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What Does Christianity Offer That Nothing Else Can?


Antlerman
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I had a couple of responses to your posts in another thread that were left hanging as you dropped out of that thread. I would like to pick up these points here for your feedback on them. The general direction of these two posts is heading towards the question "what makes Christianity a useful or desirable religious belief system to people above what any other system does? The points raised in these are issues that people in a modern world understand as reasonable, and somehow for Christianity to speak to people it must address these in some fashion, whether it is to deny them, accomodate them into their beliefs, or bypass them altogether in some leap of faith. I hope to hear your thoughts on this. To repost the first post here for easy reference for you to respond to:

 

We don't need to prove something true absolutely to act upon it. It is not possible to do this. However, when it comes to devoting your life to belief in a god, you first of all in my opinion need to do what you are leaning towards, acknowledge that it defies reason that it is at its heart "irrationality". This then is in according with reason at least, considering there is far less compelling reasons to accept it as a valid "truth" on that level, versus something within a naturalist world-view. Secondly, you would need to show why it offers something to humanity that has value above any other aesthetic pursuit (don't confuse the word with atheist). How does it speak to people beyond any of the thousands of alternatives out there today?

 

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I am so entirely happy to hear a Christian finally say this! Why then do they try and try so hard to justify it then, do you suppose? I would very much appreciate your opinion on this.

 

I look forward to your response to what I said above.

 

I don't accept "leaps of faith", don't think there is irrationality to faith, and don't believe Christians need to lay aside their minds and their thinking.

 

"versus something within a naturalist world-view"

 

I find materialism at odds with ones humanity. It reduces every thing finally to the molecular level. How are you different than a log or dirt teaming with organisms? What sets you apart from that, so that human life should be valued?

But here lies the rub with the Christian world view. They somehow do think we are something NOT the rest of creation. That I consider something along the lines of a brain dysfunction where someone sees their hand as a foreign thing to their own body and want to have it surgically removed.

 

For me after many years as viewing humanity as the supposed crowning achievement of the world (thanks to the infusion of the Christian world view into my thoughts), to suddenly see that we are really just one of millions of life forms this planet has seen, blew away this bizarre distinction of man above nature and I responded with a very unexpected sense of liberation of both mind and emotion.

 

Suddenly I saw that we are beautiful. That life is beautiful. Not this sick view that we are somehow in a “fallen” world. We are not. We are very much part of this tree of life on this planet, not its crowning achievement, but uniquely beautiful as one of its millions of other uniquely beautiful.

 

There is something powerful to be gained in being humbled like this. This is where Christianity in its view that this planet is somehow ours to dominate creates this unhealthy world view, because after all we are not its master.

 

Why not grind up the disabled for fertilizer ? ... or anything we might consider "inhumane"? if there is no difference between my existance and that of an amoeba?

Why would you devalue humanity because we’re not the top of the heap? There is no rational justification to do this. See what I mean about the Christian world view? You somehow assume that because we’re not the center of creation, that we don’t have value. Nothing could be further from the truth. I don’t believe humans are, yet I marvel at our existence in the universe!

 

Atheists must borrow their moral arguments.

So must theists. What, you think theists are the only ones capable of coming up with codes of conduct? That’s ridiculous. Frankly, moral arguments in fact do come from just being human in societies. It’s then humans who use religions to empower their human morality by assigning to the name of a god. Think of it in terms of government. Where do you think our laws come from, God, or humans?

 

They might truly be moral in their leanings, but materialism will not give that morality any moorings, basis of why others should follow suit. "It is, because I say it is...until someone stronger than me says something different." Unless there is borrowed moral reasoning from somewhere.

Well, without trying to hone in on exactly which facet of materialism you are referencing, I would have to say as just a blanket statement that covers any philosophical world view, that your thoughts that, “It is, because I say it is.. until someone stronger than me says something different,” is a grossly oversimplified view of how morality comes into acceptance.

 

I hear again this absolutist Christian mindset that somehow everything must have an “authoritative source”. I hear it in this discussion about morality. I hear it in discussions with others about science, with them calling the Theory of Evolution as “Darwinsim” as if somehow they can put a chink into him, the whole house of cards collapses, etc.

 

Morality is something that a society accepts or rejects. It is always changing and cannot be static. This is the problem with fundamentalist Christianity: they want to stop society from changing. This is like trying to stop nature. Humans evolve socially, and especially so in a global society with exposure to other ways of looking at the world and conducting ourselves. You can try to jam an outmoded systems of ethics from one’s notion of the way things were back in the “good ‘ole days”, but society accepts or rejects it solely on the basis of whether it has value to them. This is the reality of how society works. The “church” then reflects these values of society back onto society and “enforces” them through a face of “authority”, using the name “God”, or “Truth”, “Light”, and a whole host of other power words to uphold the values of the society. But again, these values started with society (not a sole individual), and were given to “God”. Not the other way around.

 

This is why science can't keep up with the ethics of their research and discoveries while anchored in solely materialistic philosophy. Their science outstrips their ability to metabolize the morality of an action and its consequences to humanity.

Science is science. It’s not a system of ethics, nor is it anchored in any philosophy. Materialism in science is not philosophical materialism, but rather methodological naturalism. This is of course what defines science as opposed to religion. Science deals with the natural world, so for it to run to the Bible for answers, well.. makes it religion. Science deals with how the natural world works, not questions of “who did it”? That’s the theologian’s job.

 

But I do agree in principle that science is outpacing societies ideas of ethics. Society isn’t given the luxury of time to decide together on a system of values as it has done from the beginning of culture. The technology is moving faster than what has happened naturally to cultures in the past. But that’s not science’s job. It’s societies. Once we figure it out, then the church can claim it as God’s Truth.

 

No, the aesthetic is not the final litmus test. Truth is the final litmus test. There are many pleasing things that are far removed from Truth.

 

You see I have come to Big T truth in this conversation with you. There is something out there that stands unaltered by circumstance. And we keep seeking to measure against it, to seek it, even when we fail to define it.

