews and the conditions that will face them as a People. This is not about psychological health, this is about externals.

Now, of course, there was constant controversy about such claims and their truth, see, e.g., Job and As A Driven Leaf, but that controversy was about the structure of the world (it was in that sense "scientific" or "proto-scientific"). It was not about feelings.

199fuzzi
Sep 29, 2012, 8:52pm Top

(196) I choose to not drink, have not in many years. Personal choice.

But if you want to drink, you are free to do so, I have no interest in stopping you.

200lawecon
Sep 29, 2012, 11:15pm Top

~199

fuzzi is unique. She doesn't care if you burn in Hell for eternity. She won't do anything to stop you. She will, however, tell you how to do it right. And you really should listen, because she channels the Holy Spirit.

201johnthefireman
Sep 30, 2012, 12:07am Top

>196 faceinbook: Guess I just don't understand what Christianity and drinking have to do with one another.

They have nothing to do with each other, at least according to most Christians.

202ambrithill
Sep 30, 2012, 1:17am Top

I think the issue of drinking and Christianity is that as Christians we are supposed to be under the influence of the Holy Spirit, not alcohol, not drugs, not whatever. There is also the issue that is brought up in Scripture about eating meat if it is going to be a stumbling block, and many think drinking is the same thing. But I also know that the Bible leaves room for debate on the issue. However, Scripture plainly teaches that we are not to become drunk. I used to be good friends with a man who drank one beer every night before he went to bed. That is all he drank. Do I think his drinking one beer a night will cause him to go to Hell? Absolutely not!!

203lawecon
Sep 30, 2012, 4:46am Top

How generous of you.

204Tid
Sep 30, 2012, 6:23am Top

198

I'm currently listening to Alain de Botton's book on Kindle, and I find it very interesting - particularly those aspects which he describes as beneficial for society, i.e. community-building activities such as sharing food together.

I think that the problem with "New Atheists" (i.e. the dogmatic and fundamentalist kind) is that they simply set themselves up in opposition to everything religion stands for, and never acknowledge that there might be some positive aspects. And it might be those positive aspects which have ensured the survival of religion, the outcome of a kind of "natural selection".

205southernbooklady
Sep 30, 2012, 7:56am Top

>204 Tid: I think that the problem with "New Atheists" (i.e. the dogmatic and fundamentalist kind) is that they simply set themselves up in opposition to everything religion stands for, and never acknowledge that there might be some positive aspects

That sounds as sweeping a generalization of atheists as you no doubt feel they have made about believers.

206faceinbook
Sep 30, 2012, 8:38am Top

>201 johnthefireman:
"I don't drink alcohol, haven't for years, and didn't long before I became a Christian."

This was misleading I guess. When reading it I mistakenly tied the two together.

>202 ambrithill:
"There is also the issue that is brought up in Scripture about eating meat if it is going to be a stumbling block"

A stumbling block to what ?

The earth has been around a lot longer than the Bible. Early human's often lived in geographical area's where their main diet was meat. It was the most plentiful food source. Assuming that God was around than as well as when the Bible was assembled, are we to take it that he changed his mind or are those who ate primarly meat damned ?

To me, all these details are just rediculous. I can not wrap my mind around a God who is looking down and judging me by what I eat OR drink. If I am harming others by what I eat or drink, that is a different issue and speaks to my character but other wise, I don't think it is of importance.

The meat issue does raise a question as to one religion being the "only way". At the time the Bible was written, obviously people had more choices in what they ate than in earlier times.

207Tid
Sep 30, 2012, 12:26pm Top

205

I specifically referred to "dogmatic and fundmentalist" atheists (who often go under the self-imposed label of New Atheism). There are many many atheists who are not so, and I was visibly not referring to them.

208JaneAustenNut
Sep 30, 2012, 2:54pm Top

>207 Tid:, Tid;
I just looked at your profile and saw all the great book stores & Libaries that you have in your area of England. Gosh, are you blessed to have such great access to all those book places! I have always loved English Literature and anything England/UK. Also, my favorite genre of film is anything English especially; English Mysteries. Your input into these discussions is of value and I have enjoyed lurking and reading your posts.

209prosfilaes
Sep 30, 2012, 3:16pm Top

#204: it might be those positive aspects which have ensured the survival of religion, the outcome of a kind of "natural selection".

Natural selection-wise, it's clear that part of the survival of religion is its willingness to kill competitors, and simply its desire to spread. I think it no coincidence that the most widespread religion in the world is the one with the "Great Commission", and that Judaism and Zoroastrianism are the smallest on the list of "Great Religions" I'm familiar, as both of them have left their missionary days long behind.

Likewise, the success of the "New Atheists" is their unwillingness to silently coexist with their neighbors. They've built a loose community by defining themselves in opposition to religion, by defining atheists as people who need to stand up and stand out.

