Evangelicals, Your Days Are Numbered

In the comments of this post Chuck O’Conner tells us that his Pastor thinks Christianity may be one generation from extinction. What d’ya think?

Well extinction is probably an impossibility. There are always pockets of Christianities left behind who still exist in the backwoods. His pastor probably meant American evangelical Christianity, since it is growing by leaps and bounds in parts of Asia and in the Southern Hemisphere. So the question is whether evangelical Christianity will be relegated to the backwoods in one generation in America. Who knows, right? I think I agree with him, if that's what he meant. Yes it will. You have one generation evangelicals--40 years at best here in America. I won't be alive to see it, but I do predict it.

Here is what Chuck wrote:
John,

Great post. I had lunch with a friend of mine yesterday. He happens to be a young pastor, graduate from Trinity and is planting a church in Minnesota. He preached on Acts 17 and how Christianity may be 1 generation from extinction. His premise was that the Gospel is irrelevant to younger Americans for three reasons 1) Personal experience of abuse within Church 2) Intellectualism and inability to understand the mysteries of faith (e.g. The Trinity, Jesus as fully human and fully divine) 3) Cultural alienation (e.g. An Indian resident who has no context for monotheism). I suggested a fourth area where the Gospel is being questioned and that is around the desire for truth-seeking people to pursue a path with not as many obvious internal self-contradictions. As I take a skeptical look at the superiority claims of Christianity centered on sciptural inerrency claims I am coming to see the bible as a product of men trying to understand their cirucmstances via myth. Therefore the whole foundation of a Christian God starts crumbling for me. Your post hightlights the inability for scripture to be an absolute guide towards optimal morality because it perfectly supports the institution of slavery.

My friend agreed and said he wishes the bible said exactly what you have said, "It is absolutely wrong to own another human being." He still holds their is a lesson to be learned by considering these aspects of the bible as part of a larger narrative. I see them as self-contradictory and therefore am coming to the conclusion that Christianity and the bible are elements of our culture but are not superior to other elements.

Thanks for the thoughts. Good stuff.

139 comments:

Harry McCall said...

The death of Evangelical Christianity will be due to one thing: Objective Honesty. That is, the denial of reality to protect Christianity can only go on for so long.

Right now, the doctrine of so called “Free Will” is an attempt to keep the Ole Ship of Zion afloat, but the waters of secular reality are coming in faster the any human theological apologetic pump known as Free Will can bail it out.

In the end, what will sink evangelical Christianity is the Biblical god’s eternal silence and the believer inability to continue to think and talk for a deity who is claimed to have functioned in the past, but only lives today in an artificial environment totally created by a segment of humanity who want to believe call apologetics.

Thus, the sad part about Christian apologetics is that believers have the innate ability to deceive themselves because the truth is often just to hard to face.

In this respect, God lives daily only in the posts believers leave here at DC where a Biblical god of the hazy past is simply kept alive on apologetic theological life support.

As I’ve said five years ago:

The Bible is like an elderly senile citizen who is usually incoherent and out of touch with reality. However, because of the love of her children (the believers) who are driven on by the denial of reality along with some creative ingenuity
(theology), she (the bible) is loving taken by the arm and apologetically helped to shuffle along.

Rev. Ouabache said...

I'm always suspect of long term predictions like this since there are way too many Black Swans that could change everything, especially in a 40 year span. However, the current fad of ultra-conservative fundamentalism that relies heavily on Sola Scriptura is dwindling at a constantly rate. They have almost nothing to offer to the next generations. Politically they hitched their wagon to a couple of wedge issues that drove as many people away as it brought it. Forty years almost seems optimistic at this point.

Of course, all of this is moot since neuroscience will render all religions obsolete in 20 years.

District Supt. Harvey Burnett said...

The church will ALWAYS last and outdo the critics...Upon THIS ROCK and the very gates of HELL will not withsatand against it...you remember.

I predict that Christianity will continue to grow despite all athesitic efforts to derail it, and in the most harsh circumstances it will continue to gain converts. it's happening now all around the world...I can't help it that America has become the 'whore of babylon', but America isn't the whole world now is it?

The church will do just fine...believe that if nothing else.

District Supt. Harvey Burnett said...

I know that may be a little more broad than what you're saying of Evangelical Christianity, but I'm speaking in a much greater context.

inevitab1e said...

Harvey: You do realize you spelled satan in your rant?! 'withsatand'

Eternal Truths said...

It's amazing how many "evangelicals" say that I don't need to uphold biblical inerrancy to still be a Christian. They are probably right, but why trust in a vague and paradoxical source as the absolute truth? Furthermore, it's also astonishing how often the mystery card must be played when explaining difficult passages or troubling logical problems.

The reason why so many people still believe in various religions is because it brings comfort and essentially, they do not "have time" or energy to do the intellectual work it takes to fully evaluate their beliefs. I literally had one pastor turned missionary tell me today that if he wasn't so busy being a husband and missionary, he's not sure where he would be if he had the time to intellectually ponder his beliefs. Basically, the reasons people laud for why they still believe in the Christian message is 100% emotive. So absurd!

edson said...

This post perhaps touches me as I am an evangelical Christian, inclined or predisposed to be a fundamentalist type of christian for I dont see any reason why I should not trust the bible to be not an inerrant word of God. So, you all non christian here say in a loud voice that my days are numbered, dont you?

Let me second this opinion. You guys dont understand one thing. Actually many of you think that the whole fuss about Christian Apologetics is all about to save Christianity during this generation. It's not! All Christian apologetics is all about utilizing the slightest opportunity here to harvest some souls of nominal but honest atheists and other non christian theists seeking the truth and to strengthen the faith of some nominal Christians, a thing I think apologetics are doing a great job . Of course some Christians do it for fun, just to throw any counterargument at DC, during their break time. Yes, and some for making money, no doubt about that and nothing wrong with it!

It'll be foolishness for anyone to think that Christianity (or may be, Evangelical Christianity) is to be rescued. Christianity is not in danger not in the US nor elsewhere around the world. On the contrary the reality on the ground shows the opposite. I can see believers in Jesus increasing almost in every part of the globe from Jerusalem to Shanghai to Seoul to India and Africa.

Basically, what is taking place right now in the US and in the West in general is what is suggested by the author of the Book of Revelation . And that’s what should be granted. It is very appalling that now the believers in Evangelical Christianity are so many in the US such that we are a potent force here in the politics of the US society denying gays and lesbians the right to be what they are and need. I’m less a fundamentalist in this regard and wish that my fellow evangelicals give these people what they need. Let a sinner sin abundantly or isn’t it what the scriptures say?

edson said...

I see the link to the book of revelaton is not working in my previous post and I try it again right here. Revelation 22:11

goprairie said...

based on the number of young adults 'witnessing' and claiming to 'love jesus' at my son's college campus and the campuses of his friends, i doubt anything is going away any time soon. if you give them a warm fuzzy social structure and teach them that loyal 'love' of a 'personal jesus', not to mention the security of life eveafter with beloved dead relatives, they are willing to ignore a whole lot of inconsistency and pass off a whole lot in the name of 'faith'. today's young people are not any smarter than yesterday's and fundamentalist religion is here to stay for a long long time, no matter how much we debunk it. some of them will eventually get tired of the self-apolgetics and questions will appeal to their intelligence and eat thru their 'faith', and i hope there are always places like this where they can find support when that happens.
but as brain science figures out where religion comes from, it will also figure out that it has irresistable appeal in those aspects of the things it promises. we know why we crave sugar and why it is bad for us, but that has not stopped us, has it.

Chuck O'Connor said...

I have to agree with goprairie.

I think that perspective is really accurate.

Christianity will not go away, it will just adapt. Ironically this will be a proof of what it opposes, evolution. Adaptation through natural selection of heritable traits has allowed Christianity to continue although it no longer believes in standardized tests for witches, melamine in skin indicates ancestry to Ham, or mental illness is caused by demons. The social and natural sciences has forced Christianity to move the goal posts.

I think my friend's warning of Christianity's extinction is a well-worn heuristic to keep it alive. It is a fear/guilt tactic which galvanizes the true believer in his/her superstition (e.g. Edson, Superintendent) and keeps them standing on the self-contradictory and non-falsifiable myths of the bible as immutable truths which need defending.

