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Hello And Discussion Request


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Guest waxwings

Hello folks. My name is Scott and I'm a friend of Bruce's. I'm an atheist and a secular humanist.

 

I'm posting this topic to request a discussion with a Christian. I don't wish to have a debate per se, rather I'd like to pose some very basic questions to a Christian, most of which will be analogous to various nuances of Christian belief.

 

One thing I would like to request in advance is that whomever accepts my invitation answer the questions I'll be asking, rather than addressing whatever Christian belief the question might relate to.

 

It's a pleasure to meet you all.

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This thread will be restricted to Waxwings and Christians. A Commentary Thread will be established for the rest of us heathens to comment in.

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Hello folks. My name is Scott and I'm a friend of Bruce's. I'm an atheist and a secular humanist.

 

I'm posting this topic to request a discussion with a Christian. I don't wish to have a debate per se, rather I'd like to pose some very basic questions to a Christian, most of which will be analogous to various nuances of Christian belief.

 

One thing I would like to request in advance is that whomever accepts my invitation answer the questions I'll be asking, rather than addressing whatever Christian belief the question might relate to.

 

It's a pleasure to meet you all.

 

Hello Waxwings/Scott, welcome on board. :wave:

 

Are you the same "Scott" who has been posting for the last few weeks. There have been those wondering whether this "Scott" is "real" or not. :scratch:

 

I'm Christian, and I'm willing to answer your questions. You may want to know, up front, that I am liberal Christian. That I don't read the Bible literally, that more often than not I'm standing right next to the local Atheists, Agnostics, Deists, etc... challenging the literalist Christians who come on board.

 

But, if you still have questions for me - I'm willing.

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Are you the same "Scott" who has been posting for the last few weeks. There have been those wondering whether this "Scott" is "real" or not.

 

That must be some other Scott. This is my first post.

 

I'm Christian, and I'm willing to answer your questions. You may want to know, up front, that I am liberal Christian. That I don't read the Bible literally, that more often than not I'm standing right next to the local Atheists, Agnostics, Deists, etc... challenging the literalist Christians who come on board.

 

But, if you still have questions for me - I'm willing.

 

Sounds great. Maybe you can start by giving a brief outline of what Christianity means to you. As you're probably no doubt aware, the 'one true' religion comes in literally thousands of flavors, many of which are mutually exclusive.

 

Do you believe in the bodily resurrection of Christ? Which parts of the Bible do you not take literally? How do you decide between the literal bits and the non-literal bits?

 

Bear in mind, those are just getting to know you questions, so don't feel the need to be super detailed or treat this as a debate.

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That must be some other Scott. This is my first post.
Good - now I can relax and enjoy the conversation.

 

Sounds great. Maybe you can start by giving a brief outline of what Christianity means to you. As you're probably no doubt aware, the 'one true' religion comes in literally thousands of flavors, many of which are mutually exclusive.

 

Do you believe in the bodily resurrection of Christ? Which parts of the Bible do you not take literally? How do you decide between the literal bits and the non-literal bits?

 

Bear in mind, those are just getting to know you questions, so don't feel the need to be super detailed or treat this as a debate.

 

If you're interested in "getting to know" me, you may want to take a look at the following threads. These threads are about as close to a testimonial as I have on this site. :)

 

Your questions are familiar - and you may find answers there.

 

Reading The Bible Literally Is Not A Requirement Of Christianity?, Just curious...

http://www.ex-christian.net/index.php?s=&a...st&p=147989

Short answer - very, very, very little. In fact, I'm not sure I read ANY of the Bible literally. I do believe Jesus lived. I also recognize:
  • That whether Jesus lived (or not) can not be proven.
  • That the gospels were written years after his death.
  • That a huge chunk of the sayings attributed to Jesus, are exactly that "attributed" rather than direct quotes.
  • That it is damn near impossible to figure out which sayings of Jesus are authentic and which are attributed by followers.
  • That the gospels came out of an oral traditon and are not factual in nature
  • That the author of each gospel had his own view point and that this greatly influenced the way the story was written.

And that's just how I feel about the New Testament

 

Then there's the Silly Putty thread - where Mr. Grinch and Company put me through the gauntlet. :)

http://www.ex-christian.net/index.php?s=&a...st&p=107826

 

Those two threads may give you some insight into my approach to Christianity and the Bible.

 

Then, if you've still got questions - I'm still willing to answer. :)

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Guest waxwings

Well, your attitude towards your faith certainly puts you well outside the typical definition of 'Christian'. In fact, I would not qualify anyone who went so far as to doubt the existence of Jesus as a Christian at all.