 

What I have to know is whether something is true. And that is the result of my own discovery of it, whether by gracious revelation or by experience.... and this is what lifts one thing above the other alternatives:whether it is indeed the Truth. Each one is responsible for seeking the answer to that discovery. It is ...what do you say...non-transferable.

I don’t have a lot of time here, but will quick speak to this and get back to it later as it deserves further discussion with you.

 

I agree that we all want to have some anchor of “truth” in life, but this phenomenon does not indicate some external big T truth. There is a collective truth that society comes to that works for the majority of its participants, but that truth continues to evolve, slowly, over time though changes that occur to that society. There is also individual truth. What makes sense to your mind, to your emotional personality. But any attempts I have ever seen to claim these truths as some sort of unchanging external big T truth has failed, and is not supported by looking at history. In either case, we strive to “cooperation”, but that is more about human society than a god.

 

I believe God helps those who want to know Him, there are those who say that isn't and can't be true. We are then at an impasse, but we are not static, and thus working out things in dialog is sometimes part of the process.

 

that is my preaching side. but I would say this is what we have to look for: Big T truth. Otherwise we have no idea where we are at in this life. We need to know if there is a God and whether He is Impersonal or Personal; do we relate or not? Do we need to?

 

I suppose at this point I am on the wrong board.

Listen - if you want to engage me more you know where my blog url is. You are welcome there. I will come back if there is more to discuss, but it feels pretty much done. It is far away from the original topic.

We are not far from the original topic, nor does it matter that much in the Lion’s den. I think we should continue this discussion here where it is evolving naturally, rather than pulling it off site. What's the point of that?

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Post two from our previous unfinished discussion:

 

I missed this earlier response from you to me. I’ll respond to it here.

 

"There is no such thing in the universe as evil. Everything is on a sliding scale "

 

That works as long as everythings stays all abstract and ivory tower, but as soon as we go to torturing people or considering what some call evil to be on our scale of good... that is all fine and dandy til you are on the receiving end of your existance and rights getting trampled and destroyed. Then it gets more real when we talk good and evil. It breaks down right there,...for you. Sometimes more for those who love you...

Well actually questions of ethics are on a sliding scale. The examples you give above in fact are very charged with emotional content, such as being the recipient of torture. To the ones doing the torture however, there is something being satisfied in them and to them it is “good”. If it wasn’t they wouldn’t do it. But I would say that by and large only a few benefit from that and justify it to themselves. The majority do not benefit from it, and therefore on that sliding scale it is a “bad” thing by and large.

 

The down side of absolutes is who determines (or interprets) them? Priests? No? The majority of a society then? If the majority, then how is that different than what I just stated above?

 

"Life depends on death."

 

I could agree with this if you could prove that our present reality is the only possible reality. But maybe the Bible view is a possible reality...maybe an existance without death or pain or sorrow ...or evil... is possible. What then? Life without death doesn't depend on death in that case. Just what we presently see supports that view- and so much just doesn't jive for us, that I would be willing to bet that something is wrong with this picture.

Well lets look at this. You’re saying the value of belief in the Bible is that we hope to get away from this reality to another? I don’t see that as very useful. In fact, I see it as harmful. Rather than teach us to accept life, they teach to hate life. That’s not very healthy of a philosophy, if you ask me.

 

This is what I see as one of the core problems with the Christian view of the world. We do live in this world, and in my opinion to see it as broken or evil is to hate what some call “God’s creation”. It’s to hate yourself. Think about that. If you had a child who went around calling themselves, fat, ugly, and stupid, would you try to correct them, or encourage them to be self-loathing? Would you tell them that they are all that, but if they find a good mate to marry them, then their value will be tied to their mate? How is any of this different than the message of Christianity?

 

"Everything is "good", and everything is "evil". Nothing is good and nothing is evil."

Admittedly I am entrenched in the way I believe, but I genuinely don't see how I can come up with a rationale not to do whatever appeals to me even if it harms you. If there is no "right" where is justice? Is there room for justice in your thinking here?

I have a long list of reasons why I don’t negate the value of considering others in my actions. None of those have to do with believing in some source of truth from a god. In fact, my personal sense of responsibility and value of moral “truths” went up considerably when I became an atheist. I make choices that promote community, that promote peace, and those acts benefit me. Why would I choose destructive acts? It doesn’t make sense. There is no benefit in them.

 

Additionally, I define the essence of myself through my actions. I believe in the benefit to humanity by following guidelines that allow for the greatest potentials of others. That benefits me. The whole trick to “ethics” is overcoming “greed”, the tendency to just grab for yourself, taking shortcuts. In the end, that approach is short-sighted and destructive to self. You see, no god is needed.

 

"I disagree that "atheism" is a true "ism" of any sort"

I've answered this in another post, I think you are sincere, but I think the argument is disingenuous,

 

"What about the Buddhist who does not believe in God? "

You could help me by explaining what you think the Buddhist view of the meaning of man's existance is. One of the things I like about the apologetics of Christianity is how it is cohesive in thought. It makes alot of sense to me, apart from the fact that I have "faith". The Buddhist view of unity loses the individuality of the person, so I find difficulty in rendering meaning from the "nirvana" or "bliss". It just "is". Maybe you could explain it better to me, if you wish.

My point is not the value of Buddhism to you, but to point out that it is a system and philosophy that gives people meaning in their lives. If it didn’t, they wouldn’t follow it. This is the same thing with Christianity, and same thing with any other philosophy. Neither theism, nor atheism is a philosophy in and of themselves. Atheism is not a philosophy. Theism is not a philosophy. Existentialism is a philosophy. Dadaism is a philosophy. Nihilism is a philosophy. Christianity is a philosophy, along with the rites and rituals of a religion.

 

How is this argument disingenuous?

 

"How many people do you know that believe there's a god and have no clue about how they should find meaning in their lives?"

