Friends, Here Is The Truth

“I am your god. I need to tell you about myself so you will know me.

“I allowed myself to be killed in order that I could overcome death and be celebrated. And, even though all this happened in a long ago ancient time, my death and resurrection are celebrated to this day. The idea of being dead and then coming back to life was a huge success famewise.

“One purpose for my death was to establish a kingdom here on earth. But, what happened to me here on earth was wrapped in conspiracy and darkness. People with bad intentions whispered about me and the result was my violent death.

“After my death, my body disappeared. What happened to it is clothed in mystery. No one has ever testified they saw me come to life, but I was seen alive afterwards so that remains the evidence I survived death.

“While my starring role as a god has diminished a bit, countless millions have loved and believed in me. I am timeless so I know the skeptical will come around in time and return to recognize I am not someone’s imagination but am, instead, the one true god.

“I ascended into heaven and have been referred to in surviving writings as, ‘God, Son of God, King and Father.’

“At my death, some of my closest and most devoted followers fled and only later proclaimed their devotion to me.

“Friends, I am a god that lived before the Christianity. My name is Romulus. Rome is named after me.”

64 Responses

  1. Steve

    In response to many of the stories, myths, etc. that groups such as the freethinkers promulgate as a dig at Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Taoism, Buddhism, and other faith based religions- It is not that persons worship them that is important, it is that persons are taught a moral life thru them, they are influenced to do good works after being saved and even though mankind sometimes uses these faith based religions incorrectly or for personal greed and violence (ISIS), the faith based religions above mentioned have provided the population of the earth a moral compass, a desire to help their fellow mankind and a kindness that has not ever been provided by those who are not believers in a god, no matter the gods’ name- be it in the Hebrew, Christian , Muslim, Asian or Orthodox traditions.

    What good has come from denying religion except perhaps an emptiness in your freethinking life.

    1. Steve 8:37 Thanks for commenting here.

      and even though mankind sometimes uses these faith based religions incorrectly or for personal greed and violence (ISIS), the faith based religions above mentioned have provided the population of the earth a moral compass, a desire to help their fellow mankind and a kindness that has not ever been provided by those who are not believers in a god, no matter the gods’ name- be it in the Hebrew, Christian , Muslim, Asian or Orthodox traditions.

      I have to wonder how you can make the generalization that those criminal groups like ISIS are using religion incorrectly while those who behave use it correctly. Could not it be the other way around? The God of Christianity killed some 2 million innocent people in Bible stories–at least that is what people who have added them up say.

      It seems to me the “moral compass”, the general desire to do good things instead of bad ones, could also be explained by the evolution of societal development. Societies which govern themselves and conduct themselves in productive ways survive and take over ones which do not. A society where all its people steal and kill each other cannot survive.

      I’m not saying I know for certain societies without religion are better or worse than ones with religion, it’s just that it is not possible to make the sweeping generalizations about the benefits of religion you make.

    2. Paul Larsen

      Hi Steve … I gather you’re saying that none of us can be moral, ethically true people without organized religion of some sort … am I correct?

      Holy cats! I’m doomed. So’s Jon. Help!

  2. nemo80

    What do you mean? The God of Christianity killed two million people in Bible stories? If you are referring to the OT, that number looks a bit out of the ballpark. So far as I know there weren’t that many people around to kill at that time. Who, specifically, came up with that number? Besides I don’t think that God did the killing (tho’ he supposedly approved of it). People did the killing, Israelites, Persians, Assyrians, Babylonians, Greeks, Egyptians, you name it.

    1. nemo80 11:53 The God of Christianity killed two million people in Bible stories

      I can’t vouch for the number, but it doesn’t seem that far off to me. And that “People did the killing..”??? God sent the flood that killed everyone except Noah’s family. This had to include fetuses, newly born babies and other people who had never committed a sin. Instead of being a kind and loving God, it was at times a pathological killer.

      I have to be honest here and say I don’t believe most of this ever happened–just making the point that religion is not my guide to moral and ethical values.

      Here is one of several sites that compiles these numbers:

      http://godlessgeeks.com/LINKS/godkills.htm

      1. Chuck Z

        And suddenly, fetuses have value in Jon’s eyes. Lol. You seriously can’t make this stuff up.

        Jon, I’m still patiently waiting for your response to all of my fits of “anger” on this blog, as well as the “numerous” posters who have made the claim that, “people wouldn’t put their lives at risk over something that wasn’t real”.

