Is America Christian?

I have several good people who comment here at DC. Take Russ for instance, who makes several interesting points in debate with Rob R.
[N]o two people calling themselves Christians view Christianity the same way. Being Catholic he's likely not even reading the same Bible you read. In fact, he may not read it at all. Many Catholics chuck the entire OT, except of course for hating homosexuals and original sin. Without a doubt, given your doctrinal differences each of you is heaven-bound by your own lights, and each of you has reserved a ticket for the other on the bus to hell. You do not accept each other's dogma, so his choice for apologetics will be different than yours. Get it through your thick skull: you do not represent all things Christian and to suggest that you do is intellectually dishonest. You do not even speak for a large fraction of Christians.

Americans in general are reading less and less. Some interesting numbers in that regard:

1/3 of high school graduates never read another book for the rest of their lives.
42 percent of college graduates never read another book after college.
80 percent of U.S. families did not buy or read a book last year.
70 percent of U.S. adults have not been in a bookstore in the last five years.
57 percent of new books are not read to completion.
(Source: Jerold Jenkins, www.JenkinsGroupInc.com)

Americans don't do much reading and those who do don't read the Bible or religiously related material. Americans read more of psychic Sylvia Brown and New Agey Deepak Chopra than they do Christian-themed books. Americans embrace all kinds of superstitions, not just religious superstitions. They spend far more time watching TV shows about mediums, psychics, and non-religious supernatural entities than they spend in all their religious activities. They read astrology columns far more faithfully than they engage Christianity. To ignore, deny, or reject this is to be out of touch with what's called Christianity in America.From the website [http://www.theologicalstudies.org/page/page/1572910.htm].

According to the Barna Research Group, those who read the Bible regularly spend about 52 minutes a week in the scriptures. (Barna, "The Bible," 1997.

It's even less now in 2009. Those who do care about it, don't care much.

Each day in the U.S., people spend 4 hours watching TV, 3 hours listening to the radio and 14 minutes reading magazines. (Source: Veronis, Suhler & Associates investment banker)

American Christians intentionally give many things far greater priority than they give their religion. More to the point, that they don't read much of anything also means they do not read books on Christian apologetics.

Here's a link to a wonderful article that underscores the lack of concern Americans have for Christianity. [http://www.politicsdaily.com/2009/06/18/america-s-real-literacy-crisis-it-s-the-bible-stupid/]

Please read it and think it through. The numbers cited in it are supported independently elsewhere.

12 percent of Americans believe Noah's wife was Joan of Arc.

Only 50 percent can name even one gospel.

Only 37 percent could name all four.

Most do not know that someone named Jesus delivered the sermon on the mount.

More than half do not know that the first book in the Bible is Genesis.

Christians are so poor at articulating a clear message that half of high school seniors in one survey thought that Sodom and Gomorrah were married, and a 2000 survey showed 60 percent of evangelicals thought Jesus was born in Jerusalem instead of Bethlehem. "Oh, Little Town of Bethlehem" seems never to have sunk in.

Think about this when you fall into using the word "Christian." Is this your Christianity? Can you name the four gospels? Most other American Christians can't.

On this site, [http://www.centerforbibleengagement.org/index.php?Itemid=7&id=23&option=com_content&task=view], we read,
The Christian community in the United States is in a major crisis and for the most part is unaware. Our research indicates that if current trends of Biblical disengagement among youth and men, especially, continue, within the next 30 years the Bible will be a “thing of the past” for most people who claim to be Christ-followers.
and
Most Christ-followers do not engage (read or hear) from God (the Bible) on a daily basis because it simply is not important to them-thus, establishing a habit of Bible reading is not (statistically) a probability using current methodologies.
Wow! Statistics and probabilities!

Your fellow American Christians don't read much at all, and, again, that includes Bibles and books on Christian apologetics. Your fellow American Christians don't look at Christianity the same way you do and they do not care about Christianity the way you appear to. So, it is intellectually dishonest to contend that you speak for them.