In some ways that is a hard question. Not everyone has the same approach to thinking, some go more by say, INFP, some are more INTP ( like me) some are something else. Not everyone who seeks meaning does it through asking cognitive questions. I suppose that is like some who say they find their meaning in their experieince of life situations... only for those who beleive in God it reaches beyond their own experience, it connects them with the "what is" out there. Your day to day life experience doesn't always provide that metaphysical connection, at least not for all people.

But there are other philosophies that do connect you to something beyond yourself. In fact, I would say most all of them do. I don’t believe in God, yet I feel a strong connection to the universe. “God” is simply a language symbol that people try to express the experience of that, but that experience is very common, whether someone believes in a god or not. It’s simply a matter of a chosen language, do you see? I see “God” as along the lines of poetry or music. It’s a language by which we try to speak about those experiences. But “God” doesn’t give those experiences. Being alive does.

 

Edit to add: If any argument you could make would be to say that the use of the "god" language enhances that experience. But then so do many other languages. To me then, the question is what benefit does the language of god have over others, that it can overcome all it's accumulated negatives?

 

"I see no reason to conclude that because I gravitate towards social behavior that this indicates a god."

 

I don't see how evolution would explain any of this. It seems that it works against it, rather. To see ones finite end, and seek to always extend the final marker, because given a satisfying life few want it to end. It is very human to seek the meaning of what our purpose is, to be frustrated constantly by the way things are... fighting, but hating the fighting when able to really see its senselessness. See, that very word: we need to "make sense". Other creatures don't have to have this inner conflict, they don't have religions, although that is sort of funny to thik about....

I would argue that given enough brain mass, other creatures indeed would feel conflicted about this as we are. But you are incorrect in saying that nature works against social behavior. You can study many groups of animals and see a social order at work in them. Pay particular attention to primates, since we are of the same lineage biologically. I very much see evolution being behind our behaviors. We are not unique in this, only in the level we are able to carry it to.

 

Again, socialization is about bringing our individual drive to “get” into cooperation with others for the benefit of everyone, which benefits the individual to a higher degree than were he to do it alone. This act of society is about empowering weaker individuals from being completely dominated by the stronger. Let’s mention women’s rights here for one quick example in human society.

 

Again, society “hires god” like they would a police department, or on a greater scale, a government. It’s their rules, “God” enforces them. God is a product of our human evolution, but because not all societies need that symbol to function, then the question is does that symbol fulfill any relevant role in today’s society. That’s the question that churches struggle with in continuing their survival as a service to society.

 

BTW, I’m enjoying this discussion with you.

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This sounds like a lot of fun. :wicked:

 

What does Christianity offer that nothing else can?

Ummmm, well, that depends, are we speaking of in contrast to other religions or to all other alternatives?

Because there's a lot we could say about Christianity and other religions but if you compare it to Atheism, it doesn't offer anything good.

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This sounds like a lot of fun. :wicked:

 

What does Christianity offer that nothing else can?

Ummmm, well, that depends, are we speaking of in contrast to other religions or to all other alternatives?

Because there's a lot we could say about Christianity and other religions but if you compare it to Atheism, it doesn't offer anything good.

You raise a good point. I should qualify that to say "what positive thing does Christianity offer", as opposed to all the negatives it offers. I guess I would have to say for now since you brought it up, it would be in contrast to what other non-theistic approaches to finding meaning in one's life, or for a culture for that matter.

 

I just anticipate if we focus on comparing religious systems, it's somewhat pointless as I view them as pretty much all the same thing. It's worth looking at them as a whole however in contrast to non-religious living, but in particular if you are to speak of the benifit of religion over a more secular approach then I would like to know what Christianity itself offers that is better than being a non-religious human being?

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Because there's a lot we could say about Christianity and other religions but if you compare it to Atheism, it doesn't offer anything good.

 

It doesn't offer anything good in comparison to other religions, either. It's on a par with Is-lame in terms of internal wickedness, and only marginally better than Judaism only because Judaism is a folkish religion and doesn't promote the concept of eternal torture for unbelievers.

 

Aside from that, Xianity does offer things other religions don't: terror about the afterlife, rigid moral codes mostly based on prejudicial and hateful thinking, absurd myths about the universe's nature and origins that are scientifically laughable, and a god that doesn't make sense based on his supposed characteristics.

 

Little wonder that it loses so many fans :)

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I suppose the question for me is - what does it offer - or what does it promise but not deliver?

 

From a cookie-cutter evangelism site, we get this:

 

How to Become a Christian

 

God has designed a life for you that has meaning, purpose and fulfillment. The Bible says that God has planned your life with such care and detail that it is immeasurable. Psalm 139 says, "How precious are your thoughts of me O God, how great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand." How much sand is there in the world? That is how much love God has for you and how much detail He has planned for your life. Even though God knows that very few people will follow His purpose, He still loves you so much that He planned a life for you that will fit in perfect harmony with everything about you so that you would have His love as an option if you are willing to choose it. Many people think they must get cleaned up before they can be acceptable to God, but God calls for sinners to come. You can’t be holy enough for God; you can only receive His righteousness into your life. Salvation and the grace of God are for the sinner. The Bible says, "For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly" (Romans 5:6). If you are ungodly, you qualify for salvation.

 

So, the main benefits promised are: meaning, purpose, fulfillment, salvation.

 

After over 25 years of struggling with this religion - I can say that the meaning, purpose, and fulfillment ones are a stretch. (I'll be nice and not say that they are utter bullshit)

 

So, if no meaning, purpose, or fulfillment is to be found there, I'm gonna place my bet that salvation is an empty promise too.

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You raise a good point. I should qualify that to say "what positive thing does Christianity offer", as opposed to all the negatives it offers. I guess I would have to say for now since you brought it up, it would be in contrast to what other non-theistic approaches to finding meaning in one's life, or for a culture for that matter.

 

I just anticipate if we focus on comparing religious systems, it's somewhat pointless as I view them as pretty much all the same thing. It's worth looking at them as a whole however in contrast to non-religious living, but in particular if you are to speak of the benifit of religion over a more secular approach then I would like to know what Christianity itself offers that is better than being a non-religious human being?

