Land of the Free-Thinkers

Ni men hao! (Hello to you all!)

In case you didn't know, I live in China. I am not Chinese, although my wife is and our two kids are half Chinese. You may have heard of The Great Firewall of China, which is a playful name given to the Chinese government's ability to block and allow websites of their choosing at any given moment. We get no warning, but one day a website is just gone, blocked. Time Magazine and the BBC were blocked for years and then one day, 'bingo', I was able to read them. Wikipedia has always been blocked. Go figure.

Blogspot is blocked at the moment. Someone somewhere posted something that got some government official's undies in a knot and so all the Blogger pages are gone. That means I cannot read posts or comments on any Google-based blogs including this one of course. Ironically, the block has not effected my ability to post, perhaps because the two functions are on different servers? Whatever the reason, I can speak to the world but I cannot hear from the world...at least not via Google blogs.

This got me thinking about my fellow non-believers in the USA. I know that often you guys feel somewhat troubled by the lack of non-belief in your country, and fair enough too. After all, you have a born again President (Jeez, that must be hard to take), a Faith Based Initiatives Office in his White House, more Christian cable channels and televangelists than one country could ever need, a plethora of extreme Christian groups and individuals, and who could ignore the aggressive Intelligent Design activists pushing to have archaic beliefs taught in your high school science classrooms. Frak, it must be hard to be an American at times.

And yet, the Internet is brimming over with Atheist and Agnostic websites, podcasts, online books and even video podcasts. Blogs and discussion forums like these are easily accessed and are regularly updated with new posts. Dan Barker's FFRF is having its cases heard before the U.S. Supreme Court, nationally broadcast news programmes and magazines are running stories on Atheist activists and their agendas, and Sam Harris, Bart Ehrman and Richard Dawkins have all had their books make national best-seller lists.

Relative to what's going on in some parts of the world, you guys in the U.S. have got it really good. You discussions are not censored, your websites and blogs are not blocked and John Loftus can publish and sell his book. ;P For all its faults, the U.S. is still a place where ideas can be debated and discussed in the public arena, even if most of its citizens subscribe to one religion or another. Please stop and remember, it isn't necessarily like that in places like China. I would hate to see you guys fall into the all-too-common persecution complex held by our old friends in Evangelical circles. They have deluded themselves to the point where they really do think they are persecuted and that there is a Secular Humanist conspiracy (headed by Satan of course) mounting against them, and all the while their human rights are largely protected by your (secular) Constitution. I doubt unbelievers in America would ever really go so far as to develop a persecution complex, but hey, it's nice to be on guard anyway.

So see the half-full glass guys. Atheism is alive and well in the free world. You're free to have your say...even to the point of debunking your President's religion. You certainly couldn't do that in China.

Zai jian! (See you later!)

57 comments:

Anonymous said...

Christians and fat people seem to be the only ones that are open targets in America

Benny said...

Christian terrorism

Anonymous said...

Yes, they give a disgrace to the name of Christianity and above all to God. I believe abortion is wrong, but the best way to treat those who want or have had abortion is with love.

Benny said...

Anon,

While I don't agree with your view of abortion, I applaud your denouncement of violence as a solution.

However, I think you missed my point. When Christian extremists aren't committing acts of terrorism and getting a free pass from the mainstream media, then I might take your claims of Christian persecution more seriously. Until then, my sympathies are reserved for more deserving parties.

Anonymous said...

Blacks and gays are beyond protected by the media, but Christians, if someone attacks them, then it is just brushed off.
Ex: Rosie O'donnel and Edwards two compaigners.

Benny said...

Christian extremists commit murders, assaults, kidnappings, bombing/arson, and acid attacks with nary a peep from mainstream media, and the best you can counter with is "but, but Rosie and some bloggers said mean things!".

Color me unconvinced about "Christian persecution".

Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

Mr. Anonymous:
Let me ask you a few things, and after you answer me, think about what you've said.

How many Christians do you know who spend their life hiding their Christianity, even to the point of making viciously anti-Christian jokes, for fear that if their Christianity becomes known, they could lose their jobs, their friends, and even be disowned by their parents and rejected by their family?

How many Christians, when they leave a church or Christian social event, have a justified fear that if they are seen, they might be physically attacked, beaten, and even killed?

How many Christians, if they are attacked in certain areas of the country, are literally afraid to report it, not just because their Christianity might become public, but because they have a justified fear that the police would side with their attackers?

How many athletes do you know who will wait until their career is over before announcing their Christianity, for fear of problems with their teammates and loss of possible endorsements -- or even being permanently afraid that one bad game will get them released -- because they are Christians?

How many Christians do you know who have to drive 50-100 miles from suburbia or a rural area, just to hang out with other Christians, because there is no place nearer for Christians to gather?

Finally, how many Christian teenagers attempt and actually commit suicide because of the anti-Christian bias you speak of?

Okay, now replace 'Christian' with 'gay' in each of those sentences. Are things better than they were? Sure. But everything I've mentioned there still happens, less often, today.

And I'll tell you one thing. In your church, your job, your carpool, maqybe even in your family, there are probably half a dozen gays that you interact with every day, week, or month. But you don't know they are gey, and they are scared to death that you might find out, because of your extreme religiosity. (Do I think that fear is justified? No. Because I do see a goodness in you that would keep you from responding badly to them. But I do understand the fear.)

Think about all these things, before you again claim that Christians are the persecuted ones, and gays are the protected ones.

Anonymous said...

Just watch the mainstream media. Or google for example, who allows gay porn and gay advertisement but wont allow Christian advertising.

Benny said...

By mainstream media, you mean the one that brushes Christian terrorism under the carpet? Surely you can't have forgotten about this already, because I mentioned this just a couple posts ago! Why so unwilling to address this issue?

Google won't allow Christian advertising? Try typing in a phrase like, say, "christian apologetics" at google.com, and take a look at the ads that populate the right side of the results page. Where's the censorship?

Also, I look forward to your answers to Mr. Benton's questions.

Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

Mr. Anonymous:
Over the past few days I have said some mildly complimentary things about you, but this comment has forced me to withdraw them. Did you actually read and think about the statements I made? (In fact, had you responded that 'gays deserve this treatmewnt because they a perverted sinners,' I would have been less disgusted with you.)
But any man who compares the advertising policy of one company -- a policy that in fact you state inaccurately, since I have seen "Christian Advertising" on Google -- with an atmosphere that causes human beings to be physically attacked, that causes them to hide one of the most important aspects of who they are, that forces them to live their lives as lies, that makes them live in the justified fear that they may be at risk of attack or loss of family and job if their 'secret' comes out --
anyone who can even find these comparable, not to mention finding the first 'more serious' is so lacking in empathy and simple human feeling, so blinded by his dogma as to be beneath contempt.

If you do not rethink your statement and withdraw or modify it, as far as I am concerned, it will be impossible for me to respond or even take notice of your future comments and I can only hope that you do as you have frequently threatened, give us up as a lost cause, and leave.

But if you do choose to remain, please don't ever use the word 'love' or talk about 'judging' again, because you don't know what the terms mean.

Anonymous said...

If I went on TV and said something bad about Christians, no one would care. But if I said something bad about gays then I would get blasted.

But in everyday living here in America, it is harder for a gay to live, because this is a Christian nation, but it is starting to deteirate. But everyday living in the world, it is harder for a Christian to live.

I believe that homosexuality is immoral, but that doesn't mean I don't love them. We weren't created to be gay, and if everybody was gay, then there would be no one left in this world.

Please don't say ever again that I don't know what love means. My entire life is based on love.

Anonymous said...

This is the article on google, but the advertising is on Christianity to Homosexuals.

http://worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=55107

Benny said...

Anon, your ignorance is telling.

