Reasonable Doubt About Sin, Biological Bases For Behavior

This article expresses doubt about sin. It challenges the concept of Sin and Eternal Reward and Punishment. Human behavior is too complex to be handled by a dichotomy of "reward and punishment".

It is a very long article, and i apologize but it is so long exactly because it gets to the heart of Christianity and shows how ignorant of human behavior the authors were. It argues that if God created us, that since we have biological bases for behavior that heavily influence our freewill, the dichotomy of reward and punishment rather than remediation is unjust because he designed us with a high potential to fail. The article is divided into two sections. The first section is a general overview of the argument, and the second part is more technical with links to data.

Even as a Christian, I have always thought the policy that people were more bad than good was odd. I just took it on faith that it was true. Then I just took it on faith that all the little tiny sins amounted to something that was relatively disgusting to a god, however much I couldn't understand it. But since I lost my faith, I now believe that Christianity follows in the footsteps of all the other religions before it that correlate blood with fertility, Gods with kings and heroes who struggle with death. Humans have a special part as subjects and should constantly strive to behave better. Basically, religion creates a problem by exaggerating the bad then sells the solution. Its a tried and true technique, that many different organizations (including marketing) practice today. People are bad and they need God or a King to keep them in line. In fact, I just heard about how nasty people were from my co-worker, then I challenged him to walk around the building with me and point to "nasty people". "Nasty People" are a minority. If they weren't there would be no civilization. Its The Blame Game. The claim goes "People are Evil, Lazy, Unmotivated and Stupid because they choose to be, but don't despair, there is a solution!"

Human behavior is and has typically been viewed as good or Bad/Evil. Supposedly Jesus cast out demons, and this practice continues today. But this idea of spirits causing bad behavior was left behind by science. Science has taken a slow track to the point it is today because until recently fruitful "non-destructive" brain research has been impossible. Science has exposed the good/evil false dichotomy and shows that Christianity ignores a lot of very important qualifiers about human behavior. Even in the cases of ordinary behavior of the people you work with, their behavior doesn't stem from them being a "bad" or "good" person. Human behavior is influenced by the following inter-dependent factors and the human is more or less unaware of them.
- Population and Species attributes
- Natural selection
- Genetic Makeup
- Fetal Development
- Perinatal Biology
- Development
- Acute Hormones
- Environmental Triggers
- Neurobiology

What you will notice is that Freewill is missing. That is because freewill itself is made up of those components. We don't have as much "freewill" as we imagine we do. Where do you draw the line between normal behavior and a disorder? Where do you draw the line of culpability?

Additionally as I discussed in Reasonable Doubt About The Problem of Evil/Needless Suffering As A Test there is a negative feedback loop between stress and our behavior. The influence that environmental and biological factors have on the function of the brain limits options and performance without the person even realizing it. These factors are an inseparable part of the decision making process.

When we see behavior exhibited by a person, it is a result of these factors. Whether or not the behavior meets our expectations or that of God, it originated out of the frail bodily organ that is the brain. It may be that these factors cannot really be appreciated until they are put under stress or do not work properly. Many times the result is behavior that is outside the norm and/or doesn't meet our expectations. How much culpability does a person have when the tools they are given are not adequate for the task at hand? In the context of having our behavior judged by God, there is only eternal reward or eternal damnation. Curiously there is no facility for treatment except for the bible, church, prayer and repentance. But living in a constant state of repentance causes stress, poor self-esteem and approaches depression. With the advances in biological sciences in the last few decades, Western Judicial Systems have been forced to re-evaluate policies to determine if treatment rather than punishment is the better decision, because everyday secular science gets one step closer to easing a previously mysterious malady.

I argue that if we were put here as a test, then we should have been designed exactly opposite. As it is now, resisting temptation and denying our nature causes frustration and stress. It seems to be a backward system where following the rules results in angst, frustration, poor health and ultimately unhappiness. It seems to be a system designed to demotivate. It seems to be a system designed to foster failure.

If god made us, then obviously he is responsible for our architecture. The bible says we prefer sin, and using the definition of sin in the bible, it seems to be true. But what is sin? Who decides what sin is? Is sin being promiscuous or overeating? Human beings would have never survived if they did not act this way. It is necessary behavior in the survival of organisms to procreate as much as they can and eat when they can find food. Natural Selection has filtered this behavior to prominence because those organisms that behaved that way, passed on more copies of themselves, their genes.

How do we stay motivated to do things that promote our survival? We have to have some internal 'detector' that makes us want to do something that promotes our survival. Sex feels good doesn't it? Eating when you are hungry feels good doesn't it? Dopamine receptors in the brain receive Dopamine that gets released into the blood stream by the endocrine system that provides some of that positive feedback. But a malfunctioning dopamine system or the introduction of foreign bodies that are similar to dopamine can cause addictions. It is a flawed process that can be easily fooled by things such as food, alcohol and cocaine into malfunctioning. Not the high quality I would expect out of the workshop of a God.

Do people choose who they are sexually aroused by? I didn't choose my sexual preference, and by the way most people talk, they didn't either, but to hear a Christian denounce homosexuality as abhorrent behavior you'd think they are attracted to both sexes but choose to be heterosexual. I don't buy it because I know that pheromones or at least something that is given off by an individual has an effect on arousal. I know that 1 in 6000 humans are born with both genitalia and I know that some people are pseudohermaphrodites (they have the normal genitalia but with opposite gender ovaries or testicles partially developed in the lower torso). I also know that scientists can biologically manipulate the sexuality of Mice and Fruit-flies in the lab and that there are over 1500 species of animals that are know to exhibit homosexual behavior.

I challenge the whole concept of sin. I think it is a misunderstanding of evolutionarily developed behaviors and human biology that were not understood at the time the scripture was written. I say we are at least as 'good' as we are 'sinful' and in reality the lines of 'good' and 'sin' are blurred by context. The act of lying is a good example of that. Organisms use a mixture of strategies such as Individual Selection, Kin Selection and variations of "Tit-for-Tat" to survive. Game theory mathematics predicts some behaviors such as cooperation and selecting for cooperative mates. "Tit-for-Tat" is a logical strategy not specific to humans that naturally evolves out of situations as demonstrated in nature and between armies in World War 1 and 2.

Christians say this 'death' came after Adam disobeyed god, but I say that the evidence is reasonably conclusive that there never was an Adam and Eve. The only evidence for Adam and Eve come from the bible, the Egyptian myth of the potter that makes humans out of clay, and the Sumerian myth of the god that was killed and his blood was mixed with the earth to make humans. Experts on the bible, Christians and scientists discount the Egyptian and Sumerian accounts so all that is left is the Bible as the sole source. If Adam and Eve did exist then for them to have conceived of choosing to disobey god, the mechanism to do that would have had to already existed. They would have already had to have the architecture in place to allow that to happen. If not, then God would have had to make a "Great Overhaul" of human and animal physiology to 'curse us'. Alternately to say that Adam and Eve are just Metaphors for mans sinful nature is to admit that we were made from the beginning to "prefer sin" or somewhere along the line, we were perfect and then decided to sin and the "Great Overhaul" occurred, but anthropology does not support that conclusion in any measure.

If God made us this way then we are sabotaged to prefer to sin (survival strategies), and to resist it causes stress which adversely affects our happiness and sometimes our health. Some of our biological features had evolutionary advantages that don't make sense anymore. Such as overeating and sexual promiscuity. Addictions are evolutionary processes running amok that never had the ability or time to compensate for error. To say that God sabotaged us to prefer sin is obviously a ridiculous charge against the Christian God, therefore the alternative is that he didn't have anything to do with our creation.

WHAT IS BEHAVIOR?

It is the result of a feedback loop between the environment and a biological system of feedback loops that all influence each other circularly. As research progresses, it is removing the mystery and supernatural aspects of who we and how we behave. There are biological factors involved in who we vote for, what we believe in, what we like, what we think about, what we experience, what makes us an "I", what makes up our essence.

POPULATION AND SPECIES ATTRIBUTES, NATURAL SELECTION
Through a strategy of reproducing, eating when food is available, selecting for things that 'feel good' and/or selecting for things that support its well being organisms naturally survive. There is a point when their behavior prevents them from dying, and another point when it causes them to thrive, and another point when their behavior is not appropriate in the environment anymore. The more of these organisms that survive, the more they reproduce and the more copies they make of themselves. Over time, survival strategies evolved naturally. Some of these were discovered after that "Beautiful Mind" John Nash created a mathematical model of economic behavior. This model was expanded into what is now known as "Game Theory". In Game theory a strategy known as "Tit-for-Tat" was discovered, where participant A trusts participant B till B does something that violates it, then A will do something against B until B's behavior conforms, and vice versa. The most famous example of this spontaneous non-violent behavior is in the "Christmas Truce" of World War One in 1914 which was an instance of the "Live and Let Live" spontaneous cooperation behavior. Not only are these cooperative behaviors selected for because they result in the survival of the organism, the organism selects partners that it sees will cooperate. These naturally arising survival strategies ensured early humans could pass on copies of themselves. Generally speaking, our behavior has evolved to ensure the successful copying of our genes.

GENES, GENETIC MAKEUP
Genes are the foundation for biological systems including the brain. They are a hereditary unit consisting of a sequence that occupies a specific location on a chromosome and determines a particular characteristic in an organism. DNA is a nucleic acid that carries the genetic information in the cell and is capable of self-replication and synthesis of RNA. DNA consists of two long chains of nucleotides twisted into a double helix and joined by hydrogen bonds between the complementary bases adenine and thymine or cytosine and guanine. The sequence of nucleotides determines individual hereditary characteristics. Genes undergo mutation when their DNA sequence changes by suboptimal process execution. They result in differences in eye color, body style, "quality" of blood, bones, teeth, cells, TEMPERAMENT, etc.

There are genetic factors that promote or detract from survival. Those genetic factors that promote survival will get more copies made. Organisms that survive will pass them on. A famous genetic mutation is Sickle Cell anemia. It evidently created an evolutionary advantage against malaria, but over time the need has diminished and now it is a disease because the context changed. Additionally, sometimes genes get distorted and a mutation occurs. Most of the time these mutations don't have much affect but sometimes they do. A striking behavioral example of this is Frontotemporal dementia. It is a neurological disorder (most often due to a specific mutation) in which disintegration of the frontal cortex occurs. This one genetic variant affects two people with opposite temperaments in opposite ways, turning a meek person into a wild one and a wild one into a meek one. Temperament is defined as the part of the personality that is genetically defined. Patterns of behavioral traits run in families. Another example is how Genital Arousal Disorder Adversely Impacts Women's Lives. Its challenging for us to make sense of 'who's the them inside there that's doing that'.

Genes code for the architecture of the neuron. The neuron is made up of a cell body (Soma) a dendritic tree and an axon . The axon is covered by a myelin sheath made of glial cells that provide support in the form of nutrition and insulation. Multiple sclerosis is a disease that attacks the myelin sheath. When the neurons are working properly, they communicate via electrochemical mechanisms. This results in the release of neurotransmitters such as Dopamine and Serotonin. Dopamine and Serotonin levels affect the brain and are used by a mechanism of recycling. When the levels of Dopamine and Serotonin are incorrect or interrupted, it results in diseases such as depression, bi-polar disease, schizophrenia, and others including addiction and possibly Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. For example, categorically speaking, serial killers have reduced levels of Serotonin. Additionally, cocaine is a type of drug that causes premature release of Dopamine transmitters and makes the drug highly addictive. Once a person is accustomed to the feeling created by the release of dopamine, when they don't have it, they miss it and will try to regain it. This is an effective evolutionary survival strategy. This is one reason why addiction is so powerful. It works on the central processing unit of the body. Manipulating neurotransmitters in the brain are a powerful way to manipulate moods and behavior in humans. Diseases such as schizophrenia are a result of poor neurotransmitter performance and are passed genetically. A less debilitating version is called Schizotypy. It has negative dimensions to it such as reduced social behavior but in some cases it results in higher incidences of creativity in individuals. Statistically, artists and authors have a higher incidence of schizophrenia in their families. Schizophrenia not only affects behavior, it also affects perception.

FETAL DEVELOPMENT, PERINATAL BIOLOGY, DEVELOPMENT
Another important factor in the development of this architecture of behavior is fetal development. We all know that mothers that smoke and drink alcohol increase the risk of harm to the baby, but we don't think about the mothers environment. Excessive stress is known to be harmful to the baby and mother. For example, excessive stress in the third trimester is known to correlate to a smaller head size. Poor nutrition is another factor that negatively impacts the fetus. Over successive pregnancies the womb compensates and modifies itself to account for what has been going on inside of it. It compensates for hormones, and correlates to fetus sexual development. I'm not saying that homosexuals are made in the mothers womb, but I am saying that Congenital adrenal hyperplasia is a pathology which makes a biological base for homosexuality very plausible. Additionally, factors that negatively impact the brain, nervous system, or endocrine system put the organism at a disadvantage before it leaves the womb. These factors play a part in developing the architecture that will produce behavior. The brain is made up of around 100 billion neurons each with connections to between 1000 - 10,000 other neurons, it uses a combination of electrical, chemical, analog and digital "state change" signaling to accomplish communication between them. There is a lot that could go wrong in a system like that. For example people under 16 years of age can't be given death penalty because it is recognized that the frontal lobe is not fully developed yet. This article from sciencedaily.com discusses Why Teens Are Such Impulsive Risk-takers. Biological factors reduce reasoning in one area while wildly enhancing it in others (Autism) reduce inhibitions, and leads to thinking about things that were previously unthinkable as evidenced in the following section.
Reasonable Doubt About The Atonement, Psychopathy
Reasonable Doubt About The Soul

BIOLOGICAL PROCESSES, ENDOCRINE SYSTEM, REGULATION OF THE BRAIN BY HORMONES, REGULATION OF THE HORMONES BY BRAIN, ACUTE HORMONES
This section shows the loop-back between the body and the brain.
Once the organism is born, in the early stages, its behavior will be mostly a result of reacting to its environment and the quality of the processes that result from the architecture that was formed in the womb. Babies that don't feel good, cry. Crying babies cause stress in the care provider. Crying babies will naturally motivate other babies to cry. Stress releases hormones from the organs (endocrine system) of both organisms. These hormones affect the frontal cortex and the limbic system, two systems that play a large role in behavior. But like all systems, organisms burn energy and use resources. There is never an endless supply of resources so the organism or system must reduce its activity to replenish resources or risk degraded performance. For example Sugar Affects Our Ability To Resist Temptation. A person that is chronically aggressive must spend more energy than those that are not resisting that feeling of aggression. Aggression is so basic that it can manifest itself through a genetic predisposition (MAOA), a tumor in the frontal cortex as in the famous case of Charles Whitman and the famous case of a recurrent tumor that caused recurrent pedophilia in a man, or testosterone and estrogen. Additionally, other ways hormones affect behavior is in the affect that male sweat has on females, female hormones have on each other (Menstrual syncronicity) , and how Subliminal Smells Bias Perception About A Person's Likability

ENVIRONMENT, CULTURE, ENVIRONMENTAL TRIGGERS, NEUROBIOLOGY
As organisms interact in their environment, they behave according to internal factors, according to things they have learned and according to things they have stored in memory. They have the function of their internal processes influenced and shaped as time goes on. While it can be shown that a kind of xenophobia naturally results in the brain and the evolutionary advantage is apparent, people can reduce its impact by learning about the stranger and creating positive feelings about them. A practical example of this is Racism, and the fact that racism can be diminished through learning to trust one another. Xenophobia is a neurological reaction, an automatic dislike of strangers, and likewise there are some factors that make us feel the opposite automatically. A pleasing view or sound, or sensation on the skin is an example. The Biological clock has been shown to be regulated by light, and blue light at the wavelength of 480nm supports alertness and cognitive tasks. Sound at subsonic wavelengths from 17hz to 0.001 (aka infrasound) has been known to cause feelings of awe or fear in humans. Some reactions are automatic and set off reactions in the endocrine system that regulates the brain. Some stimuli gets that dopamine released and headed for those receptors. But what if something we like naturally is harmful? What if watching an organism experience fear causes dopamine to get released? Or what if we don't get the feedback we need to help shape our behavior one way or another? What if those paths between portions of the brain don't work efficiently because of a "Silent Stroke" or some natural defect? Sociopathy and Psychopathy are results of poor performance in emotional responses, and speaking less pathologically Schizotypy can result in a "wall flower", science fiction and fantasy enthusiast (like me) that can be amplified or reduced by the home environment.

REASONING, INFLUENCE

People are very easy to influence. For example, the more in sync we are with the people around us, the more we like a movie. Reasoning properly is not something we are born with. There are many books related to sales that teach you tricks for how to influence people in a positive way to a sales pitch. Robert Cialdini is probably the most famous doctor to popularize principles of influence. In business we have to overcome many counter-intuitive biases to come up with a sound successful business strategy. We have to gather data in a certain way and use learned principles of interpreting that data to come to sound conclusions of what 'truth' it represents. We have to overcome the tendency to confuse correlation with cause, etc. We have to be trained to think properly to overcome biases that are either learned or 'hardwired' in us. One bias is the famous "Pascals Wager". It is a simple heuristic that is analogous to the survival instinct. It says "minimize risk". While this is a sound principle, how one goes about is the hard part. We have to teach children to "reason away" the fear of something under the bed, in the closet or noises in the house. This is where the discipline in thinking comes into play, the inference from statistics, and learning the difference between correlation and cause and effect.

FREEWILL, DECISION MAKING
How much freewill is left in the pie chart of decision making? It is said among Christians that God gave us freewill as a gift and we are supposed to use it to choose to love and obey him. They say that he won't influence our freewill. If god will not influence our freewill, then it doesn't follow that he made us. If he made us, he built in all kinds of factors that influence our freewill.

So how does this figure in when we have to love god, or love our neighbor in the middle of living in this "evil" world? Stress reduces our ability to behave as we would like. It doesn't make it easy and your prayers may or may not get answered, and we may even find ourselves having to decide to jump to our death or burn to death when its all over.

Alternately, Biological Bases for Behavior make it plausible that atheists have no real choice but to be atheists in the same sense that creative thinkers have no choice in thinking creative thoughts or paranoids believe that people are out to harm them. It is likely that some are "wired" to be less susceptible to belief not supported by a certain level of criteria for evidence. Biological Bases for Behavior makes it plausible that 85% of the world are ABLE to believe, but 15% aren't. The Christian would be in that 85% and the Atheist would be in that 15%.

THE FLAWED PRINCIPLE OF REPENTANCE

If we are to be judged according to our thoughts, actions and decisions, and our thoughts, actions and decisions are influenced and or created by physiological factors, then we cannot be judged according to any standard since all people are physiologically unique and some behave in ways that they otherwise would not in different circumstances. How can we be judged for disobeying god when we cannot completely control our thoughts? To say, for example, that we are guilty of adultery for thinking about it (as Jesus did) is to say that there is no hope for redemption unless we are in a constant state of repentance. I should be repentant for something that I cannot control? For an aspect of my physiological makeup? Should I be sorry because I am ugly? I will be sent to eternal punishment because I am what I am? I am not able to live up to an unreachable standard so I am to be punished? If we are all supposed to do as well as we can and be repentant for the rest, what is the point at all? And how long can we stay repentant for something that never goes away? If our ability to avoid temptation is reduced as the amount of glucose is reduced, isn't it likely that as brain resources in general are reduced so are the associated processes? Are people to blame if they get tired of being repentant? Can someone be blamed for not being repentant about not being repentant? How can what we learn on the physical earth possibly transfer into our 'final reward' which is completely different? How is the ethereal 'soul' linked in any way to these physical processes? Is it affected as my glucose depletes?

Since the brain is a biological device. It can be influenced by physiological factors, and physiological factors induce desire and motivation. Since we cannot get outside of our thoughts and feelings, they make up our personality our "essence". This renders any judgment by an external supernatural creator meaningless because it would know that we are helpless to feel any other way than our physiological make up will support at the time, and that our behavior and desire will follow that. We are helpless to think any thoughts that are not supported by our physiological make up at the time. The physiological factors would have to be eliminated to make any judgment meaningful.

There is a theory that the brain is wired to do what it thinks and that it is because of an 'inhibitory circuit' in the brain that we can control our actions. When this is damaged, then we do things that we would ordinarily not do and in some cases do not realize it is wrong. I know bigots, and self-important arrogant people that don't even realize when they are being condescending and judgmental and don't even realize that what they are doing is wrong or unpleasant to be around. Any mention of it and I am the one that is in error because I am too sensitive or "exaggerated" or "self-righteous". Since our thoughts are determined by what state our brain is in at any given time, then so is our freewill and our moral compass. Our will, or motivation and desire is determined by what state our brain is in at any given time. This is not to say that we absolutely cannot control our behavior, it is just to say, that behavior outside the norm should be remediated, analyzed and assessed rather than judged.

None of this is laid out for understanding in the Bible. It was all misunderstood. Western Judicial Systems are on the edge of a cognitive science wind of change about why we behave the way we do and thinking about our culpability. At an AAAS Conference, Judges Explored the Impact of Neuroscience on the Justice system. They realize, as we all should, that the line between the essence of who we are and the biological factors tossing that essence about is getting shown be blurred.

Below are some links and notes I collected doing this research that support the article further.

* Time magazine,
- Ape with a conscience, pg. 54. vol 170, no. 23. Dec. 3, 2007
- The Science of Addiction, pg. 42. vol 170, no. 3. July 16, 2007
- The Science of Appetite, pg 32. Canadian Edition vol 169, no. 24. June 11, 2007.
* Biology and Human Behavior: The Neurological Origins of Individuality, 2nd Edition
* University of Berkeley webcast courses: Psych 1 General Psychology
* Norman Geschwind can be considered the father of modern behavioral neurology in America.
* Pseudohermaphrodites
* Search for Craving Response on ScienceDaily.com. Research on addiction
* Temporal Lobe Epilepsy
* Epilepsy, religious figures
* Twin Studies
* Phineas Gage
* Tourette Syndrome
* Bipolar Disorder
* Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
* Borderline Personality Disorder
* Nymphomania
* Kleptomania
* Neophobia
* Depression
* The Role of Persuasion In The Question Of The Holy Spirit

85 comments:

ZAROVE said...

I habven't much time, but your article, though better thought out than most here, is still deeply flawed by incorrect understandings of the issues.

For example, you claim that the beelif that bad behaviour is cause dby Spirits has been left behidn by Sicnece.

The two major problems of this beign that, this was never actually a beleif. Tough Demon possession was beelived to occure, no one toguht that bad behaviour was soley caued by evl spirits.

And, even today we have Excorsisms, and nto meley in thrid world countrues or amongst he uneducated.


That said, you also seem to think Religion causes the problems it promises ot csolve. You don't even seem to realise that you yourself have a religion, or what religion is.

You also oversimplify te matter by claimign that Sin is simply base dn reward and pnishment. THis reveals just how little you actually understand the teacings from Christianity abotu Sin. It not abotu rewards and punishments at all.


And most of the teachigns in Christantiy are redemotive, in fac tthe hwole Religionr est son Redemption. Claimign that it rest sonr ewards and ounishemnts and not redemotive funcitosn is just mischarecterisation.


