View Full Version : The Conservative Christian Movement (Long)
21st May 03, 3:31 PM
At the request of frstkor13 I’ve attempted to take some of the ideas that I had in the "Christian Game Reviews" (http://forums.relicnews.com/showthread.php?s=&postid=163812#post163812) thread and repost them in a more appropriate thread. I’m leaving all of my comments about that particular site and expanding on a few of the other ideas. Be warned, this is something I’m fairly passionate about, thus it is quite long. Read at your own risk. ;)
First of all, I’ll restate the fact that I don’t particularly care for discussing religious topics on message boards. While I haven’t shied away from political discussions as they can be discussed at a purely intellectual level, religious discussions often bring a lot of emotional baggage with them. Because of this, I’m not really that comfortable with this topic, but I feel like it’s one that I could benefit from. One of the reasons that I enjoy this board is I know that I can get an intellectual response that differs from my immediate circle of friends. I enjoy challenging the ideas that I have and listening to the ideas that others have. Hopefully, we can have a good discussion on this topic and everyone will have an opportunity to express their views. While I won’t delude myself by believing that this thread will be able to stay at a rational level in which people discuss the ideas being expressed and don’t take responses personally, I would ask that at least for a while we all do our best to respect other’s opinions and get in some solid debate (not arguing).
All of that being said, here is my statement:
1. I consider myself to be a Christian. I have been raised in a Christian family all of my life. My Grandparents are Christians; my Great-Grandparents were Christians. Christianity is something that my entire family believes strongly. This is not to say that it has always been this way. My parents were not Christians until after they were in college. One set of my grandparents did not become Christians until after I was a pre-teen. However, it is an environment that I personally have grown up in and I recognize this strongly influences my personal beliefs.
2. Right now, I am disgusted with an alarmingly large amount of “conservative Christians” that I have met that are hypocritical and use religion as an intellectual crutch. I particularly do not like the fact that these Christians seem to look down on anyone who does not live the same lifestyle that they have chosen for themselves. These same people usually try to force their religion on other people as well. This is often because they have a genuine desire to help people, but personally, when I read the Bible, it seems to me that Christianity is something that is more of a personal decision between an individual and God, not something that you make other people adopt.
3. I don't like the belief that something is automatically wrong just because it has things in it that Christians say are wrong. Applying this same logic, people should not read the Bible itself as there is a lot of stuff in it that is considered to be wrong by these same Christians. Personally, as long as the consequences of the actions that have been taken are clearly demonstrated, I see no reason to avoid topics that are not accepted by the Church.
4. Growing up in the conservative Christian movement has brought me into contact with a lot of homeschoolers. Many homeschoolers are often conservative Christians because homeschooling allows them to be separatists. They are simply acting out their belief their world views are superior to the beliefs of others, and that exposure to any belief other than their own is dangerous. It is only logical for them to avoid contact with those who are not like them. To me this is unhealthy and stupid. This is not to say that I think homeschooling is a bad thing, in fact, in some instances I think it can be better for a child, it just means I disagree with the principle of separating children from those who do not have the same beliefs that the children are “supposed” to have. Basically, these kids are never allowed to make decisions for themselves. Instead, they are taught that only one way is right and that they are better than those who believe differently than they do. What is ironic is that of all of the homeschoolers that I know, the ones who had the most interaction with non-homeschoolers end up staying the most conservative. The majority of homeschoolers that I know who grew up in an ultra-conservative environment went wild once out of that oppressive environment. What is also sad is that these kids didn’t have the experience to know that certain actions had consequences. As a result, I know several homeschoolers who are now in legal trouble because of drug usage, financial and emotional trouble because they got their girlfriends pregnant and now have to support them while still trying to go to school (or even worse, drop out so they can get married and never get the education they need), or have physical problems because of wreaks that they could have avoided by not drinking and driving. On the flipside, I know some great homeschoolers who were socialized as children and had already made their own choices as to how they would live their life while still at home. Most of these homeschoolers are doing very well and are proof that homeschooling can be an effective form of education. I just don’t like homeschooling used as an excuse for Christians to demonstrate their feelings of superiority.
5. One of the things my parents taught me was to always respect the beliefs of others, and to try and learn from them. Rather than judging people for being different, I’ve always tried to respect the fact that everyone is entitled to their own opinions and that the world would be a boring place if we were all the same. As a result, some of my closest friends aren’t Christians and I have come to love experiencing different cultures and beliefs. While I’d love for people to become Christians and have a similar world view as myself, I don’t see this desire as being different than a desire to see them enjoy the same music that I like or enjoy the same movies that I watch. I have found personal satisfaction from my beliefs and would like to share that with others, but this doesn’t mean that I think that I am a better person because I have those beliefs. All of my friends are intelligent people. They all know what I believe and I know what they believe. We discuss this frequently. If they felt Christianity was best for them, they would choose that religion for themselves. As it is, they know they can always talk to me about my religion and I can talk to them about their religious beliefs (or the lack thereof). I try to be accepting of my friends and they do the same for me. They don’t ask me to do things I feel are wrong, and I don’t judge them for doing those same things. We frequently compare our relationship to a group of friends that has a vegetarian in it. The group can all go out to the same restaurant and order food, but one person won’t eat meat. The group may tease the one guy a little, but in general, they will be accepting of his tastes. My friends and I try to act the same way toward each other about our personal beliefs.
6. In short, I think generalization of any social group is bad. Every group is made up of individual people. Some of these people are people I can get along with; some are people I can’t stand. As a rule, I've found it much more rewarding to accept people on an individual basis rather than judge them as a group. I think this applies to Christians and Non-Christians alike. If we can learn to tolerate differences in opinion and learn from the lessons of others, I think we will enjoy life a whole lot more. :grouphug:
21st May 03, 4:04 PM
I'll take first crack at it. :) Must use some quotes due to length, sorry - this is not omnislashing.
it seems to me that Christianity is something that is more of a personal decision between an individual and God, not something that you make other people adopt.This is a circumstance, however, where you have prioritized your own arbitrary interpretation over that of what many people consider to be canon. There are very large sects of Christianity where, in order to belong, you MUST perform activities like proselytizing - Jehovah's Witnesses is an example - or you are ostracized. In this case, there is no room for your own interpretation to be as flexible as this opinion (which, by the way, I like better than most).