 

 

Thank you, well then if it's a matter of religious belief vs non-religious belief, I'd have to say illusion. Of course reality is subjective and anyone can find something good about/in almost anything. However, having once been a Christian and now an Atheist, I can't find one thing good about religious belief.

 

I would say tradition, because it brings families together, but tradition has little to do with religious belief. I would say family values, but then again the christian bible preaches hate toward family and ownership of women and children. That's not exactly what I'd call "quality time." For almost every good thing the bible teaches there is at least one contradition.

 

From what I know about religion, they take from other religions and use it as a form of control. What's good about that? Christianity seems to be the worst of them all.

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I hope TGL is coming back to this discussion and I feel a little hesitant ( ;) ) about jumping in, not wanting to make her feel sidelined ... but I'm really interested in the other responses so far and how they link in with my own current thinking about 'what does christianity have to offer'.

 

I suppose the question for me is - what does it offer - or what does it promise but not deliver?

 

From a cookie-cutter evangelism site, we get this:

 

-snip-

 

So, the main benefits promised are: meaning, purpose, fulfillment, salvation.

 

After over 25 years of struggling with this religion - I can say that the meaning, purpose, and fulfillment ones are a stretch. (I'll be nice and not say that they are utter bullshit)

 

So, if no meaning, purpose, or fulfillment is to be found there, I'm gonna place my bet that salvation is an empty promise too.

 

Most of us are looking for meaning, purpose, fullfilment and some form of salvation and every system for living, from religions to self help books seem to offer this list of benefits. Once upon a time I truly thought that christianity contained all these things for me and I didn't stuggle for much of the time.

 

I'm interested in the fact that in an other thread TGL highlighted the 'truth' as being a big part of what is important to her. I understand this importance I think - because when I started to question the 'truth' of some of christianity's claims - the sense of 'meaning, purpose and fulfillment' began to fade for me.

 

I think that an 'explanation' for our lives is often needed to help people move towards 'acceptance', which in turn leads to a reduction in mental suffering. The 'explanation' that 'rings true' is different for different people.

 

So sometimes for some people, christianity is the religion that brings meaning, purpose and fulfillment for them.

 

I have some theories about what type of person this is and I'm glad that once I stood up to my childhood conditioning I turned out to be not one of those people. Although occasionally I mourn the passing of some of the attributes that go with being a christian.

 

 

Thank you, well then if it's a matter of religious belief vs non-religious belief, I'd have to say illusion. Of course reality is subjective and anyone can find something good about/in almost anything. However, having once been a Christian and now an Atheist, I can't find one thing good about religious belief.

 

I would say tradition, because it brings families together, but tradition has little to do with religious belief. I would say family values, but then again the christian bible preaches hate toward family and ownership of women and children. That's not exactly what I'd call "quality time." For almost every good thing the bible teaches there is at least one contradition.

 

From what I know about religion, they take from other religions and use it as a form of control. What's good about that? Christianity seems to be the worst of them all.

 

The loss of 'illusion' has been both a good and a bad component to my deconversion.

 

p.s TGL - you will find it is a lot easier to have a discussion here than in the Lions den :)

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The loss of 'illusion' has been both a good and a bad component to my deconversion.

 

p.s TGL - you will find it is a lot easier to have a discussion here than in the Lions den :)

 

 

Thanks Alice, I've actually been in the Lions den before. I don't go there often because I'm usually in the rants thread, lol. I have a lot to rant about I guess.

 

Yeah, reality made me feel much better when I figured out I was an Atheist. However, when it comes to things like death, illusion makes it a bit easier to handle. I've gone though three deaths as an Atheist and one as a christian. It took me some time to accept that I was never going to see my loved ones again. However, I did some reading up on death and the philosophy of death and I've come to an understanding. It's made things a bit easier for me. Death, as Epicurus says, is nothing to us since when we are dead we no longer exist. We won't ever know that we had ever existed. Without death we couldn't have life.

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My comment about the Lion's den was to Truegrit Lady (I'd been following one of the threads in The Den and thought she had dipped out - but I've subsequently seen that she'd picked up threads here since)

 

Illusion is a complex one. I have lots of sort of half 'illusionary' beliefs, that do seem to make life more 'poetic'. I like to believe in romantic destiny. I like to believe I'm linked in a way to my children so that I would know if they were in trouble even if they were a thousand miles away. (I have others).

 

The former is harder to hold on to - the latter I can still say to myself, there may be a scientific explanation for this! As a christian every action and thought was linked by being part of 'God's plan'. I kind of miss that!

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My comment about the Lion's den was to Truegrit Lady (I'd been following one of the threads in The Den and thought she had dipped out - but I've subsequently seen that she'd picked up threads here since)

 

Illusion is a complex one. I have lots of sort of half 'illusionary' beliefs, that do seem to make life more 'poetic'. I like to believe in romantic destiny. I like to believe I'm linked in a way to my children so that I would know if they were in trouble even if they were a thousand miles away. (I have others).

 

The former is harder to hold on to - the latter I can still say to myself, there may be a scientific explanation for this! As a christian every action and thought was linked by being part of 'God's plan'. I kind of miss that!

 

You are connected to your children. It's part of human survival. You bond with them and get to know them as well as they get to know you, woman's intuition is nothing more than a sensitivity to reading body language. I know it seems as if we (women) can sometimes predict the future, but its more about the passive signs than magically predicting anything.

 

Destiny only exists in a personal sense. Whatever it is that you think you're destined to, is what will be your destiny.

 

The brain is an awesome tool.

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I'm interested in the fact that in an other thread TGL highlighted the 'truth' as being a big part of what is important to her. I understand this importance I think - because when I started to question the 'truth' of some of christianity's claims - the sense of 'meaning, purpose and fulfillment' began to fade for me.