In any case, even here, I don't know that I've ever, ever heard any religious person say there might be positive aspects to atheism. Why they expect atheists to sit around and talk about the good aspects of something they oppose, I don't know.

210nathanielcampbell
Edited: Sep 30, 2012, 3:21pm Top

>209 prosfilaes:: "there might be positive aspects to atheism"

Nietzsche is one of my favorite authors, both because he was/is far smarter than I am (and thus continually challenges me with new ways of thinking) and because his writing was just so breathtakingly beautiful -- I'd swear in court that he's one of the finest German prose stylists ever to have lived.

211johnthefireman
Edited: Sep 30, 2012, 4:23pm Top

>209 prosfilaes: In any case, even here, I don't know that I've ever, ever heard any religious person say there might be positive aspects to atheism

I think a lot of religious people on LT have spoken positively of atheism (albeit not so positive about the new militant atheists, just as we are not so positive about the fundamentalists within our own community). I recall saying myself that all the great religious traditions and atheism are valid attempts to understand reality, that atheists and religious people should seek what they have in common (implying that there are positive things they have in common), should understand and respect each other (implying that there are positive things worth respecting), etc. My Church's teaching seems to be sympathetic to those "who strive to lead a good life" and speaks of "whatever good or truth is found amongst them" (Lumen Gentium 16), which implies that "there might be positive aspects to atheism."

Why they expect atheists to sit around and talk about the good aspects of something they oppose, I don't know.

That's an interesting statement. I have seen posts by atheists claiming that they don't "oppose" religion, they simply don't believe in the divine. I've also seen posts which say that they oppose religion forcing itself upon them and upon the country; on that we agree (there, I've said that something else atheists believe is positive). Is that what you're saying? Or are you saying that you oppose religion per se, all religion, all manifestations of religion? And even if you do oppose religion per se, you're asking us to see the positive aspects of atheism (which many of us do) but you are not willing to see the good aspects of religion? And yes, in an honest conversation, I would expect you to talk about (or at least recognise) the good aspects of something which you oppose (although I don't really mind whether you sit or stand).

212Tid
Sep 30, 2012, 5:48pm Top

208

Thanks for the compliment - I can't get to many book places unfortunately, due to my disability, so online is my 'bookstore'. Luckily it's a good one!

209

You are partly right. Some religions have at some times fought intense wars with rivals over their dogmatic beliefs. However, ALL religions have contributed to 'tribal' community-building all through the ages, from Stone Age onwards. Those are the aspects that have contributed more to religion's survival, I believe. That's what I find interesting in atheist Alain de Botton's examination of the good bits of religion that can be cherry-picked and used for the benefit of a secular society. Humanists could introduce communal meals for example, in much the same way as Sikh temples do.

However, "hard" atheists originate in the USA and do have my sympathy to some extent, as they are clearly marginalised there. We don't have nearly the same problem in Britain and Europe. The flaw in their 'dogma' is that they set themselves up in opposition to everything religion stands for, even the good bits. That's just being unscientific. The best way to undermine religion (if that's what you want to do) is to acknowledge any positive aspects, then pinch them for secular use, which is to some extent what humanists do.

211

That's a strong reply. Yes, I've read posts by any number of tolerant atheists, just as there are any number of posts by tolerant religious people like yourself.

213lawecon
Edited: Oct 1, 2012, 8:09am Top

~209 & 211

Once again, there is this really extensive thread where virtually all the atheist participants say that they ARE NOT, DEFINITELY NOT anti-theism. They just don't see any reason to believe and they generally have not heard any theist tell them in a coherent way what the theist means by "G-d". My recollection is that prosfilaes was one of the participants in that thread. Let's look, shall we: http://www.librarything.com/topic/130138

214prosfilaes
Oct 1, 2012, 3:16am Top

#211: Or are you saying that you oppose religion per se, all religion, all manifestations of religion?

I believe in truth and oppose falsehood; all religions that hold something false at their core, I must oppose at their core. I oppose faith as willful blindness; we don't know by believing, we know by questioning, by analyzing. I'm not going to say anything about all religions, because the lines are not clear, but certainly most religions.

And yes, in an honest conversation, I would expect you to talk about (or at least recognise) the good aspects of something which you oppose

People aren't always in honest conversations. The rules are a bit different when you're engaged in polemic position building, arguing against people willing to use your words against you. And the "new atheists" are trying to grab ears, and it publishing books that say "The greatness of God is a complex question" gets less of an audience then God is not Great. I don't stand by everything the "New Atheists" have said, but the decision to leave the carefully analyzed world of academia and speak in words that will get listened by the masses when their predecessors have not is not one I object to.

