Twisted Faith: A Case Study in Why Skepticism is a Virtue

Here is an interesting NBC Dateline story about the dangers of faith based reasoning and the virtues of skepticism. Faith can be twisted by feeble human minds into believing what they want to believe against their own consciences. It's a tragic but important story. Think you are immune believer? Think twice if you have the faith these believers had.

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102 comments:

District Supt. Harvey Burnett said...

John,

This story was about manipulation, plain and simple.

I would agree that skepticism and just plain old common sense should have been used to see and expose this criminal.

This man is a murderer who simply used religion to do his crimes. He's a psychopath at best.

Thanks for bringing this one to my attention once again, I had missed it.

Thanks again!

District Supt. Harvey Burnett said...

John,

Thanks and I got the message...All I can say about this garbage is WOW!

I am at a loss for words...This man was with his dead wife's mother??? Saying that he wanted "both"???How much of a sick freak can he be???

AMAZING!

I'm sorry, but at the least I'll do a link to this one on one of my Clergy Sexual Misconduct posts....AMAZING!!!

Chuck O'Connor said...

Very creepy.

Not surprising though. Christianity elevates obedience to authority as the highest moral standard and condemns critical analysis of those called to lead.

Russ said...

Harvey,
You said,

This story was about manipulation, plain and simple.

Yes, manipulation, just like most of the rest that passes for religion. Roman Catholics are manipulated by their Emperor, the Pope, into actually believing that being a Christian is not sufficient to get one into heaven. Roman Catholics are told that to gain access to the mythical heaven, one must be the very specific Roman Catholic variety of Christian. Protestants respond in kind.

What should we call the variety of Christianity where followers are urged to say things like "I'm really getting horny for You, Jesus" or "My pussy is excited for You, Jesus!" or "Jesus, I'm lost in Your love. With every thrust of Your penis You take me higher and higher." Here's a link to it [http://xfamily.org/index.php/Love_words_to_Jesus] Is this, too, manipulation, Harvey? It's all Christianity. You've lectured us many a time on how all 40000 Christianities are the basically the same. Are they really?

You also said,

I would agree that skepticism and just plain old common sense should have been used to see and expose this criminal.

Yes, again. All should be extremely wary of anything that fails as obviously as religion. Remember it's only been recently that our access to accurate information about the church and its goings-on has been wrested away from church control. The picture we see in the new light does not fit with how the religious are inculcated to think of themselves, or with how the religious depict themselves to others. Skepticism and just plain old common sense should have been used long ago to bring the manifold flaws and failures of religion to everyone's attention. But, the church was in control. As we see everywhere, they are not to be trusted today, and the history shows unequivocally that they have never been deserving of trust.

From the overt Christianity-backed rape of children by Christian clergy, to the fleecing of millions of people by faith healers and televangelists, and onto the only slightly less obvious abuse of clerical power and authority to round up clients for outside businesses like insurance and financial services, we see Christian clerics looking after their own interests. These are not isolated incidents: that's the way the Christianities are. That's the way it's always been in the Christianities, but today we can see it directly since the clergy can no longer oppressively control people's access to information and it's accurate interpretation.

You said,

This man is a murderer who simply used religion to do his crimes.

Religion is being used right now to effectively murder millions of Africans every year as those moral paragons, the Roman Catholics, deny everyone under their care access to the condoms, highly effective at reducing HIV transmission, donated by the WHO. Pentecostalist Christians in Africa are, with their own hands, murdering their own children because their religious leaders say those children are witches or otherwise demon-possessed. This is all part and parcel of the tradition of inhumanities of the Christianities.

District Supt. Harvey Burnett said...

Chuck,

I more than partially agree with you on that comment...It seems that some in ministry believe that the rules don't apply to them...I believe that's not an issue with Christianity as much as it is with individuals who loose sight of what Christianity teaches and establish their own form of righteousness...This is a matter of practice, BUT I'll grant you that Christianity is interpreted in light of the actions of thoise that represent it...so I cut you much slack and won't argue the point.

Good job!

District Supt. Harvey Burnett said...

Russ,

You offer the same repetitive bad arguments all the time...Or should I say the same novel and unfounded speculations???

The diverse groups within Christianity have nothing to do with what happened in this video. Even that group knew that what this man did was wrong. Did you see any endorsement of his actions???

In addition, the people effected themselves said that they can recognize the difference between what was done and what the bible teaches...They didn't loose their faith (as obviously you would have long before crumbled). They had much more than what anyone thought to endure this...That's the blessing about this whole thing. Their strength was found in holding fast to sustainable and effective biblical TRUTHS.

So far as the rest of your lame commentary...it is what it is, and you won't get a debate from me other than the fact that I and everyone should continue to examine everything you say with much healthy skepticism. You don't seem to think that careful examination applies to you and your bogus arguments and if I didn't study and know history and already have written on and researched most of your gripe (which is all that it is) I may be confused, but no such thing exists...I see you and your woefully constructed reasonings from miles away.

Good Day!

Manifesting Mini Me (MMM) said...

John wrote, "Why Skepticism is a Virtue" --

I believe it is wisdom, not skepticism, that is a virtue. Skepticism is derived from fear and insecurity, while wisdom is based upon a foundation of insight and understanding.

Chuck O'Connor said...

Harvey,

My comment was less about the church leaders and more about the congregants. It seems to me that a big benefit one gets from Christianity is the comfort knowing that they are approved of by an ultimate authority. This enjoyment of approval sometimes confuses people's ability to determine proper ethics for the sake of obeying authority. The internal logic of Christian theology can keep people in an echo chamber of harmful doubt because if a doubting christian were to empower his/her moral autonomy for the sake of church leadership it could be construed as poor instruction by a wayward demon or, bad decision-making based on sin.

One of the reasons I find Christianity immoral is because of the kind of bad ethics that often get encoded in this type of Divine Command morality.

Russ said...

Harvey,
You said,

you won't get a debate from me other than the fact that I and everyone should continue to examine everything you say with much healthy skepticism.

I am definitely of the mind that the things I say here should be open to healthy skepticism. What I do not understand, however, is why you would want to debate that.

You said,

You don't seem to think that careful examination applies to you and your bogus arguments and if I didn't study and know history and already have written on and researched most of your gripe (which is all that it is) I may be confused, but no such thing exists.

As I said careful examination appies to all.

But, Harvey, you demonstrate over and over that you have no interest whatsoever in doing sound scholarship. You quote mine everything to carefully construct lies you find soothing. For instance, you call Charles Darwin a racist and then proceed to quote mine his work as only a charlatan will do. You don't care at all about truth or honesty. So, don't lecture us about bad arguments or careful examination. You have no idea how honest scholarship is conducted.

It's bizarre, but consistent on your part that you would consider Darwin to be anti-black people, but because the Roman Catholics are labeled "Christian" you don't care at all that they are complicit in the deaths of millions of those same black people. It's murder in the name of Jesus, just the same. I look at the suffering and say I want it to stop. But the Roman Catholics see murder as a fundamental part of their Christian identity. As a caring human being I can act and speak out. As one of their fellow Christians you turn a blind eye while the massacre continues.

Similarly, while many African Pentecostal parents butcher their children and their neighbors, you simply accept that witches must be killed, demons must be eradicated. Sing it, Harvey: How do I know? The Bible tells me so. Your moral absolutes go by the wayside as long as they are being violated by the religious.

And, Harvey, these are not the unfounded speculations you accuse me of. These are your observed behaviors.

Skepticism is a virtue and it should be applied by everyone, including that flock you fleece. Did they apply skepticism when you, the Christian financial adviser, and your Lord Jesus lost their money through the financial instruments you sold them? No. Why? Because you're religious. You screw people and they give you a pass. Aren't you lucky? Or should I say, isn't God good to you. Curious how people allowing themselves to be bilked by you and you then attributing it to your God seem to go hand in hand.

Odd, but I notice in your profile that you no longer call yourself a financial advisor. God apparently doesn't work in the light of day where things like stock prices can be verified, but instead only in the dark recesses where people like you get to tell those trained in credulity what is and isn't a miracle or an answered prayer.

A healthy skepticism concerning your religious claims - prayers, miracles, casting out demons with exorcisms - would have your parishioners running for the doors, but you've got 'em hooked.

Russ said...

You said,

You offer the same repetitive bad arguments all the time.

Actually, Harvey, I have evidence that your religious voodoo and mumbo-jumbo don't work. If it worked as you claim, it would be observable. We would all see it. Since there is no evidence for your claims, all you have are arguments. Arguments from ignorance, arguments from authority, arguments from emotion, arguments from personal experience...arguments, arguments, arguments. You have yours. Other Christians have their often similarly mutually-exclusive and contradictory arguments. Other religions have their arguments, which they are just as passionate about. Concerning religion you are no more correct than are the Hindus, Muslims, different Christians, or any of the thousands of other religions practiced today. Your religion is nothing special and that is made obvious by the evidence.

Your religion confers no special powers or capabilities, no special insights, no exemptions to the natural order enacted by a deity on your behalf. You and your religion do nothing but what others do without religion. Everything you say your religion accomplishes is also done by those having no religion. You say your religion gives people hope and changes lives. If you look about you with an honest eye, you will see those things in all human communities.

In reality, your religion serves as its own counterexample. That you and your fellow religionists put tremendous amounts of work, time, effort, and money into modeling yourself after your Lord Jeebus, only to achieve worse, or at best the same, life outcomes as atheists, shows that your religion counts for naught in this life and is not to be trusted concerning matters like gods, heavens, hells and afterlifes.

You, of course, benefit materially, gaining power, money, influence, and authority, but your good fortune comes through the worsening of circumstances for those ponying up the dough that keeps you propped up.

You say that the people in the video didn't loose their faith and you assume that it's a good thing that the skepticism that would have averted the personal disasters they experienced was shut off regarding their religion. Religion wouldn't work, but skepticism would have. Again, your absolutes fall by the wayside. Do you really not see that the church split up with people choosing differing religions? Do you not see that the religion failed them all completely? The one woman had had her mind was so religiously screwed up that she could talked into doing something she detested. The religion surely was not keeping the woman from having sex out of wedlock, even his mother-in-law. What's more, the religion seems to be a license for the clergy to pry very deeply into people's personal lives - TV shows? Friends outside the church? Sexual habits? Do you do that, Harvey, in your role of clergy-thus-expert-at-everything-you-want-to-open-your-mouth-about?

You think this guy killing his wife was bad, yet African Pentecostals killing and maiming their own is forgivable? Where are your cherished absolutes? Do you really think the head minister could have raised the burned woman from the dead, Harvey? He says its been done many times in Africa, where, of course, it can't be verified.

Why doesn't it happen here in the US where it could be verified? More than that, with Christianism oozing from every pore here in the US, why don't we see it regularly? You're a powerful Jesus machine, right Harvey? Can you raise the dead? Have you ever witnessed someone raising the dead? Don't bother answering. You're such a great Christian liar for Jesus that we know you are not to be trusted.

Russ said...

You said,

They didn't loose their faith (as obviously you would have long before crumbled).

Faith is useless, Harvey. Completely useless. I've endured enough of the battering that life events present us with to say that religious faith is no aid in times of crisis. Having caring people around is enough. The bullshit of faith is unnecessary overhead. I know that we all experience times we see as good and times we see as not so good. It's the same for you and other Christians, too.

While it seems to me that the religious should be more greatly comforted and consoled by their religious myths in times of crisis, I rarely find that to be the case. Good caring people are a real emotional help, but religion seems only to provide an easily regurgitated scripts that too often keep those involved from thoughtfully considering the precise demands of the prevailing circumstances.

Imagining it to be otherwise is all part of your delusion. Imagining that believing manifestly stupid things makes those not so good times easier or better is also delusional. If times are tough, they will always get better...it's observed, terminal pathology aside. For you, for me, for everyone. If times are good, they will become less so. For you, for me, for everyone. Accepting this, I know that all downturns are temporary and need not be feared as upswings are in the offing, always. I see it in my life and the lives of everyone I've ever known or read about. Religious silliness won't make it different.

I feel sad for you, Harvey, that you actually mean it when you say,

Their strength was found in holding fast to sustainable and effective biblical TRUTHS.

I feel sad for you that you do not understand that anything in a Christian Bible that might be true, can only be those things that are shared by all members of humanity. One thing is that it is worthwhile to be good to others, but that's human, not Christian-specific. And, of course, Christians only respect that notion when it suits their needs. It was, for instance, far easier for Christians to massacre Native Americans than it was to hold to a useful human idea as retold in the Bible. If you could be honest - I do understand that being Christian you can't be - you would look at the whole of your fellow humans and see that they are every bit as good as the best of Christians and very often much better. Almost all people are good people, but Christianity and self-interest blind you to that fact.

Hendy said...

MMM wrote: "I believe it is wisdom, not skepticism, that is a virtue. Skepticism is derived from fear and insecurity, while wisdom is based upon a foundation of insight and understanding."

This is interesting. Wisdom is "The ability to discern or judge what is true, right, or lasting; insight." [1]

In order for this to be a 'foundation', where does the insight arise from? Skepticism is "an attitude of doubt or a disposition to incredulity either in general or toward a particular object" [2]

In order for wisdom to 'discern/judge' per the definition, it would seem to me that skepticism is a prerequisite. Without skepticism toward any or all of the available options to be chosen as 'true, right, or lasting,' it would seem that the face-value statements or assertions about a set of objects or concepts would just be taken for granted. Wisdom has the connotation of 'seeing beyond' the commonly accepted ideas about something in order to produce precious knowledge that is gained from study, comparison, reflection, etc. In other words, the wisdom to compare various things requires weighing them objectively and critically. This requires, in my estimation, at least some amount of initial doubt about their potential qualities.

One can very easily make the case that humans tend to be irrational, especially in highly emotional matters. Therefore, a healthy bit of doubt (a keyword in the def. of skepticism, not in wisdom) is required.

I think you may skew your definitions and that actually persistent skepticism and analysis leads to wisdom.