        Patiently waiting.

        1. entech

          It looks to me that the inference from Jon’s post regarding the “flood” is that nothing and no-one had value to the God of the Bible. Except some old drunk and his family that found favour in his eye.

      2. Cevon Anderson

        I suspect that it was these mass killings by God, among other evil characteristics, is what led to the Gnostic Christian faith. They thought that the god of Judaism, Yahweh, was an imposter known as the Demiurge; the god of the material world.

        They thought the Holy Spirit was created by the good God — a supreme, perfect, monadic divinity — and the Holy Spirit was a feminine companion deity to God. She wished to create another deity to share the divine spiritual energy she alone had, but God prohibited this. Nonetheless, she did so in secrecy, but was horrified by what she had created; it was lesser, inferior, imperfect, and made of a smokeless fire, though it bore some of her Spirit power. She hid this ugly thing behind a cloud in heaven.

        After God created Adam and Eve in heaven the Demiurge revealed itself to the pair; the serpent that tempted them to eat from the tree of knowledge (knowledge something only God had). When God discovered what had been done, he cast the Demiurge and Adam & Eve down into the lower world, a material world associated with matter, flesh, and time; an imperfect, ephemeral world (the upper world associated with the soul and perfection, and timeless).

        The Demiurge revealed himself to Moses who, in the Torah and Old Testament, claimed he saw a single, burning bush on the mountain, and saw it was God, his face burning with fire. The Demiurge then arrogantly boasts that he was the one and only God, having no knowledge of God or the Holy Spirit.

        The Gnostic Christians believe that God is remote, unseen, and that throughout history the Demiurge appears as God, attempting to lure humans to evil.

        1. entech

          Marcion is one of my favourites from the early Christian stuff, not agnostic part of his thinking followed the idea of the God of Abraham, Yahweh, and evil creator and not the real God.
          His idea was that Jesus was actually the creation of the real God sent to rescue humanity from the evil God. The Bible would be much shorter if it was his, no old testament ( a book of lies about the evil God of the Hebrews) The writings of Paul and the Gospel of Luke.
          He got of to a good start rejecting most of the traditional teachings but failed to go far enough, having bought himself a position in the Lurch he must have been the first (probably only) person to have his money returned by the church of Rome.

  3. nemo80

    Jon, I’m still here. I suppose that you can blame God for the flood. After all, he created the universe in which such things happen, thinks like the Black Death, malaria, earthquakes, the list goes on. BTW, I think that the flood was real (don’t think it literally covered the whole earth, tho’). But sudden inflow of water from melting glaciers could have cause a rapid rise in worldwide sea levels, flooded the Mediterranean Basin, the Black Sea, whatever. And geez there could have even been a Noah like character with a big boat. Mostly, however, I think that the Noah story was an early attempt to explain how mankind, etc. survived the Big Flood. Be that as it may, I agree that atheists have a point when it comes to reconciling a mucked up world with a beneficent creator. The alternative, however, is a messed up universe without meaning, purpose, a product of accidental, pointless processes. Which leaves me wondering as to where you get your ethical and moral values: don’t think that they can be wrenched out of purposeless, evolutionary matrix.

    1. nemo80 5:26 The alternative, however, is a messed up universe without meaning, purpose, a product of accidental, pointless processes. Which leaves me wondering as to where you get your ethical and moral values: don’t think that they can be wrenched out of purposeless, evolutionary matrix.

      I would concede it is difficult to say precisely where our general set of moral and ethical values came from. Since values from religion don’t seem very good to me, I conclude our actual values are better than the ones found in religion. Maybe that is not an objective evaluation, but that’s how it looks to me. So, where did our values come from it not from religion? Where else but from previous generations. It seems to me that reflects the results of the human experience. It does not seem purposeless at all to me but instead seems full of purpose. To each his own I guess.

    2. entech

      … I suppose that you can blame God for the flood. After all, he created the universe in which such things happen, thinks like the Black Death, malaria, earthquakes, the list goes on. and includes such things as Satan and all evil.

      Earlier you say it was people that did the killing, but we have instances like in Jonah where we have a competitive God who killed more with his hailstones than the sons of Israel did with their swords. There are many instances where men kill widely, savagely and completely (except for pretty young girls, of course)
      People did the killing … on the direct instruction of God because they truly feared God would devastate them (again). How many times do you read about Gods attempts to reconcile and bring the children back to the fold, an example:
      Haggai 2:17
      ‘I smote you and every work of your hands with blasting wind, mildew and hail; yet you did not come back to Me,’ declares the LORD.
      This is what he thought of as encouraging a return to the faith?
      What about the famous ark stolen with no punishment on the thieves but death for one who tried to prevent it from falling.
      And the famous story of Job who had to admit that God did things on a whim and that he was nothing more than a maggot and that God did what he wanted simply because he could.