I just don’t like homeschooling used as an excuse for Christians to demonstrate their feelings of superiority.I think this is the weakest part of your otherwise excellent essay, as IMO these people would be the vast minority of homeschooling Christian parents.
More than likely, a more common occurrence (which is just as negative on the kid's health) is the parent's refusing to relinquish any control whatsoever over the child due to fear of what will happen to them in the great unwashed public - which in effect delays their emotional maturity and exposes them later to choices that they are not equipped to make wisely.
This is NOT to say that homeschooling is a negative thing. If the Christian parent wishes to expose their child to multiple points of view at home - "Dad, what's 'evolution'?" "Son, although I am a Christian that doesn't believe in it, here's how it works", wonderful. If the parent uses their own views as the SOLE vantage point for education - "Dad, what's evolution'?" "Son, that would be a bag of evil vicious lies sent by the devil scientists to corrupt you..." - that's just wrong wrong wrong.
21st May 03, 4:07 PM
Amen to both! 'Says the atheist liberal' :) Great essay Preacher, and interesting and correct responses Retro.
21st May 03, 4:10 PM
The Preacher is a good Christian.
If there were more (a lot more) people like Preacher my faith in Faith would be restored.
There's alot of good christians. The Preacher is one of them.
I understand completely where you're coming from Preacher. I grew (guess i still am) growing up a christain. Raised christain, mom, dad, grandma, grandpa, basically my whole family (with the exception of a cousin) are christians. In this time of my life I really don't consider jesus anything special. I also don't trust the same people who said the earth was flat and there were huge monsters in the water.
My father is a conservative, it gets annoying though. I consider myself a republican, but only to some extents. I listen to what he says sometimes and it makes me laugh. These religious views that he spews out are coming from the same man who NEVER goes to church on sundays, and hasn't for a very long time. He's my father though, so i have to love him.
My grandma and grandpa are also christains. But i respect them because they actually get up and go to church on a strict weekly basis. They are very open-minded, and make alot of sense. These are the christians i think everyone can love.
That's all fine and dandy, but the first question i ever asked myself that was what i considered "not christian", was "If God wanted everyone possible to live in heaven, why did he create earth?". Christianity just makes too less of sense and contains way too many loopholes for my liking. Nobody can live off of faith alone.
ps preacher, nice essay :)
21st May 03, 4:58 PM
I agree with you almost exactly preacher, I know a ton of people bascially 90% go to church, etc. But as you stated the "conservative" ones are the kind of right wing loonies. I agree with ya man. Good essay.
21st May 03, 7:55 PM
Preacher, I appreciate your essay, but I do have some comments.
The way you are putting forward religion makes it look more like a hobby than a religion. The fact of the matter is that in most religions (Christianity included) the issues presented are serious. This isn't a question of who you want to win the Superbowl. Because of this, people get more emotional (especially in the case of Jehova's Witness and other more Fundamentalist Churches) when you speak out against it or when they are looking to convert you.
There is also an absolute necessity to do your best to be educated about whatever religion you have. Religion should never be an intellectual crutch (as you pointed out), but you should always make an effort to understand why it is that your religion holds that view. In my experience, the deeper you dig, the more you understand. This also plays to the idea of people disregarding Christianity, etc based on a few comments by the un-informed. Find out what the actual position is and why (and don't take the Old Testament at face value).
I'm hoping you didn't mean all of what you said about homeschooling, because frankly, it contradicts your final paragraph. Yes, there are some Christian families that homeschool their kids to ensure they grow up to be ultra-right-wing. I think you are wrong to say that most do this. I know many kids who were homeschooled (I myself was for a few years when I was really young), and most of the time it was not a superiority complex, but a desire of the parents to raise their kids with Christian values, rather than leave that to the school system. Not to say that the school system was in-appropriate, but rather that it was not the best option. As far as your sheltering argument: well frankly, I think that everyone is sheltered from society in one way or another, especially in school.
The main point I wanted to communicate was that religion is more than a hobby, and it should be given more attention and study than a passing interest. To say that people are using a religious crutch without looking into what the reason is, is to be just as ignorant as you suppose them to be.
21st May 03, 8:03 PM
Alas, as a Republican myself, it is quite embarassing to have the "Religious Right" trying to shove Christianity down America's throat through public policy. I agree with Preacher, that Christianity (and any religion really) is a personal, individual relationship with God (Allah, Buddha, etc). This should never become a matter of public domain.
As for homeschooling...well, I'm pretty dubious about its successes. True, homeschoolers perform better academically on the average compared to their public school counterparts. Yet I can never shake the fear of how dangerous it can be if not done right. Retro's example of the "What is evolution?" question is just what I'm afraid of happening on a wide scale.
I'm also afraid of kids not getting the healthy social interaction needed in the schooling years. Kids ought to be open to all ideas and types of people...if they aren't, they risk becoming intolerant to views outside their "comfort zone," breeding bigotry and ideas such as "If you're not a born again Christian, you're a failure as a human being." Again, if done right, homeschoolers can be involved in the community and turn out fine. But I think there's too much risk of homeschooling going wrong for it to have my support.
If we can learn to tolerate differences in opinion and learn from the lessons of others, I think we will enjoy life a whole lot more.
This is what I'm trying to say...it's hard to tolerate differences of opinion when you grow up knowing only one.