Claim: "[The United States] is a Christian nation."

Fact: The separation of church and state is one of the core principles of this country.
Fact: The First Amendment establishes the freedom to practice any religion, or none at all.
Conclusion: The US is not a Christian nation.

The article you linked had nothing to do with Google and Christian ads; I'm guessing you meant this one:

http://worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=39992

Which actually describes Google banning an ad from the organization Stand to Reason (StR) because it linked to a portion of StR's website deemed to contain hate speech, not because it was a Christian ad. In fact, the article itself states that 3 other ads placed by StR remained on Google's systems with no problems. In other words, there's zero evidence here of Google banning something just because it's Christian.

It seems that you are *exactly* the Christian-with-a-persecution-complex that Mr. Waller spoke of. Not only that, but you are so caught up in your own false sense of persecution that you brush aside the plight of real victims. You devalue the word "love" when you claim that your life is based on it.

Anonymous said...

Um, if the majority of a nation is Christian, then I believe it is a Christian nation. As John Adams said:
"The constition was made only for a religious and moral people."
- Letter to the Officers of the First Brigade of the Third Division of the Militia of Massachusetts.

Please don't pull out the card that Christians aren't being persecuted.

Benny said...

First, I'd like to note how contradictory your claims are. A majority of the nation is Christian, so according to you, we live in a Christian nation, but you also claim that Christians are persecuted more than any other group. What, are there a lot of Christians persecuting themselves?

Moving on...

Um, if the majority of a nation is Christian, then I believe it is a Christian nation.

About 77% of the US population lives in urban areas. Does that mean the US is an Urban nation? In the 2000 US census, 75.1% of respondents said they were White or Caucasian. Does that mean the US is a White nation? In case you were wondering, the answers are no and no. The country was founded on the idea of equal representation for all, regardless of whether one is in the majority or minority. The majority of Americans may be Christians, but the founding fathers specifically created the nation as a secular entity.

Is your citation of John Adams' letter supposed to refute the words of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights? Do you really think that one man's letter holds more weight than the Constitution and the Bill of Rights? It looks like you lack not only empathy, but also a basic understanding of this country's founding principles.

Please don't pull out the card that Christians aren't being persecuted.

Why not? Each of your attempts to support the claim of Christian persecution have been refuted. Don't make claims you can't support.

I really think you should follow Mr. Benton's advice to you. Either retract/modify your statements, or leave. As things are, your display of callousness and ignorance is doing more to discredit Christianity than anything I could write.

Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

"Persecuted" seems to be another word you don't know the meaning of. I am still vainly hoping you might comment on what I said, but then I'm always ridiculously optimistic.

Kyle said...

I think there is a certain portion of the population that gives lip service to tolerance when it comes to minority groups such as homosexuals and African Americans. The tolerance crowd (liberals mostly) will tolerate everything except intolerance (which means Christians). I don't think American Christians per se are persecuted but I do think there is a war of ideas driven by the liberal media and liberal Hollywood to discredit Christian beliefs and dismiss them as intolerant. I was in India last year and Pastor friend I met had been beaten by a group of zealous Hindus for his preaching of the Gospel. He was persecuted. I thank God that the Atheists in America are more tame. I do fear the conclusions that future generations will arrive at if they start where the Atheists start because I believe it leads to relativistic morality which means human life (say 'vegetables', crippled, elderly) could be defined as unvaluable in the future if function becomes the measure of personhood instead of the image of God. As I pointed out though, tolerance is not the highest moral law since those who are supposed to be tolerant are in fact intolerant themselves. I am against tolerance if that means tolerating things that are immoral such as murder, stealing, kidnapping, and the like. The debate should be "What should be tolerated and what is appropriate not to tolerate?"

As to America being a Christian nation I do believe that the Founders envisioned a land where the freedom of ideas would lead to the prevailing of the Christian worldview. In a free market the Christian views can compete and win over all other views. The separation of Church and State is not in the constitution. The consitution prohibits CONGRESS from establishing a religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof (which includes the public and the officials who represent them to create laws based on their views of morality).

Peace and freedom to the Atheists in America to disbelieve!
Peace and freedom to the Christians in America to vote for laws that reflect the value of human life and biblical morality!

Love,
Kyle

Anonymous said...

Don't make claims I can't support? Why don't you move to China and announce out loud that you're a Christian, then tell me about persecution and "claims." Christianity is BY FAR the largest persecuted group and religion in the entire WORLD. People hated Jesus face to face, even when he was doing miracles, and he said that if people hated him they(the world) would hate us(Christians).
This is undoubtedly happening throughout the world, and you would rather ignore it and focus on the homosexuals in America. Am I saying that homosexuals aren't persecuted? No. Yes, American athiest are by far the kindest to Christians but the morality of the country is changing, and soon to, the kindness to Christians.

I think the reason gays are persecuted are because of moral issues. I believe that homosexuality is morally wrong, but the best way to approach it is not with persecution, but with love.

Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

Kyle:
Next to your smarminess, the ignorance of Mr. Anonymous looks almost refreshing.

Your opening is particularly annoying. The 'tolerance crowd' do not pay 'lip service' to tolerance. In fact, the majority of them, liberals and more and more middle of the roaders and even conservatives, are not even 'tolerant.' That applies a position of superiority, of 'overlooking' a 'moral' or ethnic 'flaw' or disadvantage. We are acceptant of people who are no different than us, except for who they choose to have sex with, or the color of their skin, or their beliefs. And as every survey has shown, this acceptance is growing the younger the people are that are asked. (There are now hundreds of 'Gay-Straight Alliances' in high schools throughout the country, set up by the students themselves.)

But yes, we are intolerant of those who would write their intolerance into laws. You have every right to condemn us in your thoughts, of trying to convince us of our immorality, to predict, even gleefully, that we will wind up in hell. You have every right to be wrong. You don't have the right to enforce your beliefs, against gays anymore than against blacks, by using the law.


As for the 'liberal' media -- it isn't, btw -- and 'liberal Hollywood -- and gays admit they find more discrimination there -- even from directors and producers who are themselves gay -- than from society at large, they are far behind the public at large in accepting gays. There are exceptions, certainly, but a tv show like the wonderful "The Wedding Wars" was such a delight because it is so rare. Tell me the gay characters on tv shows on broadcast tv. Tell me the number of gay-oriented major release movies you've seen.

I have no doubt that there are viciously bigoted Hindus -- the Shiv Sena has been compared to the Nazis, and the BJP came to power on a platform of Hindu Nationalism. (Though if you tell me they are more bigoted against Christians than Muslims, I'll tell you you are deluded. But that doesn't matter, I guess.)

I really will get my series on ethics completed -- sometimes my time is short, and I get involved too much in commenting -- so I'll leave that part of your sacreed to others, or to my series. But when you ask "What should be tolerated and what is appropriate not to tolerate?" I'll take you on, gladly. Only you go first, and explain what there is about homosexuality that is 'immoral' or that would make it 'not to be tolerated.'

Similarly, on your next paragraph, I'm not going to discuss the founding fathers with you, since the mere fact that you can say what you did about them shows your ignorance of what most of them believed. (They were Deists, Unitarians, non-standard Christians -- and not one of rhem held the views that mark today's evangelical Christianism.)

But don't you see that your pretended belief in a 'free market of ideas' is directly contradicted by your argument against the 'separation of church and state' which is necessary to provide just that sort of 'free market.'

And you call for laws that reflect 'biblical morality.' That one is too easy. (Levirate marriage? Stoning women who are not virgins at the time of marriage, or fining severely husbands who falsely claim they weren't? Judging the severetity of the punishment for rape depending on the betrothal status of the woman -- and payting a fine to the girl's father and forcing the rapist to marry the girl if she wasn't betrothed? Or just eating shrimp, wearing clothes of two different fabrics, or sewing fields with two different crops? What IS 'Biblical Morality?)