#212: ALL religions have contributed to 'tribal' community-building all through the ages, from Stone Age onwards

That's nonsense. Religions have over and over destroyed communities. Cults have grabbed people from the framework of their lives and fit them into artificially-boosted short-lived communities that they will leave community-less in a few years. Missionaries have over and over pulled weakened the fabric of tribe's community when they dragged some but not all away from their religion. Jesus said he came to turn a man against his father, etc., (Matt. 10:35), and Christianity has done so any number of times, when son has come to or fallen away from the faith.

215johnthefireman
Edited: Oct 1, 2012, 5:45am Top

>214 prosfilaes: all religions that hold something false at their core

In your opinion.

faith as willful blindness; we don't know by believing, we know by questioning, by analyzing

A lot of religious people would agree with you about questioning and analysing. None of their questioning and analysing has convinced them that there is no divine, nor that there is "something false at their core", and nothing atheists have said has convinced them.

The rules are a bit different when you're engaged in polemic position building

That sounds like dishonesty to me. But it's OK if it's in a good cause, is it? The end justifies the means? I've had disagreements with some of the campaign groups in the USA because in their desire to publicise Darfur they actually misrepresent some of the facts, by omission if not by commission.

Are we "engaged in polemic position building"? Is this thread entitled "Let's Talk Religion" or "Let's Build Polemics About Religion"?

That's nonsense

No it's not. It's a complex question, to use your words, that has both pros and cons.

Religions have over and over destroyed communities

Some have, some haven't, some have built community.

short-lived communities

Hinduism? Judaism? Christianity? Islam? Short-lived?

Missionaries have over and over pulled weakened the fabric of tribe's community

Missionaries are also the ones who wrote down tribal languages for the first time, wrote grammars and dictionaries, introduced literacy in the local language, introduced primary schools which taught in the mother tongue in the first few classes and then switched to national languages in higher classes, affirmed tribal peoples as human beings rather than the savages which early colonialists believed them to be, inculturated Christianity into local cultures... the list goes on. And missionaries also sometimes weakened the fabric too.

216southernbooklady
Oct 1, 2012, 8:17am Top

>209 prosfilaes: Likewise, the success of the "New Atheists" is their unwillingness to silently coexist with their neighbors. They've built a loose community by defining themselves in opposition to religion, by defining atheists as people who need to stand up and stand out.

This is close to how I think of myself as an atheist. I don't know if that would be considered a "dogmatic" or "militant" or "fundamentalist" stance -- perhaps so, in that I do think that all religions hold "something false at their core." So it isn't so much that I have defined myself as "in opposition to religion" -- it's more that there is no place for it, no need for it, in my understanding of existence. And my "opposition" such as it is, is of the same kind as the opposition an astronomer might feel when speaking to an astrologer, or a chemist might feel when trying to talk to an alchemist. The astrologer may find great meaning in his idea of the workings of the universe--it may be at the foundation of may great works and good deeds. But that doesn't make me want to promote or even simply accept astrology as a viable theory about the heavens. And I don't think that theory is necessary for people to, well, "be good."

217lawecon
Oct 1, 2012, 8:24am Top

"And I don't think that theory is necessary for people to, well, "be good.""

Really? Excellent. So we can also do away with the 2500 years of Ethics since Socrates. No theory needed to be good. Great.

Say, have you met this poster by the name of faceinbook. You and she would get along great. She grounds everything in "common sense," and, boy, does she have GREAT common sense. See, "no theory needed."

218Tid
Oct 1, 2012, 9:02am Top

214

It isn't nonsense, especially if you look at the evidence. What you're talking about there is specifically "cults" and "missionaries" about which you are largely quite correct. However, using religion in its widest sense, you have tribal bonding extending from the cave paintings and stone circles of stone age people, the ancestor-centred nature-respecting aboriginal and shamanistic religions, through to the spiritual-growth-by-practise religions like Jainism, Taoism, Confucianism, Quakerism, Sufism, Buddhism, Ba'hai, and the like. I'm sure if you looked close enough, you could find some bad examples in all the above, but in general they have been positive influences in their communities.

There have also been some quite awful travesties committed in the name of religion, and those too could be listed. However, that wasn't the point being made - it was that the positive aspects of religion, as de Botton's book makes admirably clear (have you read it?), can be used in a secular society that - as far as community building goes - has lost its way. You don't need a belief in a god to utilise the best efforts of humanity to get along together and build bridges.

219prosfilaes
Oct 1, 2012, 12:37pm Top

#215: In your opinion.

When it's turtles all the way down, make turtle soup. You can say "in your opinion" all you want, but you don't change that fact that that's what I have to work from.

That sounds like dishonesty to me.

I'll respond to this when I have a little more time.

It's a complex question, to use your words, that has both pros and cons. ... Some have, some haven't, some have built community. ... And missionaries also sometimes weakened the fabric too.

The statement was one of the logical form For all x, P(X). My logical obligation to disprove it is to find a single X such that not P(X). Polemically, I have to find a set of Xs such that aren't easily excepted from. You basically admit in your response that I made my case, that that statement was not true for "ALL religions".

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