Being a martyr for something larger than yourself can feel very good and Christianity both orthodox and nominal allows that feeling to flourish.

The more reason and science advance to debunk the truth claims of Christianity the more martyred many Christians will feel, even as the actual practice of their faith succumbs to the social advances science and reason demand.

The emotive pull of the faith will keep people believing it is true even as their actions and practices within society contradict the truth claims they stand on (see Francis Collins).

Our need for faith is a by-product of our evolved state as a species. Religion can help socialize the individual so that interdependence can flourish.

Oh, and I wouldn't trust that O'Connor guy, I've read his posts and he seems like a jerk.

Ross said...

Edson is right. To paraphrase Mark Twain, reports of its demise are greatly exaggerated. The world is in a state of flux, and Christendom is no different. If you were to take the time to look into it properly, some parts of it appear to be declining, but others aren't. Its geographic centre is shifting away from the first world to the developing world. This may come as a disappointment to some people, but it stubbornly refuses to die.

Harry McCall said...

If Christianity is to survive, it will have to move on alone without Jesus as it faces the fact that the soon coming back (return)of Jesus has failed to happen now pushing over 2,000 years or 20 centuries.

This is facing the objective reality I talked about in the top comment on this post.

What is left today is simply “optimistic wishing” which has evolved as reality forces faith to look at itself.

In any respect: Honesty is the best policy.

Steven Bently said...

Yay, churches are closing down all across america, some are even being burned down to the ground.

Finally people are coming to their real senses and seeing religions for what they are, a way to control their thoughts and their money, as evident by the fundys that post on here.

edson said...

and I hope there are always places like this where they can find support when that happens

Oh dear goprairie, do you really believe this? Do you really believe DC is the sort of the sites where people in their right minds can obtain key life philosophical answers they need the most?

Christianity will not go away, it will just adapt

O'Connor, you write and think well and I commend you for that. Surely, Christianity is inherently adaptive with time and that is perhaps one of the greatest strengths of Christianity. However, there is great difference between adaptation and conformation. Adaptation (in a religious sense) is the tendency for a religion to better fit to survive in changing environment and times, in a way, putting a better fight against enemies of all kind, coming out victoriously at the end. But conformation is for a religion to change structure and integrity or modification with the changing environment and times, at the end resulting into a structure different to what it was, prior to environmental change. So you see, in that sense, sin will be acceptable to Christianity so that environment and people in it will not be offended, do you see the point? For that matter, conformation is dangerous to Christianity but adaptation is vital.

I must also admit that I do not understand why you think Christianity opposes Evolution. And any help about that will be highly appreciated.

edson said...

O'Connor, just to help you give me the help I need about why you think Christianity opposes Evolution. It is not that I believe Evolution and Christianity are friends, but that they are neither friends nor foes. The whole creation story in Genesis is about explaining that we humans should not get confused of how we got here on Earth, we were simply created by God. That is what is important and that is what a biblical God think is important.

Now back to my question. Why do you suggest Christianity opposes Evolution?

Anthony said...

Edson: Now back to my question. Why do you suggest Christianity opposes Evolution?

Let me give you my thoughts on this. First, why don't you ask your fellow Christians like Superintendent Harvey Burnett about evolution and Christianity. It is simply a given, most of the common every day evangelical Christian does not believe in evolution. Look at the creationism ministries like Answers in Genesis (which is located in my backyard), the Institute for Creation Research and the dozen or so other ministries throughout the world opposing evolution. Then you have the Intelligent Design movement, despite the rhetoric most proponents of ID also oppose evolution (Michael Behe being one of the few exceptions).

Thankfully there are a growing number of intellectual evangelicals who espouse evolution and they are starting to have somewhat of an impact.

The whole creation story in Genesis is about explaining that we humans should not get confused of how we got here on Earth, we were simply created by God. That is what is important and that is what a biblical God think is important.

Part of the problem is that much of the rest of the Bible does take those accounts as literal, especially look at what Paul and even Jesus himself said about Adam and Eve, creation, the flood, etc. They interpreted these accounts as having occurred literally and the problem is that these events are not compatible with evolution.

Chuck O'Connor said...

Edson you asked:

"Now back to my question. Why do you suggest Christianity opposes Evolution?"

Christianity presupposes a fixed purpose and fixed end regarding creation whereas evolution does not.

I see the opposition to evolution by people arguing against it with ignorance, decrying its truth by indicting it as only a "theory"; and I see opposition in the rhetorical polemic masquerading as science forwarded by the Discovery Institute via Intelligent Design. Lastly, I see opposition in the disdain Christians have for "Darwinism" which I see as more rhetoric and a made up term to denounce a theory they find threatening. It is as if religious people need to cast Charles Darwin as an anti-Christ worshipped by those who respect the predictable truth found in the theory of adaptation through natural selection. The only reason I see in doing this is to oppose the implications the theory demands because they contradict the Christian's world-view of a purpose and ending to life as articulated in both Genesis and Revelations.

That is my experience, what is yours?

Chuck O'Connor said...

Ross you said,

"Its geographic centre is shifting away from the first world to the developing world."

I agree with this, especially in regards to the Pentecostal movement in Africa but, with this advance there are also self-defeating aspects of Christianity flourishing due to cultural syncretism. The African Church is growing often out of an animus culture and therefore the more supernatural aspects of the bible relative to physical illness have prominence. Exorcisms and witch hunts are common within the African Christian Church as people move from an animus worship to the bible. The bible supports this notion.

Do you agree with it Ross and if not why do you disagree? If you do agree with it then do you also find demon possession a more plausible explanation for illness then the germ theory of disease? If you don't agree with the former then how is the flourishing Christianity in the developing world consistent with the religion you practice? Their world-view is about as similar to yours as my skeptical, agnostic humanist world-view would be yet, because you both claim the brand name Christ you believe what they believe is in harmony with what you believe. Their practices might contradict that.

When your family gets sick do you take them to a hospital or do you stage an exorcism? If the former then I'd say your Christianity has a major disagreement with that of the kind growing in the developing world and owes more to the insight provided by science and the truth of evolution then it does in the presupposed superiority of the New Testament Gospel.

edson said...

Part of the problem is that much of the rest of the Bible does take those accounts as literal, especially look at what Paul and even Jesus himself said about Adam and Eve

In fact, every Christian must at least adopt the attitude of Jesus and Paul regarding bible narratives for this is what God expects for anyone who calls him/herself a disciple of Jesus. Yes, Adam and Eve, the floods or anything for that matter that you find it absurd but was refered by Jesus and the Apostles as to be literal, of course, they must be taken as just that, literal. Why? Because Jesus said so. Isn't it an anti-intellectual attitude? It may be, but you have to make a choice: to be an "intellectual" or to be a disciple of Jesus.

Notice that I've put intellectual in quotes because it never ceases to amaze me why do some people associate rejection of God creationism with intellectualism. Jesus knew so many things, or at least he is the man who experienced so many things, than any man ever lived and will ever live on the face of Earth. Even death proved to be devastatingly weak in the face of this man. So this man, Jesus, when he speaketh of Adam and Eve, he real knew what he meant. Part of the problem, Antony, is that so many people today are gullible to trust in people so weak as Dawkins say, but will rather shrug off easily on what a man like Jesus say. I cant believe people can be that easily fooled.

feeno said...

All of our days are numbered. And if the Church isn't here in 40 years it wont be because the Church isn't relative to young people, or any other reason Chuck's friend mentioned. (I give young people more credit than that). It will be because Christ came back for us. The Bible does speak of the falling away or days of apostasy, but my friend Harvey said it best, the gates of Hell wont prevail. We'll be here, annoying you poor saps until that day, but our motives should be like that which Edson spoke of.
For the sake of others.

Peace out, feeno

edson said...

Actually, Chuck, I do not endorse the attitude of those sort of christians who opposes actively the Evolutionary Theory. The best way of dealing with the circumstances is for a Christian to be a pure Christian and Evolutionists to be pure evolutionists. No group should be fighting the other, actively or publically. If a person find himself in a position that he can be a Christian and yet be an evolutionist, that is good for him and him and alone, privately. If Christianity or Evolutionism fights the fundies in the other group, in any way that is perceived hostile by both faithfuls in each group, that is intolerance, isn't it? And pre-empting is paranoia, make sense?