The numbers also provide insights when we look at the site Religious Tolerance. [http://www.religioustolerance.org/rel_rate.htm]. The article at this link is "How many North Americans attend religious services (and how many lie about going)?"

As the article points out, Christians lie a lot when it comes to their religious practices. The polling data says 40 percent go to church, but actual counts show only about half that attend church services. Barna showed that while 17% say they tithe, only about 3% actually do. If they lie about church attendance, and they lie about how much they give to their churches, we certainly have good reasons to question their self-assessments in other areas.

Looking at the rest of the world, we see many cultures that have no religion and many that have had it and subsequently rejected it. Your religious views offer these people, these cultures, nothing. The Amazonian Piraha and the Tanzanian Hadza people have no religion and no gods. They are completely self-reliant and need nothing at all from modern civilization, especially Christianity.

Telling these people they are inherently afflicted with original sin by your religion due to errors by others in ancient times does no one any good. Their languages don't have words for times too far past or future. They remain unimpressed by human sacrifice since it's such a stupid thing for a father to do. Here's a link to a lecture about one man's experience with the Piraha, [http://fora.tv/2009/03/20/Daniel_Everett_Endangered_Languages_and_Lost_Knowledge]

It's called, "Daniel Everett: Endangered Languages and Lost Knowledge." He also authored a book called, "Don't Sleep: There Are Snakes."

For cultures like the Scandanavian ones, neither they nor those their generosity and compassion aids stand to gain from Christianity's yarns and tall tales. Read the United Nations Human Development Reports. They're online. You can discount them all you like, but the numbers should put anyone back on their heels who thinks that Christianity is a panacea - it's not, or that Christianity makes people better than their fellow man - it doesn't. That's only a Christian delusion.

Christians, including clergy, are provably liars. Christians lie about science. Christians lie about the natural world. Christians lie about answered prayers. Christians lie about their own church attendance. Christians lie about their giving to their own church. Christians lie about miracles. Christians lie about atheists and other non-Christians. Christians lie to the poor and destitute. Simply put, Christians lie, and, so should not be trusted.

Today's fast reacting information systems promise a well-spring of troubles for Christianity. Any group or person unable to demonstrate that their claims lead to observable benefit for mankind will be held to account by observers. Those same information systems will fell the protective barriers behind which the absurd and profoundly stupid like Pat Robertson, and the profane and vulgar like the current pope and his legion of rapists find safe haven.

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[You'll see more of his comments by clicking on this link].

29 comments:

Rob R said...

Russ's comments gets its own topic? But of course, that's how most of his comments are, worthy of their own topics as they don't have much to do with the topics or posts that they respond to.

Chuck O'Connor said...

Rob,

You speak in absolutes as if your hard-won rationalization of the faith you were raised compels some sort of universal appeal. Russ points that out. He is challenging the premise from which all of your arguments stand. You want to focus on winning academic debates related to certain topics as if your way of practicing philosophy is the only way of knowing. Russ simply points out that as humans we construct culture to see reality and our culture is simply a construct by which we see. It is artificial and neutral. He simply refutes the claim you consistently make that Christian theology is superior to all other cultural lenses.

Rob R said...

FYI, let me acknowledge that this exchange is a rabit trail and is not on topic. And most of the things that Russ has asserted deserve to be answered. But I choose not to and my only intention was to highlight the context from which this reply of Russ to me came... one that was irrelevent.

Only a month or two or three or more ago, John Loftus started to censor people that he deemed trolls. From what I read of them, not all of these people were posting personal attacks, but they were deemed trolls for a consistent approach of a poor quality of response (for example, one frequently criticized the atheists for their relativism... even though that wasn't the topic and it wasn't even clear that the atheist in question was a relativist). But they really did not respond well to the specifics of what was said even in reply specifically to them. It's hard for me not to read russ and identify a similar spirit and approach.





Chuck,

how can we get anywhere about anything if we don't focus on the specifics that are said. Russ argues with a million red herrings and refuses to deal with the specifics.

You speak in absolutes

I don't even know what that means.

as if your hard-won rationalization of the faith you were raised compels some sort of universal appeal.