If your point is that wisdom is the end of skepticism and therefore the 'true' virtue here, then I'd simply suggest labeling the title as:

...Skepticism is virtuous and leads to the virtue of Wisdom

[1] http://www.thefreedictionary.com/wisdom
[2] http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/skepticism

Manifesting Mini Me (MMM) said...

Hi Hendy ---

I agree to some extent -- by faith, we are loved first as sinners, which would include skeptics. True. But I believe it is wisdom that is virtuous and comes from a different foundation - one of enlightenment. The exchange of foundation comes via courtesy of God.

District Supt. Harvey Burnett said...

John,

I've linked to this post so thanks for sharing it.

Later!

District Supt. Harvey Burnett said...

Russ,

You said:"I feel sad for you that you do not understand that anything in a Christian Bible that might be true, can only be those things that are shared by all members of humanity."

"Sherlock", all things were MEANT to be shared by humanity and with humanity so that humanity could understand it...Russ you're such a JERK and of very little understanding...I feel SAD for you! The problem is that you think that primordial slime actually creates concepts over time...you're LAUGHABLE!

BTW: You just an internet atheist with regurgitated, hundred year old, thousand times refuted arguments and fantasies thinking that because they flow from you they actually mean something or have some value...They don't and YOU don't at least as it pertains to this...

Later Russ, you're a waste of time as always...I'm more than happy to be on the opposite side!

Mike said...

Harvey, it seems to me that all you do is keep saying that Russ' arguments have been refuted, yet you are not refuting him.

By the way, not that this refutes any arguments, but for all the claims by Christians that they are so much better than the "world", the statistics say something else. Just read George Barna's (an evangelical Christian himself) polls and you will see what I mean. Just one example is that Christians have a higher divorce rate than non-Christians. I think back at my last church, the hypocrisy and nepotism was unbelievable! Now, does this demonstrate that Christianity is untrue? Definitely not, but after consistently witnessing this kind of behavior over the years, I do have to wonder if this message that claims to change people's lives and make them new creations really is all it is advertised to be.

But this is just one of many reasons why I have drifted towards deism.

Paul said...

First and foremost this is very sad. I am a Christian and can say that this is not Christianity at all. This is simply a man that saw a means to an end. A man can use any position of trust and power to manipulate people.

The bible is very clear that this is not Christianity and to watch out for men like this.

Matthew 7:15-17
"Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.
"You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they?
"So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit.

2 Timothy 3
1But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. 2For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, 4treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these. 6For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses, 7always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

Paul said...

Mike, those stats are very misleading. Most people who say they are Christians just say so because there mother or grandmother took them to Church, they are not geniune at all.

Listen to John MaCarthur and you will get a different understanding than most as to what a Christian is and I tend to agree with him, its not just lip service.

Chuck O'Connor said...

Paul,

The women who were attracted to this preacher were drawn by his "fruit". He was a charismatic preacher and that presentation is all Divine Command morality needs to justify authority. Macarthur is a good example. The guy argues for the moral correctness of genocide because to do otherwise would be to contradict his doctrine of biblical inerrancy.

Your refutation of the Barna data is a logical fallacy known as "No True Scotsman". It is commonly employed by Christians to disavow evidence that contradicts their superstition. Any statistically projectable argument becomes an egregious exception to the Christian doctrine they claim as absolute. Probability and honesty don't work that way.

Cole said...

I think skepticism is a virtue in some areas but not all. Why should I be skeptical about the existence of physical reality or basic mathematical and logical truths like the Laws of Logic?

Russ said...

Harvey,
When you say things like

Russ you're such a JERK and of very little understanding...I feel SAD for you!

I gotta say that don't make me feel no love. I'm wounded. Here I thought you were all about loving your enemy and turning the other cheek. Oh, that's right, Bible passages are in general just empty words which are only meaningful when you can make them serve your self-interests: money, power, and the tradition of ignorance which keeps the money and power in your hands.

You said,

"Sherlock", all things were MEANT to be shared by humanity and with humanity so that humanity could understand it.

What you should be saying here is this: We Christians have agreed amongst ourselves that we will make every effort to impose our religion on everyone. Different Christianities have very different understandings of the various elements of the religion - the Bible(some Christianities reject it entirely), morality, and God swill, for instance. So, it's meaningless to suggest that there is some understanding to be had by humanity. Know this, Harvey: your version of Christianity is a minority position among the minority Christianities. There is no single Christianity to be understood by humanity; there are thousands.

You would choose to dump your religious view of the world on people because it is the only means for you to wield power and authority over others without earning it. If I wanted to be a religious charlatan, I, too, could start a church just like you, Joseph Smith, Mary Baker Eddy, or L. Ron Hubbard. But, morally, I cannot defraud people, which seems to come so easy for you. I could even call my church "Christian" to capitalize on the huge marketing muscle of the "Christian" brand recognition. Even though lying, cheating and deceiving in the name of religion to gain easy money and power is guaranteed to the immoral by the US Constitution, my ethics, my conscience would not permit it. Religion apparently can't see that cheating people with religion is wrong.

Then, too, I find it odd that so many Christian clergy like yourself decry socialism while living as charity cases.

You said,

Later Russ, you're a waste of time as always...I'm more than happy to be on the opposite side!

What does "the opposite side" mean? If you're talking about that which is opposed to atheism, then there are tens of thousands of theisms - not just one - that stand in opposition to atheism, and this includes the tens of thousands of distinct Christianities. If you are a party of one on your own "opposite side" then there are tens of thousands of theisms on my side agreeing that you are wrong, and, again, that includes tens of thousands of Christianities.

Your blog underscores this, Harvey. You blog to little or no audience. The people from your own church don't read your blog. Those same people who are forced to listen to your sermons as part of the price of admission to the Sunday-Go-To-Meetin'-Social-Club do not read your blog. They're not engaged with what you have to say. They're not serious about it.

Let them know about John's DebunkingChristianity blog, so you can demonstrate for them first hand how to deal with those of us who disagree with you - atheist and theist, Christian and non-Christian, your kind of Christian and the all those wrong kinds of Christian.

While your blog stands as reflective of the general lack of engagement of US Christians, this is not specific to you Harvey. US Christians are social Christians. Charismatics like you can goad them to say, speak in tongues, or scream whatever you'd like in the church's social setting, but they don't believe it. They certainly don't behave as though they believe it's real. They pad the collection plate and suffer through your preachments to be part of the group. It's the group that matters to them, not the religion and clearly not what you have to say.

Russ said...

Harvey,
When you say I'm an atheist

with regurgitated, hundred year old, thousand times refuted arguments and fantasies thinking that because they flow from you they actually mean something or have some value

Actually, Harvey, since no good argument for a god has ever been given, the age of my arguments seems irrelevant, but much of what I have to say about gods and their ilk has been whispered out of earshot of the church for thousands of years. Remember the time-honored traditional means you church people devised for dealing with anyone disagreeing with your observably wrong understanding of the world: torture, burning, hanging, evisceration, blinding, killing, or doing any of those things to the toddler or infant child of he who disagrees with the Christian church. While it was highly effective for keeping atheistic ideas out of sight for a long time, those ideas never disappeared. They merely lay dormant waiting for reason to take hold and secular governments to arise.

One significant characteristic of my arguments, old or new, is that I can augment argument with evidence about religions from a lot of sources. Religionists claim the Bible to be important to them since it is the word of the Creator of the Universe, but for those who read anything at all, they spend far more time reading the comics than they do the Bible. Of that small fragment of the religious who do read the Bible, they average less than six minutes a day in the US. They are social Christians. They don't believe it's real and they certainly don't believe it's effective or that the Bible has anything useful to offer.

The numbers tell us that Fundamentalist Christians have much poorer life outcomes than do other Christians or atheists. They are financially poorer, less well educated, less access to health care, higher divorce, higher domestic violence...the list goes on and on. In a nutshell, religion doesn't work. It does not do what the religious claim it does. Fact is, the numbers suggest that Fundamentalist Christianity makes life worse for its adherents. Case in point: Pentecostalist parents in Africa butchering their children as witches due to clergy like you, Harvey. The Pentecostal clergy destroys the parent's innate instinct to defend their child from threats, and for the parent turns the child into a threat the parent willfully and violently eradicates.

The arguments, tried and true, show religion for the farce it is, but the numbers demonstrate that religion left to itself is actually quite dangerous. With a secular government enforcing secular policy in place religions can be useful to facilitate materials distribution. Minus secular government and policy, religions readily kill their own children as witches, exacerbate plagues killing millions and perpetuate ignorance and psychological dependence to guarantee themselves a crop of future supporters.

Russ said...

Harvey,
You said,

The problem is that you think that primordial slime actually creates concepts over time...you're LAUGHABLE!

You're an evolved creature, Harvey. Get over it. Stop denying science. Actually learn some science so you can hold real conversations on the topic instead of composing those quote-mined railings you tailor to what must be a mindlessly stupid audience. Actually call some evolutionary theorists. Find some knowledgeable experts to engage with rather than lying about scientist's work. Become honest. Isn't intentionally lying about what others have written against your religion?

The lies and deceptions of the religious are nowhere more evident than the recent "discovery" of Noah's Ark on Ararat. These creationist clowns almost to the man deny the science of radiocarbon dating, but here, where they think it corroborates their claim, they spout an age of 4800 years resulting from radiocarbon dating. So, according the religious, radiocarbon dating both works and doesn't work. It works when it supports superstition and it doesn't work when it refutes it. These idiots are so accustomed to applying apologetics of this kind to making the world appear to fit their wishful thinking that they feel entitled to apply it everywhere and in all disciplines. They have no capacity to distinguish what is real from what they wish to be real.

You said,

BTW: You just an internet atheist with regurgitated, hundred year old, thousand times refuted arguments and fantasies thinking that because they flow from you they actually mean something or have some value...They don't and YOU don't at least as it pertains to this...

Once more, Harvey, I'm not feeling the love.

I am not just an internet atheist. I am a newspaper and face-to-face atheist also. Sometimes when I pass a street preacher bellowing about how we need to repent and find Jesus, I bellow right back about how we don't need Jesus or religion at all to be good, and how the book he's thumping is a bunch of fairy tales, myths, and legends and how it models a horrible morality. They usually leave. When Jehovah's Witness type Christians or other whacko Fundamentalist Christians come banging on my door, I let them have it with both barrels. Most of these people are so religiously stupidized, they have no idea what horrors are in their own holy book. Most have never read it and likely never will. They are just eager to go along with the crowd they've chosen to hang with, and hand out embarrassingly idiotic pamphlets. They're ignorant of their own version of Christianity - as well as all others - and are perfectly content to gulp down the dreck disgorged by Papa Penguin in the pulpit.

Chuck O'Connor said...

Cole,

What benefit would one get from being skeptical of the things you suggest? How is being skeptical of supernatural claims to knowledge the same as holding proven components of deduction in question?

Mike said...

Paul's comments are typical of many Christians. When they are confronted with data like Barna's, many Christians reply by saying something to the effect of "surely these people were not TRUE Christians." It's very similar to their reaction when a Christian deconverts. They respond by doubting if the person was "saved" in the first place. Evangelical/fundamentalist Christians are the kings and queens of extremely easy answers to very complex questions and situations, and usually these answers really aren't answers at all. One of the many reasons that I can't be a fundamentalist Christian anymore is that I have realized that the world is a very complicated place and there just isn't an easy answer for everything. The fundamentalist Christian worldview doesn't take this into consideration.

Also, Paul, you need to give Barna more credit. Most of the participants in his polls are self-identified born-again, Bible believing Christians who attend Church regularly. His polls of Christians are well known representing trends of the larger Christian population as a whole. He has a good reputation for a reason.

As for MacArthur, one of the many reasons I can no longer take that man seriously is that he is the promoter of rapture foolishness, which totally discredits him, in my opinion. There are better representatives of evangelicalism that you could have quoted, Paul.

Hendy said...

Chuck/Cole: I had this come up in a Christian's men's group I'm in. I explained that I had been proceeding to evaluate Christianity from 'outside the box' and was asked why. I explained that I thought the best way to objectively evaluate something was to assume it was not true and then try to prove it to one's self.

Disagreement arose. Someone brought up that they didn't do this with math or other concepts and so my approach didn't make sense. At the time, the only response I could think of to illustrate my point was to ask what they did with other religions.

Afterward, I began pondering. I am still working my thoughts out, but I think I could make a preliminary case for saying that we don't treat with preliminary skepticism ideas that fall into these categories:

[1]Has little personal relevance: Things that we do not think apply to use or matter much at all we probably tend to take for granted. If I tell you what I did at work (wrote x document, y emails, z meetings) you have little reason to fact-check me.

[2] Does not require a personal investment: if I'm your friend and I ask you to fall back into my arms, you will probably do it. The investment is the potential to get a bump on the head or hurt your tail bone. If I tell you there's an invisible bridge off the grand canyon, you're going to toss some sand on it Indiana Jones style to make sure it's there before you take that first step...

[3] Does not fall outside the bounds of certain presuppositions: naturalists, therefore, are skeptical of miracle claims, believers in god x are skeptical of 'miracles' attributed to god y... presuppositions about natural laws make us skeptical about claims of humans who can jump 25ft. in the air...

[3a]Learned during childhood: this comes up a lot, but I think it's safe to say that none of us has tremendous reasons to doubt that which is ingrained from an early age. This is how patently false ideologies like racism are easily demonstrable to exist when parents have these views, even when they are subtle.

[3b] Supported by the group mentality: this cuts both ways (atheist/theist alike). We are pack animals. Like it or not, we do things to fit in and are up-built by those who think the same.

Cont...

Hendy said...

Continued...

So, I think that all of us on this site reached a point where one of these 'comfort' zones was pricked and we started asking questions and defending beliefs.

Honestly, I believe this is commendable by both sides.

Why? Because we can all probably give anecdotal evidence to support the notion that there are more people either 1) not interested or 2) not aware of the arguments from the opposing side to spend their time dialogging with those who have drawn opposite conclusions.

Seriously, before I wondered one day if anyone outside the gospels documented stories of miracles, specifics about Jesus, etc. and found that evidence category to be wanting... I never contemplated going down this path. I may have asked someone and accepted their answers, but I did not embark on a potential 'complete rewrite' of my beliefs and an intentional pursuit of the arguments from both sides regardless of where the answers brought me.