Throwout your opinion on this!

Chuck O'Connor said...

Edson,

You make my case for me. In one comment you argue for creation bibilical literature as metaphor and in the next you argue for it as history because Jesus said so.

Internal contradictions even within you.

I want truth Edson and ignoring the fossil record or the experimental predictability of evolution for the sake of literature is not truth, it is superstition.

Chuck O'Connor said...

Feeno,

Succinctly can you please give me your definition of the Gospel. I want to see if what you believe what my friend said his definition is.

My point in this exercise is to test my theory that "Christianity" is really a handle for people to organize their emotional experience as a vague numinism which finds strength in agreed upon and unquestioned theory.

So, succinctly, what is your definition of the Gospel?

Thanks.

feeno said...

"Sup Chuck

Christ came, Christ died, Christ rose again.

Late, feeno

edson said...

Chuck, it does not follow that way. I do say that we humans are in no better position to know what exactly took place at the beginning. We, either have to actively seek the truth of the past scientifically or to take the self proclaimed Truth (Jesus) as truth. There is no any self contradiction and you know that.

Anthony said...

Feeno: Christ came, Christ died, Christ rose again.

Try again Feeno, Pinchas Lapide is a Jewish scholar who believes the statements that you just made, yet rejects Jesus as the Messiah and rejects Christianity, see his book here.

Chuck O'Connor said...

Feeno you said:

"Christ came, Christ died, Christ rose again."

I will be charitable and allow you to epand.

Why is this important?

feeno said...

Hello Anthony

Easy big guy, Chucked asked me me a question so I answered it. I'm sure Pincha's mom is proud of him for writing a book tho?

Peace, feeno

Chuck O'Connor said...

Edson you wrote:

"The whole creation story in Genesis is about explaining that we humans should not get confused of how we got here on Earth, we were simply created by God. That is what is important and that is what a biblical God think is important."

Which I took to mean the creation story is metaphor and the point is not the verifiability as actual but rather the humility born from accepting its truth in metaphor. In short, we are here due to the will of another being outside of our conception.

Then you said:

"In fact, every Christian must at least adopt the attitude of Jesus and Paul regarding bible narratives for this is what God expects for anyone who calls him/herself a disciple of Jesus. Yes, Adam and Eve, the floods or anything for that matter that you find it absurd but was refered by Jesus and the Apostles as to be literal, of course, they must be taken as just that, literal. Why? Because Jesus said so."

So what is it? Is it open to interpretation with an agreed upon derived meaning indicating the metaphor defines our relationship to God or, is it literal?

It can't be both. That would be contradictory.

I am okay with whatever you say it is. What do you believe? Did a world-wide flood occur? Is the earth 6,000 years old? Did man pre-exist dinosaurs? Or are those stories myths?

Chuck O'Connor said...

Feeno,

I asked a follow up.

Will you answer that too?

Thanks.

goprairie said...

me: "and I hope there are always places like this where they can find support when that happens"

Edson: "Oh dear goprairie, do you really believe this? Do you really believe DC is the sort of the sites where people in their right minds can obtain key life philosophical answers they need the most? "

me: First, I didn't say that. you DO like to twist words, don't you. I said people who discover thattheir formerly beloved religion is all a myth can find SUPPORT here, in finding they are not alone, in finding answers against all the mumbo jumbo your type uses to try to guilt them back, and so on. Ths plce IS supportive to those with questions and doubts and with the issues that arise when they figure out there is nothing there but myth and fantasy but the families and friends still cling to it.
Second, if YOU think that your myth-based religion is any sort of "philosophical" system where people can find "key life" "answers", you are living in a fantasy land - oh, wait, no news there. i am glad it works for you, but it just ain't real or true, and there is plenty of mature philosophical thought and a wealth of ideas all around the world, to be found on various websites including here, in books, and in discussions with other people online or in person. But until you leave god and religion out of it, you are really not going to be able to engage in any real truth-based mature thinking or discussion about the ways of the world or humanity or history or the future or science or any of it. Relition is a barrier to legitimate philosophy. or 'true life answers'.
don't patronize me with your fake sympathy.

feeno said...

Chuck

1 Cor. 15:3-4 For what I received I pass on to you as of first importance. that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.

The importance you ask of is addressed in these verses, is in the preceding verse(2). This is what saves us.

Rom 1:16 "I am not ashamed of the Gospel(There's that word Gospel) because it is the power of God for salvation of everyone who believes:"

Deuces, feeno

Chuck O'Connor said...

Feeno,

That was not the answer of my friend, the pastor.

He is seminary trained at the Evangelical Free school Trinity Divinity.

I think my hypothesis is worth testing. I think I should notify the Barna Group and see if they'd be up to conducting an intercept study to identify if Christians agree on the "Gospel" of if it is just a handle that allows them to co-habitate with a vaguely defined numinism.

I am not trying to shame you or make you look foolish. I believe you believe the gospel to be what you say you think it is.

I doubt that this definition is universally shared.

To me, the lack of conformity is another example to the contradiction of Christian universality.

edson said...

Antony says: Try again Feeno, Pinchas Lapide is a Jewish scholar who believes the statements that you just made, yet rejects Jesus as the Messiah and rejects Christianity

Chuck says: Why is this important

In reading the minds of these two good guys I can see why Paul says the gospel message does not make sense to some but to others it is the power of God that brings salvation. The key word here is "Power". A power to expose the sinfulness of man and make a man feel guilt of sin, a power to live holy life and power to live past death.

Antony, Lapide rejects Christianity partly because, he either deliberately and actively resisted this power to seep in his soul or because he lived at the wrong place and time to experience this power or some other reasons which only God knows.

Chuck, it is important because it is the power of God. To forgive sin, to live a holy life and to reign with Jesus eternaly. But keep in mind that it is POWER.

feeno said...

Hey Chuck

I'm sure your Pastor friend is much smarter than me, that doesn't hurt my feelings, thank you for your concern of my feelings. I like the way you think. Maybe Mr. Loftus sees your skills and will ask you to be a contributor. (just a thought John, I know you don't need me butting into your business?)

Late, feeno

Chuck O'Connor said...

Edson:

You said, "Chuck, it is important because it is the power of God. To forgive sin, to live a holy life and to reign with Jesus eternaly. But keep in mind that it is POWER."

Just to let you know. I was a born again believer. I was even baptized outside in a lake and worked as a volunteer in ministry staff and on the leadership council of the churches I attended. I volunteered to feed the homeless, maintained an active prayer life, and did daily quiet time study in the bible.

I attended and still attend a church that believes in expository preaching and biblical inerrency. I still attend because my wife finds solace there and I lover her and enjoy supporting her interests. I also like many of the people who attend. I am in the process of resigning my membership because I can no longer accept biblical inerrency.

I don't believe Jesus was what Christian theology claims yet, don't feel any more or less guilty than I did during my Evangelical identification (I have a propensity to guilt being that I am Irish : ))

My morality is clearer and I no longer question the coincidences of my life as the trials and tribulations of an invisible world.

I believe you believe what you believe but, as noted above, it seems contradictory within itself. I can't afford that level of confusion any longer as it pertains to my ethics.

Chuck O'Connor said...

Feeno,

You said, "I'm sure your Pastor friend is much smarter than me, that doesn't hurt my feelings, thank you for your concern of my feelings."

I don't know if either he or I would assert he's smarter than you. I think what you both believe can be extrapolated from Scripture and could both be considered the "Gospel". His interpretation is defined in the tension between the Great Commandment and the Great Commission. And this idea is not a contradiciton of yours but it is a tangent and can have different implications.

I wish you well.

Deuces (what does this mean?)

Chuck

edson said...

And Chuck, good thing about POWER is that power is testable. To see if it can move things, to see if it can change lives, to test if it can restore relationships or even to see if it can resurrect dead things.