I will clarify later.

ZAROVE said...

Also, if you'd likd to discuss tis more conveneintly, I can be reached at Zaroff3@yahoo.com, or Zaroff3@Juno.com.

I woudl liek to discuss htis mater at lenght, btu do nto know if a blog woudl accomodate this end.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Zarove,
I'm not convinced you have understood what you've read.

For example, you claim that the beelif that bad behaviour is cause dby Spirits has been left behidn by Sicnece.
I guess it wasn't clear enough but the 'bad behavior' I was alluding too was mental illness being mistaken for demonic possession. yet you seem to get in your next paragraph.

That said, you also seem to think Religion causes the problems it promises ot csolve. You don't even seem to realise that you yourself have a religion, or what religion is.
I think that religion exaggerates the bad to sell the solution and I provided an example. And I caution you that you are not very good at mind reading.

And most of the teachigns in Christantiy are redemotive, in fac tthe hwole Religionr est son Redemption.
what happens to those that don't love god? They get punished right? What happens to those that love god, they get to heaven right? There only seem to be two options here. What am i missing?

and I don't do email debates. I'll correspond to trade information, but all debating is done online.

John W. Loftus said...

Zarove, periodically I've seen people come here who claim to have all of the answers. And I do wonder what they hope to accomplish. Nonetheless, the last one who came here arguing against everything we write was a guy named Calvin. He was prolific, just like you. I challenged him to read my book. He did. After doing so he said he too rejected Christianity. So let me challenge you to do the same. I mean, after all, if the truth is on your side you should not be afraid. Short of doing that you are merely dealing with our arguments in a piecemeal fashion. Why don't you attempt to deal with our whole case?

If it strengthens your faith so be it. If not, your faith wasn't worth having in the first place. So there's nothing to lose. You will surely learn something in the process. Check out the second book listed down on the sidebar to your right.

Cheers.

Cole said...

That's true John I pretty much have rejected Christianity. Although I still believe in a Higher Power of some sort. I've come to find out that I don't have all the answers. I use to believe I did but after reading your book and spending time on this blog I now know that I was wrong.

Cole said...

Don't get me wrong John other things (personal) have happened to me during this time period as well.
I'm sick of arguing and thinking I'm right about everything.

John W. Loftus said...

Zarove, Cole went by the name Calvin, and he was who I spoke of. He was once arguing just like you do now.

liniasmax said...

Lee - this was fantastic. I always look forward to your articles. After reading it, though, and really reflecting on how things seem to be hard-wired, I worry that my deconversion, which has really liberated my thinking and upped my overall "joy-factor," will only be mine and mine alone: meaning, I would love for my lovely wife to experience this, but I don't believe she will ever let go. This article does a great job of discrediting a Scriptural view of reality, but it seems to also explain why so many hold to their beliefs no matter what. Free-will where art thou?

Behaviorally speaking, we, as a family, have a set Christian pattern of existence - we belong to a mega-church; she helps run the library; I co-teach a Sunday School class and am drummer in the "A-Band." We homeschool, following the classical model, complete with Scriptural chronology of history. We've homeschooled for 8 years. When I dropped the "I'm deconverted" bomb last April, she didn't buy it. Of course, now she has bought it, and we discuss it every-so-oft..infrequently...

I'm sorry, I'm rambling...Bottom line - do you think this research points to the utter impossibility of swaying what people think, all "How To" books notwithatanding?

John - I haven't read your book - but this site was my second stop after Godhatesamputees... I would love to read your book along with my wife.

And please don't take this the wrong way zarove, but your post seemed to validate this article and my thoughts on the subject.

Linasmax, Ph.D. (can't believe I did that...yes I can...free will went bye-bye...)

zilch said...

Lee- Very nice and well-researched article. You're right- the concept of "sin" is far too simple to account for human behavior.

It seems pretty obvious that the idea of "sin" evolved, or was invented (probably some of both) as a way of getting people to behave in ways that helped build societies. Of course, even we secular humanists still face the same problem believers do: what morals and laws should we have, and how do we enforce them? Not easy questions.

Liniasmax- good luck to you and your family. But with love, almost anything is possible: my wife is still a Catholic, and our two kids and I are atheists, but it's not a problem. As far as changing people's minds go, I would say that this site, and people like Calvin/Cole here, are good examples of people changing their minds. So although there's lots we can't change about our makeup, there is still scope for making decisions. That's why I'm still bullish about the human race, despite our stupidity.

cheers from starry Vienna, zilch

liniasmax said...

Hi Zilch - You are right and things are great at home. For I'm still the guy I was and my wife has seen that. I'm living proof that one can "break the spell." But it came from the inside - these web-sites only spoke to me after I first predisposed myself to actually listening to what they had to say. Otherwise we just get a comment like the first one above - flight masquerading as fight. I hope that walking the walk will lead my wife to consider from whence comes my joy. That's all I'll say personally right now. I don't want to hijack this great article. Lee, I look forward to your next piece...

ZAROVE said...

Lee- Having had little time, I perhaps did not correctly read your article, and ot that I admit.

Nevertheless, I did intent to return to offer a mroe fleshe dout view.


But if I misunderstood any aspect I will apologise.

That said, I also do not think that Mental Illness was mistaken for Demon possession, and that this common theory itsself remains unproven.

However, your posts are betterthan those I have seen elsewhere on this blog, so perhaps, if you are willing, I woudl like to Begin an exchange via Email. There we coudl discuss much more readily these topics, withotuthe worry of hacing to repsond ot numeorus others, and othe rinterruptions.


I do think you misundertsand much of hat Christianity teaches if you think t not redepttive.

Incednetllay, may I ask you spell God,when used as a Proper noun, wth a Capitol G? It always boters me to see htis fad iN Athiesm, spellign god in lower case, because of how foolish it is. It doesnt hsow disbeleif in God so much as disregard for proper Grammer. ( My speling is horrible, I admit, but not my grammer, andmy dyslexia is the cause there.)

Still, your ideas warrent soem discussion and I'd be happy to engage in sch an exchange.

If you are willing.


John Loftus-

The language of controle and manipulaitn you display here and elsewhere is itsslef a validation of why I follow the Christian Faith. You make several presumptions about those who beelive in it, and act as if offering a Chicken CHallenge is any mean of doing anythign other than claimignthey are afraid if they do not accept.

It may shock you to lear that I have read numerous books on this topic as well. From Sam Harris's "The End OF Faith" and "LEtter To A Christian Naiton" to Richard Dawkins "The God Dilusion", I have not been so unlttered in these arguments. I will admit that I couldn't finish Hitchens "God Is Not Great", as it was simply to absurd, the man practiclaly blmes male pattern baldness on religion.

But, I've read thr Secular Web often, and other books about Ahtiesm. I've read Acharya S's "The CHrist Conspiracy" and Earl DOughtery's "The JEsus Puzzle". Ive read Campbell's "The HEro With 1000 Faces" and I've read Thomas Huxley's lectures and other assorted works.

Ive read also excertps form Dan Barkers "Loosing Faith In Faith".

I've even read Templetons book, though the title eludes me a I type this. He was Billy Grahams former partner.

Woudl your book really add much to this litany I have listed? I hasve read others as well.

It is not so much fear, as curiosity as to why I ought to spend money on a book that I have every reaosn to beleive has nothign new iit.

It snot like I've only read CHristian Literature, and surly you don't think this woudl be the case.

But if you are ever so adamant abitu your book, if I can procure a free copy, I will read it.

I will email you in regard to such things.


On touchign on why I am here, I was asked to post here by another, who had seen the argument ont he size of the Universe, and aske dme to make a comment. I then glanced over the rest of the articles, and made posts thee as well.


I did not come her eto accomplish anyhting, and my posts ar emerley my citaiton as to why your arguments ar elogilaly inconsistant. I didn't even use the Bible in defence f them usually.

But this is what I have done.

Also, it is a queasitn I must ask. Why do youy asume that reading your book woudl either Strengthen my Faith or destory it? Can't another option be available? What if I read it, and am not convinced of your arguments, yet my faith remaisn at the same level?

I've read your conversion story to Atheism ( No such word as Deconversion. Water, when converted to Ice, doens't deconvert to water.) online, and it certianly wans't impressive, exceot in the tersms of seeign what you had expeirnced.

Would the book be anyhtign but Longer?

I do woder why you asusme I'd be affected by it at all, but hen again, the way you see Christians would seem to explain this. You think I've not ever read such an acount before, or heard these aguments before, and just blidnly beelive the Bible, which I haven't read and my pastor and my CHurch and just haven't givnd anythoguth to th other side.

Maybe Ivd read apologetics books, but habent ever considered he Skeptical arguments.

Well, you'd be wrong. I've read far more Skeptical works than Apologetics works, and never blindly follow anything. ( Not all Faiht is Blind Faith.)

But I will email you, if you really want.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Liniasmax,
I'm glad you liked the article.

Don't give up hope. I think that all reasoning is defeasible. conclusions are based on the best information that you have. Bias plays a large part. Accepting strong criteria for evidence and knowing what poor reasoing schemes consist of is important, but not all that is necessary.

The elaboration liklihood model of persuasion is a terrible name for a common process. It means look at the data, and think about it. Elaborate on it. compare it to other things. This will change peoples minds, but they have to be open to it.

for example, I just had my mind changed on the death penalty by a philosopher. Under the current model of justice, I'm against it now.

Christians reading this will no doubt see an inconsistency with what I'm writing now and what is in the article, but they will be characteristically overlooking qualifiers. There is no inconcistency when I say you don't control what you believe but you can influence your belief with information, however that information has to be balanced. the christians overlook the 'balanced' part. To them, only looking at christian information counts as balanced. I always point out that is how brainwashing works.

So keep an open mind, you obviously share the same values with her. As zilch said she may never come around, but if she thinks about it and elaborates on it in her mind, she'll realize that a guy like you can't possibly go to hell so how can that be reconciled? Somethings wrong somewhere, and its probably not you.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Zarove,
That said, I also do not think that Mental Illness was mistaken for Demon possession, and that this common theory itsself remains unproven.
if you look up the history of mental illness you will see what I mean, and if you read my article on exorcisms, you will see that little terrance was autistic not possessed. You are asking for impossible precision, the kind of precision that you don't NEED when you drive your car. You only need to be reasonably sure that you know what is going on to drive a ton of steel around the neighborhood don't you?

I do think you misundertsand much of hat Christianity teaches if you think t not redepttive.
Jesus died for our sins, we have the ability to overcome our sin if we strive to be like jesus, we can pray for guidance, strength, we can be redeemed by the love of jesus christ in our lives and let that love shine, we shouln't hide our light under a basket, we should be like a jar of clay and the light will shine through cracks.

yea, and when you pray sometimes the answer is no, and I am in a constant state of repentence because I get aroused by other people besides my spouse. That is not right. I get fed up of having to be sorry for something that happens naturally and never goes away. I'm not sorry any more, I just accept it and don't obsess over it. I don't do anything with it, and that gets me by fat dumb and HAPPIER.

Incednetllay, may I ask you spell God,when used as a Proper noun, wth a Capitol G? It always boters me to see htis fad iN Athiesm, spellign god in lower case, because of how foolish it is.
might I ask you to consider another alternative theory to this proposal? That I don't do it on purpose? That I have a day job and a family and a commitment to John to keep my promise with regards to frequency and quality of posting content and sometimes a God comes out as god? Dude, use your head, think of options and iterate through them instead of assuming you know whats going on with me. I don't use little "g" because its a fad, I do it because its a MISTAKE. Get over it.

That is why I don't do email debates. I don't have the time and I value PEER REVIEW. Thats what I consider this blog is PEER REVIEW ON VEIWS ABOUT CHRISTIANITY.

see that? i misspelled views. it wasn't a fad, it was a mistake, and i'm not going to correct it out of spite! ;-)

ZAROVE said...

ah SPITE, this shows how ever os carign Athism has made you.


As with John, you aslo make too many presumptions.

I have studied the hisotyr of Mental illness, and am Enering Psycology. But, to think that all Demon possesion accoutns int he past are really Mental Illness is unsupportable.

Your current proof base don n Autustic CHild proves only that one instance of a mental illness was misdiagnosed as an Excorsism in our times, it doesn't show that the accoutns of Demon possession in the ancient world where the same thing. It doens't even shwo that all modern Demon possession is Mental Illness.


In fact, the Catholic Church, and th Orthodox, both have Excorsists that do firts ensure that the Patient is not mentlaly ill by havign them Psycologiclaly screened. The big problem with Excorsisim today is the Amateur Excorsists, mainly Pentacostals, who think they see Demons and th Holy Spirit in every little thing.

Now I'd agree that a lot of those excorsisnms arne't Demon possesion, btu most aren't even Mental Illness. Some just have something that thye haven
t quiet worked throug, or nothign wrogn wiht them at all.

But thats the Pentacostals.


You cannot claim all Demon Possesison is relaly Mental illness, nor can you relaly prove that Historiclaly this has been the case either. The NAcient wolrd is filled with more acocutns of madness than Demon possession, so obviously they understood madness, and didnt attribute all mental imbalance with demonic activity.


As for your viw on Christanity, had it ever occured to you that not all Christians view things the way your describing?

I don't see, for instance, natural arousal as sinful. Lust is, but not natural arousal. Lust, of coruse, beign soemthign other than simple attraction, but a persistant deire for the brute actvity.

If you see an attraxtive woman, and have some native urges, this is no sin, nor shoudl you feel shame or guilt.

Neither would I as a Christian argue that you should, but would rather argue hat this is simply part of the natue you where created with.

That is also the biggest flaw I see wiht your reasoning above, and in other aricles. You seem to think adding a Scintific explanaiton for somehtign automaticllay invalidates the rleigiosu claim.

You also seem to not understand basic concepts, such as SIn, and think that all Christendom is base donr ewards and Ounishments, which isn't true. ( If you had been a Christian, and well studied in the course of the beleifs wihtin Christianity as is claimed, you should know this.)


When you say this...

"that since we have biological bases for behavior that heavily influence our freewill, the dichotomy of reward and punishment rather than remediation is unjust because he designed us with a high potential to fail."

You show that you don't understand Christianity at all. If you hadn't noticed, the central aspext of Christianity is the Attonement. THe whole point of Christanity is the Redemption of the Human race, and we as individuals.

Redemption, not reward and punishment, is the wenture core of the Christian faith.

Yet you seem to argue aggaisnt Christainity because its base don a simplistic reward and punishment schema that is unjust and woudl expect redemption instead. What do you thinkt he whoel faith is Predecated on?

Thats the biggest flaw to your engagement and argument.

I will add mroe later.

As stated.

richdurrant said...

Christians reading this will no doubt see an inconsistency with what I'm writing now and what is in the article, but they will be characteristically overlooking qualifiers. There is no inconcistency when I say you don't control what you believe but you can influence your belief with information, however that information has to be balanced. the christians overlook the 'balanced' part. To them, only looking at christian information counts as balanced. I always point out that is how brainwashing works.

Speaking of other options, isn't this also a form of controlling what you believe? By the way there are several red underlined words here, mistakes galore! ;)

I just still get stuck in the belief that we can control what we believe, maybe not completely but to a great extent. It seems to me that something as complicated as behavior is, that an omni God would be able to at least do as good as we did with the justice system. If behavior is complex, then doesn't punishment need to be just as complex? Add in the Savior factor and that just adds to the complexity to me. Lee, for example, could live out his entire life doing all the right things and then lust after the nurse on his death bed, BAM, off to hell for you. Doesn't work for me

And for zarove I sometimes have to go back through my posts to make sure I capitalize God sometimes. I just use the "physician heal thyself" philosophy when it comes to grammar and spelling.

ZAROVE said...

I overlook mitakesn when I think they are mistakes. What I have noted, though, is a trend. Many of the Contemporary Athiests seem o think spelling god in lower case is cleaver, and do it intentionally.


Thus, what I thouht Lee was doung.


Incedentlaly, the segment of what Lee posted that you quoted does contain an interestign queasiton.

Lee seems to second-guess "The Christians" a lot. He says Christians will overloo qualifiers, or that Christians only consier Christian material as balance.

But, this surly isnt true of all Christians.

I, for example, ahve read many Non-Christian works. Alas! They grow tedious as they repeat the same arguments endlessly, so that if you have read two or three you have read the whole lot.

But I harldy limit myself to only Christian works, and indeed have Critisised some Christian works. Such as the 101 series.

I seldom to never even read AModern Apologetics works, and instead concentrate on more serious studies.

So, when Lee tends to say that Christians only consider balance Christain arguments, he is not speakign of me, and I am not the odd man out.

Its liek when John Loftus assumes somehow I've not heard the full case for his Athiesm, and chsllenged me to read his book. He woudl think perhaps that this sort of argument is new to me. Its not. Nor have I only read books that challenged such thinking.

And thats just me. I'm considered ever so vaccuous here.


I also do not ignroe qualifiers. Nor do alL Christains.

Lee is simplythinkign in Sterotypes.

And, I may add, Sterotypes that only exist to reinforce his view of those of us who isagree with him.


Now, I have yet to issue a full statement on this article, but in ue course will. I have a lot of free time latley, and so, will be at it next week.

But I'd still say that Lee is mistaken in his presentaiton.


Christianity is base dupon the Attonement of Jeuss Christ on the Cross, and acts as a Remedial Philosophy. Its design is not one of simple rewards and Punishments, but of Salvation from the grips of sin, and redemption form said sin.

We arne't merely rewarded for ou good deeds and punished for our bad,and tosse dinto Hell if our bad oughtweights our ggood. Christainity is about Forgiveness, and reformaiton of ones Chsarecter.

The very thing Lee here critisises that it lacks.

We aren't condemned for our faults, btbut Grace covers this, and we are given a mean of improving our lives and overcomign our faults. We aren't boudn by our former acitons to punishment but by Grace we can escape the wrath these acitosn bring about, by askign forgiveness of our Sins.

Thus, when Lee depicts Christianity as a System of Rewards and Punishments, and cites our failings as makignthis unjust, and sauds oen thta tends instead ot remedy the problems woudl be better, he is arguing agaisnt a Strawman.

Christainity is abotu Remedying our problems. That was the whoel poitn of it, not rewards and Ounishments.


From there, there is also the Problem of how he views sin, which seems to not be simply "Missing he Mark" or dign what one ought not.

Sin is not expeirncing an erection if yo see a pretty girl, or slihtly overeating at a family gathering.

Although Jesus did say not to look upon a woman wiht lust, and that htis is also adultery, he did not say Lust is equivlent with mere attraction.

Likewise, Gluttony asusmeds a persistant habbit.

Sin, after all, is not about involuntery reactions or occasional miscalculaitons, its abotu willfully doign that hich one knows is wrong.

But this too is ignored.

Would it be too much to ask that these be examined?

Or is that beyind the scope of such? Or did I overlook the Qualifiers?

liniasmax said...

Thanks Lee,

Not much time to write, but I appreciate your response. It's complex and interesting, much more interesting and complex than the mysterious,biblical "simplicity" that I lived for a few dacades. The complexity, in my mind, is one of the red flags. As many others have said, it should be much simpler than the myriad brain types, problems, nuances, imbalances, etc. My wife will come around... I can feel it - even though, feelings often mislead. Nevertheless, to quote old Aerosmith: "If hammer I must, I'm gonna get to the crust. Gonna chip that stone away..." And Amonymous, I hope John leaves your comment up as a testimony to the truth of Lee's article. If I were a believer, I'd pray for you...

ZAROVE said...

Assuming, of course, that Annonymous is a Christian beleiver.

No evidence avails to prove this. EVen if he is, he may also be an Internet Troll. On the other hand, he can be an Internet Troll and an Atheist.

His oost surly can't be seen as Indicative of Christian reactions, though, given that Christian psoters on htis blog don't act that way, and given how little was said and how there is no evidence of what the poster beleives or why he said what he did.

Ah well, so much for Logic and Skeptisism.

goprairie said...

On deconversion hopes: I think you have to be very careful in trying to deconvert people. People use religion for different purposes, it fulfills needs for them. For example, to deal with grief because they need to believe the will see the dead person again, church and meetings and study groups provide stability and ceremony in their lives, some people have nearly their entire social life based on their church, and so to argue that away opens a whole lot of pain.
It is often not hard to de-faith a person, because most people already have so many doubts lurking, and have made so many concessions to what their religion says they are supposed to beleive.
But the responsible way to discuss it with a person you want on 'our' side is to offer replacements and good things instead of just taking away. So instead of picking at the Bible and rules and commantments, we should be talking about real world reasons to act in ethical ways toward people. We should find things to do like getting out into awesome nature to replace the church experience for the person and learning about science to understand why the brian accepts beleifs so easily and why we behave in certain ways and so on. If the soclial life is church based, join clubs or non-religious volunteer groups and find other ways to be with people.
Then instead of taking away a religion that serves many purposes, you are giving them better truer alternatives.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Zarove,
show me some demons.
when was the last demon exorcised and who did it, and where?

I came up with facts and figures and names, now its time for you to put up or shut up. ;-) And I want you match the quality of sources that provided.

do you notice a trend in less demons these days and more mental illness? That must mean we are getting more righteous. ;-)

seriously, you should look into trend analysis before you go professional with your career as a psychologist.

and now here is what the right honorable Dist. Supt. Harvey Burnett said about my exorcism article. Harvey is preacher of some influence in his community.
"District Supt. Harvey Burnett said...

There is NO DEFENSE for doing GARBAGE like what happend to Terrance or any of those refrenced in your article.

That is MENTAL ILLNESS and a complete spiritual breakdown if not posession by those who claimed to be doing exorcisms.

I am a Christian and glad to be one. God didn't ask me to check my brain at the door especially in matters of civility and humanity. In fact, I believe that my relationship with HIM only enhanced those areas.

These acts are deplorable and deserve the full weight of civil prosecution and law and justice.

Thank you.
2:54 AM, February 02, 2008 "


zarove, you are wrong, face it.

so jesus died for our sins. we get to start over. I believed in him and I was going to heaven, I don't now and I'm going to hell. All the atonement did was supposedly give me a clean slate, it supposedly cleared up the original sin right? or am i mistaken and everyone after the atonenment gets into heaven unconditionally?


zarove, you are ignoring the fact that it is a flawed principle to make the qualification to get into heaven so hard that people do not appreciate having to do them. It breeds resentment. Even if no christian feels resentment at having to go thier whole life hiding thier homosexuality, or fighting whatever else naturally occurring "skeleton" they have in their closet, it is a flawed principle to make following the rules an impediment to the task. I have known lots of homosexuals in my life that did not take christianity seriously because of chrisitian policy. For them the impediment made it a non-starter. Thats a dumb policy when the goal is to give everyone a chance at salvation. Tell me that I have to give up my sex life and my family to belong to anything and I'm going to give up the policy maker rather than the family and my sex life.

When i was a christian I thought it was not fair that I should be able to enjoy a 'normal' sex and family life when some of my friends and associates couldn't because they were homosexual. It was when the pile of flawed principles of christianity got up to my neck, that I started to crawl my way out by trying to figure out how they ever got to be christian principles in the first place.

