How to Dissipate Anti-religion Activism

Food for thought from Nick, a commenter at Radio Open Source.

How to make Chris Hitchens and his ‘neo-atheist’ cabal lose interest in their current anti-religion activism. Imagine a new global, ecumenical convocation of the three Abrahamic faiths. All of them, from Branch Davidians to Greek Orthodoxy, from Hassidim to Islamists. And they end their massive convention by issuing the following statement:

We are appalled by the violence and intolerance our beliefs and faith-institutions have engendered, enabled, and otherwise promoted throughout the history of monotheism. We not only regret this, we seek, now, and admittedly belatedly, to atone. We recognize that the harm rises plainly from our claims to certain knowledge of the deity we purport to speak for—and we now candidly admit the implicit and explicit conceit of these claims. We have long claimed humility – but falsely – for surely mere humans cannot humbly claim to know the mind of the universe’s creator.We therefore renounce our claims to certainty.

Instead of conviction we offer hope: hope that our belief in an immortal soul is neither vain nor mere vanity masquerading as religiosity. Hope that the God we have long believed listens to our self-obsessed entreaties might actually exist in the cosmos beyond our minds’ capacity for imagination and outside of our hearts’ yearnings for the comforts of parental love and approval.


But we no longer promise this to the young we hope to influence. We will instead become, for the first time in monotheism’s troubled and troubling existence, authentically humble.We confess our abject ignorance.


We confess our dismay that so many more prayers prove futile than those that seem to have been postively answered as articulated. We admit that double-blind prayer experiments yield not a whit of difference in the lives of those prayed for.We will no longer pretend that our child recovered from a sickness because a Deity favored us and our prayer while apparently ignoring the even more devoutly offered prayers of parents and children living in dire poverty and in barbaric, hostile circumstances.We admit that such beliefs are unconscionable conceits.And we apologize.

We hope for something more, though: we hope to inspire greater love within the hearts of our co-religionists: not for themselves but for all others – even those others who do not share our beliefs and our hopes. We will no longer demand that human love be personified in our venerated mythological figures, but will hereafter allow and encourage love to be venerated as a good in and of itself. We will remodel our temples, churches, and mosques to reflect this – and will then invite non-believing others to share their stories of the profoundly transforming power of unpersonified love. Because, in our new and earnest humility, we confess that those outside our faith traditions might have profoundly valuable lessons of love to share with us.

And we will edit and revise our sacred texts to reflect this historical reformation from insufferable arrogance and the cocksure certainty of faith to genuine humility and plainly confessed hope.

Any religion or sect that cannot or will not make such a concession to reason, to humankind, and to its own parishioners fully deserves the scorn of Hitchens, Dawkins and the rest of us non-believers too. And why must it fall to plebeian skeptics like me to have to point this out?

27 comments:

knerd said...

My own opinion, of course:
Just imagine if Jesus were a 21st Century CEO hammering out a mission statement for a corporation.

It might look just like this.

Of course, since Jesus was probably an illiterate first-century Jewish rabbi, it probably wouldn't.

faithfulweallbelieveinhim! said...

"We are appalled by the violence and intolerance our beliefs and faith-institutions have engendered, enabled, and otherwise promoted throughout the history of monotheism. We not only regret this, we seek, now, and admittedly belatedly, to atone. We recognize that the harm rises plainly from our claims to certain knowledge of the deity we purport to speak for—and we now candidly admit the implicit and explicit conceit of these claims. We have long claimed humility – but falsely – for surely mere humans cannot humbly claim to know the mind of the universe’s creator.We therefore renounce our claims to certainty.

Instead of conviction we offer hope: hope that our belief in an immortal soul is neither vain nor mere vanity masquerading as religiosity. Hope that the God we have long believed listens to our self-obsessed entreaties might actually exist in the cosmos beyond our minds’ capacity for imagination and outside of our hearts’ yearnings for the comforts of parental love and approval.


But we no longer promise this to the young we hope to influence. We will instead become, for the first time in monotheism’s troubled and troubling existence, authentically humble.We confess our abject ignorance.

We confess our dismay that so many more prayers prove futile than those that seem to have been postively answered as articulated. We admit that double-blind prayer experiments yield not a whit of difference in the lives of those prayed for.We will no longer pretend that our child recovered from a sickness because a Deity favored us and our prayer while apparently ignoring the even more devoutly offered prayers of parents and children living in dire poverty and in barbaric, hostile circumstances.We admit that such beliefs are unconscionable conceits.And we apologize.