21st May 03, 10:11 PM
On the topic of homeschooling, you guys brought up some good points. I didn't really mean to imply that all or even most homeschoolers have the behaviors I listed above. I also didn't mean for it to sound like I think that parents should not shelter their children at all. I recognize the fact that every child has unique needs and some need more sheltering than others. My concern is essentially what Retro stated; that some of the homeschoolers that I know are delaying the emotional development of their children and in my opinion are actually increasing their children's risk because they are not allowing them to deal with the challenges of the "real world" in the relatively "safe" environment of the home and family. Most homeschoolers that I know are not like this, I am not taking issue with them. I didn't mean to stereotype; all of my statements are based on real people that I know and in reference to the specific circumstances of my friends. Just so everybody knows, my parents are homeschooling two of my sisters right now. They are doing it because they feel that my sisters can get a better education in a small classroom environment than they can in their local school district. My sisters are still involved in activities with friends and my parents are very involved in the local community, including the local schools. My mother and father were both teachers and have a great relationship with the local teachers and school officials. They have just chosen a different way of doing things that what I did. I respect this decision and all of those I know who are choosing to homeschool because of similar reasons. It really wasn't the homeschooling itself that I was taking issue with, it was the reason that some of the people I know have given for homeschooling. The same applies for my local church as well. I know some people there who I agree with and others who honestly think they are better than those who are not like them. It's not the groups, it's the people in those groups I am taking issue with.
As far as the "religion as a hobby" concept goes, I did not mean to imply that either. I was not forced to become a Christian, I chose to be one. After moving out, I did some serious examination of my beliefs and consider my faith stronger now than it ever was before. I simply see no benefit in looking down on other people when they don't believe the same things that I do. My point is not that it's wrong to have faith and be serious about your beliefs, but rather, that this is a personal issue that should not be forced on others. My friends know what I believe because they have asked and are genuinely interested. They respect those beliefs and I have chosen to respect theirs. I may disagree with them, but this doesn't mean I look down on them. It is not my place to judge who is right or wrong. No amount of me saying they are wrong or thinking I am better than them is going to convince them to believe the same things I do. If they ever become Christians, it will be a personal issue between them and God, not because of any attitudes of judgment or superiority that I might have. Religion is more than a hobby, to me. I don't feel that it is something I have a right to force on others or that it is right for me to feel that I am a better person than anyone else because of my religion.
To recap, I believe we can all learn from each other. I am trying to keep an open mind and not force my beliefs on others. If what I believe is right, it will become apparent and others will want to believe the same things I do on their own. There is absolutely no point in forcing people to live the way I do, be it through public policy or simply by a condescending attitude.
And before someone asks, yes, I am still friends with those who think they are better than others because of their religion. I may not agree with them on this particular issue, but they still have some things that I can learn from them. It is these other things that keep our relationship together. :werd:
22nd May 03, 12:36 AM
My reasons for homeschooling relate more to academics than anything else. Exposure to non-Christian elements is innevitable, but I just don't think school should be a platform for indoctrination of any sort; of which, many of the public schools in my area indoctrinate more than teach students how to think and analyze.
Personally, I would like my children to attend a private school, but until vouchers become a possibility in California, it is not happening (I would also prefere a non-Christian school for diversity reasons).
23rd May 03, 2:10 AM
Originally posted by The Preacher
3. Personally, as long as the consequences of the actions that have been taken are clearly demonstrated, I see no reason to avoid topics that are not accepted by the Church.
4. What is also sad is that these kids didn’t have the experience to know that certain actions had consequences.So you're implying that the "wrong" way to raise kids is with extremely strict guidelines because of the old axiom, "no plan survives contact with the enemy"?
23rd May 03, 7:02 AM
I find this a refreshing discussion, but must point out that these methods of maintaining religious faith while also retaining some aspect of social integration is not so much a matter of theology but of simple ability to retain identity and personal beliefs within a differently-minded group and yet not do so by expulsing ones faith to counter the pressure of ideas.
Huh. I think that was one sentence.
The aspect of society right now that is being brought under the camera is that of a puritanical, absolutist and crusader mindset. It is a mindset that seeks to propagate itself through isolation. As it is unable to handle any divergent ideas, it protects itself by xenophobia. Once it achieves consensus in its reduced population, people start believing that they then have achieved the true path.
If they come out of their shells by then, it will be with a complete worldview that is unassailable, they will have explanations for everything and there can be no discussions because their conclusions are perfectly sound for the closed set of parameters that they will always consider to be their reality.
This is often coupled with a set of virtues that put unwavering loyalty to one's group and its beliefs. To allow doubt is weakness. To question established truth is blasphemy.
This is how to create a zealot. It is, in fact, used to create soldiers. In a sick sense, society needs such groups to protect itself. It works out because of the prescense of other societies that have their own group of zealots. It is a perpetuating situation that desires to escalate itself to the point where there will be nothing left but zealots and the only possible outcome is the destruction of the opposing society. Yet now since we have the tools, the outcome could be the destruction of everything.
The only salvation in such a situation is the emergence of a common enemy. If one is not present, it will have to be invented. If the devil did not exist, he would have to be created. This is because the ambitious are immensely fond of the zealots, they are easily controlled, you use them as pawns and they will love you for it.
It is easy to believe that civilization itself rests upon the shoulders of these zealots. They themselves are convinced of it. We are often asked to remember that the life we enjoy is made possible by their prescence. It is often taken for granted that our lives are just as often made miserable because of the prescence of people like them on the other side of the fence. Opposing zealots who justify their existence to their societies by likewise pointing towards our zealots. It is without end.
Many of the ills in the world were born of isolation. The most vile atrocities are concieved by people who formed ideas by themselves alone, shutting themselves out from outside opinion. If a group of people isolate themselves and intermarry for several generations, defects start to form. They become sickly, weak, retarded.
Man has always benefited from the questioning of one's beliefs and one's self. Whoever it was that overcame the fear of fire turned it from something evil into something good. We benefited from someone challenging the belief that the world was flat, that the edge of the ocean contained gigantic serpents. Our belief that we were at the center of the universe and the advances brought about by the subsequent abolition of that belief is profoundly symbolic.
My hope lies in the intermingling of belief systems inside an open society that does not seek to achieve singular uniformity but rather the symphonic coexistence of diversity.
23rd May 03, 11:25 AM
Which will never happen...
Still, that too was eloquently put.
The interesting thing is to study the sociological changes in christianity.
Initially, it was ferverently anti-roman (seven headed serpent, the Great Fire of Rome quite likely being started by early apocalyptic christians).
Then there was the invention of The Devil around (IIRC) 750 or so, and then a wavering series of shifts between dogmatism and open flow of ideas, depending on the european political climate, until the late sixteenth century.