I find this of interest since I have been very interested with why we don't question some things but do questions others. I think my reasons hold up at least to plausibility.

A potential post, if Loftus wants to start it would be something like: "For those who have 'switched sides', what got you interested in apologetics or atheism in the first place? What kept you content prior to this moment?

Then those who have undergone some type of paradigm shift or relatively major belief system change could list answers. Particularly I would be interested in #2. What kept us 'asleep' to even the issues at hand? I for one just didn't even have a vague familiarity with many arguments for or against.

My purpose is to be as certain as I can be given the evidence available. I personally realized that I had always felt uncomfortable about evangelization. I never want to be unsure/hesitant about my religions convictions (for/against) again!

Hendy said...

Mike said: When they are confronted with data like Barna's, many Christians reply by saying something to the effect of "surely these people were not TRUE Christians."

I love it... A beautiful demonstration of a fallacy right from the mouth of Antony Flew: No True Scotsman

District Supt. Harvey Burnett said...

Russ,

You said:"You blog to little or no audience. The people from your own church don't read your blog."

First, Your last post on your blog was October 2009...OCTOBER 2009? What is that??? Your highest comment on a story was 50 in 2007...2007!!!

You find a way to only comment about what others write and say. This is like being a parasite...Sucking the blood and strength of others....so no matter who reads my blog, I'm miles ahead of you and I haven't even published my book yet...

You certainly wouldn't have felt the love of Jesus calling pious like you and the religious elite (look you're in the same class of those you hate!) vipers, devils, and children of the devil...So the love you feel is commensurate with your pride.

When atheists loose arguments or have a lousy argument, as often is the case, they always proceed to another failed argument without skipping a beat. This is why you like this "christianities" garbage argument. Listen, just in case you didn't know (again) It's been turned down in scholarly circles for AGES and only you, Mike and others that share your sentiment live in utter denial of the fact that your position is unsupportable by the evidence of history and historical facts.

Just in case your readers (the 3 you have)are interested in supportable truth and information they can start their research with my 411 both HERE, HERE and HERE. As you will note I've debated with MUCH better atheists counterparts than you and they offered no threat to factual information.

Then go to Christian Think Tank and learn how silly youtr arguments really are and follow up with JP Holding who further blows your garbage back to the circular file from which it came....You see I already know that Walter Bauer failed and did woefully inadequate scholarship in presenting his hypothesis of alternate Christianities and you do no more than offer and unscholarly attempt to promote his already failed scholarship.

Your junk has been argued, put down and put away long ago. You are what we call a "late in the house dreamer"!

If you just didn't think that you were an original, I'd view your commentary, but you're a sad, lazy and rotten repeat. That's why call your commentary a waste of time.

You aren't making any other points or arguments worth me tackling...thanks!

District Supt. Harvey Burnett said...

Russ,

Here's another of your novel speculations:"The numbers tell us that Fundamentalist Christians have much poorer life outcomes than do other Christians or atheists. They are financially poorer, less well educated, less access to health care, higher divorce, higher domestic violence"

You skew the numbers because there are more Christians and religious people in the world to measure so quite naturally based on sheer numbers atheist numbers are smaller, but you're just in a factual junkyard also and either like to lie or simply misinformed...Once again you can start with what I've written to clarify your confusion. Christianity contributes to the overall health of individuals and the community whereas atheism when followed to it's logical conclusions does no such thing.

Christians and those who follow Christian and biblical principles have far better and more fulfilling lives, have much better and longer lasting marriages and experience better overall health...

You are a seething cauldron of misinformation aren't you? I don't know how old you are, but I hate to think that someone who has lived a number of years, let;s say 40 or so is so jacked up in their understandings and so willing to commit the foot in the mouth fallacy that you continually do...I'm sorry, I can't read your comments more than about 2 to 3 words at a time...I quit! WOW!

Hendy said...

SHB said: "Christians and those who follow Christian and biblical principles have far better and more fulfilling lives, have much better and longer lasting marriages and experience better overall health..."

Careful... this begins to err on the side of the No-True-Scotsman fallacy. In other words, though members in a certain group do have negative qualities x, y, and z, defenders will avoid this by claiming that no true member of that group would really have negative qualities x, y, and z.

Take a look HERE.

In particular, here's a quote regarding a 1999 study by the Barna Research Group, whose findings have been confirmed by an Associated Press study of US Census Bureau data:

"Divorce rates among conservative Christians were significantly higher than for other faith groups, and much higher than Atheists and Agnostics experience.

and this:

"[The study] found some new information as well: that atheists and agnostics have the lowest divorce rate of all. George Barna commented that the results raise "questions regarding the effectiveness of how churches minister to families." The data challenge "the idea that churches provide truly practical and life-changing support for marriage.""

Hmmm. Looks like they've done an update in 2009 HERE.

Evangelicals are now lowest at 26% with atheists/agnostics next at 30%. Also, note that, with a few aberrations, all groups took a pretty big jump between 1999 and 2009

The interesting thing about this is that with few exceptions it looks like the playing field is pretty darned even.

If you look at the chart, the very large 'swings' seem to be far more correlated to wealth, race and political spectrum, whereas one sees only a very small difference between religions... and even no religion at all!

But, wait... they didn't control for true Christians, right?

District Supt. Harvey Burnett said...

Hendy,

You said:"Evangelicals are now lowest at 26% with atheists/agnostics next at 30%. Also, note that, with a few aberrations, all groups took a pretty big jump between 1999 and 2009"

So what was the problem with my comments??? Oooh you mean they were more up to date than your original 1999 source information?

So I guess what I said IS CORRECT???

Paul said...

Mike,


Many people have refuted the Barna marriage statistics but you can have your own opinion of that. Thats not the real important issue in this article, lying, cheating and deception is.

My main thing about this article is that people know this is not of Christ, I would also not call this man a Christian no matter how well he preached. Jesus said people will say how much they did for Him and he would say "I dont know you".

Matthew 7:21-23
"Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'"

What athiest would want to do is to say "you see, I told you about those Christians". We all can find people in whatever walk of like that are crummy, thats life.

The same Christianity that is "being" debunked is the same Chrsitianity that denounces what this coward did. He is a punk!

Also, I dont agree with anyone teacher apart from Christ. John MaCarthur is a great bible teacher, one of the best. If you choose not to believe in the rapture, kool, pray for him to come to that truth.

To discredit a man on one belief is madness especially when it does not affect the core beliefs of Christianity and this does not.

Peace!!

Paul said...

Also Chuck, what the man did was use the situation of his hurt about his wifes death, along with being the Pastor to his advantage. You do not get the idea in tis vid that women were throwing themselves at him, you get the understanding that things got weird.

The "prophetess" was a mad women with the same intentions as the Pastor but overall i dont know where you go the understanding that the women just wanted to go to bed with him. Please refer me to that part of the vid.

Hendy said...

SHB: "So I guess what I said IS CORRECT???"

Sure. In the end, the data supported your statement. Your comment, however, seemed to tout Christians as something incredible when in fact it seems that the trends are far more closely tied to (as I said) wealth, race, and political views (even location in the country is a bigger influencer than religion).

While technically correct, I would doubt that you can lay your claims on the work of god given the evidence.

Do you disagree?

Also:
- Did you expect there to be further apart than they were?
- Did you have data prior to your comment to support it? If so, what was it?
- Are you amazed that godless heathens can achieve a similar divorce rate statistic compared to those who boast the indwelling of the spirit?
- Can you provide solid reasons why your precious denomination has better statistics than the others?

Paul said...

This how Barna did his marriage stats.

WHO'S GETTING DIVORCED A Barna Research Group survey of 3,854 people found that 25 percent of Americans are, or have been, divorced. Here are the percentages of people in various subgroups who have been divorced:

Definitions: People were classified as "born again" if they said they have made a personal commitment to Jesus Christ that is important in their life today and if they answered a multiple-choice question about life after death with "after I die I know I will go to heaven because I have confessed my sins and accepted Jesus Christ as my savior." People were classified as evangelical if they met nine theological criteria.

This is not good way to do a survey about Christian marriage as you must know the life of the individuals. Merely answering questions doesnt cut it.

Chuck O'Connor said...

Paul

My argument was that Divine Command ethics like those espoused in Evangelical Christianity overvalues obedience above other considerations like autonomy and skepticism. The abuse featured in this video happened within that obedient milieu and it is not surprising that a congregant would betray themselves for the sake of authority. She committed to a church that attested to raising people from the dead which is at least an anectdotal estimate to the credulity divine command brings. Divine command ethics is a bad guide for morality because it rewards unquestioning loyalty to any agent who places themselves in a position of authority.

Mike said...

First of all Harvey, in this comment thread, I don't think I have made any arguments. They are observations and I clearly said that they do not disprove Christianity.

Paul, before I say anything, I must say that I appreciate your respectful tone that you have had with me and others with whom you strongly disagree. To me, it seems you are displaying much more Christ-like behavior to us non-believers than Harvey here. Sure you disagree with us and are stating that, but you are not resorting to nasty personal attacks. In all fairness to Harvey, there are times on this blog when people have acted like douchebags to him, but I thought Christians are "not to repay evil for evil and not to take revenge" (Romans 12). Doesn't seem like Harvey is doing this very well.

When I have more time, I'll be happy to look at the "refutation" of the Barna statistics that you offer. But my main point is that the explanation that someone must not have been a true Christian if they deconvert or if they have as much sin in their lives as the "world" is a rather lame one that just doesn't cut it anymore for me. Sure, it could be true of some people, but the way most Christians use it to describe all cases is over simplistic.

District Supt. Harvey Burnett said...

Hendy,

Regarding divorce stats you asked:- Did you expect there to be further apart than they were?

Uuuummm...NO. I already had the 411. This is something that Christians normally talk about, write about, preach and teach about and keep up on. So I guess the second question was already answered too...

You asked:- Did you have data prior to your comment to support it? If so, what was it?

There are many resources available and I believe there's one at Religious Tolerance.Org that's pretty up to date and doesn't do Christians any special service. There are others that come up regularly.

You asked:- Are you amazed that godless heathens can achieve a similar divorce rate statistic compared to those who boast the indwelling of the spirit?"

No, I'm not amazed that a bird can fly while you and I, the most advanced beings on earth, are limited to walking...I'm not surprised that the 3% poison in rat poisoning is the only part responsible for being able to kill rats but when given to humans in the form of coumadin helps thin the blood often improving certain conditions.

Stuff like this is expected, preached and talked about within Christianity regularly. It's also a part of biblical prophecy on end times that is holding par for the course. The problems are a result of SIN. Christians don't have a lock on it. Sinners do too. God rejecters have sin in their lives like everyone else and anyone wanting change must commit themselves to change, not mere self-improvement...so I'm not surprised. ALMOST may be close but not quite, right???

You asked:- Can you provide solid reasons why your precious denomination has better statistics than the others?"

I mentioned no denomination or any other sort of 411 so I don't understand the question.

Thanks.

Hendy said...

"This is not good way to do a survey about Christian marriage as you must know the life of the individuals."

This is the problem with having discussions based on data, typically considered evidence in other cases. The Christian will never accept it because they cause the definitions never to be acceptable.

How about this: Would you and whatever team of believers you want be willing to take as long as you wish to select a group of any number of believers from any demonination who you believe meet the requirements for god to answer their prayers repeatably and predictably for even simple healings?

In any case, you evade the study results. Regardless of what questions were asked, these merely classified Christians into 'buckets'. Looking at the 'buckets' vs. the atheist 'bucket', however, shows that the scores are pretty darned even.

My primary point is to note that for those who believe that god is either a 1) incredible motivating factor and the only source of objective moral values and/or 2) that he provides an intangible aid called grace to those who seek him... the results really don't illustrate that this works better than having none of these supposed benefits.

I suppose you could make the case that if the questions were different, one demonination's rates would have decreased... but this would have increased another's. I suppose you would wish to disallow some of them to even be called Christians?

How about this STUDY, comparing religiosity of nations with several indicators of a nation's overall 'health':

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

Will you disallow this study, too?

Hendy said...

SHB said: "Christians and those who follow Christian and biblical principles have far better and more fulfilling lives, have much better and longer lasting marriages and experience better overall health..."
- Translation: Christians should have 'far better' this and 'much better' that.

Hendy said: "Did you expect there to be further apart than they were?"

SHB said: "Uuuummm...NO. I already had the 411. This is something that Christians normally talk about, write about, preach and teach about and keep up on."
- Translation: I did not expect Christians to have 'far better' this and 'much better' that

You do see that you have completely turned about on yourself, don't you? Dizzy?

What end time prophecies are you referring to? Any specific dates to hold to? Anything not to be explained by any other means than god's foreknowledge? Any specific predictions that weren't also being fulfilled 100, 200, 500, and/or 1000 years ago as well as today (war, famine, false prophets... any others up your sleeve)?

Annette said...

Hi:

Part of the story in this Dateline video is mine. I'm sorry that my story has lent itself to an argument against Christianity, though not surprised. Some of you who've watched and commented really get the dynamics involved in the Pastor/seduction scenario (Paul) which is good, as some things are difficult to communicate to a broad audience.

These events in my life happened more than 10 years ago. Suffice it to say, I endured a major faith crisis. I'm still not a big proponent of anything wrapped up in "religion". That said, my personal view point of Christianity was radically transformed when I studied the life and person of Jesus; who He was, what His mission truly was, and what He still can do in and through an individual life.

If you are a seeker, I highly recommend Philip Yancey's book: THE JESUS I NEVER KNEW. The title is quite fitting, as I never knew Jesus through any teaching of my messed up former Pastor, or my agenda-orientated former church. I found Him on my own (actually I'm quite sure that He found me), and I now fellowship with like-minded, merciful, grace-appreciating, critical thinking, Jesus seeking believers. Not the description of the "religious" in many of these comments.

Peace

John W. Loftus said...