Jon said...

If you want biblical morality, check the New Testament.

At my high school, there is a gay-straight alliance, but they won't allow a bible study to be officially called a club.

Benny said...

Jon,

I'm no Biblical expert, so please point me to the relevant passage(s) that instruct Christians to ignore moral teachings of the Old Testament.

Was the example of your highschool meant to demonstrate persecution of Christians? Let me point out the obvious: gay-straight alliances are not religious organizations. So having one without an official bible study club is not persecution against Christianity. If you went to a public highschool, which are either federally or state-funded, then your school was simply adhering to separation of church and state. You've heard about this principle, I hope?

Also, I note you used the careful wording "they won't allow a bible study to be officially called a club." But they did have a bible study at your school? If so, was it treated any differently than any other religious organizations? As in, were there other religious organizations got official club status even though bible-study didn't? If not, then once again, your attempt to claim persecution of Christianity at your highschool doesn't have a leg to stand on.

Benny said...

Yes, Anon, claims you can't support, like these choice lines:

"Christians and fat people seem to be the only ones that are open targets in America" - Anon at 6:09 PM, April 09, 2007

"Or google for example, who allows gay porn and gay advertisement but wont allow Christian advertising." - Anon at 10:45 AM, April 11, 2007

"Um, if the majority of a nation is Christian, then I believe it is a Christian nation." - Anon at 7:58 PM, April 11, 2007

All of which turned out to be wrong. Are you going to pretend you never said these things? That just makes you look even more of a fool, since the evidence is right there for all to see.

China persecutes ALL religions. A detestable policy of Communism. But it doesn't support your claim of Christian persecution, since China doesn't single out any one religion, but persecutes all of them equally ruthlessly.

Your words did inspire this idea in me: why don't you announce that you're gay? Tell your co-workers, your family, your friends, your church. Then come back and we'll continue discussing persecution of Christians vs. homosexuals.

"Christians are the most persecuted people in the world!!!" seems to be a very common idea. At least among Christian websites. Because when I tried to search for support for THAT claim, the only places that mention that idea were, you guessed it, Christian websites. Now, I'm certainly no internet research guru. So maybe you can help me out by pointing me to some evidence, such as studies that compares statistics of persecuted groups side-by-side. But please do read through the "evidence" first to make sure it says what you think it does. Don't embarrass yourself like you did with the Google ad article.

If you'd like, you could also help Kyle explain to us why homosexuality is immoral.

Anonymous said...

If everyone was a homosexual, there would be no one left in the world. We were not created to be gay.

And, just for you, an Athiest article! :)
http://jmm.aaa.net.au/articles/17916.htm

Yes, why don't I also go out and say I'm a murderer, that's not a very smart thing to do.

Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

Mr. Anon: Thank you. I haven't had a soft pitch thrown at me saince the last time I had a bat in my hands -- on a sandlot over 40 years ago.

You say:"If everyone was a homosexual, there would be no one left in the world. We were not created to be gay."

But by the exact same reasoning, if everyone was celibate, there would be no one left in the world. Does that mean we were not created to be celibate? (That is, btw, good Old Testament Morality -- it was only Paul who brought praise of celibacy into Christianity.)
If gayness is, by this reasoning, 'immoral' then so is celibacy. Was Jesus celibate? If so, was he immoral?

And your second pitch is equally slow and straight. "Why don't I also go out and say I'm a murderer." A murderer is punishable by the state, being a homosexual is not, in this country since the Lawrence decision, and in most other Western countries. All you would feel, if you claimed you were gay -- and you could go somewhere on vacation and try it -- is the prejudice of bigots. Might be something that would teach you something.

No, I'm not going to do anything with the comparison of being gay and being a murderer. Why not leave a target for someone else.

Benny said...

I too found the comment "If everyone was a homosexual, there would be no one left in the world" ridiculous. If everyone was male, there would be no one left in the world. If everyone was female, there would be no one left in the world. Therefore, by Mr. Anon's logic, it is immoral to be male or female, and God couldn't have created us to be male or female! That's some great reasoning Anon!

---

Anon, I was afraid you'd cite that article. It's the same article cited by just about every Christian site that tries to promote the idea that "Christians are the most persecuted people in the world!!!" Unfortunately (for you and the sites that cited it), that article provides no citation for its alleged numbers on Christian persecution. It also provides no statistics on other persecuted groups, making it impossible to compare Christian persecution against other groups in any meaningful way, rendering its conclusion meaningless.

Oh, and its author seems to be the same person who wrote this Islamophobic piece:

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/guest_contributors/article468065.ece

Which contains various falsehoods exposed here:

http://www.ihrc.org.uk/show.php?id=1216

Is this guy really the best support you have?

---

A comparison of homosexuals with murderers? I have nothing to add to Mr. Benton's words on this. The idiocy and bigotry of that comparison pretty much speaks for itself anyway.

Kyle said...

Prup,
I am a bit surprised by your response since I meant no disrespect to anyone. I had trouble locating the smarminess in what I wrote, could you cite some examples? I was pointing out the inconsistency of celebrating 'tolerance' as a moral virtue and then being intolerant toward Christians. I am not against tolerance as it is appropriately defined. Tolerance does not mean acceptance. I can charitably tolerate others without accepting their views as true or their behavior as good. I don't fault liberals for their openness and tolerance of differences. I think this is a strength of our civilization and something I am proud of about the U.S. If you are not in the 'tolerance crowd' or you don't see tolerance as the highest moral good then we are in agreement. My beef is with those who make tolerance (meaning acceptance which is more than tolerance) the measure of moral goodness. Tolerance as I pointed out is self-defeating as the highest moral good. I believe the highest moral good is Love which means that I speak the truth to those who are deceived because untruth hurts people.

I was not arguing for intolerance but pointing out the intolerance of tolerance. Tolerance fails us so there must be another basis for grounding our moral judgements and laws based on society's morality. The basis for morality in this society has historically been the Word of God. Sadly, there is much ignorance and confusion about what is Biblical morality. We can talk about this further if you wish. I offer a distinction that can help frame the discussion according to the Biblical teaching. The OT had 3 kinds of laws: universal laws of morality, religious and ceremonial laws for the Jewish religion, and Civil laws for the Nation of Israel. According to the NT, Jesus Christ fulfilled the ceremonial and civil aspects of the law and now all that Christians are bound to follow are the moral laws. Fleshing out which is which is a bit complicated but we can walk through this if you are interested.

For the religious affiliations of the Founding Fathers, see below.

http://www.adherents.com/gov/Founding_Fathers_Religion.html

You will note that 3 of the 204 who signed the Founding documents were Deists. I don't wish to be combative but I must respectfully say that you are mistaken to claim that the Founding Fathers as a group were Deists.

Kyle said...

I apologize about that last paragraph. You were not claiming that the Founders were Deists. I didn't reread what you wrote since last night when I first read it. You were claiming that the Founders were Deists, Unitarians, and non-standard Christians who did not agree with modern Evangelicals. I disagree with this because modern evangelicalism is the belief in the Gospel of Jesus presented in the Bible. Many of the Founders believed the bible to be inerrant and held to substantially the same Gospel while holding divergent views on some issues such as baptism, church governance, and spiritual gifts, just like modern evangelicalism.

Anonymous said...

Yes, you are right Prup. Paul was saying that you don't HAVE to get married. God created us as men and women, man for a woman.

Once again Benny, we were not created as homosexuals, but as men and women. Thus homosexuality is not natural, but being a man or a woman is.

Why is murder wrong. Any answers?

It is wrong because it is immoral to kill a person, just as it is immoral to be gay.

