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The Bible: True, But Vicious!

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Over the centuries, Biblical scientists have gone to great lengths to prove the validity of the Bible. To me, that means proving I have a genuine copy of the original. Ever since the discovery of the Qumran scrolls, researchers using the latest scientific techniques have pored over these documents in an attempt to date them, then meticulously align their findings with earlier writings of both the Old and the New Testament. Today, I would think there is more proof for the validity of the Bible than for any other ancient writing including that of Chaucer and Shakespeare, Aristotle and Cicero.

But another word comes to mind when I think of the Bible: veracity. To me this means proving that the Bible is truthful. Depending on your religious belief, I would assume that most believers feel the Bible is truthful. Many believe it is God-inspired and therefore contains no untruths.

I can only agree with that idea to a point. If by veracity one means the Bible reveals the true beliefs of the Israeli people existing when it was written, I would have to confess that, yes, the Bible scrupulously states the belief system of those who wrote it — those who believed it. In retrospect, those who penned the Bible methodically wrote down what people of that time already accepted as truth.

But now, an unyielding wall appears in front of me. If I believe the Bible is truthful, this implies that I accept its words because I believe them to be true; they are holy, sacred words. But I must keep in mind the words are truthful only in so far as they expose genuine truths of the early Israelites.

When priests, ministers, and religious gurus preach to their flocks about living a holy, God-inspired life, they pull out from the Bible, those chapters and verses that typically relate to living a good, loving, decent life. There are probably few people on planet earth who have not heard about the Beatitudes or the Ten Commandments.

But what about the other parts of the Bible? Yes, what about those parts that tell of the unreasonable, despicable elements in the Bible that should make it a book to be scorned, not honored. The validity and veracity of the work has been proven.

Yet I, for one, cannot accept only the good mentioned in the Bible while leaving out its abject horrors! To me, the countless immoral acts suggest three concerns: 1) What the Israelites perceived as truth in those days was incredibly wrong. 2) Maintaining that same belief system today is, at the very least, ongoing foolishness. 3) The condoning of immoral acts by the Bible is responsible for much of the world’s problems today.

Let’s look at just one example of heinous evil found in the Great Book which condones rape, kidnapping, and murder. It explains how King David collected one of his wives. Chapter 11, verse 3 of the second book of Samuel reads: “…that she was Bathsheba … the wife of Uriah ….” In verse 4: “And David sent messengers, and took her (pregnant Bathsheba); and she came in unto him and he lay with her …”

Verses later, King David has Bathesheba’s husband, Uriah, placed in the most dangerous battleline position — front and center — to have him killed. Verse 15 says: “Set ye Uriah in the front of the battle, where the fight is the strongest; and leave ye him, that he may be wounded and die.”

Later in verse 26 the Good Book says, “And when the wife of Uriah heard that Uriah her husband was dead, she mourned for him.” In 27: “And when the mourning was past, David sent and fetched her to his house, and she became his wife, and bore him a son. But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord.”

Did the God of the chosen Israelites punish David who had displeased him? Guess again! Chapter 12, verse 15 is horrifying: “And the Lord struck the child, that Uriah's wife bore unto David, and his life was despaired of.” In verse 18: "And it came to pass on the seventh day that the child died.” As incredible as it may seem, the Israelites believed that God Himself murders Bathsheba’s innocent baby because King David snatched her, raped her, and killed her husband.

No, as far as I can see, there is no other interpretation for this story. It is what it is in a true literal sense. It shows that, although the Israelites thought the words of the Old Testament were the inspired words of their deity, they had gotten it wrong. Looking at this situation directly as stated, would any civilized or divinized God kill a small child because its father had kidnapped, raped, and murdered?

As a result, my conclusion is simple. The Bible as it is written truly represents what the Israelites believed about their God, Yahweh, or what the Levite priests told them to believe about their God. The Bible should not be used for inspiration ever, unless its gross evils are included. People need to have a sense of morality and justice, but as shown above, it does not come from the Bible, the Israelites, or the Levite priests.

It comes directly from the natural law of a Wholly Other being who built into our brain’s cortical wiring a sense of love and decency as mankind evolved.

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About Regis Schilken

  • Irene Wagner

    But don’t you think that’s a heavy thing, having to bury one’s own child, especially when God himself confirms what is sometimes suspected by the grieving parent, or by less than helpful “friends,” that the parent is to blame for the child’s death? Was the baby the one being punished here, or was he taken out of the care of a jerk-dad and a mom who might have been similarly dispatched, with her baby, after her appeal wore off?

    That biblical story has been good for some people. There are those who have really messed up in life, to the point they feel they can never turn into decent people again. They hear all the details of King David’s life, and how far he fell, and how severely he was punished, and how he was restored. They think, if God can get David back on track, then God can get them back on track.

  • Regis

    I appreciate your comments, Irene; the Bible has some great guidelines for life, but it also contains so many terrible acts that I find it hard to accept as an inspired document.

    My belief in God may seem strange to most people, but s/he seems to be beyond our grasp. I wish that wasn’t so because I’d like to have a more personal God in my life.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Let me throw the monkey wrench into the works – God’s command to Abraham to sacrifice his one and only son, Isaac, as proof of his faith.

    Kierkegaard called it “the theological suspension of the ethical.

  • Irene Wagner

    That’s for sure, Regis, there are so many of them. Those which have been a challenge to me when I try to understand how they could be consistent with “the natural law of a Wholly Other being who built into our brain’s cortical wiring a sense of love and decency” are the ones directing Jews to destroy their enemies. I love your description of God, by the way.

    For instance, what to make of Psalm 149, “…to inflict vengeance on the nations and punishment on the peoples, to bind their kings with fetters, their nobles with shackles of iron, to carry out the sentence written against them. This is the glory of all his saints.” There were and are people who “need killing,” but a commitment to seek specific direction from that Wholly Other being you mentioned, distinguishes those who slaughter anyone who crosses them from those who execute righteous judgment. Sometimes the Jews in the Bible did not always seek out this wisdom.

    Could Psalm 149 be more than something to skip over for being irrelevant to the “peace-maker?” Ephesians 6, written to those trying to live with Jesus as an example says: for our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground…”

    Well, could you “take up full armor of God,” and in Jesus’ name, “bind with fetters of iron (ps.149)” some of the legions of Evil forces interfering with (by confusing human minds, keeping important information hidden) the clean-up of the Gulf of Mexico? That’s called spiritual warfare prayer, it doesn’t involve bloodshed. And on a practical personal level, it would involve fighting the demons who influence me to live in a selfish, careless way that contribute to our national over-dependence on oil in the first place.

    So, Regis, you think people think YOUR idea of God may seem strange! I’m a whack-job who believes in fighting devils! This practice seems to get better results for me than fighting with people does. That’s what motivates me to try it on the other problems I see in my world. Well, thanks for the article, and all the best in your quest for a closer walk.

  • Irene Wagner

    I love that story, Roger, because it is so full of parallels to the story what happened to Jesus in the the garden of Gethsemane and in the place of the skull. God the Father’s role there is considered by some to be a theological suspension of the ethical as well. Not by me, though.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    To me it means that true faith, given the right circumstances, trumps morals.

    I think that was Kierkegaard’s point.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    But yes, I do see the parallels with Gethsemane.

  • Irene Wagner

    That interpretation could justify a lot of religious terrorism, though. Regis referred to an evolving code of what is generally considered to be decent among humans. I don’t think God ever encouraged people to violate that code, as it was understood by the people who lived in the age and place where the commandment was given. Be nice to your slaves, would be an example. Stone homosexuals…I haven’t figured out.

    I get the impression that Abraham believed, or very soon after the ascent to the place of sacrifice, started to believe, that God was going to provide a way out that did not require an immoral act.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Don’t forget, though. Abraham was commanded to sacrifice his own.

    True faith is not a license.

  • Irene Wagner

    Wow, before I get tempted to spend the rest of the afternoon trying to “take on all comers” I’d better give other people a chance to talk! I still have a lot to learn, too. See you later, Roger and Regis.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Humility is a virtue, Irene. I don’t hold it against you.

  • Irene Wagner

    Thanks Roger. You know, it’s interesting. I’d never thought until just this minute, that one who lives in faith while carrying doubts and questions around, can be like Abraham carrying that boy up the mountain. Cool. I’m glad I stayed to chat. See ya!

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Later, Irene. It’s a pleasure.

  • John Wilson

    The bible is full of legend, poetry and drama. Good luck trying to make any sense out of it.

    No comedy, though.

    The Greeks were better at this. The playwrights knew that heavy drama had a limited audience, and so wrote the Tragedies only upon command from rulers, who are always eager to impress on the simple folk What A Burden It Is To be King. The rulers had to pay writers for those heavy tragedies, and there are only about 20 of them.

    Whereas the playwrights could easily turn out a big paying crowd for the Satyr plays about sex, drinking, sex, cuckoldry, sex, etc., so there are over 600 of them.

    I suppose that “The Bachae” is the supreme pulling of the rulers noses by comedians.

    Comedy is probably a better description of human life, and maybe a better guide to living, too.

    Thus, the bible falls short.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    It might be worth reminding ourselves of a few things the Bible is not.

    It is not:
    a) a history book;
    b) a science textbook;
    c) a political treatise.

    Trying to treat it as any of those things will cause you to run into some serious issues involving Reality.

    That said, it is important to read it in its historical context. The book places its characters (and by extension, its readers) in some tough conundrums, not all of them pleasant or easy by any means.

    You won’t learn anything from it if you try to excuse or explain away the (to us) wicked or immoral things done by the alleged good guys/deities.

    That whole sorry business with David and Bathsheba, now. While a child in Old Testament times was highly valued, it was more along the lines of a commodity rather than as an idealistically precious being.

    So for God to kill that child was not only the thing that would hurt David the most, it would also have been an acceptable outcome from the point of view of the contemporary reader or listener. God comes out of it smelling of roses and David looks like a dick – while remaining free to learn from his mistakes and go on to fulfil his destiny as a national hero.

    Let’s suppose that story were being told today. Would God choose the same punishment? Probably not, but it would be something equally brutal and just as morally satisfying.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I look at at it as wisdom literature, Dreadful, the Book of Job, for example.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    Indeed. You can’t read that book and reasonably conclude that Job was an actual historical figure or that those events really happened. It’s a fable, intended to teach a moral lesson.

  • Hank Nash

    I am compelled to comment… You said that — “King David snatched her, raped her, and killed her husband” — I want to point out 3 things.
    — This is the Old Testament…Before Christ…
    —- We have free will… If we were only able to choose good, we would be robots… in order for there to be evil there must be good, if there is good there is evil….We must have FREE WILL To choose Good or Evil…And there MUST be some sort of Moral Line to differentiate between good and evil… Hence a Moral Law…..Hence and Moral Law Giver…. GOD.
    Would you rather have your wife be forced to love you, or Choose to LOVE you…? I would think Choose.
    We see Evil as a problem in the world…This is obvious… the question is what is the solution?
    Will our good deeds outweigh our bad…so when we die we don’t go to the same place as Hitler?
    Can we truly earn forgiveness? If I give to the poor because I can and have the finances, will that ensure a better ‘after life’ for me.. is that fair? What about the poor person that cant….? So the question is, can any man Earn his way to forgiveness? If so can he Boast about it?
    What I am trying to say is…imagine you are in a room with a bowl of water… its just a bowl of water…. Lets say your in a room with the same bowl of water…but instead there is a fire in the trash can…This is a problem… Suddenly that bowl of water is not just a bowl of water.. it’s a Solution to a Problem… (the fire)…
    We see Evil as a problem….But what is the solution? It s not good deeds…its not to Give more.. No… its not possible for Any Man to claim he earned it.. Because – God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” John 3:16
    David wrote most all the Psalms…. What he went through, the dark place he was in when he committed the ‘rape, murder etc….’ was obviously not approved by God…. And for God to take away his “son” that was conceived from this sin…for it to be called evil of God, makes no sense.. God is the one who Gives life… so for Him to take life… Is He really doing something He shouldn’t?
    The Psalm that David wrote after this.. when he was so far from God.. Begging for His mercy and forgiveness has been a Life line to its readers. It has showed that even someone that has done such evil deeds like David can be redeemed. There has been countless sermons, books and teachings specifically about what David did and what God did… It has been the foundation to people that are searching for understanding that God knows what is happening. And is in Control… That God can forgive even the most evil deeds… To people with a Sincere heart… People who have faith….. Faith in Jesus Christ.
    If you believe that the Israelites believed what they were writing.. Old and New Testament… then you believe they wrote the Truth… and that they died for what they knew to be true…. By witnessing what Christ did.. His resurrection makes perfect sense if you believe there is evil in the world… because Christ is the Solution…. People will fly a plan into a building because they are taught to believe something to be true… but to die for something that you KNOW not to be true.,.. to be martyred because Of believing in Jesus…The Jesus they saw resurrected.. There is only one answer.. It DID happen. The old Testament is the Old testament.. .. the new Testament is fulfillment of the Old… And Christ is our Answer to Life..

  • Hank Nash

    I have investigated the Bible and its authenticity, reliability, accuracy and power, I came to realize that what the Bible says is absolutely true. I know that i have sinned against God; just look at the 10 commandments. I have lied, I have stolen, I have used God’s name in vain, I have looked at a woman with lust in my heart… thats just 4 of the 10 commandments… The Bible says The wages of Sin is Death.. And God being a righteous and Just God, must punish me…Death…. That would be considered the ‘bad news’..but the Gospel.. it means “The Good News”.. The Bible.. a Book written over 1,500 Years, by 40 different authors.. from Kings to poets, to Shepard’s..on 3 DIFFERENT continents, in 3 DIFFERENT Languages…YET.. it is a book that is in complete HARMONY with itself.. Its ALL ABOUT JESUS…. The best selling book of all TIME.. If the Bible is thrown out as being an accurate piece of history, you MUST throw out Aristotle, Platto, Socrates..Alexander the Great.. If it was not the Bible, Scholars and Teachers all over the world would Praise it as a MIRACLE.. but because it is, it is attacked all the time.. Even knowing all this.. it doesnt matter.. What does matter is if you Believe in Jesus, that He is the Son of God, and He died on the cross for Your Sins…Past, Future and Present.. You WILL BE SAVED.. its NOT RELIGION.. the word actually means to BIND.. Religion is DO.. Christianity = DONE ….I think of sharing this is like a beggar telling another beggar where to find Bread..

  • zingzing

    “it is a book that is in complete HARMONY with itself”

    you have to be joking.