Annette, nice of you to stop by. I feel your pain. I too had an extra-marital affair as a minister, although in my case a woman wanted to see if she could sack me, and she did. After I broke off the relationship she accused me of rape. I was absolutely devastated.

I tell about this in my book "Why I Became an Atheist." You can click on the book link at the top right to get it.

Here's what happened:

There are three major things that happened in my life that changed my thinking. They all happened in the space of about five years, from 1991-1996. These are the three things that changed my thinking: 1) A major crisis, 2) plus information, 3) minus a sense of a loving, caring, Christian community. For me it was an assault of major proportions that if I still believed in the devil would say it was orchestrated by the legions of hell.

My story is also highlighted in this Christian book.

I wish you and your husband the best. I feel like I know you. You were duped by faith. It wasn't your fault. Your inherited faith was the problem. That minister could probably have done what he did to many women of faith.

Cheers.

District Supt. Harvey Burnett said...

Hendy,

You're reachin'...4- real!

The quantative measurement is out of the box...The fact still remains Christians and the religious in general do it much better. and are more happy on all levels.

If there has been a reversal in trend and Christian divorce numbers decreased over 10 years, atheist numbers have increased over teh same 10 year period. What does this say???

You somehow skip over the emphasis of the quality of life which is the key...so like the "trickster" you are you change from quality of life issues to sheer volume of numbers...You're done!

So did I introduce numbers about the divorce rate? NOPE! You did. Shot yourself in the foot. Then you repeat what I said with no conscious...But what did I assert from the beginning?

"Christian and biblical principles have far better and more fulfilling lives,

You have rendered nothing to refute that and what evidence you present affirms the statement.

have much better and longer lasting marriages

You affirm the evidence of a lower divorce rate among Christians. Once again to this you say:

Sure. In the end, the data supported your statement

But that doesn't matter to a diehard...Then I saidand experience better overall health..."

And present an article that suggests that purpose associated with life and living improves the quality of life. I also associated that with the fact that at the heart of atheism there is no ultimate purpose. Purpose is only here and now when the study talks about purpose beyond the here and now.

Your quantitave argument is for the birds...and YOU are teh one caught with tricks up your sleeve.

Move on man...I am!

Later.

District Supt. Harvey Burnett said...

John,

You said:"You were duped by faith. It wasn't your fault. Your inherited faith was the problem."

You've got to be the biggest PUD I know...the WOMAN wasn't duped by faith according to her own description...you're duped by silliness...I'm sorry but you're the worsty politician for atheism I know. You're an exploiter.

That is pitiful! The woman was telling what her errors were and how her relationship with the real Jesus was minimized by religion and the religious circle. But did you ever get to the fact that she expresses that SHE FOUND her path and that path INCLUDED Jesus???

Annette says:I now fellowship with like-minded, merciful, grace-appreciating, critical thinking, Jesus seeking believers.

Get off it John. SPINDOCTOR! You should be ashamed.

Chuck O'Connor said...

Annette

I ask this in fairness and a spirit of charity so please take it with that meaning, why do you need external agency (e.g. Jesus) to validate your personal experience? Aren't you just placing yourself in another position for manipulation by defining reality by an author's perspective on a mysterious and distant character (either Yancy's or the Gospel author's)?

Annette said...

I was duped by people, John. My twisted faith just provided the back drop.

I will look into your story. I'm very interested. One key that led me through my journey was the absolute knowledge that Jesus is not well represented by MANY people who walk this earth, in churches and out.

I'll be back...

District Supt. Harvey Burnett said...

Annette,

Thank you for sharing and I pray God's blessing upon you and your endeavors and continued growth in your relationship with Christ. I'm also posting your comment on my site...

Thank you!

Annette said...

Chuck,

Yancey writes as an investigative journalist, who's been a skeptical, highly-wounded Christian himself. I like his book(s) and the way that he questions and thinks, but he's not the cornerstone of my faith. The Jesus of the Bible is. The same Jesus who rebuked the self-righteous and spoke hope to a lone, outcast woman at a well.

I could go on, but I think I've answered your question.

Chuck O'Connor said...

Annette

I have too often heard the assertion that a majority of people claiming to know Jesus don't which has led me to see any personal relationship to Christ as not much more than a culturally accepted control belief. Nobody offers a test for Holy Spirit efficacy but almost all say many Christians are false believers. I simplify things and say they all are making it up.

District Supt. Harvey Burnett said...

It's a bad day for atheism...they found Noah's Ark and then a person who ran into trouble in the church was able to distinguish that trouble from Jesus, the practice of true Christianity and was driven to seek her faith and relationship with Christ more diligently...

Bad day for atheism!

Hendy said...

@SHB

Your arguments are quite strange. You argue for 'much' and 'far better'. I have shown this not to be the case. You have yet to provide any data, whereas I have presented data even if it had a slight leaning in your favor.

Who has been more objective and honest about the situation?

In the end:
- You have not defined your qualifiers 'much' and 'far better' (if you call 4% a sign of god's intervention in Christian marriages, so bet it)
- You use comparative adjectives like 'much' which imply a quantitative difference and then become upset when I bring out numbers, which are the ultimate form of quantitative comparison
- You have not defined 'health' in any significant manner (and I have shown in a response to Paul that studies show the opposite for religious nations vs. non-religious ones at least with respect to, say, STDs)
- You have blatantly contradicted yourself by prophesying 'much' and then saying you expected as much when I presented results showing 'same'

Lastly, your use of 'teh' and 'conscious' (when you meant 'conscience') demonstrate an overall hasty sloppiness. Even if you end up being right, thoughtful expressions will do you well... and represent you better to your congregation.

John W. Loftus said...

District Harvey, you sound more and more just like Mormons and Muslims on other forums. They are just as confident as you are that everyone else is just stupid not to see the truth. Harvey, get the point, human beings are woefully inadequate at understanding things. They easily accept what they prefer to be true and they do not properly weigh the evidence for much of anything. We are all gullible, and irrational people despite our denials. We think we're the reasonable ones, but we're not.

That's why I think we should all be agnostics about these claims, all of us. An agnostic is a skeptic. We should be skeptics about that which we think is true.

One question Harvey. You've been offering your opinions here at DC for about three years now and I see no change is your delusional self-confidence. So I'm about to make a firm request of you. Read my books. Both of them. Before coming back here. Become informed. You continually make unfounded assertions that I have already answered in my books. Have you read them yet? When do you plan on doing so?

Chuck O'Connor said...

Hendy,

It would be interesting to see the margin of error in the Barna Study. They never state if the values reported are significantly different so I would assume as a researcher they all fall within the standard error and essentially are the same number.

Paul, the science of survey research indicates that self-reported behavioral surrogates predict observed real world behavior with anywhere from a 95-99% confidence level. Your objection to how the survey was designed is not scientific and asks us to give special supernatural exception to the moral assertions Christianity asserts. There is no observed difference in moral orientation between Christians and Atheists in regards to the divorce variable.

I'm sure that your belief system provides you comfort and may help you organize what you emotionally feel is good behavior but, as a model for living it does not offer a predictably better outcome than its opposite.

Mike said...

Harvey, the fact that you are certain that they found Noah's ark just diminished your credibility in my book. It is far from certain what they found. The archaeologists who discovered it were from an evangelical ministry known for their sensationalism. I was listening to James White's podcast the other day and even he was skeptical about it. Are you really going to use the latest "find" to refute atheism? You do know there are better arguments than that, right?

Oh, and Paul, according to your line of thinking, I guess we shouldn't do surveys. It's pretty impossible, I think, to do extensive examinations on the lives of all the subjects. The questions that Barna asked seemed like very good questions to gauge whether someone was a Born-again evangelical Christian. If that is your "refutation" of Barna's research, I find it VERY lacking.

Chuck O'Connor said...

Harvey,

What are you a District Superintendent of? Just curious.

Also, you seem very passionate about the sources of information that confirm your presuppositions to truth. When did you commit to these presuppositions? How did you commit to them? Why don't you examine the contradictory data with the same intellectual charity you give to the sources that agree with your presuppositions?

I see you demonizing data that disagrees with your presuppositions as defensive and unwise which makes you seem to be the type of character you seek to demonize.

You might be absolutely correct on the truth claims you assert (although much of the knowledge you provide has been debunked by contrary and independent lines of data) but, it is hard for a skeptic like me to trust someone who defends his beliefs while this opposition (you) becomes in character that which he says he is opposing.

Do you see this?

John admits that his atheism may have been motivated by emotional considerations and therefore it should be pressure-tested with the OTF.

He also says that there may be atheists who have come to their atheism via means he would not intellectually endorse. John's atheism seems much more intellectually humble and curious than your Christianity and therefore is quite a bit more attractive and appealing. It is hard to trust you because you declare that anyone disagreeing with your beliefs is either stupid or in cahoots with Satan. I wonder why you default to that position? It is not intellectually useful to an honest skeptic.

It is hard to trust you. You seem like every religious authority that has ever given me a load of bull that has only hurt me.

Hendy said...

@Chuck:
SHB's info can be found HERE at the bottom of the page in the section titled 'National, Jurisdiction, and District Work'. This is an assumption, but it would seem to be the logical place to look for duties matching a 'District Supt.' title.

It just looks like service to various forms of COGIC (Church of God in Christ).


@SHB:
One of your affirmations of faith is: "We Believe that the redemptive work of Christ on the cross provides healing for the human body in answer to believing prayer."

In light of that, what did you think of my challenge above? "Would you and whatever team of believers you want be willing to take as long as you wish to select a group of any number of believers from any demonination who you believe meet the requirements for god to answer their prayers repeatably and predictably for even simple healings?"

If you don't like it, why not?

Also, one of the top lines in your church's site says that you believe "Jesus is the ONLY savior given to mankind and that the Bible is the only, infallible, and inherent word of God."

I think you meant inerrant.


@J Loftus:
You said: "They are just as confident as you are that everyone else is just stupid not to see the truth."

SHB's church site says: "We further declare that Jesus and the Bible without contest, exceeds any and EVERY other system of faith including that of Muhammad and the Koran, Joseph Smith and the book of Mormon and The Jehovah’s Witness New World Translation."

Therefore, I concur. As is often said, "Philosophy asks questions which no one may ever answer; religion provides answers which no one may ever question."

District Supt. Harvey Burnett said...

Chuck O,

I'm sorry but you're simply responding to me based on your past, pain and experiences etc...Like many have done or do you interpret my arguments based on your stereotype and disdain for Christ. I can say that you've done that consistnetly. Disagreement isn't the problem and mine shouldn't make you as emotional, but some get very emotional when Christians outline truth.

I think the expectation is that Christians must argue humbly, don't rock the boat and duck for cover because we somehow can't get in the trenches with the arguments, lies, untruth, hatred and all the other flesh centered virtues that reveal the nature of sin and that run rampant through atheist websites.

I may be wrong but your's is an expectation of some "Ivory Tower" Christianity that is weak and indecisive, and one that blindly does what somebody says it should do...It becomes offensive to many when you find that there are Christians and Christian leaders such as myself who are not weak, nor indecisive, who study your views who know your arguments and who are prepared to deal with them and place them in the proper perspective. We are not authors, renowned speakers, professors or persons promoted by men, but we exist and certainly know what we're talking about.

This seems to be the death for this brand of internet atheism. The non-scholarly who sees through the lies and weakness of modern scholarship and radical disbelief and simply calls it what it is. Bankrupt!

Fact is that we have all had pains, experiences etc, but NONE of that is or has been an excuse to fall into disbelief. Not because we can't, but because when all things are considered it's worth holding on to Jesus and faith. There's nothing greater than truth and living in that truth once it's been found.

The problem is that many believe that Christians don't spend time examining the alternate arguments and postulations. Then when you find out that CHristians do spend a great deal of time considering such issues and addressing them, the atheist is caught off guard and immediately says..."They're deluded"...There's nothing more FALSE as a premise than this.
But then John comes back and offers the ridiculous postulation that we're all so gullible and weak, that we're easily deceived...so just follow him and everything will be allright??? This is DELUSION and it is wrong.

In short Chuck, exposure to knowledge only reaffirms my faith. I only stay around to see for myself the lengths that people will go to to deny the truth and it is amazing to me.

Later!!

Russ said...

Harvey,
You did exactly what I thought you would do when I mentioned your blog: you started counting posts and entries on my blog-in-name-only. Do you consider it to be a blog in any serious sense when in three years there have been four posts? Was there really a post on my blog that had 50 comments? I wouldn't know. Let me take a look....cue final Jeopardy music...Well, Harvey it's even worse than you make it out to be: almost every one of those fifty comments was spam of some sort, so almost no one has ever commented on my blog-in-name-only. You let my non-blog bloat your self-perception rather than seeing your lack of a following as being reflective of a lack of interest in what you have to say. Your church members don't care about your blog because US Christianities are social Christianities. Pretending at religion is a form of dues-paying for the social club membership.

You said,

This is like being a parasite...Sucking the blood and strength of others....so no matter who reads my blog

If anyone knows the finer points of parasitism, it's got to be people of your clerical ilk, living off the dole of others and perpetuating fear and ignorance to sustain the cashflow. Every Christian clergyman is a parasite by her very nature. You take, take, take, then you ply your booty to make it appear as though you are yourself a caring and generous person. You use other people's money, other people's initiative and other people's hard work to improve your public perception. That's as leech-like as it gets, Harvey. The parasite metaphore applied to clergy in the Christianities works at many levels.

You said,

I haven't even published my book yet...

and yet you proudly proclaim on your blog profile in a refined third-person narrative

Pastor Burnett has authored and self published several books including "Why Hip-Hop Can't Be Holy", "Ministering Effectively", & "Burning The Past With The Brightness Of The Future" to name a few.

So, which is it, Harvey? You have published or you have not? You lie, lie, lie and when your pathology of untrustworthiness is exposed you respond by lying some more.

You said,

This is why you like this "christianities" garbage argument.

