Questions for Christians of the site

04 Dec 2016 17:17 #267174 by Gisteron
Yea, intelligent and moral people go around half the web burning straw men whilst dismissing everybody else as stupid or evil just so they can avoid discussing actual points people make. xD

Better to leave questions unanswered than answers unquestioned
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18 Mar 2017 21:26 - 18 Mar 2017 21:35 #278614 by KestlinQuareus
Replied by KestlinQuareus on topic Questions for Christians of the site
I don't personally believe that it's as simple as a choice between love and suffering. More between recklessness and responsibility. Sure, you're free to walk out into the middle of the road, but you then have to take responsibility for being hit by a speeding vehicle. If there is only one right way to be saved, then you then have to take responsibility for going in another direction as opposed to blaming somebody else for the suffering that your own decision has caused.

Let's say you have a now-grown son that you love. He's plenty old and smart enough to get a job, he'd just rather steal and freeload. And worse, he's not even eating or paying rent with what he's stolen, but instead funding a drug habit. You try everything you can to help. Interventions, rehab, every option is explored, but still he persists. Are you just going to allow him to live in your house, steal things from you, trash the place and fill it with all manner of shady and dangerous people? Or, at the end of your tether, are you going to kick him out until he at least makes an effort to change? Doing so doesn't mean that you no longer love him. He's still your son. But he has to learn.

The problem with free will, which I'm sure most people would agree is preferable to mind control, is that everything everyone does when they have free will affects everyone else. If someone chooses to use their free will to steal, then somebody somewhere will be stolen from. If someone decides to keep all of the food for themself, then somebody somewhere will go hungry. All of these things generate suffering and injustice. But to take it away, we'd need our free will removed along with it. Because people are selfish. And as long as people rebel and insist on doing things that aren't right, it will continue.

Some events are intervened in. But for those that are familiar with Doctor Who, I see these things as though a part of the web of time. Everything is linked to everything else, either directly or indirectly. Change one tiny thing and it will change countless others in terrible and unpredictable ways. I believe that these events are balanced in such a way as to produce the least possible amount of suffering overall, and those events that do still take place are akin to fixed points in history. There is still much suffering, which seems to ever increase as a result of the population ever increasing and continuing to walk selfish paths. But this suffering would be far greater had that balance not been achieved.

You might think 'why me? I just bought that TV.' But in having that TV taken away from you, you have saved others far less affluent from having true necessities taken from them. Or you might have saved somebody in the street from being mugged and accidentally killed instead. You might even still think 'why me?' after gaining this knowledge. But you can't see the entire web. You don't know how the saving of your TV will affect the rest of the world. Butterflies and hurricanes, and all that.

The difference in temperament between the old and new testaments is, so far as I understand, a result of the cross. In the old testament, everybody's sins remained unatoned for and there was anger because the sins stood and persisted. In the new, they had been paid for, and so the anger was by far reduced. That anger is righteous anger. You see somebody mugged and of course you're going to be angry about it. Of course you're going to do something to help if you're able to. Punching a mugger in the face to save their victim doesn't necessarily make you a bad person.

People are also very flawed. They make mistakes, and yes, many do fail to live up to the values they themselves ascribe to. But that doesn't mean that those values are flawed in themselves. That just means that those individuals slipped, or gave up, or thought 'do you know what, I've had enough.' They had a moment, or a day, or a week, or however long, of weakness. They need guidance, not abandonment. Having said that, I do understand that sometimes, when things are bad, you just feel like you need to get out. Sometimes it feels like there are just too many of them for you to make a difference. In those cases, it is better to seek a healthier group of people to share with, though not, in my opinion, to adjust your beliefs because of them. You held those beliefs for a reason, and, again, their failure to live by certain values does not invalidate those values. It just means that those followers were not as strong as they should have been. They had a glimpse of the dark side, if you will, and they wavered.

The Bible was written by men, but was inspired by God. Some of the old testament consists of histories or ancient law. And in those histories and laws, sometimes people did or wrote things that weren't right. Again, that is down to the weakness or misunderstanding of the doers and the writers. Sometimes laws might have had reasons or good intentions behind them, but were just mistaken. None of the ten commandments say 'thou shalt not be gay'.

As for miracles, well. If they didn't defy scientific understanding, they would hardly be miraculous.

Remember, there are many things that science has yet to understand or discover. We would once have said that teleportation would defy science, and yet subatomic particles have been proven to do just that.
Last edit: 18 Mar 2017 21:35 by KestlinQuareus. Reason: addition

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02 May 2017 18:33 #282784 by ZealotX

I'm like you. I was a devout Christian and it was reading more that turned me away. That's slightly inaccurate I think though, because one can read the bible and simply accept all the good and reject all the bad. It takes a certain level of critical thinking to really judge the bible and many believers, present company not included, are afraid to do that. I'd like to address your questions from a perspective of someone who understands where you're coming from.