  • Hank Nash

    Dr. Dreadfull – 4. The prophet Isaiah also tells us that the earth is round: “It is he that sits upon the circle of the earth” (Isaiah 40:22). This is not a reference to a flat disk, as some skeptic maintain, but to a sphere. Secular man discovered this 2,400 years later. At a time when science believed that the earth was flat, is was the Scriptures that inspired Christopher Columbus to sail around the world (see Proverbs 3:6 footnote). ———5. God told Job in 1500 B.C.: “Can you send lightnings, that they may go, and say to you, Here we are?” (Job 38:35). The Bible here is making what appears to be a scientifically ludicrous statement—that light can be sent, and then manifest itself in speech. But did you know that radio waves travel at the speed of light? This is why you can have instantaneous wireless communication with someone on the other side of the earth. Science didn’t discover this until 1864 when “British scientist James Clerk Maxwell suggested that electricity and light waves were two forms of the same thing” (Modern Century Illustrated Encyclopedia).——–3. At a time when it was believed that the earth sat on a large animal or a giant (1500 B.C.), the Bible spoke of the earth’s free float in space: “He…hangs the earth upon nothing” (Job 26:7).——–7. Science has discovered that stars emit radio waves, which are received on earth as a high pitch. God mentioned this in Job 38:7: “When the morning stars sang together…” —————8. “Most cosmologists (scientists who study the structures and evolution of the universe) agree that the Genesis account of creation, in imagining an initial void, may be uncannily close to the truth” (Time, Dec. 1976). — In the Beginning, God Created the Heavens and the Earth… Big Bang? Who Banged it? with creation was.. Time, Matter and Space… In the Beginning (time) God Created, the Heavens (space) and the Earth (Matter)… The big Bang explained in the first Sentence of the Bible… Not a Book of Science? Was the corner Stone to Science my friend :)

  • Hank Nash

    ZingZang.. Please please show me its not in harmony with its self…

  • zingzing

    it’s loaded with contradictions. go look them up yourself.

  • Hank Nash

    All i ask is show me ONE :)

  • zingzing

    alright… well, there are two different tellings of the creation, which contradict each other, in the first two chapters of genesis. there are two separate sets of the 10 commandments. there are multiple, contradictory tellings of the crucifixion. people have different fathers, different mothers, different children; the same person becomes king at wildly different ages, they rule for wildly different time frames… etc, etc, etc.

    the bible is a sloppy mess. it needs an editor.

  • zingzing

    also, who killed goliath? and who killed saul?

  • Hank Nash

    Genesis 1
    Day one – Heavens and earth are created. “Let there be light.” Day and Night.
    Day two – Atmospheric waters separated from earth waters.
    Day three – Land appears separating the seas. Vegetation is made.
    Day four – Sun, moon, stars are made.
    Day five – Sea life and birds are made.
    Day six – Land animals, creeping things, and man (male and female) are made.
    Genesis 2
    States heaven and earth were created. There was no plant yet on earth, no rain yet, and no man. But, a mist rose watering the surface of the ground. Then the Lord formed man from dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life. Finally, God made Eve.
    There is no contradiction between Genesis 1 and 2. Genesis 1 is a detailed explanation of the six days of creation, day by day. Genesis two is a recap and a more detailed explanation of the sixth day, the day that Adam and Eve were made. The recap is stated in Gen. 2:4, “This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made earth and heaven.” Then, Moses goes on to detail the creation of Adam and Eve as is seen in verses 7 thru 24 of Gen. 2. Proof that it is not a creative account is found in the fact that animals aren’t even mentioned until after the creation of Adam. Why? Probably because their purpose was designated by Adam. They didn’t need to be mentioned until after Adam was created.

  • Hank Nash

    1 Samuel 17:50 and 2 Samuel 21:19
    David did (1 Samuel 17:50) – “Thus David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone, and he struck the Philistine and killed him; but there was no sword in David’s hand.”

    Elhanan did (2 Sam. 21:19)- “And there was war with the Philistines again at Gob, and Elhanan the son of Jaare-oregim the Bethlehemite killed Goliath the Gittite, the shaft of whose spear was like a weaver’s beam.”

    The answer lies in two areas. 1 Chronicles 20:5 says, “And there was war with the Philistines again, and Elhanan the son of Jair killed Lahmi the brother of Goliath the Gittite, the shaft of whose spear was like a weaver’s beam.” This is the correct answer; namely, that Elhanan killed Goliath’s brother.

    Second, it appears there was a copyist error in 2 Samuel 21:19. According to Gleason Archer’s Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties on page 179, it says,

    The sign of the direct object, which in Chronicles comes just before “Lahmi,” was ‘-t; the copyist mistook it for b-t or b-y-t (“Beth”) and thus got Bet hal-Lahmi (“the Bethlehemite”) out of it.
    He misread the word for “brother” (‘-h) as the sign of the direct object (‘-t) right before g-l-y-t (“Goliath”). Thus he made “Goliath” the object of “killed” (wayyak), instead of the “brother” of Goliath (as the Chronicles passage does).
    The copyist misplaced the word for “weavers” (‘-r-g-ym) so as to put it right after “Elhanan” as his patronymic (ben Y-‘-r-y’-r–g-ym, or ben ya ‘arey ‘ore -gim — “the son of the forests of weavers” — a most unlikely name for anyone’s father!). In Chronicles the ‘ore grim (“weavers”) comes right after menor (“a beam of “) — thus making perfectly good sense.
    Therefore, we see that 2 Samuel 21:19 had a copyist error and 1 Chronicles 20:5 is the correct information.

  • Mark

    (I love the bible; it keeps folks otherwise occupied. Imagine them left to their own devices.)

  • Hank Nash

    Who killed Saul, Saul or the Amalekite?
    1 Samuel 31:4 and 2 Samuel 1:8-10
    Saul did (1 Samuel 31:4) – “Then Saul said to his armor bearer, “Draw your sword and pierce me through with it, lest these uncircumcised come and pierce me through and make sport of me.” But his armor bearer would not, for he was greatly afraid. So Saul took his sword and fell on it.”
    The Amalekite did (2 Samuel 1:8-10) – “And he said to me, ‘Who are you?’ And I answered him, ‘I am an Amalekite.’ 9″Then he said to me, ‘Please stand beside me and kill me; for agony has seized me because my life still lingers in me.’ 10″So I stood beside him and killed him, because I knew that he could not live after he had fallen. And I took the crown which was on his head and the bracelet which was on his arm, and I have brought them here to my lord.”
    1 Samuel 31:4 gives what actually happened while 2 Samuel 1:8-10 only gives what the Amalekite said happened. Most probably, the Amalekite took the opportunity to benefit from the King’s death, gathered his crown and bracelet and then brought them to David. Unfortunately for the Amalekite, David said in 2 Samuel 1:13-16, “And David said to the young man who told him, “Where are you from?” And he answered, “I am the son of an alien, an Amalekite.” 14Then David said to him, “How is it you were not afraid to stretch out your hand to destroy the Lord’s anointed?” 15And David called one of the young men and said, “Go, cut him down.” So he struck him and he died. 16And David said to him, “Your blood is on your head, for your mouth has testified against you, saying, ‘I have killed the Lord’s anointed.'”

    The Amalekite probably thought he’d benefit from bringing the King’s possessions to David, but his plan backfired.

  • Irene Wagner

    That looks like a lot of work, Hank.

    ZingZing is a terrier, though. I’d lay in a supply of Fritos, Amp soda, and the like near your computer. You might be here for a couple days.

  • Hank Nash

    Turner’s Creed
    An excerpt from Ravi Zacharias’ book “Can Man Live Without God?” Steve Turner says “No!”…But we try all the time….

    Creed by Steve Turner

    We believe in Marxfreudanddarwin

    We believe everything is OK as long as you don’t hurt anyone to the best of your definition of hurt, and to the best of your knowledge.

    We believe in sex before, during, and after marriage.

    We believe in the therapy of sin.

    We believe that adultery is fun.

    We believe that sodomy’s OK.

    We believe that taboos are taboo.

    We believe that everything’s getting better despite evidence to the contrary. The evidence must be investigated And you can prove anything with evidence.

    We believe there’s something in horoscopes UFO’s and bent spoons.

    Jesus was a good man just like Buddha, Mohammed, and ourselves. He was a good moral teacher though we think His good morals were bad.

    We believe that all religions are basically the same – at least the one that we read was. They all believe in love and goodness. They only differ on matters of creation, sin, heaven, hell, God, and salvation.

    We believe that after death comes the Nothing Because when you ask the dead what happens they say nothing. If death is not the end, if the dead have lied, then its compulsory heaven for all excepting perhaps Hitler, Stalin, and Genghis Kahn

    We believe in Masters and Johnson

    What’s selected is average.

    What’s average is normal.

    What’s normal is good.

    We believe in total disarmament.

    We believe there are direct links between warfare and bloodshed.

    Americans should beat their guns into tractors. And the Russians would be sure to follow.

    We believe that man is essentially good. It’s only his behavior that lets him down. This is the fault of society. Society is the fault of conditions. Conditions are the fault of society.

    We believe that each man must find the truth that is right for him. Reality will adapt accordingly. The universe will readjust. History will alter. We believe that there is no absolute truth excepting the truth that there is no absolute truth.

    We believe in the rejection of creeds, And the flowering of individual thought.

    If chance be the Father of all flesh, disaster is his rainbow in the sky and when you hear

    State of Emergency!

    Sniper Kills Ten!

    Troops on Rampage!

    Whites go Looting!

    Bomb Blasts School!

    It is but the sound of man worshipping his maker.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Shoot, if I had known I would precipitate this juicy dialogue, I would have stopped in my tracks.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Zing, this guy is worse than Franco.

    Beware!

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Who is you, Hank Nash? How come we haven’t heard from you before?

  • Hank Nash

    Im someone that fell upon your article with an opinion of what Truth actually is. Willing to hear all arguments.. its healthy.. lol

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Ain’t my article, Hank. I’m glad though you have access to the truth. Somebody’s got to.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    BTW, you should join our biblical scholar in residence. Ruvy is his name, Bible is his game.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    But only the original; the first bit of it.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Right you is.

  • Hank Nash

    nice…how do i find it?

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    Just because there are some valid lessons in The Bible doesn’t give it any particular authority; there are valid lessons in The Simpsons for example.

    Nor do any lessons that may be divined (lol) from it support the conjecture that deities exist…

    As to Hank, he clearly speaks with a forked tongue, claiming to be interested in truth but having already made up his mind.

  • Regis

    The Bible tells the truth about what the Israelites believed or were taught to believe by the Levite priests as truth.

    They wrote down these beliefs.

    These beliefs were wrong.

    They were wrong because they were immoral.

    Thus, the Bible cannot be God’s word.

    It is the word of the Levite priests guiding the Israelites into a land that was not theirs.

    The Bible should not, therefore, be upheld as a “Holy Book.”

    The human species is good because it is wired to be good for reasons unknown; we have an intellect along with reason and free will.

    If it was wired differently, maybe we would not have survived–but then again, when we look at the Middle East …!

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    The prophet Isaiah also tells us that the earth is round: “It is he that sits upon the circle of the earth” (Isaiah 40:22). This is not a reference to a flat disk, as some skeptic maintain, but to a sphere.

    A circle is a circle, Hank, and a sphere is a sphere. The shape known as a sphere was known to the ancient Hebrews: surely if that’s what Isaiah meant, he would have said so. That by “circle” he meant “sphere” is an arbitrary interpretation.

    The Bible here is making what appears to be a scientifically ludicrous statement: that light can be sent, and then manifest itself in speech. But did you know that radio waves travel at the speed of light?

    No, really? Fancy that.

    In Job 38 and 39, God is asking a series of rhetorical questions designed to hammer home to Job the things that only God can do – a long-winded way, if you like, of asking him “Who the [….] do you think you are?” Since we mere humans are now perfectly capable of pinging radio waves around the universe to our hearts’ content, your interpretation (or is it someone else’s? I smell a copy-and-paste job) seems rather silly.

    What next? Is Job 38:36 – “Who has put wisdom in the clouds, or given understanding to the mists?” a description of the internet “cloud” that Microsoft keeps making a song and dance about? Come on.

    At a time when it was believed that the earth sat on a large animal or a giant (1500 B.C.), the Bible spoke of the earth’s free float in space

    Actually, most Near- and Middle-Eastern cosmologies of the time had the Earth floating on an endless ocean of water, which is exactly what Genesis specifically describes, and which was actually a pretty reasonable theory considering the observation methods which were available to the ancient Hebrews.

    Science has discovered that stars emit radio waves, which are received on earth as a high pitch.

    No, they’re received as radio waves. They can be converted to sound (and they can also sound like hisses or pops – hardly “singing”), but they can just as easily be rendered as raw numbers or as waves on a graph, which are actually much more convenient ways for astronomers to study them.

    God mentioned this in Job 38:7: “When the morning stars sang together…”

    Why only the morning stars? Morning is actually not the best time to study radio astronomy, because of interference from the rising sun.

    I think that verse is far more likely to be a poetic reference to the dawn chorus of birdsong.

    “Most cosmologists (scientists who study the structures and evolution of the universe) agree that the Genesis account of creation, in imagining an initial void, may be uncannily close to the truth” (Time, Dec. 1976).

    Ah, Time Magazine. That venerable and respected scientific journal…

    Time, Matter and Space… In the Beginning (time) God Created, the Heavens (space) and the Earth (Matter)… The big Bang explained in the first Sentence of the Bible…

    Genesis 1 merely states that the universe was created. No method is given. I could say that the universe was vomited up by a sky giant and that would tally just as much with the Genesis account.

    Not a Book of Science? Was the corner Stone to Science my friend :)

    Like I said… you run up against reality, you’re going to come off worst.

  • Mark

    I could say that the universe was vomited up by a sky giant and that would tally just as much with the Genesis account.

    Ah. But we congregants of the more catholic Church of the Holy Shit cling to a slightly different creation story.

  • Hank Nash

    Dr. D, and Mark – Do you believe a man named Jesus actually walked this earth 2000 years ago?

  • http://marksaleski.com Mark Saleski

    i’ve often wondered how you can have day & night on “day” one, three “days” before the sun & stars were created.

    ok, i’ve only wondered it, like, three times, but still…

    yeah, yeah, i’m sure it’s in there somewhere. whatever.

  • zingzing

    hank, i can assure you that a man named jesus did, in fact, walk this earth 2,000 years ago. i’d bet there were plenty of men named jesus. but the version of the man (and really, you’d have to pick one, because all the gospels tell the story different,) that you believe in certainly did not exist as such.

    and while your explanations, for the most part, have been at least possible, they’ve had to stretch now and again. also, if it’s a “copyist error,” then, well, the book needs an editor, as i said. also, there are many, many other contradictions in the bible, and if each of them needs such a long-winded and coincidence-laden theoretical explanation to answer said contradiction, then… the damn thing needs an editor. bad.

    in fact, i’d be interested in seeing such a book. of course, the decisions that have to be made are impossible to make, and the explanation of those decisions would probably be as rambling and implausible as the book itself.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    As I said, Hank, ask Ruvy. He’s got all the answers, including the historicity of Jesus.

  • Mark

    Hank, if you mean to ask whether or not I believe that the messiah actually walked this earth 2000 years ago, then no.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    And he can tell you in Aramaic, or in Syriac, even in Hebrew.

    He walks like an Egyptian.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I don’t know, Mark. You’re discounting the power of testimony.

  • zingzing

    roger, in case you didn’t notice, ruvy is refusing to comment here (the site) at the moment. he had a comment deleted, and although i had my usual snark for him on one thread where he posted his ball-taking-home moment, i saw what he was talking about on another thread (where the deletion actually occurred). i read the post before it was deleted, and i actually agree with him. no idea why that post was deleted. ruvy can be a little snot, but i don’t like to see anyone censored without a good reason (even though there may very well be one).

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Probably because he’d have to agree with Hank, or at least bow to Hank’s superior scholarship.

    Ruvy is not an example of a humble man.

  • Mark

    True, Rog. And I’ve decided that if the world comes to an end in 2012, I will reconsider my dogma.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    You mean he posted in this here site?

    Probably because it would come to a mayhem, between the two of them. Chuck it to the good editorial precaution.

  • http://www.maskedmoviesnobs.com El Bicho

    Hank, how do you have free will if the reason you are following God’s way is to keep from suffering eternal punishment?