This is not meant to be a sermon but the problem with so many Christians today is that they are only Christians intellectually or emotionally. Intellectually in that they use so much intelligence analyzing what Jesus may have said or not said, which letters were actually written by Paul and such. Emotionally in that they are only afraid of death or loving music in Church. But principally it must be really different. We must trust God fully, more than we trust money and we must cry out more to God to reveal his real power in our lives. It should be a win-win situation between our relationship with God. If you do trust god all your best and yet God keep letting you down, leave out God for good. There is no time for dice playing in Christianity.

Chuck O'Connor said...

Edson,

Your beliefs don't seem to need the exclusivity or implausibility of Christianity to be activated.

I don't worship money or anything outside myself. Nor do I subject my experience to intellect or emotion only.

I do believe my life is lived best from the "inside out" which Christianity doesn't allow and, think it is healthy to be skeptical of all supernatural claims to truth, which Christianity demands one accept on faith.

I don't know nor do I see how Christianity inspires one to be more useful to other humans or behave with more insightful morality than other ethical systems.

feeno said...

Dueces equals 2

2 equals 2 fingers

2 fingers equals a peace sign

Later, feeno

Scott said...

Of course, all of this is moot since neuroscience will render all religions obsolete in 20 years.

While I'll agree, I'd clarify by suggesting that neuroscience will validate aspects of religions, essentially extracting and secularizing them in the process.

We can already see examples of this in Buddhism regarding the practice of meditation.

A similar process occurred with Islamic mathematics, both of which were used to calculate the phase and position of the moon, stars, the sun for observing holy days and dividing shares of inheritance following death. This ultimately had a strong influence in what we know as astronomy, trigonometry, spherical geometry and algebra.

On the other end of the spectrum, in 20 years, our capacity to holistically study the human brain should have grown by leaps and bounds. We might not be uploading our conciseness into computers, but we should have a strong indication if the theists claim of a supernatural soul is true or false.

Should we create a "conscious mind" with a network of simulated neurons, if even on a small scale, any significant interaction with the general population would have a substantial impact on theism at large.

We are designed to detect agency. Should we be able to create a concrete simulation that people accept and interact with as an agent, I suspect it would be a serious game changer.

Chuck O'Connor said...

Scott,

Your ideas are fascinating. Any place where I might learn more on such a subject?

Scott said...

Which leads me to a question for theists.

Should you find yourself face to face with a simulation that exhibited complex, human-like agency, how would you reconcile this with your faith?

edson said...

Chuck, you revealed to me your few personals pertaining to here but in my previous but latest comment it's good that I explained some of your objections. Let me elaborate more.

You were an Evangelical, yes. It only shows that it is possible for someone be an evangelical but not experience this power. It is not your fault and you dont have to mind about this. I'm of the opinion that God is partly responsible for his hiddeness and yes he is responsible, or am I blaspheming (wink)? But, actually, my strategy to live with this situation is to be a clever christian. I'm convinced Christianity is a treasure and I must put a good fight for it. Dont mistake this with working for salvation vs free gift. I believe everyone is potentially saved but I'm convinced I must be watchful, put a good fight, cry out more to God for spiritual and material blessings of God, here on earth and hereafter. I'll rather cling to God with the best I can. Have you ever pondered on what Jesus said in Matthew 11:12 and Luke 16:16? The best advice I give you: You just adopt my attitude and dont give up. Any other option out there is dangerous amounting to suicidal and God is a good God and will not let you down.

John W. Loftus said...

Remember what I predicted folks. I predicted that evangelical Christianity in America would be thrust into the backwoods in 40 years. I did not say it would become extinct, nor did I disagree that it is growing in other parts of the globe, and i didn't say more liberal versions of Christianity would not still be thriving. It'll be more like what we now see on the Continent.

Cheers.

Chuck O'Connor said...

Edson,

You said, "The best advice I give you: You just adopt my attitude and dont give up. Any other option out there is dangerous amounting to suicidal and God is a good God and will not let you down."

Unfortunately I find that this is the greatest flaw in Christianity.

I no longer find any solace in adopting anyone's beliefs.

Sorry Edson, your conviction isn't convincing to me.

Thanks for the dialogue.

Chuck O'Connor said...

John you said:

"Remember what I predicted folks. I predicted that evangelical Christianity in America would be thrust into the backwoods in 40 years. I did not say it would become extinct, nor did I disagree that it is growing in other parts of the globe, and i didn't say more liberal versions of Christianity would not still be thriving. It'll be more like what we now see on the Continent."

I think it might be even stranger in its evolution. I wouldn't be surprised if people claiming mainstream Evangelical Christianity take responsibility for the political justification of their homosexual brothers and sisters in gay marriage and the advances of science via stem cell research; much like Christians today claim that without Christianity abolition and emancipation would not have happened.

I think Christianity will evolve and forget where it came from in the recent past relative to changing ethical norms.

I think you've argued before that the Christianity today isn't the same as the one practiced 100, 200, or 300 years ago. These changes were driven by secular insights into the human condition which demanded Christianity alter their truth and moral claims.

It will be interesting for sure.

Then again we might be wrong and get sliced up by Superhero Jesus in the end times (I doubt it but, who knows).

ccubeman said...

Are we talking about all of evangelical christianity, or just certain elements/sects?

For example: There are evangelical christians who speak in tongues, and those who do not. There are evangelical christians who care about the environment(believe in global warming and want some action) and those who do not.

Days may be numbered for the wear it on your sleeve fundamentalist evangelical christians.

That said; John, I think your childrens children will be posting at Debunking Christianity.

Scott said...

Chuck,

Here's a few links that you might find interesting...

Simulating Neurons : Out of the Blue

Secular Buddhism : Killing the Buddha

Islamic Mathematics: Wikipedia Entiry

Scientific and Rational basis for Morality : Can we ever be Right about Right and Wrong?

Bluemongoose said...

Aw, geeze, Edith, they've been saying that for years...

Hodge Podge Blogger said...

I think that Chuck's friend and all the other "skeptics" are wrong and haven't taken a good look at history.

Check out what Voltaire had to say about the demise of Christian faith: "In twenty years Christianity will be no more. My single hand shall destroy the edifice it took twelve apostles to rear."


Voltaire was totally wrong! So much so that several years after this boastful statement, his house was being used by the Geneva Bible Society to print Bibles. And if you hadn't noticed, there are still plenty of evangelical Christians around, like me. :)

Chuck O'Connor said...

Hodge Podge you said:

"I think that Chuck's friend and all the other "skeptics" are wrong and haven't taken a good look at history."

My friend is a church planting pastor. The epitome of evangelical.

I doubt the Christianity Voltaire was commenting on exists in the same form today. I'd say by that endpoint he was correct.

Spirula said...

Chuck O'Conner,

Not to nit-pick, but I believe you meant "melanin" not melamine in any earlier comment.

I only point it out because I've seen it more than once recently and not sure through who or how this odd switch occured.

oscarspaz said...

Reading optimistic comments like "science will figure it out in 20 years" always invoke a strange feeling inside me.

Science has yet to come up with a cure for cancer after all these years of research pouring in tons of resources. Science will resolve "religion" before cure for cancer!?

I really do not understand where this optimism comes from except a leap of faith into Science. I am optimistic about science but cannot share such degree of optimism. Brings up "Deep think" to my mind.

Anyway, "Evangelicals, your Days Are Numbered" is an optimistic prediction. I believe the decline will only leave behind those who are dedicate to the Christian belief and who are able to articulate their position intelligently.

Harry McCall said, In the end, what will sink evangelical Christianity is the Biblical god’s eternal silence and the believer inability to continue to think and talk for a deity who is claimed to have functioned in the past, but only lives today in an artificial environment totally created by a segment of humanity who want to believe call apologetics.

My understanding is that this is not what Evangelical Christians claim. They claim that God talk to them through and/or confirmed by the Bible about their daily living and their future.

Therefore, you said "eternal silence" but they said "God speaks".

You frame them in a "no god" perspective so the logical conclusion must be "evangelical Christianity will sink".

They perspective is that their God is alive and active today. Therefore, they will not see themselves sink.

My take is that it boils down to this: Is this so call Christianity a construct that builds on human effort/gimmick/intellect or a real relationship with their Christian God?

If it is a human construct, it will be swallowed up by secular humanism and rightly so because their God is no god at all, only a human construct. Such construct can be easily tear down.

I will sit and watch to see which group will survive in the long run.