The irony is that the idealized ancestors that colonized america were fundamentalists, and moral degradation of society has not really occured. Then revisionist history has largely edited the faults of said fundamentalist groups, leading to a sort of enticing Golden Age Myth for those religiously inclined, or those who wish to harness the power of said zealots.
There's a really interesting book about the progression of corporeal and theological nemeses in christianity, called "The Morningstar" or something... Only had a chance to skim it, but a fascinating read.
23rd May 03, 12:01 PM
The Preacher, I salute you. This is the first time that I have seen someone with similar beliefs to mine outside of the people I know. (aka. group) I am part of a Christian voluntary missionary group. It is refreshing to see someone outside of the group have that sort of attitude. I can talk about homeschooling because I was homeschooled all of my life. I have never attended a public school, nor a private school. I do not feel superior to others who did not have homeschooling. This is the first time I am participating in a religous debate, (on this forum and elsewhere) partly because of your opening post TP. I really admire the openmindedness you have, it says alot to others. I would post more but I do not have the time right now. I will try to come back to this later and post some more.
23rd May 03, 9:35 PM
I think that all major religeons are fundamentaly good. Most of them have a moral code eg, The Ten Commandments an the 7 (I think) Pillars of Islam. All of these carry a possitve message on how to live life. I am not a religeous person, I don't beleive in any major religeon. But I understand the viewpoints of religeous groups.
What I'm trying to say is that religeon it self is not bad. It's the people who have 0 tolerance for others with different religeons that cause all the problems. For example, Islam is a good religeon, it's built on many of the same principles as Christianity such as don't steal and so on. But the people who have no respect or tolerence for other religeons like Jihad Islamia give the whole religeon a bad name.
I think that extreme fundamentalism is terrible. Some people still refuse to belive that the Earth revolves around the sun just because the Bible says otherwise. They think that all the "proof" that the Earth revolves around the sun is just all a pile of propaganda and holds no value. I used to know several of these people.
Not all extremely religeous people are bad. I used to have two neighbours, one Christian and one Muslim. They were the best of friends. They would sit for hours talking and debating about religeon. They would often have totaly opposite views of a subject but still remain close friends.
So what I'm trying to say is that all people, no matter what religeon should keep an open mind. I think that if God/Allah/Budda were to meet that they would get along just fine. And just because you believe something, it dosn't mean that others who don't believe it are "Evil" or "Of the devil" I close by saying that religeon is a strong force for good, but some times it is warped and demented by extremeists.
23rd May 03, 10:59 PM
Exactly, if these extremist would get their heads out of their asses and have the epiphany of "Hey, you have different views on religion and that doesn't make you infidel/heathen/dumbass, etc and I'm ok with that." then the world would be a better place.
24th May 03, 5:51 AM
"If someone here told me to write a book on morality, it would have a hundred pages and ninety-nine would be blank. On the last page I should write, ‘I recognize only one duty, that is to love."
Sums it all up nicely. :hippy:
24th May 03, 7:50 AM
No Surrender, please show me the passage where it says that the earth doesn't revolve around the sun. I have heard of that before, but have never found it.
24th May 03, 9:23 AM
I distrust theological astronomy. The whole thing about "the heavens are wheels within wheels" passage being mangled to conflict or agree with science has always seemed farfetched...
24th May 03, 4:30 PM
Vaarok, could you quote the entire passage? It might help for an accurate analysis.
24th May 03, 8:41 PM
It's some part of the Jacobs' Ladder story, where he says the workings of heaven are like wheels within wheels. I don't remember anything beyond that. The catholic church used that as a pretext for terracentric astronomy for centuries, it was used in the case against Gallileo (saw it on PBS documentary about the trial) and threatened Kempler(?) with something bad when he posited about the theory of eliptical orbits and retrograde motion.
Come to think of it, it was one of the main reasons why that polish guy posted his astronomical theses on his deathbed. I remember that from a history report I had to do on him last year.
24th May 03, 9:31 PM
That polish guy? Ohhh.. THAT polish guy. ;)
Preacher, the arrogance/intelluctual crutchism that you describe is one reason that church disgusted me. This anecdote sums it up nicely:
It was a custom among seniors at my high school to rent houses down at the shore. After the senior prom, everyone would go down there and get drunk, have sex - a generally good time.
The preacher at my church got wind of it. It was one of the last times I went to church, although hearing his homily almost made me want to stay just in case something like it happened again.
He started off by listing the virtues of a good Catholic. Keep in mind that my preacher was not a fire and brimstone sort of priest, and was a very personable guy. He moved into how good attendance was, about how everyone he saw observed little rituals of respect before the cross, etc. Everyone was getting comfortable in their seats, basking in the warm glow of flattery.
Then he totally changes tack. He offhandidly relates the story of how he found out about the shore/drink/sex thing, then how he talked to the church youth group, and finally how he discovered that many of those in the youth group were going to the party. ( Note: He is very good at remembering faces and names. He probably could look out into the mass and pick out those families whose kids would be at the shore the next weekend.) Then the wrath started. "How can you come here every Sunday, bow before God and sing his praises, and then fund your children in such an amoral endeavor!? How can you sit in this church and not be squirming in your seats?!" About five minutes of that.
He stops. You could hear air particles colliding it was so quiet. He shakes his head, and says something to the effect of, "You cannot be a Catholic on Sunday morning alone. If you do not make an effort to live your lives in a moral manner, all you do here today is hypocrisy."
I would have cheered, except I don't believe in Catholic dogma, and it would have been totally inapproptriate. But his rant was so incredibly on target that it deserved a standing ovation. Here sat all these 'Catholics' laid bare before themselves. The father had so effectively removed their cacoons of hypocrisy that they were really stunned. I knew at least six people at that mass who would be going down to the shore, who were eagerly awaiting a three day binge drinking fest, and who all were the typical 'pious perfect child' whenever it was something trivial like Lent. When it came to a more serious and moral tradition like "no sex before your married" or "don't get falling down drunk and then have sex", *poof*, no more religion. All of them and their parents who would have had to be legal morons to not have figured all of this out on their own, sitting there. Soaking it in.