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    There is an interesting paper about knowledge by testimony by Cody, a Wittgensteinian from UC, Santa Cruz.

  • Regis

    It’s hard to be humble when you’re perfect in every way.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Or when you have your God backing you in every way.

  • Mark

    …dunno how comfy one should get with Sophia’s imp watching his back.

  • Hank Nash

    EL BICHO- The reason i am following Gods way is to keep from sufferring eternal punishment? – Not exactly.. The reason i am following Gods way is 1st because its Gods way.. to be simple..lol.. jk… but to be honest the truth is this..Up until i realized how the ten commandments actual apply to me..I have broken them.. Told a lie, used Gods name in vain… etc….again from Mother Teresa to Hitler..every human has broken them.. If that is the moral line…and if God is truly just and righteous.. and that is how he decides who go to heaven and hell… then we should follow them.. don’t you think? If we believe there is a good and an evil.. what is the moral line to base it off of? Who draws the line? A moral law, a Moral Law Giver… Hence God… Now let me ask you.. can you, or have you followed the Ten Commandments? Free Will is the choice to choose… Choose evil or good…

  • Hank Nash

    So Mark.. you dont believe that Jesus is actually a man from History? Completly fabricated?

  • Mark

    Save your attempt at sophistry, Hank.

    A wiser man than I once said, the version of the man (and really, you’d have to pick one, because all the gospels tell the story different,) that you believe in certainly did not exist as such.

  • Hank Nash

    Historical Textual Evidence for Jesus’ Existence
    There are over 42 sources within 150 years after Jesus’ death which mention his existence and record many events of his life.1

    9 Traditional New Testament Authors
    Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, Author of Hebrews, James, Peter, and Jude.
    20 Early Christian Writers Outside the New Testament
    Clement of Rome, 2 Clement, Ignatius, Polycarp, Martyrdom of Polycarp, Didache, Barnabas, Shepherd of Hermas, Fragments of Papias, Justin Martyr, Aristides, Athenagoras, Theophilus of Antioch, Quadratus, Aristo of Pella, Melito of Sardis, Diognetus, Gospel of Peter, Apocalypse of Peter, and Epistula Apostolorum.
    4 Heretical Writings
    Gospel of Thomas, Gospel of Truth, Apocryphon of John, and Treatise on Resurrection.
    9 Secular Sources
    Josephus (Jewish historian), Tacitus (Roman historian), Pliny the Younger (Roman politician), Phlegon (freed slave who wrote histories), Lucian (Greek satirist), Celsus (Roman philosopher), Mara Bar Serapion (prisoner awaiting execution), Suetonius, and Thallus.
    Historical Textual Evidence for Tiberius Caesar’s Existence
    Tiberius Caesar, the Roman emperor who reigned during Jesus’ ministry, has 10 authors who mention his existence within 150 years of his life. These include: Josephus, Tacitus, Suetonius, Seneca, Paterculus, Plutarch, Pliny the Elder, Strabo, Valerius Maximum, and Luke.2 If one removes Luke, since he is a New Testament source, there are 9 secular non-Christian sources. This means that there are just as many non-Christian sources for Jesus’ existence as there are for Tiberius Caesar’s! And, to compare, the total number of sources between Jesus and Tiberius Caesar are 42:10. Therefore, there are over four times as many sources for Jesus’ life and deeds than for Tiberius Caesar’s.

    If one is going to doubt the existence of Jesus, one must also reject the existence of Tiberius Caesar
    this IS a copy paste from CARM.Org –

  • Hank Nash

    So who ever wrote those Gospels were modern day Shakespeare’s – huh…

  • Hank Nash

    How can you reasonably explain modern day Jews during a time where Death is the penalty, that completely turn away from their everyday life as being Jewish…and start to follow Christ…10 of the 12 Disciples died a Martyred Death… HOW AND WHY?

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I’ve told you, Hank – Ruvy’s got the answer.

  • http://www.maskedmoviesnobs.com El Bicho

    “if God is truly just and righteous and that is how he decides who go to heaven and hell… then we should follow them.. don’t you think?”

    First, isn’t it a tad convenient that you won’t know if you are wrong about God being truly just and righteous because you’ll be dead? Second, if you are only following them to go to Heaven, then no, that’s not a good enough reason.

  • http://www.maskedmoviesnobs.com El Bicho

    Ruvy has an opinion. He doesn’t have the answer.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    As Seneca had once said, virtue is its own reward.

  • Regis

    Roger, you hit the nail on the head: Virtue is it’s own reward.

    If Christ did not exist, then in my way of thinking, history didn’t haoppen.

    But Jesus believed in the OT which is why I think he was not God; he was deluded like the Israelites and he loved having his followers.

    If God was to talk to us, why speak through JC who “suffered and died for the sins man could ever commit.”

    Come now, A God sending his son to earth to allow himself to be sacrificed to make up for all “our” sins is probably the most heinous act I can think of.

  • zingzing

    if “jesus.” as the bible knows him, existed at all, he was probably just one in a long line of jewish crazies thinking they were the messiah… and somehow, his craziness gained traction with some people.

    there must be some reason why this stuff has continued to hold relevancy throughout the centuries, but i think the story we’re told is, in all likelihood, just a myth. if it’s true, then the church has fucked it up beyond any point of believability.

    i’ll not say it’s impossible, for nothing is, but it’s highly suspicious. and ridiculous. and it’s not something worth basing your life on, any more than basing your life on star trek or battlefield earth, or any other number of pseudo-religions.

  • Regis

    I grant you that the OT Israelites understood sacrifice. But allowing humans to murder your son (JC) as a sacrifice to you (God the Father) is pure nonsense.

    Imagine one of your children deliberately allowing one of your grandchildren to be killed–what, to make you happy, to make you more satisfied as a God?

    My God is above all that nonsense. S/he exists because WE are here on this planet.

    Regardless of how you look at it, Nothingness is precisely nothingness; yet the Big Bang occurred. Whence cometh that explosion? Call it what you want, I call it my deity.

  • zingzing

    physics! now in new god form!

  • Regis

    Physics maybe, but organized laws, yes.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Reductio ad absurdum.

    There, fixed it for you, Zing.

  • Jordan Richardson

    CARM.Org

    Ugh, what an awful site that is. I used to head there quite a bit back in the day when I was looking for ammo for my God Gun. Now that I found my weapon had no bullets, I find it all pretty laughable.

    We can’t know God, we can only guess at knowing God. We also created a God in our image, not the other way around, and theism is essentially an elaborate security policy designed to help us puny humans endure the everlasting crush of existence. Religion is a coping mechanism at best and one I am more than sympathetic toward, but we need to understand that the Bible is a book of their best guesses and best ideas at the time. It’s a book written be a wide variety of seekers with a desire to remain cohesive to Jewish narratives.

    If you’re looking for inconsistencies, look no further than the varying interpretations of the Gospels. Why such sparse mention of the Virgin Birth, for instance? And why does Mark initially cut off prior to the resurrection? These inconsistencies are numerous and range from manuscript issues to canon issues to vision issues, as the authors attempted to conform their beliefs with what occurred and as Christ’s followers attempted to deal with his untimely and surprising demise. Concocting a resurrection story was a way for those people to go on with “it,” as it were. It gave them meaning and so forth, but it’s far from a consistent narrative and Paul barely mentions it (he certainly doesn’t detail anything as interesting as Jesus’ being ALIVE) in his extensive writings that took place prior to the Gospel authorship.

    On and on we go.

    Good article, Regis.

  • Irene Wagner

    Websites like carm.org lob questions like “who killed goliath? who killed saul?” back over the net, and the volley is generally not returned, not along those particular lines, anyway.

    There are apologists for the Bible who speak to the more substantive issues that Jordan raises. Cut and paste. Google. Repeat. On and on.

    The centerpiece of Regis’ article was its rejection of any wisdom the Bible, even taken as a non-inspired book, might have to offer, on the basis of the “immorality” of the judgment meted out in the David-Bathsheba story. Even one of the atheists here seem to imply that this was a hasty judgment on Regis’ part.

    I’ve found common ground with an atheist. I go in peace. :)

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    There is a famous line from The Night with the King, a finctional account of the book of Esther (during the reing of Xerxes I prior to the Persian-Greacian war).

    Esther speak of David: “God loved David not because of how well he fought but because how well he believed.”

    In fact for all his faults, David remains one of the most memorable and positive characters in the Bible.

  • zingzing

    irene: “Even one of the atheists here seem to imply that this was a hasty judgment on Regis’ part.”

    i would think that most athiests would agree to that. athiests aren’t evil. we also aren’t know to totally buy into things. so one can recognize the generally decent moral code at the center of the bible and christianity. i just wouldn’t base my life on what is, pretty much, a 2,000 page rewriting of the golden rule (now with other rules for you to follow!).

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    On a point of order, Irene, I have never said that I am an atheist.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    Up until i realized how the ten commandments actual apply to me..I have broken them.. Told a lie, used Gods name in vain… etc….again from Mother Teresa to Hitler..every human has broken them.

    Well, yes, but not all of them. I can say with a fairly high degree of confidence, for example, that I have never coveted my neighbour’s ass.

  • Irene Wagner

    I ROUTINELY find common ground with atheists, and vice verse. A believer who has walked long enough with God to have a “track record” with him (personally meaningful testimony built on top of transferred testimony) is free to ENJOY talking to people who don’t believe the same way. They aren’t mere threats to his belief. They’re people who have their own interesting life-stories and points of view. Got to go.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    also, who killed goliath? and who killed saul?

    My money’s on either Joran van der Sloot or OJ.

  • Irene Wagner

    Dr. Dreadful, a domestic micro-crisis had me posting before reading your non-confession of non-faith. Sorry for the confusion! ZingZing has put himself into that Common Ground spot, and promises that there are others who’ll stand there, too. So it’s all good.

    Well, I’m out again, but I’d like to say two more things. I’ve heard that One Night with the King is a flick that might be worth seeing, Roger, and Regis, there are so many Scriptures where Jesus says “I and the Father are One” that for me, the Atonement doesn’t have that barbaric child-sacrifice overtone you mentioned. I bring this up, not to be combative, but just for clarification.

    Child sacrifice is bad. Add another patch of sod to Ye Olde common ground.

  • Regis

    Hi Irene, Dr. Dreadful, Zing-Zing, Roger, Jordan!

    I think the Christ was caught up in the same “truth” that caught up the Old Testament.

    Jesus had plenty of great ideals for proper living, but He too believed in the GOOD things about the OT, not the horrors presented there.

    His time was ripe for a Savior and Jesus thought he was that person.

    He took part in allowing Judas to take the brunt of a betrayer when all the while he knew it was so that the scriptures would be fulfilled.

    He also allowed himself to be murdered to pacify his heavenly Father. What kind of father would demand such a sacrifice?

    What kind of son would take part in such a crime?

    Do either of these two entities deserve to be called Gods?

  • Baronius

    About 20 years ago, I read a book entitled, Who Moved the Stone? It was written by an (initially) agnostic lawyer who was attempting to treat the Gospels as testimony, and to piece together the accounts. Much to his surprise, he found the four Gospels to be compatible, and converted to Christianity. If I recall correctly, he reached a couple of weird conclusions in his composite account, but for the most part the Gospel accounts blend easily.

    I’ve never had a problem reconciling Biblical accounts. If you’re looking for difficulties, I’m sure you can find them. That seems to be more the case in the Old Testament, where you’ve got additional language problems and a lot more poetry.

    Of course, as a Catholic, I don’t require the Bible to contain all truth. I see a role for the Church and the Holy Spirit in interpreting Scripture. A good number of Christians box themselves in by expecting the Bible to be self-explanatory.

  • Baronius

    Near-typo: As I edited that comment before submitting it, I almost left it saying “as a Catholic I don’t require the Bible to contain truth”. I imagine some evangelicals would have pounced on that.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    Amen, Baronius. You approach the Bible the way it should be approached: as a testament of God’s relationship with mankind, not as some sort of Repository of All Human Knowledge.

    Evangelicals like Hank (whose zeal to witness to us seems to have run out of steam) struggle to understand the distinction.

    It’s really quite simple, though. If you set out to gain a better understanding of God using only the Bible as a guide you’ve got a good chance of succeeding. If you set out to build a water pump or count the rings of Saturn or calculate the area of a circle using only the Bible as a guide, well, good luck with that.

    :-)

  • Irene Wagner

    Can’t argue with Dr. Dreadful or Baronius much except for maybe…a message board or two…and on nothing that would take away from the essentials of who Jesus is…

    …Someone who has sympathy for anyone undergoing every temptation and doubt (“my God, my God, why have you forsaken me”) and Someone who had the divine authority to kick demonic butt at the Cross and when He rose back to new life, bringing anyone who isn’t looking a gift-horse in the mouth too closely with him.

  • Irene Wagner

    But as a good Evangelical, I can’t truly leave this discussion in peace without giving YOU ALL A GOOD BIBLE THUMPING!!! We’re in the Book section here, are we not? and the Book under discussion is the Bible!

    Specifically responding to Regis’ question, “What kind of Son would take part in ‘such a crime?’ This kind of Son would, Regis. The connection of the Cross and Resurrection to the book of Job has to do with Satan, and angels and demons, and divine honor…

    9 For in him [Christ] dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. 10 And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power: 11 In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: 12 Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. 13 And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; 14 Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; 15 And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly , triumphing over them in it. (Book of Colossians)

  • http://delibernation.com Silas Kain

    In my search for Ultimate Truth I have stumbled upon The Boomer Bible. Amazing how much sense it makes, especially the Fifth Book of Apes called LIES.

  • Baronius

    I can see how the image of the Father sending the Son to die would be troublesome. But that’s not the way the Bible presents it. Jesus says, “I and the Father are one.” God didn’t send a third party; He came here Himself and took the hit.

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    Just cos there is some stuff in the Bible that makes sense, it doesn’t make sense to live your life guided excessively by a 2,000 year old work of fiction.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Except for Dreadful’s advice, “as a testament of God’s relationship with mankind.” And vice versa, as mankind’s relationship to God.

    Regis, I think you’re off when you’re judging “Jesus” by human standards. The very idea of “Jesus” was to transcend those standards. Now, whether you believe or not is your business, but by reducing “Jesus” to human categories, you’re obliterating the concept.

  • Jordan Richardson

    God didn’t send a third party; He came here Himself and took the hit.

    Exactly, which unfortunately makes it less significant in my view.

    Considering the raw power of the resurrection in classic Christian thought, it seems to me almost anticlimactic and/or unnecessary to have God himself come down to essential do something he could have done all along without the visual. Now of course that leaves open the idea that the resurrection itself was symbolic: God coming down, becoming human, saving mankind from the curse of sin that he put on mankind, etc.

    That, too, makes Christ an impossible standard to bear (because he’s God, after all!) and makes the sacrifice impossible to accept (because it’s God essentially committing suicide but then not) and makes the whole situation incredibly perplexing.

    From my reading and from my external research, I see the figure of Christ as being fully connected with the human experience and the God experience. I consider Christ as one who sacrificed his life (no resurrection to taint or confuse the imagery) for the symbolic God that was and is the Ground of All Being (Paul Tillich) and for humanity as a whole. Christ shows us how to live and how to love, so we follow his example (and the example of other such bright lights). Confusing him as part of the triune God is, in my sense of things so far, an error.

  • Jordan Richardson

    by reducing “Jesus” to human categories, you’re obliterating the concept.