      Which leaves me wondering as to where you get your ethical and moral values: I don’t think that they can be wrenched out of purposeless, evolutionary matrix. … I do think that here betters ways of finding morals than in praising the acts of a capricious entity that may, or more likely, may not exists.

    3. Cevon Anderson

      If you reject a universe with random events that have no purpose, then you must create meaning; create belief in an orchestrated, directed universe, with intentional events. Things go along well until you have seen so much seemingly pointless cruelty and suffering that you have to abandon your belief, or add another to explain this problem, e.g. a creator that lets creation continue on its own, or a dualistic system (good vs. evil, God/Devil), and the like,

      If you find yourself inherently not liking pointless cruelty and suffering, and/or find yourself suffering in a society without rules for the benefit of all, then presto; you has found, created values.

      You seem to pick and choose which parts of the Bible to believe. You reject claimed events in some stories as attempts by ancient people to explain mysterious events.

  4. nemo80

    one last thought. I don’t think that on the atheistic account one could even say that the universe is mucked. It just IS, leaving no standard by which to judge it. Unless, I suppose, one could argue that we judge it only in terms of our need for comfort and survivability,

    1. nemo80 6:24 What purpose? Whatever purpose we choose to give it? BTW are you familiar wit Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics?

      So far as I know, or, so far as I’ve ever seen or read, our purpose is to perpetuate human beings on earth. To do this we need to make whatever is available on earth for food and shelter remain preserved or remain available for as long as possible. If there is some purpose larger than this I have not seen evidence of it.

      As to Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, I’ve never really studied it. My impression of it is that it’s a collection of thoughts that reflects successful societies. They seem ideas that had been passed down through the sands of time.

  5. nemo80

    hate to say it, but many of you folks seem to me to be recovered literalists/fundamentalists. Just because a lot of people thought that God commanded it, that God did the killing. ‘fraid not, the people did it. Or nature did it (tho’ ultimately God can be blamed because he created nature). The old line about invoking God in support of human evil, is as old as the hills. How many modern wars have been seen as the will of God. And even now people justify abortion, euthanasia and the like by saying that God approves of it/ blesses it? . Bottom line: we are all brought face to face with some really serious stuff here, we do ourselves a disservice when we frame it within a fundamentalist worldview.

    1. nemo80 8:12 You sound like a humanist here. If humans have caused all the problems since day one humans are the only ones who can solve them. That is straight out of the Humanists Society of America.

    2. Cevon Anderson

      I was the religious violence of the 16th and 17th centuries and the reaction against that led to the rise of the secular in Western thought. It allowed people to live with religious differences. Under this new arrangement governments make decisions in the interest of the common welfare of the people of each religion and/or religious faction. Authorities are freed up from the need to enforce any particular set of religious dogma, and may even go against strong moral beliefs of some sections of society, in sake of the overall benefit to everyone. The goal is to limit violence.

      Violence was the inevitable result of each monotheistic religion’s claims of being elite; favored by the single deity. This exclusion of others and/or outsiders fosters violence against them. These religions are inherently violent.

    3. nemo80 8:12 Bottom line: we are all brought face to face with some really serious stuff here, we do ourselves a disservice when we frame it within a fundamentalist worldview.

      What is a non fundamentalist worldview? Is there some message in the Bible that is superior to “a fundamentalist worldview.” Cevon pointed our it is tempting for most Christians to say they know which parts of the Bible to take literally and which not to take literally. I call such folks, “semi literalists.” They may not buy miracles or specific sins but they buy the whole hog of heaven, hell and the forgiveness of sins. It turns of not surprisingly that what they take literally are the views and values they prefer.

      My view is that all of the Bible and all religions came from myths of previous peoples. We have enough surviving writings to know that much of Christianity was practiced under the brand names of previous religions and practices.

      1. Cevon Anderson

        Our concept and definition of “religion” was derived from a Christian perspective, and in the following comparative study of religions, we inappropriately applied our concepts to non-Western cultures. This didn’t help us understand other cultures’ spiritual practices and beliefs, many of which do not contain ideas of universal truths, a “god”, nor a “transcendent Absolute”. Non-Western cultures’ spiritual practices and beliefs may say almost nothing regarding questions that are of central importance in Christianity; and vice-versa.