All six still went to the shore, and still got falling down drunk, and still went wild. Pictures to prove it. Why can't people just be open about who they are and how they act? If every judeo-christian religion's followers followed your mold, TR, religion would be the greatest, most pure thing mankind ever invented. As it is now, it hovers between something good and a disgusting crutch/shield wielded by the hypocritical.
What a crazy world.
25th May 03, 11:43 AM
25th May 03, 5:21 PM
Exactly Vaarok. It leaves it open to much speculation. Lots of people have different views on that. The Catholic Church at that time interpreted it that way, and now it probably interprets it differently. Many of those things that bring up controversy are peoples views of those type of verses and passages. Starfisher, that is the problem with most self-called 'Christians'. I won't get into that now or else I will say something I will regret. :P
25th May 03, 5:28 PM
Never let the Catholic Church interpret anything. The four gospels in "canon" bible are only four of six or seven, technically by Jesus-order every christian is supposed to follow all the customs of judaism and the tenets of christianity, and in 1930something the pope declared that a devastating earthquake in south america was the result of womens' skirts being too close to the knee.
I don't trust any value system except the one I have created for myself.
25th May 03, 6:19 PM
You didn't create that value system, it evolved out of value systems that you came into contact with throughout your youth. And if your really fliexible and can keep a young mindset it will continue evolving as you age. Values are not created by individuals, they are assimilated out of the environment.
And what are values anyway? I'm believe that they are the result of emotional reactions to good and bad situations. Death is bad, do not kill, Famine is bad, help the starving, Sex with your neighbours wife is bad, do not commit adultery (?). That and our own instinct as a social species that defends its young and tends to live in groups.
Religion just evolve out of this situation, I think, and was exponentially propagated through written mediums as they appeared. Thing is we are assuming absolute truths from an imperfect communication system (after the fact written words which are subject to inacurate translations). And lets not forget one of mankinds most particular charactaristics: A hyperactive imagination.
25th May 03, 7:14 PM
Values are not created by individuals, they are assimilated out of the environment.
WAY too black and white for me. People are not Borg - they're more than just what they assimilate. Some people serving deserved prison sentences for felony crimes DO reform and make something of themselves.
Zeph, your last paragraph is dead on, although some religions were propagated through the spoken word before they ever were written. Literacy wasn't exactly a common skill two thousand years ago.
26th May 03, 3:22 PM
Ah, lovely. It does seem that the debate has shifted a bit, hasn't it? It has turned from the typical "Christians forcing religion down everybody's throats", to the typical "why religions form" and "why your religion(generally Christianity) sucks" posts. Although it is nice to see new points added by...um...anyway, a new way of looking at the whole thing from...errr...
27th May 03, 4:10 AM
So lets try extra hard to stick with Preacher's original post then shall we?
28th May 03, 11:23 AM
I wasn't aware there was a debate.
Seems to be more of a collection of people's impressions about conservative christianity.
28th May 03, 8:06 PM
Ah, much better put. Opinion thread.
29th May 03, 4:30 AM
Just a quick comment from my own moderating experience that topics entirely restricted to a single policed theme get a lot less participation than those that drift around a bit. If you want a thread to age off the first page of the board quickly, jump on everyone the minute they move the discussion slightly in any new direction, even if their posts are articulate and/or interesting.
Plus, unless a moderator does it, it's pretentious and cheeses people off. :p
-- Retro, ex-junior-mod, getting off his soapbox
29th May 03, 5:15 AM
Vijil-new junior mod...
christian, with similar beliefs to preacher. Very similar in fact. I dont know about preacher, but I also regularly actively share my faith with others on my campus and wherever. I do not push my faith on anyone, I simply believe that it is in their and my own best interests to know what each other believes.
I had a great and enourmously thought provoking discussion with a Maori student the other day (Maori being the previous dominant race in our country, after eating most of the previous race the moriori when they sailed over from hawaiki). He had traditional maori beliefs, which he say originally stem from ancient egyptiian and jewish or pre jewish beliefs. All pacific islanders apparently trace their ancestry to mesopotamia in the middle east, which is also amazing. Maori operatives were used in the Gulf war as spies because with a beard and arabian style robes they look just like natives over there. It was great, and I was able to share my faith with him too.
I don't "bible bash", I just talk. People can listen if they want. Very often, it is the first time many have thought about faith, and so I guess I'm helping them out intelectually as well as spiritually. Better they know what I'm about than go on believing I'm an intolerant bigotous freak (Shin).
31st May 03, 4:34 PM
Preacher, I genuinely appreciate where you are coming from. It's always nice to see Christians who are tolerant and loving, and who have the sense to take Jesus's core teachings as more important than a few ambiguous sayings buried in the Bible.
But consider this (and let me preface this by saying that I am A) a jew, B) not even remotely religious and C) not trying to offend anybody here). If you genuinely, honestly belive that the Bible is the word of God, then you have no business following it selectively. If the Bible is the word of God, then either the world is flat or God is lying to us. If the Bible is the word of God, then either the universe was created in six days about five thousand years ago, or God is lying to us. If the Bible is the word of God, then either the earth is the center of the solar system, or God is lying to us.
I personally would find it very hard to be a serious Christian on one hand and yet on the other ascribe to a number of secular beliefs that clearly contradict what is (in theory) the word of God. So when fundamentalists read an obscure passage in Leviticus telling them that men shall not lie with other men, BAM! That's the word of God. Homosexuals are sinners. End of debate. And you really can't blame them for it--they're serious Christians who seriously believe that everything, erroneous or not, contradictory or not, in the Bible is the word of God.
There are ways of getting around this, of course, if you want to engage in some intellectual gymnastics. You might say some of the things in the Bible are metaphorical. You might say that the contradictions arose from bad translations, from the limitations of human language, or even from things that the Church had no business including in the Bible to begin with!
But really, if you were God handing down the ultimate codex of morality that everyone is supposed to follow in order to make it into heaven, wouldn't you account for these things to begin with? Otherwise you'd have the task of sending to hell every well-meaning person who got a bad translation of the message, or who did not get the message to begin with. And that doesn't seem very God-like, does it? In fact, it seems a little petty and vindictive. Flawed, certainly. Not unlike something one of the old Greek gods might have done, or one of the Norse gods perhaps. It certainly doesn't sound like the perfect, omniscient, and merciful Judeo-Christian God we're all told to worship.