I guess the pitch was so slow you missed it. :)

Please, please quit ignoring that Christians are being persecuted. Just do some research for nothern Africa and report back.

p.s.: by the way Prup that baseball comment was nothing personal, just fun. :)

Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

Before I deal with Kyle -- I'll be saving most of my comments to Mr. A. for a separate post -- I have to remind everyone that the comment that got this whole discyssion started was Mr. A. saying (my emphasis)
"Christians and fat people seem to be the only ones that are open targets in America."

Once that idea got met with the scorn it deserved, we've been getting comments about how Christians are persecuted in Nigeria, China, India, all of which is as true as it is irrelevant.

Now to Kyle. If I misjudged you, I apologize, but my accusation of smarminess came from comments like the following, again emphasis mine:
"I think there is a certain portion of the population that gives lip service to tolerance when it comes to minority groups such as homosexuals and African Americans. The tolerance crowd (liberals mostly) will tolerate everything except intolerance (which means Christians).

In passing, most liberals are tolerant of Christians, but not of those who are, as you say, intolerant -- a minority of those who call themselves Christians. Nor do Christians have a monopoly on intolerance. Muslims are far better at it, and there are plenty of bigoted Orthodox Jews here in Brooklyn, though hardly a majority.
Then there was "relativistic morality which means human life (say 'vegetables', crippled, elderly) could be defined as unvaluable in the future if function becomes the measure of personhood" an attitude that is as repugnant to almost all atheists as it is to most Christians. (Yes, the adjectival distinction was deliberate, because I'm old enough to remember the Christian Segregationists, the Kludds of the Klan, and know now that the dangerous Far Right call themselves Christians as well.)
I will be glad to engage in precisely the debate you request, but will ask you first to identify ANY atheist who has expressed 'tolerance' for the idea quoted above, or to name any member of the 'tolerance crowd' who would tolerate "things that are immoral such as murder, stealing, kidnapping." (And if you consider gay behavior 'immoral,' I ask you to respond to my comment to Mr. A. in my next post.)
It is funny that I specifically pointed out the difference between tolerance and acceptance, and said tolerance implies -- I typoed it to 'applies' -- "a position of superiority, of 'overlooking' a 'moral' or ethnic 'flaw' or disadvantage. We are acceptant of people who are no different than us, except for who they choose to have sex with, or the color of their skin, or their beliefs."

Your smarminess continues in this reply, where you smugly argue "I speak the truth to those who are deceived because untruth hurts people." As for your own claim to truth, how do you get around the statement "No jot or tittle of the law shall pass away"? (Quasi-quoted, I'm rushing.) Do you think that this only applied to the 'moral laws' or that the Jews who followed the law made such a distinction. Your position is convenient, but hardly Biblical.

I've watched the debate on the Founding Fathers' religions, and the flase claims about this too long to get involved. If you'd like, I'll quote any number of articles in future posts.

I would, however ask you to give a list of those Founding Fathers who believed the Bible to be inerrant, with some references -- and not a liar like David Barton, please. There were a couple, such as Patrick Henry, perhaps, but the majority matched my description.

Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

And now for my favorite batting practice pitcher:

(I hope I can stay awake to finish this, it's been a loooong day.)

In the first place, unlike, I would guess, most of the people here, I do not believe people are 'born gay.' NOR do I believe that people choose to be gay or choose to be straight. NOR do I think it is possible for people to change from gay to straight or vice versa.

I'll leave that tantalizing bit of confusion to be explained tomorrow. But I have a somewhat different theory which, hopefully, will be interesting.

On the other hand , I hope you don't think you answered our question by simply repeating your statement in slightly different form. (I could say, with as much -- or as little -- sense that it is wrong to be a Yankee fan because rooting for the Yankees is immoral. But even as a Mets fan, I wouldn't.)

I can give any number of reasons why murder is immoral. Just as a sample, "Anyone's death diminishes me"; "Murder is the one injury to a person that there is no way of making restitution for"; "It is wrong to use people as objects at any time and this is a supreme example"; or "A human life -- I am not referring to a potential human life -- is more valuable than anything that a person could gain by comitting murder" and several others, even without yet laying out my ethical framework.

Now it is your turn. Other than the fact that a claimant for God has forbidden it (since you would not accept a similar claim about eating pork because YHWH or Allah has condemned it, or breaking the Sabbath because YHWH has declared it is worthy of the death penalty, or burying the dead rather than exposing them to the element, the ultimate sin to Ahura Mazda) I want you to tell me why homosexuality is immoral.

In fact, I'll give you a specific challenge. While there are practical reasons for not doing it -- why would it be immoral for me, once I finished this post, to get dressed, walk a few blocks to a book store or a few more blocks to a movie theater, going in there, giving someone there oral sex, and then coming back and writing my next post. (In fact, it's too cold, I'm too tired, my arthritic legs are acting up, and the budget would not permit it, but those are practical matters.)

Oh, and since my wife would not have an objection to me doing so, that's not a relevant factor, or you'll have to demonstrate why it is.

Okay, now you are the one 'at bat.' You know what's coming. Strikeout, Foul ball, or homer?

live-n-grace said...

Hey Prup. Warning: A little long.

First off I said that Christians and fat people are the only OPEN targets in America, in that I'm talking about the media.

1 Thessalonians 4

It is God's will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; 4that each of you should learn to control his own body[a] in a way that is holy and honorable, 5not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God; 6and that in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him. The Lord will punish men for all such sins, as we have already told you and warned you. 7For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. 8Therefore, he who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God, who gives you his Holy Spirit.

1 Thessalonians 5

4But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. 5You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. 6So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled. 7For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. 8But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. 9For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. 10He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him.

Romans 1

18The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.
21For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.

24Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

26Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. 27In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.

Straight from the bible, from my view it looks like a homerun, it's now your turn to decide.

Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

Sorry, foul ball. You would not accept the following:
"Thereupon came Angra Mainyu, who is all death, and he counter-created by his witchcraft a sin for which there is no atonement, the burying of the dead." Even though it comes from the First Fargard of the Avesta -- supposedly delivered by God (Ahura Mazda) directly into the hand of Zoroaster, because you don't accept Ahura Mazda as a god, and if a Zoroastrian used this to condemn you for a funeral, you'd point this out, and ask for a reasoning that made such an action sinful.

Or this condemnation of private property -- I am temporarily removing the names -- do you accept it?
" Now a man named X, together with his wife, also sold a piece of property. With his wife's full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the feet of the community.

Then Y said, "X, how is it that the Evil One has so filled your heart that you have lied and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? ..."

When X heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened."

Or this -- the first commandment of YHWH after the famous ten and the commandment against making altars to false Gods:
""But if the servant declares, 'I love my master and my wife and children and do not want to go free,' 6 then his master must take him before the judges. [a] He shall take him to the door or the doorpost and pierce his ear with an awl. Then he will be his servant for life.

7 "If a man sells his daughter as a servant, she is not to go free as menservants do."

In other words, do you accept these merely because they appear in a Scripture, or do you demand reasons for them thst do not depend on a scripture?

Again I ask you, what makes homosexuality immoral?

live-n-grace said...

Did you read what I posted, or did you just scan through it and ignore the whole of it. The answer is right there and I don't know what you wrote, because it had anything to do with it.

I guess you are mistaken between the old testament and the new testament.

Benny said...