        Most paleontologists and anthropologists agree that with the advent of Homo sapiens, evolved from earlier hominids, humans gained advanced reasoning abilities, including the capacity to be fully self-conscious.

        This included awareness of death — and a limited life span — causing emotions of helpless, insignificance, a constant background sense of dread; chronic anxiety.

        Some thinkers have speculated that humans may have assumed that other living creatures, and the inanimate parts of the environment, were equally self-conscious (imbued with spirit). Hunter-gatherer societies even today share this spiritual “animism” concept.

        Humans may have tried to gain a sense of connectedness with these spirit forces through mastering physical and sensation mimicry of these other things, e.g. shamans mimicking forces of nature and hunters the natural characteristics of their animal prey. This may have given them a sensation of more control over their lives within their physical environment, including a belief that the spirit in humans lived on (also leading to practices such as ancestor worship).

  6. nemo80.

    A question? If our purpose is to perpetuate the species here on earth, we don’t seem to have done a very good job of it. And ironically, some are saying that we have done too good a job of it: that we are overpopulated, therefore we have to be more selective in choosing those who survive, etc. Or has perpetuating the species always meant that we need to perpetuate only certain members (the fittest) of the species. Seems to me that you have a problem here. As to the humanist bit, I suppose that , in a sense,we are the ones to solve our problems. If so we have done a very poor job of it.

    1. nemo80 10:40 A question? If our purpose is to perpetuate the species here on earth, we don’t seem to have done a very good job of it. And ironically, some are saying that we have done too good a job of it: that we are overpopulated, therefore we have to be more selective in choosing those who survive, etc. Or has perpetuating the species always meant that we need to perpetuate only certain members (the fittest) of the species.

      I agree we have not done a good job of it. One reason we have not, I believe, are religions. When we are taught as children we will inhabit the earth for only a short time the important goal of taking care of the earth is abandoned. When we are taught we are to go forth and multiply we over populate.

      Religions teach us what we want to hear. When life expectancy was short and growing old meant begging for food, more babies were needed to keep population up and provide for old people. So, religion taught us to have more children. When we wanted more consumer goods and more fossil fuel to drive them, religion taught us the environment was unimportant because we will all leave the earth when Jesus returns so who cares.

      To live conservatively, that is to stay within the boundaries of human self destruction of the earth, requires more self sacrifice than religion requires. It is a larger and more important cause and purpose. It is to go against the notion of self importance that religion teaches. That is why I find life has exciting and noble purposes without religion.

  7. Adam Heckathorn

    Another great discussion. I would like to point out that Humanism is far superior to all religious belief in its potential for global societal improvement. The truth is a careful historical examination of every religion will reveal that the fundamentalists are always closer to the ancient written texts of any particular religion. Thankfully because of the influence of secular society and greater opportunities for education mainline religions are bending towards reason and a more humane “interpretation” of holy books. I would like to put forward that the prophets of the holy books would condemn the liberal mainline churches, mosques, temples as heretics. I had certain views about homosexuality in human beings. My first freethinkers meeting Jon gave a talk where he mentioned the fact that human beings are born physically between sexes. If We reason on that We have to conclude there are two common genders and a sliding scale of gray physically and mentally between these genders. To deny rights to People born this way do to no fault of their own is perverse. Science has recently demonstrated that human beings are not created but cobbled together by evolution. You can see evidence of this using several paths one of the more fascinating paths is the mini evolution that every human being goes through on the way to birth. We are virtually fish then reptiles then monkeys on Our development in the womb. unless one believes in some undetectable soul (As real as an undetectable God) one has to conclude that the loss at any stage of this development is comparable to the loss of their corresponding creatures at the particular point of development. the only thing truly human lost is the potential to become fully human. Those that believe otherwise are driven to inflict misery on young Women to honor their imaginary friend and his imaginary opinion of a fetus. Claiming the right to make life altering decisions for People They otherwise will have no dealing with except perhaps to vote against helping to prevent their resulting offspring from facing what is too often a life of poverty and misery.

  8. nemo80

    Oh, Oh. ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny. Wonder if whoever wrote that knows that that view in really, really posse (tho’ it may still be taught in some circles). As I recall, the idea came from Ernest Haeckel, a German Darwinist who is now known to have fudged the record.