Clearly, it doesn't have universal appeal or else I wouldn't write the long posts that I do to build my case for some of the claims I make. Chuck, you were previously all about understanding someone as they understood themselves. Russ, had zero interest in that always defaulting to the variety of belief. He always commited the fallacy of controversy (in short, it highlights the disagreements amongst those with some level of agreement elsewhere (or disagreements of the authorities) as if that was enough to settle the issue on it's falsehood). Has your approach changed?

He is challenging the premise from which all of your arguments stand.

I don't have a premise from which all my arguments stand. I have no clue what that would be. Is it belief in God? You don't have to believe in God to agree with me on many of the things that I say, including my criticism of Russ's style of discussion. You could agree with me in many of the criticisms I make against John Loftus' arguments and still be an atheist. Take his challenge for 2010 from which Russ's post comes from. You don't have to be a Christian to agree with me that the best answers to many claims of many critics are found in religious literature that is not primarily focused on Christian apologetics. An atheist can disagree with John for some of the same reasons that I disagree with him. They could fault his modernistic approach as I do. There are atheists who are post modernists and they would have many objections to the things John claims in his book "why I became an atheist".

You want to focus on winning academic debates related to certain topics as if your way of practicing philosophy is the only way of knowing.

I do argue for my way of thinking. And that does not make me special. if this is a problem criticize the blog host. All debate entails that the participants think they have a better approach to an issue than the other participant.

Rob R said...

2np post,

The very title of this blog topic only highlights that this post of russ' was originally out of place.

John W. Loftus said...

Rob, there was one guy who came back using different names and was obnoxious. He offered the same arguments over and over, offering nothing new and derailing discussions. Besides, I make the decisions around here.

Cheers.

Mark Plus said...

I've wondered if American "aliteracy" and anti-intellectualism tend to limit the influence of fundamentalist religiosity. Studying the bible and supporting literature looks way too much like school work to have mass appeal.

By contrast, the Europeans I've talked to, especially Germans, wonder why most Americans haven't filled their homes with the books they've bought and read. Apparently Germany has more bookstores than churches; whereas in the U.S., even rural college towns will have churches but no secular bookstore other than the one the college operates to sell textbooks.

Rob R said...

Rob, there was one guy who came back using different names and was obnoxious.

Well, there was one lady that I thought some of her stuff was out of the blue including some comments on relativism.


Besides, I make the decisions around here.

Sounds good to me, and while my original comments may insite more comments along those lines (and naturally Russ may defend himself) what I said is the last of it on my part, except I would suggest that I treat Russ's comments with more respect than he treats others just to simply note that that what is said is worthy of discussion, that points have been made and i don't pretend that the tangents answer the criticisms made. Russ in the process of his rabbit trails grants nothing and answers nothing in the context of the discussions in which they are discussed.

I think that's just great that you recognize in Russ's post exactly what I recognized. They are worth their own topic. But that's what they should've been to begin with. And I would attempt to explain why they qualify as rabbit trails except russ will do more of the same as well as take something I said out of it's original context to boot.

And hey, since you did mention me in the post as it was originally some kind of response to me, I felt it even more reasonable to point out the context in which Russ argued (which is significantly out of context, the content of which somewhat makes sense conversationally speaking (yeah Christians need to be challenged, cause their also religiously illiterate on their own grounds) but was even further out of context in that it was alleged to be a response to the specific things I had said about your post).

Chuck O'Connor said...

Rob,

Are you really looking to challenge accepted truths and come to a better understanding of reality or, are you using philosophical argument to defend the faith you think to be the truth?

Russ uses statistical arguments (sometimes by Christian organizations) to blow holes in your premise that Jesus Christ is one person in a triune God who necessitates the salvation of all men and, if one submits to the authority of Christ then there will be perfect unity.

Do you not believe those things?

Do you not use philosophical argument to defend your personal style of faith?

Russ simply challenges your intellectual arrogance and religious presupposition with statistical fact.