Mr. Benton,

My hat's off to you for your recent posts. I have some words of my own for Kyle and our resident homilist (whom I notice finally got the courage to pick a pseudonym), but I'm out of town this weekend celebrating my birthday with my girlfriend, and cannot devote the proper amount of time to this project. Keep fighting the good fight, and I'll see everyone Monday :)

Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

Liv-n-grace:
Yes, the answer is 'right in there,' if you accept the Bible as either the 'Word of God' or even if you accept it as just a reliable moral guide. I do neither. Remember, i deny the existence of a God as certainly as you deny that Ahura Mazda is a god. I certainly deny that this particular selection out of the many texts that were created by early Christianity represents anything but the Athanasian side of the many disputes that sprung up in those times. (Yes, guys, watch out, Questia includes Ehrman's LOST SCRIPTURES and LOST CHRISTIANITIES. Knowing me, something tells me that I'll be using both.)

Again, I challenge you to explain how my conduct I mentioned last night would be considered immoral WITHOUT using the Bible.

As to what i wrote, I simply gave examples, as I had in my initial posts, of other claimed 'commandments from god' that you would not accept because you do not accept the author of those books as being God. (Well, almost, I'm still waiting for your comment on the piece on private property -- even as an aside.)

And Benny, a belated Happy Birthday, and I am sure you and your girlfriend are celebrating in ways I would approve of, if liv-n-grace wouldn't. Look forward to your contributions when you get back.)

live-n-grace said...

If you deny the bible, then you deny God's word, it's alive and it's a double-edge sword that cuts to the soul. I just think you're afraid of the truths in the bible, and can never answer a passage from the bible except for: "I can't take it."

Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

Liv-n-grace:
You asked me a few posts back if I'd read what you posted. I'll ask you if you've read anything I have posted. No, I do not believe the Bible is "God's Word" anymore than you believe that the Qur'an is "God's Word" -- even though a billion Muslims are as convinced about it as you are about the Bible. (I don't just deny the Bible, I deny that God exists. Remember, I'm an atheist.)

But I have to ask you 'which Bible,' and again, why you accept the choice of the Council of Nicea as to which books should be included and which excluded.

In particular, you quoted Hebrew to me. Are you aware that both Martin Luther and John Calvin did not consider it cononical, did not consider it "God's Word"? Why should I acceot your statement that it is over the word of the two greatest founders of Protestant Christianity. (They also excluded Revelation, btw.)
This is why I have repeatedly challenged you to show, reasonably and logically how my actions would have been immoral. I demonstrated some arguments that murder was immoral, without using the Bible or any 'argument from God." Can you do the same. Because, for the tenth time, quoting the Bible as an authority to me is as meaningless as a Zoroastrian quoting the Avesta to you.
And remember, I WAS a believer -- though not of your type. And I did not leave Christianity because it was 'uncomfortable,' I left it because it was UNTRUE!

live-n-grace said...

The only reason we believe murder to be immoral is that it wrong, period. So goes for other things, as we have the knowledge of good and evil.

Can you enlighten me where Martin Luther said that the bible was not God's word and also excluding revelation?

It is your choice to believe it to be true or untrue, but I don't know what you find untruthful in the bible.

I guess even if the bible predicted you that a man by the name of Prup would turn on God, that you wouldn't believe it. You would say that luck happens, or that your actual name isn't Prup, so then it isn't true. Or you could also pull of the excuse that it was written after the fact, just like you did with the prophecys of Daniel which the Jews HAD, and also the prophecys of not only Jesus coming but dying on the cross, being lifted up on a cross, having none of his bones broken, the list can go on and on. It dosn't matter what was written, cause then you'll say well it doesn't really fit, someone could have changed it, or was Jesus really here? I realize that no matter what I say or show, you'll come up with some if or but.

The key to the bible is that it is not some historical book, but was written for the present.

Challange: I don't believe in Alexander the Great, prove to me he was alive.

Kyle said...

Prup,
I would like to hear the moral basis for your judgment that *I* should be tolerant? (Again, I am seeking to get you to flesh out your belief, not to argue for intolerance directly though I think it is appropriate in some circumstances.) When someone says that I should be tolerant and not force my morals on others, that is imposing the moral of tolerance on me. So imposing morals on others apparently is not a problem. Why are my morals not OK to impose while it is OK to impose tolerance on me? Do you see what I'm saying? I think people are making up the rules as they go along but don't have a basis for the tolerance they expect me to follow. If atheism is true, where do the universal laws of morality come from? If tolerance is nothing more than the preference of some people then I can see no reason why I am obligated to follow it other than social pressures. There is no binding Enforcer who will punish me for my disobedience to obey the Law of Tolerance. I might lose some friends but I won't be in danger of judgment.

You asked me to explain why homosexuality is immoral if I believe it. Firstly, my views come from the Bible. I do not have a personal preference as to whether it should or should not be moral. Before I was a Christian I did not have any moral objections to it. Now that I believe that God wrote the Bible, I conclude that homosexuality is contra God's design and based on that it is immoral. God's design was monogomous, lifelong, male-female marriages. Any deviation from this created order is an offense to God who has the right as Creator to define what human sexuality is meant for. In our sinful fallen world, people are sexually immoral in a number of ways. All these things are hurtful to the soul and/or body and result in seperation from God. Anyone who repents can be forgiven since the Gospel message is one of redemption for those who repent. Since I believe immorality is hurtful to those who practice it, I wish to tell them so and encourage them to find forgiveness from Jesus.

For the record, I do not believe that the Bible teaches for governments to prohibit homosexuality (excluding the Jewish Theocratic State which no longer exists). I am grieved when I hear that homosexuals are persecuted and mistreated. It is a crime against them and God will judge those who harm and abuse homosexuals verbally or physically. God is impartial in his judgment. I do not consider telling people what God says about homosexuality to be abuse of homosexuals, though it is understandably hard to hear or accept.

Smarmily yours :),
Kyle

Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

Liv-n-grace: (btw, its late, Kyle, so I may not get around to you until morning)

I want to say that this may be one of the best posts I've seen from you. You ask a number of good questions -- many of which I HAVE answered, some repeatedly. I'll answer them again, only this time, please notice that I have answered them.

First, Luther and the Bible. What I SAID was that there were four books of the New Testament which Luther did not consider 'canonical' which he did not consider authoritative or the 'Word of God.' These are HEBREWS, JAMES, JUDE and REVELATIONS. Now my authority for this was Wikipedia, which is usually pretty reliable on Academic subjects, but I realized that I should have investigated more, so I sent an e-mail to a friend of mine who is a believing evangelical Christian who is also getting his doctorate in Theology from the University of Tubingen -- and whose blog was recently ranked #2 on a list of 'best blogs about Biblical Studies -- asking him if he could confirm this. (Since Tubingen is in Germany he can get good references, which I will post as soon as he gets back to me. And, of course, if this isn't true, I'll post that as well.)

What do I find untruthful in the Bible? A very partial list:
The Creation Story
The Noachian Flood
The Covenant with Abraham
The whole story of the Jews' flight from Egypt (they were never there)
The story of Sodom and Gomorrah
The magnitude of David and Solomon's kingdom (which was, if it existed, rather small)
The visit of the Magi
The Virgin Birth
The Resurrection
The March of the Dead that Matthew recounts
The Trial of Jesus (all of the versions contradict each other, and none of them are even conceivably true given what we know about the Sanhedrin, Jewish life, and Jewish Legal Procedure).
I could include many other things, all the purported miracles, anything listed that occurred pre-David, the vision of John (which was a very common literary format, not a real vision)

If the Bible HAD predicted that a man named Prup would turn against God, I would be very impressed -- since I expect I'm the only Prup. For that matter, if the Bible had, specifically, predicted or stated one unambigous scientific truth that was not known when it was written -- the world is round, the sun is the center of the solar system, that their existed a new continent to the West that had not been seen by anyone but those who moved there or many others (I'm not asking for formulas of Quantum Mechanics, just something this simple) -- I would have to rethink my doubts.