And with that in mind, consider this: if everything in the Bible is the word of God, why would He choose to include portraits of himself as jealous and vengeful?
Either 1. God is lying, or
2. He is not any God I would want anything to do with, or
3. the Bible presents incorrect information, and thus is flawed.
The first option is completely unpalatable to me, and leads directly into the second option: any God that would lie in his own codex of salvation is a reprehensible deity unworthy of my worship.
As for option 2, if God really is jealous and vengeful, doesn't that automatically prevent Him from being perfect? Unless Jesus's teachings about how we should behave somehow do not apply to the Lord almighty, this makes very little sense.
The third option is perhaps worst of all, as it makes absolutely everything in the Bible suspect--if you cannot trust part of the Bible, how can you trust any other given part of it? How do you know what was interpreted and translated correctly, and what was not? How do you know what was genuine divine revelation, what was hallucination, and what was nothing more than early Christian politics? You cannot, and so if you begin to doubt the veracity of anything in the Bible, you throw everything in it into question.
So my ultimate point is: you cannot be a serious Christian of any kind and spit on the fundamentalists. I have my own personal reasons for disliking them, but it has little to do with the rationale behind their literal interpretation of the Bible. They are simply clinging to the one thing they think they can trust, and you cannot blame them for that.
31st May 03, 6:29 PM
Malignus, would you criticise a mother who told her children that babies come from 'the stork' or that the 'tooth fairy' will leave them a sixpence under their pillow when they lose a tooth?
Sometimes things just aren't as black and white and absolute as your logic tries to make out...
31st May 03, 7:35 PM
I'm not criticizing anybody here. I'm simply pointing out that there are real problems with believing in the word of the Bible halfway. And what do the stork or the tooth fairy have to do with anything? Did you even read the post all the way through? *sigh*
31st May 03, 7:51 PM
I never said you were. And yes I read the whole post.
The stork and the tooth fairy have lots to do with everything if you think about the nature of the story told and the relationship of the storyteller and the audience. They're tales that are comparable to the story of Adam and Eve, or Noah's Ark. I doubt many christians, especially the ones I know, believe the world was created in seven days and started with a garden, two naked people and a snake. Doesn't mean that because someone isn't recieving the absolute and brutal truth that
"the Bible presents incorrect information, and thus is flawed. "
If you can present me with anything that's not flawed I'll give you a medal. This is a book written by humans, translated by humans, and read and interpreted by humans. You can apply common sense and realism to ancient philosophies and teachings that perhaps worked two thousand years ago, but certainly don't now. You seem to think if something is incorrect in one instance one can never trust it again, that you can have that absolute trust in anything is beyond me but anyway.
To postcript this. I'm not a christian either. I did however go to a Church Of England primary school, and all the vicars I've met then, and since, have seemed rather grounded and intelligent guys. Rather like Preacher, as a matter of fact, I can't respond from a christian standpoint on the absolute truth inherent, or not, in the bible. But I refuse to accept that they can't 'spit on' the Klu Klux Klan because "They are simply clinging to the one thing they think they can trust"
31st May 03, 8:14 PM
Well let's put it this way Bluevorlon. I dislike conservative Christians because of their tendency to impose their views on others. However, I don't think it's fair to blame them for believing fully in the Bible.
I don't believe in the Bible. I think it's composed partly of interesting historical accounts, partly of interesting mythology, and partly of obsessive compulsive demands cooked up by people either tripping on desert fungi or on a feeling of power. You'd have to be very uneducated and very gullible to take all of it literally.
But regardless of my personal attitudes, what I'm saying here is that you have to suppose that the Bible really is of divine origin to be a serious Christian. And if you assume that the Bible originated with God (rather than with political opportunists, or sincere people who may have been somewhat mentally ill, or perhaps men imbibing hallucinogens) then there are some serious repercussions that go along with it.
It's one thing to be a recreational Christian and go along with it because you think it's a beautiful religion or because you like the church barbeques, and pick and choose what you like from the religion and leave the rest. I genuinely respect that, and in fact I think it's a much better attitude to cultivate than one of self-righteous fundamentalism.
But it's quite another thing to seriously believe that what is written in the Bible is the word of God sent down to man through divine revelation. It may seem silly, but it's a sincere belief and I think it's worthy of some respect. I think it takes guts to really believe in something. To call onself a serious Christian and to then ignore large chunks of the Bible seems intellectually dishonest to me. This is not to say that people like preacher should become fundamentalists, but I think moderate Christians tend to throw their faith around a lot without seriously thinking about what that entails, and I think that shows disrespect, if not sloppiness.
1st Jun 03, 3:12 AM
Originally posted by malignus
Well let's put it this way Bluevorlon. I dislike conservative Christians because of their tendency to impose their views on others. However, I don't think it's fair to blame them for believing fully in the Bible.
Yes, but the underlying thing our friend Preacher is saying, or at least how I interpret how things have come and gone in his speech and beyond, is that when thats all they believe in, and when all they believe in is what they preach others all the time without any form of substance of anything other than black and white, then and only then does it become complete and utter bullcrud.
I don't blame the Christians in my Biblical Narratives class for reading the Bible. I blame them for "trying to teach us about" it.
1st Jun 03, 10:25 AM
You're right, of course. I'm just responding to a few things I noticed in preacher's original post. In point 3, I think (and a little bit in point 2), he says that fundamentalist Christians shouldn't go around assuming that they're the only people who are right about things. I think that's a silly thing to say, since you can't be a fundamentalist and not think that the Bible is absolutely correct. And maybe they do use it as an intellectual crutch, but not for the reasons enumerated above. That's all.
2nd Jun 03, 7:12 AM
I just had a minor epiphany. I may have had it before, and since forgotten, so bear with me.
For those who follow a theology, they seek guidance and an overarching code to follow and advise them as they live their life. Most of these promote the spreading of said code.