 

I think that an 'explanation' for our lives is often needed to help people move towards 'acceptance', which in turn leads to a reduction in mental suffering. The 'explanation' that 'rings true' is different for different people.

What the turning point for me was when I realized that the explanation was there was no explanation, and the truth was there was no truth. That was the moment of liberation. Rather than spending all this energy looking for the Truth with a big T, I should have been spending my energy find the little t truth, the truth that was mine.

 

Finding yourself, is finding the meaning of life. The only single meaning of life is the one that’s yours. And you cannot find yourself when you are spending all your energies looking for something outside yourself. That thing we thought existed outside ourselves, this “God”, was really only our own hopes to find things that were meaningful to us.

 

God is a language symbol, a mythology we use to represent and embrace our own hopes and ideals, a vehicle for us to focus on our personal aspirations. But then we look for the “strength” from outside to realize these things in ourselves and in the world, rather than recognizing that “we are gods” and that the power is in us, simply from us being human. To me, our salvation, so to speak, is salvation from religions that have us fall prostrate before the temple praying for salvation. That is slavery to a god, and not liberation to live and find true meaning in ourselves.

 

Salvation is freeing our minds, breaking away from religion to discover ourselves.

 

(I should add too, that unlike the Christian idea of truth, this truth evolves with us. If it doesn't, then it ceases to be truth and loses meaning to who we have become).

 

So sometimes for some people, christianity is the religion that brings meaning, purpose and fulfillment for them.

It does because it serves the role of a truth for them, but at what cost? For me that price was sacrificing reason for faith. Rather, it was more sacrificing knowledge for the sake of preserving a faith based on ignorance. And that sums up how I see all fundamentalist approaches to religion, those that claim there is an absolute truth and that they have it.

 

I cannot believe that any truth, if it is to have real meaning for the individual requires us to set aside or deny a major part of what it is that defines us as human beings. What I have yet to hear, and was hoping TGL could offer her, “cut above the pack” views on this, is how, if it is possible at all, for someone to reap whatever benefits that a faith system offers like this, that can speak to all human beings without requiring them to sever their reason? If Christianity in fact could do this, that it is the superior system for humanity, then why does it fail? And I ask, please do not hand me theological explanations of “sin” blinding us. That’s a cop out argument that ancient apologists came up with and it doesn’t wash, and in fact is the very type of thing that makes it NOT speak to rational people. Are we to say that the fall of man brought the rise of reason which is against God? Nonsense. We are alive as we are. If a god made us, this is it. We are what we are, not some fallen luminous spirit bodies.

 

So, that said… here’s hoping for some discussion…. :shrug:

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I cannot believe that any truth, if it is to have real meaning for the individual requires us to set aside or deny a major part of what it is that defines us as human beings. What I have yet to hear, and was hoping TGL could offer her, “cut above the pack” views on this, is how, if it is possible at all, for someone to reap whatever benefits that a faith system offers like this, that can speak to all human beings without requiring them to sever their reason?

 

Let's say for the sake of discussion that christianity does indeed provide meaning, purpose and fulfillment. That might make it useful. It would do nothing to advance the argument that it is true.

 

The world is absolutely filled with religions and personal philosophy systems that provide a person with meaning, purpose and fulfillment.

 

I'd rather live a meaningless existence based on truth than float along in some fantasyland.

 

But, the surprise is that atheism too provides meaning, purpose and fulfillment. (without the endless striving and feeling that you just can't measure up)

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God is a language symbol, a mythology we use to represent and embrace our own hopes and ideals, a vehicle for us to focus on our personal aspirations. But then we look for the “strength” from outside to realize these things in ourselves and in the world, rather than recognizing that “we are gods” and that the power is in us, simply from us being human.

I agree that "God" is most likely as you describe it Antlerman. I take issue though with this "we are gods" language. I think that if we do it right then our reach should always exceed our grasp. That is, our hopes and ideals will change as we evolve.

 

I think we have an open ended future and that we will never be gods in the sense of attaining our ideals, because they are a moving target.

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But even if Christianity had something to offer that nothing else can, it is then still up to the individual to decide whether or not they accept it.

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What the turning point for me was when I realized that the explanation was there was no explanation, and the truth was there was no truth. That was the moment of liberation. Rather than spending all this energy looking for the Truth with a big T, I should have been spending my energy find the little t truth, the truth that was mine.

 

I think I am possibly half way towards this point of view. There is a big part of me that still likes to believe that there is a big truth out there to be found. Although I recognise that even if there is a big truth all that we can ever access is our limited human perception of this - filtered through our cultural and personal perspective. I think I would probably file this hope that there is a big truth in the same drawer as romantic destiny!

 

Last night I went to see the film Pan's Labrinyth. I don't know if it has received much attention in the states? Its a spanish film - part fairy tale part account of the battle between fascism and communism at the close of WW2. Apart from the fact that parts of the film were way too gory for me (its hard to cover your eyes AND try to read the subtitles!) I loved this film - because the 'message' was told twice - in the real world and in the fantasy world. As soon as I hear a 'fairy tale', I start to tingle and its as if my body anticpates there will be a 'message' and it tunes in to find it. The 'power' of narrative for me never ceases to amaze.

 

I know some feel that the stories and narratives of christianity are poor and lacking but I loved them - even those with a message I disliked but as I have grown as a person I found I liked the 'message' of some tales less and less. I've gone off some tellings of the great english myth of Robin Hood as well - I feel well pissed off with King Richard and the loyalty of his subjects despite the fact that he has abandoned them to unjust rulers whilst he galavants off round the world frustrates me.

 

Once upon a time loyalty to a 'king' was a much loved narrative. There was a 'king' in Pan's labyrinth - but the message was 'unquestioning obedience to authority is wrong'.

 

I think what I'm trying to say is that I think religions sometimes seem to have answers because their message is contained in narratives and narratives are a powerful medium to convey the message. I think for some the 'tingle' persaudes them of the truth of the message.

 

When I first left christianity I felt desolate for a while because I didn't have the 'narratives' to explain my beliefs.