 

I doubt you and I would have much to discuss (at least on this thread). My interest was in understanding the forces that compel Christians to suspend their reasoning faculties when it comes to their faith. You seem to have at least enough grasp of reason to accept the basic realities of the Bible's origins and accuracy.

 

The one question I'm left with is this: why still a Christian? If you recognize that Jesus may never have existed, that his quotes were often made up by various biographers with their own agendas, and that implicitly, he could not have been a physical incarnation of God that bodily resurrected, what beliefs remain that you consider Christian?

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I doubt you and I would have much to discuss (at least on this thread). My interest was in understanding the forces that compel Christians to suspend their reasoning faculties when it comes to their faith. You seem to have at least enough grasp of reason to accept the basic realities of the Bible's origins and accuracy.
:twitch: Gee thanks, I think ......

 

The one question I'm left with is this: why still a Christian? If you recognize that Jesus may never have existed, that his quotes were often made up by various biographers with their own agendas, and that implicitly, he could not have been a physical incarnation of God that bodily resurrected, what beliefs remain that you consider Christian?
Yes, folks here ask me this often enough. Following is a link to one of my responses.

 

http://www.ex-christian.net/index.php?s=&a...st&p=108991

Waxwings - it would be best if you went to the actual link and post. Because the following is just one excerpt. The folks on the thread had been asking me lots of quesitions. I itemized the questions and answered them one-by-one. The following is just one question and one answer.

 

4. Why you feel the need to call yourself a Christian instead of choosing the label of another group?

 

This is the most difficult question for me to answer BECAUSE it is not my intent to offend anyone, or to suggest that since I experience things the way I do – you should as well. So PLEASE remember that I recognize the subjectivity of my own experiences.

 

Here goes – the concept of trinity is very real to me, it presents itself in nature, in life in general. As I experience the trinity (not as the fundamentalists choose to literalize it) the trinity is within all of life, all of creation.

 

How to explain this. It might help you to put this all in context if you know that I practice contemplative Christianity (this is the meditative branch of Christianity). I have also explored the eastern mystic traditions. But they never fit. In a concrete way I suppose I could say I call myself a Christian because the contemplative path of Christianity just “fits” better. I was raised Christian, it is easier for me to get my head around the literature and writings.

 

But, there is more… as I’ve said the concept of the trinity is very real to me. For me – subjectively – I see the trinity metaphysically defined in the first verses of John’s gospel. I won’t quote them all here, but John 1:14 is immediately applicable, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us”.

 

The three words “Word became flesh” are a metaphysical way of looking at the Trinity. The “WORD” represents the “Father”, the original idea, the original mind, the first thought. “Became” metaphysically speaking is the first thought in action, energy (or the Sacred Spirit) proceeding out from the first thought. And “Flesh” metaphysically speaking is the manifested result of the first thought. “Flesh” could not happen if energy had not proceeded out from the first thought, the first Word.

 

Think about when an artist creates something. First – before anything – the artist has to have the idea. Or the first thought. Second – the idea must be acted upon – the artist takes a canvas and paint and expends energy (or the sacred spirit). Third – because the artist had the thought and because the artist expended energy from the thought – there is an end product, a painting (or the manifested result of the first thought). This whole process is trinitarian in the sense that the painting would never be without the original thought and the energy which proceeded out from that thought in order to produce a painting.

 

In short – when I look at creation – I see this dynamic in play. I can not work in my garden, walk in the woods, hold an infant and not see that first, before anything else there was an idea. (Not an idea in the limited sense that we humans think of) But a first intention, a first awareness that there could be something more. And then, there was spirit (energy) proceeding out from this first intention. Because that energy was expended we have life, glorious life. We have creation. I see this dynamic at play in science, and I accept that there are those who study science and do not see it. I see this dynamic at play in math, and I accept that there are those who study math and do not see it. I see this dynamic at play in the arts, and I accept that there are those who study the arts and do not see it.

 

And I recognize the validity of a dynamic that came to play earlier in this thread when Mythra, rightfully reminded me that in referring to others search for the truth I must be careful. So teasingly I rephrased my original statement to the following:
This forum has ex-christians who are pagan, deists, or any number of faith traditions. I wasn't taking into account the large numbers of atheists. So to rephrase:

 

"I am Christian - and I do not feel the need to be "right about everything". I've no argument with the spiritual life (or lack thereof) of you, or any ex-Christian, for that matter."
And he (I trust teasingly) responded –
That's much better.