BUT IT DOESN'T

The Prophecy of Daniel was, like REVELATION a form of literature that was common at the time, making a political statement disguised in certain standard visionary forms. There are others in the Bible, and more that 'didn't make the cut.'

The fact is that Christians wrote the Bible to attempt to fit the story of Jesus into the Prophecies -- and other statements from the Old Testament. "Not a bone of his shall be broken' refers in fact to one of the rules for the lamb that was used for the Passover. Christians re-interpreted this so as to make the figure of Jesus the new Passover Sacrifice.

You say that the Bible was written for the present, please tell me what you mean by 'the present' and whether you consider the Christians of every past era who both said the same for THEIR present, and who also argued that the 'signs of the end-time' were visible in their era were mistaken? (And if they were -- and if you insist, I've seen a list of past predictions of the end that I'll dig up and refer you to) why are you not as wrong as they were?

Your question on Alexander is a beautiful one, because it makes my point perfectly -- and please note that, unlike many atheists, I do not deny that Jesus lived. It is by no means certain, but it is probable that he did.
But for Alexander we have contemporary accounts from a vast number of INDEPENDENT sources, archaeological evidence, evidence of coins, evidence of inscriptions on buildings, historical accounts from many different sources who were able to interview witnesses, etc.,etc.
For Jesus we have no reliable historical references to him -- the one or two that mention him are demonstrably fradulent later additions to manuscripts -- except for the 18 Gospels (the four in the Bible and the 14 -- at least -- that didn't meet the acceptance of the Council of Nicea) that are not contemporary, not eyewitness testimony, contradict each other, and are hardly unbiased independent outside sources. We have some mention of a group called "Christian" but this no more demonstrates the existence of Christ than the -- more numerous and less dubious -- references to the Essenes proves that their Prophet, the 'Teacher of Righteousness,' and his enemy 'the Wicked Priest' were real people. (They are generally considered not to be.)

Sorry Kyle, as predicted, I'll have to wait until tomorrow to answer you.

Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

And now for Kyle. In the first place, I don't believe I ever suggested YOU should be tolerant, in your private life. You have every right to your beliefs, and to act on them -- within limits, thus you do NOT have a right to act on intolerance by assaulting a member of the group you are intolerant of.
You also have every right to convince others -- in the 'public forum' -- of the rightness of an intolerant position. (I have a problem with certain areas which I do not consider 'public forums' an argument I have had repeatedly on Ed Brayton's blog. I do not believe that a teacher has a right to teach intolerance, for example, nor do I believe -- using the case of the Westbrook people -- that funerals are 'the public forum.' And -- only because of the continued existence of gay bashing in the literal sense -- I can understand schools acting against students who display bigoted statements on their t-shirts, though this is a tricky one that I would decide on the specifics of the general case.)

The question becomes whether a government, acting under our Constitution can, as you put it, 'impose tolerance on me.' And it is very relevant that this discussion occurs the day after Jackie Robinson Day was celebrated throughout baseball.
I am old enough to remember when segregation was the law in many states, when 'anti-miscegenation' laws existed in others, when hotels could be allowed to refuse to rent a room to me and a female companion if she happened to be black. (I even had a friend, liberal on all other aspects of civil rights, with whom I was to be sharing a room at a SF convention. I asked him if I could bring along a girl friend. "No problem." She's black. "Sorry, I can't deal with that.")
I also know that segregation was supported by the majority of Christian ministers in the South as 'the word of God' backed up by biblical quotations. (It was also opposed by many ministers, priests, rabbis and believers from the North who risked their lives going south to fight against it.)
So I'l turn the question back at you, and respond to your response. Did the Goverbnment have the right to pass civil rights laws, to outlaw miscegenation, to outlaw segregation, even though the proponents of such were acting according to both their own consciences and to how they interpreted their religious duty?

As for your question "If atheism is true, where do the universal laws of morality come from?" I will (pending my own long-promised articles which I will begin to get out this week) first turn the question back at you. "If our moral sense is a 'gift from a god' and he provides 'universal laws of morality' is this not proof that the Bible is NOT 'the Word of God' since it does not include a comprehensive, consistent, nuanced, or acceptable code of morality in either the Old or New Testament?"
In fact, one of the examples that our ethical sense is an evolving factor is the consistent abandonment of ideas which had Biblical sanction -- animal sacrifice, communal holding of property, Levirate marriage, slavery, even absolute monarchy, all of which are plainly supported in the Bible.
Of course this has been accompanied by the continual attempt by believers to 'reinterpret' the words of scripture so as to bring its ideas into coordination with the currently accepted moral standards. (This was the true accomplishment of the Pharisees -- despite the way they were slandered in the NT -- the writers of the Talmud, and later of many Christian writers on ethics and moral philosophy.)
It might be useful for you to look into writers at various ages and to see how, with as much sincerity and cleverness as do today's believers, they argued for positions that we would now consider abhorrent.

I will get to the next portion of your letter later, but the cats are insistently reminding me that they are hungry, and I can't feed them until I do my twice weekly changing and washing of the cat boxes. Sorry, but see you later.

live-n-grace said...

Thanks for your great post too Prup!

First off, I believe that those 4 books were inspired by God and especially revelation, in that God gave a revealing of the future to God. But I never knew that Luther said that, but that is his opinion.

Next, I noticed that the list you made of what you found untruthful about the bible are all from faith. If you don't have faith in Christ, and thus the bible, then I understand why those things won't be true to you.

In fact the bible said the universe "rolls out like a scroll" and not until recently did men begin to find this phenomenon.

"Not a bone of his shall be broken" I believe is in Psalm 34, says A Righteous man, and Jesus is the only one that can be called that, not a lamb.

Yes, the bible wasn't written for people to look back and say wow, or for you, what, but rather for how to live now, and what to espect in the future. However much of the old testament is to look back and say wow, but more so to learn of God and other peoples mistakes and triumphs.

And I realize now that the Alexander question was a terrible one, he was a much different person than Jesus. He came to conquer while Jesus came humbly and as a servent. I should expect more historical evidence from Alexander (coins and papers) rather than Jesus. I'm sorry for that question.

It would have been better to have chosen a servant who did great deeds humbly, in a small area, but then I don't know of any, as most people probably don't.

I realize that you don't deny that Jesus lived, like most historians, but rather his acts. This is only by faith to have believed in what he did.

Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

Kyle: Some interesting points, and some I have to challenge.
First, if the idea of God was to favor 'monogamous marriages' why is polygamy fully accepted in the Bible -- though only for men. Read carefully Leviticus 18 (I discussed this before) and you will see that the distinctions made only make sense in a polygamous society. Verse 7 prohibits sexual relations with your mother (interesting that these regulations were only written for men) and verse 8 makes a separate prohibition with having sex with 'your father's wife.' Verse 9 prohibits sex with your sister, but feels it necessary to mention 'either your father's daughter or your mother's daughter,' again a distinction meaningless except in a polygamous society -- and no, this was not a 'special exemption for the Patriarchs,' these regulations are for Israel as a whole.
I have also argued that the mention of a special requirement for an overseer that he be 'the husband of but one wife' in both 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 implies that this is NOT a regulation for Christians as a whole, or why mention it. The other requirements are not redundancies but all imply that an 'overseer' (or deacon, or bishop) must be better than the average Christian.
And for a secular corroboration, read the opening to Josephus' Autobiography, where again the description of his brother implies polygamy.

I would, by the way, equally condemn 'sexual immorality' but would not mean by it what you do. For me sexual immorality occurs in the way each partner treats each other, and not in who does what to whom. Deceit, force, disrespect, acting irresponsibly or refusing to take responsibility for ones action, these are the essence of sexual immorality as of any immorality. I do not see homosexuality, or, for that matter, fornication as immorality. (Yes, I WILL get those posts on ethics up.)
Again, the essence of immorality has nothing to do with God or Jesus, but with the other partner, who is the one who needs to have forgiveness asked.