1. Your first question, to me, isn't a simple answer because there are verses in the bible that give one the impression that our lives have been "pre-ordained" and so we are only acting out what "God knew" we were always going to do. Secondly, the notion that I'm going to hell is based on my belief that it exists. That belief is based on believing humans, not God. God never told me any of this. He never told me anything and yet my salvation is supposed to be on the line. The thought that I have to have blind faith in humans to tell the truth about an invisible entity or else I am damned, to me, is ridiculous and intellectually dishonest. No deity in their right mind would make salvation into a game that one only wins by having blind faith in other humans and their version of the story. And if I fail to trust these men who were often barbaric and drunken with power then God always knew I was going to fail? Like... that's MY fault?

2. This is a question of morality and the fact is that religious people tend to base their idea of morality, their foundation of what is right and wrong, upon their most moral example. The ironic thing is that for Christians their heighest example of morality is probably Jesus, not "God the Father". When God does things that contradict our current understanding of morality people tend to make excuses and say "he's God so whatever he does is okay". People treat God like a nice slavemaster. Because he's nice the "slave" part is silent. And critical thinkers are like... "but he's still a slavemaster though". Morality shouldn't be something that changes based on how much power one has. You know who thinks that way the most? Evil people. Evil justifies what it does based on its ability to do it. One of the worst arguments I've ever heard for slavery and the theft of America was that they "won"... or in other words, they had the power to do what they did. Might does NOT make right in my book. In fact, it is the duty of those with the most power to fight for those without any and to use their power for good. Often children are killed in the bible just to make a point or just to strike fear into people's hearts or just to make sure another nation couldn't come back for revenge because they had no good reason to attack them. So they were different. So they worshipped other gods. These are reasons to murder them? Of course it's not "murder" when God tells you to do it. I feel like these contradictions help to retard people's sense of morality.

3. Well of course in order to intervene you'd have to exist. But in their mind he does intervene but in ways that I find disturbing. Basic superstition says that if you ask God to help you do X and the situation turns out favorable then God indeed intervened. We completely negate the possibility of chance, probability, coincidence, or your own human intervention making it happen. No, it's almost like there is a negative force that always acts against your interest so that unless another spiritual power works in your favor that outcome simply cannot happen. My problem is why not intervene for everyone based on their need? In other words, I don't even feel like asking you to help me until you help the homeless and the hungry and the people suffering from disease. They need help far more than I do and yet my mother informs me that anything good that happens to me it's because she's been praying on my behalf. If that's how it works then that's a messed up system. The bible says God rains blessings down on everyone alike and his eye is on the sparrow. I work in a building that has a bunch of mirrored outer walls. Little birds fly into them and break their necks. Yet we are supposed to live in a fantasy where nothing bad ever happens to the sparrows when all of nature consumes each other for their own survival.

4. Someone said this was a metaphor in defense of it. Yes... it is a metaphor. Pharoah's heart wasn't literally hardened. What it means is that he was influenced by God to reject the calls to free the people in order so God could do miracles to scare people into submission. If it were purely up to Pharaoh he would have been reasonable. How? Because if he wasn't going to be reasonable there would have been no need to harden his heart. So what was done was so that God could show off his powers; or rather... in reality the writer was writing from hindsight and knew that these events could not have been thwarted. One plague led to another such that there couldn't be any natural interruption. The writer was simply linking catastrophic events to God because people believed "supernatural" events were the work of the gods. But today we assume these events were "super" natural because that's what they beleived. It is more likely that Exodus involved a volcanic eruption which caused a cloud by day and a pillar of fire visible at night. But they didn't know what this was or what caused it to happen. Therefore, to them, it was "supernatural". And this helps to reveal who really wrote the bible and what their intentions were. It is a man-made book that is right as often as we are right and wrong as often as we are wrong. It is man pretending to be God in order to exercise power over other men. That power... because they are using the authority of a deity, gives them more power than a king for all who believe them. That's why as some believe the most powerful men in this world were kings and dictators, I disagree. I think it was always men of the priesthood who claimed to speak for the gods. This kind of authority allowed men like Moses to commit genocide without mainstream recognition of the act. Because we're blinded by anyone claiming to have the authority of God on their side. Why? Because we're afraid of God. Moses killed everyone who wouldn't follow him. That's actually what happened. But because he spake for God he was simply doing God's will and "purifying" his fellow Hebrews.

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