    I disagree. I think Christ represented what it was like to be fully human and part of the full human community because his example (symbolic or not) demonstrated his giving of his life (symbolic or not) to and for others.

    I think the only point missed by that of characterizing Christ as fully human and not “fully human and fully God” as many Christians believe is a supernatural one. And, again, I think that thinking is erroneous.

  • Irene Wagner

    To miss the supernatural is to miss out on the “raw power of the Resurrection” (Jordan and Regis would make great Christian writers!)

    Raw resurrection power is how Jesus transforms, how Jesus becomes Incarnate in, some of the most selfish, wicked people you’d ever want to meet, so they forgive and love others the way He forgave and loved them. You may have come to value and practice selflessness through another path, but you can’t take away the testimony of people who have been transformed the supernatural way.

    And I’m not sure it’s at all wise for people, who for one reason or another, cannot believe in the supernatural (yet) to discourage such people who just have, or who are about to, be changed by it.

    I’m speaking up to encourage THEM, and NOT to cut down the way you may be seeking God, which, if it be a with-all-your-heart search, will lead to God in all his supernatural glory, sooner or later. That’s his promise, and I hope I don’t sound condescending when I repeat it to you.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    But that’s the concept, Jordan. If and when you reduce it, you have obliterated it.

    You’re accepting it or agreeing with it is beside the point.

  • Regis

    A problem I see developing here is acceptance of the Bible, both OT and NT, as divinely inspired because it says it is so written.

    If Jesus claimed to be the Son of God because he thought he was God’s son is a tautology if the reason to believe that fact is because the Bible says so!

    I am not claiming to be an atheist but my God was not crucified, nor would he permit such an act.

  • Jordan Richardson

    But that’s the concept, Jordan. If and when you reduce it, you have obliterated it.

    You’re wrong unless you’re applying your statement to a few strands of Christianity.

    The concept of Christ as deity or as God incarnate or whatever has been rejected by other strands of Christian thought and I’m certain they’d quibble with your notion that they’ve obliterated anything.

    Regis, agree 100% with 101.

  • Jordan Richardson

    Unless you’re talking about “heresies” of the Church, Roger?

    Perhaps I’m just making too much out of the excerpt of your comment. It’s been known to happen!

  • Irene Wagner

    It’s that time o’ the mornin when the last word is mine for a few hours.

    Regis believes God would not permit himself to be crucified because…Regis believes God would not permit himself to be crucified. THAT’s a tautology, from my vantage point.

    Jordan holds to a merely symbolic, non-supernatural God because Paul Tillich (and other extra-biblical sources) wrote that God is symbolic and non-supernatural because Paul Tillich (and other extra-biblical sources) BELIEVED that God is symbolic and non-supernatural. Another tautology, from my vantage point.

    WHEREAS: Jesus said he was God because He existed eternally as God the Son, and knew JUST what was happening when the Angel Gabriel made his announcement to Mary. Bible told him so? No. He knew it. How did he know it? In a way superior or inferior to the way you know that He’s lying?

    Jesus’ life is shot through with elements that echo Messianic prophecy, example: Isaiah 9:6For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace…” So yeah, the Bible tells me so, but it’s not the only thing that tells me so.

    Witnesses to miracles He did both before and after the resurrection, those who saw Jesus alive and walking through doors and eating fish after he was crucified, those who continued to proclaim those accounts, even when it meant execution for them–would so many die for what they knew to be a lie? These tell me that Jesus is God the Son.

    The “great cloud of witnesses” throughout history and throughout the world today. They tell me so. Why do I believe THEM?

    Because their supernatural experiences line up with my private ones, and with those I have “coincidentally” experienced in the company of others, that have hammered down for us that Jesus CONTINUES to be accessible in a REAL way. These convince us that Jesus is divine, and that the Bible is reliable.

    That’s all a tautology to YOU, I understand that, until you test it out and believe it for yourself, or return to it again, after a long time away which started when you perceived an inadequacy in carm.org, perhaps. But it isn’t a tautology for me, nor is it a tautology for those who believe for the reasons I do.

  • Jordan Richardson

    Irene,

    Jordan holds to a merely symbolic, non-supernatural God because Paul Tillich (and other extra-biblical sources) wrote that God is symbolic and non-supernatural because Paul Tillich (and other extra-biblical sources) BELIEVED that God is symbolic and non-supernatural.

    To suggest I believe this because Paul Tillich says so (or some variation thereof) is not only condescending but incorrect. I was raised in an evangelical Christian home, went to Church every Sunday for 30+ years, and my understanding evolved to that of a “God behind the God.” That is to say that I found myself believing not so much in a God that could be accurately defined by the language of man but I found myself ENCOUNTERING (key word) a God that was deeper than my understanding. I found God in the commonality of the human experience and it wasn’t until I read John A.T. Robinson’s Honest to God that I discovered that there was actually more to what I was already considering through my own God experience.

    It was in Robinson’s work, too, that I discovered Paul Tillich. I did not discover either consideration until about 5 or so years ago, but had believed in that “sort” of God for at least two decades prior. So again, it’s inaccurate to suggest that I believe something because I picked it up from Tillich. More to the point, I don’t particularly align myself with all of Tillich’s ideas. The God experience is, in my opinion, far too vast to confine it even in the most liberal of theological terms.

    Jesus said he was God because He existed eternally as God the Son, and knew JUST what was happening when the Angel Gabriel made his announcement to Mary. Bible told him so? No. He knew it. How did he know it? In a way superior or inferior to the way you know that He’s lying?

    You conveniently leave out the possibility of error and/or judgment in authorship. It is entirely possible that the author(s) of the Biblical passage(s) manipulated and bent their experiences to align with Jewish tradition and so forth. It is possible (some say probable) that we’ll never actually KNOW what Christ said. Moreover, it is possible (some say probable) that Christ never even existed in the terms that the Bible defines. Hence my symbolic approach to the teachings of Christ and to the existence of God.

    I reject theism because it no longer serves me and because I can no longer wrap my head around the numerous inconveniences it provides to my logic. I reject the Biblical version because I believe it serves a contextual purpose, not a universal one. I believe that theological works authored even today have their place in the canon because they, like the Bible’s books, represent active, breathing Christian thought and this thought has value in understanding our human approach to God and our various understandings of God’s existence.

    Jesus’ life is shot through with elements that echo Messianic prophecy

    Countless scholars believe that this was the purpose of the authors of the Biblical books of the New Testament. In other words, the reason these books line up with “prophecy” is because the authors intended them to. There’s little by way of corroborating sources, especially contemporaneous ones, when it comes to what Jesus’ life was actually like (the Jesus Seminar has been attempting it, but it’s not overly been satisfying thus far), so to take the events as lining up with prophecy represents just one way to view what’s going on there. In order to create meaning in the life of Christ and meaning for Church followers, the Biblical authors may have adapted and created full accounts to instill prophetic concepts. This is not an uncommon approach to theology.

    would so many die for what they knew to be a lie?

    This speaks to the power of Christ’s imagery more than to the power of Christ’s actual ministry. It is clear that early Christians were persecuted for beliefs even before the canon was sealed and created as the object we now know as scripture. And it is clear that the life of Christ, whether told by legend or myth or story or by reality, made an impact in those Jews and others who heard the Good News. There’s no discounting that as a fiction. What is not clear is, again, the REALITY behind this notion and this passion.

    You speak to the supernatural nature of experience and of collective change, referencing those whose supernatural experiences coincide with your private ones. This, again, is your truth. It was not influenced by scripture, however; it was influenced by the human experience, by our connectivity as through the power of God or whatever symbolic label we choose to affix to the order of the universe or to Nature or what have you.

    My belief in a symbolic God requires just as much faith as your belief in a personal God, Irene. And it honours the human collective experience as “supernatural,” just as your faith does. The only difference here is that I do not believe in a literal supernatural resurrection or Virgin Birth or the magical mythology of Biblical events. I respect them as stories, as myths, as tales for lesson and instruction, and so forth. But I do not believe them literally and have not been able to accept them as such for many, many years.

  • Jordan Richardson

    It’s that time o’ the mornin when the last word is mine for a few hours.

    No such luck. It’s not even morning here yet. :P

  • Jordan Richardson

    Also, for clarification, I do still go to Church when my schedule permits (my wife works the night shift, which pretty much means I work the night shift) and still find tremendous value in the faith and power of the Christian community.

    I also still consider myself a part of the Christian community, albeit on one of its many fringe edges wherein many would not consider me a “true Christian” as defined by doctrine and theology I reject rather than philosophies and ideas that I warmly accept (compassion, love, tolerance, etc.).

  • Irene Wagner

    Rats. I thought you were a Canadian! Eh, forgot about the far Northwest Territories.

    You can’t verify that there is no such thing as the supernatural by anything but the tautological assertion, by you or others, that there is no supernatural, Jordan. If you find that statement insulting…I can’t see a way to state that logical truth any more gracefully.

    But I suspose anyone who’s told that his expression of cherished belief is a mere tautology is likely to feel a bit miffed! I admit to similar feelings. :o

    It was not influenced by scripture,
    Was so.

    We’re talking about courses of action confirmed by God’s word two or three times, from as many different sources, in a remarkably short period of time. That’s how people who look to the Bible for guidance are often assured that they are hearing God speak to them, that it wasn’t just a passing fancy, or a coincidence, or their own crack-pot idea. Almost along the lines of Jungian dream analysis, I suppose, through which I have no doubt God can ALSO speak to people. But I’ve just described the way God speaks to me, and others, at the same time he confirms the supernatural quality of the Bible.

    however; it was influenced by the human experience, by our connectivity as through the power of God or whatever symbolic label we choose to affix to the order of the universe or to Nature or….

    ….YES??????

    what have you.
    Supernatural experiences, that’s what.

    Night, eh? And thanks for the convo, and God bless you, symbolically, and in every other way. :)

  • Irene Wagner

    I’d gladly stand next to you, and your wife, singing God’s praises, and work beside the two you in a community garden, or a shelter, or a food bank, or anywhere people, having only the foggiest and SEMINAL notion of any sort of Ground of Being, serve other people.

    I would likely learn a thing or two from the two of you. Just, not about the Bible.

    Thought I’d add that, too. Night for real. :)

  • Jordan Richardson

    Well for starters, anyone living on the West Coast of Canada or your country (unless you want to omit Washington, Oregon and Cali, let alone Alaska) would be in the same time zone (or beyond) as myself in British Columbia and would have, like me, been experiencing this glorious life in the late evening at the time of my comment.

    You can’t verify that there is no such thing as the supernatural by anything but the tautological assertion, by you or others, that there is no supernatural

    This is probably the biggest problem I have with the supernatural assertion. You are essentially saying “prove it didn’t happen.” You and I both know that’s not sound reasoning at work, Irene. It is, instead, a logical trap. It serves no spiritual function either.

    My assertion for my lack of belief in literal miracles is simply backed up by a lack of evidence, not a mere rhetorical device that paints me into a corner of being “always truthful.”

    Assert proof of Christ’s miracles and of the resurrection and I’ll follow it where it leads. I have no desire to “not believe,” you see. I have no desire to be “right” or to have been on the winning team. I have a desire to be an honest seeker, nothing more.

    We’re talking about courses of action confirmed by God’s word two or three times, from as many different sources, in a remarkably short period of time.

    If you’re asserting that the commonality of the narratives in the Gospels serve as confirmation of the facts or truth therein, I’m afraid that’s not overly doable from my standpoint. Mark’s Gospel came first, as you know, and the other Gospels followed.

    Now Papias offers something on Mark that is telling (you can get this from Wikipedia too or from History of the Church from Eusebius found in the amazing Christian Classics Ethereal Library available online): “Mark, who had been Peter’s interpreter, wrote down carefully, but not in order, all that he remembered of the Lord’s sayings and doings. For he had not heard the Lord or been one of his followers, but later, as I said, one of Peter’s.”

    Mark, in other words, was taking what he wrote from what Peter had heard. Mark is not a firsthand witness at all, as you know.

    Conservative dates put his Gospel as around 70, with Matthew and its stresses about Jewish prophecy and obedience to liturgy fitting in around the latter part of the first century as written by a Jewish Christian. Luke, which is generally popularly understood as having used the Q document and Mark as a primary source for authorship, probably was authored around the later decades of the First Century. And John, with its beautiful textual flourishes and such, introduces Logos and has a lot to do with promoting Christ as one to believe “into” literally.

    As you well know, each Gospel contains differing themes and differing approaches to the Christ experience. Not once did I suggest anything so crass as it was a passing fancy, Irene, and I’m frankly curious as to why you’ve taken such offense to my approach to Biblical authorship and theology. It is far from dismissive, as I firmly believe that the authors were and do subscribe in actuality to their experiences. I do not and will not consider them as liars or as having made the whole thing up and never suggested such a thing. Your offense, then, is misplaced.

    The truth, the supernatural experiences of changed lives and the sort, are strongly influenced by the collective nature of humanity, by a drive for togetherness and unity and compassion. Just as the Biblical authors were influenced by the same drives and experienced the transformative power of Jesus Christ, so too do your experiences reflect this. God is bigger than the Bible, in other words. He must be.

    I would likely learn a thing or two from the two of you. Just, not about the Bible.

    It’s unfortunate that you’ve elected to have such a closed, joyless point of view with respect to the living words of scripture, Irene. And I don’t mean this in the same condescending way you do when you say these sorts of things towards me, by the way. I mean them literally: your viewpoint of scripture appears to be very narrow.

  • Jordan Richardson

    Looking back, I do need to clarify this:

    It is far from dismissive, as I firmly believe that the authors were and do subscribe in actuality to their experiences. I do not and will not consider them as liars or as having made the whole thing up and never suggested such a thing. Your offense, then, is misplaced.

    With this,

    In order to create meaning in the life of Christ and meaning for Church followers, the Biblical authors may have adapted and created full accounts to instill prophetic concepts. This is not an uncommon approach to theology.

    When I say “created full accounts,” I mean it in the way that storytellers created mythologies to explain earthly concepts. I do not consider this sort of writing as “deceptive,” even though I do not value it as a literal or historical verification of “what happened.”

    I’m going to use Christ’s feeding miracles (feeding the 5000 and feeding the 4000) as examples of what I mean.

    What we have here is Christ multiplying food, essentially, at two remote locations. Are they the same miracles retold for different meanings? Considering that the feeding of the 5000 takes place in John and draws out the barley loaves and fishes from the boy as “food for the multitudes,” we have this particular story taking place after John the Baptist was killed.

    The feeding of the 4000, taken from Mark and Matthew, is different. Matthew explores the loaves and fishes from John, but uses seven loaves while John uses five. John describes two fishes, Matthew describes a “few small fish.” These are not differences meant to draw out “contradictions” or other such silliness, but rather to illustrate differing points in what some believe to be the same myth told by different authors.

    Did this actually happen as a literal event? It’s possible. Did it play out as Christ actually expanding the physical medium of food to feed so many people? Maybe.

    I struggle with its as a literal account, however, because I simply do not find evidence for it as satisfactory. Simply saying, “he was Jesus and Jesus did miracles” doesn’t satisfy my thirst on the matter and this does not merely emerge from a “tautological” sense of reality. It emerges, purely, from my God experience and from the lens through which I see the world.

    The authors of the myth were not being deceptive; they were being illustrative and creative in describing a mythology that reflects their TRUTH. In telling this fable/myth, they were drawing the readers near to a greater fact.