But again, if you feel the way you do, by all means act according to it. That is your right -- in your eyes your duty -- as long as you do not attempt to enforce such beliefs on others -- as you do not by your statement.

Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

And yet again to liv-n-grace. And again a good reply. But of course I have my disagreements.

First, on Psalm 34 -- if it refers to a 'righteous man' and the only one who can be called that, why does it say 'and his ears are attentive to their cry.' The psalm is speaking of righteous men, believers, followers of the law, not making a specific comment about Jesus or it would not have used the plural. Read the entire Psalm and see what it actually says.

But in fact, the reference is not to the Psalm, but to Exodus 11:46. Jesus was seen as the ultimate Passover Sacrifice (the 'Paschal Lamb') by early Christians, the replacement for the traditional sacrifice, and thus the reference.

You say that 'the list you made of what you found untruthful about the bible are all from faith' but it isn't. The Resurrection and the Virgin Birth are. (Interesting, the Proto-Gospel of James describes a midwife who supposedly examined Mary and confirmed the virginity.)

But the Trial of Jesus is not, nor is the March of the Dead -- Matthew claims that many people in Jerusalem saw them, nor is the extent of the Davidic kingdom, the Noachian Flood, whether the Jews were, in fact, 'slaves in Egypt.' Each of these, were it to be true would have left evidence that could be discovered. Instead, in every case the evidence is that they did not happen.

(I also repeat that the Resurrection is at least implausible even if you ignore the miraculous aspect because there would have been ways in which Jesus could have demonstrated it to unbiased observers, by walking into the Sanhedrin, or into Pilate's Palace. Doing it the way he is supposed to is either utterly stupid, or totally callous, condemning many to unbelief -- and as you would have it damnation -- when he could have acted in such a way that so many more would have been convinced, when the conversion of Rome could have been speeded up by over 250 years.

(And again, I still insist that either the Incarnation could have waited until after printing was invented, or God could have inspired its invention, so we wouldn't have so many variant manuscripts, so we wouldn't have lost the many other Gospels, Epistles, and Apocalypses that early Christians used, so we wouldn't still be arguing if the 'story of the woman taken in adultery' ("let whoever is without sin cast the first stone') was in fact a part of the Gospel or, as most scholars now insist was a much later addition.

As for REVELATIONS, I can only wish that you'd find a copy of Enslin's CHRISTIAN BEGINNINGS or other books that deal with the whole subject of Apocalyptic Literature -- it's Chapter 37 in Enslin. (the pb edition divided the book into two parts, CHRISTIAN BEGINNINGS and THE LITERATURE OF THE CHRISTIAN MOVEMENT. It's in the second part.) Again, you can find it, and Ehrman's LOST SCRIPTURES and LOST CHRISTIANITIES on Questia.com. You might be surprised to see what scholars have to say about the whole type of writing (including DANIEL).

I may not be posting much over the next couple of days, btw. I want to get the ethics post worked on, and also want to see the Gonzales hearings, so my time might be shorter than usual. But I know me, and probably won't be able to resist some comments.

Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

Looks like you won't get rid of me that easy. The Gonzalez hearings have been postponed until Thursday.

Benny said...

Mr. Benton,

Thanks for your good wishes, my lady and I did have a nice weekend :)

live-n-grace,

First off I said that Christians and fat people are the only OPEN targets in America, in that I'm talking about the media.

Nice try. So it's back to the "biased media" claim that you made in the beginning of this thread. Well, in the second post in the thread, I raised the counter-point that this "biased media" allows Christian terrorists to get away with assault, arson, and murder, so if there's any bias, it's not in the direction you claim. You never did address this. If you want to claim that the US media is biased against Christians, please explain how Christian extremists are literally getting away with murder.

I would also like to get some closure on the other unsupported claims you try to make in this thread. Such as "Christianity is BY FAR the largest persecuted group and religion in the entire WORLD.". I challenged you to provide evidence, and the only thing you gave was one article with unsubstantiated numbers, by an author with a history of writing articles containing falsehoods. If you're no longer sticking by that claim, I totally understand, in light of the lack of support for it. But have the courtesy to admit you were wrong, rather than just slinking away from the claims and hoping that no one notices.

In subsequent posts, it seems like you're saying that certain parts of the Bible can only be understood if one has faith. But the same can be said by followers of any other religion. Maybe their holy text doesn't make sense to you because you don't have the proper faith. How does one decide which holy text to have faith in? Are you sure you have faith in the right text?

Benny said...

Kyle,

An idea that's come up a couple times in your comments is that atheism inevitably leads to moral relativism, because there can be no system of morality without an external grounding authority, such as God. In other words, atheists have looser/worse morals, because we think anything goes, right? A popular idea, to be sure, but not one borne out by evidence.

Moral Relativism and the Catholic Church:

http://www.secweb.org/index.aspx?action=viewAsset&id=398

Christians experience higher divorce rates than Atheists, Conservative Christians experience higher divorce rates than other Christians, and the Bible Belt has higher divorce rates than other areas of the US:

http://www.religioustolerance.org/chr_dira.htm

"In general, higher rates of belief in and worship of a creator correlate with higher rates of homicide, juvenile and early adult mortality, STD infection rates, teen pregnancy, and abortion in the prosperous democracies":

http://moses.creighton.edu/JRS/2005/2005-11.html

Another study, which suggests strong belief in both God and the Devil, such as espoused by Evangelicals, is correlated with high homicide rates:

http://moses.creighton.edu/JRS/2006/2006-7.html

Contrary to popular belief, the US is one of the least generous nations when it comes to giving aid to developing countries, trailing many more secular countries:

http://www.vexen.co.uk/countries/best.html#Aid

Just for fun, the last link also gives many comparisons that shows the US trailing more secular nations in many areas, like life expectancy, adults at high literacy level, and eco-friendliness.

live-n-grace said...

This will also be my last post for quite awhile. I understand people not agreeing with Christianity but to say that Christianity is not the largest persecuted group in the world is completely absurd and ignorant. A missionary my family knows, in Sri Lanka, said that over 4o churches were attacked and another 140 were forced to close. In the ENTIRETY of north Africa, Muslims are killing Christians, and by far worse measures than anything in the United States.

Yes, it takes faith to believe in what can't be seen. But I personally see a huge difference between Christianity and other religions. Christianity is the only religion that you actually have a RELATIONSHIP with God, with Jesus, not some far figure that dictates, or some statue that you only come to in times of need. I ask you to do research yourself, and find the amazing differences between Christianity and other religions. In my eyes, it really isn't a religion, but rather a relationship.

I am a man of faith,
A man who believes in what he can’t see.
I am like a tree planted by streams of water,
My leaves never wither and I produce fruit in all seasons.
I take the path of life, though it is narrow,
Not the path of destruction though it is wide.
I live a life of purpose,
Every breath is a gift, everyday is a joy,
Love is my best revenge.
My life is set on The Rock, firm and strong
Not on the sand, weak and shallow.
I am in the world, but not of the world,
This is not my home.
I am a free man, my chains have been broken,
From sin I am set free.
Through all this it is not I who am strong,
It is not in myself that I found salvation.
It is not in any deed of my doing
Or good life I’ve lived.
No, it is by His grace that I am saved.
For it is no longer I who live
But Jesus Christ in me!


Amen! This is the truth of Christianity, not people who "are better than others", not some God who can be pulled out of your pocket in times of need, and not a God who only knows your sins. NO! It is love and forgiveness and grace.

If you are ever in need of true peace, not worldly peace, then come to Jesus and live!
Amen!!