We hope for something more, though: we hope to inspire greater love within the hearts of our co-religionists: not for themselves but for all others – even those others who do not share our beliefs and our hopes. We will no longer demand that human love be personified in our venerated mythological figures, but will hereafter allow and encourage love to be venerated as a good in and of itself. We will remodel our temples, churches, and mosques to reflect this – and will then invite non-believing others to share their stories of the profoundly transforming power of unpersonified love. Because, in our new and earnest humility, we confess that those outside our faith traditions might have profoundly valuable lessons of love to share with us.

And we will edit and revise our sacred texts to reflect this historical reformation from insufferable arrogance and the cocksure certainty of faith to genuine humility and plainly confessed hope. "

OVER MY DEAD BODY....

LET THE PERSECUTION COMMENCE!!!!

Jennifer said...

Ummm...You think this is noble? It's just PC.

How about drudging up the history of anti-god history and see how this line of reasoning pans out. Don't tell me there is no collective atheism; all I need to do is google the word and I have the atheist agenda at my fingertips. Don't tell me there isn't an agenda; I see the same thing you fault religion for...you are looking for like minded people to fellowship with and you support each other's beliefs. Enough of any group of people brings power to their position. It's all about who's on top.

You all desire to have the world run your way as much as the next person. There may come a day when you will be the ones with the moral power and you will use force, very tactfully of course, to put those who don't bend to your view of a good world out of the way.

Are you considering an apology to the victims of Stalin?

Mark F. said...

Jennifer: you are an foolish woman.

When did Stalin ever say what he was doing was in the "name" of atheism? But plenty of theists do things in the "name" of God.

And please point out one current atheist who wants to imprison people because of their religious beliefs. Plus the idea of an atheist "agenda" is idiotic. The only thing atheists agree on is that there is no God.

Jennifer said...

Mark f.,
As far as I know Stalin never said he was fighting for an atheist cause, but, "as a man thinketh in his heart, so he is." And I agree with you in totality that the Knights of The Templar and other crusaders were committing horrific crime agains humanity. I also can't say that it's was one sided. As far as I understand the Muslims have some apologizing to do in this vein.

I don't personally know of any atheist or anti-god person who presently want to imprison anyone. My comment was meant to refer to future days when it's possible and probable that an anti-god mindset will be dominant. There is a possibility that many an atheist will become extreme and begin to bully those who do not agree.

My point is that there are many threads making up the history of religious violence and because men have decided that those acts were the most important to remember we have them in our history books. If as much space were to be given to the peaceful and loving Christians I think the world may have another perspective to gauge by.

I am very sorry in the sense that it is a sad and horrific thing to have such a thing as an inquisition. I do not agree that the whole of it; some of the reasons it began; was wrong. If you look at the atrocities committed by the Moors I think it's understandable why the Crusades might have some merit. Much like terrorism today..isn't there a point when people defend themselves and take a stand even if it means violence?

Anyway...I do not think that Christians NOW need to apologize in the sense of taking personal responsibility, for the deeds of those bearing the same title but maybe not the same faith. I don't think that Muslims need to apologize to the countless that the extremists in their faith have murdered. The murderers do.

I do not need to apologize unless I am the perpetrator.

Read more websites and books..there's a nicely laid out structure to atheism. Do you agree with any of these stronly held opinions?

1) Political reform is needed to rid our culture of any belief in God in order to make the world a "better" place.

2) In order for the world to be a better place everyone should nicely accept everyone else's lifestyle even if it's flaunted.

3) People who believe in God are superstitious and illinformed. In other words they need to be saved from irrational thinking.

4) Children should be taught from an early age that there is no god.

5) People who believe in God are damaging society.

..just to cite a few.

Atheists are becoming evangelical. I don't have any qualms with that; everyone is free to express his or her opinion. The fact that it is becoming more vocal and popular indicates that there will probably be a day when the majority do not believe there is a god, and every other life decision will stem from that belief. There will be a power struggle because we are free to struggle, but somone will have to win. When someone wins they will hold the power and the tide will turn their way. It's the nature we have.

Adrian Miu said...