Fact: there are tens of thousands of distinct Christianities in the world right now, and there are a thousand more of every variegated stripe added every year. Harvey, you know little about Christianity. You might know reasonably well your personal version of Christianity that you try to coerce on your congregation, but you do not understand the Christianities as a whole. You do not understand the voodoo Christianities, or the atheistic Christianities, or the Christianities that revel in sexual expression, or the Christianities that reject the Bible, or the Christianities that reject Jesus as a deity or son of a deity, or the Christianities that reject miracles. You clearly do not understand that you yourself reject much of the Bible: you do not kill those who work on the sabbath; you do not kill non-believers; you do not kill stubborn or rebellious children; you do not sacrifice doves when your wife's or your daughter's menstrual period has completed; you do not bring non-believers before Jesus to have them executed; you do not sell your daughter into slavery; you do not kill or maim people for petty crimes or adultery. You are not the True Scotsman, the True Christian you demand others to be, and our entire society has statutorily voiced its rejection of your useless Bible. You are a black American who stands as a free man because a secular society arrived at a hard-won better moral understanding than your Bible has to offer. I'm sure, Harvey, that you know the twisted religion vision you would like to impose on all others, but you do not know or understand that vast mish-mash that composes the Christianities.

Paul said...

Chuck I would like to correct you in one area and that is that the ability to speak in a dynamic fashion is not "fruit" at all. If you read the scriptures i posted you will see very clear that though a man can preach well he is not necessarilly of God.

I do agree that people should not hold the pastor in such high esteem until they lose all common sense, that again is not Christianity. If any man says something that goes against Gods word He should be corrected. It shouldnt even remotely get to the point of this vid.


You are out of order to tell me what my faith in Christ offers me as far as life. You can have your opinion but you state it as fact as if you have lived my life. You should ask, what it is God has done for me and how I practice it and we can go from there. If you please that is.

Mike, You can do surveys but doing surveys on Christians is not as straight forward. It would be easy to do surveys on atheist because all you have to do is not believe in God but Christianity comes with more than just saying "I believe in Jesus Christ and go to Church". This is why Jesus said, not all who say Lord Lord will enter Heaven. If Christ said that, how on earth can Barna randomly pick people? He is going off out what they say but not the fruit of there lives.

Anyway, here is a link that spins a different light on the marriage stats.
http://www.hotrfm.org/article.php?id=59

Russ said...

Harvey,

Christians and those who follow Christian and biblical principles have far better and more fulfilling lives, have much better and longer lasting marriages and experience better overall health...

Evidence? Yes, Harvey, we know you probably believe all the good-looking lies you concoct for the Christianities, but the numbers do not bear them out. Again, if they did, you would keep them front and center, and we would all be able to really see what are only the imagined virtues of Christianity. The numbers exist, but since they don't paint such a rosy picture of the Christianities, Christians do the naturally dishonest thing and keep them out of sight. You would never tell your congregation of nickel plunkers the truth would you, Harvey? Nope. Why not? Cuz if you wouldn't lie to 'em and tell 'em good they are, they'd make tracks to a different version of Christianity where the lies flowing from the pulpit would make 'em all sure they were all heaven-bound saints.

The studies that show that the Christianities work real hard and spend a whole lot of money only to, at best, stay on par with others come from places like Princeton Theological Seminary, Harvard Divinity School, Southern Methodist, Baylor, Notre Dame, and Barna Group. Why so disbelieving of other Christians? You reject other Christianities just like non-believers do.

You referred me to one of your blog posts wherein your failure to understand and correctly quote in context is again highlighted. You claimed that Bertrand Russell said,

Atheist Bertrand Russell stated at least one fact correctly in his lifetime:

“Unless you assume a God, the question of life’s purpose is meaningless.”

You quote-mine Russell just as you do anyone else you disdain to traduce their work to your intellectually failed audience. Actually, you're not even honest enough to quote-mine Russell, you instead quote Rick Warren. So, you don't even check the source to see if he got it right. It denigrates the way you like so you keep it. Tell me the source. Warren does not quote one. It seems to fall into the category of one Christian making up a lie to suit his deceptive purposes, and other Christians mindlessly quote it. You and your dishonorable buddy Warren have it wrong.

I have a better Russell quote for you:

"A stupid man's report of what a clever man says is never accurate because he unconsciously translates what he hears into something he can understand.". ( Bertrand Russell, " From " The Quotable Bertrand Russell" edited by Lee Eisler)


And you consider yourself a serious scholar?

Early in life, Harvey, I knew that my version of Christianity was not true in any useful way. Then, as I learned of more and more versions of Christianity that were manifestly not true, I realized that the founders of the myriad Christianities were just making it up, just like Joseph Smith. In the ensuing decades I've seen nothing that contradicts that realization. Clergy, including you Harvey, are just making it up, and propping up your creations with lies.

Russ said...

Harvey,
You said,
Listen, just in case you didn't know (again) It's been turned down in scholarly circles for AGES and only you, Mike and others that share your sentiment live in utter denial of the fact that your position is unsupportable by the evidence of history and historical facts.

More lies, Harvey. Christian theologians the world over acknowledge that there is no continuous fiber running through the broad fabric of the Christianities. It's too bad that you are a fool who refuses to recognize the world for what it is, and continues to insist that our world - remember there are nealy seven billion non-Harvey Burnett's in this world - is exactly the one that leaves you in control. That no standard body of ideas or doctrine defines all that calls itself "Christian," has been recognized since the earliest Jesus cults in the mid first century. What constituted executable heresies changed from region to region since "orthodoxy" meant "what the local priest says orthodoxy means." In Gaul you could die at the hands of Christians for believing Carthagenian Christian orthodoxy.

The establishment of a Biblical canon by a bunch of self-interested church leaders did not change the notion of orthodoxy much since, even as we see today, the differences of opinion about the meaning of Biblical passages was highly contentious with the differences spelling the difference between heaven or hell. It's still the same way today.

Your pejorative "(the 3 you have)" does not insult me, Harvey. I'm not a blogger. You, on the other hand, pour your heart into your blog over matters you seem to think are important to your flock, and they completely ignore you. You seem to have more atheists commenting than you do believers. US Christianities, including the version you hold dear, are a series of name-connected social clubs. You would not be wanted in most of the others.

Harvey, you direct me to Christian Think Tank and JP Holding as being representative of a Christianity you like, but I do need to ask why didn't you refer me to the Vatican, or Salt Lake City, or Westboro Baptist Church? I can tell you why. You disagree with far more Christians than you agree with concerning any religious issue. You once again neglect the big picture while you cherry-pick those bits you like.

You said,

You skew the numbers because there are more Christians and religious people in the world to measure so quite naturally based on sheer numbers atheist numbers are smaller,

This reflects your profound ignorance of mathematics, Harvey. If you had more commitment to the virtue of skepticism and a better understanding of mathematics, you might still be able to list yourself as a financial adviser. Statistics functions partly to state tendencies for populations. Why do the statistics not demonstrate that the self-stated blessed Christians are any more blessed than those in Native American religions or Muslims or atheists? Because they aren't, that's why. If Christians were better off in any particular metric of well-being, it would be observed and those numbers would be part of the arsenal you keep at your fingertips. You would make sure you pointed out just how effective your religion is. You don't keep those things at hand. Your religion does not do what you or other Christians claim.

Russ said...

Harvey,

Christians and those who follow Christian and biblical principles have far better and more fulfilling lives, have much better and longer lasting marriages and experience better overall health...

Evidence? Yes, Harvey, we know you probably believe all the good-looking lies you concoct for the Christianities, but the numbers do not bear them out. Again, if they did, you would keep them front and center, and we would all be able to really see what are only the imagined virtues of Christianity. The numbers exist, but since they don't paint such a rosy picture of the Christianities, Christians do the naturally dishonest thing and keep them out of sight. You would never tell your congregation of nickel plunkers the truth would you, Harvey? Nope. Why not? Cuz if you wouldn't lie to 'em and tell 'em good they are, they'd make tracks to a different version of Christianity where the lies flowing from the pulpit would make 'em all sure they were all heaven-bound saints.

The studies that show that the Christianities work real hard and spend a whole lot of money only to, at best, stay on par with others come from places like Princeton Theological Seminary, Harvard Divinity School, Southern Methodist, Baylor, Notre Dame, and Barna Group. Why so disbelieving of other Christians? You reject other Christianities just like non-believers do.

You referred me to one of your blog posts wherein your failure to understand and correctly quote in context is again highlighted. You claimed that Bertrand Russell said,

Atheist Bertrand Russell stated at least one fact correctly in his lifetime:

“Unless you assume a God, the question of life’s purpose is meaningless.”

You quote-mine Russell just as you do anyone else you disdain to traduce their work to your intellectually failed audience. Actually, you're not even honest enough to quote-mine Russell, you instead quote Rick Warren. So, you don't even check the source to see if he got it right. It denigrates the way you like so you keep it. Tell me the source. Warren does not quote one. It seems to fall into the category of one Christian making up a lie to suit his deceptive purposes, and other Christians mindlessly quote it. You and your dishonorable buddy Warren have it wrong.

I have a better Russell quote for you:

"A stupid man's report of what a clever man says is never accurate because he unconsciously translates what he hears into something he can understand.". ( Bertrand Russell, " From " The Quotable Bertrand Russell" edited by Lee Eisler)


And you consider yourself a serious scholar?

Early in life, Harvey, I knew that my version of Christianity was not true in any useful way. Then, as I learned of more and more versions of Christianity that were manifestly not true, I realized that the founders of the myriad Christianities were just making it up, just like Joseph Smith. In the ensuing decades I've seen nothing that contradicts that realization. Clergy, including you Harvey, are just making it up, and propping up your creations with lies.

District Supt. Harvey Burnett said...

Hendy,

You said on one of our sites:I think you meant inerrant.

Thanks for the heads up. Since you like spelling(and I ain't man atchya) maybe you can proofread some upcoming texts for me?

Then you ask:"Would you and whatever team of believers you want be willing to take as long as you wish to select a group of any number of believers from any demonination who you believe meet the requirements for god to answer their prayers repeatably and predictably for even simple healings?"

Maybe I should take that back...I think you may have meant DENOMINATION...I'll probably proof my own work huh??? Anyway...

Now you should be careful what you ask for because you may just get what you look for, and what would you do when God moved according to believing prayer? I know you'd simply use every method and means to explain it all away because you have no clue as to how he moves in response to believing prayer. You have no value whereby his Spirit could be measured so all conclusions would be explained away no matter how fantastic that explanation would be...but more specifically, this is not a "pony show"...God is not a "cosmic bellhop" neither are we magicians.

Herod asked the same of Jesus (Lk.23:8) and received NOTHING in response. 1- the miracles of God aren't for a spectacle, they are to meet the people at their needs. You display that you have no need to see Jesus, just a curiosity. 2- In fact there isn't a thing that can be done to make you a believer or a servant of God. That's your CHOICE and God won't coerce you (did I spell that right?) God doesn't have to preform "tricks" for you, Randi or anyone else.

Excuse me, as I don't know your age and or situation, but I suppose you were raised by parents and may be out on your own with your own family...Because your parents don't do what they used to do for you, do you doubt their ability to do? In fact they probably don't do any of what they used to but yet you don't doubt them in any sense.

So spelling can be corrected (thank ya very meerch!...U correct yours and I'll correct mine) but a heart can only be changed by God.

BTW: (Before I get another ignorant message I meant to spell much , meerch...just sumthin' I do sometimes)

Hendy said...

@SHB: You caught me (denomination). I recall seeing that underlined in red and playing around with onation vs. ination and missed n vs. m.

In general, I think your posts seem hastily written a lot of times and do tend to contain a lot of errors. I think it would help you to be more careful and you would come across more convincingly.

Regarding answers to prayer. Try this challenge: provide any scripture in which someone specifically asks for healing and is denied.

Jesus' track record is 100% with respect to providing healings to anyone who requests them. He even provides them if he prefaces the miracle with a chastisement for seeking signs, often saying, 'But, so that you will believe...'

Jesus seems extremely concerned with providing signs primarily for belief, though you seem to think otherwise.

Your question about parents is a fallacy of analogy. This is nothing like that for the simple reason that I have never experienced healings through god and have a great deal of experience with my parents' care for me. Track records of action build trust and faith in times of inaction.

Most skeptics would agree that god has no track record in our present lives that offers conclusive proof of his power so that we would take him at his biblical word when that power is apparently absent.

Chuck O'Connor said...

Harvey,

I think you misunderstand my questions (made apparent by your failure to answer them).

I will put it more bluntly. Why should I avail myself of knowledge from a man who exhibits hypocrisy in sharing that knowledge?

Please don't retreat to psycho-analyzing me.

You become the thing you despise when demonizing that which disagrees with your assertions. It is the best argument against your assertions.

Chuck O'Connor said...

Okay Paul,

I'll bite. What has god done for your life.

I'll be interested to see if it differs much from my description.

District Supt. Harvey Burnett said...

Hendy,

Thanks, just chalk it up to the fact that I can't type...not hasty writing...Occam's razor....I mean after all I never had a typing course...

You said:Jesus' track record is 100% with respect to providing healings to anyone who requests them.

Well, I don't know about that one even biblically...remember this when Jesus was in Nazareth:

Mt. 13:57-58:"57-And they were offended in him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house.58- And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief."

In Mark the same story is recorded with a little more detail:

Mark 6:4-6~"4-But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house. 5-And he could there do no mighty work, save that he laid his hands upon a few sick folk, and healed [them].
6-And he marvelled because of their unbelief. And he went round about the villages, teaching."


Then there was the time that Jesus put the unbelievers out before he did a miracle Mt. 9:24, Mk. 5:40, Lk. 8:53.

Then as I said he did nothing that Herod wanted.

So to say that Jesus provided healing 100% or even a sign 100% of the time to all that asked is an exaggeration and something that the scriptures themselves do not support and a straw-man that either radicals build and tear down or people who don't study the bible are not aware of.

You said:"He even provides them if he prefaces the miracle with a chastisement for seeking signs, often saying, 'But, so that you will believe...'"

At times that is so, but you're a literalist and a fundamentalist if you believe that to impress was the reason and that this was like putting the coin in and getting a healing out type ministry. It wasn't. If that were so all the devils would have been cast out of every hater he encountered...I guess you could say they didn't want to be free, but then what's the point?