    This view of scripture rightly, in my view, calls us to freedom and invites us to act and think creatively. I believe the Biblical authors intended this to be so as well, evidenced of course by their own sense of freedom and creativity in their myth-telling of their own life experiences through Christ and their own understandings of God.

    It is clear that the Bible is meant to be taken as a living, breathing text. It is clear that passages on slavery, for instance, are meant to evolve with context and new knowledge. It is clear that citing God’s intentions towards homosexuality, for instance, should crumble away as God reveals newness and knowledge with which to fuel our compassion. It is clear that we couch certain teachings, like Leviticus laws and so forth, in certain contexts but refuse to do so otherwise.

    What if new knowledge from God renders the myths of the New Testament and the Gospels as pure stories designed to draw us nearer to the God experience? What if the greater truth isn’t bound by mere words on dead pages but by an experience we collectively share as God’s “creations” spiritually? What if theism, like other dead teachings and outdated thoughts Christians have long since departed from, is meant to be the next heresy to fall?

    The point of all of this is to say that “Biblical” truths must not ever be confined in the book itself. We must learn to expand beyond what the Bible “says” because what the Bible says may have broader intentions than we ever imagined.

  • Irene Wagner

    Jordan you asked: What if theism, like other dead teachings and outdated thoughts Christians have long since departed from, is meant to be the next heresy to fall?

    It means that the following sentence of yours doesn’t make sense:

    If the Bible is meant to be taken as a living, breathing text Sure it is. But WHO meant to be that, WHO designed to be living and breathing?

    I sing praises to a real living God who reveals himself to us through a real, living God-breathed Bible, and He reveals himself to others who don’t have access to those words in many amazing ways, in this current age, including dreams and visions, chance meetings…people I sat next to and laughed with and prayed with this morning have experienced theses things, as I have. These were were literally HOOTING (joylessly? Haha!) with reports to answered prayer FOR OTHERS, prayer that they’ve woven right into the words of that living breathing book. And there were prayers for the oily gulf, too, long-term prayers. No disrespect meant, I’m sure you spent a lot of time trying to convince me that God is dead, and the Bible is full of contradictions… but it just ain’t gonna fly, especially this morning!

    I have been, and will keep seeking God and asking Him to help me grow up. This is a life-long process. All the best with your journey. I have to go to work now.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    “The concept of Christ as deity or as God incarnate or whatever has been rejected by other strands of Christian thought and I’m certain they’d quibble with your notion that they’ve obliterated anything.” #102

    Strands of Christian thought, Jordan? Sure, there are strands of Christian thoughts of a humanistic kind, espousing, say, Christian ethics for one – but that’s not what we’re talking about, are we?

    Heresies within the Church had to do with the nature of Christ, the concept of Trinity, etc., but never questioned Christ’s divinity. So yes, the examples you’re referring to do obliterate the concept of “Christ” as understood by Christians.

    And BTW, one would be hard put to find examples of Jesus referring to himself as Son of God. Son of Man was his self-referential address.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    “My belief in a symbolic God requires as much faith . . .”

    I’m failing to comprehend you, Jordan. What is a “symbolic God.” You can’t mean “behaving as if . . .”

    One may not have a clear conception of deity, or a conception that would accord with any that would accord with any of the organized religion, but not having any such clear conception surely does not equate to symbolism, nor does it invalidate faith simply because the (cognitive?) object of belief is ill-defined. That kind of faith I surely can understand, but I can’t understand what a faith in a symbolic God would be like. I don’t even know how to begin thinking about it.

    And BTW – and this refers either to you or to Irene – I think you misread Paul Tillich (The Dynamics of Faith). Tillich was analyzing the concept and religious experience; was he committed, though, to the idea of “symbolic God”?

    I don’t think so.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    I can’t truly leave this discussion in peace without giving YOU ALL A GOOD BIBLE THUMPING!!!

    Irene, you might at least have thumped us with your paperback Bible, rather than the big folio leather one with the brass studs in the binding. Ouch.

  • Baronius

    Jordan, earliest estimates put Mark’s gospel at 60AD, and Matthew’s earlier.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    But Jordan did specifically say conservative estimates, Baronius.

    Not sure the date makes much of a difference, except to Biblical scholars. Either way, the events of the Gospels were still within living memory.

  • Baronius

    I think that “conservative” estimates meant early estimates. I think. That’s why I said “earliest”, just to be sure.

  • Regis

    Jordan (105): Thanks for your ideas about a Wholly Other in 105 above. I fit that category.

    Like you, I cannot accept the Bible because the Bible tells me I must accept it. It amazes me how people use scripture to prove scripture. It takes courage to move away from scripture which has stolen free thinking for many centuries.

    To me, God is a symbol both mathematically, physically, and intellectually. The math symbol for infinity works for me, but I have no such symbol for my mental characterization of God; But s/he is there!

    I love the way Paul Tillich ends THE COURAGE TO BE. His last sentence states:
    The courage to be is rooted in the God who appears when God has disappeared in the anxiety of doubt!

  • Jordan Richardson

    But WHO meant to be that, WHO designed to be living and breathing?

    We humans did. We breathed life into the text and gave it value as a narrative of our spiritual quest.

    I’m sure you spent a lot of time trying to convince me that God is dead

    I’m not trying to convince you of anything, Irene. I’m merely reflecting, as I’ve said, my own honest search for God. I have no insistence that “God is dead,” either, unless if meant in a strict sense as in a particular external deity and so forth. Theism, I’d argue, should die so that we can greater come to know God.

    the Bible is full of contradictions

    It is, and that’s precisely what makes it such a grand book. The Bible is full of good AND evil, hate AND love, compassion AND bigotry, idolatry AND purity, and so forth. The Bible is full of these things because the Bible is fully HUMAN. It is a construct of human thirst for God. And that is a truly remarkable thing, as Regis has pointed out in his piece and elsewhere. To me and to my sense of God, the Bible only serves to bolster my God experience more!

  • Jordan Richardson

    I’m failing to comprehend you, Jordan. What is a “symbolic God.” You can’t mean “behaving as if . . .”

    First, I’m going to take issue with the notion of “behaving.” This is a “mind your manners” issue with me. Believing in the conception of God as Ground of All Being, as I would suggest I do, posits that encapsulating God in any other way other than symbolically is a human impossibility.

    I fully believe in God and fully experience God in my day-to-day life. But as John Shelby Spong has said before, my experience more likely relates to the “God behind the God” or as Tillich’s “God above God.” It’s accurate to ask what I mean by God, at which point my only truthful answer can be “I’m not sure and I can’t be sure.”

    Tillich “discards” the theistic God thusly:

    “He (God) deprives me of my subjectivity because he is all-powerful and all-knowing. I revolt and make him into an object, but the revolt fails and becomes desperate. God appears as the invincible tyrant, the being in contrast with whom all other beings are without freedom and subjectivity. He is equated with recent tyrants with the help of terror try to transform everything into a mere object, a thing among things, a cog in a machine they control. He becomes the model of everything against which Existentialism revolted. This is the God Nietzsche said had to be killed because nobody can tolerate being made into a mere object of absolute knowledge and absolute control. This is the deepest root of atheism. It is an atheism which is justified as the reaction against theological theism and its disturbing implications.”

    Placing God or any deity as within the form of subject-object relationship long troubled me, even before I could put it into words, because, as Tillich outlines, I couldn’t merely accept or approach the theistic God as being “merely a cog.” That God becomes an object of all-knowing power was, to me, minuscule.

    So I sought a God that could be defined apart from my existence, a God that perhaps served as the ground beneath my feet and a God that was within. I see the search in all theological writings now, as people approach God symbolically or literally. God as collective experience, for instance, would be a symbolic God. Seeing God in the face of the poor, as Mother Theresa would do, is also a symbolic God.

    Note that the symbolic God belief does not render God meaningless as a “real” object, of course. Instead, it renders God into language and poetry and imagery that we can grasp as mere humans.

    As Einstein says, the notion of a “personal God” is naive. But I see no real purpose in rejecting the concept all the same, so I consider it as symbolic rather than literal. Statements about God must be purely symbolic, it follows, because we cannot have any earthly clue as to how to relate the grandness and magnitude of such concept. Our literature, Biblical and otherwise in other faiths and so forth, remain valid depictions of this symbolic relationship. But concepts of heaven, hell, punishment, sin, damnation, and so forth remain equally symbolic representations of our behaviour and our relationship(s) with this particular symbolic God.

    The real is found, therefore, in our pure humanity and in Christ’s pure humanity. Actual concepts of God require looking beyond the purely symbolic and into how we relate to other human beings and our very existence. The symbols have use in that they point us towards communion, but they are not realistic in defining or knowing God.

    I think it was Eckhart Tolle who recently characterized God as “Being Itself.” That’s probably pretty accurate. It isn’t, to me, about believing a list of things and going to heaven when I die. It’s about participating in a genuinely human experience with compassion and love.

  • Jordan Richardson

    Heresies within the Church had to do with the nature of Christ, the concept of Trinity, etc., but never questioned Christ’s divinity.

    Incorrect.

    Adoptionism or dynamic monarchianism was a heresy of Christ’s divinity rejected at the First Council of Nicaea. It held that Christ was born of Joseph and Mary traditionally, outlining the notion that Christ was “chosen” by nature of his sinless life. This was in line, initially at least, with early Jewish-Christian gospels like “Matthew’s” Gospel of the Hebrews and so forth. A lot of these other gospels, ones that held differing claims about Christ’s divinity, were considered heretical books and were also discarded from the canon.

    I think you misread Paul Tillich (The Dynamics of Faith). Tillich was analyzing the concept and religious experience; was he committed, though, to the idea of “symbolic God”?

    Tillich was indeed committed to the idea of symbolism in that it lit the path to the “God above God.” The liturgy, the worship, the community, etc. all served Tillich in that it pointed him towards genuine spiritual experiences. He had tremendous use for the symbolic God indeed.

  • Jordan Richardson

    Jordan, earliest estimates put Mark’s gospel at 60AD, and Matthew’s earlier.

    I’ve not once heard one reputable scholar estimate that Matthew’s authorship preceded Mark. Can you point me in the right direction on this?

    I should have been clearer by what I meant by conservative estimates. I did not necessarily mean earliest and was only looking at limited information. The point is to say that there’s quite a stretch in years of authorship here and the intention was to highlight the use of other sources as Gospel writers pieced together their accounts from secondhand sources and the like. Mark was borrowed from, and so forth. It’s common knowledge that barely bears repeating, but here I am.

  • Jordan Richardson

    I cannot accept the Bible because the Bible tells me I must accept it. It amazes me how people use scripture to prove scripture. It takes courage to move away from scripture which has stolen free thinking for many centuries.

    Agreed. The Bible could conceivably be lauded for its freedom and faith in God as Being Itself can draw people to greater relationships with each other rather than to a symbolic God notion constructed mostly be well-meaning men, but unfortunately most religious people still cling to the books and consider them sealed.

    The Bible lives and breathes, at least for me, because I do. Much in the same way Shakespeare comes alive, so too do the writings of Paul in his most earnest, urgent hours. It’s really lovely stuff if you think about it. The meandering words of searching man trying to make sense of it all while still admonishing early Churches for falling astray. There are few equals in literature.

    God is a symbol both mathematically, physically, and intellectually. The math symbol for infinity works for me, but I have no such symbol for my mental characterization of God; But s/he is there!

    Beautifully put.

  • Jordan Richardson

    “This is a “mind your manners” issue with me.”

    *should say “This isn’t a mind your manners..”

  • Jordan Richardson

    A few rambling word to follow up on my #123 and on authorship of Matthew and Mark and then I’m done on the subject:

    On Matthew, a lot of scholars consider its mention of the destruction of Jerusalem as evidence for its authorship being after 70. On the other hand, the Magdalen papyrus was recently re-dated to pre-60 by Carsten Peter Thiede and that papyrus contains fragments of Matthew which suggests authorship prior to 60.

    Then you have Papias saying “Matthew composed the sayings in the Hebrew language and everyone interpreted as he was able,” which only serves to question what and how the book came together in the first place. Papias wasn’t born until 60, yet his was the first real piece of external evidence for Matthew’s existence as a gospel.

    But then Origen says that he “learned by tradition” that Matthew was the first gospel, so that blows some of my statements on Mark’s initial authorship out of the water if we trust Origen fully.

    We also know that Matthew was supposedly in circulation by the 90s, at least early enough for Ignatius to use it in the year 100.

    I have found that many Catholic scholars tend to favour earlier dates, somewhere in the 40-45 range, but almost all of them seem convinced that Matthew not only borrowed from Mark but also from Luke.

    On Mark, evidence suggests he based his writing on Peter’s teachings and also that it was written in Rome. Origen suggested that it was written prior to Peter’s death and Eusebius seems to agree. Irenaeus says that Mark was written “when Peter and Paul were preaching the gospel in Rome and founding the church there.”

    But then the Qumran discovery of the Q document adds complications, as it could be that Matthew and Luke didn’t borrow from Mark at all but instead borrowed from the similar Q document, which has been dated between 50 BCE and 50 CE. This conceivably dumps Mark’s gospel in another time altogether, if you believe the two source hypothesis that Matthew and Luke used Q as a common document. In which case, Q becomes a very important piece of Biblical history indeed.

    The only thing all of this really proves is that Biblical authorship estimates are all over the map. The idea of borrowing from other texts is common, however, and this speaks to how the Bible evolved as it was coming into being. Fascinating stuff in a way.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    “I would suggest that . . . posit[ing] . . . God in any other way other than symbolically is a human impossibility.”

    If by “symbolically” you simply mean that you cannot (clearly?) conceptualize the object of your faith, then I have no quarrel with you. Rather poor choice of words though.

    But it is an essential part of true faith (of the kind we’re talking about) to come to a realization that one is not fully in charge. And it is for that reason, mainly, why I think to speak of symbolism here is misleading.

  • Jordan Richardson

    Rather poor choice of words though.

    Rather common choice of words, actually. Religion is filled with symbolism to depict religious experiences that cannot otherwise be conceptualized clearly. The symbolism of the cross carries infinite meaning, for instance, and its appearance can inspire a wide variety of experiences in people around the world.

    The cross is largely considered a symbol of the crucifixion, yet none of us bore firsthand account to the event and some of us even doubt its occurrence on such an object as the symbolic cross would suggest. Yet the cross, again, carries heavy spiritual weight for many of us.

    And it is for that reason, mainly, why I think to speak of symbolism here is misleading.

    Creating symbols implies yearning for understanding, not control. I fail to see anything misleading about this concept and, again, would suggest confidently that symbolism is common in almost all religious systems.

  • Jordan Richardson

    To reiterate, my suggestion is that we have created a symbolic God to embody that which we cannot grasp. We have ascribed various traits and even suggested that we were made in his image, something I can no longer believe. To suggest this approach can be anything other than symbolic is, I think, an impossibility.

    IF God or Being Itself or what have you is “real,” as in tangible in any sense of the word, I believe he is far beyond our conscious grasp. Symbols, at Tillich argues, become necessary components to our spiritual journey because they guide the way.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    “It held that Christ was born of Joseph and Mary traditionally, outlining the notion that Christ was “chosen” by nature of his sinless life.”

    Even if you technically correct, the divinity, whether it had come about “naturally” or by ascription, is an essential element of Christian faith (or at least such as we know it today, unless you want to revisit gnosticism). Anyway, I don’t think the issue of immaculate conception is a stumbling block, unless you’re a Catholic.