I do understand people as they understand themselves and I understand you to be someone who thinks he has the secret of the universe wrapped up in his particular version of religion which he defends by obscuring reality via philosophical argument and an ignorance of how that religion operates in the real world.

Russ deals in real world facts that challenge the religious authority you appeal to.

I'd like to see you deal with his arguments and make a case one can observe in the real world for the authority you claim. From my vantage your philosophical musings make you feel comfortable about your faith but don't do much to address how the real world works.

In short, I endorse Russ' arguments and find you to be a little dishonest in backing away from them.

Greg said...

"If you're doing business with a religious son-of-a-bitch, get it in writing.His word isn't worth ****.
Not with the good lord telling him how to **** you on the deal."

-- William Burroughs

mud_rake said...

A bit of history may help define the comments of Rob R. Rob R. and his mother Barb R. run the best homophobic blog in Toledo. The two of them are a tag-team made in heaven.

Rob drops the philosophical stuff [his college major] while mom drops the Leviticus and Deuteronomy stuff. Together, they are two of the most righteous christians of whom I know.

Rob R said...

In short, I endorse Russ' arguments and find you to be a little dishonest in backing away from them.

call it dishonest chuck, but I'm done with this tangent. But you did not read carefully what I wrote! And that's all I offer. I'm sorry but I'm quite sick of those who ignore the points made because they throw out red herrings, and I don't do the same. I HIGHILIGHT that what I say here should not be taken as a response to the content of the topic post AND that it deserves to be addressed. In doing so, my tangent is not a true red herring.

If I respond here again, it will be in reaction to what is actually said in the topic (and because John Loftus posted it for general discussion, and as such, it is no longer a discussion specifically with Russ).

If I don't respond here, it's because I am already involved in conversations and I am limited in time.

But then again, as this is a typical russ comment, there are a ton of claims made here most of which could not be satisfactorily discussed or debated in the context of one session.

There's religious illiteracy of the amongst the cultuerally Christian. Yes, that should be remededied. People who claim to be Christians ought to take more responsibility for their faith. There was a lot of statistics there, but I just don't see this as a conceptual problem for Christianity but a part of the problem that pretty much all of scripture is geared to deal with, that is spiritual growth which needs to be engaged.

Then there's reference to allegedly non-religious indigenous peoples. I don't know much about them. Then there's the atheistic scandanavian countries which are supposedly and very well may be very humanistic (compassionate). Course many of the humanistic values they have arguably have their roots in Christianity. But russ is cherry picking the evidence to discount atheistic socieities that didn't do so well, principally your former communist countries ("oh, but they were religious in their communism" whatever that means).

Then he challenges the idea of original sin, though the effects are one of the most empirically verifiable amongst Christian claims.

And of course, what would a Russ post be without a hysterical rant such as he ended with calling Christians liars and saying they aren't to be trusted? Yeah, Chuck, I'm dishonest cause I don't want to engage that but if I must, I could respond in the same spirit to say that atheists are liars because their mothers lie to them early on by telling them they are handsome.

Well mountains and mountain more could be written on any of those and I don't claim to be the one to be able to do it. I know John says I am the answer man, but the fact is, I select the topics I respond to (as does everyone else) not just for quality but also where I actually have a significant amount to contribute.

So there you have it chuck, I have adressed some of the content while I recognize that it can't be the last word and again, I don't have time to pursue that which is of questionable value anyhow. But in addressing the specific content, again, I have shown more respect for Russ's posts than he shows others. All of that was a response to me and yet it had nothing to do with what I actually wrote and had nothing to do with John's challenge for 2010.

Rob R said...

Rob drops the philosophical stuff [his college major] while mom drops the Leviticus and Deuteronomy stuff.


But in defense of my professors, i was a mediocre student.

Chuck O'Connor said...

Rob,

Do you believe Christianity is the only worldview that offers truth or not?

Russ' cumulative argument discredits most of what you argue specifically, your rebuttal of John's challenge by using Paul's metaphor of the body as a reason for the observed variance in the Holy Spirit's efficacy amongst believers.