Nightmare said...

edson said...
"If you do trust god all your best and yet God keep letting you down, leave out God for good."

I did, he did, and I did. Nice to know at least one xian understands my position.

savedbygrace said...

What were your expectations of God? Did He not live up to YOUR standards?

Chuck O'Connor said...

Saved you said,

"What were your expectations of God? Did He not live up to YOUR standards?"

I can only speak for myself but when I get this comment from believers I am confused. It is not that God didn't live up to my standards but rather reality does not seem to indicate that the God you present exists. In fact, the bible seems to present a god that is contrary to the loving claims you make. I know you hold that one need to read the bible with an understanding of dispensations but, history shows that school of thought a recent idea and as such it seems more like a rationalization for biblical contradiction then a penetrating truth.

As an atheist friend said to me recently, "Christianity seems insane." It does and insanity is not attractive.

savedbygrace said...

Yes, their days are numbered - 86,358,456,897,453.

Chuck O'Connor said...

Saved you said,

"Yes, their days are numbered - 86,358,456,897,453."

Did you read John's post or are you just defensively reacting to the headline? He makes good points. Why don't you address them?

savedbygrace said...

Chuck,

People's opinions about how long something will last is 100%meaningless. Just as what I posted is meaningless, as it was meant to be.

savedbygrace said...

And sorry, but there were no good points worth addressing.

Russ said...

Chuck,
You said above,

I believe you believe the gospel to be what you say you think it is.

This lively lyrical lilt encapsulates a lot of religious thought. The religious do not believe what is true. They believe what they say they think it is. In a real sense, then, they individually have a faith of their own making, a product of their own thoughts. They may borrow words and phrases from others, maybe even carry along a scant bit of the semantics, but in the final analysis what they call their faith, is a product of their own accumulated thoughts. It's what they think it is.

It makes sense that it would be like this, though, since there exists no standard for what is correct religion or religious faith. It's like taking a test that neither ends, nor has an answer key. You never actually know where you stand.

savedbygrace said...

Russ,

Very well said - now THAT was a good point!

savedbygrace said...

May I follow up to that and say that REAL Christians, do know where they stand. It is the religious that do not know. They are always coming up short in their performanced based legalism in their thinking.

But I know that God is NEVER disappointed with me or mad at me. Many "Christians" struggle with those feelings on a daily basis. Very sad.

Chuck O'Connor said...

Saved you said:

"May I follow up to that and say that REAL Christians, do know where they stand. It is the religious that do not know. They are always coming up short in their performanced based legalism in their thinking.

But I know that God is NEVER disappointed with me or mad at me. Many "Christians" struggle with those feelings on a daily basis. Very sad."

And your methodology can only be applied to a sample of one, you.

To non-Christians this is read as self-justifying delusion and therefore my atheist friend's comment that you appear insane.

If you are going to fulfill the commission Jesus asked then don't you think you should prefer a method less self-justifying and self-centered.

That's the problem I have with Evangelicals of your stripe. Their spiritual awakening becomes nothing more than a creature comfort for their own emotional satisfaction. I fail to see any real ethic at play, just emotionalism in service of their personal relationship with god.

savedbygrace said...

I am sorry. "REAL Christians" was a wrong choice of words. I should clarify that I am speaking about Christians who truly understand the meaning of living under grace and the finished work of Christ.

savedbygrace said...

Chuck,

I am not an Evangelical.

savedbygrace said...

My Christianity is CHRIST centered, not self centered. I have died and my life is hidden with Christ in God. It is no loger I that lives, but Christ who lives in me.

I am sure that you recognize those verses.

Russ said...

Sometimes comedians offer great insights about religion, pseudoscience and science.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VIaV8swc-fo&e

Homeopathy & Nutritionists vs Real Science!
Dara O'Briain sets the record straight about the public understanding of science.

Anthony said...

SBG: I am not an Evangelical.

How do you distinguish your version of Christianity from "Evangelicalism?" Is it theological? Experiential? Just what is it that causes you to make this kind of statement?

Noneoftheabove said...

SBG: But I know that God is NEVER disappointed with me or mad at me.

Do you think that God is capable of being disappointed with or mad at anyone?

savedbygrace said...

No. All was finished at the cross

savedbygrace said...

Hi Anthony,

I do not have a VERSION of Christianity. There is only one church and one faith.

Noneoftheabove said...

No. All was finished at the cross

"What can this possibly mean?", he asked rhetorically.

savedbygrace said...

The cross satisfied the law and fulfilled all the requirements. Sin was conqured, evil was defeated, death was overcome, and all will be restored to the Father. There will be a new earth where righteousness dwells.

Anthony said...

SBG: I do not have a VERSION of Christianity. There is only one church and one faith.

This is a non-answer, but I do understand your mindset as to why you answered the way you do. But the reality is that if it walks like a duck, and quacks like one, then it usually is one.

Bottom line is that your Christianity isn't based on solid reasons, its emotional, experiential, and subjective. Much like some of the existentialism that some other Christians have promoted here.

Chuck O'Connor said...

Saved by grace,

You said, "My Christianity is CHRIST centered, not self centered. I have died and my life is hidden with Christ in God. It is no loger I that lives, but Christ who lives in me."

I'm sorry but this rhetoric has about as much moral and ethical appeal to me as reading my horoscope. You make my case for the self-centeredness of Christianity by implying that using a character in a book as a proxy for you life somehow is a self-evident moral metric.

What does the passage mean in terms of action?

Anthony said...

Come on Saved, you are just preaching to us. These are not answers.

savedbygrace said...

Chuck,

All was accomplished in Christ. There is nothing left to be done. Jesus said from the cross - IT IS FINISHED! Do you need a revelation from God concerning these things? Are you blind to spiritual truths?

savedbygrace said...

Anthony,

These are perfect answers! And Yes, I am preaching to you!

Chuck O'Connor said...

Saved you said,

"All was accomplished in Christ. There is nothing left to be done. Jesus said from the cross - IT IS FINISHED! Do you need a revelation from God concerning these things? Are you blind to spiritual truths?"

What does this mean outside of the fact that it makes you feel safe and holy?

How does this help anybody but you?

savedbygrace said...

Did gravity help you before you were aware it was gravity? The truth exists whether or not you are understanding it. I do not need to understand electricity to turn my lights on.

Carbon Based said...

"Did gravity help you before you were aware it was gravity? The truth exists whether or not you are understanding it. I do not need to understand electricity to turn my lights on."

But gravity and electricity are things that can be physicaly measured tested and understood using emphirical evidence by anyone.

Not so with sky god and zombie jesus. You have to interpit and hope your interpitation is correct or you risk everything. Quite a pathetic way to go through life.

savedbygrace said...

OK Carbon,

How about love? Does that work? Do you understand love scientifically? Can you measure it or test it in a lab? Can we experiment with it?

Chuck O'Connor said...

Saved you said,

"Did gravity help you before you were aware it was gravity? The truth exists whether or not you are understanding it. I do not need to understand electricity to turn my lights on."

The utility of both gravity and electricity are self-evident your mythology is not.

Again I will ask you, how does everything being accomplished at the cross illuminate morality or ethics? It is about as clearly good as someone telling me that my zodialogical sign is in the house of Saturn.

It seems to serve your sense of identity, security, safety and holiness but beyond that I don't see how it helps anyone.

Basically your rhetoric of dying to self and living in Christ is a verbal game you play to justify your self-centered emotionalism.

Carbon Based said...

"How about love? Does that work? Do you understand love scientifically? Can you measure it or test it in a lab? Can we experiment with it?"

Does love exist outside of the human mind?

In other words its a human abstration.

I can show you what parts of your brain become active while feeling love. Which in a sense we can scientificly say its just another brain state. Nothing more.

Noneoftheabove said...

SBG: The cross satisfied the law and fulfilled all the requirements. Sin was conqured, evil was defeated, death was overcome, and all will be restored to the Father. There will be a new earth where righteousness dwells.

There shall, in that time, be rumors of things going astray, erm, and there shall be a great confusion as to where things really are, and nobody will really know where lieth those little things wi-- with the sort of raffia work base that has an attachment. At this time, a friend shall lose his friend's hammer and the young shall not know where lieth the things possessed by their fathers that their fathers put there only just the night before, about eight o'clock.