Yet you seem to argue aggaisnt Christainity because its base don a simplistic reward and punishment schema that is unjust and woudl expect redemption instead. What do you thinkt he whoel faith is Predecated on?
where does the redemption come from?

educate me with an example of a christian that discovers they are homosexual or pedophile, or is obsessed with pornography or overly aggressive, or bigoted or just call it "persistent sin X".

ready?

Fred is a christian and is unhappy because he is bothered by X intruding in his spiritual life.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi liniasmax,
don't christians say christianity is so simple a child can understand it?

and sorry but I deleted anonymous because it didn't add any value to the post and it wasn't clear who the stupid people they referring to were. I assumed anonymous wasn't a christian and it was directed at christians.

I might have left it had they said
"you people are fucking stupid because [insert qualifier here]".
but they didn't.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Zarove,
Ah well, so much for Logic and Skeptisism.
ooooooeeeeee,
you are hungry for some atheist butt aren't you?

great job!
Your getting better at iterating through qualifiers! You'll get there!

Lee Randolph said...

Hi goprairie,
you are right. something needs to fill the void. But I found mine on my own, I'm sure you did too.

I'm not here to deconvert anyone. I am here for the person like I used to be, looking for someone to talk to about these doubts.

I am here to provide a contrast to the "just pray about it and everything will be okay", "your doubts are normal and it is part of the test and it shows how much god loves you because he is concentrating on you", "you are a sinner but the redemptive power of jesus christ will set you free"

I'm not the one that should try to spoon-feed alternatives to anyone, because I'm sure that others would tell you that I don't have all the answers, however well they work for me.

But I recommend learning how to think straight and adopting a policy of minimizing harm so a person can reason better about how to go about doing that.

That means, to me, informal logic and philosophy sweetened with a love of wonder and how things work (science) and a childlike inqusitiveness about who I am and why I am like that (cognitive science).

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Zarove,
this is an edited comment. I deleted my other one because I got carried away with the rhetoric. ;-)

Sin, after all, is not about involuntery reactions or occasional miscalculaitons, its abotu willfully doign that hich one knows is wrong.

But this too is ignored.


thats part of it. But thats something we can control for the most part. But some people don't know they are bigots, self-centered, arrogant, insincere, two-faced hypocrites and I'm talking about christians in the middle of the redemptive whirl-wind. Some christians are happy to go about exhibiting xenophobia without realizing it and promoting harming children as witches in nigeria while other christians would rather spend resources taking a stand against condom use in that area instead of taking a stand against persecuting children as witches.

or are those "Other Christians"?

Okay, I give, I am talking about subcategories of christians because I can't prove that they are all that way. now can we get back to talking about the problem instead of pointing out that I am over generalizing and acting like it nullifies the argument?

I'm talking about good people that get tired of hearing how sinful they are when they aren't really and some self-righteous people looking down on others who are "the nasty people".

It was jesus that said if your eye causes you to sin take it out, your hand cut it off, you lust, you commit adultry. I didn't make that up. Even if the eye-poking and hand-chopping was metaphorical, the message is clear. You sin when you can't help it and your are guilty and you need jesus to fix it.

my assertion is that to build that into us undermines the process of choosing not to sin and nullifies freewill. it is a kind of sabotage. Like when a kid plays a game and gets bored and starts sabotaging it to see the cars crash, or the boats sink, or plugs up the hole in the ant hill, or puts a bug in the middle of an ant hill, etc.

or throws sheep in among wolves.

I quote from the article
Since the brain is a biological device. It can be influenced by physiological factors, and physiological factors induce desire and motivation. Since we cannot get outside of our thoughts and feelings, they make up our personality our "essence". This renders any judgment by an external supernatural creator meaningless because it would know that we are helpless to feel any other way than our physiological make up will support at the time, and that our behavior and desire will follow that. We are helpless to think any thoughts that are not supported by our physiological make up at the time. The physiological factors would have to be eliminated to make any judgment meaningful.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi rich,
Lee, for example, could live out his entire life doing all the right things and then lust after the nurse on his death bed, BAM, off to hell for you. Doesn't work for me
I am taking the christian side here for a second but I think that is a little too simplified don't you? ;-)

Something I didn't point out in the article that I should have is that since there are biological bases for behavior, it could be that atheists have no real choice but to be atheists in the same sense that creative thinkers have no choice in thinking creative thoughts.

It is likely that some are "wired" to be less susceptible to belief not supported by a certain level of criteria for evidence.

BBB makes it plausible that 85% of the world are ABLE to believe, but 15% aren't. You would be in that 85% and I would be in that 15%.

that would be supported by a predestination theology would it not?

goprairie said...

Lee: I was not challenging you or this site - by the time people get here, they are asking for it. They are looking for reasons to support their deconversion that has already happened, for logic and intellectual backup. I was attempting to offer assistance to Liniasmax in regards to concerns about family members and friends. When one is a fresh deconvert, it is tempting to be excited about finding out the truth and wanting to share that and to get carried away with being right and smart and logical and scientific - and when we do that, we forget that others might not be as ready to let go as we are and so i was offering a pattern of thinking about it, as a thing that provides benefits, and a way to work on it gently, by helping provide replacement benefits.

goprairie said...

"I'm talking about good people that get tired of hearing how sinful they are when they aren't really"
This is one of the things that got to me as a parent of young children. They were innocent and natural and ruled by instincts that were key to human survival and the church we were attending wanted me to tell these sweet kind fair precious joy-filled beings that they were inherently bad? And needed Jesus to fix them? I just couldn't do it and my agnosticism was doomed from then on.

District Supt. Harvey Burnett said...

Well Lee,

I must hand it to you, at least you're not afraid to say what you believe. I'm sorry for you and your views so much until I placed a detailed refutation of your more poignant fallacies on one of my web sites. I've enclosed the links below:

http://dunamis2.wordpress.com/atheism-the-blind-religion-pt-1/

http://dunamis2.wordpress.com/atheism-the-blind-religion-pt-2/

To give you a little of what I said regarding this, here's at least 2 ponts that yor world view doesn't allow you to deal with as rationally as you might think:

Lee said ~“It may be that these factors cannot really be appreciated until they are put under stress or do not work properly. Many times the result is behavior that is outside the norm and/or doesn’t meet our expectations. How much culpability does a person have when the tools they are given are not adequate for the task at hand?”

My response is : The author produces this question in concert with his assertions that we are no more than material beings. The question to ask this author in response to his assertions are, “Do you believe the murderer should be held accountable for his actions? Do you believe the one who breaks into your house, steals your goods or rapes your wife and children should be held accountable? Do you believe that the alcoholic that kills a child while driving drunk should be held responsible for their actions? Based this author’s materialistic worldview and deliberations on free-will found here NOONE should be held accountable for any crime committed.)

Lee said:~“If god made us, then obviously he is responsible for our architecture. The bible says we prefer sin, and using the definition of sin in the bible, it seems to be true. But what is sin? Who decides what sin is? Is sin being promiscuous or overeating? Human beings would have never survived if they did not act this way. It is necessary behavior in the survival of organisms to procreate as much as they can and eat when they can find food. Natural Selection has filtered this behavior to prominence because those organisms that behaved that way, passed on more copies of themselves, their genes.”

My response is:(Though this may seem innocuous to many, the author intentionally misrepresents scripture to build synergy and agreement for his presupposition. He offers that the Bible says that we “prefer sin” and that it’s observation “seems to be true”. The bible actually says this, John 3:19-21, “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.” The scripture clearly outline the process of and results of loving sin. Jesus said that men love darkness because their “deeds” were evil not because, as the author suggests, that they are “predisposed” or fatalistically determined to do so. Once again, the author’s view of fatalism is necessary to conclude his presupposition. Another disturbing suggestion here is that somehow bad behavior and human faults are inherited through the genome and as such are justifiable as traits that are naturally selected for the survival of the species. This leads to his justification of racism, hedonism, and other immoral behaviors as being necessary for humanity to survive. I hope society never accepts the premise that murder, molestation, rape, etc are a necessary part of society as the author suggests.)

FROM PAGE 2:

(When speaking of sexuality Mr. Randolph says this,) “I don’t buy it because I know that pheromones or at least something that is given off by an individual has an effect on arousal.”

(Once again there is no moral culpability only material and matrialistic thought. Therefore men if your wife leaves the house and sleeps with another man, don’t get angry, just blame it on those darn pheromones. Women, don’t blame your husband it was the pheromones that got him….YEA RIGHT!)

I think I'll let you read the rest and ooh yea, I will be back...don't worry about that.

God help the weak and feeble that believe atheist an agnostic teaching.

liniasmax said...

Thanks for input, GoPrairie. We will have to look for positive alternatives. I have already given this much thought, but living in a smaller Georgia-mountain town, there aren't many alternatives. I keep status quo, because I love my Christian friends and my Sunday school class(that I still co-teach). In my situation, I find it best to take Voltaire's advice: "One of the best uses for language is to hide one's thoughts" (loose quotation there). I must have good control of that function, because I hide them well. If I didn't, we would lose our whole support group and the group would probably put undue strain on my wife. Sad, but true - when you think that way, nothing is more important that casting your crown in the afterlife, not even the good, tangible stuff we have here in each other. District sup. Harvey would fire me if he found out I worked in his district.

Liniasmax

liniasmax said...

Hey - my last comment didn't make the cut (probably flew away). Anyway - thanks Goprarie and Lee. Wow, Mr. District Superintendent. Was that Lee's argument you attacked or the scarecrow you built to vaguely resemble him? I'm sure he'll respond, but I'll say that the reason we get to have all this philosophical fun (IMHO) is because we don't have a God to take all the joy away. We're kind of doing it ourselves, just like the biblical w.riters

I have one for you: There was a lady dying of cancer in our church and all she wanted to do was make it until her son's wedding. We had mega-prayer - thousands of people praying. You know what happened? - the family ended up, at the last minute, when they saw she wasn't going to make it, going ahead and having the wedding a few weeks early. On Saturday was the wedding and she was dead the following Monday. Now, it doesn't take a genious to figure out that cancer does what it does, and on it's own time-table. Does God answer prayer? Why of course, and most of the time the answer is "NO". That's why the few hands working beat the thousands folded in prayer. "God says no" is not even close to reasonable. The wisdom of God is not foolishness to them that are perishing, it's letters forming symbols that have shifting meaning printed in a very old book. It's foolishness as soon as it is taken to be the bottom line for temporal or eternal bliss.

Now, when you build a scarecrow to look like me, make sure and give him a nice profile before you butcher him.

ZAROVE said...

Lee-

I told you I was in no position to offer a full, detailed responce at the moment, as other tasks preoccupied me.

Butm a few comments.


1: On Annonymous, you claim thaty I ignroed Qualifiers. What Qualifiers? I merley stated that thee is no reaosn to beelive he was a Christian, much less ot think eb vendicated the origional post you made.

On this you even agreed.

That also said, STaid British Sarcasm shoudln't be confised with eagerness ot tear into anyone else.

2: Actually there hasn't been a deop in Demon possession records. If you'd bother to study Hisotry you'd realise that this was always seen as a Rare Phoenomenon.

Nor an increase in Mental Illness. Madness was always recognised andnot always blamed on Demons.

3: I did stick ot the main topic.

Your critisism of Christianity is that it doesn't reflect Humanity as it truly is udnertsood by Modenr sicne and it sbasic principle of Reward and Punshment is wrong sicne we have ever so much ot get int h ay of living a perfect life.

The better an dmroe raitnal option shoudl be Remedy to our plight, not rewardign good deeds whilst punishign bad ones.

Well, that is what CHristainity does, and has wlays tsught, in case you hadn't notivced. The enture theology of the Attonement is abotu remedy, not reard and Punishment, as is the hwoel proccess of Reconciliairton.

4: The Doctirne of Original Sin is an obsticle in yor argument, not soemthign you can use as a Favour. Most Christians ( but by no means all, see poitn 5) beleive we are born innatelysinful, andhtta htis doens't change upon conversion to Christianity.

Since we are always prone to sinfulness, no Christian theology teaches we ought to lead perfect livs else be damned, and further acts as proof agaisnt your premise.

Most do see Christ deaht as a Remey fo r our inatel sinful natures inehrited form adam, and htus it still becomes rather abotu rmedy.

Worse, your use of Biological Statistics only shows limitaitosn on Humanity, and their manifestations, which could be udnerstood as consistant with a Sinful Nature.

So it seems you are ocnfirming this doctirne of Original Sin to those who woudl hild to it.


4: That said, I'm still fromt he Church of CHrist, so I don't even beleiv ein Original Sin. I do not think we are Born with a Sinful Nature or guilty of Adams sin. We are guilty of our own sins.

Nevertheless, sinc ei sisuspect you don't rea dmy posts fully, but have just decided ot scoff at me ( perhaos with the asistance in image ofrm others) I doubt you'll read this poitn with any clerity.

However, sicne I did address the poitn wihtotu ignorign wualifiers inthe rpeviosu post abotu Redemption, I doubt you'll read htis either.


Thus, I'll say again.

I will respond in full on a later date, some time this week.

I hope you realise the brevity in these responces is largley the result of the outside factors I have rpreviosuly mentioned.

Andy/Drew/Andrew said...

> But what is sin? Who decides what sin is? Is sin being promiscuous or overeating?

Well, the Bible clearly defines sin in several places. Sin in it's general form is defined by the spirit of the 10 commandments (though you can look also at 1Cor 6:9-10, Rev 21:8 and others for more specifics). What is meant by the spirit of the 10C, one can look at the sermon on the mount in Matthew 5-7 and see how Jesus expounds upon them. For example, the 10C says that you shall not commit adultery, but Jesus says that looking with lust is the same as adultery. So in that case, if lusting is adultery, then promiscuity is sin. Overeating may be sin, but it's not a moral issue, but one of conscience.

Somebody already handled the arousal issue, but I'll only add that I've heard it said that you can't control what birds fly over your head, but you can stop them from building a nest. You cannot control what you desire so much as you can control the fruits of those desires, i.e. whether or not to act or ruminate on them.

As for the confusion relating to why Christianity says all people are bad, I'll add this: that the Bible says we're desperately wicked. That sounds a bit harsh, but ask yourself the following questions:
Have you ever told a lie? Statistically, men tell 4 lies/day, women 3. So for a 60 year old person that works out to (for men) 87600 in a lifetime.
Have you ever looked with lust? Statistically, men think about sex 6 times a minute. For the sake of argument, we'll say that for even a married man, that only 1 of them is unlawful, so that'd be about 21,000,000 total, assuming 16 waking hours/day for a lifetime of 60 years.
Have you ever stolen anything, even if it was small? Like downloading illegal software or music, cheating in business, etc.?
Have you used the Lord's name (even if you don't believe in Him) in vain? Including diminutive forms like gosh, golly, gee, geez, etc. (they're euphemisms for God).
Have you ever hated anyone? The Bible equates hatred with murder.

So taking into account that these are only 5 of the ten commandments, the number of offenses against God is.... shall we say, large... The bible says that it is appointed for us to die and then face judgement. If you were in a court of law with this many offenses -- whether you agree with them or not -- you wouldn't have a chance and the judge would throw the book at you. And if God judged you based on the 5 commandments I went through, you'd be guilty, and the just judge that God is would have to punish you. And frankly, let's be honest, if you've wanted nothing to do with God in your life, it would be reasonable that He wouldn't want anything to do with you in the afterlife.

But this is where the news sounds the worst, but it gets a whole lot better. Contrary to that weirdo baptist church that protests funerals and the like, God doesn't relish in sending sinners to Hell, but if He's just, He has to. But that's why He sent Jesus to come down in the flesh and suffer on our behalf, so that instead of the judgment falling on us, as we deserve for our offenses against Him, He provided a substitute in Christ, so that the punishment that was due us, fell upon Him, our only requirement is to repent from the sins we committed and believe that His sacrifice was sufficient. We broke the law, God provided a payment so that we could go free, but we must humble ourselves to receive it.

That's why, as a Christian, repentance wouldn't cause stress or depression, because we know that's not where it ends. The bible talks about the peace that surpasses all understanding, and even when we sin, we know we're forgiven (if we've repented and put our faith in Jesus). As for low self-esteem, well, God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble. I'm not so sure that high self esteem is a good thing -- who likes a prideful person?

One thing I want to clarify is what faith in Jesus is because I've seen it bungled badly. The commonly accepted faith, if applied to a parachute, would have the person acknowledging the parachute and jumping out of the plane without parachute. The bible says that even demons have that faith. True faith would have one putting on (i.e. putting their trust in) the parachute.

Also, if you want to have a universe, you ultimately have to have a *reasonable* answer to where it came from. The current atheistic point that currently is: there was nothing, which somehow produced a whole lot of something, and that something exploded and became everything frankly requires more faith than faith in God and would be a bigger miracle than anything the Bible states. Try to even consider nothing. You can't, because as soon as you think of nothing, there's something. Something in this universe never comes from nothing (or we should all wait for our garages to spontaneously fill with gold), nor can the universe be eternal as the laws of physics state (think law of entropy), but an eternal God that exists outside of space and time very easily and adequately explains it.

liniasmax said...

I'm going to try and comment on Andrew's comment. Andrew, I like you because you remind me of me. You say things that I used to say, but you say them a little better. I'll try to answer some of your points from my perspective, keeping in mind, this is my own imperfect understanding of things.

ANDREW: For example, the 10C says that you shall not commit adultery, but Jesus says that looking with lust is the same as adultery.

ME: But one can honestly disagree - no one gets hurt by thoughts, unless thoughts become action or lack thereof... this "sin can be anything" angle becomes the ultimate fear strategy and the perfect tool for manipulation.

ANDREW: So in that case, if lusting is adultery, then promiscuity is sin.

ME: Heck - in this system, anything done in the wrong "spirit" is sin

ANDREW: Somebody already handled the arousal issue, but I'll only add that I've heard it said that you can't control what birds fly over your head, but you can stop them from building a nest. You cannot control what you desire so much as you can control the fruits of those desires, i.e. whether or not to act or ruminate on them.

ME: This seems to be going toward what Lee said - you can't control desires (even though they are "sin"), but you can control how you react...but that's too late in the God view - you had the desire, bad human.

ANDREW: As for the confusion relating to why Christianity says all people are bad, I'll add this: that the Bible says we're desperately wicked.

ME: And it's also wicked to disagree with this erroneous biblical judgment - the Bible sets up a not-so-true situation and offers a not-at-all-true solution with threat (fear) as the guarantee...

ANDREW: That sounds a bit harsh, but ask yourself the following questions:
Have you ever told a lie?

ME: Yep, but scientific research from an evolutionary angle makes a case that some lies serve a beneficial purpose from a natural selection standpoint.

ANDREW: Statistically, men tell 4 lies/day, women 3. So for a 60 year old person that works out to (for men) 87600 in a lifetime.

ME:So?

ANDREW: Have you ever looked with lust? Statistically, men think about sex 6 times a minute. For the sake of argument, we'll say that for even a married man, that only 1 of them is unlawful, so that'd be about 21,000,000 total, assuming 16 waking hours/day for a lifetime of 60 years.

ME: And...?

ANDREW: Have you ever stolen anything, even if it was small? Like downloading illegal software or music, cheating in business, etc.?

ME: Stealing - now we are getting into the public domain of morality. I've got no problem here.

ANDREW: Have you used the Lord's name (even if you don't believe in Him) in vain? Including diminutive forms like gosh, golly, gee, geez, etc. (they're euphemisms for God).

ME: Which God's name? Those "euphenisms" no longer carry that baggage. They are just things people say - they've lost their initial weight...

ANDREW: Have you ever hated anyone? The Bible equates hatred with murder.

ME: The Bible is very wrong on this one. This is artificial - this serves the self-preservation of the religion itself (Didn't Dawkins come up with this - the meme idea - help me guys, I'm a little new at this).


ANDREW: So taking into account that these are only 5 of the ten commandments, the number of offenses against God is.... shall we say, large... The bible says that it is appointed for us to die and then face judgement.

ME: This is arbitrary...It doesn't have to be this way and it's mostly those dastardly "revealed" religions that go in this oppressive direction

ANDREW: If you were in a court of law with this many offenses -- whether you agree with them or not -- you wouldn't have a chance and the judge would throw the book at you.

ME: If the judge were the thought police, that is - Oh, that's right, God is that way...

ANDREW: And if God judged you based on the 5 commandments I went through, you'd be guilty, and the just judge that God is would have to punish you. And frankly, let's be honest, if you've wanted nothing to do with God in your life, it would be reasonable that He wouldn't want anything to do with you in the afterlife.

ME: Yes, and let's qualify that with all the "if - then" structures. And I'm glad you mentioned "afterlife" - without that juicy tidbit, we probably wouldn't be going through any of this.

ANDREW: God doesn't relish in sending sinners to Hell, but if He's just, He has to.

ME: Why does He have to and how do you know He's not happy, or at least numbed to it after all this time? We don't even understand this HOLY stuff - mainly because you gotta piece it together by letting "Scripture interpret Scripture" - which is a giant red-flag necessity. Why - Why - Why? Paul and Deutero-Pauline "Who are you oh man..." threats ring so hollow and so dark and evil that I can't believe I walked this walk for 20+ years...

ANDREW: But that's why He sent Jesus to come down in the flesh and suffer on our behalf,

ME: To give us an opportunity to escape the artificial situation. Words - words - words (and old ones at that)

ANDREW: That's why, as a Christian, repentance wouldn't cause stress or depression, because we know that's not where it ends.

ME: I tell you what - it ends when reality doesn't ever match the words and that finally wears on the poor person. And just because you have no stress (lucky genes) from it, doesn't mean it's not stressful for many others. It's called differences in personality. It screams that one size can't fit all...





ANDREW:ne thing I want to clarify is what faith in Jesus is because I've seen it bungled badly.

ME: Just because it's not clear - people have to make it up as they go...

And sorry, I'm tired, so I didn't quite understand the demon skydiving analogy.

ANDREW: Also, if you want to have a universe, you ultimately have to have a *reasonable* answer to where it came from.

ME: Agreed - but is the "Gap, then God" thing the default position?

ANDREW: You can't, because as soon as you think of nothing, there's something. Something in this universe never comes from nothing (or we should all wait for our garages to spontaneously fill with gold), nor can the universe be eternal as the laws of physics state (think law of entropy), but an eternal God that exists outside of space and time very easily and adequately explains it.

ME: And creates problems all it's own. Who created God - Like you said, something never comes from nothing...

This is why I flirt with deism, but even that has baggage... better to just not know... and don't even mention Pascal's wager.. .

Good night to all.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Zarove,
don't worry I read your posts fully. I've figured out a little algorithm to use and some patterns of typing you have that help and i'm gettting faster. And i take you seriously, and I treat you like everyone else. I don't take it personally and I hope you don't either.

I'll wait for your response, but I'm only going to participate in this thread till next weekend.

Lee Randolph said...

my apologies goprairie,
I have seen other people say that atheists need to provide an alternative. I thought that was what you were saying.

I agree the alternative is needed but like i said.....