 

And I can say truthfully that I have no problem with the spiritual life (or self-delusion of it) possessed by Christians and New Age bible buffet diners.

I fully understand that what I’ve just said above may seem like self-delusion. There was a time in my life where I would have labeled it that as well. As I said, I answer these questions not to try and prove anything or to debate. You said you wanted to understand me, and so here are your answers.

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Guest waxwings
Gee thanks, I think ......

 

Sorry. Didn't mean to sound condescending. I'm sure most atheists would agree that to us, reason seems to be in precious short supply, so it's not something I tend to expect when chatting with folks about religion.

 

Anyway, you certainly have unique view of Christianity. In fact, I suspect most of the people I mean when I say 'Christian' would consider your beliefs heresy, though I confess I was a bit confused by your description so maybe not.

 

I'm chiefly interested in examining the cognitive dissonance that most Christians have regarding their belief in the supernatural tales of the Bible. I actually don't find anything terribly objectionable looking for symbolic meaning in ancient mythical texts; in fact, I think it's a worthwhile endeavor.

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Gee thanks, I think ......
Sorry. Didn't mean to sound condescending. I'm sure most atheists would agree that to us, reason seems to be in precious short supply, so it's not something I tend to expect when chatting with folks about religion.
Not to worry .... I figured it was something like that. If I've learned anything on this board it's that most folks here come out of pretty extreme backgrounds.

 

Anyway, you certainly have unique view of Christianity. In fact, I suspect most of the people I mean when I say 'Christian' would consider your beliefs heresy, though I confess I was a bit confused by your description so maybe not.
Waxwings, I truly wish I could find concrete numbers for you. But, I honestly don't believe that Christianity is as extreme as what you and so many others have been exposed to.

 

I go to a mainstream ELCA (Largest branch of lutherans in America) Lutheran church. The church I go to is 150 year-old little white country church on a hill. It is not in the downtown area of a liberal metropolitan area (although we are a bedroom community to a liberal metro area).

 

There are wide ranges of views within my congregation. But not even the most conservative members believe the stories of creation, etc... are factual reality. Every member in my church views creation happening through evolution. Most members of my church understand that the Bible is not dictated by God to Moses (or anyone else for that matter).

 

But, you are right, I also have somewhat of a reputation in my local community for raising eyebrows (my pastor would be rolling on the floor with laughter right now, because on occassion I've done a bit more than raise a few eyebrows. ;) )

 

The good news is - I've not been burned at the stake. :grin:

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Hi Scott - Waxwings!

 

I'm sure most atheists would agree that to us, reason seems to be in precious short supply, so it's not something I tend to expect when chatting with folks about religion.

Waxwings, I came on this site as a 'Christian', but choose not to use that label any more... because of what it has popularly come to mean, and that is not me. I do think there are some wonderful metaphors, allegories, and insights in these biblical teachings. It seems to me that they are there, if there was a real 'Jesus' or not. Clearly, if there was, there has been a lot of mythology superimposed onto him. (Perhaps the same scenario of St. Nicholas, who really existed, to Santa Claus kind of evolution.) Further, it seems to me that the NT may be more in line with most Atheist concepts. It seems to promote a lot of reason and self empowerment, if we can view it without incorporating the cummulative spin it has received, IMO. The story of the crucifiction seems to have a lot of ideas that are very beneficial in driving home a point. Coming here has made me realize that it may have never really happened, and I'm hoping that to be the case. I have learned so much about these biblical teachings on this site, for which I am very thankful!

 

In fact, I suspect most of the people I mean when I say 'Christian' would consider your beliefs heresy,

That's one reason why I quit using the label too. Yep, the "Christians" never accepted me. I certainly have been called a heretic, but at least when it was done on this site, it was meant as a compliment. :)

 

I'm chiefly interested in examining the cognitive dissonance that most Christians have regarding their belief in the supernatural tales of the Bible. I actually don't find anything terribly objectionable looking for symbolic meaning in ancient mythical texts; in fact, I think it's a worthwhile endeavor.

I think the NT even claims most of these stories in the OT were just fables, Titus 1:14. It even claims that there was no magic done by the character of Jesus either, as everything he did, we too can do and even greater things.

 

One of the main differences I see in the NT and much of Atheist teachings, is the attempt to define and embody concepts to call sacred and give reverence to it. Instead of creating a 'patriotic spirit', it is creating a 'holy spirit', IMHO. I'm curious if you might know if that kind of concept has any regard in the general Atheist movement? :thanks:

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