However, many other people choose a personally developed ethos, and consequently when abovementioned follower proselytizes they are bewildered and resistant because their developmental independence conflicts with a prefabricated system, and are quite often also distainful of the proselytizer, who could not formulate their own life-structure.
2nd Jun 03, 7:36 PM
"If you can present me with anything that's not flawed I'll give you a medal. This is a book written by humans, translated by humans, and read and interpreted by humans. You can apply common sense and realism to ancient philosophies and teachings that perhaps worked two thousand years ago, but certainly don't now. You seem to think if something is incorrect in one instance one can never trust it again, that you can have that absolute trust in anything is beyond me but anyway. "
Newtonian mechanics is Very very very VERY accurate when relative velocity is small.
Yet, when relative velocity is large, it is very, very, inaccurate.
What's your point Cooker?
2nd Jun 03, 8:00 PM
I said that it's accurate within a defined numerical constrain, no constrain would make the bible 99.99% accurate.
No one said it would. You're the only person here imposing degrees of accuracy. All we're saying is that it's flawed. We never specified how flawed.
Once again, what is your point?
That the bible is less accurate than The Newtonian physics model as relative to absolute relaity. Or something. The point seems to be that the bible is innacurate, but because of the nature of its content this innacuracy is impossible to quantify, and as such it is impossible for the bible to be 100% accurate. Or something.
what IS your point cooker?
malignus: I agree with you in many respects. Personally I do the whole total innerancy of scripture thing, because although many, many alleged discrepancies and contradictions and things like the flat earth and centre of solar system things have been shown me before, none of them hold up when taken in context, or when the translation itself is examined. Of course there are some things that still require me to "bite the bullet" so to speak, because I give the bible the benefit of the doubt. There are various other reasons why I believe this to be the word of God, and why I disagree with your logic in that big ol post, but I'd have to write a book to explain them.
As for issues such as homosexuality, I take the same stand as the bible. I dont agree with the practice, however before anyone goes insane with rage at me, bear in mind that I do NOT hate people who practice these various things. One of my best friends is that way inclined, and knows my views. Its like if you like Grid Iron but I hate it, the fact that I hate Grid Iron doesn't mean I hate you as a person.
Ok... well theres a christian piece of input to a typically one sided thread, f you can make sense of it since I didn't sleep last night. I'm not trying to debate, just explain how I view things as a christian.
But, you think your homosexual friend is going to hell for being gay?
And, God made him gay...
Aren't there more contradictions here than you can shake your stick at?
2nd Jun 03, 9:33 PM
If you've ever read Good Omens (Which you haven't of course, if you're a hardline fundamentalist) there's a major subplot about a witch in the old days who wrote a book of prophecy which was 100% accurate.
What was interesting was that it was all couched in metaphor and impenetrable language, not because she was trying to be deliberately obscure, but because she simply didn't have any frame of reference to describe what she had seen, being a product of her century.
It's probably useful to take that into consideration when looking at old religious documents that purport to be revelation of one sort or another. Even if the documents are a product of perfect revelation from an infallible source, they have to be put into words and recorded by imperfect humans. It's inevitable therefore that the resulting documents would be imperfect as well.
Not that I believe the bible is any sort of revelation in the first place, just a thought for those who do.
2nd Jun 03, 9:42 PM
I am trying to point out, that bible has much lower accuracy then most accepted scientific theories.
2nd Jun 03, 10:06 PM
Don't we already know that...?
2nd Jun 03, 10:09 PM
Well, I just reinvented the wheel, yeah!
3rd Jun 03, 1:19 AM
"The bible is more like jabberwocky."
To me that is the impression that im getting from the many opinions here. Yes alot of its moral interpretations are sometimes taken completely out of perportion. Are people reading it 100% correctly, and finding that it means little?
If some people can see truth in it, why is it so difficult for others?
1) They're not reading it right.
2) It is without the whole and complete truth.
I think both answers are correct, but I believe also that the Bible contains the hart of the truth. However, I do not believe its as all applying as some believe.
The Bible also describes God as having a"just nature," is this imperfect then, that he gives people what they truely deserve in the end?
About God's jealusy, if there really is a God, then wouldn't he want us to know and love him?
slight change in wording, im very tierd right now
Bnonn: what you do does not determine your eternal destiny, thats a catholic teaching which I believe to be contradictory to the bible. I thought you knew my opinion on that...
God made him gay eh. I believe that ultimately ppl have a choice as to their sexual standing. As yet, no one has given me anything but an emotional argument to support the idea that it is genetically determined.
Even if it is determined, there is such a thing as abstinence. Some people have challenges in their lives.
I do not "shake my stick" at anything, your contemptuous attitude is bordering on flaming as it so often does. It gets rather sickening on occasion. Lose the attitude. Yes I know you're trolling, its still annoying as all hell.
Regardless of whether his sexual orientation is genetically decided or not (thinking of being gay as a choice is remarkably insensitive, incidentally), it doesn't change the fact that God made him this way.
How about all the gays out there who don't "know" that what they are doing is "wrong"?
3rd Jun 03, 5:09 AM
Originally posted by Vijil
I believe that ultimately ppl have a choice as to their sexual standing. As yet, no one has given me anything but an emotional argument to support the idea that it is genetically determined.
Even if it is determined, there is such a thing as abstinence. Some people have challenges in their lives.
I'm sorry if this is rude or blunt or brunt, but do you have any idea of what the human mind is, and what kind of a playground it has set up for biological impulse? People get confused about what their body is telling them every day, but it is never a choice what their biology tells them. It is just them trying to figure out what is being said, and that makes a mask of a choice.
But, yes, gay men and women do have the choice of staying in the closet or living life without fear of repression.
What is an "emotional argument"?
3rd Jun 03, 5:32 AM
According to our local fundamentalists, it wasn't God that made him homosexual, it was the Devil. The Deh-vil made him do it! :D
Er, ahem. Back to seriousness: Vijil, it doesn't matter if it's genetic or not - a homosexual person merely feels sexually attracted to members of the same sex moreso than members of the opposite sex. They do not have a choice in this, and the REASON for the attraction is irrelevant. Try sneezing with your eyes open to see an example.