    1. entech

      Where in this topic do you find a response that bears any resemblance to your recapitulation post. Many times refuted and denied in the last hundred years it is still considered in the development of language. I think the only time I have seen it raised is as a means of misrepresenting Darwinian ideas.

      1. nemo80

        What?! Go back and look at the Heckathorn post. And maybe I’m missing the point: “it is still considered in the development of language..”. Please explain.

      2. nemo80

        What?! Go back and look at the Heckathorn post. And maybe I’m missing the point: “it is still considered in the development of language..”. Please explain.

      3. nemo80

        What?! Go back and look at the Heckathorn post. As to it “is still considered in the development of language”. Please explain.

  9. Adam Heckathorn

    Nemo 80 You flatter Me but I’ve never heard of any of the People or Philosophies You’ve mentioned. the conclusions I have come to are based on books written by Neil Shubin “Your inner fish” and Jerry Coyne “Why evolution is true.”

  10. nemo80

    Adam, sorry about the duplicate posts. Thought the system wasn’t working and pressed the button too many times. I have heard of Coyne (in fact he got upset once because no one told him that the peppered moth study was badly flawed, perhaps even dishonest). That said, we may have fish DNA in us somewhere, but that does not make us fishes. We have a human nature,, not a fish nature or a chimp nature. I would recommend that you read up on the ontogeny vs. phylogeny issue. BTW, we all agree that “evolution” is true. Yet there are disagreements re the limits of, and implications of, Darwinism.

  11. nemo80

    I am bothered by a certain thread that runs thru much of these posts, specifically the notion that Christianity is so other worldly that it ignores the state of our here and now affairs. Nothing that I can think of is farther from the truth. What about hospitals, various charities, universities, natural law, etc.? I could go into a lot of historical detail re this aspect of this particular controversy. Right now, however, I can only suggest that you might want to read up on the High Middle Ages. Hopefully, this will help you appreciate the Christian contributions to what we now call western civilization. Nothing like a little history to lift the clouds of prejudice. eh?

    1. Adam Heckathorn

      Funny You should mention History I would say History teaches Us that religion all though it has been the inspiration for good at times on the whole is a net negative.

    1. Wolfy32

      I know others have said it many times. Religion has been a tool to serve man made goals of greed, power over others, self worship (cultism), for sex, for genocide, and for many other purposes.

      It may have some good contributions. But the acts performed by the power of the cross have been heinous to say the least throughout history and present.

      What I find intriguing is the specific interest of Christianity to militaristicly go after the Mideast and rid the world of Islam in the Crusades, but nothing was done about Asian countries? Why has God not really invaded China or Japan, and other Asian lands? Yet, vast armies were raised to defeat the tiny countries of the Mideast?

  12. nemo80

    First, I would recommend reading a few good books on the history of the Crusades and/or he Muslim incursions into Europe. There are some very sad stories on both sides. Second, your post suggests a very pressing need for balance and objectivity. BTW, Hitler was good at the genocide business: was he a Christian? Don’t think so. And the Turks (c. 1894-1915) were good at the genocide business. n.b. the Turks were Ottomans and the Armenians were Christian.

    1. nemo80 3:44 BTW, Hitler was good at the genocide business: was he a Christian? Don’t think so.

      Hitler proclaimed himself a Catholic and the German Catholic hierarchy proclaimed him one of their own.

      1. nemo80

        Jon, you should know better than that. He also said he was a Protestant. He may have been a Catholic in some far fetched technical sense of the word, but, in reality, he was anything but. He, and most of his Nazi friends, hated Christianity and had clearly articulated plans for “dealing” with it once the war was won.

        1. nemo80 8:08 Jon you should know better than that. He also said he was a Protestant. He may have been a Catholic in some far fetched technical sense of the word

          I know there are endless opinions on Hitler’s religion. He was raised a Catholic, said he was a Catholic and the Catholic church said he was a Catholic. I’ve never heard that he said, “I am an atheist.” though lots of people say he was an atheist. If he said he was a Christian only to curry favor from the public, can we say any candidate for the Republican nomination for President is a Christian?

          There is no shortage of people who said today’s most popular megachurch preacher, Joel Osteen, is not a Christian. People here on the page have said Catholics are not really Christians. It is said Mormons are not Christians. I used to go into the Italian section of Manhattan in the 1960’s for Italian festivals and restaurants. Now I read it was headquarters for the Italian mafia. They thought of themselves as good Catholics, going to mass, etc.