 

Once upon a time believing that there was a 'big truth' and that there was a great holder of the truth to whom I could give my unquestioning obedience felt like a good thing. Not anymore.

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To no one in particular... or to all

 

I rather like it when you talk amongst yourselves, you are so much ..."nicer";)

JK.

I have only a very simple answer to the main topic, but all the subtopics could prove full of nuance and complexity.

 

To the main topic:

I had certain things I wanted...that were important to me and one of the big ones was that I wanted to know God. I met with Christ and this sealed it for me. I had an experience of that. No one gave it to me, no one talked me into it, no one explained it to me. Everything built from that many years ago. What I would say that Christianity offers that none other does is to meet with the Living God in Real Time®. There is probably a better way to say this, but this is sufficient to explain to you part of the reason I don't try to objectively "prove" God. I just don't think it can be done, or that it operates that way.

 

If it is true in a big T way, then all other reasonings are moot. And that is what a person has to answer for himself. We are responsible for ourselves in this thing.

=====

You have lots here. I'll try to look at it, but I only have online time for looking at one thread- I'll need to choose which one to pursue. and enfant terrible Shawn's isn't the one ;)

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To no one in particular... or to all

 

I rather like it when you talk amongst yourselves, you are so much ..."nicer";)

JK.

 

But see, what you said there is condescending. You are speaking to us as if we are now behaving like good little children. KWIM?

 

To the main topic:

I had certain things I wanted...that were important to me and one of the big ones was that I wanted to know God.

We all did, those of us here who were Christians for decades or shorter.

 

I met with Christ and this sealed it for me. I had an experience of that. No one gave it to me, no one talked me into it, no one explained it to me.

 

Yep, a few years ago, I sounded exactly like you.

 

Everything built from that many years ago. What I would say that Christianity offers that none other does is to meet with the Living God in Real Time®.
But people with other God beliefs say the same thing about their God(s), Goddess(es). Christians for some reason or another either refuse to understand that or refuse to acknowledge it. In saying this also, it is almost like a gloating although I'm sure you don't mean to come off that way. Why do you feel God but we didn't? Why did God reveal himself to you and not us? You're talking about people who studied the bible, worshipped and cried to Jesus/God, pastors, children church teachers, lifegroup facilitators, etc., etc. people who were just as passionate as you are for the Lord.

 

And, let me do a reality check here with meeting god in *real time*. My grandparents have been devout worshippers since childhood, they are 80 years old and live in excruciating pain and have for the past 30 years, never a complaint out of them. They cannot sleep, they cannot get out of the tiny apartment they live in, NOTHING. Where is god for them? They pray every night for OTHER people, not themselves (they believe it selfish to pray for themselves) but myself and other Christians (my mom, dad, friends, family) prayed for them and the believers still do and you know what? Nothing. "God" has refused to meet with my dear grandparents in *real time*, what makes you so special?

 

Where is god in *real time* for the starving and neglected children of the world who ARE believers? Where is god in *real time* for the abused believing Christian wife and her children? Where is god in *real time* for believing children who are CONTINUALLY molested by sick and twisted adults? Where is god in *real time* for the believing woman being brutally raped? Where is god in *real time* for the believing child being continually bullied in school? Where is god in *real time* for believing people DEVASTED with war going on all around them? Where is god in *real time* for the suffering people in terminally ill wards who are spitting up, soiling themselves, etc. etc.? Where is god in *real time* for people suffering from debilitating mental diseases who can do nothing but slobber and stare out the window? I could go on and on with the travesty's that occur in this world but I won't anymore.

 

The warm fuzzy's that you feel and call "real time meetings with god" are caused by your belief and your belief only. Christians tend to focus on "testimonies" and anything that uplifts God while ignoring his clear absence from the world surrounding them...it is called denial.

 

We are responsible for ourselves in this thing.

 

I agree.

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I had certain things I wanted...that were important to me and one of the big ones was that I wanted to know God. I met with Christ and this sealed it for me. I had an experience of that. No one gave it to me, no one talked me into it, no one explained it to me. Everything built from that many years ago. What I would say that Christianity offers that none other does is to meet with the Living God in Real Time®. There is probably a better way to say this, but this is sufficient to explain to you part of the reason I don't try to objectively "prove" God. I just don't think it can be done, or that it operates that way.

 

Wow - your experience of meeting with Christ predated any explanation?! I'm sorry but I find that hard to believe. I may have misunderstood what you are saying - 'no one explained it to me' suggests you are saying that you didn't have a concept of meeting with Christ in real time before you had your experience. What did you know about Christ at the time? I would be amazed if you hadn't been 'given' enough information to have contributed to a level of 'persausion'.

 

Although I remember a clergyman I loved telling a story of a friend who knew a friend of a missionary in Burma. The missionary was the first to translate portions of the gospels to the people he was reaching and was surprised to see nods of recognition from his audience, who told him they had learned of God's love and forgiveness and hands bearing nail prints from a hermit who lived outside of their village. The missionary was taken to meet the hermit ... he began to tell him the story of Jesus ... the hermit fell on his knees, 'at last' he cried, 'I know the name of my saviour - I can die a happy man'. apparently Jesus had appeared to him in a vision years before and taught him many things ... neglecting to tell the hermit his name.'

 

I used to pass on that story eveytime someone was asking 'what about those who have never heard the gospel' but over the years the unverified 'friend of a friend' aspect of this tale began to gnaw at my heart.

 

If you met Jesus without being told about the potential to meet with him - I'd love to hear your account in more detail.

 

 

I'll try to look at it, but I only have online time for looking at one thread- I'll need to choose which one to pursue

 

Come on - you know it's this one!

 

p.s - the clergyman was my Father.