Russ said...

savedbygrace, you said,

How about love? Does that work? Do you understand love scientifically? Can you measure it or test it in a lab? Can we experiment with it?

Yes, savedbygrace, much of the observed behaviors and emotions that we call love is directly accessible to science because the emotions, and the psychological and physiological responses associated with love result from chemical interactions in the brain. From the earliest sense of attraction to a potential mate, to the rapture of unimpeded lust, to the bond of parent to child, all occur due to brain chemicals.

Let me share some of the simple factual things science has disclosed about love with you, but please understand that I'm not trying to unweave the rainbow, to borrow from John Keats. Keats felt that by explaining the rainbow, Isaac Newton had destroyed its beauty. Well, Keats was wrong; rainbows are as beautiful as ever; and, mankind is much better off for Newton's efforts in optics.

So it is with love. Attempts to better comprehend the biochemical basis of love has lead to some startling results and some fine benefits for mankind. But, our personal experience of love in all its variegated wonder is in no way diminished by a deeper understanding. That instant bond I felt holding my first-born child close right after birth, was no less real, profound or gratifying to me because it has a known biochemical basis.

Oxytocin is one chemical involved in not only love but other relationships, too. Here's some of what Wikipedia says:

Oxytocin is a mammalian hormone that also acts as a neurotransmitter in the brain.

It is best known for its roles in female reproduction: it is released in large amounts after distension of the cervix and vagina during labor, and after stimulation of the nipples, facilitating birth and breastfeeding, respectively. Recent studies have begun to investigate oxytocin's role in various behaviors, including orgasm, social recognition, pair bonding, anxiety, trust, love, and maternal behaviors.


Also see,
http://www.oxytocin.org/oxytoc/

Pheromones are another chemical family important in love and relationships. Although the science of pheromone chemistry is still young, that pheromones play a part in romantic attraction is established.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pheromone#Humans

Many other chemicals have important roles in love, relationships, pair bonding, and parent-child bonding and nurturing - vasopressin, estrogen, testosterone, adrenalin, dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin, to name a few.

See this Nature essay for some other interesting thoughts.
http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v457/n7226/full/457148a.html

Now, realize that what I've noted here relates only to biochemistry as an approach to scientifically investigating love. Others include functional MRI and EEG.

So, yes, savedbygrace, love can be understood by science. Love can be measured and tested in a lab. And, we can experiment with love. That we can do these things does nothing to diminish our experience of love, while it enhances our understanding of our connectedness to each other and the rest of the world we live in.

Nightmare said...

savedbygrace said...
"What were your expectations of God? Did He not live up to YOUR standards?"

The short answer is he didn't live up to the standards he claims in the bible. I am disinclined to bother with the long answer, not that you would believe me or care anyway.

"I do not have a VERSION of Christianity. There is only one church and one faith."

Have you ever disagreed with another xian on doctrinal issues or matters of faith? If yes then you do indeed have a version of Christianity.

Ross said...

Chuck,

Do you mean animist and not animus?

When I was talking about the growth of Christianity outside the first world, I was thinking mainly of Asia and Latin America.

As for the syncretism you describe in Africa, where illnesses may be ascribed to demonic possession; my personal view is the same as the mainstream of Christianity, yes it does happen, but it's pretty rare. I don't see any tension between medical science and my faith. In other words, it is a gift from God, so why shouldn't we use it? Regardless, it would be irresponsible to dissuade anyone from going to a trained doctor or a hospital.

For further reading on this subject, I'd recommend this book:

www.amazon.com/Sent-Heal-Handbook-Christian-Healing/dp/0974407151/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1248334036&sr=1-3

Chuck O'Connor said...

Ross you wrote:

" I don't see any tension between medical science and my faith."

Good to know. What do you take from pre-clinical trials and their reliance on animal studies as a pre-cursor to human-drug interactions due to the shared DNA?

And I meant Animus because I think the African church is Jungian (just kidding).

Thanks for the correction.

I guess my point is that if a world-view motivates the kind of behavior one sees with even marginal Christians it causes me to question the utility of that world-view.

savedbygrace said...

Nightmare,

Because xtians have differing doctrines does not equal to differing versions of Christianity. THEY may have a differing version of how the Bible reads or is interpreted, but there remains just ONE TRUE church.

savedbygrace said...

Carbon,

If love is just a brain state, does that mean it it just a figment of our imaginations? Do we just IMAGINE love? Do we have any control over who we love and who we do not? Why did you choose your wife? Did you love her more than other women you knew? Why was your love higher for her than the others? Where did this SPECIF love for this SPECIFIC womam come from? What made it stronger for her and more intense?

savedbygrace said...

Russ,

So love is just a chemical reaction. Tell that to your wife next time you are making love, and see how that affects your romantic night together. When she asks you, "Why do you love me", tell her about your scientific explanation. Good luck with that! Maybe we will soon be seeing you "Divorce Court".

Anthony said...

SBG: If love is just a brain state, does that mean it it just a figment of our imaginations? Do we just IMAGINE love? Do we have any control over who we love and who we do not? Why did you choose your wife? Did you love her more than other women you knew? Why was your love higher for her than the others? Where did this SPECIF love for this SPECIFIC womam come from? What made it stronger for her and more intense?

Oh, I see your point now. It's not chemistry - it was God. Yup, God did it. God made me love my wife and lust after the cute actress on TV.

Oh no, I'm wrong, it wasn't God, it was my soul - my eternal soul and my free will too!

Sorry for the sarcasm but sometimes I just can't help it.

savedbygrace said...

Anthony,

That's what the BOOK is for, to tell you how to control your SINFUL lusts! I need to tell you the truth because sometimes I just can't help it!

Carbon Based said...

"That's what the BOOK is for, to tell you how to control your SINFUL lusts!"

First off I don't believe in SIN.
The concept of SIN is a control belief of religion. Just a self loathing device used by shaman to make there snake oil seem more valuable than it is.

It's also an affront to human dignity.

But then again anyone who would prostrate themselves before some imaginary deity which they have no justified rational belief in shows you have very little basic human dignity left. But there is hope just stick around and grow. ;)

savedbygrace said...

Carbon,

Do you believe in right and wrong? The word SIN in the Greek simply means to "miss the mark". Do you ever miss the mark, or are you perfect in every way? Do you ever regret your actions? If so, why? Do other animals ever regret their actions? Where does this regret come from and why?

Carbon Based said...

"The word SIN in the Greek simply means to "miss the mark". "

Sin has a specific meaning beyond the greek translation. Seems like your trying to weasle out of that.

savedbygrace said...

Who told you that? Your Baptist preacher? How about some Biblical evidence to support your case?

Noneoftheabove said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Noneoftheabove said...

SBG: Do you believe in right and wrong? The word SIN in the Greek simply means to "miss the mark". Do you ever miss the mark, or are you perfect in every way?

Yes, in classical Greek, "hamartia" literally meant "to miss the mark, to miss the target." It did not mean "to do evil." The same thing is true of the equivalent Biblical Hebrew word, "het."

So, to continue this interesting digression into etymology a bit further, if I were to take a shot at you, and miss, that would be a "sin." However, if I were take a shot at you, and I hit you, that would not be a "sin," because I did not miss the mark.

Where did you want to go with this etymological point, exectly?

Noneoftheabove said...

SBG: That's what the BOOK is for, to tell you how to control your SINFUL lusts! I need to tell you the truth because sometimes I just can't help it!

And how does "the BOOK" tell you "how to control your SINFUL lusts," exactly?

savedbygrace said...

The Book tells us to walk in the light and power of the Holy Spirit, and that will curtail evil cravings. So you firdt need to be baptized with the Holy Spirit and born again.

savedbygrace said...

None...

The point was made that they did not believe in SIN! So I defined the word Biblically so that they could see something besides the present day connotation of SIN!

Russ said...

savedbygrace said,

So love is just a chemical reaction. Tell that to your wife next time you are making love, and see how that affects your romantic night together. When she asks you, "Why do you love me", tell her about your scientific explanation. Good luck with that! Maybe we will soon be seeing you "Divorce Court".

I sincerely doubt you understood anything in those references.