Jeniffer, why do you think that getting rid of the belief in God is the task of atheists? We are just trying to get rid of the belief in Allah and Yaweh ;)
You see, you can still believe in a deistic God if you like. But unfortunatelly for this kind of belief there is no "holy book" so you have no "proof" for a heaven that you would like to get into. That you hang on to Yaweh and claim to be God. But let the truth be spoken: Yaweh is not God but a god, just like Zeus (aka: a human construct).
But unlike the good christians of the first centuries we are not trying to get rid of the belief in Yaweh by demolishing your churches but through reason. We are not going to build science libraries from the bricks of temples just like christian churches were build with pagan temples pillars.
All atheists i've heard (Dawkins, Hitchens etc) are absolutely ok with deism because in the end is really the result of interpreting the data we get from the Universe.
Unlike the current religions that require the dismissing of what the Universe is telling us (eg: christians still pray even though the Universe tells us that it doesn't work).

Anonymous said...

Interesting idea.

If Christopher Hitchens, who praises Trotsky and the "ethical glories" of Marxism on pages 153 on in his not so Great Book, and other practitioners of atheistic philophies that have killed millions would do the same thing we would have something to talk about.

After all, Sam Harris says, "Some propositions are so dangerous, that it may be ethical to kill people for believing them." p 52-53 TEOF.

And he is certain that atheists can tell us which beliefs are so dangeous...child abuse as per Dawkins?...that they deserve the DEATH PENALTY.

Thats what is so amusing; atheists, after telling me there is no god to tell me what to do...want to turn around and tell me what to do.

Atheists just KILL me! hahahahahahahahahahahaha

Anonymous said...

Mark, Stalin did what he did in the name of DIALECTICAL MATERIALISM, of which ATHEISM is a key premise.

You need to brush up on your MARXISM!

Anonymous said...

Oh Mark, by way...more recently the RED CHINESE Dialectical Materialsim have been forcing ATHEIST education on the TIBETANS as a means of destroying their cultural identity.

So if you are really trying to claim that no atheist forces atheism on anyone you are either are to adapt a phrase Dawkins uses...ignorant, insane or lying.

Lee Randolph said...

hey anonymous!
good one!
thats a knee slapper! :-D
Did you think that up yourself?

You've created quite a slippery slope argument there! Do you mind if i use it as an example when I do a critical thinking presentation?

Jennifer said...

Adrian Mui,
Yes, that's exactly my point...you are trying to replace a belief. Beliefs are something people live and die for.

Thank you for not destroying my church building...I actually don't have one right now...but your desire to control my belief isn't any better. If you destroyed my church it would just be a building, not my faith.

I just don't understand how you all can extoll the virtues of atheism when history has proven the negative effects of that belief system on a culture.

Like I said before, there have been horrible acts committed by those who claim to be following God, but I think you would be hard pressed to prove that the negative aspects of Christianity awry outweigh the positive influence of Christianity lived as Jesus taught.

John W. Loftus said...

Jennifer, the story of the past on either side is not pretty, although it's disputed. You have to take seriously the idea that it wasn't atheism per se that led to mass killings, just like non-believers need to take seriously the idea that a Christian society was probably morally better than the surrounding cultures of their times.

But the past is the past. Compared to the civilized moral standards we have today, people in the past were barbaric by comparison, on all sides.

You need to consider modern European society, which is increasingly a non-religious one, and yet is also a civilized and moral one. The rise of democracy and the standards of science have changed a great deal, morally speaking.

You need to consider that you also believe in the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the revelation in the Bible. Why didn't God ever say, "Thous shalt not own, beat, buy, sell, or trade slaves," and say it so often that his people would get the point? And why doesn't the Holy Spirit do his job in helping Christians know the truth? The atheists of the past don't have any excuse. They were just people. But Christians? What is their excuse? I don't think you understand the full import of this.

Valerie Tarico said...

Has anyone noticed that the Christian responses on this post violates the teaching of Jesus: first look at the log in your own eye.

Only one commenter expresses grief about the excesses of Christian history, and then only the crusades. None acknowledge the painful hubris of absolute truth claims, nor the widespread manipulation desperate people in the service of these claims, nor the frequency with which their brothers in Christ engage in patent sophistry to support the same.

What Nick is saying, and I believe it to be true based on my experience as a therapist, is that when people deeply and honestly engage in a process of self examination and acknowledge their own faults and are seeking to address them, then others don't have a need to keep pointing them out. Why the serial publication of atheist rants and pleas? Because believers are not acknowledging the grief and fear or the role of their religions in creating it.

The reality is that over 90% of people believe in God in the United States, and 85% self-identify with Christianity. 45% self identify as evangelical or born again. The critique shouldn't be coming from the outside.