You said:"Your question about parents is a fallacy of analogy. This is nothing like that for the simple reason that I have never experienced healings through god and have a great deal of experience with my parents' care for me. Track records of action build trust and faith in times of inaction."

No fallacy. Then you say that YOU have never experienced such at the hand of God and that's for you. There are millions who have experienced such at the hands of God and identify it to be so. So for you to write everyone else off because of your experience is self-exaltation. Why is your experience indicative of all humanity? You and others in your circle could be an anomaly...To the point, the analogy was about interaction...you can't identify the hand of God in your life. The functionality that you have now is because of HIM, that's his hand, you apply it to naturalism and materialism that's what the whole is about.

Just because you can't identify or discern the hand of God doesn't make him not apply, but conceptually it's the same. Parents not doing for you now what they did prior to your maturity does not cause you to say they are ineffective or nonexistent. There is a maturity in the relationship.

Inability to identify God and HIS hand does not make him not exist, no matter how much agreement there may be from men and mankind.

Russ said...

Harvey,
You said,

but some get very emotional when Christians outline truth.

Contradictions are not truth. If you had it, we would see it.

You talk about sin, but none of us is sinful as you mean it. We, you too, are evolved creatures who sometimes fail to live up to society's expectations. You have a Christian social club which places expectations on people. No one can fulfill all of your expectations - and they are yours, other Christian social clubs seeing it differently - all of the time. You demand your club members be perfect knowing full well that none can be; it's simply not possible. Then, you use their failing to meet your unrealistic expectations as a sign that you - and the god who coincidentally imagines the same things you do - are correct about the man being "fallen." You, not some god, has created the expectations. You are their judge and jury.

What is a flesh-centered virtue such as those you say run rampant through atheist websites?

You said,

Fact is that we have all had pains, experiences etc, but NONE of that is or has been an excuse to fall into disbelief. Not because we can't, but because when all things are considered it's worth holding on to Jesus and faith. There's nothing greater than truth and living in that truth once it's been found.

There is no reason at all to believe. You make some bucks off religion, but that's no reason for anyone else to believe. Jesus and faith are crap, Harvey. Neither is needed to live a fine healthy happy life. Sure, such a person won't live up to the dopey imaginary supernatural expectations you've concocted after reading your goofy Bible, but that same person can, while neglecting what you have to say, also neglect Islam, Judaism, Hindu and worshipping shrunken heads. And with all this neglecting of religion he can have a life every bit as good and happy as yours, while at the same time having no fears of your pretend god.

You said,

The problem is that many believe that Christians don't spend time examining the alternate arguments and postulations.

They don't. Christians don't even read, Harvey. In particular they don't read arguments conflicting with their religion. You might think about other's arguments, even though you have proven time and again that you have no capacity to deal fairly with empirical evidence or arguments that refute your religious perspective. You can't even quote people in correct context. Here you are again lying to present a picture of Christians that just is not so.

You said to Hendy,

There are millions who have experienced such at the hands of God and identify it to be so.

No. More lying. They do not identify it to be so. They get the warm fuzzies like we all do and are told by self-interested clergy that those feelings, common to all men, result from what the clergyman has told them about a god. There have been many human societies which have had no gods, yet they still get the same emotional and psychological warm fuzzies. They experience awe, wonder, curiosity, amazement and great joy and happiness among others with no belief in a god and no need of a god to explain the feelings. The feelings belong to them as a legacy of their humanity. They are part of who they are, not the fondling of some imagined deity. You don't know what causes the feelings, so in your ignorance you attribute it to a god since you construe those feelings to be desirable; if you thought them undesirable, you would attribute them to one of your other gods, Satan, for instance. You use your ignorance as a license to lie to people.

People need real answers that fit together with the rest of the real world. "I don't know" works fine, but you apparently have to pretend to know what does and does not come from a god. You don't. Neither do the thousands of other priestly types who have made up things that disagree with what you've fabricated.

Annette said...

I would assume that no amount of debate could ever refute the arguments that an anthiest relies upon.

There was a time in history when God showed himself through tangible social justice, dramatic physical healing, and even as a cloud/pillar in the sky. It's just not this way anymore. God "proving" Himself to man never worked to bring about a consistent, faithful response anyway. Repeatedly the pattern showed that God remains faithful, while man does not. Clearly God values something more than an authoritarian reign over his human creation--He desires a relationship based on faith. And as you all know (through your own experiences with Christianity) faith is believing in what you cannot see.

Chuck, John, and others: I'm sorry that you've been hurt by Christians and this hurt served to catapult you away from faith in Jesus. I truly do understand. I've rejected the faith myself for a time, and for the very same reasons, I even dabbled in the idea of atheism. It didn't stick, as Romans 1:20 just proved to be a laarger truth than any of the the logic I used to justify my disbelief.

I wish you all well, and hope that if you every do wish to come back to the faith, you feel like you can--inspite of your gallant effort to disprove it.

Hendy said...

@SHB:
- Re. the scriptures: what we have is what we have. The bottom line is that there are no examples of direct interactions when someone asks for healing and does not receive it. It does not make me a literalist or fundamentalist to not speculate or hypothesize about instances not recorded...

- Re. the analogy: I think you miss the point. You seemed to indicate that I should trust god in the same way that I trust my parents' abilities even though I am no longer experience them. You appealed to a personal connection with my particular parents. I responded personally by simply stating that the cases are not analagous:
--- Parents: previous experience translates to future trust in abilities
--- God: no previous experience translates to no future trust in abilities

This akin (not identical) to someone suggesting that I had 'faith' in the tides. The issue with this is that I can watch the tides behave predictably thousands of times in a row and therefore have an extremely good track record for predicting how they will behave in the future.

With god, we have a supposed track record (the Bible), which does not match to present experience whatsoever... and the occurrences that are attributed to god are few and far between and offer no predictability whatsoever.

The tides are far more unchanging in their nature than any evidence attributed to your unchanging god. This is my observation.

Mike said...

Paul, in my opinion, you have certain theological beliefs, especially when it comes to what you believe makes a "true" Christian, and that's fine. But it would be very difficult for these surveys that we are talking about to take your theological beliefs into consideration. Besides, through my reading of the Bible, one can get different impressions of what it means to be a "true" Christian. Have you ever considered that you might not be considered a "true" Christian by other Christians who know the Bible very well? With all the denominations, sects out there you could get a million answers on what it means to be a true Christian. Barna's questions, to me, are good questions to indicate whether someone considers himself or herself an evangelical/fundamentlist etc. Could people be lying? Sure! But don't you think that there are truly genuine born-again believers in the survey as well? Also what is the criteria that you use to determine if someone is a true believer? That passage in Matthew 7 isn't exactly clear and could describe all kinds of people. Also, how do you aren't a counterfeit believer? Is it because you only sin x times a day? I'll check out that link later.

And Harvey, doesn't the Bible say to give an answer for the hope that you have with gentleness and respect? I really see no difference between your behavior and that of any non-believer. In fact , out of all of the people who post here, Christian and unbeliever, you are probably the most antagonistic person on here. Your conduct on here doesn't exactly represent the Jesus you claim to love and serve very well. But whatever. Anything for the cause of Christ, right? Your behavior gives me no reason to want to come back to Christianity.

Ignerant Phool said...

Dawn's mom said at the beginning of the video that there is a God and a devil. And after watching the whole thing, I couldn't help but concluding that this is where the main problem lies, believing that there is a God and a Devil. It's obvious that they would attribute their experiences to these beings since they have a presupposition of their interaction and participation with us humans. Without this presupposition, one would not have become a potential victim to be "duped" under such circumstances. When we say I was duped by "people", if you think about it, it's not really that much different than saying "you were duped by faith". Obviously there's no need for anyone to overreact as you'll just miss the point, and the point is people in the church were duped by faith. As John said, "human beings are woefully inadequate at understanding things. They easily accept what they prefer to be true and they do not properly weigh the evidence for much of anything. We are all gullible, and irrational people despite our denials." One thing I realize with statements like this is that because this is true and the people who needs to thoroughly understand this are being addressed, they are the ones that will not get it.

Andre

District Supt. Harvey Burnett said...

Chuck,

You said:Why should I avail myself of knowledge from a man who exhibits hypocrisy in sharing that knowledge?

What are you talking about? I don't have to answer anything neither am I compelled to answer anything you ask, but I cenrtainly won't answer whatever isn't clear.

If I feel like addressing you I will. Chaces get much better when you ask something specifically and contextualize the question.

I mean like get to the point, that is, IF, you're asking me, otherwise make your position clear.

Chuck O'Connor said...

Harv

What is your testimony? How long have you been a Christian? Have you ever tested your beliefs or do you seek out knowledge simply to confirm them? What major theological tenant have you changed your mind about? Do you approach counter claims to truth with the same charity you give claims that endorse your presuppositions? What are you District Superintendent of?

Chuck O'Connor said...

Annette

I was never hurt by Christians (not to the extent you were or John were), I just came to see Divine Command ethics, appeal to biblical authority, and Christianity itself as fear-mongering backed by superstition. I think the bible is an interesting remnant of pre-scientific humankind's attempt to make meaning of randomness but as history it is myth and as prophecy it fails. I am married to someone who identifies as an Evangelical Christian and I count many Christians of various flavors as friends. I even attend a weekly bible get together mostly because I like the folks and I get to sharpen my mind in honest disagreement with them. I am an atheist because I don't see any evidence for the personal interventionist loving god Christians claim. In fact, I see the bible presenting a character in god that is far from what I would define as loving.

District Supt. Harvey Burnett said...

Chuck O,

I'm shuttin it down here because the host feels I'm being overbearing. But I'll address very briefly some of your questions:

You asked:What is your testimony?

Briefly, I was not raised in a Christian home etc, however from an early age I knew God existed. That did nothing for me as noone told me this neither could I affirm it neither was I compelled to investigate it. That came later. However, I generally grew up in a secular manner, step-daddy was an alchy and didn't go to church. That's why I have no credence for John's myth about being raised Christian makes you a Christian...that's garbage!

You asked:How long have you been a Christian?

Almost 28 years, preacher too.

You asked"Have you ever tested your beliefs or do you seek out knowledge simply to confirm them?'

This question does not and never has made sense to me or anyone I know. I can't become and unbeliever to see what it would be like to be a believer. I can review and examine certain information from multiple sources and then critique it all. There are MANY Christian authors that I would never buy into. John and those in the know hail Swinbourne...to me, he is pathetic in much of his scholarship. I don't out of hand accept Christian writings simply because it has a CHristian author. This is another error the critics, especially the radicals such as Russ, make...they fill their commentary with a bunch of stereotypical garbage and then blame the Christian for how they feel...that's silly.

You asked:What major theological tenant have you changed your mind about?

There are 2, 1-The link between salvation and works. I yet believe that works cannot save, but it is clear that the bible teaches that works can cause one to be lost. there is a greater link that what has been traditionally taught or accepted to be consistent. 2- what sola scriptura actually means. It can't be the letter because there are non-viable variations. Some individuals enter into bible worship instead of God worship. I believe there is a difference and meaning is often greater than the physical letter on the page. That's the disconnect for me here also. Many of the critics have never studied the bible in the manner in which I do and they are automatically thrown off because they haven't heard it like I sometimes present it.

You asked:"Do you approach counter claims to truth with the same charity you give claims that endorse your presuppositions?"

Obviously I do, but I'm a rather quick study on most issues as it pertains to this and there are a limited amount of approaches on many of the most popular subjects. the problem I have is when the critic assumes the world didn't start thinking about these things until they arrived on the scene. Great men and women on both sides of the issues have been debating this stuff for ages and the arguments have already been made in many cases.

The best argument I've read on this site has been by Hector Avalos and Sargon. That one deserves an all day class! I'd be there for that one even though hector is an atheist.

You asked:"What are you District Superintendent of?"

That is a clergy position within my organization. One step down from the Bishop's Administrative Assistant. I am responsible for the oversight of local churches in my area under the same jurisdictional affiliation. My report is directly to the Bishop. Duties vary from place to place, but it is essentially the same all over the country for those in like positions.

Thanks and Later!

Chuck O'Connor said...

Thanks Harvey.

Russ said...

Hi Annette,
You said,

I would assume that no amount of debate could ever refute the arguments that an anthiest relies upon.

Please understand Annette that the label "anti-theist" isn't useful for characterizing most of us atheists commenting here on DebunkingChristianity. You completely reject as many or more gods than we do. If you know more gods, you reject more gods. Today there are more than a thousand gods worshipped throughout the human community. The one you currently like is completely an accident of birth or circumstance. No one evaluates claims made for all gods and picks the "right" one. That's impossible. People, essentially universally, just go with the same god that Mommy and Daddy socially inherited from their Mommies and Daddies. The likelihood that you chose a god at all is vanishingly small. Your god was chosen for you by parents, by tradition, and by the prevailing godscape.

Of today's thousand gods, you reject all but a few of them: you keep Yahweh; you keep Satan; and you might worship angels, saints, or other imagined supernatural entities. Some Christians have God, Jesus and the Holy Ghost functioning as three separate deities, while other Christianities wind them up into one neat and easy package. For some Christians, their god will send people to hell; for other Christians their god would never be so vile as to assign someone to an eternity of torture. Those are different gods, one torturously vindictive and the other much less so. Among the Christianities there are lots of similarly defined gods. Satan is a god in many Christianities and in others all supernatural entities are rolled into one.

Anyone telling you they know they have the right, true god is an outright liar, seriously deluded, or so ignorant of the rest of the god-speckled terrain of humanity that their lack of understanding should call any of their judgements into question.

Harvey's comments exemplify much of what I've said here. He said, "Briefly, I was not raised in a Christian home etc, however from an early age I knew God existed." He, of course, knew nothing of the sort. Other people from other cultures don't say those sorts of things about Christianity's gods since the culture doesn't support it. They say things like that about their imagined gods that their social groups support. Remember, Zeus was big on the hit parade of gods at one time. Now he's not. Why? No social support.