I wonder if school isn't the way to go. I know that I love to learn, and I wouldn't mind going to a "church of Reason" every sunday to work out if there are any absolute morals, what contexts are valid for what moral or economic or socialogical theory etc

the "church" could have lectures from experts in their field from the community. AA has a model for meetings that has some features that work for them and provide some longevity, such as having speakers, socials, people sharing stories about dilemmas etc.

Not that I'm an alcoholic, It was mandatory that I participate in AA meetings for a year to get my certificate in facilitating personal responsibility seminars. I am used to having to defend positions that a group of 10 to 20 people sitting in a circle don't want to hear. I have more leeway here....;-)

Lee Randolph said...

HI Harvey,
Thanks for the invitation to visit your sites, I will, but I probably won't carry this over there. I hardly have the time I need to meet my commitments here.

Based this author’s materialistic worldview and deliberations on free-will found here NOONE should be held accountable for any crime committed.)
I have to agree with liniamax, that was pretty robust strawman. I think I'll call it Ken.
You must have missed this part of the article, so I'll let it slide. Please go back and read it then please modify your rejoinder.
"None of this is laid out for understanding in the Bible. It was all misunderstood. Western Judicial Systems are on the edge of a cognitive science wind of change about why we behave the way we do and thinking about our culpability. At an AAAS Conference, Judges Explored the Impact of Neuroscience on the Justice system. They realize, as we all should, that the line between the essence of who we are and the biological factors tossing that essence about is getting shown be blurred. "
see, this addresses the problem of culpability. Of course I don't think that pedophilic child murderers or the person that steals my car should go unpunished. But I do want you to notice the distinction between human legal punishment and allmighty supernatural lake of fire punishment. there really is no comparison so that it is a faulty analogy.

my point is this. Rather than say that the car thief is a bad person, I'd rather we see what's going on with them and try to fix it. If jail time is warranted, then jail time is given. If the pedophile has a brain tumor, then he gets surgery and monitored for recurrence. Its pretty common sense and I'd think you as a christian would see the value in not judging hastily. I would also say that my solution could help untangle the question of racism in law enforcement.

Jesus said that men love darkness because their “deeds” were evil not because, as the author suggests, that they are “predisposed” or fatalistically determined to do so.
Your argument against the EVIDENCE is scripture?
well, for one thing, what Jesus said is in dispute even between scriptures. Another thing is that Jesus evidently put a lot of value on OT scripture which is a cultural variation of Egyptian and Mesopotamian writings. If you don't agree with that, then you have to admit that you have assume that god exists to get him into a position to help write the bible, or inspire it or whatever. In which case christianity is a slippery slope based on an assumption. The christian Bible is the only place where we get a description of the Christian God. The Jews think christians are misrepresenting it, the muslims think the same thing. The hindus have their god that which predates all religion, whose name has a striking resemblance to Abraham.

Once again there is no moral culpability only material and matrialistic thought. Therefore men if your wife leaves the house and sleeps with another man, don’t get angry, just blame it on those darn pheromones. Women, don’t blame your husband it was the pheromones that got him….YEA RIGHT!)
you are ignoring a qualifier, that you could have used against me. You could have 'hit' me for not mentioning self-discipline. for example,
SELF-DISCIPLINE WITHOUT OBSESSING OVER AN INTANGIBLE SUPERNATURAL PROBLEM.

My first wife slept around on me, my christian forgiveness and belief in a 'love for life' and forgiving caused me to tolerate it, then she left me, my second wife thinks my first was stupid and I was stupid for taking it for so long. Personally, I think something misfired in #1's head because by the time she left me she was a different person. So I know what its like, but I don't think she's a 'bad person', even though I don't trust her because, in my opinion, her judgement is dubious.

Harvey, we are all broke, there is no doubt, but its nothing supernatural, If it were supernatural we shouldn't be broke for reasons I stated in the article. It is the result of "large number" probability and a heck of a long period of time that we are here. No more than that.

I am disappointed at your tone
God help the weak and feeble that believe atheist an agnostic teaching.
You sound xenophobic. ;-)
LIke I said, the next time you go to the hospital, you praise god for all those feeble minds that belong to the NAS, NSF, The Royal Academy, etc, that discovered the science that is being applied to you to give you some relief. Its not jesus answering your prayers, it is the secular community.

By using the internet as a medium for your message, you are using tools created by the secular community, if you don't believe me, go look up what instructions executing in UNIX are called. They are called daemons. I don't think very many christians would have let that slide.

zilch said...

liniasmax- good answer to Andrew. I'd like to expand upon the lust issue (one of my favorites).

While I'm not a Bible scholar, the language in Matthew 5:28 seems pretty clear:

But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.

Some apologists claim that the Greek verb translated here as "lust", "epithumeo", means more than simple desire: according to them, it means the wish to possess what is unlawful to possess, a woman who is not one's wife. By their reckoning, sexual arousal is not "lusting after". I imagine Andrew would agree with this interpretation.

But that does not seem to be the meaning here, imho. In the first place, the Greek word means literally "to set the heart upon, to covet, to desire". The same verb comes up in other places in the Bible, for instance in Luke 17:22, where it is translated "desire":

And he said unto the disciples, The days will come, when ye shall desire to see one of the days of the Son of man, and ye shall not see it.

So I would rather incline to the opinion that Jesus was condemning any thoughts of lust, especially when one considers passages such as Matthew 5:29:

And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast [it] from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not [that] thy whole body should be cast into hell.

But who can say exactly how far a desire must go before it's a sin? If I look at a woman and think to myself that she is attractive, is that sin? What if I look at her body? Imagine holding her? Where do you draw the line?

This, it seems to me, is a very general problem with the whole concept of "sin", which goes along with the thrust of Lee's article: there is no reasonable place to draw lines between acts that are "sinful" or "not sinful". It's much more reasonable to toss the concept of sin, see that the world is not black and white, and learn as much as we can how to live with one another as best we can.

To close, here's a gem I discovered looking around the web, written by a wandering monk named Freidank ("freethink") in the early thirteenth century:

diu bant mac nieman vinden,
diu mîne gedanke binden.
man vâhet wîp unde man,
gedanke niemen gevâhen kan

My translation:

no one can find the bond
that can bind my thoughts.
one can catch woman and man,
no one can catch thoughts.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi andy,
Thanks for your comments. It was great contribution to provide a succinct summary of sin for us.

We are saying the same thing. Its just that I am pointing out that if god made us he skewed the odds in favor of failure. He has made it such we are crippled from the start, and have to play catch up to get back to him. He has built into us factors that interfere with our freewill.

What you wrote and I have excerpted below reminds of the Health and beaty industry. They play on womens self-esteem and desire to be desirable, wherever it comes from, exaggerate the normal stuff into the ugly and then sell the solution.
see what I mean below.

Jesus says that looking with lust is the same as adultery
There is no hope, you are not good enough on your own, you need some help.

You cannot control what you desire so much as you can control the fruits of those desires, i.e. whether or not to act or ruminate on them.
You can't control what you are so you have to manipulate it in a pleasing way. Whatever you do don't be ugly. Make sure you wear the right makeup. Moisturize, stay away from the chocolate, only eat the healthy snacks which we have for sale

that the Bible says we're desperately wicked.
Maybe you are desperately wicked, but no one would describe me that way. Speak for yourself.

Have you ever told a lie?
If I tell a lie that is morally just, does it take away from my running total? When my grandmother was dying of cancer in the face and choking on her snot, and asked me "Why doesn't he take me? What am I supposed to do?" I had to tell her, "I don't know mamaw. He's got his reasons. Maybe what your going through is for the benefit of someone else." I lied to her face.

Have you ever looked with lust?
yea buddy, pant, pant, but I don't do squat with it, and I don't need a god to make that happen.

Have you ever stolen anything, even if it was small?
I steal kisses from my spouse, does that count? ;-) I know what you mean and I'm not answering without my lawyer. But no. Nothing that would even get me fined, or lose a friend over.

Have you used the Lord's name (even if you don't believe in Him) in vain? Including diminutive forms like gosh, golly, gee, geez, etc. (they're euphemisms for God).
Now this is rich. Not only are our thoughts monitored, but our language? If I think it i'm done anyway, so who cares about the language?

Have you ever hated anyone? The Bible equates hatred with murder.
What is the differnece between dislike and hate? Maybe I hate but I don't know because I have a severe dislike of christians that today persecute children as witches while others discourage condom use in the same country.

If you were in a court of law with this many offenses -- whether you agree with them or not -- you wouldn't have a chance and the judge would throw the book at you.
Dude, in a court of law these would not be offenses because with the exception of stealing, they don't do any harm to anyone.

if you've wanted nothing to do with God in your life, it would be reasonable that He wouldn't want anything to do with you in the afterlife.
Not so fast. How can you tell me with a straight face that a god loves me more than the sparrow yet made me with all these faults that drive me from him, and cause me angst similar to pauls thorn in the flesh, and then only answers prayer sometimes (and I'm not talking about selfish prayer so don't go there), would let me convince myself that he doesn't exist so that I'm going to burn in hell when it is within his power to come down here and rough me up like Jacob ran roughshod over him to give me something to beleive in. ABSURD.
next.

God doesn't relish in sending sinners to Hell, but if He's just, He has to.
hmmmmm, lets see, I tell my kid don't play with fire, yet I don't take any action to prevent it except to cut myslef till I bleed in some kind of ritual of atonement and he seriously burns himself. Yep he got what he deserved.
NOT.

But that's why He sent Jesus to come down in the flesh and suffer on our behalf, so that instead of the judgment falling on us, as we deserve for our offenses against Him, He provided a substitute in Christ, so that the punishment that was due us, fell upon Him, our only requirement is to repent from the sins we committed and believe that His sacrifice was sufficient.

Lets play a little word subsitution to try to illustrate how silly that was.

But that's why He sent Bob to come down in the flesh and suffer on our behalf, so that instead of the judgment falling on us, as we deserve for our having things pop into our heads that we can't control like lust, hate or severe dislike, lying when it causes harm, illegally downloading songs, or using his name improperly, which are offences against Him, He provided a substitute in Bob, so that the punishment that was due us, fell upon Bob, our only requirement is to be sorry about sins we committed and believe that Bobs sacrifice was sufficient.
Sure, let someone else take heat, for things that I haven't even done yet.
Not only that, but lets kill Bob in a horrible way in your place because you think bad thougts. Now all you have to do is be sorry you think bad thoughts that never go away, so you will stay sorry till you die, and then you get to go to heaven and be entertained by the suffering of the wicked as described by Aquinas.
Nice.
Not.

That's why, as a Christian, repentance wouldn't cause stress or depression, because we know that's not where it ends.
Have you heard anything about Mother Teresa's letters? Are you familiar with the term "dark night of the soul"?

The bible talks about the peace that surpasses all understanding,
Again, "Dark night of the soul".

and even when we sin, we know we're forgiven (if we've repented and put our faith in Jesus).
I guess for christians, downloading songs illegally isn't really that bad is it? You believe in christ and you love him. Whats a little transgression as long as you believe in Jesus? Thats all he really wants, he expects you to be weak. Your forgiven anyway.
Nice. I wish the law system worked that way.

As for low self-esteem, well, God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble. I'm not so sure that high self esteem is a good thing -- who likes a prideful person?
Having healthy self-esteem is hardly prideful. Snap out of it.

One thing I want to clarify is what faith in Jesus is because I've seen it bungled badly.
But not you. Other Christians.

Also, if you want to have a universe, you ultimately have to have a *reasonable* answer to where it came from.
like from the being you have to assume exists to get him into a position to help write or inspire the bible?

The current atheistic point that currently is: there was nothing, which somehow produced a whole lot of something, and that something exploded and became everything frankly requires more faith than faith in God and would be a bigger miracle than anything the Bible states.
not quite. but close. your missing some qualifiers. They can tell you all about it at the planetarium.

Something in this universe never comes from nothing (or we should all wait for our garages to spontaneously fill with gold), nor can the universe be eternal as the laws of physics state (think law of entropy), but an eternal God that exists outside of space and time very easily and adequately explains it.
God didn't used to exist outside of time and space, thats a modern concept. In fact in deuteronomy the people were directed to bury thier poop so that god didn't step in it.

Thranil said...

zarove,

I had to stop reading your posts due to the terrible spelling and grammar. I want to believe that you have something intelligent to say, but when it is so poorly formed, I find myself skipping your posts. Please take more time and care in making sure what you write is readable.

ZAROVE said...

You know, the "God not stepping in dung" claim isn't valid. It does shwo where your minds are.

The actual passage is far different in cope than you pretend it here. Details will have o be forgone thouh as I had made a pre-written post.

That said, now on to the prepared statement.

*********

IF you shall not be responding after this week, then john Loftus will be on hold, and I shall engage his summery argument another time.

As for your Article, It is divided into two segments. I shall thus make three, in order to address each segment separately, as well as to clarify the position I am arguing from.


I am not arguing to defend Christianity in this set of posts, nor should you think this is how this set of responses is lined up. Rather, I am critical of the reasoning behind your argument, and I would say that it is based upon a false premise.

Thus, my argument is with the logic you display, and from this I am arguing against your article. It is thus not my intention to attempt an apologetics exercise into why Christianity is true. That said, if new questions crop up in regards to what I say below, please save them for future articles, as I am concentrating only upon what you have written above in the article, and in how they do not reflect the truth about what Christianity teaches. I am not defending the statements I make about the theology of Christianity except to the extent of showing this is what Christians believe, when you get it wrong, or else saying that, based upon what Christians believe, or what you have said they believe, your argument is not sufficient to disprove it. In fact, in one way it seems to confirm some Christian claims.

Also, I had nothing else to do, so I had this post, and the next two, corrected. I cannot afford by time and practical expense this often, so enjoy while you can.

Also, when I quote you, I shall put your words in Bold Italics.

This way we can distinguish a quote form you while at the same time I shall be able ot use bold or Italics to emphasise my own words.


I am also going to be systematic in the evaluation of this article, and present it point-for-point. Therefore the posts may be long.

I will also extensively quote the Bible, again, not to simply say “It is written so you must believe it” but to prove a practical point about what is believed or said, to see if your claims can be justified either in claims regarding what Christians believe , or claims about what would discredit such a belief.


That said, I shall present my three posts shortly.

Likely the first shall be tonight or tomorrow.

goprairie said...

lee, liniusmax, regarding alternatives: I am not proposing an organized alternative to 'church' because we would get into just an many arguments over fine points as they do, but I was saying that religion serves needs and that is why it has survived. More study and attention should to be paid those needs that it serves to understand how to more effectively free people from it.
I myself have had no problem finding things out there. The need for social gathering can be met with all sorts of clubs. I joined a natural landscaping club and we have informational meetings but also are involved in garden walks and tours of natural areas and volunteer work days that are a chance to 'give back'. That feeling of being part of the world and making things better is another thing that attracts people to religion and can be found by volunteering at schools, libraries, museums, parks and forest preserves and natural areas or just by taking your own walks and picking up litter, by volunteering at shelters and habitat for humanity and so on - such opportunties are out there and can fill a void, and even make a person feel like MORE of a contributor than religion in the long run. Church itself provides that sense of awe with the ceremony and the music, but is it not hard for me at all to find greater awe on a walk in the woods or prairie or just looking at flowers of insects in a city park. Sometimes it is hard to resist acrediting the awe to god, but then i come home and research something I saw, like a specific tree or the interactions of the ecosystem or something about an insect I saw, and I place that awe in science instead of god. It is much more interesting and fulfilling to learn the working of nature than to endlessly try to make sense of the bible, for example. There are plenty of wonderful and interesting things in the world, but to use them to help fill the loss that can accompany deconversion, we have to understand the nature of that loss first by understanding what we got out of the religios experience and actively finding it in other part of life. It IS there for the taking! And it is wonderful!

ZAROVE said...

Thranil said...

zarove,

I had to stop reading your posts due to the terrible spelling and grammar.


Why is it that those who notice that my spelling is bad critisise my spelling and grammer?

My Grammer is not really bad. It snot like if ones spelling is bad, ones grammer is. Of course, you seem to link my spelling errors to my intellegence.

But havingstated that I am a Dyslexic, that pretty well clarifies why my Spelling is bad.

But where is my grammer at fault?



I want to believe that you have something intelligent to say, but when it is so poorly formed, I find myself skipping your posts.


Actually, if you did read my posts, you'd realise that, other than the ruch jobs done because I lakc time, they are well formed.

My spelling , as I said, is terrible because of DYslexia.

My Grammer is not bad. Peopel who think thatthose who can't spell also lack the intellegence to form sentneces and thus deduce that they lack the capacity to form compelxe thoughts make well too many asusmptions.

Its also interestign that your wenture post is an Ad Hominim attack on me. You make no relevant ocntriution.

The Irony is, John has put me on moderation simply because, even though he claism I am afraid of the truth, et all, and has told others hwo I lack substance, he seems rather uninterested in giving me postign freedom.

Yet peopel like you can post with impunity.




Please take more time and care in making sure what you write is readable.


Im a proffessional author, and my grammer and presentaiton sint the problem at all.

My spellign is, and unless I do what Im doign now in tis thread and email the posst in advance to another to edit, thats harldy goign to happen.

Note: The editor I selected only corrects the spelling.

If my spelling and grammer where bad, the editor woudln't correct the grammer.

THis means my posst shoud be poorly worded as well as poorly spelled. THier not.

Andy/Drew/Andrew said...

liniasmax:
Appreciate the comments. It's nice to have reasonable conversation about this stuff.

liniasmax: Heck - in this system, anything done in the wrong "spirit" is sin

Now you've got it. That's exactly it. The converse is not true though. Bad things done in the correct spirit are still wrong.

liniasmax: This seems to be going toward what Lee said - you can't control desires (even though they are "sin"), but you can control how you react...but that's too late in the God view - you had the desire, bad human.

That's not quite right. Being tempted to sin is different than committing sin. Example: say you're surfing and a site you go to has a pornographic image that you weren't expecting but see. That's not in and of itself sinful. Oogling the image, however would be. Is there a temptation to oogle, sure, but that's not the sin.

ME: And it's also wicked to disagree with this erroneous biblical judgment - the Bible sets up a not-so-true situation and offers a not-at-all-true solution with threat (fear) as the guarantee...

Let me ask you this: do children naturally do right or wrong? Having a child I can tell you that children know how to do bad things without having to be told, but they do need proper training to behave properly. Ask the average person what they would do if there was the promise of no consequences. Or, consider if you took a few days of everything you see/hear/think and show it to everybody you know and think of what they would think of you.

ANDREW: You can't, because as soon as you think of nothing, there's something. Something in this universe never comes from nothing (or we should all wait for our garages to spontaneously fill with gold), nor can the universe be eternal as the laws of physics state (think law of entropy), but an eternal God that exists outside of space and time very easily and adequately explains it.

liniasmax: And creates problems all it's own. Who created God - Like you said, something never comes from nothing...

Actually I said: Something *in this universe* never comes from nothing.

No, somewhere there must be an infinite, but the laws of science make it so that it cannot be something in that exists *in* this universe; again, the laws of entropy basically say the universe eventually goes into heat death, so matter/energy can't be eternal. However, God exists outside of the Universe and so can be (much as an author of a book is not *in* or subject to the rules in the book that is written). You can try to make the argument "then who created God", but then you ask "who created the being that created God" ad infinitum, but ultimately, there must be an eternal, and it must be outside the universe -- **The laws of science require this**, not any belief that I have regarding God. It's not Pascal's wager; personally, I think Pascal's wager is about the worst argument. Ultimately, the existence of anything at all, irrespective of your views of cosmology or evolution requires the existence of something outside our universe.

liniasmax: Just because it's not clear - people have to make it up as they go...

No, actually the bible makes it abundantly clear what it is, it's just that most evangelicals, or christians in general never took the time to read it, so they spout of about "Your best life now" and "Jesus has a wonderful plan for your life" and all that mess, and cloud the whole idea. Christianity not firmly based on the bible is like a word without meaning.

liniasmax: better to just not know

I would say that it is at least better to give some real consideration about the scientific arguments I posed. Contrary to what most may think, the science is what had a large part in convincing me.

goprairie said...

Anyone who claims that children know how to behave badly on their own but need to be taught how to behave well has not spent much time with them. If left to their own devices, children will share will share toys and food and clothes and help each other up when they fall and invite each other into games because they innately possess desire to be kind and compassionate and part of a social group. Yes, they may take things from each other and push and shove and hit when angry or upset, but soon learn from experience that these things do not work as well as sharing. Caregivers who try to work toward more consistent 'good' behavior by making rules and punishing do not acheive results nearly as well as caregivers who merely move the natural course of experience based learning along by explaining what might work better and explaining the natural consequences of 'bad' behavior. Children are not inherently evil but will often first attempt the most 'efficient' behavior that we may label evil but then learn through natural consquences the more social behavior that we call 'good'.

Andy/Drew/Andrew said...

goprairie: Anyone who claims that children know how to behave badly on their own but need to be taught how to behave well has not spent much time with them. If left to their own devices, children will share will share toys and food and clothes and help each other up when they fall and invite each other into games because they innately possess desire to be kind and compassionate and part of a social group.

Ok, by the time they're of the age to share toys and food and be social, a *whole lot* of raising has already gone on. I've seen so many monstrous kids because the parents just don't train/discipline them. They didn't need to be taught to be that way.

Psalm 22:6 says it rather well:
Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it.

goprairie said...

You see things through thru the lens you want to see them through. If you did a fair analysis of the time spent by even the youngest children, behavior we label 'evil' which is merely the most efficient selfish way of getting things would be found to be a tiny percentage and the behavior we label 'good' would predominate. Because it is in the long run both a better way to get things you want and it is social. Even babies hold their toys and food out to others to share before they could possibly understand any teaching about sharing, becuase we are instincitvely social. You see the kids you want to label as insufficiently raised in a light that makes you focus on the tiny percentage of time that even they engage in such behavior. You remember the one time they hit another kid and not the remianing 99% of the time that they got along. Kids are not inherently bad and they are not made good by teaching, especially not by biblical teaching. Science on child behavior will support this if you bother to objectivley look.

liniasmax said...

Woo Hoo... This back and forth is kind of fun, if not a lot of work. Cool thing is, we just got back from the Zone round of the spelling bee. My oldest daughter won the local (Hey - we homeschool, spelling bee is supposed to be our specialty). While we were eating at Texas Road-House, I noticed a taxidermied trout on the wall - And for an instant I could see a salamander, and a gator, and a dog, all in that trout. Four fins mirroring four terrestrial limbs. Wow - I see where Darwin got his ideas - sure does look like a feasible theory.

And I looked at my youngest with her aspergers syndrome and thought about how she hasn't been allowed to be baptized in our mega-church because she "doesn't quite get it yet" or "she's still immature," while she's watched all her friends go through the ritual dunking (culmination of years of well-meaning fear-mongering - I mean what 9 year old needs to hear that they are a worthless sinner in need of this nebulous thing called "grace") They need so much MORE -

Our little munchkin's middle name is Grace and everyone here knows why we gave that name to her, and yet she can't get this fictitious grace that she's named for. She may never really understand that she "needs" it - and I'm glad, I make it a point to confirm both my precious daughters at every opportunity.