The painful impass is that we can get no-where if only nonbelievers and ex-believers are willing to acknowledges the Sins of Scripture and the sins of Christian history and the sins currently being committed in the service of Yahweh and Allah. Nor do we make progress if only religionists are pointing out the limits of atheism.

richdurrant said...

I understand where you are coming from here, and I also agree that many atrocities have been committed across the board. We all have to learn from our mistakes, and most importantly, not repeat them. It is evident that just because God spoke a commandment doesn't mean people will follow it. They should, especially believers, but they don't. This is a reflection on people, however, not God. He told us not to do a great many things, that didn't stop everyone from doing them. It would be nice to see the finger pointing stop and the understanding begin. Whether or not you believe we are still here together and need to work together.

lowendaction said...

Both represented perspectives of Christianity here are limited and border on ignorance.

Christians should never claim any kind of perfection under their gentile-given beliefs name.

So should Atheist not be so blunt as to role every person or event to have claimed said name into a simplified singularity.

The foundations and principals of Christianity, as they are discribed in the bible, are good (I am avoiding the word perfect, however I would argue that their only flaws lay in the "origianl" authors interpretations). But sadly, sinful humans have repeatedly tarnished this original design again and again. This does not nesecarrily void the belief, but only confirms its much needed function, if used properly.

The bible speaks to the very perfection of God, it's the sad distortion of man that has brought shame to the name of Christ. So the attacks on those who have claimed His name, and yet not honored it, are justified (though one must also consider that not all "wrong" actions were comitted out of malice, many are simply misguided and confused-not a justification, just explanitory). However I ask that you not simply lump together those who are fervently attempting to understand and follow this original design, which is inherantly without fault.

Jennifer said...

Lowendaction,
I agree with what you said.

John,
I agree with you about Christians not having an excuse. There is an expectation that if we claim to follow Jesus, we should "look" like Him.
I see this taking more shape now...I agree that there is much manipulation, control, abuse, condescention, and the like going on now and through the ages, in religion. I agree that people have suffered pain and have been "sucked" into a system rather than receiving guidance about finding spiritual truth. This is part of the point I was making about someone being on top. As soon as retaining power became the objective in Christianity, starting with Constantine, it trickled down and has dilluted the pure message of Jesus. Even though there is value in the Church fathers' writings, some of what they practiced and taught was not the same as what Jesus taught. They were already on a side trail which increasingly maligned the message of Jesus.

We went through the slavery issue a couple months ago so I don't want to revisit that just for the sake of time, if you don't mind.

I'm not sure that Europe is a good example of a godless society yet. They are also socially conditioned in a culture ifluenced greatly by Christianity. Even though, again, there was a lot of abuse of power, Europe united under the Roman Catholic Church and the rise of democracy was fanned by the Reformation. (That's my understanding but I am open to correction.)

Yes, I absolutely believe in the guidance of the Holy Spirit but I don't believe that the Scripture is to be reverenced or used as text book of religion. I don't have a firm grasp on what the "authority" of the Scriptures means, and see them more as collected stories and some history of God's dealings with people as a guide to understanding more about Him. I've said many times here; God is not contained within the Scriptures, just explained in part.

Valerie,
I've read the OP a few more times and I see what is being said more clearly. I do not agree with editing or revising a text because the text is what it is, but I see the value in expressing a desire to truly love people and stop pretending to know it all. Paul reminded the early church that God does not show favoritism and that should also be our position.

The first time I read the OP, the word "atone" stuck out and I imagined an expectation of restitution and grovelling which is not true humility either.

It would be interesting to see what would happen if that made it into an editorial page of a major newspaper.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Jennifer and Lowendaction,
Time and time again I see christians lamenting that people are the problem with christianity and not christianity itself.

So if all have sinned and fall short of the glory of god, are there any that get it right? It seems to me the buck should stop somewhere and Christians should come to grips with the fact that either it is too hard to get it right, or it is false, or show me someone that has done it right as a model for how it should be done. Preferably someone from the past twenty years or so.

If the holy spirit is guiding, leading, counseling, and people are ignoring it, how do you know they are ignoring it? I think you think you are following it don't you? What makes you different than the rest? Other people think they are following it too to the best of thier understanding. I honestly think that the christian authorities thought they were doing the right thing when they burned Tindale for the first english translation of the bible and all the other atrocities that make up that dead horse.

Do you agree with one of our other christian commenters that hell is not a real place but it is simply separation from god or just the grave?