          Who is and who is not a “real Christian” is more than a little murky.

          1. nemo80

            Hitler was born in Austria and, therefore, was probably baptized a Catholic. That makes him a Catholic in the eyes of the church. But that’s irrelevant. Nazism ( Hitler included), was a toxic mix of ultra-nationalism, racism, eugenicism, Nietzscheanism, socialism and paganism.

        2. Cevon Anderson

          The Crusades were an attempt to take back the holy lands, not to rid the world of Islam. There weren’t any Christian holy lands in the Far East, so no necessity to attack it.

          Hitler believed in a deity, considered the deity and nature as separate, and was hostile to Christianity, believing that it was meek and unsuitable to Aryans’ need to take violent action against so-called inferior races, whom he claimed, were attempting to take control. He remained a member of the Catholic Church until his suicide, and ordered top Nazi officials to remain in it, though he planned to rid the Reich of Catholicism and Protestantism after the war. He didn’t want to alienate the German christian base while the war was on, though did take initial repressive steps against them.

          On the other hand, communist totalitarian dictators and mass murderers Mao and Stalin, attempted to eliminate religious and spiritual beliefs, solely to ensure that nothing could challenge their power.

          1. nemo80

            right on! BTW, old Adolf once signed on as a Protestant. Sufficient to say, however, that his real “religion” was Nazism.

          2. Cevon Anderson

            By “religion” I assume you mean “total ideology”. Some thinkers have written that the total ideology found in religion (Christianity in this case), allowed for a totalitarian ideology to take its place in the event of a void.

    2. Wolfy32

      Yes, I agree others were in the genocide business, others in addition to Christianity, and other religious zealots acting in the name of their religion and in the name of their God, out of strong devoted belief.

      So….. Which part of “They did it too” makes genocide morally acceptable?

  13. nemo80

    hello Wolfy, nobody was arguing that it’s Ok because they did it too. Just pointing out some things that need to be pointed out. There are lots of reasons for genocide: economic (we want what they have); racial, ideological (why did Stalin starve the peasants?), political, etc. I know that you would like to blame it all on religion but in the world of real history, I don’t that that view washes very well.

  14. nemo80

    Cevon, call it a totalist ideology or, as the post-modernists would say, a meta-narrative. Whatever the name, it comes down to the same thing. But a question: is not some kind of comprehensive world view something that humans will embrace, no matter what? And what is the alternative? A relativistic worldview? One doesn’t need to read many of these posts to realize that there are a lot of totalist, humanistic ideologies floating around just now. Be that as it may, this is a concern that I have given much thought to. And I don’t have a good answer to what I see as a recurring human dilemma.

    1. Cevon Anderson

      “Humanistic” ideologies? Humanism was said to have been a rebirth of Greek philosophies and other knowledge from ancient times; even the rediscovery of how to make concrete and use it in construction (Roman invention). People in the middle ages had begun to dig below ground, and found more advanced knowledge, technology, legal system (Roman), and the like, from the ancients. This was the beginning of the Renaissance.

      Yes, humans will embrace an ideology or world view, but they embrace different ones, and shades and tints of any particular one. A worldview can recognize the value of diversity, concept of toleration, balance of reason and emotion, and the like.

    2. nemo80 9:10 And what is the alternative? A relativistic worldview?

      I can’t envision a group with a more “relativistic worldview” than Christianity. What is considered a sin has changed several times during my lifetime. This will continue because the faith cannot survive unless it reflects the culture is resides in.

      Paul saw that immediately. He changed the Jewish faith Jesus practiced to something more attuned to the culture of that day. Brother James was appalled.

      1. nemo80

        huh? What specific sins did you have in mind? “……..faith cannot survive unless it reflects the culture it resides in…” Does that include, as has happened) faith adapting to the culture of Jim Crow, slavery, Nazism, rapacious capitalism, eugenicism, whatever. Seems to me that faith is strongest, most heroic, when it has fought against these and other similar cultural evils. Sure, the church must sometimes “adopt” and “adapt”. But when and to what? I don’t that any historical relativist can give a coherent answer to that question.

        1. nemo80 Sure, the church must sometimes “adopt” and “adapt”. But when and to what? I don’t that any historical relativist can give a coherent answer to that question.