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And, let me do a reality check here with meeting god in *real time*. My grandparents have been devout worshippers since childhood, they are 80 years old and live in excruciating pain and have for the past 30 years, never a complaint out of them. They cannot sleep, they cannot get out of the tiny apartment they live in, NOTHING. Where is god for them? They pray every night for OTHER people, not themselves (they believe it selfish to pray for themselves) but myself and other Christians (my mom, dad, friends, family) prayed for them and the believers still do and you know what? Nothing. "God" has refused to meet with my dear grandparents in *real time*, what makes you so special?

 

Where is god in *real time* for the starving and neglected children of the world who ARE believers? Where is god in *real time* for the abused believing Christian wife and her children? Where is god in *real time* for believing children who are CONTINUALLY molested by sick and twisted adults? Where is god in *real time* for the believing woman being brutally raped? Where is god in *real time* for the believing child being continually bullied in school? Where is god in *real time* for believing people DEVASTED with war going on all around them? Where is god in *real time* for the suffering people in terminally ill wards who are spitting up, soiling themselves, etc. etc.? Where is god in *real time* for people suffering from debilitating mental diseases who can do nothing but slobber and stare out the window? I could go on and on with the travesty's that occur in this world but I won't anymore.

 

The warm fuzzy's that you feel and call "real time meetings with god" are caused by your belief and your belief only. Christians tend to focus on "testimonies" and anything that uplifts God while ignoring his clear absence from the world surrounding them...it is called denial.

 

Jubilant - that is so powerful and so true in my experience.

 

The sister of a good friend of mine has cancer. She was diagnosed a little over a year ago. She has three lovely daughters and she is a single carer. She was given six months to live. She embarked on a course of chemo and her church started praying. She didn't die at the six month point she started getting better. Boy did god get given the glory and her temporary remission was hailed as a miracle. Only just three months after being told her intial cancer was gone - the secondary cancer kicked in. This time the tumour is in her brain .. and it has changed/destroyed her personality. This beautiful gentle child focused mother now talks dirty in front of her kids and is violent to those she loves. Way to go God.

 

I spent too much time telling myself I couldn't 'see the bigger picture' and that one day I would know the answer to all the incomprehensible things God was doing.

 

The main thing I see Christianity providing that is different to other religions is a belief in a personal father god who is able to intervene in life and answer our prayers and who has a plan for us, a God where nothing happens but that he allows it and knows about it and where our prayers can sometimes stay his hand.

 

And that's what makes it such a great illlusion and such a lousy reality.

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To no one in particular... or to all

 

I rather like it when you talk amongst yourselves, you are so much ..."nicer";)

JK.

 

But see, what you said there is condescending. You are speaking to us as if we are now behaving like good little children. KWIM?

 

We're all ignorant children without Jebus, yanno? Just like Jebus said, we're all sheep - and what are sheep? Stupid, naive, defenseless, and weak. That's the Xian persepctive on humanity - that we are ignorant, puny, and worthless. We need a savior and we need constant guidance - and we need the threat of eternal torture to keep us in line, because we're naturally wicked and rotten.

 

Trueshit is just like the majority of Xians who have come here, parading her human-hating, misanthropic deathcult aruond as if it makes her special because she believes in it, in an attempt to suck up to her heavenly boyfriend and score points in the afterlife. How pathetic that people commit their lives to such worthless, selfish pursuits, especially under the guise of altruism :loser:

 

And she wonders why we hate her religion...

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I agree that "God" is most likely as you describe it Antlerman. I take issue though with this "we are gods" language. I think that if we do it right then our reach should always exceed our grasp. That is, our hopes and ideals will change as we evolve.

 

I think we have an open ended future and that we will never be gods in the sense of attaining our ideals, because they are a moving target.

I agree with what you say about our hopes and ideals changing. It is part of the argument I make for why fundamentalism doesn't work, because it doesn't allow the belief system to evolve to accomodate this natural change. My reference to "we are gods", in part is the ironic reference, but more addressing that we don't need to look to an outside God for the power to rise higher in pursuit of these ideals, changing or not. To me being a god, does not mean acheiving the ultimate anything. I don't believe such a thing exists.

 

"What a piece of work is man! How noble in reason! how infinite in faculties! in form and moving, how express and admirable! in action how like an angel! in apprehension, how like a god!"

 

I think what I'm trying to say is that I think religions sometimes seem to have answers because their message is contained in narratives and narratives are a powerful medium to convey the message. I think for some the 'tingle' persaudes them of the truth of the message.

 

When I first left christianity I felt desolate for a while because I didn't have the 'narratives' to explain my beliefs.

 

Once upon a time believing that there was a 'big truth' and that there was a great holder of the truth to whom I could give my unquestioning obedience felt like a good thing. Not anymore.

And this comes to one of the questions I have about the value of the system. Yes, there is value in using myth and metaphor to describe these intangibles of human experience. But the world has changed and there are areas where the language of the myth isn’t allowed to accommodate that new awareness. Now it becomes a system of conflict for the individual who uses an outdate language system. Does the value of what it brings in some areas outweigh the negatives that it imposes on people who adopt it?

 

We no longer live in an age of ignorance where the earth doesn’t move and the heavens are a literal retracting curtain in the sky.

 

I had certain things I wanted...that were important to me and one of the big ones was that I wanted to know God. I met with Christ and this sealed it for me. I had an experience of that. No one gave it to me, no one talked me into it, no one explained it to me. Everything built from that many years ago. What I would say that Christianity offers that none other does is to meet with the Living God in Real Time®. There is probably a better way to say this, but this is sufficient to explain to you part of the reason I don't try to objectively "prove" God. I just don't think it can be done, or that it operates that way.

That you don't try to prove God is where you move up a few rungs on the ladder than the majority of the apologists we experience. This is why I wanted to discuss the real issue of the question then, which is why is Chrisitianity valuable? Since it isn't about objective truth that any dispassionate observer can evaluate and come to agreement on, then its value is in it being a system of language for the purpose of giving its followers a sense of meaning and purpose in life.