All this not so simple stuff led me to questions. I kept coming back to the brain and to the fact that I have a breathing-pipe placed so close to the food-pipe that I almost died from cherry Lifesaver (what a misnomer), and I have wisdom teeth that don't fit and an octopus eye is better than mine, with no blind spot. And I thought of all the heathen that made so many cool discoveries, - tangible stuff that helps me to live and may cure aspergers some day...

Then I thought again about my little girl and if I should train her up in the old time falsehoods - when Creation science proves nothing and the Old Testament tells me to stone my girls if my raising them up in the right way doesn't work, which means they departed from it... which means something's amiss...

Then my head spun and spun - and, just like that, it came to a place of rest, when I hugged my little girl, winked at the trout, tipped the waiter and left the restaurant continuing the one life I have...

My oldest only made it to the second round this night. I hugged her and pondered how I will continue to live out the peace that passes all understanding. Yes, I'm borrowing because I think the biblical promise is a lie... If not for you, then for me. I refused to take it anymore and my emotional why? became a reasoned because?

So, arguing scripture doesn't satisfy anymore. Since I found it to be a false witness in my own life, I can't respect it. I have a hard time even respecting Jefferson's Jesus, because he's made from the same source...

I've got to put my little girls to bed. They need rest for real life - I will try not to add any needless fictitious burdens...

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Zarove,
you are not being moderated, the anonymous posts that are irrelevant and in some cases pornographic and racist are being moderated. You are being affected by that POLICY not your posts.

moderation is not always in effect, its just that sometimes the trolls get a wild hair and start ruining the party and we enable moderation.

ZAROVE said...

Sorry then. I suppose I have made my own sin, that of presumption.

Ill report it an ask forgieness of that which I accused falsely.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi goprairie and liniasmax,
you two are like a breath of fresh air!
Children aren't evil or bad, they just are. good/evil/bad are just labels we apply to things to make it easier to think about them.

If you are tolerant and loving and pay attention to your kids, play with them, BE THEIR PLAYMATE, you will find that they are aren't so unruly, but YOU HAVE TO MAKE THE INVESTMENT.

I'm presuming, based on my experience, that unruly kids don't get as much attention as they need to prevent them from wanting to be unruly.

I know this is a fairly circular thing to say, but as I pointed out, behavior is the result of feedback from many sources.

Scott said...

Another disturbing suggestion here is that somehow bad behavior and human faults are inherited through the genome and as such are justifiable as traits that are naturally selected for the survival of the species. This leads to his justification of racism, hedonism, and other immoral behaviors as being necessary for humanity to survive. I hope society never accepts the premise that murder, molestation, rape, etc are a necessary part of society as the author suggests.

(Once again there is no moral culpability only material and matrialistic thought. Therefore men if your wife leaves the house and sleeps with another man, don’t get angry, just blame it on those darn pheromones. Women, don’t blame your husband it was the pheromones that got him….YEA RIGHT!)

Just as Christians appear to have invented objective sexual morality based on facts of nature, you're invented a moral interpretation of Lee's facts where none is implied. Assuming there is some kind of divine power that can magically overcome millions of years of evolved instincts and biological influences is wishful and dangerous thinking. Based on what we observe about the world around us, this approach is simply not working.

If we look at homosexually in the church, it seems clear that even mega-church leaders, such as Ted Haggard were unable to overcome their sexual preferences, while at the very same time, hypocritically claiming that God could 'heal' them from their sinful nature. While this sort of though may make us feel "good" by sweeping things under the rug, but does it really make true progress? I don't think so.

In many cases, genetics are a strong factor in people who suffer from addictions. Realizing there are concrete and understandable sources behind behavior which is harmful to themselves and others is an instrumental part of their recovery. People who become sober though organizations such as AA do so not because their addictions magically disappear, but because their addiction is disassembled and the mechanisms used to influence the drinker are exposed. This realization allows them to overcome shame that may be associated with their addiction and help liberate them from it's effects.

When religion formulated it's immutable "answers" to questions about our behavior, it did so in the absence of any real information about our biological makeup. Instead, it created a simplistic view of sinful man that was accepted as fact even though it was not actually based on facts. This is the very same view that millions of people still cling to today and which Lee is questing in his article.

However, we can no longer continue to feign ignorance. This time has long passed. If we are to survive as a species we have to pull our heads out of the sand and have a honest and factual conversation about these issues. We must address with our eyes wide open, instead of wearing rose colored glasses that delude us about who we really are, where we came from and how we got here.

I think pointing fingers as you've done here represents a understandable fear of "looking behind the board" to seeing how we really tick as a species. While we may not like what we see, I think we must face our fears and discover who and what we really are. in fact, I think it's our responsibility as conscious beings.

When we truly understand why we do the things we do, we can make better decisions and possibly even find ways to express them in more positive ways. We can direct our 'evolution' through conciseness.

However, just as Christianity has been abused thought the ages, It's likely that some people will come to the wrong conclusions and abuse the information such as Lee presented. But this is inventible fact about everything we discover. All we can try and do is mitigate it.

Lee Randolph said...

scott,
amen brother.

Scott said...

But the responsible way to discuss it with a person you want on 'our' side is to offer replacements and good things instead of just taking away. So instead of picking at the Bible and rules and commantments, we should be talking about real world reasons to act in ethical ways toward people.

Dr. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi has done some very interesting work in this area. In his book, The Evolving Self, Csikszentmihalyi expands his research of finding "flow" in every day experiences by identifying how cultural, genetic and religious factors influence our views and choices. This knowledge allows us to choose flow experiences which are more beneficial for ourselves, society and our future.

Thranil said...

zarove:

RE: Spelling & Grammar: Ok, you have me there. I couldn't tell if you were using good grammar, so I clearly made an assumption. For that I apologize.

Thanks for clarifying about the Dyslexia. I would like to point out that FireFox has a built-in spellchecker that is great for posting in these types of forums.

I also want to point out that I made no tie between your spelling and your intelligence. You did that on your own. I still haven't made up my mind about your intellectual ability.

I made no ad-hominem attack against you. To do so, I would have had to actually attacked you. I was simply making a request because I was having a hard time reading what you were writing. In order for what I wrote to be any type of logical fallacy, I would have to be making some sort of argument... which I was not.

goprairie said...

logic and debate are certainly interesting, but few choose religion for those reasons.
they are led to religion and embrace it or choose it themselves because it meets emotional needs. 'spiritual' needs translate in psychology and sociology to emotional and social needs, after all.
people try to apply logic and reason to defend the stuff that they choose on emotion only after the fact of the choosing, they do not choose for those reasons.
so yes, all this logic and debate is interesting and good sport, but the nitty gritty of in-the-trenches conversion and deconversion is meeting emotional and social needs.
hence the college fundies preying on lonely homesick college freshmen, for example.
and i find it reprehensible to fill children's needs by first telling them how horrible they are in order to magnify thier need and then giving them a false story to fix it.
to leave adults alone in their religion is one thing, but to lead another generation into it, when it blunts their understanding of science and the workings of the mind, when it dulls their appreciation of the true wonders of the world, and blinds them to the potential and magnificence of HUMAN ability, is just wrong.

ZAROVE said...

GoPrairie, wqhen you say that peopel chopse religion for emotional reaosns,and then say Spirituality translates to Emotion in PSycology, arent you making unsupported assertions?

It seems ot me that the need to demonsie religion ( which you Ironiclaly have yourself) by denyin it validity is a common theme amongst these sorts of debates. But, tis alsoa tired old Bromide.


Spirituality does not translate to Emotion in Psycology. Nor is all Religion preditory on the lonly or gullible.


Thee is no real evidence for your claism anyway, and can't I just as reaidly cite emotional reaosns for Atheism? John Loftus's "Deconversion" story sure as Hell reads like his choices where spured mainly by emotion, as did Calvins.

In fact, Ive never read of someone who became an Athisyt in the sort here based soley on reason, and usually it has emotiinal bakcing.

Such as having a hard time in life.

On the other hand, numeorus peopel are tlaked into Religions by reaosn and Logic, not just emotional need.

Yoru sterotyping to make thigns fit a more ocmortble worldview.

goprairie said...

Zarove says "It seems ot me that the need to demonsie religion ( which you Ironiclaly have yourself) by denyin it validity is a common theme amongst these sorts of debates. But, tis alsoa tired old Bromide."
1) No need for me to demonize religion. It does enough damage on its own and tells enough lies to demonized itself.
2) The only tired old Bromide here is your repeated claim that an atheist has religion. Not beleiving in a deity cannot be called religion any more than creationism can be called science, but it is fast and loose play with definitions that allow such claims.
3)Denying the the validity of religion is the POINT of this site, in case you hadn't notice.

ZAROVE said...

Zarove says "It seems ot me that the need to demonsie religion ( which you Ironiclaly have yourself) by denyin it validity is a common theme amongst these sorts of debates. But, tis alsoa tired old Bromide."

I do indeed.

1) No need for me to demonize religion. It does enough damage on its own and tells enough lies to demonized itself.

No ti doesn't. But thanks for proving my point in tryign to pretend its self evidently evil.



2) The only tired old Bromide here is your repeated claim that an atheist has religion.

It is a fact. It is also a fact that not all Religiosn are Theistic. For instance, Buddhism is an Agnostic Religoon. Humanism is an Ahtistic one. ( And declared itself a religion rather early.)

That said, a Religion is a codified worldview and is used ot usnderstand the world aroudn you. Everyone has a religion, ultimatley.



Not beleiving in a deity cannot be called religion any more than creationism can be called science, but it is fast and loose play with definitions that allow such claims.



But, beleiving in a deity cna't be called a Religion either.

Atheism is nto the Oposite of Religion. Atheism is the Oposite of Theism.

Neither Atheism nor THeism are religiosn in and of temselves, but ar einstead Posiitons oen takes. The Religion crops up when one of htose two optiosn is cmbined with other things, such as what oenthings mroal codes stem from, how one thins the world functions, and what one thinks the ultimate pupose, if any, is to the world.

But, Theism is not a Religion, it is an asoect of Religion.

Beleiving in a Deity is not Religion, either.





3)Denying the the validity of religion is the POINT of this site, in case you hadn't notice.


And here I was told it was to Debunk Evangelical Christianity.

Or at least Just Christianity.

That said, you'll have a hard time denyign the validity of a basic Psycological function. You need ot udnerstand the owrld aroudn you, so you'll need a basic means to intepret the Data, and that woudl be your Religion.

From a Sceintific standpoint, and as an oputside Observer, not wigung the truth of the claims but only seeign the effect ont he mind, there is no difference betwen the role Humanism plays in one shtinkign and the role Christianity does. Granted, both vies lead ot different conclusiosn and lifestyles, but, in the end they both fil the same purpose. THey bot serve as a method by which the world aroudn oen is undertsood and Data is proccessed, and how one makes ones decisions.

You cannot Deny the validity of that withotu denyign the validity of the need to udnerstand the world aroudn you.

Which is what Religion is, and what it does.

liniasmax said...

Zarove said:

"No ti doesn't. But thanks for proving my point in tryign to pretend its self evidently evil."

Actually the Bible does read as self-evidently flawed - at least enough to get Thomas Paine on the warpath back in the day and to spawn websites like this one in the modern day.

I taught a Sunday School class shortly after my exit of the faith. I titled it "The Gideon Test" I picked some salvation verses and ranked them as grace alone, works alone, grace and works, monergy, synergy, etc. - this in a Southern Baptist megachurch where critical thought is as deep as the Purpose Driven Life. Right now, this is the real Christianity, until the Emerging movement catches hold...

We pretended that we were a lost and lonely soul who picked up the Gideon Bible in a hotel room and sought to figure out how to be saved, but we only prayed to be led to one verse... after the whole thing, I reassured them that this is the reason why we have to let "Scripture interpret Scripture" and why Christianity has to be found and lived out in community. I only did this to keep my deconversion to myself and to save those lovely people from too much confusion... I don't feel that it is my place to "enlighten" them - actually "enlightening" them would alienate my family. Reasonable doubt about sin and the whole ball of wax will get you marginalized in a hurry. Faith is fragile (Why is that?)...

Faith is fragile because...well because...hmm...maybe lack of evidence? Is Satan bound or not? What did the Crucifixion really accomplish? Can we get an exorcism for the demon of Aspergers?

Zarove: "That said, you also seem to think Religion causes the problems it promises ot csolve."

Yes I do...

ZAROVE said...

Zarove said:

"No ti doesn't. But thanks for proving my point in tryign to pretend its self evidently evil."

Actually the Bible does read as self-evidently flawed - at least enough to get Thomas Paine on the warpath back in the day and to spawn websites like this one in the modern day.




but...



1: Religion is not "The Bible". Your confusing terms.



2: THomas Paines arguments are htemselves flawed.It never ceases to aamaze me how peopel can be seen as simpel minded and irrational for blindign beleiving the Bible by those who blindly beleive THomas Paine. And I realise that most woudl say they thoguth abotu Paine and hsi arugments made snce, btu the same is said of the Bible.



Paines arguments are largley bsed upon a lack of critical knoledge of History and culture int he Middle East, and his relativley poor ability to weigh what the Bible was and said.



He is not himself seen as a Final authority.



As for site sliek this, in case you hadn't noticed, their preahcign tot he choir, and even though Sciene, Reason, and Logic are often praised, the truth is most ofthe arguments are just Apologetics for Athiesm base don presumption that its right or Christianity is wrong.



3: Nevertheless, thos hwo say Rleigion si obviously self demonising simply rely on it beign taken for granted that evilw as doen itn ehname of religoion and enver mention the good. ITs a self-serving argument that depicts htings in a one-sided fashion.





I taught a Sunday School class shortly after my exit of the faith. I titled it "The Gideon Test" I picked some salvation verses and ranked them as grace alone, works alone, grace and works, monergy, synergy, etc. - this in a Southern Baptist megachurch where critical thought is as deep as the Purpose Driven Life. Right now, this is the real Christianity, until the Emerging movement catches hold...




No, that was a Southern Baptist Megachurch, not "The Real Christianity". You do realise that, by sheer numbers, Catholsisim is "The real Christainity" beign the largest by far. Even in the US, 24% of all Christaisn are Cahtolic, and this makes it he largest single group.



After this fall the Orthodox, then the Anglicans.



None of the above seem to skimp int he areas of scholarship or Critical thought.



THen there are numeorus other Branches of CHristanity.



I'm sorry, but depicitng your tiny segment, even if it was a MegaCHurch as "The Real Christianity" is patently absurd.


We pretended that we were a lost and lonely soul who picked up the Gideon Bible in a hotel room and sought to figure out how to be saved, but we only prayed to be led to one verse... after the whole thing, I reassured them that this is the reason why we have to let "Scripture interpret Scripture" and why Christianity has to be found and lived out in community.


Thats nice, but not only does it not address anythign rpeviously stated inthis article, igt also fails to demonstate falsity.

In fact, since the same htigns can be done to the vaunted Sicneces, and they too can be misundrtsood, or the Sientific COnsensu be wrong, all you havwe shown is that oen verse is liekly not gougn to be sufficient, and that peopel disagree.



Which in te end means little.





I only did this to keep my deconversion to myself



Why is it trendy to use the word "Deconversion"? It snto even a real word, and makes no snece. No one ever Deconverts.



Just as if I convert Ice to water by puttign it in y Freezer, it doenst Deconvert to water if I take it out and let it melt.



and to save those lovely people from too much confusion... I don't feel that it is my place to "enlighten" them - actually "enlightening" them would alienate my family.



I do detect a ring of Condecension.



I hope my posts are available soon.



Reasonable doubt about sin and the whole ball of wax will get you marginalized in a hurry. Faith is fragile (Why is that?)...



Except this aritlce isn't about reaosnable dout in regards to sin, and makes far too many false statements to relaly conclude that sin dpesn't exist.



Also, Faith isn't frail, more on that in a moment.



Faith is fragile because...well because...hmm...maybe lack of evidence?




Actually, there is evidence.



I know, I know, Faith is "Beleif withotu Evidence", Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, and Daneil Dennet all even argue agaisn it on these grounds. You even have a verse form Hebrews that says it!



Well, no.



Even int he Bible, Faiht isnt udnerstood as Belif wihtotu evidence, even in the Vers ein Hebrews abotu itbeign the evidence f things unseen, and it snot used in only one way throuhout he Bibel anyway.



In the 2000 years pf CHristian History, Christian writers never did understand that Faith wa s"Beleif even though we lack evidence".



This wa snot the Viw of St. Paul when he wrote of the Faiht in his Epistles, or of James or Peter. This wa sno twhat Jesus meant by Faith. THis was not what Iraneus or Origen thoguh Faith was. Augustine didn't defien Faith as beleif withotu evidence. Justin Martyr, Clement of ROme, CLement of Alexandria, all understood Faith to be somehtign other than beleif withotu evidnece.



Faith is, in fact, multiple things depending on context.



It is either Fidelity, loyalty, and adherance. In which regard it merely means stayign true to it, a set of principels and ideals, in whuich case it is a Philosophicla construct, or trust in soemthing.



The latter, trust, is what you are fefering to. I purt my Trust in Jeuss CHrist as a CHristian. But I do not blidnly tust him.



And not all Faiht is Blind, by the way.



Is Satan bound or not?

He is.



What did the Crucifixion really accomplish?

The Salvaiton fo the world.



Can we get an exorcism for the demon of Aspergers?



Aspergers isn't cause dby Demons, and if yo htink All Demon Possession is misdiagnosed mentla illness, and that Excorsisnst never consider the possibility of mentla illness, you are grossly malinformed.



Just recently in Poland a new Exzcosrism centre opened, but, unliek your Gross incompetance in detialign what you pretend to knwo excorsism to be, they do actually refer peopel to CLinics and work extensively with Physisians and Physhietrists.



Only after a detailed analysis to determien if the patient is mentlaly ill do they procceed.



Not that you've studied the matter, it becomes painfully clar hat you simply latch onto whatever explanaiton allows you readily to rjct CHrustendom.



Sorry to be a bit Harsh but I tire of the "Demon of Aspergers" crap.

It is not my fault that you are ignroant of Hisotry, and what excorsism is, and that you beleive that Mental Illness was undertsood as Demon posses ion int h apst and htis beelif was repalced by Sicnece. Neither is it ,y onbligaiton to play along with this absurd claim justebcause it fits your presumptiosn about the world.



If you'd study excorsism more bythse who do it, you'd realise that most Excorissms aren't agaisnt Autistics.



But who cares abotu facts? They just obscure logic and reaosn.





Zarove: "That said, you also seem to think Religion causes the problems it promises ot csolve."

Yes I do...




And its a beleif you lack evidence for. Just as you lakc evidnece that all exorcisms where base don mental illness and have decliend in the modenr age as this ebelif was dispriven by sicnece.



Your flawed methodology is to accept a beleif base dupon a predetermined worldview, and foce it into ecistance wihtotu stidy or examinaitonf of evidence.

liniasmax said...

Hey Lee, GoPrairie, Andrew and Zarove - I'm leaving this post in anticipation of more later. I am filled with wonder and awe at so many things, but I refuse to have "arrogant certainty" about things like I did when I was a believer. Butting heads can be fun, but man is it frustrating. Zarove, man my forehead is lacerated after beating my head against the brick wall you build. And those arguments that pepper the landscape like birdshot are something to behold. I'm taking my ball and going home...Lee, look forward to your next great post. GoPrairie, you're a kindred spirit. DECONVERTED BABY - shout it from the rooftops!!!!

Lee Randolph said...

Hi liniasmax,
thanks for the kind words on the article. I have to take some time off starting this weekend to concentrate on 'real life'.

about your closing out of the discussion,
I don't blame you. Zarove is a like a couple of other commenters here that automatically nay-say anything you say without any grounds to back it up and label things as ignorant.

He likes to call things ignorant
THomas Paines arguments are htemselves flawed.It never ceases to aamaze me how peopel can be seen as simpel minded and irrational for blindign beleiving the Bible by those who blindly beleive THomas Paine.

and rail about ignoring facts

It is not my fault that you are ignroant of Hisotry, and what excorsism is, and that you beleive that Mental Illness was undertsood as Demon posses ion int h apst and htis beelif was repalced by Sicnece. Neither is it ,y onbligaiton to play along with this absurd claim justebcause it fits your presumptiosn about the world.

If you'd study excorsism more bythse who do it, you'd realise that most Excorissms aren't agaisnt Autistics.

But who cares abotu facts? They just obscure logic and reaosn.


I'm still waiting for him to show me the demons and his well thought out rejoinder to the article.

Until then, I'm doing what I told him I would, wait for his rebuttal.

But considering how much effort I imagine it must take to correspond with you and goprairie because of his dyslexia, I don't think he is sincere about his rebuttal to me.

I suspect he'll wait till the last minute so he can be sure he'll get the last word and possibly make some self fulfilling prophecy about how I can't have an answer to his razor sharp logic, without ever showing me the demons.

ZAROVE said...

Lee. I am merley waitign for the copy to be sent after editing.

As for beign an automatic ney sayer, isn't this th epot callign the Kettle black? THis whole blog is nothign btu neyayign Christianity. Your artilces here exist only to critisise it.

You even start withthe rpesumption that it must be Debunked.Thats the stated mission.

Wirh that in mind, don't yo htink that one coudl reaosnabley argue that your not really interested in thinkign the matter throguh and giving credit where it is due? Yoru only here to find argumetns agaisnt Christianity.

As tot he BRick Wall I erected, this is liek Loftus sayign I lack substance. It seems the BRick wall I set up is nothignmroe htan challenging your assertions.


When Lee, and nwo you, claim that excorsism is Mental illness and sicnece has cast aside this beelif, you display an abysmal lack of koeledge of Hisotry.

Mental Illness wa sundertsood by the ancients and not thoguht of as Demon possession, and modern day Excorsisms doen by proffessional excorsists are not mistaken autims, or other mental illensses.

THats nto a BRick wall, thats stating a fact, sicne modern Excorsisst also work extensivly with health car eproffessionals oncluding Psycheitrists.

You have no basis for htis beelif, and if I demand your evidence you say I erect a Brick Wall?

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Zarove,
show me the demons. put up or hush up.

Andy/Drew/Andrew said...

I hadn't planned to rejoin the fray, but I will.

Liniasmax, I know you said you were getting off this post, but I figured you may yet read this....

I feel for you for what you may be going through with respect to the aspergers. While I may not understand the magnitude of what the day to day things are, I do understand the nature of the issues it cases, especially when it comes to the interpersonal things. I have a good friend who has it, and I myself score high on the tests (just shy a few points of a diagnosis). I worked very closely with him at my last job, and I'm fairly certain, had he not been a genius at what he does, he would've been fired -- basically because of his aspergers. I remember many conflicts with some of his other coworkers that arose because of it too. I know you don't believe it will help, but I will be praying for you and your family.