          Where to start? First, it was circumcision. That changed almost on day one. When I was young, all the stores were closed on Sunday. No tractors in the field. You can see in the Bible working on Sunday was a mortal sin. That was before malls. For some branches it was alcohol. It was divorce. There was segregation in the Southern Baptist Convention. Lately its been gays, gay marriage and abortion. They are slipping off the sin chart as we speak.

          It isn’t, “Sure, the church must sometimes adopt and adapt.” It is, “The church always adopts and adapts.” It is not true that it does best when it stands its ground. Look at the Catholic church and Southern Baptists today, downward. They have not adapted–but they will when their finances become a bigger problem.

          1. nemo80

            Jon, with all due respect, you haven’t touched the central issue here. Adapt to what? As to the things you mentioned, I doubt that the abortion issue is going to go away anytime soon. As to working on Sunday, that is a peripheral issue. Or is it? We are still enjoined to refrain from unnecessary work on Sunday. And clearly we have lost something here: the need for a community day of rest and reflection. As to divorce, hardly an unmixed blessing: look around if you want to see something of the problems arising therefrom. As to SSM, you obviously think of that as progress. Since when is breaking marriage free from a tradition thousands of years old, a matter of progress. It is, of course, if you are a post-modernist who thinks that we can define anything anyway that we wish. I wonder, if things were going the other way (i.e. contrary to the progressivity agenda) that you would recommend “adaptability”. Sorry but my objections to historical and moral relativism stand.

          2. nemo80 8:12 It seems like we are discussing two different things here. I am saying the church changes its position on many things it holds dear for a while because societal values and social mores change. As I pointed out, it’s just a fact that it has always done this and must continue to do so. It started with circumcision.

            The second thing is whether this is good or bad. I would agree with you it is not always good.

            As to your question, “Adapt to what?”, all I can say is society is constantly changing. Circumstances change and people change what they do and what they believe to survive. In my own opinion, a high moral plain is providing the most equality of opportunity to everyone, including women and minorities, as possible. A lower moral plain is the male dominated church and family life that is the traditional advocacy of much of Christianity. I really don’t see Christianity as the source of higher moral standards than other religions or no religion. In general, it may be about equal to everyone else, its just not better.

        2. Cevon Anderson

          I think an historical relativist would say that a historical era can only be understood on its own terms. One could only understand a time in the past by getting into the shoes of the people of that time, understanding why they thought certain things to the point that you can share their opinion and beliefs, and viscerally feel what they felt. What you know about the past, however, is heavily based on who’s descriptions survived, and the limits of what the person(s) knew, due to their particular experiences, their own general beliefs, their geographic location, place within society, the correctness of their assumptions, and the like.

          To take that into account in making decisions going forward — and people’s limited ability to control the changes going on around them — the people of the church would decide what to adopt & adapt based on current circumstances, views, interpretations, perceptions, and the like. When? All along the way into the distant future, as times keep changing.

          The stance of some who adopt relativism would be that there is truth, however, each one of us is unable to precisely determine the truth due to the limit of our senses and the limits of logic. Due to these limits, each person is left with their perception of truth. It may be that some people’s perceptions match reality, but we have no way to determine that when it happens, due to the limits stated above.

          1. Cevon 11:43 One could only understand a time in the past by getting into the shoes of the people of that time, understanding why they thought certain things to the point that you can share their opinion and beliefs, and viscerally feel what they felt. What you know about the past, however, is heavily based on who’s descriptions survived,

            Well said. There is a constant desire to find some overarching reason for humans to be on earth. Saying we are here because of luck and choices made by animals and prehumen creatures is just not as exciting as thinking there is some greater purpose.

            The irony is that we humans will probably survive longer and the earth support us longer if we stick to the mundane. That is, we are here because the earth has provided us with enough food. If we take our eyes off that simple fact and start focusing too much on things like invisible spirits we may screw up the earth and starve.

          2. nemo80

            Cevon, I agree with you but only up to a point. Sure, the only good way to do history is to try to recapture, comprehend the worldviews of those who, in the past, have made history (yes, we make history: History does not, as some would have it, make us). [ an assertion that needs some clarification and qualification: but forget that for now]. Anyway if …”we have no way to determine, etc. then you are wandering off into a species of cultural relativism. In that regard, I think that all people at all times have sought the “really real”. They may have viewed it thru certain paradigms (some of them not so good). But they were realists none the less. Moreover, and more importantly, if we have no way of determining when perceptions don’t match up, then aren’t we well advised to give up on the whole project and lapse into a kind of solipsistic subjectivism? Think about it.