Many countries have now largely abandoned all gods, including those of the Christianities, turning all gods and the mythologies that gave rise to them into little more than cordial and interesting dinner conversation. Sweden, for instance, has the best education system in the world; they are among the healthiest and happiest people in the world; they are the most generous people on the planet, per capita; and, they have the lowest religious involvement in the developed world. They've rejected one more god than you do and they are the better for it. Compare the US and Sweden on measures of societal health and you'll see what I mean. In most societies, including the US, religion is expected to serve as a substitute for economic opportunity and all that it implies.

Harvey also said, "That did nothing for me as noone told me this neither could I affirm it neither was I compelled to investigate it." Read that slowly: no...one...told...me...this. "No one told me this." Very important. Also, Harvey, tells people one version of Christianity; your church tells another version of Christianity; and, thousands of others go with things still different from those which they think is the way of the Christian.

Russ said...

Annette,
Why can I say this? Because obervation tells me that over the course of history thousands of human civilizations have existed and none have been observed to be superior to the others. It is of great value to all mankind to truly embrace the notion that different does not mean bad. Indeed, few Christians have tolerance for things non-Christian. Almost all men and women who have ever lived have been good caring people. Christianity has never been needed for them to be so. Observably, Christianity has perpetrated every form of inhumanity imaginable. It was, if you accurately recall, Christians who operated Hitler's gas chambers, Christians who massacred Native Americans for their land, and Christians who have similarly annihilated peoples and cultures the world over.

Your Christian Social Club gives you a group wherein you can all sit about agreeing among ourselves that you are superior to all other people on the planet. You all agree, don't you, that you are the "Chosen Ones?" Children in other cultures will grow and mature with the traditions and teachings that their parents pass on to them. They are not wrong as your Harvey Burnett-like clergyman will tell you. They are different. Not wrong, different.

If your religion worked, it would be observable. Everyone would adopt it and we would all be the same. [Bizarrely, the biggest enemy of Christians over the past two thousand years has been other Christians. Christians have always loved killing each other.] Your religion doesn't work, Annette - you are a testament to that - and yet you, Harvey and others insist that everyone else be forced to live by its useless tenets. Please look around you, beyond your church, beyond the US and out to the magnificent patchwork quilt of the entirety of humanity. See them with their commonalities of love, caring, compassion and generosity. See them in their cultural contexts, their languages, their religions: they are different but not wrong.

Russ said...

Annette,
You said,

Chuck, John, and others: I'm sorry that you've been hurt by Christians and this hurt served to catapult you away from faith in Jesus. I truly do understand. I've rejected the faith myself for a time, and for the very same reasons, I even dabbled in the idea of atheism. It didn't stick, as Romans 1:20 just proved to be a laarger truth than any of the the logic I used to justify my disbelief.

Jesus gains you nothing, Annette. You will pump thousands of dollars a year into a church and it will achieve almost nothing at all for your fellow man. Your church donation pays for salaries, insurances, cars, video displays(I live a short ways from a mega church which has more than five thousand video displays, almost all used for advertising), maintenance, advertising, travel, conferences, professional fees, office supplies, stamps, internet access, cable television, electricity, etc. Only a small fraction of your "charitable donation" goes to anything approximating charitable or humanitarian aid. When I cut my elderly neighbor's lawn, I get no tax deduction for it, but 100 percent goes to help someone in need. Harvey's Jesus belief causes him to lie to everyone about science and the observed nature of the world. Jesus, faith, and belief does not benefit mankind. Remember belief in other gods and prophets sometimes motivates the faithful to fly planes filled with innocent people into buildings and to believe god, your same Old Testament god, by the way, desires them to do it.

You said,

I wish you all well, and hope that if you every do wish to come back to the faith, you feel like you can--inspite of your gallant effort to disprove it.

Disproving the notion that the god you have ended up with through social circumstances and accident of birth is beneficial, useful, good or desirable requires no more effort than recognizing the value of all of mankind, including the cultures that have evolved among them the world over. You want to say that your faith is of value, but for your faith to be of value to you, the Christianity that feeds it says that all mothers and fathers who have ever existed have failed their children except for those swallowing your particular religious confection. Accepting your version of Christianity or almost any other, would mean that I must agree that everyone who lived before Christianity arose together with almost all people who have lived since, are doomed to hell. Or not, if I chose another. Christianity is almost all useless social manipulation.

Russ said...

Annette,
You said,

There was a time in history when God showed himself through tangible social justice, dramatic physical healing, and even as a cloud/pillar in the sky. It's just not this way anymore. God "proving" Himself to man never worked to bring about a consistent, faithful response anyway. Repeatedly the pattern showed that God remains faithful, while man does not. Clearly God values something more than an authoritarian reign over his human creation--He desires a relationship based on faith. And as you all know (through your own experiences with Christianity) faith is believing in what you cannot see.

Annette, you, Harvey, and all other Christians have as social club wherein you all agree to say you believe certain things tailored to your local club. Observation shows that nowhere do people behave as if they believe it. It has nothing to do with silly notions like "The Fall of Man" pushed by the Christianities while they swear up and down that they have the one and only cure for it.

You said,

faith is believing in what you cannot see.

This is no way suggests that faith is good, useful, or desirable. It keeps the clergy financially supported, but it doesn't fix any real problem. The US is full up on Christianity and yet we have the highest murder rate in the developed world. Christianity isn't helping there. We have the highest rate of depression in the developed world. Curiously, depression is the greatest and the suicide rate the highest during the Christian holiday celebrating the birth of Baby Jesus. Christianity isn't helping there. We have the best health care for the wealthy and the worse health care for the poor and otherwise marginalized. Christianity isn't helping there. We've got Christianity overflowing, but observably it's doing us no good. Harvey used to be a financial adviser until his version of a god let the financial markets, that is reality, burst his bubble along with everybody else. Harvey was all Jesusey and I'm sure he took his commissions and fees off the top while he prayed for the success of the products he sold his church members. But, the prayers didn't help.

Faith counts for nothing at all, Annette, and that is observed everywhere religions make claims for faith. Faith gave us bloodlettng. Faith gave us the witchburning which continues to this day where secular governments don't keep Christians in check. Faith has given us the completely useless and stupid notion that all of the versions of the Christian Bible are true. Faith that the church is more important than children gives us Roman Catholic pedophilia and children of Christian Science parents dying agonizing deaths from afflictions with well-established cures. Faith doesn't work.

Annette said...

Hey Russ—I hear you.

You say: “Your religion doesn't work, Annette - you are a testament to that”

To which I say: Wow, you really missed the point. I say I’m an example of what can be really right about Christianity—a life redeemed through grace and forgiveness. A lone individual whom a most loving God sought out, through a series of extraordinary circumstances, then lifted up from the depths of despair. Trust me when I say that many Christians don’t even get this. But I embrace it to the core.

You snipped my previous comment apart, but I could barely find any association between what I said, and your responses. ?

I’m not going to defend Christianity as a culture, as I struggle with making sense of it too. Neither am I going to banter back and forth with regard to “happiness” statistics, as “happy” has nothing to do with my conviction of faith in God through Jesus.

The social inequities of this world are clearly astounding, from Sweden to Uganda to right here in the US, no doubt about it. There isn’t a people group that one can single out anywhere and use to make a consistent point. People are people. The difference that Jesus makes through a life is an individual issue.

I didn’t join a “club”, as you call it. I don’t perceive the devil to be a “god”, and I don’t worship angels or other deities.

My conviction is straight from the heart. Period. I can’t explain it, I can’t convince you, and I won’t “god” shop at the suggestion that this would be of any logical relevance.

I understand that my faith appears completely worthless to you. How could it appear any other way with your outlook? And I’m truly sad, though I’m assuming you didn’t write out everything you did from the standpoint of depression. I completely respect the opinion you give as your own, based on your life perspective. And I love people; I respect humanity, as well as the viewpoints of others.

We all have one…

District Supt. Harvey Burnett said...

Russ,

Like I said you're about as jacked up in your understanding as the title of the post "TWISTED"...you said:

Faith counts for nothing at all, Annette, and that is observed everywhere religions make claims for faith. Faith gave us bloodlettng. Faith gave us the witchburning which continues to this day where secular governments don't keep Christians in check. Faith has given us the completely useless and stupid notion that all of the versions of the Christian Bible are true. Faith that the church is more important than children gives us Roman Catholic pedophilia and children of Christian Science parents dying agonizing deaths from afflictions with well-established cures. Faith doesn't work.

What is that? It is nothing. It adds nothing to the conversation only gives you time to be the atheistic preacher that you want to be.

Look, logic is a faith project as I have argued before. The laws of logic exist but cannot be proven...you ACCEPT them by faith. The very thing that the materialist such as YOU lay your hat on is simply a FAITH proposition.

To argue otherwise will prove that either 1- You are IGNORANT and not worth wasting time trying to even converse with 2- You know this but are a psychotic liar only interested in spreading propaganda and not committed to any truth or 3- You have no clue as to any philosophical arguments regarding logic, faith and reason and no clue as to why logic itself is a proposition of faith.

Either way, you're jacked up! It's PROVEN that faith propositions do not do what you describe. PEOPLE misuse and abuse information and go out misinformed , just like YOU, and mislead others causing pains.

I would suggest you take some type of course on logic and why it can't be proven and why it's laws which are immaterial and do not have extension in space are a fact!

What you dogmatically assert has happened in societies where no religious faith exists at all...your rant is nothing but mere radical atheist propagandist garbage!

Now PROVE that I am wrong!!! With FACTS this time!!!

Mike said...

Annette, I'm no longer a Christian, but I'm not an atheist either. I guess I'm somewhere between an agnostic and a deist.

There was a lot of things that Russ wrote with which I agree. That being said, if Christianity is what helps you get through the day, I say more power to you and I respect that, even though I'm a non-believer. If religion helps someone find meaning in this craphole of a world, I'm fine with it as long as they're not hurting anyone.

There was a time when I was immersed in fundamentalist Christianity. I handed out tracts. I would go up to muslims and evangelize them. I led the young adult Bible study at my church and at a local county jail. But due to several events in my life and questions that Christianity could not answer to my satisfaction, I am at where I'm at today. Christians would say that it is very sad what happened to me. I feel it may be the best thing that happened to me.

Even though that's where I'm at, I don't think people of faith are stupid. I'm still very good friends with several fundamentalist/evangelical Christians and I wouldn't want them to lose their faith, because it is their faith that has gotten them through their most difficult times, and it seems like it has for you too.

If you continue to remain a Christian, which you obviously have, then great! But just know that if you stick around here, your faith will be strongly challenged, and it could be even dangerous to your faith. Thanks for participating in the discussion.

Mike said...

Russ, I wouldn't say most people are good caring people. Unfortunately, most people are assholes. That might be an area where Christianity is right.

Chuck O'Connor said...

Annette

You seem to offer compulsion as explanation. You can't explain why you choose to assert faith and from this outsider's perspective you haven't offered any real description of your current framework for morality (Divine Command) that differs from the one you were abused in.

Mike said...

Harvey, is what Russ said about Sweded mistaken? If so, please offer some facts. You just say that what Russ says about countries with no religion is garbage, yet you offer no facts yourself. Pot, meet kettle?

Also, Japan has its issues, but they are very secular, and look at what that nation has achieved.

Annette said...

Chuck--You are correct, my soul's been drawn to God, my mind and heart have followed at a more reluctant pace. I understand the abstract concept of this, but I think you do also. Not everything in life is physically concrete in nature. Do you love anyone or anything? Then you are likewise compelled. I'm sure you get what I'm saying.

Mike--Thanks for the respect and advice. I actually will follow it.

In fact I've found most of you to be quite respectful. I appreciate your perspectives and hearing how some of you've arrived at them. I don't think I'm really the type to hang out on this board, but I wish you all well.

Chuck O'Connor said...

Thanks Annette

I find the argument from anology to verify faith by illustration of human intimacy wanting. I know my wife exists and benefit from her observable agency. Not so much for god(s).

Russ said...

Hi Annette,

You said, Hey Russ—I hear you, then you proceeded to demonstrate that you did not.

In part I hoped that my effort would have outlined how the good things you attribute to your god are also accomplished by those with no gods and those attributing the same outcomes to gods other than yours. You said,

To which I say: Wow, you really missed the point. I say I’m an example of what can be really right about Christianity—a life redeemed through grace and forgiveness. A lone individual whom a most loving God sought out, through a series of extraordinary circumstances, then lifted up from the depths of despair. Trust me when I say that many Christians don’t even get this. But I embrace it to the core.


This shows me that your religion caters to your solipsism, and, worse, your religion has made you lose sight of the rest of humanity and the universality of human experience.

You have despair just like all other people. Those other people include the non-Christian 70 percent of humanity. They, too, experience great despair, and they get over it. They get over it without your church, your Jesus, your God. People everywhere have the emotional resources to get past great turmoil and upheaval. It is a mark of humanity, not Christianity.

Ten thousand years before your god was invented in the Middle East, our human brethren inhabited six of the continents. They suffered hardships such as most people cannot imagine. They lost family and friends to raw cruelty of nature: predators, disease, famine, toxic plants and animals, earthquakes, floods and volcanoes. Yet, they have descendents today. Their despair did not swallow them up; they got past it. Without your god or your Jesus or angels - those thing had not yet been invented.

You stated, "I say I’m an example of what can be really right about Christianity." I say you are the poster child for what's wrong with Christianity and religion in general. There is no unfortunate human circumstance which Christians can recover from that others cannot. But, here you are buying into the egocentrism when your religion tells you that you are special. You're not. Unfortunate experiences befall people the world over, and people the world over get past it without gods. So you were betrayed by someone you trusted. That only happens like a billion times a year. So you were betrayed by someone in a preacher's costume. That only happens a million times a day.

You were a big girl who made choices you now wish you hadn't. Personally, I think you should compare your experience to that of an eight-year old being gangraped by Christian clergy. Imagine what it's like for a child who is often punished by his parents, teachers and classmates as the full weight of the Roman Catholic Christian machine is brought to bear to shut you up. It might help you gain a more balanced perspective.