As for your mega-church not baptizing your daughter because she doesn't get it, it's a tricky issue, but I'll do my best to address it. If she doesn't get it, she's not saved. If she's not capable of getting it, she is however safe. Baptism biblically, is for those who are professing belief, or else you just get a wet person, so while you may feel slighted by the church for it, they are being biblical about it. Baptism does not save. If they have a "we're better than you" attitude because they've been baptized, that's a problem, and is not right at all, and you would be right in feeling slighted. The danger that is too often ignored, especially with kids, is that you don't want to put them in a position where they think they're saved and aren't -- that's the most dangerous place anyone can be, and with kids, it's really easy for parents to be able to get them to say the right words, though not understanding for themselves.

As for creation science proving nothing, I'd also state that evolution proves nothing. The problem is that evolution still doesn't account for why anything even exists. As I said, the laws of science dictate that the existence of the universe can only be attributed to something supernatural, and ultimately eternal (without a universe, there is no time either -- that whole space/time thing).

As for "arrogant certainty", is it arrogant to know anything for sure, or just if God exists? If it's anything, do you exist? If so, why do you think so? With respect to God, if you know Him, there's no doubt in the world that He exists. If you don't know Him, of course there would be reasonable doubt. Let me explain. Say you told a young child not to touch the heater because it's hot. At this point he may think it's hot, but he's not sure and could be talked out of it. He wants to know, so he reaches out and touches the heater, and burns his hand. I don't care how much you talk to him and may try to convince him otherwise, he *knows* it's hot. It's the same thing with God. When you know Him, there's no not knowing Him anymore or being talked out of your faith. So by your own description, you never knew Him.

As for the peace that passes understanding, first, if you're not converted, you won't have it. Second, is summed up in Romans 8:28-29
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
In short, it works to our good -- even when we fail and/or bad things happen to us. I can personally attest to this as some of the worst things that have happened to me, have in fact, worked for my good.

Look, if you're convinced He doesn't exist, I cannot remove the blinders for you. But just consider the existence of the universe -- That was one of the key things that led to my conversion. Before I ran into that question, I was a practical atheist. I'm a scientist by trade and I just couldn't bury the problem of existence.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Zarove,
When Lee, and nwo you, claim that excorsism is Mental illness and sicnece has cast aside this beelif, you display an abysmal lack of koeledge of Hisotry.
That wasn't very nice....

rather than quote chapter and verse in my psychology book, I just cut and pasted from wikipedia.
"Psychiatric theories and treatments for mental illness developed in Muslim psychology and Islamic medicine in the medieval Islamic world from the 8th century, where the first psychiatric hospitals were built.[3] The Baghdad Hospital was run by the Persian physician Rhazes. Unlike most ancient and medieval societies which believed mental illness to be caused by either demonic possession or as punishment from a God, Islamic neuroethics held a more sympathetic attitude towards the mentally ill, as exemplified in Sura 4:5 of the Qur'an, which considers the mentally ill to be unfit to manage property but must be treated humanely and be kept under care by a guardian.[4]

Medieval Europe had focused on demonic possession as the explanation of aberrant behavior.[5]"


Once again,
You are wrong. Face it.
You should be embarrassed.

I was avoiding doing that because I was exercising the principle of charity in a discussion but you are just so arrogant I thought to myself "my glucose has run out in my frontal cortex".

ZAROVE said...

Lee, this oost isn't about Demons and I don't have to show you Demons.

Likewise, Wikipedia is hardly a reliable source for information.

Tha said, did I miss something? Arne;t the Muslism alao\so THeists?

That also said, I'm not wrong, and the Bible doens't really indicate that all Mental illness was though of as Demon possession. The Bibnle itself speaks of madness that it doens't associate Demons to.

Also, Midaevel Europe is not thje end all be all of everything.


Yoru case about Aspergers for instance was far mroe ocntemproary. Shoudl we ignroe Modern Excorissts exceot where they meet your need to invalidate them?


That said, the firts post is ready.

ZAROVE said...

AS I had promised, I am posting three responses to Lee Randall’s argument presented on this Blog.

The argument in question is in regard to sin, which Randall claims to argue against. However, it is my contention that Randall’s argument is as most on this Blog, that is to say, based upon an incorrect presentation of Christianity.

As a result, we shall look at his Article, which is broken into two parts, and look at the concepts he has presented.

In this post, I shall be looking mainly at Christianity and what it teaches, in contrast to what Randall has stated.


Randall’s objection to Christianity stems from the claim that Christians have a simplistic view of sin, which cannot be supported by logic, and which has been overturned by Science.

It is said by him that Christianity teaches a simplistic model of Reward and Punishment for our Auctions, and that our bad deeds are punished and good deeds reworded.

Randall then proceeds from this, to say that Human Behaviour is complex, and much of it derived form Biological factors. He also adds stress in the Environment as something that effected these factors and thus causes our behaviour to change in response to this.

It is thus argued by Randall that we, as civilised people, should take into account these factors in dealing with others, and that Christianity with its simplistic notion of some things being good, and others evil, is not sufficient for handling the problem of Human behaviour. He then blames this oversimplified view presented by Christianity on the Ignorance of the Authors of the Faith, claiming they did not understand Human nature when they composed it.

Of course, given the above, it sounds reasonable. You cannot simply lay down a list of things to do or not do, and then judge people accordingly, and I am in full agreement that we should look at the factors hat lead an individual to do as he did.

If, then, Randall’s assessment of Christianity is correct, then Randal is right, and Christianity is too simplistic. The question I present here then is, is Randall right?

I would say he is not right, and his presentation of Christianity and what it teaches is fundamentally flawed.

I would instead argue that Christianity’s view of Human nature is far more complex than what Randall has given us, and its theology not based upon Simple reward and Punishment.


Indeed, even in the Old Testament, where the Law of Moses reigned supreme, this seems not to be the case, as in Proverbs 21:2; which states; Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the Lord pondereth the hearts.

It is this, the pondering of the Heart, that God bases his Judgment on. In the end, It is our Motivation, our Love, and our character that God assesses in his judgement, not our Actions.

This can be seen in numerous verses in both the Old and New Testament, and is a constant theme throughout the Bible.

Such writings as the Prophets speak constantly of Repentance and Reconciliation to God. They speak both of the Nation of Israel and its need to return to God, and of individuals who had sinned, and greatly, and yet where restored. This repentance was not, however, proven by doing good deeds, but by a contrite heart, sorrowful for past misdeeds. Forgiveness was thus given, and the sins Pardoned.

But as we now address Christianity, I shall concentrate my view on the New Testament, and show form there that it was who we are, not our deeds, which mean tot God our forgiveness, and how we are saved by Grace, not by works.

Indeed, that is the topic addressed Famously by Paul the Apostle in Ephesians chapter 2. Quoted Below.

3. Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.
4. But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,
5. Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)
6. And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:
7. That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.
8. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
9. Not of works, lest any man should boast.


Grace, Grace saves us.

And this leads me to the first of two problems with what is claimed in this article as Christianity’s teaching.


The Atonement.

I have mentioned before this, but, the Atonement is when Jesus Christ was Crucified, as a Sacrifice for he sins of the whole world.


It follows the principle of the Mosaic Law, and as such, Jesus, as te Spotless Lamb to be Slain, guilty of no sin of his own, bares the blame and burden of our sins.

We take out our anger, frustration, fear, and hatred upon him. We pour into him all of our misdeeds, and all the guilt form it.

Like the Scapegoat, he is the one whom we blame for our woes, and he takes the burden of our guilt, for we transfer to him all reproach, all misdeeds, all hatred and villainy. He, Jesus Christ, becomes evil, and we righteous in slaying him.

That is how those who wanted him Crucified saw him, as en to blame for their own failings, as one vile, deserving of death, and they took out on him these fears.

And, form this sacrifice, those sinful persons who did this to him, and all of us, each and every one of us in the race of Adam, are forgiven our trespasses. The Enmity between the Human race and God has ended. All we must do is claim it. God has declared peace, and all we have to do Is lay down our arms.

Our past sins will not be held against us, and our past deeds will not be brought to bare. We are Pardoned, by Gods Grace.

Of course, we are told to repent of those sins, and end our rebellion against God, but if we do, if we are sincere in our contrition, we can move beyond the errors of our past, and aspire to a hope in the Future.

Although sin is still sin, and sin must be repented of, lest it divide us form each other and God, in the end, the forgiveness we receive is not base don rewarding our good deeds and punishing our bad deeds, but on the Love of God which extends his Grace to forgive those sins if only we ask, and strive to do better.


That said, the New Testament also anticipates failure to occur en some, and only a gradual process to Transform or lives.

In how it presented Humanity, it is far from Simplistic, and it admits the need for constant work.

You hint upon this with your claim of how it is Psychologically unhealthy since we’d live in a constant state of Repentance. I will address that concern in a future post.

Nevertheless, we are addressing the New Testaments view of Human Nature, and seeing that it, in the end, is far more complicated than you have asserted in the article above.

For instance, the Epistles of St. Paul the Apostle deal extensively with local problems encountered with numerous communities of Christians and advise, and even commandments, on how to deal with such.

Those letters show Paul dealing with real people, and offering practical, every-day solutions for every-day problems.

It seems Paul had to deal with everything form Sexual issues to quarrelling to treating the Lords Supper as a love Feast.

This alone demonstrates a range of human behaviours and addresses the proper conduct expected in Christian life.

Those Epistles also demonstrate that Paul did not see Christianity as a system of Reward and Punishment, since he spoke of Restoring sinners, or reforming our ways, and given up on our past errors. Never did he mention doing good merely for reward in heaven, or being punished for our evil deeds.

But we shall not go too deeply into this at the moment, for I intend to show here that Christianity is not a system of reward and Punishment, and on that I focus this post.
On that end, John in his Epistles wrote of the overriding principle of Love, and said the following. In the First Epistle, Chapter 1.


5. This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.
6. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:
7. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.
8. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
9. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
10. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.


Confession of sin leads to forgiveness of sin.

John did not mention Reward, and made no comment of Punishment. This is the same as in his Gospel.

Famously in chapter 3.

16. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
17. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
18. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
19. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
Confession of sins is Emphasised in Johns Gospel and the Epistles he wrote, but no where does it mention Reward and Punishment concepts. In fact, John 3:17 denies this, saying we are already condemned if we do not Accept the son of God. This too is more complex than you’ll give it credit for, but that is not for this article. Sufficient is it to say that the texts above demonstrate that Christianity is based upon Repentance and forgiveness of sin, and upon Reconciliation.


Although some of you may want to claim the Bible is inconsistent, and say one verse says it is our deeds and another our Heart, I would venture to counter that this simply indicates your own over simplistic approach to the Bible, as if each Verse must stand alone, and in which you seek only to create contradictions rather or not they exist.

Rather, I’d say that it would only show an unwillingness to consider that your arguments are faulty.


Nevertheless, I shall present now passages in regard to regarding and punishing deeds, of they do exist, and I concur with them.

I think that the concept pf repentance, forgiveness of sins, and salvation are complex, and the Bible itself speaks of them in complex terms, of which, if taken out of context, portions may be seen as contradictory.


Therefore, when we see Peter in his Epistle saying we are judged each of us according to our works, you can say the above is wrong.

But, I would argue that, even our own law cedes work this way. Each man is after all still liable for crimes he commits.

Randall argues that Biological factors influence e our behaviour, but he did not post as a strict Determinist, and the level of influence those factors play was left Ambiguous.
Perhaps it is because they are unknown, and much debate still rages within the Scientific Community in regard tot hem.

Nevertheless, if those factors are merely influences, and if in the end we do have a measure of say in our own Auctions, then surely we can be held liable for what we do.

Thus, such passages as Romans 2 are not contradictory to the above.



1. Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things.
2. But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things.
3. And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God?
4. Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?
5. But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God;
6. Who will render to every man according to his deeds:
7. To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life:
8. But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath,
9. Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile;
10. But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile:
11. For there is no respect of persons with God.


If we have any say in how we conduct our lives, I we are not merely pre-programmed Biological machines, if we have any volition and can choose what we do, then we are also culpable in some fashion.

This does not negate The above however, and I would contend that any who would argue that it is the Bible contradicting itself simply lacks the understanding necessary to understand the topic.

The Bible, of course, must be viewed as simplistic to help further the impression that those arguing absent it are enlightened, and using modern Science and reason have overtired such a Primitive superstition. Thus, the use of these two things as contradictions would be most easy to sell. It would, however, be wrong.

After all, the same Paul who wrote Romans wrote Ephesians, and even in Romans he speaks of Faith saving us.

No, it is not contradictory, it is simply complex.

But I will present it here in a summery.

We are in need of a Savour to show ups the way to live our lives, and act as a perfect example and moral teacher. For those ins we have incurred, an the rebellion mankind has had against God, we likewise needed propitiation. Both of these ends where given in the firm of Jesus of Nazareth, who taught us, lived a perfect life, and was Sacrificed for our sins on the Cross.

Should we wish forgiveness s of our sins, we would simply use this Avenue God has opened to us.

However, if we truly seek to end Rebellion against God, we’d also have to address the fact that we need to live according to how he had called us to, and made us to.
*I realise Randall also argues that Christianity is the opposite of how we where naturally designed to live, and will cover that in another post.
Suffice to say, we can gain pardon of our sins by confessing them and turning form them. Should we again sin, we have recourse this if we are Honest to God and ourselves, admit those sins, and return to him.

Although we are Culpable of our Auctions, and must take reasonability for them, the final Judgement of us by Christ will rest on who we are, our motivation in doing what we did, or, if what we did was wrong, and we where aware o it, our sincere repentance in it, and how sincere we where. It also rests on the content of our character, and if we loved God, and each other.

It is, in the end, who we are, not what we do, that matters to God, and this is what we are judged according to.

But who we are also determines what we do, and from a wicked heart proceeds wicked things, and this was said by Jesus himself in Mathew Chapter 15, when the Pharisees had accused him and his Followers of sin by eating Corn on the Sabbath. ( I know it’s not Corn, but this is 1611 English in my Bible.)

16. And Jesus said, Are ye also yet without understanding?
17. Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught?
18. But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man.
19. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:
20. These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man.


As it was Said in the Proverbs, every way seemeth right unto man, but the Lord pondereth the Hearts. But the Heart dictates our Actions. It is form the Heart that we think. ( the Heart, of course, being here the mind.) It is this that defines who we are. And, in the end, it is this that we are judged upon. At least in Christianity.

ZAROVE said...

THe post is not hat I had wanted. I wanted to present the Concept of he Attoenment, and reconciliaiton, tothe Psycology of man, and then form their procceed into how COnfession and admitance of fialings is th eonly way to mvoe forward, shwo the Bibles udnerstandign of Human naure, and then end back with th ttonement.

THis woudl show that the Christian understanding is not a simplsiitc reward and punishmnet schema, fits modern osycolgy, and is far mroe compelxe.

But beign blog, I tried ot shroten it.

The editig proccess included rewrites, and Im afriad it snto as good as it could have been.

Nevertheless, it dmonstrates that Christianity is mo eocmpelxe than Less stated, and it demonstrates that it is not a Rewad and Punishmnet Schema.

liniasmax said...

Hey friends on both sides of the fence. I wasn't going to write anything else and indeed I'm not getting back into the polemics. I wrote a little piece for exchristian.net back in September that poked a little fun at the resistence I was feeling after I "came out" (albeit clandestine). If you're interested here's the link. You'll have to copy and paste - I'm not technologically advanced:

http://exchristian.net/exchristian/2007/09/two-cs-for-clarity-and-communication.html

Andy - I appreciate your concern - I was short on all the details of some of things you responded to. And I did not mean to sound arrogant when I said "arrogant certainty." That was more of me looking in the mirror...

Peace to all (Zarove, you too)

District Supt. Harvey Burnett said...

Lee~ My comments and subsequent response to this article wasn't meant to be an attack or take a negative "tone" as suggested. It is and was merely an uncovering of your assertions as well as drawing your statements out, as presented, to their logical conclusions.

Your statements are not uncommon to atheism, so called freethinking and other forms of godless reasoning. So there was NO "strawman" presented other than the one your argument creates against God.

I was under the impression that the object of your article was to create reasonable doubt about concepts of sin as stated in the bible and ultimately God. As I stated in my rebuttal, your arguments and any atheistic argument that I've ever seen, falls far short of disproving God or his word in any way. Even Richard Dawkins makes more than major "leaps of faith" against the knowledge of God in his laughable book. Unfortunately Lee, you do no more than him in offering only speculations or what could "possibly be", and that approach does nothing but expands the list of possibilities.

For example, I could have any amount from $1 to $1 Million in the bank, but to state the million possibilities of what I have DOESN'T GIVE ME ONE MORE DOLLAR than I actually have. Anything is possible. Possibilities however do not actualize realities. Reasonable doubt’s got OJ off…but in order to convict or prove one guilty there’s a greater burden of proof, you know that. But this is classic atheistic thought at work.

Also, I perceive from your writing, that you believe science will one day be able to answer all questions (Like your chief apostle Richard Dawkins). Therefore as I state, your "religion" is blind because your faith is placed in the hands of men who are not omniscient and many of whom reject truths other than those that serve their worldviews.

The atheist has never been able to set forth a clear reasoning for the evidence of nonmaterialisms that EVERY human experiences daily. Science only measures materialisms, but you insist that science can somehow prove that nonmaterialisms are purely biological and by virtue of that discovery or realization God would be disproved.

One thing you do by taking this stance. You successfully Debunk Natural Selection as a valid method of species development. By pointing out faulty biology you negate a cardinal tenet of your faith system. {then you give yourself a way out by suggesting that what you're saying only holds true if God created us} Lee, you can't have it both ways. If God didn't do a good job, then natural selection did an even worse one because according to you, it's had millions of years to get it right, but hasn't yet done so.

Every reader has nonmaterial aspects of their nature that science has NO REASON or EXPLAINATION for and CANNOT rationally relate to the concepts of natural selection that you hold to dearly.

To try to reduce what we ALL experience day to day, love, joy, hope, pleasure and other nonmaterial aspects of our being, to just mere biological functions such as those of animals is beyond conscious and ultimately unreasonable and therefore fanatical and I believe a conscious disregard for truth that you supposedly seek. However following your arguments, you leave yourself NO ROOM to come back and must wait on science for future answers.

Atheistic thought and reasoning on these issues have ALWAYS lead to greater problems for atheism and suggestions that worsen the plight of humanity in general for the reasons I've clearly outlined in my article.

Many of your followers judge God by their own experiences. Many of those experiences are grievous, but everything I've seen is common to man and the condition of SIN in this world. NONE of what I've read either by you, Leftus, Harry, or any other advocate who have shared their experiences on this site are worthy of anyone leaving God or giving up the God of the Bible and Christianity as you claim that you have done.

Once again Andy/Drew/Andrew set forth the best and most accurate statement I've read on your site this far. He said this about many of you and your relationship to God:

"When you know Him, there's no not knowing Him anymore or being talked out of your faith. So by your own description, you never knew Him."

To me that sums up all of your attempts to deny the very one that gave each of you life, no matter how exciting or mundane that life is. This is what is meant by God saying that he turned Pharaoh's heart, in spite of HIS (God's) pleading Pharaoh TURNED himself against God just like many of you have done.

Zarove~ Save yourself stress, truth which has been rejected will be brought to their attention once again in the final judgement of all things. As you can see many of these in the name of "reason" have decided to be "unreasonable" because they are blinded by this world and the prince of it. It's really no surprise.

To all the atheists, please keep setting forth arguments, while those of us who know the truth, keep praying that you one day have an epiphany and keep putting your fallacies down.

Thanks.

ZAROVE said...

I promised three posts. Ihave broken my word in the past because of life getting in the way in these baords, but did not liek it.

I will do my upmost to keep that word.

Three posts.

I may even add a Fourth.

goprairie said...

DSHB: You have a flawed idea of natural selection. Natural selection does not produce a perfect being. Changes happen by slight mutation and if they cost the new organism a lot they are selected against. If they benefit the organism, they are selected for. If they have only a slight cost, they may persist. And sometimes a 'flaw' is linked genetically to a thing with a benefit, so the benefit of the other thing outweighs the cost of the flaw, so the flaw lingers as baggage. And natural selection is selection for most successful reproduction which may or may not be the most perfect thing for other aspects of an organisms life span. And conditions of the environment may change such that a thing that was beneficial is no longer, yet the cost may not be great enough yet to select against it. Natural selection should not be expected to produce a perfect being. We might expect more perfection from a God in designing and modifying an organism to be fit.

goprairie said...

DSHB: "To try to reduce what we ALL experience day to day, love, joy, hope, pleasure and other nonmaterial aspects of our being, to just mere biological functions such as those of animals is beyond conscious and ultimately unreasonable"
Beyond conscious? Or do you mean beyond conscience? Hmmm.
There is really very little difference between our species and our closest living relatives, the chimpanzees. They experience family bonds, pleasure, and even creatively make tools fot the need at hand. The main difference between them and us is that we have an awareness of time. We have an awareness of the future that allows us to plan for it and apply our creativity to beyond the moment and to understand that we have a past and contemplate the boundlessness of time. Really not much of a difference, but it makes such a difference. And all those emotions can be explained by brain chemistry and natural selection as they all lead to greater success in mating and in a social group that raises the offspring to its own reproductive age.
What are you so ANGRY about?

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Harvey,
what a fallacy fest! Thanks, I really love analyzing arguments. I like them better than puzzles. I explained each fallacy as I found them. You seem to have quite the affinity for strawmen since they far and away outnumber the rest of the types of fallacies you used. I avoided the technical names in favor of just explaining why they are flawed. I ran out of time and had to post this as is. sorry in advance for any spelling grammar or incoherence!

you admitted you strawmanned me but you don't see it. Here's why,
It is and was merely an uncovering of your assertions as well as drawing your statements out, as presented, to their logical conclusions.

Your statements are not uncommon to atheism, so called freethinking and other forms of godless reasoning. So there was NO "strawman" presented other than the one your argument creates against God.

so you weren't attacking my statements as much as you were the logical conclusions. They are your logical conclusions. Your process of reasoning not mine or atheists in general. Your perception of the atheist argument. We are both biased are we not? We each have our view, but you choose not to attack my argument but a conclusion at the end of a slippery slope that developed in your head. You attacked your conclusion instead of mine. This is the definition of a straw man.

As I stated in my rebuttal, your arguments and any atheistic argument that I've ever seen, falls far short of disproving God or his word in any way.
And any argument you can dream up falls short of disproving Hinduism, buddhism, judaism, islam, mormonism, and in some cases you can't even convince christians to buy into another christians doctrine. You should go strike up a conversation with our christain commenter name jason. I think the Christians biggest vulnerability is the "Body of Christ" concept. If you can't agree amongst yourselves, why should anyone buy into it until you get your story straight?

Unfortunately Lee, you do no more than him in offering only speculations or what could "possibly be", and that approach does nothing but expands the list of possibilities.
my article was filled with data from research that is used to treat patients. It is science applied. strawman 2.