His cumulative case points to the illegitimacy of your premise that a Christian worldview is the most truthful or, as you put it, holds the least "epistemic risk".

Do you believe what you stand for or not?

And, if so, how can I trust that your perspective isn't really just obfuscation using philosophical argumentation to support an a priori conclusion?

Rob R said...

Do you believe Christianity is the only worldview that offers truth or not?

Actually no, I do not. I am an inclusivist which means I hold that the message of Jesus is the ultimate truth and Judeo-Christianity provides opportunity to delve into that. And yet other cultures and religions still give evidence of God's grace at work amongst the gentiles which we see indicated in scripture such as Acts 17 where Paul says that God has provided a means throughout the world for people to find him and ascribes some claims from pagan philosophers and a pagan poem to Zeus to Yahweh even as he criticized idolatry in the same passage. And furthermore, I am a slightly more radical inclusivist in that I believe that other religions and cultures may hold truths, even spiritual truths which was not revealed in the scriptures. Anyone with an honest appraisal of the early church has to agree with this given our indebtedness to greek philosophy which was used to refine and develope Christian theology (though at the same time, we also ought to be wary of where that influence may have taken the church fathers to make some wrong choices).

For that matter, Christianity is not a complete world view if you define a world view as an exhaustive view of the world. I'm sure John Loftus was an authentic Christian and a follower of Christ, but I doubt that our views of the world were exactly the same though they agreed on some of the most important matters. Christianity is very compatible with a variety of epistemic and metaphysical claims though it has important implications in both areas.

Russ' cumulative argument discredits most of what you argue specifically,

No, it did not discredit that the best Christian Christian writings relevent for apologetics were to be found in apologetic literature. It did not Discredit that most of your loudest voices for atheism are of people who aren't aware of their own uncritical modernistic disposition in a post modern time when that disposition has been seriously called into question. And that not all Christians have to have an equal education and understanding surely does not suggest that religious illiteracy is a good thing.

His cumulative case points to the illegitimacy of your premise that a Christian worldview is the most truthful

That's all very well and good which does not discredit most if not all of the things I mentioned to which he was replying.

obfuscation using philosophical argumentation to support an a priori conclusion?

huh?

If my conclusions are a priori, then there's no point in arguing against them.

Chuck O'Connor said...

Rob you said,

"Actually no, I do not. I am an inclusivist which means I hold that the message of Jesus is the ultimate truth and Judeo-Christianity provides opportunity to delve into that. And yet other cultures and religions still give evidence of God's grace at work amongst the gentiles which we see indicated in scripture such as Acts 17 where Paul says that God has provided a means throughout the world for people to find him and ascribes some claims from pagan philosophers and a pagan poem to Zeus to Yahweh even as he criticized idolatry in the same passage."

This seems insane to me. Basically you are saying that you can respect other cultural claims to truth because you holy book says it is okay to do that. But isn't deferring to a holy book as the authority on sanction simply empowering your religion as superior? It is a basic passive-aggressive move done by Evangelical Christians in America right now.

"Christianity is very compatible with a variety of epistemic and metaphysical claims though it has important implications in both areas."

Meaning what exactly?

Please don't quote-mine me when I am making a point and instead, respond to the total phrase. I agree with Russ' argument in as much that it refutes your claim to a unified Christianity using Paul's allusion to the interdependence and discrete functioning members have akin to specific bodily functions. You used metaphor to discredit John's challenge and Russ responded with statistics to show you that your claim to unity does not measure up. He discredited your claim, plain and simple. Now you can appeal to the authority of apologetic authors (which have a low-probability of influence based on the statistics Russ shared) or you can concede that your appeal to Paul's metaphor does not match the actual church that is behaving today. You can want the church to be what it is but the statistics seem to show it is something other than a good bride to your savior.

"It did not Discredit that most of your loudest voices for atheism are of people who aren't aware of their own uncritical modernistic disposition in a post modern time when that disposition has been seriously called into question."

Tell me what you stand for don't tell me why someone who sees no need for what you are selling is philosophically wrong.