    A far more important element is the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophesies (e.g., in Isaiah, of the suffering servant) and of the New Testament typologies.

    So again, the matter of Christ’s birth does not present any conceptual difficulty (from the standpoint of divinity).

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Your #129 falls along my interpretation in #128: “cannot grasp” means “symbolic.”

    Still, it is a poor choice of words for the reasons stated.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Jordan,

    Our entire language is fall of symbolism, so no – I’m not going to let you get away with making that distinction.

    We don’t have any direct access to reality, any reality, because language (yes, and language is symbolic) always stands in the way. All we can talk about and do talk about is our experiences.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    full of . . .

  • Jordan Richardson

    What holds as “essential doctrine” in terms of Christian faith is a subject of endless debate, Roger, and one of endless evolution.

    This entire line of conversation between us came about because you took objection to my clarification of different strands of Christianity (at least they hold that they’re Christian, whether the majority do or not is a matter of subjectivity of course) believing or practicing different elements of faith that may be considered heretical, ie. progressives not holding Christ as divine in the literal sense.

    I guess it follows that this calls into account how you define “Christian.” Is it one who ascribes to a checklist of the core beliefs or is it more than that?

    I’ve read countless dissertations on what is and what isn’t essential Christian doctrine. Christ’s divinity comes into play largely here, especially among modern Christians. But not all Christian sects subscribe to Christ as divine. Most absolutely do.

    Whether other Christians still consider them a part of the tent or not remains an issue of much controversy, but doctrinal issues always are. If we define Christianity based on what was decided at the ecumenical councils and such, we indeed would note divinity was essential. But the religion has since evolved to include other interpretations, regardless of what the organized branches hold.

    Then you’ve got the United Church and Christian thinkers like Spong, Tillich, Tom Harpur and so forth. Would you suggest they aren’t Christians? They certainly seem to think they are because of their love for Christ and adherence to his principles and worship of his faithfulness to God or Being Itself.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    A table is a construct.
    An electron is another construct.
    And God is yet another.

    Which isn’t to say they’re all same-level constructs. So yes, there are significant differences. But they’re not captured by referring to some of them as “symbolic” and others by denying symbolism. We’ve got to try harder.

    And I don’t give a hoot for what Tillich say and who is comfortable with what. That kind of argument won’t fly with me.

  • Jordan Richardson

    Our entire language is fall of symbolism, so no – I’m not going to let you get away with making that distinction.

    With all due respect, it’s not particularly about what “you” let me get away with.

    The entire discussion for me generates on the identity of the figure of God as symbolic and on the attempt to reach beyond the theism and symbolism to get at the real experiences and community of what it means to be a human being in this universe. For me, that is my faith. That is my religion.

    I, like many progressive Christians and other religious people around the world, consider Christ as a beacon towards that discovery. I believe Christ existed to strip away the symbolism and to point us to greater truth, not to offer us salvation in the sense of deliverance from sin and avoidance of hell. Rather, the salvation of Christ comes in the form of understanding what it means to be FULLY human.

    The God or Being or experience I seek lies beyond my understanding and I am humbled in the grandness of what I seek. It is not about reaching an end or having an answer, Roger, so I think you’re barking up the wrong tree when you attempt to put too fine a point on it.

    I talked earlier about the inability of language to capture the God experience. This falls right in line with what you’ve been talking about, yet it seems you’ve ignored this crucial component of what I’ve been saying. Instead, you want to hold me to a definition of a symbolic God that I’ve outgrown for the very reasons I’ve discussed. The failure of that God symbol, of ANY symbol, to truly encapsulate my spiritual thirst is something I can’t ignore. As Regis notes, I can no longer hold that the Bible is true because it says so. I need more. I can no longer hold that a theistic God exists to punish the wicked and reward the righteous. I can no longer hold to, as Tillich says, a God that is the “invincible tyrant.” THAT is the symbolic God. THAT is the God that Bishop Spong was referring to when he said “any God that can be killed, must be killed.” That is the God architecture that I must destroy in order to understand what my humanity and my spirituality truly mean.

    So yes, Roger, it entails moving beyond language. Yes, language is nothing more than symbolic in that it reflects our experiences. And yes, we do not have direct access to reality because language ‘gets in the way.’ But, as you say, we have our experiences. And I have mine in my everlasting quest to move beyond the symbolic and into a richer, more divine human experience.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Again, what people call themselves is none of my concern. But the essential element of Christian faith is belief in Christ’s divinity. Without it, the entire point is lost – so yes, I am arguing from the conservative position.

    And yes, I’m familiar with the radical theology and the end of God movement, Bultmann, Hamilton, et al. What significant about the latter’s work is precisely our failure of language when it comes to divinity. So don’t think I don’t appreciate your concerns.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I wasn’t insulting you Jordan, only reminding both of us of “the rules of the game.” Hope you do understand that.

  • Jordan Richardson

    That kind of argument won’t fly with me.

    Again, I’m not attempting to fly anything with you. You yourself state that life is about talking about our experiences and I am talking about my attempts at moving beyond the symbolism of the theistic God, moving beyond the characteristics given to God by mankind, and moving beyond the parameters designed scripturally by better men than I making the same journey.

    There is commonality to these symbols, as Tillich outlines, and those symbols serve as our roadmaps to broad truth. It’s a journey that never ends, not a finite location to reach and thoroughly explain or an argument to convince another of.

    I can’t tell Irene how to meet God, nor can I tell Baronius how he should view his faith. I can, however, find joy in our shared experiences as fellow travelers on similar paths and share the difficulties I’ve run into on their roads as they share their triumphs.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    If you want to venture into real mind-boggling re-conceptualizations, try Pierre Teilhard de Chardin.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I tell you how I (try to) move beyond “symbolism,” Jordan. I meet God in every human being I meet.

    It took a long time to come to this realization, but once I have, it’s that simple for me.

  • Jordan Richardson

    The Phenomenon of Man is indeed fascinating.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    It’s amazing he wasn’t excommunicated.

  • Jordan Richardson

    I meet God in every human being I meet.

    Exactly!

    God is the rich experience of life, it is the real in that sense. That’s what I mean when I say Being Itself, that’s what I mean when I describe my attempts at moving beyond an external, symbolic concept.

    Not only do I see God in every human being, I see God in every animal, tree, cloud, breath of air, glass of water, and so forth.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Tell you what, though. It’s Kierkegaard for me. Haven’t really read him that much, but he would be my first choice.

  • Jordan Richardson

    The Catholic Church is pretty permissive of such thoughts. Kung wasn’t excommunicated either, yet he’s no longer permitted to teach theology. He still can perform his duties as a priest though.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Right, Jordan. I figured you would fill in the blanks. The main problem with faith is how to make it concrete. As far as I am concerned, that’s the ticket.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Shoot, Hans Kung was a heck of a theologian. Studied him during my brief stunt in a Seventh-Day Adventist seminary, Berrien Springs.

    It was right when radical theology was making inroads even into conservative institutions. Those were “religious wars.”

    We had quite an impressive array of liberal-thinking theologians at Andrews. Ruvy would be given the boot within a week if not sooner.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Anyway, nice chatting with you. Later.

  • Baronius

    Jordan, I’ve never been persuaded by the later dating of the Gospels. There seem to be two reasons for it, to give time for the earlier sources to have been written, and to date the prophecy of the destruction of the Temple as having been put to paper after 70AD. As for the first reason, the Q’s, redactors, et cetera are too theoretical for me. As for the destruction of the Temple, I have no problem with the idea that Christ prophecied it. There’s no evidence of a Christian community being destroyed in the fall of Jerusalem. They must have expected something bad, and left.

    On a similar note, the author of Acts seems to have stalled out while Paul was still travelling. That argues for Luke, or at least a contemporary, as the author.

    Again, as a Catholic, I don’t require every word of the Bible to have been written and compiled in modern English before John died. I can accept the difficulties in translation and compilation. The Church predated the Bible, and in fact collected its books.

    I gather that you’ve studied some of the heresies. Some people see them as proof that Christianity has strayed, or as signs of a broader authentic apostolic tradition. I see the opposite. The Church has consistently held to the same set of beliefs, even during times when those beliefs were under seige.

    We both agree that the idea that “the Bible explains the Bible” is simplistic and tautological. What I believe may seem only a little less simplistic, and circular, but the Bible supports the Church and the Church supports the Bible. It may be circular, but that means it’s consistent, and there’s nothing to make me think it’s not true.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    There’s no evidence of a Christian community being destroyed in the fall of Jerusalem. They must have expected something bad, and left.

    Or fled, or got kicked out. Those guys weren’t exactly flavour of the century, if we’re to believe the Acts and the synoptic Gospels.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    The Church has consistently held to the same set of beliefs, even during times when those beliefs were under seige.

    Not exactly. Its positions on a lot of things have changed – for example evolution, the structure of the universe, who is and isn’t a saint, and eating meat on Fridays.

    I concede that these might not really be core theology, but still.

  • Baronius

    Dread, those aren’t matters of doctrine. The Church has claimed authority in matters of faith and morals. Your first two examples are matters of science, and it never really held positions on them except in relation to matters of faith.

    The third is kind of complicated, and I only know a little about it. Particular saints have been removed from the calendar, or otherwise de-emphasized when research into their lives has come up dry. But that only has happened with old saints, before the process of canonization. I don’t believe that any canonized saint has ever been disavowed.

    The fourth is a matter of Church discipline. BTW, Fridays are still days of penance. We can opt to do something other than abstaining from meat, but we’re supposed to do something.

  • John Wilson

    I just can’t believe that any creator who could make something as comical as the human being couldn’t write a book without pratfalls and sex jokes in it.

  • Regis

    Roger (137) Again, what people call themselves is none of my concern. But the essential element of Christian faith is belief in Christ’s divinity. Without it, the entire point is lost – so yes, I am arguing from the conservative position.

    Roger, I am interested in your belief in Christ’s divinity. Would you still feel this way if the world did not have a Bible?

    It fascinates me that so many persons died for their belief in Christ, even as events were being written down after his earthly appearance.

    I cannot think of any religious belief worth dying for, yet there were many martyrs.

  • Regis

    Baronius (150)
    What I believe may seem only a little less simplistic, and circular, but the Bible supports the Church and the Church supports the Bible. It may be circular, but that means it’s consistent, and there’s nothing to make me think it’s not true.

    Do you mean the “Catholic” church when you say “the church?”

    I’m confused by what you mean by “consistent.”

  • Jordan Richardson

    Baronius (#150), I understand. Biblical authorship is far from my area of expertise and, as you can see, my thoughts on the matter are rather consistently disjointed. It’s an evolving process (dating the books, etc.) and I respect your views entirely.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    “Roger, I am interested in your belief in Christ’s divinity.”

    I didn’t claim that, Regis – only identified what I consider to be a central part of the Christian belief.

    As to the bible – of course its value is the testimony. Testimony provides the basis for the belief.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Another key term is kerygma. That’s the Christian message.

  • Baronius

    Regis –

    Do you mean the “Catholic” church when you say “the church?”

    Yup.

    I’m confused by what you mean by “consistent.”

    It was probably not even worth mentioning. In logic, if I say “A therefore B” and “B therefore A”, people will call it circular reasoning. They’re right, it is circular. But it’s also internally consistent, being a system affirming A and B. To put it less technically, at least my beliefs don’t contradict themselves.

  • Regis

    Baronius, I wish I had a faith as strong as yours. I’m sure it takes away the meaninglessness of your existence.

    I believe in a God, but to me, when this life ends, I go out of existence–non-ens.

    Why I have a God belief yet have no life-after-death belief is not at all consoling.

    I would like to know the why and wherefore of being compared to non-being where I am certainly headed.

    So, do you believe in an afterlife?

  • Baronius

    I never thought of faith in terms of consolation. I was always more interested in finding the truth, even if it was harsh. Actually, as a young man, there was something appealing about the idea that the truth would be tough, and that accepting it would make me all edgy and Camus-like.

    A few years ago, after my mother died, I was surprised that I found comfort in my faith. I never expected to be that kind of person, and I resented it a little, because I tend to see that as weakness. (That should tell you something about my temperment, the fact that I’m personally opposed to joy and happiness.)

    Anyway, I believe in God and an afterlife. People who get stalled right about where you are often believe that God is too far beyond us for us to approach him. That never made much sense to me. He’d have to be immensely powerful, but too weak to figure out how to talk to us. Either that or just a jerk.

    Some say that God communicating with us would be like us communicating with an ant. Well, the problem in that scenario isn’t that we’re too smart for an ant to understand; it’s that we’re too stupid to figure out how to speak Ant. I think that a God great enough to create the heavens and the earth is capable of talking to a bunch of primates who won’t stop babbling.

  • Regis

    I admire your beliefs, Baronius. Like you, I believe in a God–but my God is an unexplainable power–a whatness which at this point in my life seems unreachable and unknowable.

    As I see it, for whatever reason, we have developed reason, a sense of logic about the world we live in.

    Science continues to hunt answers precisely because there is a hint–an intimation–that answers are out there.

    And yet, the biggest questions–Why are we here? What is our purpose?–appear to be logically unanswerable without your kind of Faith.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    “Some say that God communicating with us would be like us communicating with an ant.”

    But there are other views – that we humans are higher than angels, fully worthy of God’s creation.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Justice and love is the purpose, Regis, universal love and justice. And faith is just a matter of adopting a proper stance as regards our relationships with what there is.

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    Justice, love? Pshaw…those were misdirections. Consumption, now that is holy.

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    Oh and I forgot to include war. Yep, consumption and power. Those are god’s ideals.

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    I on’t really understand Baronius’ ‘faith’. he seems to believe that god made humans to be selfish creeps that need a free market to keep their evilness in check, as he has explained via his ideas about human nature.

    That seems to evidence very little faith in god’s creations.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I’m pondering too, Cindy. So it’s either the consequence of the original sin doctrine, or the idea that we’ve been made unwhole for the sole purpose of recovering our wholeness through God.

    Actually, the latter notion, however paradoxical, has some merit. The Sickness Unto Death is a major work by one of the most lucid theologians ever.

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    …or the idea that we’ve been made unwhole for the sole purpose of recovering our wholeness through God.

    Well, I considered that. The problem I have with that is how is there a faith in redemption where we don’t expect the best of people and support that best. To support a system that encourages the worst in people is where the conflict is for me. If you believe that god wants people to redeem themselves, then why would you support a system that encourages their greed and caters to the basest qualities?

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    It doesn’t make sense to me to say one has ‘faith’ and then say we need to protect ourselves from what human nature is, rather than to embrace the good and transform human nature.

    How can Baronius have faith in god yet not have faith in the human beings capacity for transformation?

    Does that make sense?

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    “The Church predated the Bible, and in fact collected its books.”

    This presupposes the idea of “The Church” as all-wise and all-knowing from the get-go. And such a view is contrary to what we know about human institutions. They all go through the process of evolving (or devolving), and “the Church” was no different. In fact, we can trace the development of the church as an institution from Pauline epistles. And it’s surely a long way from the future formations – such as those existing during the synods.

    In any case, it seems you’re speaking of “The Church” in some other sense, a sense different from that conveyed by the idea of (human) institution. And while I don’t necessarily object to this idealized usage, it needs airing out if we want to keep this discussion on track.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    “How can Baronius have faith in god yet not have faith in the human beings capacity for transformation?”