For example, I could have any amount from $1 to $1 Million in the bank, but to state the million possibilities of what I have DOESN'T GIVE ME ONE MORE DOLLAR than I actually have. Anything is possible.
This is a faulty analogy as I said because I wasn't listing possibilities. And in any case the old "listing possibilities" scheme is valid in the case of a plausible alternate hypothesis and since I can show you a psychopath that feels no remorse it undermines the atonement since it was supposed to be the means to which all were redeemed but the psychopath doesn't give a crap is totally self absorbed so that his selfish and sometimes harmful actions don't seem that way to him. He acts for his /her own good, they are the their own moral compass, no feelings of remorse. They are not able to repent. Get it? strawman 3.

Possibilities however do not actualize realities. Reasonable doubt’s got OJ off…but in order to convict or prove one guilty there’s a greater burden of proof, you know that. But this is classic atheistic thought at work.
inconsistency 1. above you faulted me not disproving god, now you impose the burden of proof on me to show there is not god, but you have not shown that there is a god. You have not met the criteria that you are imposing on me. You can't meet the burden because christianity is built on a fallacious reasoning scheme. You say the bible is inspired by god, but you have to assume god exists to get him in a position to inspire it. In this case, as in any, you need corroborrating evidence which you don't have and christians explain it away as "its because it is all about faith and evidence would negate the need for faith". This is pure sophistry.

Also, I perceive from your writing, that you believe science will one day be able to answer all questions (Like your chief apostle Richard Dawkins).
it depends on what you mean by science. I get the feeling that your building another strawman.

Therefore as I state, your "religion" is blind because your faith is placed in the hands of men who are not omniscient and many of whom reject truths other than those that serve their worldviews.
yep, I was right. strawman 4. your definition of religion is whacked. Heres why,
when I was a kid I heard that warm water freezes faster that cold. I did not believe it and i predicted that the cold water would freeze faster. I did the experiment and discovered the cold water froze faster. This is a common method of interacting in the world. We come up with an idea and try it and see what happens. This is not religion. This is common sense.

The atheist has never been able to set forth a clear reasoning for the evidence of nonmaterialisms that EVERY human experiences daily.
you are ignoring qualifiers here. Paranoia an schizophrenia, low frequency sounds and nausea due to smells are all treatable using natural methods. Social pressures, cultural pressures, environmental factors explain everything that I can think of that has happened to me, and I'm sure you would agree, if you were not so bent on arguing against me, that 99.9% of what happens to you day to day can be explained by you without having to resort to the supernatural.

Science only measures materialisms, but you insist that science can somehow prove that nonmaterialisms are purely biological and by virtue of that discovery or realization God would be disproved.
well, when you take a claim and show a verifiable reason for it, or a more plausible reason for it that has a tendency to weaken the claim. For example, when you lose your keys, you have at least two possibilities for what happened to them. You think they were stolen by a demon and forget looking for them, or you could think you carelessly laid them down and look for them until you find them. Science is like this. And if you stop and think about it for a minute, you might realize that if god exists, then he should be discoverable through science, and think how glorious a defeat would be for atheists. For God to use science to reveal himself. Kind of poetic justice is it not? So I think all you christians should get busy learning how to apply the scientific method to your religion and the world so you can find god and reveal his glory.

One thing you do by taking this stance. You successfully Debunk Natural Selection as a valid method of species development. By pointing out faulty biology you negate a cardinal tenet of your faith system. {then you give yourself a way out by suggesting that what you're saying only holds true if God created us} Lee, you can't have it both ways. If God didn't do a good job, then natural selection did an even worse one because according to you, it's had millions of years to get it right, but hasn't yet done so.
I suspect strawman 5, but I don't have a clue where you got that from, so I can't analyze your argument against what you are referring to. Please clarify.

Every reader has nonmaterial aspects of their nature that science has NO REASON or EXPLAINATION for and CANNOT rationally relate to the concepts of natural selection that you hold to dearly.
and? I bet you can't explain to me how prozac works, but it does work. This is called an argument from ignorance.


To try to reduce what we ALL experience day to day, love, joy, hope, pleasure and other nonmaterial aspects of our being, to just mere biological functions such as those of animals is beyond conscious and ultimately unreasonable and therefore fanatical and I believe a conscious disregard for truth that you supposedly seek.
you are ignoring qualifiers. Go do some research on children that are identified as psychotic. They don't love. They have a problem in their limbic system.

However following your arguments, you leave yourself NO ROOM to come back and must wait on science for future answers.
This is an endorsement for hasty conclusions.

Atheistic thought and reasoning on these issues have ALWAYS lead to greater problems for atheism and suggestions that worsen the plight of humanity in general for the reasons I've clearly outlined in my article.
I don't suppose you'd want to qualify this with some data would you? In these parts we have a different method of communication that the one way communication that your are used to, its called dialog, and debate. That is where, when you make a claim, you have to back it up, then to rebut a claim you have to show EVIDENCE that weakens it. That means data that can be interpreted as contrary to the claim.

Many of your followers judge God by their own experiences. Many of those experiences are grievous, but everything I've seen is common to man and the condition of SIN in this world.
yea, we are in agreement. What you call sin are all done by man, no doubt, but it is what is behind that which is the question, of which you are avoiding. What is the motive. Why do I lust in my heart after halle berry? That is definitely biological. Why do I get angry when I smacked in the back of the head? That is definitely biological. Why would I kill my wifes lover? It starts bilogically then, if everything is working right, should get shut down by the frontal cortex, but as we can see, there are lots of factors that affect frontal cortex performance.

NONE of what I've read either by you, Leftus, Harry, or any other advocate who have shared their experiences on this site are worthy of anyone leaving God or giving up the God of the Bible and Christianity as you claim that you have done.
opinions are like airholes, everybodies got them. did I say that right? That doesn't sound right for some reason....

Once again Andy/Drew/Andrew set forth the best and most accurate statement I've read on your site this far. He said this about many of you and your relationship to God:

"When you know Him, there's no not knowing Him anymore or being talked out of your faith. So by your own description, you never knew Him."

To me that sums up all of your attempts to deny the very one that gave each of you life, no matter how exciting or mundane that life is. This is what is meant by God saying that he turned Pharaoh's heart, in spite of HIS (God's) pleading Pharaoh TURNED himself against God just like many of you have done.

then if that is true then every experience I have can be attributed to supernatural means right? even dreams? even when I think i hear things like my spouse calling me or the telephone ringing and it is only some sound I've misinterpreted? And andrews argument is circular because there is no clear criteria for how to "know him". Like I said, go tell a catholic he doesn't know Jesus and see what you get.

To all the atheists, please keep setting forth arguments, while those of us who know the truth, keep praying that you one day have an epiphany and keep putting your fallacies down.
what is the point of praying? Do you think god doesn't know whats going on here? Do you think you can change gods mind? Do you think god doesn't know what you want? This is classic self-justification. You can't even see that your principles are self contradictory.

District Supt. Harvey Burnett said...

Lee, Lee, Lee, You are like clockwork, I must admit, always on time with presuppositions...

Lee~ "so you weren't attacking my statements as much as you were the logical conclusions. They are your logical conclusions."

(PHB~ No Lee, I said this~ "It is and was merely an uncovering of your assertions as well as drawing your statements out, as presented, to their logical conclusions.” Any conclusions would have to be drawn out on your suggestions not mine. There was no attack period, just a revealing or uncovering of your godless understandings. So where’s the strawman NOW?)


Lee~ “You should go strike up a conversation with our christain commenter name jason. I think the Christians biggest vulnerability is the "Body of Christ" concept. If you can't agree amongst yourselves, why should anyone buy into it until you get your story straight?”

(PHB~ now you go STRAIGHT OFF THE TABLE…So somehow the body of Christ and acceptable varying opinions is responsible for your faulted and biased presentation and godless assertions? Where’s the strawman NOW?)


Regarding your hypothesis set forth in your article you said,

Lee~“It is science applied. strawman 2.”

(PHB~ NO Lee, the article is actually THEORIES or plausabilities SUGGESTED not science applied. Only efforts to explain nonmaterial behavior)

Lee~ "This is a faulty analogy as I said because I wasn't listing possibilities. And in any case the old "listing possibilities" scheme is valid in the case of a plausible alternate hypothesis and since I can show you a psychopath that feels no remorse it undermines the atonement since it was supposed to be the means to which all were redeemed but the psychopath doesn't give a crap is totally self absorbed so that his selfish and sometimes harmful actions don't seem that way to him. He acts for his /her own good, they are the their own moral compass, no feelings of remorse. They are not able to repent. Get it? strawman 3."

(PHB~LEE What crock of day old horse excrement are you trying to sell these people? You know better than that. The PSYCHOPATH has the ability TO REPENT JUST AS YOU DO. The psychopath sins are bound in his namaterial being just as yours are. He has chosen to self-indulge and is probably bound for any number of reasons which DOE NOT exclude his spiritual blindness and depravation. Yours are EXCUSES for SIN and immoral behavior. That's what your article is filled with.)

Lee~"inconsistency 1. above you faulted me not disproving god, now you impose the burden of proof on me to show there is not god, but you have not shown that there is a god."

(PHB~ I wasn’t undertaking the job of proving to you that there is God, ONLY undertaking the display of your flawed argument, there’s no imposition on you but this is simply what your writing suggests)

Lee~ "You have not met the criteria that you are imposing on me. You can't meet the burden because christianity is built on a fallacious reasoning scheme. You say the bible is inspired by god, but you have to assume god exists to get him in a position to inspire it. In this case, as in any, you need corroborrating evidence"

(PHB~What EVEIDENCE do you have to make an opposite argument? I have WRITTEN TESTIMONY, EYE WITNESS ACCOUNTS, HISTORICAL VERIFIABILITY OF ACCOUNTS, ARCHAEOLOGY, OOH and BIOLOGY AS NO DISCOVERY HAS DISPROVED GOD’S existance. THEN I have the record of science which when objectively interpreted displays evidence of a creator and an intellegent common design. I have scientific evidence that says the universe had a beginning and further evidences that clearly display that complex systems DO NOT arise from primordial slime as your KINDERGARTEN AND SILLY apostles suggest. NOW WHAT?)


Lee~ "yep, I was right. strawman 4. your definition of religion is whacked. Heres why,
when I was a kid I heard that warm water freezes faster that cold. I did not believe it and i predicted that the cold water would freeze faster. I did the experiment and discovered the cold water froze faster. This is a common method of interacting in the world. We come up with an idea and try it and see what happens. This is not religion. This is common sense.

(PHB~ LOOKS LIKE A DUCK, TALKS LIKE A DUCK, QUACKS LIKE A DUCK…YOU A DUCK BABY! PLAIN AND SIMPLE…YOU HAVE APOLSTLES YOU CALL SCIENTISTS, YOU HAVE MEMBERS YOU CALL HUMANISTS, You have apologists who write publications to disuade people from Christianity and religion in general(Uh-ooh---“The God delusion??? Purely scientific huh?)YOU HAVE BIBLES YOU CALL MANIFESTOS, ONLY THING YOU DON’T HAVE IS FREEDOM FROM SIN AND HOPE BEYONED THE GRAVE BECAUSE ALL IS RIGHT HERE AND RIGHT NOW…SOUND LIKE A CLASSIC SADUCEE TO ME. RELIGION, RELIGION, RELIGION, NO DOUBT!)

Lee~ "well, when you take a claim and show a verifiable reason for it, or a more plausible reason for it that has a tendency to weaken the claim."

(PHB-C’mon Lee, Are you saying that for a MINUTE science measures the immaterial…You’re such a deceiver if you do.)


Lee~ "you are ignoring qualifiers. Go do some research on children that are identified as psychotic. They don't love. They have a problem in their limbic system.

(PHB~So what? Does that make them any less human? I can’t understand that point)


Lee~ "I don't suppose you'd want to qualify this with some data would you? In these parts we have a different method of communication that the one way communication that your are used to, its called dialog, and debate.

(PHB~How about China, Russia and the host of other societies that offer godlessness and anti-God stances and human indecencies? The best evidence is no evidence at all in this case…for example, what hospital has atheism EVER built? How many hungry has atheism EVER fed? How many people has atheism clothed? Where is the evidence that atheism has assisted humanity in any way except for lip service? There is none. If you claim that there is no evidence for God and therefore he doesn’t exist, I can certainly claim that there is no EVIDENCE for anything that atheism has ever brought to society…but yet atheism exists.)


Lee~ "yea, we are in agreement. What you call sin are all done by man, no doubt, but it is what is behind that which is the question, of which you are avoiding. What is the motive. Why do I lust in my heart after halle berry? That is definitely biological. Why do I get angry when I smacked in the back of the head? That is definitely biological. Why would I kill my wifes lover? It starts bilogically then, if everything is working right, should get shut down by the frontal cortex, but as we can see, there are lots of factors that affect frontal cortex performance.

PHB~ I'll go away on a good note...This is the part where you make the best observations. In the Christian worldview the behaviors you name do not merely begin with biology. They begin and are birthed in the HEART. The NONMATERIAL aspect or part of man that our science cannot measure. This is the whole focal point of what I was saying and what your article questions as far as I’m concerned. Science (according to you) suggest that it’s all biological, God through HIS word suggests that it begins within the heart and y’u-know what, I believe him. Why? Any 2 identical people given the same histories and circumstances act out on what is bound in their hearts to do. Not what their biology determines them to do. You mentioned in another comment about someone having a brain tumor and possibly killing someone as a result…There have been plenty of people with brain tumors who do not kill or do anything ungodly. Your understanding suggests that actions are a result of biology and that’s not true. The nonmaterial aspect of life CANNOT be perceived by science alone and try as you may, science can only reproduce circumstance but not action.

In short I’m saying that although you offer scientific proofs you have no way to measure the unseen because science is not designed or equipped to do so…

Thanks, for your indulgence, I’m awaiting your next post. After reading this stuff, I'm more confident in the God of the Bible NOW than ever before. I guess MC Hammer had it right..."You can't touch this!" (LOL)

stu said...

Lee,thanks for starting this thread of ideas....One of the things that lead me to challange my religious dogma was the question of free-will and whether or not humans should be made to make a decision regarding eternal life...when our brains are not always under our control and can be influenced by culture,authority,hormones, disease,damage.For example,it is not surprising to me that people raised in a muslem culture are muslem. I have also seen hundreds of depressed people who think life is hopeless respond to drugs that we now know replenish normal levels of neurotransmitters in the brain...like serotonin.How is a child or an autistic person to be expected to make a decision that has eternal implications? For that matter, how is any human to make such a decision?

Lee Randolph said...

HI Harvey,
It has been a pleasure corresponding with you and I hope to see you again in other articles.

I have to take a break for a little while so this is my last response to you.

It is clear to me that you don't know what a psychopath is or you wouldn't believe he/she can repent.

here is a link to an article I did all about psychopaths and how it undermines the claim that the atonement was sufficient to for everyone. The Atonement won't make a difference in the case of the psychopath.

psychopaths have a 'feature' in their brains that prevents them from feeling remorse or love. If you can get a psychopath to appear to repent, you can be sure that it is not out of love or remorse.

Lee Randolph said...

Thank you stu.
I appreciate your interest and participation. I am glad to know that I am not alone with these doubts.

Lee Randolph said...

Now I'm going to concentrate on getting a response to zarove, then I'm outta here for little while.

ZAROVE said...

I'd wait a momnt Lee. I have two mor eposts to make. This is one, the other is fouthcoming.

*********

THIS is my second post of three I intended. The first, alas, did not come as expected, but it did do an adequate job in pointing out that Christianity is not simply about Reward and Punishment. We are, after all, Saved by Gods Grace, forgiven of our past sins, and bale to leave them behind if we repent and confess those selfsame sins.

Now, in this post, I will concentrate on what Christianity is, and will also cover another of Lee Randall’s objections, that Christianity is Psychologically unhealthy, causing depression, anxiety, and resentment. As I explain the true nature of Christian beliefs in regard to Salvation, I will also cite how this is in line with Modern psychological Understanding. In fact, Christianity is easily seen in terms pf Psychological health as a vehicle to conversance of a balanced mind.

But I shall first challenge Randall on his claim, noting that he overlooks the times when Jesus is Described as a Physician, who came to heal us of our afflictions. Randal instead focuses only on Jesus as our Judge, and then project into this image the idea that Jesus judges us based soley upon a set of rules and rather or not we followed them.

Of course, Jesus as our Judge is presented in Christianity as concerned with our Heart, as I said earlier, which is an ancient mean of saying our minds. He judges us based upon who we are, and the content of our Character, not what we’ve done. The basis for the judgement then is mind, and what we thought. Motivation will be taken into account as will limitations and extenuating circumstances. On this the Scripture is clear, and we aren’t judged base don a flat standard of rules and if we happen to have made the practice of breaking them.

But I digress, and now ask Randall of that other Image, the Image of the Saviour as a Physician to heal our illnesses and bound our broken bodies in newness of health. Jesus said that those who are sick need a Physician, no those who are well, and in this he addressed his own ministry when others questioned him on keeping the company of sinners. This is how Jesus described himself.

Indeed, it was a reference to Isaiah that was aid of Jesus. By his Stripes we are Healed.

Healing is a constant theme in he New testament, both in terms of Jesus healing those who where physically suffering some malady, or in terms of Jesus healing us on a personal level, that of our very Soul.

This theme is played out in great detail in the numerous verses about Jesus coming to heal the world, or to give us healing, or to make us whole. It seems rather obvious and impossible to miss.

In that regard, then, one can easily see Sin as a sickness we suffer from, and Jesus as a Doctor come to cure us of it, and free us of the plight.

It is also in this regard that the New Testament seems to address us; that we are in need of healing, and thus are offered the way of the Christ as a mean of repairing ourselves and our lives.

Thus, I would contend that it is a Remedial faith, and not one of Reward and Punishment, as you had formerly asserted.

But is the Remedy effective? This is the next anticipated question, and you seem tot think not. Indeed, you have Criticized Christianity, claiming that it would breed unhealthy minds.

To quote Randal, he said the following;

Whether or not the behavior meets our expectations or that of God, it originated out of the frail bodily organ that is the brain. It may be that these factors cannot really be appreciated until they are put under stress or do not work properly. Many times the result is behavior that is outside the norm and/or doesn't meet our expectations. How much culpability does a person have when the tools they are given are not adequate for the task at hand? In the context of having our behavior judged by God, there is only eternal reward or eternal damnation. Curiously there is no facility for treatment except for the bible, church, prayer and repentance. But living in a constant state of repentance causes stress, poor self-esteem and approaches depression. With the advances in biological sciences in the last few decades, Western Judicial Systems have been forced to re-evaluate policies to determine if treatment rather than punishment is the better decision, because everyday secular science gets one step closer to easing a previously mysterious malady.


Randall seems to be arguing that the Christian Faith expects us to live constantly in a state of repentance, and that it offers no help to overcome them. The only requires are the Church, the Bible, prayer, and repentance. Randall seems to want the reader to assume those things are inadequate of course, but, they aren’t.

Indeed, Randall just assumes that the Church cannot possible be a mean to help one overcome problems, nor the Bible, nor Prayer, nor repentance. I would advance what Randall is not only mistaken in that these are the only things that Christianity gives you recourse to, but that these things in and of themselves offer much more than Randal implies in the above.

But first we shall look at what Christianity teaches, and for that we shall focus on the Bible, getting to the others later.

Does Christianity teach us that we should be in a Constant state of Repentance? Actually, no. Nor does Randall even provide any reason to believe it does.

Then, what does Christianity teach? I argued that it would be beneficial Psychologically, and so, we should read into it to see if my case can be made, so to the Scriptures we go.

If we turn back to John Chapter 3, we find in verse 17 a flat denial that he came to condemn the world, but to save it.

I mentioned this in the previous post, when in address to the fact that it is not a Simple platform for Reward and Punishment.

Starting at Verse 17, we see a poetic yet concise refrain as to why Jesus came into the world, and on what principles Christianity is formed out of. Thus, we shall read it.

16. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
17. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
18. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
19. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
20. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.
21. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.


Now, those here can take verse 18, and claim that Christianity is proven then that Christianity is exclusionary and condemns those who disagree, but this would not be a proper understanding, flowing from the theme given in the chapter.

Rather, the entire passage I quote here presents a simple theme. We walked in Darkness, and then came a light to us. This light was Jesus of Nazareth, who came to show us a better way. Some came into the light, while others avoided it.

Those who came into the light loved truth and wanted to see clearly and live rightly, while those who remained in the Darkness where those whose deeds where evil.

But in the end, it is their choice to remain in the darkness or enter the light. Those who chose the light where those who chose to admit they had been wrong in the past, and chose to expose themselves and their errors, and in the light, see how they where harmful. Those how remained in the darkness either knew their deeds where wicked and wanted them not exposed, or else refused to about their was anything wrong with how they where.

This mirrors modern Psychology, albeit in a more poetic sense.

The Scripture asks us to confess our sins, or admit to them. We should also repent of them.

Psychology also says this, though it doesn’t use the same terminology.

Psychology has always maintained that we will not overcome a problem unless we confront it, and cannot confront it if we do not first admit there is a problem in the first place.

This is why Sociopath are so difficult to treat, because they refuse to even admit a problem.

But, for those seeking to overcome something wrong or difficult in their lives, the first step is admitting there is a problem. Confession. The next step is realising that such conduct must be changed and is destructive, and feeling motivated to change it. Repentance.

Those who do not Admit to a problem will continue on, not seeking help to overcome it, and thus not growing beyond it.

Those who confess to a problem, but feel it is not a problem will likewise not seek any sort of therapy.

Thus, Christianity is correct in its assessment. And you are mistaken in the assessment you gave of Christianity, Randall.
For Although Christianity asks us to Confess our sins, and repent of them, it des not require that we remain in a constant state of Repentance. Indeed, Paul the Apostle clearly states that he live din Joy, and that we have Libarty in Christ Jesus.

Even Jesus did not ask us to dwell on our sins, but to let them go, and focus on who we ware now or who we want to be.

Thus, Christianity doesn’t teach us to live in constant repentance, and doesn’t destroy our Self-Esteem. It merely asks us to be honest in our faults and attempt to correct them.

Now, you may advance on this the proposition that not all problems go away right off, and would take work to overcome. In this, though< I agree, and it sometimes takes a long time to overcome certain Character defects. Standard therapy can take years in some cases.

Christianity, likewise, agrees.

In the Epistles written from St. Paul, we see him dealing with problems encountered by the early Churches he had helped form in local regions.

Everything form improper conduct from overzealous Disciples, to grave sexual immorality, to quarrels within the group, Paul had to handle situations in regards to this conduct.

James also had to address problems in the Christian community, and spoke of it. The Letter to the Hebrews did too.

Thee is Ample evidence both form the Gospels along with book of Acts an the Epistles that neither Jesus not the Apostles thought that one would be made perfect right away after becoming a Christian. They speak of struggles they have with sin, and the need to overcome it. The advice given to overcome it, though, is profound and useful.


That said, the Church itself offers both social networks of support, and counselling. Ministers often hold Psychology degrees and many Churches have Counselling sessions with individuals to talk through their problems and find real solutions over time.

Your implication that the Bile, prayer, and the Church, and, along with Repentance, was not sufficient seems rather silly. The Church can offer what Psycologicl clinics offer. Support grounds and social networks and one on one counselling. The Scripture has been proven to contain insights and wisdom into Human Nature. Repentance is actually needed in Mental Health fields.