When I say a priori I simply mean that you are not dealing with the conversations being had with an honest and sincere and humble desire to uncover truth as the argument reveals it. You deny the evidence to maintain the position you had prior to entering the conversation but act as if you are trying to get deeper into the understanding of what is being discussed. In short you are basically making an altar call using gussied up philosophical arguments and I think you lie when you say you truly want to join and ponder what is workable for people. You want to defend your faith. That is all and it is pedestrian.

mud_rake said...

Is America Christian?

Oddly interesting question. There are different intentions assumed for this 3-word question.

a.)Is the majority religion of America, Christian?

b.)Is America a Christian nation?

The difference in inference of these two questions is the difference between receiving a toy pony and a real pony.

Demographic data gives a yes to answer 'a.'

Historical data gives a no to answer 'b.'

End of discussion.

goprairie said...

well, instead of dealing with the interesting and important question posed, we have sunk to a whine-fest about who john treats better on HIS blog. grow up??
as to the point, I wanted to say that many people ASSUME we do live in a 'christian nation' and so they tolerate things they should not and do not question things they should question. they allow christianity to creep into government, allow us to have government holidays that are christian holidays. they tolerate political candidates who make choices based on christian ideology and who make comments asking them to pray during speeches and who pray for guidance in their own decision making. that a president relied on prayer to a non-existant entity to make decisions about going to war should have caused an uproar but it was accepted.
americans assume christianity is good and therefore spend money on christian charities without quesitoning what actually happens to that money.
there are many other harmful effects on policy and society due to this sloppy thinking and the assumption that we are a christian nation, including discrimination against those of other religions and more, against the declared non-religious.
but the good news is that much of this christianity IS largly a culture thing and not truly a belief thing. hopefully, as atheism gains visibility and acceptance (thanks to sites like this and the outside activities of their owners such as books and talks) people will see that it is okay to stop claiming allegiance to something they don't actually believe in.

nazani said...

Living in Fredericksburg, Virginia, I find these stats hard to accept. We have two Christian bookstores, one quite large. Of course, they also sell a lot of resin crosses with floral decor. I sell used books on Amazon, and sell a steady trickle of religious books, mostly the ramblings of some lady who has overcome one of life's problems with the help of God. I page through these books when I list them, and the trend I see is "every man his own prophet." A whole book can be based on just a couple of Bible quotes and wholesale creation of personal mythology. Oh, and the historical inaccuracies I find show that they've attended the Ken Hovind school of Creative History.

Rob R said...

Chuck, personal attacks from you aside and your insistance that I continue off topic, I'll say this much to the matter that is actually on topic (and granted, a continuation of the topic from which this post came).

If Russ intended (and I actually don't care whether he intended or not, it is sufficient that you raise the issue) that his description of religious illiteracy was against my discussion on Paul's description of the body of Christ, I don't see it as an adequate response at all. I was responding to John Loftus' challenge which was an insistance that Christians should approach our religious knowledge in a certain way. I treated Paul's speach on the body as prescriptive, not descriptive and that is how Paul intended it as it was for Christians who did not have the proper view of diversity within the body of Christ. That the church has often (yet most certainly not always) failed to live up to the standard outlined by Paul's of appreciation, tolerance and use of our diversity in skill, gift and ability doesn't mean that the church ought not continue to strive toward that standard. And John's idea (so I assume is implied) that all of us Christians ought to focus on the claims of skeptics to the fullest is at odds with this standard.








goprarie,

I don't mind that russ's post became a topic at all. I meant what I said and if you felt it was whiny, that was the voice with which you read it.

Rob R said...

post 2 of 3

One of the claims russ made is that the Piraha of South America don't need Christ nor the idea that they have sin to repent of. They appeared to be exceedingly happy to the missionary, Daniel Everett who learned their language and lost his faith because they overturned his belief that everyone needed the gospel. And their happiness and simple way of life enamored him to the point that had no desire to change them. They were also exceedingly resistant to the gospel due to their ultra empiricism where they pay little to no heed of what anyone says that was not observed by them personally or at least something that that was observed by an associate of the speaker.