 

Which brings us to the salient post I made from before:

 

But there are other philosophies that do connect you to something beyond yourself. In fact, I would say most all of them do. I don’t believe in God, yet I feel a strong connection to the universe. “God” is simply a language symbol that people try to express the experience of that, but that experience is very common, whether someone believes in a god or not. It’s simply a matter of a chosen language, do you see? I see “God” as along the lines of poetry or music. It’s a language by which we try to speak about those experiences. But “God” doesn’t give those experiences. Being alive does.

 

Edit to add: If any argument you could make would be to say that the use of the "god" language enhances that experience. But then so do many other languages. To me then, the question is what benefit does the language of god have over others, that it can overcome all it's accumulated negatives?

Like Alice and Jubilant have both pointed out, I too have had transcendent experiences with the “divine” like you. I have no doubt you experienced something profound, something that transcended all experiences in your life. I know intimately what this is.

 

It is not as uncommon as you may think. It happens quite a lot to humans, but not everyone responds as you or me in embarking on a road of devotion centered on our belief about that experience. A surprising number of people simply put it away, not talking about it for fear of thinking there is something wrong with them. But the point is, something happened to you. The understanding of what the something is, is a matter of language.

 

Experiences like these are spoken about in many languages of many cultures, and typically those who talk about it do so using the myth symbols of their culture. It would be quite atypical for a Hindu raised in a small village all his life with little to no exposure to the West, to see Jesus and Mary in his vision as opposed to a blue Hindu god such as Krishna. Likewise, you or I raised in a Western culture where the symbols of Jesus and an Omnipotent Father god are completely infused into our cultures language, that we would see a Norse god would be quite out of context. If the isolated Hindu saw Jesus; if the isolated Eskimo saw Jesus; if a village man from Japan saw Jesus, then… we can start talking about the possibility of there being an actual Jesus existing in the outer-realms of human experience. Instead, what we have are experiences that happen that only speak to a common basic experience.

 

In other words, there are many paths to these sorts of experience, with no one path being true and the other false. That is an apologetic construct by those who try to market their brand of faith over its competitors by virtue of detraction, and by terrorizing their customers with threats that if they buy faith X, the devil will take them to hell. When evaluated objectively however, it is seen that in fact they are all the same thing.

 

For me, I have come to see these experiences as part of our being human, and not an indication of something outside us. Does that detract from its value to me? No, it doesn’t. But my having applied the language of the Christian faith system to it actually did.

 

If all I cared to realize in my life was the emotional experience of it, then perhaps supplying nothing but images of Zeus, or Aries, or Jesus, or Mary, or any other god might be enough to satisfy what is important to me, but like I’ve said all along, there is more to being human for me than emotion, and there is more to be human for me than pure rationality. I need a way to live my life that speaks to both that emotional sense of wonder and transcendence, and that will allow my rational mind integrity and satisfaction. How can Christianity do this?

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So Quoth Ms Grit:

 

To the main topic:

I had certain things I wanted...that were important to me and one of the big ones was that I wanted to know God. I met with Christ and this sealed it for me. I had an experience of that. No one gave it to me, no one talked me into it, no one explained it to me.

 

Try using big block letters, stencils, and whatever tools for the mentally challenged you have and show me your Jesus pretty please.

 

I spent years trying to meet Jesus and the son of a bitch was always busy, or the Help Desk wasn't taking calls.

 

TGL, you wanna win this Board and its inhabitants for your particular religious thoughts?

 

Show me the Jesus!

 

I don't want to hear of your Damascus Road-Saul/Paul conversion.. Show me your Jesus please.

 

kevinL

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Well-said, nivek.

 

I also spent many years, praying and trusting and hoping, but no Jebus. Jebus never came to me, never said a word to me, never answered a prayer I sent up, especially those which regarded "evil sins" that would send me straight to Hell.

 

The bastard always seemed to be busy, indeed. No time for those who would have remained in the fold if he had only shown up or delivered on one of his promises.

 

No Jebus = no reason to believe in Jebus.

 

Show us or blow us.

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I also spent many years, praying and trusting and hoping, but no Jebus. Jebus never came to me, never said a word to me, never answered a prayer I sent up, especially those which regarded "evil sins" that would send me straight to Hell.

 

The bastard always seemed to be busy, indeed. No time for those who would have remained in the fold if he had only shown up or delivered on one of his promises.

 

No Jebus = no reason to believe in Jebus.

 

Show us or blow us.

To be fair to TGL, she has already conceded that she cannot objectively prove God:

 

There is probably a better way to say this, but this is sufficient to explain to you part of the reason I don't try to objectively "prove" God.
I just don't think it can be done, or that it operates that way.

Contrast this to the “simple preacher” Japheth who is busy over here trying to prove God using silly logic arguments: http://www.ex-christian.net/index.php?s=&a...st&p=247676

 

This is what the point of this thread is about. If belief in God is in fact purely subjective, then why should we accept it as a truth that is superior to all other “truths” on this level? I can’t “prove” to you that Existentialism is “truth”, but yet it has value and personal meaning to me. I can’t prove to you that Sushi tastes good, but yet it does to me. The same thing then applies to Christianity, Islam, or belief in Odin.

 

I would like to hear how to her the “truths” of Christianity somehow transcend all other truths that other belief systems or philosophies offer to humans. If this is the single big T Truth, then show me how it is? Show me how she can justify this statement:

If it is true in a big T way, then all other reasonings are moot. And that is what a person has to answer for himself. We are responsible for ourselves in this thing.

If mankind has to answer to this, then you will need to show objectively how these truths are somehow above all others. This is the challenge of this thread. I have posed many issues that I am not seeing how Christianity can deal with, and on the contrary actually have a negative effect on people. If it the big T Truth, then it should be a chohesive truth, a universal system of truth that applies to all areas of life. I am pointing out areas where it doesn't. That's where I'd like some arguements presented to me for how it does.

 

BTW, is it possible to maybe tone down the Lion’s Den talk a little in discussions that are posted in the Coliseum so they can remain more focused? t's hard sometimes to read past offensive language in these discussions. I think it detracts a lot from the substance of what is trying to be said.

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