          3. Cevon Anderson

            Are we well advised to give up on the whole project and lapse into a kind of solipsistic subjectivism? Whole project? I wouldn’t know what your conception of that is. From what I know, however, philosophy was created to answer: what is man’s purpose, and what is reality?

            With use of philosophy there was the realization that in determining reality, we only had our imperfect senses and thought processes. We can’t determine reality completely, perfectly, and we probably never will, but we can get as close to it as possible by continually pushing our senses and thought processes forward. With our technology we were able to see Pluto this summer and take a wide variety of measurements. We have pushed our thought processes forward so that we are understanding more about ourselves, e.g. genetics, archaeology, anthropology; and about the universe, e.g. quantum physics

            Solipsism was a result of existentialism. Existentialists accepted the reality of chaos and the void of meaning in the universe. In order to live with this knowledge they realized people needed to create order and purpose (we already do this by nature). Solipsism was the the result; the affirmation that people are the determiner of values. We take in information, we have our emotional needs as biological creatures, and from there we create meaning in order to gain a sense of order. Humans have never been able to escape confusion and chaos entirely, so to deal with that emotionally we have to keep reaccessing and updating what we think the meaning of things are.

  15. nemo80

    Jon, I think that this thread is about played out. But one (hopefully) last word. You clearly think that we are but accidents of nature and worse that we are deceiving ourselves when we claim that there may be some transcendent purpose in life. If that claim is true, morality is either totally subjective, or — as some post-modernists claim — w/o foundation. How, then,can you claim that we are obliged to protect minorities, women, whatever? History certainly doesn’t support your claim, neither does the notion of accidental, non-directed evolution. What does, then? Where is the foundation, the objective truth of the matter? What makes your progressive morality any better than Hitler’s morality (or take a more up to date example, the ethics of someone like Peter Singer?. Or the “life boat” ethics of someone like Joseph Fletcher? Personally, I think, that you are not facing up to the real issue here. If human life is meaningless, an accident of nature, then so are our “noble” moral claims.

    1. nemo80 11:05 If human life is meaningless, an accident of nature, then so are our “noble” moral claims

      I think I understand the point you are making, that we need some “objective” source of moral standards–that without one we are morally rudderless. I don’t feel, however, you understand my definition of what a truly objective and meaningful moral standard is.

      Your moral standard, presumably supplied by religion, is subjective because it is a product of some, actually many, religious gurus over eons of time. In the case of Christianity we do not know who they were or what their motives or agendas were. In addition, history tells us they are temporary, they will last only as long as the religion they are attached to lasts. Christianity has only existed for a brief period of human history, less than 1%. We have to assume history will repeat itself and it will one day be left behind.

      My moral standard comes from what I believe to be the highest calling we can have, leaving a world to future generations which is healthy and safe. This includes organizing ourselves in ways that help maximize everyone’s opportunity to a meaningful life and leaving the earth and its atmosphere is the best position possible to provide future generations with adequate resources.

      There is no room in my views of good morals for the hundreds of religions that have in the past and now exist. They are not relevant. My moral behavior is at least somewhat measureable. We can see what has worked and not worked. The “morals” in the Bible are a mixed bag of assassination by God and exploitation of humans by other humans.

      Having said all of this, I don’t expect to change your mind. I only hope you can understand that moral views such as mine are not arbitrary or subjective and exist forever. Moral views taken from religion are about what religion is currently popular.

  16. nemo80

    ever heard of natural law. as in Aristotle, Aquinas and numerous others. It pops up in many places: do not envy, do not lie, do not kill/murder the innocent, do not commit adultery (Aristotle), do not steal, do not take more than your share of the world’s goods (Locke), share with the poor, don’t join the evildoers (Scripture is filled with sentiments of this sort), As I recall, the Zoroastrians taught that lying is the root of all evil. The seven deadly vices: sloth, greed, gluttony, envy, anger, pride, lust and the seven opposing virtues. These are supposed to flow from our nature as a rational being, things that we cannot fail to know, deep down. That is, if we are honest with ourselves (which regrettably we are seldom are). In fine, I do not wish to be offensive but I must say that your focus, commendable as it is in many respects, is too much on religion as you understand it. “nuf” said?

    1. nemo80 ever heard of natural law

      If heard and read quite a bit about it.

      I’ve enjoyed this discussion. You are obviously read a lot and write well. I hope we can have more discussions. Thank you.

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