    If this was indeed the case, you’d be right. I don’t think, however, that’s Baronius’s position.

    The point I think is that apart from God, transformation is impossible. It’s only through God, and through our relationship with God, than we can be made whole.

    It think that’s Kierkegaard’s message.

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    This presupposes the idea of “The Church” as all-wise and all-knowing from the get-go.

    Or it presupposes that the church is an institution or power that creates knowledge (the Bible).

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    that should be ‘institution OF power’

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Exactly. But that’s not Baronius’s conception. He thinks of “The Church” as the repository of all wisdom, wisdom for all ages, and of the (human) institution – mind you now, only the Roman Catholic version and no other – as a somewhat imperfect representation of the ideal.

    Now, to be able to do so it truly takes “faith.” Notice, I put it in scare quotes.

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    173 – It seems a contradiction to believe that humans are so unable to transform through god, say, that we need a free market to protect us from each other, rather than an embrace of that which is transformative (godlike).

    It seems at odds to me. How are humans claiming to be transformed by god if they support systems that worship greed? So that, that lack of faith in our fellows plays out as a reinforcement of that which is worst in humans. It seems a lack of faith in god, in other words, to not live as if humans can be transformed through love. To support free markets with the explanation that human nature is greedy and only free markets can make things fair, says to me that god cannot transform humans.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    “Well, I considered that. The problem I have with that is how is there a faith in redemption where we don’t expect the best of people and support that best. To support a system that encourages the worst in people is where the conflict is for me. If you believe that god wants people to redeem themselves, then why would you support a system that encourages their greed and caters to the basest qualities?”

    Just noticed your comment, Cindy. But in all fairness, Baronius’s conflicting position doesn’t negate the soundness of the idea. It reflects only on Baronius, not on the idea. He’s got issues.

  • John Wilson

    Friends who have switched to Budhhism tell me that the great thing is that you recover your sense of humor. Apparently, Budhha was a jokester.

    Here’s one they tell, about the sincere young acolyte who travels the world in search of Truth and an answer to the question “what is life?”. Finally he is sent to see a 100 year old monk who lives on a remote mountain top and contemplates these questions constantly. Acolyte pops the question “what is life?” and the monk answers “life is like a large shiny ball” and the acolyte says “that’s silly, it’s more like a fountain of water!” And the monk says “by jove, you’re right!”.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I believe I address your #177 in #178. Again, it’s Baronius’s problem. He’s been conflating the idea of efficiency (free markets, capitalism, etc) with that of goodness. It’s the collapsing of the means-ends distinction, along with holding on to a radical dichotomy between spiritual and material goods.

    It’s only by virtue of this dual set of conceptions that he is able to hold on to his paradoxical position.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Yes, John Wilson. We Westerners could surely benefit from the Orient. Everything is so damned serious with us while life passes by.

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    Heard of Chris Hedges?

    You might like him, Roger. Maybe you too, John Wilson.

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    Here is an excerpt from his piece called, The Greeks Get It.

    “Here’s to the Greeks. They know what to do when corporations pillage and loot their country. They know what to do when Goldman Sachs and international bankers collude with their power elite to falsify economic data and then make billions betting that the Greek economy will collapse. They know what to do when they are told their pensions, benefits and jobs have to be cut to pay corporate banks, which screwed them in the first place. Call a general strike. Riot. Shut down the city centers. Toss the bastards out. Do not be afraid of the language of class warfare—the rich versus the poor, the oligarchs versus the citizens, the capitalists versus the proletariat. The Greeks, unlike most of us, get it.”

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Well, Cindy, we here don’t have that kind of consciousness. As I noted to Mark on another thread, we still tend to think as “individuals,” moved only by our own petty concerns how much money we got in the bank, how to spend it. We fail to see that our lot is inexorably connected with the lot of others like us. Lack of imaginative thinking, the result of having been spoiled, of different circumstances and different histories.

    The Europeans have learned their lesson; they don’t suffer from the disease called “American exceptionalism.” We haven’t and consequently continue to live the life of unreality.

  • Baronius

    I feel a little bit like Bugs Bunny walking up behind Elmer Fudd. “Watcha’ doin’?” “I’m hunting Bawonius.” The point being that when Roger and Cindy talk about me, it’s like they’re describing something so completely different from me that I could walk up behind them and they wouldn’t recognize me.

    I’m not sure where to start in replying to you guys. I think you’re mashing up my religious beliefs, my belief that human nature is unchangeable, and your take on the free market. So when you ask a question like “how can he believe in goodness and in the evils of capitalism”, you don’t consider that my answer would be that I don’t see capitalism as evil. You’re so convinced that I’m in the wabbit hole that you don’t look for me where I am.

    I guess the best I can do is offer hints to get you on the right path. One thing, I don’t believe that everyone as a group can change into something other than what we are. I believe that each person can be fixed. That’s three differences. First, it’s on an individual basis. Second, it’s not something we do on our own (although it requires our consent). Third, it’s not about altering us into something non-human; it’s about getting us back on track.

    Also, obviously, I don’t think that God communicating with us would be like us communicating with an ant. I was addressing the state of mind that Regis seems to be in.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Yes, Baronius, you’ve been diced and dissected, but it was in good fun, you got to admit.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    And BTW, I don’t disagree with any of your three points. In fact, they’re very much on target. And I don’t believe that any of my comments ran contrary to any of these pointers.

  • Baronius

    Roger, something has been dissected, but it wasn’t me.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    As to whether “capitalism is evil,” I’ll let Cindy have the first crack.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Fair enough.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Meanwhile, I’ll refer you to Bob Lloyd’s book review, just published. It may serve as a preamble to the million-dollar question.

  • Baronius

    Roger, I just finished saying that you guys and I haven’t picked up one thing from talking to each other…and you took that as me wanting to talk some more?

    That just goes to show how well we communicate.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Well then, Baronius. For one thing, I’m sorry to hear that. Yet, on the other hand, it does appear like you have a stake at not being understood. And when it comes to that, I can’t help it. Perhaps you don’t express yourself too clearly, perhaps you don’t want to, perhaps you can’t. I can only guess, but only you know.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    And BTW, Baronius, I did agree with your three propositions just a comment ago, yet, you still protest and claim to be misunderstood rather than taking it up from there. So don’t blame me for failure of trying.

  • Baronius

    Nothing personal, Roger. I just don’t feel like going over the same old ground again.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    It’s OK, Baronius. I am fairly comfortable discussing my own views and, if and when challenged, do my best to explain myself. Some people may be less so, and I respect that. In the future, I’ll make certain that both Cindy and I shall abstain from discussing our hypothesized views of you in your absence.

  • zingzing

    baronius teaches us how to go to heaven, not how the heavens go.

  • Cherokee Warrior

    Faith you have to have faith.

    I have came in late but really enjoyed reading all the comments esp. those of Hank Nash.

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    I have faith that people who buy into unproven mystical theories are naive. Will that do?

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    184 – Roger,

    The Greeks he is referring to, btw, in case you did not catch that, are the Anarchists.

  • Regis

    Obviously, the church (Catholic Church) believes in the truths it teaches. These truths are based on God killing, and regardless of how I try to reason that horrific incident, it remains mankind’s most atrocious act.

    Catholics have made this act of restitution the central theme of their dogma, that and the fact that Christ allegedly rose from the dead.

    Was rising from the dead supposed to prove Christ’s divinity? If so, why die in the first place.

  • Regis

    If Christ allowed Himself to be sacrificed to his Heavenly Father, by resurrecting from the dead, would that not be taking back his sacrifice?

  • Irene Wagner

    Risking the “tautology” epithet by responding to a Bible question with a Bible answer (rather than a quote by a philosopher)…

    Acts 2: 22 Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know : 23 Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken , and by wicked hands have crucified and slain : 24 Whom God hath raised up , having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it. 25 For David speaketh concerning him, I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved : 26 Therefore did my heart rejoice , and my tongue was glad ; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope: 27 Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. 28 Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance.

    Jesus gave his life up, for all of us, to God the Father, and God the Father gave it back to him.

  • Irene Wagner

    Regis, you said, the crucifixion “remains mankind’s most atrocious act.” Yet, Jesus asked the Father to forgive them even while he was being crucified. God has continued to preserve Israel as a race and call them to himself:

    Chapter 3 17 And now, brethren, I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers. 18 But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer , he hath so fulfilled . 19 Repent ye therefore, and be converted , that your sins may be blotted out , when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; 20 And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: 21 Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began. 22 For Moses truly said unto the fathers , A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. 23 And it shall come to pass , that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people. 24 Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken , have likewise foretold of these days. 25 Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed . 26 Unto you first God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities.

  • Irene Wagner

    One…two…three Bible Thumpings (this last one is a blessing, actually), and then I’m OUT and on my way.

    [17] That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,
    [18] May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;
    [19] And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.
    [20] Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,
    [21] Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.

    Ephesians chapter 3

  • Regis

    Irene, if the God of the OT and the NT is true, s/he would be happy with your stalwart defense.

    I feel adequately “thumped.” I hope you are carrying a small, or at least a light, Bible.

    Reg1s

  • Irene Wagner

    Light enough that I can carry lots of spares. Here’s your copy, opened to a good place to start.

  • Regis

    Irene, I would be interested in your comments of a new article that I wrote. It was just published. I find your comments disturbing but interesting.

    If you dare, you can find it here.

  • Irene Wagner

    If I dare! It was a beautiful tribute. :)

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    185 – Baronius,

    How do you feel about the market in pedophilia?

    Can you see how a world where we all become commodities fails?

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Cindy, I’m not going to address Baronius’s view (as per my comment above), but I’m going to address a general view.

    Markets aren’t evil. (Some) individuals are. Consequently, the market in pedophilia is no different (in essence) than the market in petroleum where costs are cut in the interest of profit.

    And it’s not up to the society to regulate evil individuals – because God gave us freedom. Ultimately, they’ll rise or fall according to the Last Judgment. Consequently, we are to bear our lot, and abstain from interference. That’s the way of the world.

    Ultimately, once the Kingdom of God sets in, the righteous will be rewarded and the evildoers punished. And everything will be made aright.

  • Baronius

    Cindy, when you put it that way, I realize that there is absolutely no moral difference between signing a paycheck and molesting a child. How could I have been so blind?

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    It depends on who signs the paycheck and for what services. It’s arguable in fact that those who sign a paycheck are more guilty than child molesters.

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    Baronius,

    Capitalism is about exploiting markets. All markets are game. Sex is a commodity. Even Dave Nalle supported the idea of midgets depilitating their body hair to provide prostitutes that look like children to serve a sexual commodity market (for pretend child sex partners).

    I am talking about MARKETS in pedophilia, Baronius. Like sexual slavery markets. Like fantasy fiction markets that convince child molesters they are all right and everyone else is all wrong. You don’t think Capitalism has fostered this?

    You don’t think Capitalism is responsible for markets in sexual degradation of women and children (and men)?

    You don’t think the state of the world ills in general today has anything at all to do with Capitalism? You can’t see any connections?

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    What I am asking Baronius, is if you think that free markets foster the best in us, do you not also see they exploit the worst in us? Right? That makes sense, no? I mean Capitalism isn’t immune is it from the worst in us?

  • Doug Hunter

    #211

    You still can’t synthesize a right wing argument worth a damn. It always makes me wonder whether your being obtuse is intentional or not (must we always ‘forget’ that in free markets prices compete lower as well as wages, hence the abundance of material crap in these parts). Baronius is right in the fact that we learn nothing from attempts at communication. We will always be the defective people keeping your utopia from coming into being. All I ask is that you to try and build your world without forcing my participation.. that’s the rub though.

    As for Cindy’s initial question, since I have no concept of Pedophilia any more than I do a foot fetish (I find neither feet nor children sexual) I will answer in regards to sex in general. The very concept of private property begins with your own body (and hence sex)… the right of control and exclusion. No one should be able to take your body by force, no person, authority, or government should be allowed to tell you when, where, and how to (or not to) use it. We’ve outlawed force, I think the argument against fraud is self evident, so we’ve also eliminated the roots of coercion and laid the foundation for body as property with the potential as a commodity. I can preach morality to you, but there is no basis within that framework by which I can prevent you from selling yourself.

    Take that foundation, I suspect even a child (animals definitely do, but perhaps they have their own form of evil capitalist indoctrination) will extend those ‘rights’ to what they have in their mouth or hand. From there it’s just a series of small jumps to everything being property.

    I believe in freedom from coercion and government now, not later, not once the population has been reeducated, not in some fantasy where right or left or up or down has been eliminated and only people that think like me exist. In a free society everything or nothing can be a commodity to you, it is your choice… don’t begrudge others having the same priviledge and choosing diffently. I don’t.

  • Baronius

    There’s nothing inherently unjust or dehumanizing about work. There’s no reason to think that capitalist societies are any more dehumanizing than anything else that’s been tried. Certainly, every attempt to overthrow the order and establish a new system has been brutal.

    Cruelty is a product of bad philosophy and human weakness, not market structure. People like Sacco and Vanzetti embraced a poisonous belief system that treats people as disposable. Lack of respect of the person leads to degradation, whatever the economic system. Dave’s philosophy may not fully understand humanity, but at least it respects the individual as best as it can.

  • Irene Wagner

    Roger, whence THAT monstrosity? It wasn’t too long ago that you “summed up” my perspective on life that way, and you graciously retracted the statement when I informed you that it did not describe my views at all. Where is this idea coming from? Cindy recommended I read Greg Boyd on Christian anarchy at one point, but your description appears to be a caricature, rather than a fair description of Boyd’s views.

    Cindy, do you still have that link? Would anarchists be opposed to laws against pedophilia? That would be anarchy taken to an absurd extreme, an anarchy that looks the other way while “the worst in us” runs rampant. Anarchism and free market capitalism are both vulnerable–as is any system.

    I put “worst in us” in quotes because…I wanted to use your term for what I would call “human nature”–which we’d agree includes a “best in us” aspect as well.

  • Mark

    Baronius is right in the fact that we learn nothing from attempts at communication.

    Too true…especially in these comment threads. (Not quite true — I’ve learned how not to monetize a site.)

    All I ask is that you to try and build your world without forcing my participation

    No problem, Doug. And when you are drawn to emerge from your hermitage to partake in the social product, I, for one, will welcome you.

  • Doug Hunter

    Irene, reductio ad absurdum is a very effective tool especially against a concrete, realistic vision. Unfortunately, you can’t turn the tables against the idealist. What would they do about pedophilia in ideal world? Well, obviously, in ideal world pedophilia just magically wouldn’t exist becuase we’d all be on a higher plane (thanks in large part to the death of capitalism, I’m sure). Where you have to struggle with the details of a practical solution, an idealist can just will it away.

  • Irene Wagner

    Doug Hunter. Idealists push the limits of realism–they’re visionaries. Concrete realists tell them when they’ve pushed too far…or pushed too fast.

    In private moments of reflection with a nice glass of hermitage, or a jigger of Maker’s Mark, or…some O’Doule’s…then perhaps the ministrations of all our enemies will be appreciated, or at least considered.

    We all put too much faith in systems, and not enough faith in…well, each other, at the very least.

  • Irene Wagner

    Twee, but twoo. I go now to meditate in a hermitage of Mark’s making.

  • Mark

    (You’ll enjoy it, Irene, but don’t oversleep. Faberge eggs for breakfast.)

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I don’t care to synthesize right-wing’s argument – it’s not an argument worth synthesizing.