Do you agree that atheists who have deconverted and were once saved and born again and all that are still going to heaven but in a lower status like some of our other christian commenters?

Lets see a show of hands, how many of you believe in speaking in tongues and interpreting of tongues?

I'm sure you all think you have a grip on the 'wisdom' but how come its all so different?

So as I see it, when ya'll point the finger at 'them' and say they are the problem, I hope you know that others are saying the same thing and probably lumping you in with the problem children.

Its not juat atheists that over-generalize about christians you know.

richdurrant said...

The ones who get ot right Lee are the ones who keep trying to improve. It's all too easy to point a finger and say "your not a true Christian," but that's hogwash. The one thing that's the most annoying to me is that comment. Like it somehow solves every problem.
The reason that we Christians say that people are the problem is because they are the problem. It's our freedom to choose our actions that lead to mistakes, but those mistakes were meant to be, and meant to be learning experiences that we could recognize as mistakes, repent of, and not repeat in an ongoing until we die effort to emmulate Christ the best we can. No one expects to be perfect, not even God expects us to be perfect. He just expects that when we falter that we are humble enough to realize the mistake and make it right.

As far as Holy Spirit guidance, I said this in another thread and it bears repeating now. We should figure things out for ourselves, we need to look at alternatives and make a choice. Then seek the answer of right or wrong from the Holy Ghost. You can recieve guidance, and I have on many occasions. This is of coarse some more generalizing of things and there are going to be times that this mold doesn't work, but it's a good one, well I think so anyway.

Hey Lee,
Do we still get images from voyager in 2997?

Jennifer said...

Lee,
Examples:

John Michael Talbot
Michael Card
Alistair Begg
Max Lucado
Ravi Zacharias (?)
Steve Schell
N.T. Wright
Rabbi Daniel Lapin

...and many more. I don't know every detail of their lives, but from what I know and observe these men are getting it "right". There are women too, but you wouldn't know their names.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Richdurrant,
you know, a strange thing happened with that, some teenager in a souped-up Delorean came up outside my house and traded me these cool batteries and this box that I plug into my electical receptical. It recharges the batteries wirelessly!
He gave me a laptop that automatically recharges too with a googlebit of memory running Windows Mythos.
;-)

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Jennifer,
thanks for the list,
I looked them up, and confirmed what I suspected. Not that its a bad thing, its just that christianity has such a huge media empire behind it, I have to wonder if those that use it to make a living are sincere. And the rabbi is jewish, who ironically wrote a book which I have listed below by his name, on how to make money.

Some of them have been engaged in controveries surrounding their relationship with the mormons, and some of them have stirred up controversy with thier theological views. I was expecting you to come up with a list of people I had never heard of before, telling me they were doing what Jesus would have done.

Even as a christian I was skeptical of the christian media empire.
Didn't Jesus knock over the tables in the temple or something?

John Michael Talbot - Musician, 49 albums to his name, started commune

Michael Card - musician, author, 47 albums, 5 videos, 19 books, radio host

Alistair Begg - author over 10 books and radio host

Max Lucado - author of over 50 books, preacher

Ravi Zacharias - author over 20 books, preacher

Steve Schell - couldn't find him

N.T. Wright - author of at least 24 books, scholar, bishop,

Rabbi Daniel Lapin - Jewish, author, radio host, one of his books has the interesting title "Thou Shall Prosper: Ten Commandments for Making Money by Rabbi Daniel Lapin (Paperback - Feb 22, 2005)"

Jennifer said...

Lee,
Are you saying it's wrong to make a living? Jesus was a carpenter for the majority of his adult life before starting out in his calling. I think I'm missing your point. Is there something wrong with using media resources to connect with people?

Because these people make money doesn't mean they don't feed homeless people or help pregnant teens or love people any less. I have met two of these people and I found them to be truly humble.

A man who used to be my pastor said, "People are looking for Jesus with skin on." His congregation expected HIM to be Jesus. None of these men are Jesus, but I hold to them behaving in ways, as far as I have observed and read, that are in line with what Jesus taught. The Rabbi does too, he just rejects Jesus as the Messiah.

If I told you about hte people I know personally you wouldn't be able to look them up and find out if they were indeed what I was claiming so I thought of people in the limelight. I hold to them but don't claim that they are perfect.

I'm sorry I'm missing you point again about Jesus overturning tables...could you explain?

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Jennifer,
as I said, I don't think it is a bad thing in itself. And I have to admit, I can't really say anything about it except out of personal bias.