You make it sound like the Bible has nothing of worth in it in regard to the Human Condition, Church does nothing but praise and worship, and Repentance breeds depression. It doesn’t.

Likewise, e have numerous clinical studies that show that, on average Churchgoing, dedicated Christians do better than the average secular counterparts who do not attend Church, and do not believe in God.

We surly see Christians enjoying themselves, smiling, and having a good time, and numerous testimonies of those how they had converted to Christ after their lives had been ruined would be evidence that a good deal more happens than your willing to pretend. Even John Loftus argued hat it helped him overcome Drug addiction, though he qualifies it that it could show only how an individuals convictions can lead to it no matter hat he believed in. But my question is not rather or not something else can do the same thing, my only goal is to show the Christian Faith is proven to be Psychologically sound.


It is not that most Christians do not take their faith seriously, the studies concluded that those who do take it seriously, those who study their Bibles, go o Church, an live by moral convictions, have less stress, lower incidents of depression, and easier recover form stress and depression than the average person. They also suffer less Anxiety.
This is the opposite of what you predicted.

And its Empirically shown, if you study Psychological reports.

So, it seems your assessment is wrong. Christianity seems a balancing, healing influence on ones mind, not something that would leave you resentful, with low self esteem, and depressed.

Indeed, it seems a contrivance to me.


That said, my next post should be done by tonight, and I’ll try to cover theology and Biology.

ZAROVE said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lee Randolph said...

Hi zarove,
first thing. My name is not randall. You can't even get that right. I've run out of glucose in my frontal cortex with you.

Lee, this oost isn't about Demons and I don't have to show you Demons.
you think that exorcisms are valid. That means you think there are demons. I say back it up with some data. If not, then why do you believe it?

Likewise, Wikipedia is hardly a reliable source for information.
you are hardly a reliable source for information. I find wikipedia better than you because when I know what a primary source says, I can look in wikipedia and find it reflected there. I have done is so much that I trust wikipedia and will take the hit when I use it and am wrong. I can't say the same about you.

Tha said, did I miss something? Arne;t the Muslism alao\so THeists?
no one said they weren't.

That also said, I'm not wrong, and the Bible doens't really indicate that all Mental illness was though of as Demon possession. The Bibnle itself speaks of madness that it doens't associate Demons to.
hmmm you don't sound as certain as you did in the beginning. The kind of madness they were talking wasn't scary enough to warrant suspicion of being a demon. there is a marked difference in behavior in mental retardation and a seizure, or Ranting till you're spitting across the room.

Also, Midaevel Europe is not thje end all be all of everything.
you are really reaching now.

Yoru case about Aspergers for instance was far mroe ocntemproary. Shoudl we ignroe Modern Excorissts exceot where they meet your need to invalidate them?
what? I don't understand. on second thought, nevermind.

The argument in question is in regard to sin, which Randall claims to argue against. However, it is my contention that Randall’s argument is as most on this Blog, that is to say, based upon an incorrect presentation of Christianity.
you need to establish what the correct representation of christianity is before you go promoting one version over another. Parts of the body of christ don't agree with you. You don't want your hand to put a sock in your mouth by surprise would you?

I would instead argue that Christianity’s view of Human nature is far more complex than what Randall has given us, and its theology not based upon Simple reward and Punishment.
where do sinners go after they die? Hell. How do they get to be sinners? The don't DO what god said. They don't love god. Simple formula, not much to misunderstand. Love is not something you turn on and off is it?

In the end, It is our Motivation, our Love, and our character that God assesses in his judgement, not our Actions.
bingo, i knew you didn't understand what you read, I assert that as long as there are biological bases for behavior, the motivation can originate biologically, and the architecture of the body can heavily influence the actions, and if we say that not all psychopaths or brain tumor patients shoot from the tower, the we can at least say that constant repentence for things for feeling we have no control over can lead to resentment. Praying to Jesus doesn't make you feel better forever. Just ask Mother Theresa, or anyone else that has experienced the Dark Night of the Soul. John has a post around here somewhere on Believers with Doubts. Once you have doubts, can you say you really trust? No. If you don't trust, can you really Love unconditionally? No. If you don't love god unconditionally are you sure your going to get to heaven? PLACE YOUR BETS! This formula didn't come out of the mind of a god.

3. Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.
we were made to be children of wrath, if not then there had to be a "GREAT OVERHAUL" of life on earth, unless you want to deny the scientific evidence for prehistoric humans.

5. Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)
if we are dead in our sins, he made us that way, and in any case, "dead in our sins" is a gross exaggeration of the Human Condition.

ATONEMENT
Was a human sacrifice. It depends on a principle of substitution as you point out. The scape goat. But this prinicple is flawed as a means of Justice. You don't punish the persons that don't deserve it, and it is not clear why people deserve punished when they are, for the most part, getting along cooperating in civilzations.

REPENTENCE
Psychopaths are an extreme example of people that are not physically built to experience Remorse or Love. The atonement was pointless for them. Others have varying degrees of brain performance in these areas, such as sociopaths. The atonement was not perfect, and it was based on a flawed principle of justice.

Those Epistles also demonstrate that Paul did not see Christianity as a system of Reward and Punishment, since he spoke of Restoring sinners, or reforming our ways, and given up on our past errors. Never did he mention doing good merely for reward in heaven, or being punished for our evil deeds.
like I said, this was never the claim. Where the motivation originates from is the problem. Where the brain supports belief and emotion is the problem.

of sin leads to forgiveness of sin.
so god doesn't know whats in our hearts? or we just confess as one of the ACTS that are not necessary? Or we just say it even if we don't mean it? You should wake up and realize your are logically inconsistent with yourself.

16. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
17. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
18. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

This is my favorite verse because it, more than any other, is inconsistent with the situation humans find themselves in. Why sabotage us to prefer to do things god disapproves of? Why make some of these things foundational to our survival? Fostering doubt as a way to test fidelity is irresponsibly risky. It is not a sound principle for success in a project.

Although some of you may want to claim the Bible is inconsistent, and say one verse says it is our deeds and another our Heart, I would venture to counter that this simply indicates your own over simplistic approach to the Bible, as if each Verse must stand alone, and in which you seek only to create contradictions rather or not they exist.
God didn't use the principle of clarity in communication. How dumb is that? And I'm to blame because I doubt it and don't love him as a result?

I stopped there. It is clear that you misunderstood the article. It was to show that reward and punishment is a poor way to handle sinful humans. But the argument was not based on how we act. It was based on WHY we act. A principle of EFFECTIVE remediation is in order, not prayer, and support from other sinful humans to defeat something that is hardwired into us. the principle of prayer is flawed because God knows your heart, and he does what he wants to. End of story. To deny that is foolishly arrogant. So you are supposed to do something that you know can logically have no effect. That is not effective remediation.

In response to your second comment on "repentence". Show me the data. I submit for your review "The Dark Night Of The Soul", doubts and worthy prayers that go unanswered.
as my rebuttal to you.

Zarove, if all you are going to do is preach, don't waste your time. You should do it where someone will appreciate it.

with this I close out my participation in this thread.

ZAROVE said...

Lee Randolph said...

Hi zarove,
first thing. My name is not randall. You can't even get that right. I've run out of glucose in my frontal cortex with you.






I didn't get it right because I didn't see the name. I'm Dyslexic, recall, and severely so. Usign it as a critissm, na dimplication of intellegence, is moot.







Lee, this oost isn't about Demons and I don't have to show you Demons.






you think that exorcisms are valid. That means you think there are demons. I say back it up with some data. If not, then why do you believe it?





You have no idea what I htink, as has been shown in his post. IE, when you tlak of our sinful natures.





But my point is, your critisism of Excorsism doens't reflect what peopel actulaly beleived abot tem int he ancient past or what thy beleive about htem now.





Modern Excorsists often work with Mental HEalth proffessionals, and do not blame mentla illnes son Dmeon possession. I also critisise the claim made as fact that All forms of mentla illness whre thoguth of as Demon possession.





Even your lciam that thos hwo where seen as mad wheren't bad enough to be seen as Dmeon possesed is flaed. The Ancients kept records of severley insane individuals whO Would eat grass or whip trees, and knew htem to be insane, and iddn htink them demon possessed.





The poitn I am makign is that your claim is false.







Likewise, Wikipedia is hardly a reliable source for information.




you are hardly a reliable source for information.



Ad Hom.

I'm a better soruce of informaiton than you are, sicne I don't promote propoganda as fact.


I find wikipedia better than you because when I know what a primary source says, I can look in wikipedia and find it reflected there. I have done is so much that I trust wikipedia and will take the hit when I use it and am wrong. I can't say the same about you.





Attakcign my credibility is not equivolent to proving what I said false. Its just Porpoganda, as I said.




Tha said, did I miss something? Arne;t the Muslism alao\so THeists?

no one said they weren't.

But you did say that religion held back Sicnece, and that it wa sonly setitng it aside that caused Sicnede to advnce to the poin fo not seeing mentla illness as Demon possesison. The Muslism based hie beleifs on th Suras.


That also said, I'm not wrong, and the Bible doens't really indicate that all Mental illness was though of as Demon possession. The Bibnle itself speaks of madness that it doens't associate Demons to.





hmmm you don't sound as certain as you did in the beginning.


Actulaly my posiiton is exaclty the same as int e beginning.



The kind of madness they were talking wasn't scary enough to warrant suspicion of being a demon.



As is evidenced by your declarign it to be so.



No, the type of Madness was in fact often scary enough. All you have to do is read abotu it in real Hisotry books.





there is a marked difference in behavior in mental retardation and a seizure, or Ranting till you're spitting across the room.

Yet, they have records of both Epileptic fits and those hwo ranted until they spat accors the room that arne't contributed to Demons.



This is the problem with your empty and unsustainable assertion.





Also, Midaevel Europe is not thje end all be all of everything.





you are really reaching now.




Your the one, alogn wiht your confederates, who constantly tris to use th beleifs of those int he Middle Ages as soem sort of proof of the falsity of Christendom. You spacificlaly use it on the Demon possesion point.



Yoru case about Aspergers for instance was far mroe ocntemproary. Shoudl we ignroe Modern Excorissts exceot where they meet your need to invalidate them?


what? I don't understand. on second thought, nevermind.




Its simple.



You try to rpove that Dmeon possession is caused really by menal illness, and used the Aspergers case on another aritlce as proof of this. Well, it snot, and ignroes other evidenc e agaisnt your claim.





The argument in question is in regard to sin, which Randall claims to argue against. However, it is my contention that Randall’s argument is as most on this Blog, that is to say, based upon an incorrect presentation of Christianity.




you need to establish what the correct representation of christianity is before you go promoting one version over another. Parts of the body of christ don't agree with you. You don't want your hand to put a sock in your mouth by surprise would you?


No CHristian body agrees with your assessment that it is a SImple reward and punishment setup.

I'm simply using general theology here, agreed ot by literllay everyone within CHristtendom.

Also, I'm formt he CHurhc fo CHrist recall. We arne't exaclt the "Denominaitons are all part of the true CHurhc" set.

I would instead argue that Christianity’s view of Human nature is far more complex than what Randall has given us, and its theology not based upon Simple reward and Punishment.

where do sinners go after they die? Hell. How do they get to be sinners? The don't DO what god said. They don't love god. Simple formula, not much to misunderstand. Love is not something you turn on and off is it?

If used as a Proper noun, God is capitolised. Its bad grammer not to, and childish if doign it to show irreverence or to anoy someone else.

That said, Love is a Choice, not an Emotion. You confuse feeligns with actual love.




In the end, It is our Motivation, our Love, and our character that God assesses in his judgement, not our Actions.




bingo, i knew you didn't understand what you read, I assert that as long as there are biological bases for behavior, the motivation can originate biologically, and the architecture of the body can heavily influence the actions,


But unless your a Strict Predestinarian, you'd stll admit that peopel have choices and are Culpable for their actions.

If you are a trict Predestinarian, then you still can't debunk Christianity because not all Christians beleiv ein Fre Will. Look at Martin Luthers "On The Bondage Of The Will" and the theology of John Calvin as examples.


and if we say that not all psychopaths or brain tumor patients shoot from the tower, the we can at least say that constant repentence for things for feeling we have no control over can lead to resentment.

But other than a vain argument that is one sides and clearly bias you have no evidence fo rhis resntment. On average, Christians feel no resentment toward God and your exampels htemselves are deeply flawed.

A Psychopath woudln't feel resentment anyway, as part of Psychopathology is not havign those sort sof feelings. Theya lso let go of anger readily.

Incedentlaly, Christianiy doens't teahc us to COnstantly Repent, and I alreayd notd that in post 2.

CLinical studies have shown that those in Rleigious mvoements like CHristiansity handl life better and ar emroe happy. This speaks agasint your arugment and is Sicnetific.

Your arugment isn't supporte dby anythign int he real world.



Praying to Jesus doesn't make you feel better forever.

OK. But, no one said your suppose to feel better eahc time you pray. No oen said you had to live in a constant state of Repentance. No one said that you had to dfeel anythign to be a CHristian.

And clinical studies still affirm that Christaisn are happier, healhtier, and live longer on average than Atheists.

So, your arugment is not only unsupporte dby Science, and actulaly counteractedby Scinetific findings, but its false.

Yoru misrepresentaiton fo Christainity firbids this form beign a seriously considered debate.



Just ask Mother Theresa, or anyone else that has experienced the Dark Night of the Soul.

Or myself. I suffered severe depression.

I was even at one poitn suicidal.

Thankfully I understand enough about CHrustianity to not think my feeligns really rpresent anythign but how I feel about something. They do nto address rather or not CHristianity is true, nor do I htink prayign make sme feel better.

I also wanst in a sate fo depresison because of constant repentance.

Your enture arugment is just pointless because its focuse don extrme cases like Psychopaths, and a false claim of what CHistianity is.




John has a post around here somewhere on Believers with Doubts. Once you have doubts, can you say you really trust?


Yes. Things are far more layered and complicated than either you or John seem to realise. However, I have no doubts because there is nothign to doubt.




No. If you don't trust, can you really Love unconditionally? No. If you don't love god unconditionally are you sure your going to get to heaven? PLACE YOUR BETS! This formula didn't come out of the mind of a god.



Its not int he Bibel either. Remember that DOubting THomas didnt go to Hell. Nor did Moses, Abraham, Issac, all extpressed doubt.Gidion expressed doubt.

Yoru creatign a straw religion to knock down.


3. Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.



we were made to be children of wrath, if not then there had to be a "GREAT OVERHAUL" of life on earth, unless you want to deny the scientific evidence for prehistoric humans.



I think you are misreading what Paul said.

We do not undergo a Biological change to become CHristians, and when he says "By nature" in this context he means in temrs of how we lived. Just liek if I said that Americans by Nature are Anti-Monarchy. It doens't eman they are Biologiclaly different form those of us British sorts who support Monarchy.

The Nature here reflects the way they live and what naturlaly happens if livign in a certian state of mind.


Reember, Im formt he CHurhc of CHrist, so I dont beleiv ein Sin Nature.


5. Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)

if we are dead in our sins, he made us that way, and in any case, "dead in our sins" is a gross exaggeration of the Human Condition.


1: He did not make us dead in our sins. we did by sinning.

2: No, its not a Gross exageration fo the Human COndition.


ATONEMENT
Was a human sacrifice. It depends on a principle of substitution as you point out. The scape goat. But this prinicple is flawed as a means of Justice. You don't punish the persons that don't deserve it, and it is not clear why people deserve punished when they are, for the most part, getting along cooperating in civilzations.



I see you have no idea either how the ANcient world thought, or the actual nature of Sacrifice. It doens't mean giving somehtign up, and the theology of the Atotnement is far mroe compelxe than you present here.

It enabled an action to balance another action and is baed on an Eastern principle of balance. It is also taken form the Mosaic law, which saw the need for restitution, which was base don clan and tribe loyalty as well as a need to bring matters to a settlement.


If you'd like I'll go into detail, but your undertsanding of this is flawed.


REPENTENCE
Psychopaths are an extreme example of people that are not physically built to experience Remorse or Love.


Actually, most Psychopaths can expeirnce both. They simply detatch form it. Psychopathology has Biiological factors but by no mean is it totally predetermined in most individuals. Also, most Psychopaths actulaly are capable of overcomign her pathology by abotu the age of 40, on their own. A signifigant margian don't, but a good many do.

Current CLinical studies also show that even those born Psychopaths can expernce behaviour modification and thoguth reform, and it seems that althoygh they suffer a disability it is possibel to work throuh it.

The problem with treatign Psychopaths mainly is hteir unwillignness ot change. Most Psychopaths are Narsissisitic, and concern themselve sonly with their imediate needs. This prevents htem from really takign seriosuly an attemto to change.

But it snot shwholly imposisbl.

That said, Love isnot an emotion, but a commitment. Espeickaly how it is used in Scripture.



The atonement was pointless for them.

No it wasn't.

And again, God will take into considerations their limitaitons. Including this.


Others have varying degrees of brain performance in these areas, such as sociopaths. The atonement was not perfect, and it was based on a flawed principle of justice.

The atotnement was perfect and yor critiism is base odn a flawed undertandign fo the ancint world, the theology of hte atotnement, and what a Sociopath is, as well as Gods justice and Mercy.



Those Epistles also demonstrate that Paul did not see Christianity as a system of Reward and Punishment, since he spoke of Restoring sinners, or reforming our ways, and given up on our past errors. Never did he mention doing good merely for reward in heaven, or being punished for our evil deeds.



like I said, this was never the claim. Where the motivation originates from is the problem. Where the brain supports belief and emotion is the problem.

It was your claim. You cliamed that Remedy, not reward and punishment, is a mor ejust scheme.

I posted twice, and the second post dealt more in other aspects. The third post was mant ot cover the rest.




of sin leads to forgiveness of sin.



so god doesn't know whats in our hearts?

No, god doens't know anything. Its God that knos everything. Grammer.

If you can't even get that right you shoudltn complain fo a dyslexic getting your name wrong.

And I never siad that but repentanc eis an internal proccess itself.


or we just confess as one of the ACTS that are not necessary?

COnfession is nessisary, and sicne when did i say actiosn wherne't?

I said we arne't judged soley on our actions, but this doens't mean the actiosna r eunimportant. besides, Humans are creatures whose thoguhts follow theyr bodies quiet a bit, and confession is, as note din post two, a deeply nessisary Psycological function.



Or we just say it even if we don't mean it? You should wake up and realize your are logically inconsistent with yourself.


Or, I should wake up and realsie that those who want ot be fools cannot be corrected.

I am not beign Logicllay inconsistant. COnfession is nessisary in Osycology in order to beven get tothe poitn where you iwll repent, because if you dont admit what you did and that it was wrogn you wont repent.

That said, I never said actiosn wherne't nessisary, I said we arne't judged base don them.

Did you rea dmy second post?


16. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
17. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
18. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.





This is my favorite verse because it, more than any other, is inconsistent with the situation humans find themselves in.


No, its not.

Why sabotage us to prefer to do things god disapproves of?

He didnt.

Ots still God, buy the way, Randolph.

Not god.


Why make some of these things foundational to our survival?

Nothign you mentioend is acutlaly foundaitonal to our survival and clinical studies hsow them to be antithetical to it. Promiscuity is an exampel you used, but in women this leads to emntal and physial health problems. WOmen where deisnged to be with one man physiclaly, not multiple.

Men can handle promisuty better but even they have mntal and physical problems associated wiht it.

Eatign too ,uch is known to be unhealthy o glutotny isn't a good example of beign foundatnal to ur survival either.

and thats just the exampels you used.


Fostering doubt as a way to test fidelity is irresponsibly risky. It is not a sound principle for success in a project.

No one fostered doubt to test fidelity, though.


Although some of you may want to claim the Bible is inconsistent, and say one verse says it is our deeds and another our Heart, I would venture to counter that this simply indicates your own over simplistic approach to the Bible, as if each Verse must stand alone, and in which you seek only to create contradictions rather or not they exist.



God didn't use the principle of clarity in communication. How dumb is that? And I'm to blame because I doubt it and don't love him as a result?


God was clear in what he said, you just prefer to distor it to create misundertsandings, inconsistancies, and illogical staements to further your own agenda. That harldy Gods fault.


I stopped there. It is clear that you misunderstood the article.

Not really, and I made a second post on it. a third will be doen tonight/




It was to show that reward and punishment is a poor way to handle sinful humans.

And, God doens't handle siunful Humans by rewrd and punishment, which was th epoitn of my responce. The next one addressed other ocncerns of yours.


But the argument was not based on how we act. It was based on WHY we act.

I got to that in post 2, and was getitng to finish it in post 3.

I did say this was a three parter didnt I?


A principle of EFFECTIVE remediation is in order, not prayer, and support from other sinful humans to defeat something that is hardwired into us.

We arne;t hardwired to sin, though.



the principle of prayer is flawed because God knows your heart, and he does what he wants to.

Prayer is not flawed, and thats just your stupidity tlaking. Parrotign tis old cobbler, but its neither here notr their in this debate.

End of story. To deny that is foolishly arrogant.

I deny it, but woudl also deny it is foolish or arrogant. Id simply say your mistaken in what Prayer is effective at and your claim if it beign flawed is itself base don flawed presumptions.


So you are supposed to do something that you know can logically have no effect. That is not effective remediation.


Prayer will have effect, though. Go changed his mind for Braham, for example.

It snot monolithic.

But its no the pervew of this aritlce either.

In response to your second comment on "repentence". Show me the data. I submit for your review "The Dark Night Of The Soul", doubts and worthy prayers that go unanswered.
as my rebuttal to you.


My claim in post two about repentance is that it is nessisary in Psycology. Nothign in the Dark Night of the SOul, or in DOubts, matter. WHat matter sin repentance is you actulaly changing yor ways, after realisign what you had done before was wrong.

If you do not admit a problem, confession, you will not change yor conduct, repentance. If you do not repent, change yo rocnduct, you will keep at doing the wrong thing.

Itsnot that compelxe and is basic Psycology.



Zarove, if all you are going to do is preach, don't waste your time. You should do it where someone will appreciate it.



I'm not preahcing, Lad, Im critisisng an article and it sunderlyign statements.

with this I close out my participation in this thread.

Pity, my third aritlce is posted tonight.

Lee Randolph said...

HI Zarove,
we have been corresponding for a week. You have had many chances to 'discover' or figure out or NOTICE that there is an 'olph' at the end and not an 'all'.

I know a little something about dyslexia, and I am still skeptical that you couldn't make the distinction between the 'all', and 'olph' since you know better than the rest of us about your dyslexia and if you were interested in using due care and diligence to understand the text.

I grew up with someone with dyslexia that is a nurse now. Maybe he didn't have it as bad as you.

Dyslexic or not, you have to meet minimum standards, however that happens. its harder for you than everyone else, I know, but you have to figure out what it takes to overcome it. I've noticed you fall back a few times on the 'im dyslexic, not ignorant' defense when it was completely unwarranted. I think you need to get over that too.

And if I'm wrong, about you, see how easy it is to mistake biological bases for behavior as lack of motivation, ignorance, or contentiousness?