Benny said...

live-n-grace,

Another failure to support the "biased media" claim. Another refusal to admit that you were wrong. This is getting truly pathetic.

I understand people not agreeing with Christianity but to say that Christianity is not the largest persecuted group in the world is completely absurd and ignorant.

No, what is absurd is you repeatedly trying to make that claim while failing to come up with any statistical support. You have no numbers about persecution faced by other ethnic and religious groups around the world. Without such numbers, you can't make comparisons between persecution of Christians vs. other groups, meaning there's no support for your claim. What is ignorant is you not understanding this, even though I've made this point repeatedly in this thread. So it seems that it is you who is absurd and ignorant.

Christianity is the only religion that you actually have a RELATIONSHIP with God, with Jesus, not some far figure that dictates, or some statue that you only come to in times of need.

Jews don't have personal relationships with God?

Muslims don't have personal relationships with Allah?

Many Hindu's create shrines in their homes dedicated to their chosen form(s) of God. They venerate God by offering items like food, water, or flowers, and performing other actions like burning incense at home shrines. This is not a personal relationship with God?

Exactly which religions say that God is just a statue that you come to in times of need?

And you still didn't answer my question: how do you know you haven't placed your faith in the wrong religion?

Why don't *you* do some research into religions of the world? Your knowledge of non-Christian religions seems woefully lacking. Please, educate yourself.

live-n-grace said...

Trying not to get rilled up but you really got some major blinders on. YOU surely have no clue on ANY religion because Muslims and Jews don't have a personal relationships, unlike Christianity. That is one of the few differences between Christianity and Judaism is our relationship with Jesus Christ. I guess you forgot about the Ancient Greeks who built statues and made sacrifices to it only in times of need.

And, I would like to ask, did you read my post, about Northern Africa. Are you even going to deny whats going on in Darfur?

Sorry, but you just really blew my patience, with your personal attacks and obvious falsities, there is no way else. It seems almost worthless to try and argue with you.

I am sorry for everyone else who had to read your post and my post.

Benny said...

live-n-grace,

YOU surely have no clue on ANY religion because Muslims and Jews don't have a personal relationships, unlike Christianity.

Jews believe that there is a single God who not only created the universe, but with whom every Jew can have an individual and personal relationship.

Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/judaism/beliefs/beliefs_1.shtml

What deed is better than giving gold and silver? According to our beloved Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him), it is dhikr, which means remembrance of Allah. Dhikr is a form of worship that in importance comes only after the ritual Prayer (salah) and reading Qur'an.

...

Isn't it wonderful that as we fulfill our responsibility to gain knowledge of Allah's Physical Creation during our years in school that we can at the same time perform dhikr so that we increase our ability to benefit from that knowledge and become ever closer in our personal relationship with Allah?


Source: http://www.islamic-world.net/dhikr.php

There is also my observation of personal relationships between worshipper and God in Hinduism, which you seem unable or unwilling to address. So much for Christianity being the ONLY religion where the worshipper has a personal relationship with God. Try reading more than just Christian websites.

I guess you forgot about the Ancient Greeks who built statues and made sacrifices to it only in times of need.

The Greeks participated in a number of rituals, rites, ceremonies and sacrifices in order to impress and placate the Gods.

...

The Greeks attempted to please the Gods, fearing that they could upset them with insolence and impiety.

...

The function of these sacrifices aside from pleasing the Gods was to unite the people in a common and regular pattern and to intergrade them into the city.


Source: http://library.thinkquest.org/28111/newpage2.htm

Who's clueless about religions?

And, I would like to ask, did you read my post, about Northern Africa. Are you even going to deny whats going on in Darfur?

Did you read my posts?

Your claim: Christians are the MOST persecuted people in the world.

My challenge: Provide NUMBERS (on ALL persecuted groups in the world) to show that Christians are MORE persecuted than EVERY OTHER GROUP in the world.

I can't break it down any simpler for you.

If having your falsehoods corrected blows your patience, too bad. You should either educate yourself so you spout fewer falsehoods, or cultivate more patience. Your choice.

live-n-grace said...

Where can I get numbers on the persectution of certain religions. Only on each religions "own" website, and if I did this you wouldn't except it. I would just think that you are smart enough to know whats going in the world, and I still haven't heard you accept what is going on in North Africa.

And, once again, Christianity is a relationship with Jesus Christ. I hope you understand what a relationship is, HE IS WITH ME ALL THE TIME! He is within me. Sure Muslims and Hindus worship their God, who isn't within them, but that isn't a relationship.

Another thing that I ask for you to look up, and not trust me. The Christian God is the only God who is compassionate, like a father, loving, caring, forgiving, and comforts us.

Jeremiah 31:

The time is coming," declares the LORD,"when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel
and with the house of Judah.
32 It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to [d] them, [e] " declares the LORD. 33 "This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time," declares the LORD.
"I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts.I will be their God, and they will be my people.

Jeremiah 32

I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good to them, and I will inspire them to fear me, so that they will never turn away from me. 41 I will rejoice in doing them good and will assuredly plant them in this land with all my heart and soul.


No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' because they will all know me,from the least of them to the greatest," declares the LORD. "For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more."


How great and amazing this is! There is no other God who loves like this and has such compassion to send his own son to die for us!

Benny said...

live-n-grace,

So, in other words, you have no data to support the claim that Christians are MORE persecuted than any other group in the world. Got it. Can't say I'm terribly surprised, since you haven't been able to provide support for ANY claim you've made in this thread.

There are indeed sources I would accept as authoritative on the subject of persecution. Amnesty International, for one. They, like I, acknowledge what is happening in Darfur. But I'm curious why you are trying to use it as support of Christian persecution. Because...

"Race - not religion - is the fundamental fault line in Sudan, though religion has certainly added fuel to the fire in the south."
- Makau Mutua, professor of law and director of the Human Rights Center at the State University of New York at Buffalo

Source: http://www.csmonitor.com/2004/0714/p09s02-coop.html

Christianity is the only religion with a personal relationship between God and worshipper because... you said so? Jews, Muslims, Hindus do not have personal relationships with their respective Gods despite their own testimony because... you said so? How ignorant, how absurd, how laughable.

Way to go, btw, on being wrong on the Greeks too. I have to ask: are you actually a brilliant parody troll? Because you're doing a fantastic job of making a mockery of Christians, by making false claims after false claims and showcasing the worst reasoning possible.

Oh yes, I believe that the Bible says God is great. So do the scriptures of other religions (Torah, Quoran, Hindu scriptures). But you obviously have dismissed their claims. Why should I believe yours? Again, how do you know you haven't bet your life on the wrong holy text?

live-n-grace said...

People reading this can surely see the difference between an athiest and a Christian. I find no use arguing and going down to your level of name calling. The answers are right in front of your face.


BTW: Olive Muslims, Black Christians

Benny said...

The difference is as clear as night and day. However, the difference is not one of atheist vs. Christian. Rather, it's one of ideas informed by reality vs. baseless assertions. There are many intelligent, rational Christians. Some of my closest friends belong to that distinguished category. You, on the other hand, are ignorant, bigoted, and dishonest, and I would hate for anyone to think you represent Christians in any way.

live-n-grace said...

Please provide honest proof about how I am ignorant, bigoted and dishonest. I try to be as far from any of those things, and I believe I wasn't the one portraying those things in the previous posts.

I am here to spread the good news that there IS love and free life, not arguing and bickering and "intelligent thoughts."

Benny said...

Please provide honest proof about how I am ignorant, bigoted and dishonest.

*points to thread*

I try to be as far from any of those things...

Try harder :)

I am here to spread the good news that there IS love and free life, not arguing and bickering and "intelligent thoughts."

Oh yes, it is very clear indeed that you are not about "intelligent thoughts".