I don't need to tell my wife these things, savedbygrace. She knows them already. She understands that we all are pure chemical products of the universe. She's well aware that our thoughts, our memories and even foggy religious beliefs reside in the brain as neuronal interconnections cemented by various proteins.

Dismiss the chemical basis of emotions, including love, all you like, savedbygrace, but all that you are in life is a consequence of chemistry. While you may not think in those terms, it is nevertheless true. Different sperm from your dad or a different ovum from your mom, each a distinct aggregation of biological chemicals, and you would be different. Small changes in your genes, again chemicals, that code for neurotransmitters and you might be schizophrenic or epileptic(you might like this because oftentimes temporal lobe epileptics have powerful religious experiences). Not supernatural...chemical. A different chemical change in the genes and you could be stillborn, or Down Syndrome.

Defects in the cells that produce oxytocin can cause mothers to reject their newborns, refuse to breastfeed, or fail to bond with them. Chemicals make us who we are, and they determine the nature of our relationships.

We can describe these things at a level higher than the chemical - sensory input, endocrine system, conditioned responses, memory - but, of course, each of these is, at its core, a chemical process.

That we humans are chemical systems is one reason why science has been so successful at satisfying our needs and fulfilling our desires. Science gives us an understanding of who we are. Religion does not.

savedbygrace, read some science so you can get in touch with your inner chemical.

Russ said...

savedbygrace said...

The Book tells us to walk in the light and power of the Holy Spirit, and that will curtail evil cravings. So you firdt need to be baptized with the Holy Spirit and born again.

What you've said here is functionally nonsense. These are sect-specific phrases which mean nothing at all to an outsider and are mostly empty words to those who recite them.

I'll assume by "The Book" that you mean some version of a Christian Bible.

Saying "walk in the light and power of the Holy Spirit" means nothing more than a nonsensical meditative mantra. Do you use it to mean behaving oneself according to the expected conduct of the group? I ask this because there is no observed difference in behavior between those who claim to "walk in the light and power of the Holy Spirit" and those who do not. Actually, many high-profile Christians are morally reprehensible people while some entire societies that are mostly non-religious like the Danes are positive role models for the rest of the world.

In fact the Danes exemplify societal health and well-being and they pay little heed to religions or gods as noted by philosopher Dan Dennett in a recent article in the London Guardian.

That is, we no more need to preserve the myth of God in order to preserve a just and stable society than we needed to cling to the Gold Standard to keep our currency sound. It was a useful crutch, but we've outgrown it. Denmark, according to a recent study, is the sanest, healthiest, happiest, most crime-free nation in the world, and by and large the Danes simply ignore the God issue. We should certainly hope that those who believe in belief are wrong, because belief is waning fast, and the props are beginning to buckle.

[excerpted from the article http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/2009/jul/16/daniel-dennett-belief-atheism]

Since the religious are no better people than non-religious ones, I've often wondered why people remain among the ranks of the religious. Personally, I think one of the reasons believers leave the Christianities as slowly as they do is that religious language is essentially inscrutible. It's difficult to question, challenge or even think coherently about ideas expressed incoherently.

Today's non-believers are altering the religious language landscape by highlighting the meaninglessness of phrases like "you first need to be baptized with the Holy Spirit and born again." As more religious people recognize that nonsensical is not the same as mysterious, inspiring or numinous, they will leave religion in ever greater numbers. And as the Danes demonstrate, that is not a bad thing.

savedbygrace said...

There are supernatural manifestations of the Holy Spirit. 100's of thousands can speak in tongues as a result. Of course you will be forced to find an alternative explanation for this phenomenon, and all of these people are once gain perceived as delusional. I can speak in another language that I have never heard, and so have 100's of thousands of other Christians. How do you want to explain that? ANTYING but a supernatural power of the Holy Spirit! ANYTING!

savedbygrace said...

Is the "Son of Sam" a better person than he was before he became a Christian? How do you accounrt for his complete transformation? Maybe you should go visit him if you want living proof of a totally unexplainable miracle.

Noneoftheabove said...

SBG: The point was made that they did not believe in SIN! So I defined the word Biblically so that they could see something besides the present day connotation of SIN!

Well, you can't really "define it Biblically" that way unless the word "sin" ever had such a meaning, can you? The word "sin" is derived from the Old English "synn," which did not mean "to miss a target."

Your little etymological exercise was nevertheless interesting, as it seems to point to a distinction between "sin" and "wrong" -- as in "right and wrong." To miss a target is not necessarily to do wrong. Indeed, in some cases it would be wrong to hit a target, not miss it. Would you not agree?

savedbygrace said...

The TARGET is OBEDIENCE to God!

Noneoftheabove said...

SBG: The Book tells us to walk in the light and power of the Holy Spirit, and that will curtail evil cravings. So you firdt need to be baptized with the Holy Spirit and born again.

So have your evil cravings ceased, or have they merely been curtailed?

Is there any way one could measure the extent of your evil cravings and compare them with the extent of the evil cravings of someone who does not "walk in the light and power of the Holy Spirit," etc. etc.? For example, would you say that I have more evil cravings than you do?

Noneoftheabove said...

SBG: The TARGET is OBEDIENCE to God!

If that is your point, why did you appear to take exception to Carbon's statement that "I don't believe in SIN"? Since Carbon does not believe in (the existence of) God, it logically follows that Carbon does not believe that there can actually be any such thing as sin. If "no God," then "no sin," by your own roundabout definition of "sin." Would you not agree?

savedbygrace said...

MY target is obedience to God! How about anyone's target being the golden rule! Even atheists agree with the golden rule! Sin would therefor be not following the golden rule. Fair enough?

savedbygrace said...

My evil cravings are completely gone. I still get angry sometimes, but I never crave to be angry. In fact, I hate it when I get angry!

Carbon Based said...

"MY target is obedience to God! How about anyone's target being the golden rule! Even atheists agree with the golden rule! Sin would therefor be not following the golden rule. Fair enough?"

But the golden rule is not original to christianity. From ancient egypt, and greece to Jainism, taoism, hinduism, confucianism, buddhism all have the "ethic of reciprocity."

Sin has a very specific meaning under the christian dogma. How is "original sin" like "not following" the golden rule?

savedbygrace said...

Carbon,

That is exactly why I used the golden rule as the standard! All peoples agree with that! Adam and Eve did not follow the golden rule with God! God had given them everything and told them not to eat from one single tree.

Michael said...

Even if the church goes entirely underground, it will persist. Growing like a weed in China, where it's illegal. So if American society eventually bans it, that could be the biggest blessing Christianity has seen in our nation. Come Lord Jesus.

Noneoftheabove said...

SBG: MY target is obedience to God! How about anyone's target being the golden rule! Even atheists agree with the golden rule! Sin would therefor be not following the golden rule. Fair enough?

Fair enough. Of course, my target is not obedience to God, since I do not believe that there is any God for me to obey. My proper "target," in this context, is to do what's right, and I reject the "divine command theory" of ethics to which you obviously subscribe.

Noneoftheabove said...

SBG: My evil cravings are completely gone. I still get angry sometimes, but I never crave to be angry. In fact, I hate it when I get angry!

Is anger an example of an evil craving?

Noneoftheabove said...

SBG: Adam and Eve did not follow the golden rule with God! God had given them everything and told them not to eat from one single tree.

At the risk of asking you to practice theology without a license, I'm puzzled as to how you would would go about applying the golden rule in this case. The rule is "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Therefore, it would seem that here you are suggesting that Adam and Eve should have obeyed God as they would have God obey them. Curious....

Nightmare said...

savedbygrace said...
"Because xtians have differing doctrines does not equal to differing versions of Christianity. THEY may have a differing version of how the Bible reads or is interpreted, but there remains just ONE TRUE church."

Seems to me that you're having a good deal of difficulty with the definition of the term "version". Why don't you look it up, learn it, and get back to me. And while you're at it, think about this: Why to they have a "differing version" while you have the "one true church"? How do you know you have the "one true church"?

Til you learn the definition of the word version though this is simply a waste of time.

Gandolf said...

Ross said ......."Its geographic centre is shifting away from the first world to the developing world."

And when that also becomes developed,what next?..