The only thing that is of relevance within this theme, and that homosexuals do have some control over, is whether the person decides to practice sex, or have a relationship, with someone of the same sex.
I wouldn't think the Bible says it's a sin if you FEEL about it (but don't know for sure, after all, you can't "covet thy neighbor's wife"), but even if only the ACT is a sin, all Christian homosexuals in the world have effectively been relegated to the same status as Catholic priests and are "forced" to practice abstinence their entire lives if so. Talk about damnation...
Bringing it nicely back on topic: A practicing conservative Christian with homosexual leanings must be the must unhappy person on Earth. :(
"They do not have a choice in this, and the REASON for the attraction is irrelevant."
This all goes much deeper. We'd have to make a new thread, and I'd get my arse kicked by taking such a non-pc view.
I see your point retro. Provide some solid evidence as to whether people can choose or not and why not. To the best of my knowledge, genes have been ruled out or shown to be a highly unlikely factor in determining someones orientation.
As for the whole "God made him that way" argument, to which retro also aludes with the whole devil thing, you guys clearly have an extremely weak idea of what we believe is logical philosophically and theologically, which is probably based on the things that society seems to think we believe. Hell, Flanders is probably what you'd think of as a typical Christian.
It really comes back to the debate about Gods sovereignty and free will. Which would take forever and a day to explain. So I will not.
Of course there are lots of kinds of Christians. I am of the breed that believe that the standard arguments against the existance of God are shallow and presumtious, and that there is reason to believe the bible is the word of God. If the bible is the word of God, it must be taken in whole, not part. And then all the usual contradictory arguments and stuff come into it, which I also find often rather baseless.
Most people who dont like Christianity seem to have come out of a Catholic childhood. I know about four. Strange that.
heh:- "(thinking of being gay as a choice is remarkably insensitive, incidentally)"
Well then bring on the thought police! Am I not allowed to have my own views :P. How is it insensitive? I've never been too worried about offending people if I believe I am telling them the truth. Assuming they ask. Otherwise its a good idea to keep such things to oneself.
3rd Jun 03, 9:09 AM
Well Vigil, as for people becoming atheists out of Catholisim. It really, I think, comes from a lack of sound information regarding Catholic teachings, a good solid understanding would readily apply to those challenging situations, that come up against Christians constently by skeptics.
And for the priests in the church, I would point out that it is not any majority but only the thinnest number of priests who have sinned. This issue is tainted somewhat with bias, on the part of some of the accusers. I could elaborate more on that, since I personnally saw one of our parish priests get thrown into court. There really are predators out there as much as there are victoms; especially, when there is money to be made by lawyers. The aforementioned priest (who I know personnaly) was acquitted because the charge was bogus.
3rd Jun 03, 9:39 AM
Vijil - I'm not sure, but you seem to think that being gay is a choice and that people can simply change their minds. I'm assuming from that that you've known very few gay guys, then.
I know a guy who desperately wanted and tried to be straight. For him - and most gay guys - "choosing" is not an option. It just doesn't work that way.
Put it this way: could you choose to become gay? Could you make yourself attracted to guys? I certainly couldn't. So why is it so hard to believe that a gay guy can't choose to be straight?
As for most athiests being former Catholics, that hasn't been my experience. Do you live in an area with lots of Catholics? That could put your statistics off. :)
3rd Jun 03, 9:55 AM
As Vijil said, I think if you want to address sexuality within religious terms, you need your own thread to give it the time and space and depth a topic of that complexity deserves...
3rd Jun 03, 10:08 AM
That would be one touchy thread....
3rd Jun 03, 10:29 AM
Vijil, why do you think contradictions and discrepancies in the Bible are "baseless"?
3rd Jun 03, 11:53 AM
If god created everything, then god created heretics like me to test and or strengthen the the faith of those who believe in him. Therefore, I am holy for I do gods' work by denying him, and am consequently beyond reproach from anyone presuming to adopt a holier-than-thou attitude OR try to change my ways.
I almost think that that could be a self-reinforcing and nigh-inarguable point. Rather Gnostic though, isn't it?
3rd Jun 03, 3:40 PM
Lets see now...
By this logic all criminals are civil servents.
Gnosticism also says that God is satan, but your not going to convince me that its true.
3rd Jun 03, 7:07 PM
Originally posted by Vijil
[BHell, Flanders is probably what you'd think of as a typical Christian.
heh:- "(thinking of being gay as a choice is remarkably insensitive, incidentally)"
Well then bring on the thought police! Am I not allowed to have my own views :P. How is it insensitive? I've never been too worried about offending people if I believe I am telling them the truth. Assuming they ask. Otherwise its a good idea to keep such things to oneself. [/B]
1) No, thats what we think a devout Christian is, which sadly, there are a hell of a lot of. Ask my Biblical Narratives class.
2) Yes, true, your opinion is valid, and if you believe it, its yours. As long as that opinion is kept to yourself and doesn't do any damage to anyone else, nobody will hopefully take vengence upon you. Now, we do live in a society based on correcting thought that is off or backwards or not ours. It is called Education. But you can live anyway you want.
malignus: that too would require more tmie and threads than I can think of.
Ironhammer and people with the idea that God is responsible for everything; put it this way: its not that simple. Again, more than I can clear up.
Ironhammer: Sin by my definition is different from yours. "For all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God" - biblically we all have sinned. sin= anything at all you do or think that is not perfect. An impossible standard, in other words. Which is why I dont believe good works get you to heaven. Whatever though, its an interesting point.
Genetic: I would consider Flanders to be an extreme case in any sense. I would consider myself devout, meaning devoted as much as posible. However I would question whether Flanders was really that devoted.. some of what he does and how he is portayed seem quite stupid.
As for my opinion, I agree. Although there are times (not neccessarilly on this topic) when I believe it is neccessary to speak out against someones actions, no matter how offended they will be. Like when they go on a mad killing rampage or rape your children or something, in which case I'd be inclined to remove their nads (thus ensuring they wont do it again) at the same time before educating them as to the error of their ways.
4th Jun 03, 6:42 AM
Yes, Flanders is a mashing of concepts; he is every since thing a stupid devout or born-again has ever done. EVER.
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