Your betrayal by the church is ongoing, Annette. They have lied to you in suggesting that they or their god is somehow responsible for your having risen from the depths of despair. They have lied to you by suggesting they have some special spiritual elixir sold only in Christian churches which preferentially aids Christian believers. Those are strong positive claims for which there is no supporting evidence.

Russ said...

Annette,
If your religion lived up to the claims it makes, we could all see it. People would flock to it for the benefits it confers. That's not happening. People on the outside do not see what you are only imagining on the inside.

One big lie from the video is the bizarre preacher saying that he could bring the dead woman back to life. It's a lie, a cold calculated lie. If this worked we would see Christians revived in morgues on a regular basis. Do you sincerely believe that man could have brought that charred woman back to life? If so, you're once again completely duped by a clergyman; you clearly enjoy being betrayed.

Annette, peer through the fog that Christianity shrouds itself in to see the world and its peoples beyond. What you have been duped into thinking results from some Christian specialness actually is part of all mankind. For someone to lie to you and tell you that traits common to all mankind are exclusive to Christianity is immoral. For this misinformation to work, those accepting it, like you evidently, have to be ignorant of your fellow man and his cultures.

That you refuse to be educated about the rest of mankind does not mean that Christianity offers you something special. Your ignorance of just how wonderful the rest of mankind actually is simply justifies you adopting an artificial and false sense of superiority to others.

You said,

My conviction is straight from the heart. Period. I can’t explain it, I can’t convince you, and I won’t “god” shop at the suggestion that this would be of any logical relevance.

Again, your conviction is no different than that held by Muslims, Hindus and others. You, just like them, congregate with your similarly ignorant fellows and agree among yourselves that some deity has elevated you, when observation of the world at large shows you are no better than others and have no special skills or capabilities for dealing with life. You pump lots of time, energy and money into dreaming yourself superior, only to arrive at the same place as everyone else.

Breckmin said...

"This story was about manipulation, plain and simple."

Which is sin. The story is clearly about the exposure of "sin."

Looking at the sins of any one individual can never be a good thing.

Looking at the actions and the life of Jesus Christ will lead you to truth and away from imperfect sinners.

Question everything...but when you question..look to Jesus and not to the actions of your neighbors. They will mess up.

District Supt. Harvey Burnett said...

Mike,

You askedHarvey, is what Russ said about Sweded mistaken?

Check the suicide rate...especially in Scandanavia...you'll see what godlessness and lack of faith leads to.

Russ said...

Harvey,
When Chuck asked, "How long have you been a Christian?" you answered, "Almost 28 years, preacher too."

This perfectly makes my point that anyone can be Christian clergy with no knowledge, training or expertise whatsoever. You went from non-Christian to preacher all at once. Instantaneous power and authority with nothing invested, nothing learned, and nothing to hold you to account. Wow. That must have been quite the head rush to all of a sudden become the center of attention, the one people were looking to for answers, even though you couldn't have had answers to give.

When I observed,

Faith counts for nothing at all, Annette, and that is observed everywhere religions make claims for faith. Faith gave us bloodlettng. Faith gave us the witchburning which continues to this day where secular governments don't keep Christians in check. Faith has given us the completely useless and stupid notion that all of the versions of the Christian Bible are true. Faith that the church is more important than children gives us Roman Catholic pedophilia and children of Christian Science parents dying agonizing deaths from afflictions with well-established cures. Faith doesn't work.

you responded with,

What is that? It is nothing. It adds nothing to the conversation only gives you time to be the atheistic preacher that you want to be.

Remember the topic is in part that skepticism is a virtue and my comment contributes well to that premise. Faith is completely ineffective for any purpose at all, Harvey, except of course keeping you in spiffy suits and a nice car.

Russ said...

Harvey,
Another thing that allows me to know that you understand the failure of your religion is your denigration of science when you have no understanding of it. If your religious claims were true they would be in complete concert with science. We would all be able to observe such agreement. That's not what is observed. If religious claims were true, religions would agree with each other, including all the Christianities. That's not what is observed. You know these things, Harvey. Science is a threat only because your religion thrives on ignorance.

You need your congregation to be ignorant of other people having better lives than they do without the overhead of religion. You need your congregation to be ignorant of how other people are more consistently moral than they are without the overhead of religion. You need the ignorance and you perpetuate it at every turn.

Mike asked, "Harvey, is what Russ said about Sweden mistaken?" to which you responded,

Check the suicide rate...especially in Scandanavia...you'll see what godlessness and lack of faith leads to.

Do you know that Scandinavia is the name for a geographical region that includes Sweden? Do you know that Harvey? So are we to assume that you found some suicide statistic for Sweden or Scandinavia that pleases you, so you say it exists without a reference. Are we to further assume that that single statistic encapsulates the Swedes for you while you ignore that those nasty atheists have the lowest infant mortality rate on the planet? The US is around sixtieth, with an infant mortality rate four times higher than the Swedes. Why does God love atheistic Swedish babies so much better than US babies where so many of the parents have "I love Jesus" bumper stickers and they say they believe in God? Because actually taking care of each other gives tangible results, whereas blowing smoke out your ass about taking care of each other while not actually doing it gives no tangible results. The Swedes do it, Americans blow smoke out their asses; in other words, they pray.

You said,

It's PROVEN that faith propositions do not do what you describe.

It's nice we agree that faith is useless.

Harv, you live out a completely material existence. The needs of you and your family are supplied by science. Science provides for you in such great abundance that the silly supernatural notions you and so many others play with can range wide and free in the minds of man. Science has provided a safe place for all manner of idiotic ideas to flourish. So many of those idiotic ideas are religions like yours.

Russ said...

Harvey
One of my favorite slaps in the face to faith is one of the many examples provided by the always stupid and always good for a laugh Pat Robertson. He's one of you Christian Fundamentalist types, Harvey. When hurricane Bonnie was building strength in the Atlantic, Robertson told his viewers that Orlando, Florida would be hit because a gay pride event was being held there. He prayed for it and his faith informed that it was true. But, his faith failed with the ironic twist that Bonnie made landfall in Virginia Beach, VA, home of Robertson's ministry. Amazing what faith can accomplish.

Religious faith is meaningless, useless for anything other than supporting charlatans.

You say the laws of logic cannot be proven: Can you prove that? Do you know enough about the universe to say that we will never be able to prove the laws of logic?

Let's assume for the sake of argument that we can't prove the laws of logic and that they are indeed an article of faith, a faith project, as you said. If that's the case, logic has much favoring it over your religious faith. One is that the laws of logic are shared among all people. This NAND is your NAND, this NAND is my NAND, from California to the ... and your XOR is my XOR. Another is that they work for all people in the same way. One more is that their reliability has led most people to use them.

This is nothing like the way your Christian faith is incompatible with Islam, incompatible with Hindu and incompatible with non-theism. As something shared by all men, respected by all men and used by all men, logic has a better chance of bringing people together than does religion, which does not even unite the myriad Christianities. So, even if I assume it to be a matter of faith, LOGIC is much better for people than is COGIC.

But, of course, it's not a matter of faith. It is a matter of confidence. Harvey, you need to understand that. Whereas logic continuously proves itself useful, religions can make no such claim. Your religion is not even shared by all those who call their religion by the same name as yours.

Harvey, there are many things you say, do and don't do that allow me to know that you understand the failure of your religion. For one, you don't have any reliable data to back up your claims that Christianity succeeds in benefitting it's adherents to a greater extent than do other religions or no religion. If you had it, you know as well as the rest of us you would strike out at us with it as often as you could. I noticed by the way how quickly you seized on Hendy's data once you thought it supported your point, even to the most miniscule of extents.

Something else that allows me to know that you understand the failure of your religion is that you don't advocate for studies that might demonstrate that Christians have superior life outcomes. Fact is, you reject academic studies done by religious institutions like Notre Dame, Harvard Divinity School, and Southern Methodist because they don't bear out the claims you make. You reject studies like the Benson study that demonstrated that intercessory prayer has no effect. You can't find quality work that supports your claims, so you do what is dishonorable and reject the quality work that refutes your claims. You make no effort to understand it - more than likely you lack the skills to do so - and, you simply reject them. You fail to understand that by rejecting these studies as you do, you miss out on a wonderful chance to assess the actual attitudes, feelings, and understandings of your coreligionists. If you think it's good for people to read the Bible, and polls say that your fellow Christians also think it's good for people to read the Bible, aren't you at least curious about the studies that show that people don't read the Bible? Some of that work also tells why they don't read it. By rejecting this you miss a wonderful learning opportunity.

Gandolf said...

Mike said... "Russ, I wouldn't say most people are good caring people. Unfortunately, most people are assholes. That might be an area where Christianity is right."

Maybe also its a area where faith believers must have long unattributed to the very problem you discribe here?

I mean our world throughout time by majority has been more or less overun by many different faith believers,so this must have some bearing on what people in our society in general have now become?.

Should we expect to have a world riddled by the many aspects of faith deceit,yet expect it so very likely we would now have a vast majority of people who valued honesty?.

Should we expect to have a world thats been long overun by folks who were often harsh,mean and judgemental and realistically very uncaring, with many so keen on creating devisions and seperation etc ...Yet really expect we would see a society in genral to be so full of possessing so many humans who were kind, caring and accepting and honestly nice towards each other?.

I personally cant see why we would ever have much reason to expect it.I suggest we should only really honestly expect to see what we now actually have

I expect there to be many nasty people like Harv,a fraud who with (mere words) suggest god and love blah blah etc....While in real (actions) often being a complete nasty thoughtless uncaring arsehole .Somebody who is so sick he is even quite happy to downplay the nasty experiences many people have experienced through being involved in abusive faith,just so long as it suits his need to keep his flock that he can then also use as a business base for his finiancial gain etc.

Yeah sure ive been one here on DC who has been quite happy to be very abrupt in what i personally happen to think and feel about Harvard.

Im only human !!,were some people here actually expecting me to be a jesus??

When i see PASTOR Harvard being a nasty sleaze and making use of the freedom John freely offers him to post here on this blog,while also gleefully crawling away to make LOWLY PERSONAL ATTACKS on another blog purposly specially designed to personally attack John.

Im going to simply call it like i actually see`s it.

Your a utter complete fraud PASTOR Harvey Burrnett ....With your mouth you speak of Jesus and matters of love and caring etc.

But your bl**dy actions prove ! you to actually be little more than scum that speaks with a forked tounge !

And im sure your first nation ancestors are just as bl**dy disgusted in you !,as i am

As Russ says,you are quite happy to quickly downplay and poo-poo the abuse metered out to many African children being slaughtered as witches...Though you promote superstition you are just as quick to wipe your hands completely clean of any involvement in also promoting superstition that can later filter out and even possibly later happen to cause the death of some of these children.

You are little better than a pope who wont bring himself to face having any involvement in children who were molested.

Russ said...

Mike,
You said,

Russ, I wouldn't say most people are good caring people. Unfortunately, most people are assholes. That might be an area where Christianity is right.


I understand how you might arrive at this position, but my work with people from many places around the world leads me to a conclusion matching an opinion once voiced by Stephen Jay Gould:


Good and kind people outnumber all others by thousands to one. The tragedy of human history lies in the enormous potential for destruction in rare acts of evil, not in the high frequency of evil people. Complex systems can only be built step by step, whereas destruction requires but an instant. Thus, in what I like to call the Great Asymmetry, every spectacular incident of evil will be balanced by 10,000 acts of kindness, too often unnoted and invisible as the "ordinary" efforts of a vast majority.


Yours experiences might be different, but mine tells me that almost all the time under all sorts of circumstances, people help each other; they try to fill each other's needs; and almost all the time people live together in peace. Imagine the chaos that would engulf mankind if people were rotten to each other most of the time. For that matter just imagine how unbearable the world would be if those who Christians think of as inherently immoral for not being Christian actually were immoral. It's a fact that Christians are wrong about non-Christians, since most of mankind are good most of the time.

Paul said...

Bro Chuck, you bit. I love it.

God has simply made me a better man, oh yes a new man. The things I took pleasure in, I dont anymore. By that I dont mean I tried to do better He changed me and. I was whoring man to man that wanted to stay away from fornication. I used to curse all the time, I used to party, was actually a DJ who LOVED reggae music. God touched and that changed, my dedires are different and I take no credit.

Initially I struggled in sin, fornication especially but he touched me miraculously one sunday.

I would sin and cry out to God all the time. To make a long story short I promised God that I would stay holy for a said sunday service and fell on the saturday. I went home (feeling like a dog)and cried out to God on my knees. While I was crying out to God, He told me to read Ephesians 5 ( I was a young Christian and didnt know this scripture),. Here is what it says.

Ephesians 5
1Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children;

2And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.

3But FORNICATION, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints;

4Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.

5For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.


After that I had such a peace and went to bed. The next day I went to the service and could not stop crying. I repented and ask God to touch me, the Pastor prayed for me and I felt The Power of God run through my body, I fell back and again felt a peace even greater than the night before.

I went home that night and prayed and God told me to read

Galatians 5

19Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, FORNICATION, uncleanness, lasciviousness,

20Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,

21Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

Again, I didnt know this scripture. You can see that the scriptures are almost identical. God was sending me a message to stay away from sin and Thank God He has gave me the power to overcome fornication in an instant.

People have laughed at my testomy and call it coicindence and all that, but he who knows knows. So I never try to debate who God is to me really because the natural man cannot understand the things of God but I hope and pray that you would open your heart.

I am changed and God gets the glory for it through Christ!

Chuck O'Connor said...

Paul

I think you are lying.

Paul said...

Chuck, your comment is why I put this disclaimer at the end of my post.

"People have laughed at my testomy and call it coicindence and all that, but he who knows knows. So I never try to debate who God is to me really because the natural man cannot understand the things of God but I hope and pray that you would open your heart."

I didnt expect you to believe me in the least but your disbelief doesnt move me in the least. I have been transformed and due to that it affects every area of my life including my marriage. I have the best marriage in the whole world and just had a baby girl!

Though you dont understand (as yet, by faith that is) God is that good!!!

I have nothing but love for all of who have written on this blog, whether we are in agreement or not.

So love ya and be blessed!!!