After watching the video Russ linked to, I looked up some reviews of his book "Don't sleep...".

Here's a snippet of John Fisher's (real name) review at Amazon.

The Pirahã live in the present. They are happy. They are sexually promiscuous and change family partners with only a modicum of fuss. They spend much of their time together, sometimes in family groups but often in larger gatherings. They talk and they talk and they talk. They don't seem to sleep much, talking all night long. Sometimes they help each other but at others, let nature take it course without interfering, especially around childbirth. They may not come to the aid of a birthing mother who is in trouble and dispose of infants without mothers. They make a big fuss about old men lost in the jungle. They let children play with dangerous things and don't coddle them when they hurt themselves. The crying of weaned children, who no longer get so attended to, are ignored. Children are quickly given adult tasks. They don't seem to fight much among themselves but have killed outsiders and exiled members who were troublesome. The author witnessed one incidence of gang rape which was forceful but not violent. The author doesn't tell us how it affected the victim.


I can't read the emboldened parts without thinking that there is significant room for social change here. Clearly for mothers in trouble and orphaned babies, this tribe has a brutal negligence. That is an obvious issue. Less obvious to perhaps secular minds is the fault that may be found with alleged low drama of their "divorces" (and promiscuity). But of course, if sexuality is deeply sacred, then this is a terrible waste.

Rob R said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rob R said...

post 3 of 3


They were judged to be exceedingly happy by psychologists who visited the tribe on the basis of how much they smiled and laughed. With their high emphasis on empiricism and low emphasis on emotional commitments to spouse and children, I can't help but think that this is simply in line with the idea that ignorance is bliss. That's not to say that they don't have a degree of wisdom, they do know their environment extremely well. But I doubt that their amount of smiling and laughter truely reflects the depth of joy for which we are intended. Their happiness is accredited to their simple way of life. They surely lack one of the rest of the world's major sources of emptiness, materialism and so this may very well may be part of their happiness.

I also can't fully agree with the equal but different view of their culture given that their ultra empiricism would prevent the hights of culture that has been achieved by less empirical cultures such as our own. Science after all would not work in their mind set since scientist must rely on the word of other scientists that they never meet. Their ultra empiricism also judges history beyond their father's remembrance to be unworthy of their time (hence their lack of interest in Everett's teaching's on Jesus). Is this a value judgement that we can be neutral to, that for instance, the holocaust isn't worthy of our time if we don't hear of it at least 2nd hand?

Given these considerations, I don't see this tribe as that strong of evidence for the irrelevance of Christ for the world's need or even their own. One would be better off speaking of the Scandinavians in that matter (even though it's questionable to seperate their humanistic values from their Christian heritage).

Chuck O'Connor said...

Rob,

I agree with you but in the context of Paul's illustration but in so doing I must ask; if the Corinthian Church was as carnal as Paul describes and yet they were Christians filled with the Holy Spirit why then did not the in-dwelling make them a "new creation" as the doctrine of salvation promises?

That is Russ' point and mine too. You appeal to the authority of a church that points to it's unique relationship to the creator of the universe via a doctrine that says God lives inside of you but then appeal to a caveat to this doctrine that human will in a prescriptive manner must activate this god's efficacy.

The authority of the Holy Spirit which you appeal is rendered incoherent at best and invisible at worst when you take into consideration both the ancient and present behavior of those claiming his authority as their own.

IF the church is one body it is schizophrenic.

Of course I don't believe that at all. I believe that the Holy Spirit is a myth and a metaphor used by an ancient man in ancient times to get people to try and behave so that their community could survive. The warring factions of Christians in contemporary times proves the promises of a Holy Spirit is a heuristic for people to organize their desire for institutional control. I see nothing of what you claim in the real world.

Rob R said...

I agree with you but in the context of Paul's illustration but in so doing I must ask; if the Corinthian Church was as carnal as Paul describes and yet they were Christians filled with the Holy Spirit why then did not the in-dwelling make them a "new creation" as the doctrine of salvation promises?

Chuck, consider what a like minded soul to me, Luke at common sense atheism said.