But my reasoning is as follows.
Stipulating that Jesus was a carpenter, making a living being a carpenter is different than making a living being an entertainer.
If these people have the strength of their convictions, then I think it would be more appropriate for them to carry their spirit filled selves to the middle east, china or south africa where they can reach people that don't believe or help people that are REALLY in trouble instead of entertaining the choir over here.
Since they are domonstrably more influencial than your average Joe, then they should leave the pregnant teens and homeless to the less influencial spirit filled christians to deal with.

I think they are demonstrating that they like being comfortable and being the center of attention more than carrying the word to the heathens. In a country where 80% are christian, I wonder what the heck they think they are doing.

And the overturning the tables comment has to do with the fact that according to scripture the people were using the temple for their own personal gain, so he went in a gave them a wakeup call. I think if we consider What Would Jesus Do, I think he'd use the same principle to overturn their tables.

lowendaction said...

Hey lee,

A quick response to your earlier point regarding Christians apparent inability to "get it right". Jesus made it clear that we will never "get it right", or be perfect as He was (being God), but that we are to strive to do so, and live in grace.

The only "right or wrong" is in accepting Him as ones savior, after that everything is an individual effort. Just as with any relationship, the more we invest in it, the more we can hope to gain from it. Unfortunatly, many denominations throughout the Christianities history have attempted to enforce a slew of rules to "fix" the human element of sin. This form of restrictive religion has obvious negative consequences, and has little to no scriptural backing.

And then I just wanted to tag on to your "pharasitical Chrisitians" comment. Having grown up a Missionary Kid in Germany, I can tell you that our western society is everything BUT Christian. I would argue that there are in fact plenty of conventional missionaries doing some amazing work in these other "lost" countries. It is the so-called christianized countries (not the least of which being America) that concern me the most. What falls under the umbrella of "Christian" these days, is nothing but a piss-poor excuse of watered down deism at best.

I would argue that there is no better (and equally difficult) mission field than America. Because of the very real concerns you pointed out regarding some of our public Christian "role models", I feel as though the "pure" and "original" design of Christianity needs to be known.

As you and others have pointed out, most outsiders to Christianity simply lump everyone/thing into one incoherent mass of confusion...and in most respects, rightly so! However, that does not discourage me from clingin on to my belief, which I have formed and nurtured independent of any religious organization, and sharing said faith with others (note: sharing, not force feeding!).

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Lowendaction,
I have sympathy and understand your position, but I'd like to point out that you've adopted a straw man argument where you have distanced yourself from the mainstream or 'other christians' and pointed out that they have problems but you don't. I'll be that they would think that you have problems, but they don't. I know I have seen this defense used here at DC at least three times in the past week. My question to all of you is if you have the spirit indwelling and he is couseling, teaching and giving you wisdom, how come you can't agree? Are you all disregarding what you are being told? Is the holy spirit so unconvincing? Do you not realize that you are being guided by the holy spirit but you refuse to listen? Where is the truth, how will you know it when you see it? How do you know you haven't 'denied the holy spirit' by not following its guidance? For those of you that don't believe in speaking in tongues, how do you know you are not denying the holy spirits work in those people?

Jennifer said...

Lee,
I see, thanks for explaining, I'm a bit slow sometimes!

I also see your point about the straw man. I think that's another topic!

lowendaction said...

lee, your straw-man comment is well founded, and if I lead you to believe that "I've got it all figured out", or have somehow discovered "the hidden truth, that is lost to the others", than I apologize. I live my Christianity as a personal relationship between God and myself, and therefore have no need or desire to compare myself to others. I will however fellowship with those with whom I share "similar" beliefs, if only to worship communally, and re-affirm my beliefs and/or check its foundation (IOW ensure I am rooted in biblical truth, not the swaying opinions of man).

Now, that is not to say that I can not make observations of others who also claim the name of Christ. What I can NOT do is judge them. I can call their claims into question, as can they of me, but this should never set me "above" anyone (Christian or non-Christian).

As far as the in-dwelling spirit is concerned. There are many different interpretations of how this is actually manifested, and how it "works". I would argue that such a non-tangible topic could hardly be completely understood or even described by satisfactory scientific terms. My belief on the subject is simply that the spirit could be likened to the synapses between God and us. As we invest (not implying money or works!) in our relationship with God, this connection becomes stronger. I will not pretend to understand or claim to explain this any better than that.

I consider myself on a mortal journey of Godly understanding while I'm on this earth.