Yes Christianity is being lapped up for the moment in places like Africa.But hey people going through tough times and standing in line in benefit ques, dont often really go questioning the papers they need to sign first either to get what they need at the time.

Hodge Podge Blogger said..."I think that Chuck's friend and all the other "skeptics" are wrong and haven't taken a good look at history."

While relying on past history and telling folks they should maybe take a good look at it,have you been taking the same sort of advice by observing the future and its many differences as well?.

Such as use of the net we mostly all have now and advances in knowledge etc.

"So much so that several years after this boastful statement, his house was being used by the Geneva Bible Society to print Bibles. And if you hadn't noticed, there are still plenty of evangelical Christians around, like me."

Well with the use of the internet we all get the chance to approach believers without even needing to enter their churches or homes and we dont need to meet them in the street.And with failing numbers of church goers many non believers have even brought up church buildings for cheap,and have turned them into something else like houses for housing people or backpackers or even industrial buildings.

In future i suggest its quite likely we humans (as in majorities) will also start voting to disallow practices that can be proved to be psychologically abusive and harmful etc,and should a faithful fellow feel its still his/her religious right to make certain threats etc to children some day they just might find themselves behind bars in some jail.

Im not banking on beliefs disappearing,but personally i think it might be a pretty good bet to suggest that faithful folks banking on "past history" might possibly be in for a very big surprise.

Carbon Based said...

"That is exactly why I used the golden rule as the standard! All peoples agree with that!"

But the ethic of reciprocity" doesn't require god nor sin.

savedbygrace said...

I never said that I HAVE the one true church - I said that there is only one true church!

savedbygrace said...

None,

If someone gave you some land with all kinds of fruit trees and asked that you only not eat out of one single tree, would you not be greatful enough to leave that one tree alone???? Would you not do the same???? That is the point!

Noneoftheabove said...

SBG: If someone gave you some land with all kinds of fruit trees and asked that you only not eat out of one single tree, would you not be greatful enough to leave that one tree alone???? Would you not do the same???? That is the point!

Whether gratitude is even an appropriate response to a gift-giver would seem to depend on the sacrifice made by the gift-giver in providing the gift. One way of getting at your question is to ask what God had sacrificed in providing "some land with all kinds of fruit trees." Presumably the land was of no conceivable use or value to him, so it was no sacrifice in that sense. Perhaps you could argue that God had had to take six days out of his very busy schedule in order to create the universe (including, in one teeny, tiny corner thereof, some land with some fruit trees), at the end of which process he was completely pooped and had to rest (because, hey, even for God creating a universe is a lot of work). On the other hand, maybe for him it was a kind of hobby, and he enjoyed it.

It's quite a peculiar myth, isn't it? One can ask why, for example, if God did not want Adam and Eve to eat the fruit of a certain tree in the garden, he put the tree there in the first place. The question assumes even greater significance if one believes that God has foreknowledge of the future, because that would mean that he had placed the tree in the garden, and created Adam and Eve, knowing full well that they would eat the fruit of the tree. It would be hard to make sense of the myth by concluding that God had actually intended Adam and Eve to eat the fruit even though he had warned them not to, but one could make a little sense of it by saying that it demonstrates that even God doesn't necessarily know what the future holds. Still, God looks like a bit of a bozo for having put the tree there, and the obvious implication -- that God is not terribly bright -- is probably not what the creators of the myth wanted us to take away from it.

savedbygrace said...

Who said that God put the tree there? Maybe Satan put it there and that is why God told them not to eat it! Is the tree symbollic of something else, or is it literal? How can a TREE give someone knowledge of good and evil? There are many such unanswered questions. So you throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Noneoftheabove said...

SBG: Who said that God put the tree there? Maybe Satan put it there and that is why God told them not to eat it!

In which case, God would still be a complete doofus. Why not simply remove the tree? Especially, why not remove the tree if he knew in advance that Adam and Eve were going to eat the fruit?

But if God had known that in advance, then why did he not know in advance that Satan intended to put the tree there, and prevent Satan from doing so in the first place? But perhaps even God does not know Satan's plans. Or perhaps he does know Satan's plans, and let Satan put the tree there, because he wanted him to. Or perhaps Satan's powers are so great that even God couldn't remove the tree once Satan put it there. You tell me...

SBG: Is the tree symbollic of something else, or is it literal? How can a TREE give someone knowledge of good and evil?

Uh, because it's a magical tree? Magic happens all the time in the BOOK. People walk on water, the dead rise, men are created out of clay, women out of ribs, and the future is accurately and miraculously prophesied.

But perhaps neither Satan nor God have the power to create a tree, the fruits whereof would be capable of imparting knowledge of good and evil. In that case, it would absolutely have to be metaphorical. Again, you tell me -- is even Almighty God incapable of creating magical trees?

savedbygrace said...

None,

Magical trees, eh? Magical snakes that can talk, donkeys that talk, burning bushes that are not consumed? It must all be a bunch of nonsense!

Noneoftheabove said...

SBG: Magical trees, eh? Magical snakes that can talk, donkeys that talk, burning bushes that are not consumed? It must all be a bunch of nonsense!

The talking snake is actualy rather charming. In the end, one can't help but feel a bit sorry for him.

savedbygrace said...

So if we don't understand it all, then it clearly must not be true.

Noneoftheabove said...

SBG: So if we don't understand it all, then it clearly must not be true.

If we recognize that it is not true, it is a lot easier to understand it all.

savedbygrace said...

How do you recognize something that is NOT true? You first would have to know what IS true. Were you there? Do you undertastand all of the symbollic language and metaphor of the Bible? Do you understand all the varying types of literature and all of their functions? Do you understand Hebrew allegory?

Carbon Based said...

"How do you recognize something that is NOT true? "

Truth = Reality Thats how

Since there are no talking snakes, magical fruit trees, rib women, burnig bushes that hand out stone tablets, Jewish zomies that claim to be their own fathers. I'd say that your book is ignorant superstition and thats why christian aplogetics is so laughable.

but thats just me.

Noneoftheabove said...

SBG: How do you recognize something that is NOT true? You first would have to know what IS true. Were you there? Do you undertastand all of the symbollic language and metaphor of the Bible? Do you understand all the varying types of literature and all of their functions? Do you understand Hebrew allegory?

Indeed, how do you sort out the allegorical from the literal, at any point in the narrative? Perhaps the talking snake was an allegorical figure. So, too, perhaps Adam and Eve were allegorical characters. And perhaps God himself was originally an allegorical character, whose existence was later taken all too literally.

Even within an allegory, what is allegory, and what is meta-allegory? God says, "You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die." Subsequently the serpent tells Eve, "You will not surely die, for God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." The serpent spoke truly: When Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, they did not die.

When God told Adam he would die if he ate the forbidden fruit, was this an allegorical God speaking allegorically to an allegorical man about an allegorcial fruit from an allegorical tree?

savedbygrace said...

So we can rule out some aspects of evolution using some of your principles on defining truth. That's good.

Ross said...

Gandolf, all I know is that these things are cyclical. Are you able to clarify your comments about Christianity in Africa?

Gandolf said...

Ross said..."Gandolf, all I know is that these things are cyclical. Are you able to clarify your comments about Christianity in Africa?"

No Ross sorry you really got me there!.I havent got any links to documented evidence thats easily found,right at this moment.

Tell me were you thinking it would be that likely that many people would really actually document they were taking advantage of christian charity that often though?

Were you thinking my suggestion was most likely totally untrue?

Have you tried putting yourself in the position of even a atheist in some of these tough situations where even the next meal could be a big worry, as a outsider test?.Would you honestly say you would most likely not say hallelujah if it meant a good feed and the much more likelyhood of many more to follow as well in the future.Than would likely be if you stubbornly always declared no im actually a atheist?.Hell man even people who have been good friends for years going to the same church etc,can find their previous so christian friends and family can start hating them if they go and be to honest and tell them they are a atheist and dont believe in god/s anymore!.

In a kids lolly scramble can you show me evidence of many kids that bother to ask about sugar content etc.How many of them actually think that deeply about the contents either.

Come on.Surely you dont really believe you can put charity in places in so much need of relief and really suggest its so positively likely to rally be so much about (real deep honest conviction) of faith in christianity or its god?.