You raise a real problem, a problem which does not effect my usage of Paul's passage in the context of John's thread on the challenge as surely as Russ's objection did not have much to do with my usage of that passage.

That said, I have a simple explanation. The presence of the Holy Spirit does not take away responsibility and freedom which is present during our spiritual growth and during authentic trials that bear real risk during (and providing part of the context for) that growth. And the Holy Spirit is not intended to make us autonomous without the need for guidance from scripture and other Christians (that would invalidate an essential of the gospel which is to make us a community). We are responsible to utilize all of the resources that God has given us, and that we fail to do so is our responsibility and failure.

Scripture never paints the Holy Spirit as eliminating personal responsibility. Old testament prophets like Jonah and Jeremiah demonstrate this. Moses demonstrated this. All of these men had the spirit but were reluctant or failed in some aspect or another. Balaam may have been an example, who was originally a pagan, yet one who recieved revelation from God. On that basis, it may be arguable that he had the Holy Spirit. He joined the Israelites but eventually he saught to turn them away from God.

And back to Paul to the Corinthians (where this illustration comes from) he had to instruct them to use their gifts from the spirit wisely (such as speaking in tongues).

You are bringing a view of how you think the spirit should work to scripture instead of allowing scripture to describe how the spirit works via weighing all the scriptural evidence.

Chuck O'Connor said...

Rob,

You are arrogant. Plain and simple and it is shameful.

One can refute the claims you make without adhering to an academic standard of philosophical dialogue.

It happens all the time in the real world.

Communicating within the rules of philosophy allows you to stay connected with one way of seeing the world. It is not the only way to see the world and it does not guarantee that what you see is real. It only guarantees that you can agree with your own premise.

Unfortunately your philosophical ruminations are inferior to observed data and Russ' use of statistics and my support of that use, while not adhering to academic standards of philosophical dialogue, do provide hard evidence to the probable reality that your perspective on Christian living is nothing more than philosophically derived wishful thinking.

You can assert that your Christianity is real all you want but the behavior of your fellow Christians seems to indicate that the authority you appeal to is illusory.

I'm sure you feel good about yourself that you have run your appreciation of the most common cultural myth known to you through your philosophical grinder but, that does not mean your ideas help anyone, solve any real world problems or adhere to reality at all. You've rationalized a way to feel intellectual while maintaing a modicum of agreement with your mom. That is all.

Chuck O'Connor said...

Rob,

For your edification.

http://www.alternet.org/belief/145172/why_it%27s_so_tricky_for_atheists_to_debate_with_believers?page=entire

Rob R said...

You are arrogant. Plain and simple and it is shameful.

Yes, I probably am arrogant unfortunately. But though you might be able to wax eloquent on your humility, I don't think I will look to your example.

And may the Lord bless you and your household and may you one day fully know of the authentic love of God of which your current expressed frustrations know nothing.

Communicating within the rules of philosophy allows you to stay connected with one way of seeing the world.

there's good quality of thought and poor quality of thought and philosophy is aimed at working out the difference.

Unfortunately your philosophical ruminations are inferior to observed data and Russ' use of statistics

irrelevence is irrelevence whether you dress it in statistics or not.


As for the rest, it's unfortunate to see your thought deteroriate into nothing more than personal attacks instead of dealing with the issues. Your skepticism has made your thinking futile.

Chuck O'Connor said...

Rob

Sorry you feel the way you do but I am pretty happy actually. Much happier since I dropped the need for supernaturalism. I call them as I see them and with you I see someone with only a hammer in his toolbox so the world looks like a nail. You claim intellectual flexibility but exhibit a rigidity common to most 20th Century Evangelical Christian Fundamentalism. I don't know what to do with your assertions except to say, "okay Rob, I'm sure you believe that." While recognizing that what you say denies the current practice of your religion.

Russ said...

Rob R, How perverse you are. How sad and silly your religion makes you.

What you say here is tiresome, weak, predictable, philosophically inconsistent and wrong.

I'll have more to say.

Peace through humanity,

Russ