    But if you were less obtuse, you wouldn’t have any problem noticing that #211 was intended as a caricature. I guess you’re too full of yourself to notice such things.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    “Cruelty is a product of bad philosophy and human weakness, not market structure. People like Sacco and Vanzetti embraced a poisonous belief system that treats people as disposable. Lack of respect of the person leads to degradation, whatever the economic system.”

    Sounds like a quote from a textbook. But as I said before, whenever Barronius speaks, you never see the person – all you hear is words.

    Interestingly, though, he fails to see people being treated as objects (and as disposable) in the very system he defends. And what’s the basis of his defense: whatever has been tried was worse.

    Well, Baronius, buddy, just as feaudalism fell, so will capitalism, and it’s got nothing to do with your wishes or with what’s better. History moves on with or without your participation. So sing another song once the inevitable will happen.

    I don’t even know why Cindy bothers. You are a hopeless case and definitely not worth the effort.

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    Baronius, Doug,

    I will come back to reply to you as I am away for the day.

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    Irene,

    Greg Boyd’s site, Greg’s blog, with an article called A Call to Christian Anarchy and another anarchist site of interest Jesus Radicals.

    Would anarchists be opposed to laws against pedophilia?

    We could poll them. :-)

    I could take this in a number of directions. Let me try two.

    One, nothing about anarchism contradicts people making rules. It is simply done horizontally. The problem is rulers, not rules. So, if people felt there was a need for such a rule, they could decide to make one. The main difference is there is no authority that imposes on people from above. They are always free to change or adopt rules directly as they are effected by them.

    Two, does your family have any laws against pedophilia? If not, why not?

    Anarchism and free market capitalism are both vulnerable–as is any system.

    I disagree here. I will try to explain why over time. I’ve got to go for now. But in essence here is why I am an anarchist. Anarchism has the potential to promote sane, happy, loving, sound people (and generally does so where it is found). Capitalism insures that people are competitive, will be turned into commodities, and that the worst in them will become a new market to capitalize on, and thus the worst in us all will be capitalized upon and expanded.

  • Irene Wagner

    * Faberge eggs…Starbuck’s coffee…Roger’s influence, no doubt. Good thing these folks aren’t capitalists. Normally I’d feel guilty slipping out the back door of a place like this without paying…*

  • Irene Wagner

    BUSTED. Cindy shows up just as I was leaving. *digs into pockets * Lemme read your comment, and look for some cash. hehe.

  • Irene Wagner

    I’m all for communities, Cindy. How they are governed depends on the character and/or mores of the people who live in them.

    I have no DOUBT that you’d poll some communities where pedophilia would be A-OK.
    Hopefully, those crafting the Phoenix which will emerge from the ashes of what is modern-day Greece’s economy will consider the best their ancient philosophers had to offer, and leave the rest behind. This is likely to be the case, considering the influence Judeo-Christian thought, vis a vis pederasty, has had on the culture since those times.

    Thanks for supplying Greg Boyd links, and I thank you for reminding me about him. I have for a long time appreciated his emphasis on warfare being, for the Christian, a spiritual exercise. He’s encouraging Christians to examine very closely the man-made banner they march under in the name of Peace and Prosperity. We’ve been duped so many times.

    Hope you get a lot done today, Cindy.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Irene,

    I you were to read the thread a bit more closely, you should have noticed my efforts to communicate with Baronius. It’s only as a matter of last resort that I decided to flush him out. So yes, at that point I started resorting to caricatures.

    Thanks, though, for being unususally observant, your latent feature of late.

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    Irene,

    Anarchists cannot choose to decide pedophilia is okay. So, my poll remark was meant to be ironic. Meaning that to really know what an anarchist thinks you need to ask her/him, rather than me–as that is what anarchism is about, what each of us thinks, rather than what someone else imposes on us.

    (Our plans were canceled due to cloudy skies. We’ll try for the pool again tomorrow. My husband is being set up with a full-time intravenous medicine pump which should help his shortness of breath. It will be a relief. But no more swimming for him once it’s connected. I hope he gets to spend a full day in pool worship prior to that. :-)

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    You do see why anarchists cannot decide pedophilia is okay, don’t you? (Hard to imagine this, coming for this culture, but even children have rights.)

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    How they are governed depends on the character and/or mores of the people who live in them.

    Is that really true? I don’t see it that way. I see it the other way around. How a community’s character unfolds depends on how that community is governed. Think about the entire world and all cultures and tell me that doesn’t make more sense.

    And thus, anarchy. Which actually would make things the way you hold they already are.

  • Regis

    Several comments ago there were remarks about capitalism and greed. Prior to that, there were many comments supporting the inspiration of the Bible–both the OT and the NT.

    Now, what could be more greedy than a Biblical God leading his “Chosen People” into the land of Canaan and stealing the land from the various tribes in that valley by murdering and enslaving them?

  • Regis

    Pedophilia is wrong, not because of any Biblical reason.

    It is wrong because it harms psychologically and often physically.

    Causing pain goes against an inbuilt natural law in each of us that tells us to avoid pain.

  • Baronius

    Regis – Most of us wandered over from the Politics section, even though we never discuss politics. It’s mostly philosophy, religion, and personal smears. Point being, this board is becoming Chapter 38 in an unfortunately long ongoing conversation. Sorry.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I suppose it’s because politics is unrelated to philosophy and human values.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Wow, Cindy. Keep your chin up.

  • Irene Wagner

    Roger, your quarrel with Baronius is not my quarrel with Baronius, so keep me out of it, please. He and I seem to be able to disagree with one another upon occasion without wiping the floor with one another.

  • Irene Wagner

    Cindy, I hope your husband will have that good memory, too.

  • Irene Wagner

    Also, Cindy, our controversy over which comes first, government or the character of those governed may stem from our different meanings for the word “community.”

    When I say community, I mean any group of people who band together for a common purpose. Could be a community of Stalinists (bad) or Dorothy Days (good). Could be a community of capitalists who have a vision for putting the blood sweat and tears into developing and marketing a useful product, and providing employment for people, who, while honest and industrial, prefer to punch the clock at 5 p.m. and find fulfillement in pursuits outside R&D (good capitalists) And then there are communities of the OTHER kind of capitalist.

    So I said I was “all for” communities. I guess I’m only “all for” communities who don’t dehumanize other communities.

  • Irene Wagner

    And finally, Regis. You’d have to know more about the tribes in the valley before you accused God that way. That said, I have problems today with people who kill in God’s name without having God’s miraculous presence in a pillar of cloud by day and fire by night to tell them what to do, as the Jews in the Biblical days did.

  • Irene Wagner

    Cindy, you might try the YMCA indoor pool. I think you can get a day pass without being a member. AND speaking of honest and industrial [sic], (I meant industrious), my work starts now, so I have to go.

  • Baronius

    Irene, I don’t remember you and I ever quarrelling.

    Roger, I wish you’d leave *me* out of your feud with me, but you’ve definitely slammed Irene a couple of times for no good reason.

  • Baronius

    Cindy, I hope your husband’s not planning on pushing himself too hard while waiting for treatment!

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Irene knows what I’m talking about, or at least she ought to. She comes in a tail end of the conversation and shit-disturbs.

    It would seem she is more intent of late to simply cite chapter and verse rather than discuss the issues. My conversation with Jordan, e.g., was illuminating I should say – and if you don’t think so I’m sorry for both of you. But no, she chooses to ignore the positive and focus instead on a snippet. As to you, I’ve long stopped trying to figure you out. Seriously, I doubt whether you’ve figured yourself out. And if you can’t, my chances are nil.

  • Baronius

    Roger, I’m looking at the back of the internet for the sticker that says “Property of Roger Nowosielski”, but I don’t see it. Until I find it, I guess you’re just going to have to live with interactions that don’t match your ideal.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I ain’t complaining, Baronius. My issue was with Irene, and I hold her to a higher standard than I hold you. It is you who butted in.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Come to think, you keep coming across more and more as LOL – little old lady, you’re protesting too much.

    Grow up and get a life!

  • Irene Wagner

    Baronius, I don’t remember quarrels with you, either. They are not the same as discussions.

  • Irene Wagner

    I’d suggest a lyrics-writing contest, but I am currently otherwise engaged. :)

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I do prose (or at least try to). Screw lyrics.

  • Regis

    243 – Irene Wagner

    And finally, Regis … I have problems today with people who kill in God’s name without having God’s miraculous presence in a pillar of cloud by day and fire by night to tell them what to do, as the Jews in the Biblical days did.

    So you truly believe that GOD’S MIRACULOUS PRESENCE told the Israelites to plunder and steal the lands of the Philistines, etc. Isn’t this rather greedy and obscene?

  • Irene Wagner

    Regis: Yes. No. Roger/Baronius: I meant limmericks.

  • Baronius

    There once was a fellow named Rege
    who disliked the Canaanite siege
    but he failed to see
    just how great it would be
    for one place to have G-d as their liege

  • Irene Wagner

    Good job, Baronius. I don’t have time to write my own, but I don’t think it could’ve topped yours.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    Yippee!!! Limerick time again!

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    He may as well stick to the genre. Logical argument is not his strong suit.

  • Regis

    It does not seem in any way odd
    That Baronius fears Aaron’s rod;
    His Israelites killed;
    Their maker was thrilled;
    ‘Tis why he fears to type the word G-d.

  • Regis

    Now Irene holds her Bible like a maul,
    Her thumps would make a man crawl.
    “We all must fly blind;
    It’s the plight of mankind;
    God would never throw man a curve ball.”

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    There was a pastor from Nantucket… Oh, I see. Not those kinds of limericks. Never mind then. Carry on…

  • Irene Wagner

    Good one, Regis, the one about me, I mean.
    The one about Baronius has weaknesses in the meter of the last line, though.

    Dr. Dreadful, I’ve got a second line for yours:

    ….who gave food to the poor by the bucket…
    The last line? You’re going to have to use trebuchet somehow, although some sources say it doesn’t really rhyme.

  • Baronius

    There’s a frequent blogcritic, Ruvy,
    Who has studied in depth the OT
    If he happens to show,
    Then a dash for the “o”
    In G-d’s name is a small courtesy.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    @ # 264:

    “…The poor folk said, “Hail!
    He doles lunch by the pail
    Which arrives at great speed by trebuchet.”

    Will that do?

    :-)

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    A pious young gent named Baronius
    Held Pope Benedict inerroneous.
    Since Nicaea locked in
    The Catholic doctrine
    Heresy’s little short of felonious.

  • Baronius

    I’ve heard limericks, quite a few versions,
    Of this Nantucket fellow’s perversions
    I am glad he’s been trained
    As a priest and ordained
    ’cause I’ve prayed for this fellow’s conversion.

  • Irene Wagner

    I stand in awe of both of you.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Wow.

    I am truly, truly impressed! Like Irene, I stand in awe. I wrote an article in the Culture section to address the author’s questions…but Limericks really get my Irish up!

    Awe, shucks!

    Winkin, and Blinkin, and Nod
    All lived on the Blogcritics blog
    In perpetual strife,
    Out of sight of the wife,
    Viciously likening splinters to logs!

  • Irene Wagner

    vishuSLEE lik’ning splinters to logs. Yes.
    The Biblical allusion is so appropriate here that we’ll grant Glenn poetic license to readjust the emPHASis slightly for meter’s sake.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    He put the emphasis on the wrong syllable.

  • Baronius

    The hard part is stopping.

  • Irene Wagner

    The time for this contest is done.
    BOY HOWDY! We’ve had lots of fun.
    If you’re a late-comer,
    That’s sort of a bummer:
    I’ve determined already who’s won.

    And the winner is: *drumroll*

    four-way tie amongst Regis, Baronius, Dr. Dreadful, and Glenn.

    Over and out. :)

  • Regis

    Hello, Irene!

    It does seem that we’ve wrung out our laundry here. I am not a debater, but I do have a solid sense of what I believe in.

    All of your thumping comments were well taken. My problem is not yours; it lies within me as a man. I simply am not an OT or a NT believer, yet I do believe the Israelites and their priests and prophets who wrote those books truly wrote down what they believed or were instructed to believe.

    Was God present back then. God was there, God is here now! S/he sits with us now whether I or you or anyone accepts that fact or not.

    But I cannot rectify the Son of my Creator as a liege for OT testament atrocities, or a Jesus who offered Himself up to his Father as a blood sacrifice for the sins of mankind. To me, this places God on the same give or take level as those Israelites who mercilessly conquered the Canaan Valley.

    You have your faith–I respect that. I have mine. But to me, the Jesus of the NT was not a God/Man who came to earth as an effigy to make up for the sins of this world ad sacula saculorum. That wreaks of illogic to me and I am a strictly logical thinker.

    I know you find comfort in your beliefs as I used to, but belief requires Faith–not just verbal assertion, but real Faith–a Faith that a believer would subsequently die for.

    When I think about your beliefs, you have so many saints and martyrs on your side who gave up their very lives for the belief that Christ was the Son of God.

    Ultimately, for me, it boils down to the straight forward question, “Regis, what think ye of the Christ?”

    I am not longer able to assert.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Regis,

    You continue being blind to Old Testament typology of scapegoat, the suffering servant, and the idea of offering as an atonement. You may disagree with these ideas, but you’ve got no leg to stand on when you dismiss those beliefs offhand just because they don’t make sense to you. That’s precisely what the people of Israel believed, and that’s a fact.

    Christ’s resurrection was out of the same playbook. His death wasn’t just a human death. “Why have you forgotten me?” cry was a cry of desperation, foretelling of a “second death,” meaning eternal separation from God, the father. Which is precisely why his resurrection is such a powerful symbol. It communicates to the believers that though die we all must, it’s not the end.

    Mind you now, I’m not arguing here for or against, only explicating “the logic.”

    Your continuous harping on the irrationality of the idea, just because you find it irrational, sounds like an idee fixe. It only suggests that you yourself are conflicted, which is why you keep rehashing the same ole points.

    I surely don’t want to say that you’re being disingenuous. I’m trying to extend you the credit.

  • Regis

    You continue being blind to Old Testament typology of scapegoat, the suffering servant, and the idea of offering as an atonement. You may disagree with these ideas, but you’ve got no leg to stand on when you dismiss those beliefs offhand just because they don’t make sense to you. That’s precisely what the people of Israel believed, and that’s a fact.

    What is factual to me, Irene, is that the very words you believe in (OT-NT), tell stories of unfounded hatred, not love. The OT words are words of avarice. The NT words are words of unquestionable horror.

    You belive in them because the Bible tells you to believe in them and this is an act of pure FAITH.

    I do not have that faith.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    It wasn’t Irene’s post, Regis, it was mine. And faith, BTW, has got nothing to do with the object of your belief; it’s all about human experience.

    How one does or does not conceive the object of their belief is entirely up to them. There is a great deal of latitude. In fact, even “pagans” can rightly claim to be no more deficient in their faith than the most devout Jews or Christians. And it wouldn’t matter one bit if they practice voodoo or shamanism.

    Now, put that in your pipe and smoke it.

  • Regis

    Sorry Irene, I thought it was your post.

    You are absolutely right, Roger, the object of my belief comes from my human experience. This experience tells me that the ancient books are just that: ancient books–misguided human experiences which are both illogical and unnaturally wrong.

    Human experience tells me that conquering, killing, and hatred, are not acceptable, were never acceptable, will never be acceptable.

    Rationalizing the opposite because of fear of damnation, or “going against the goad,” or because “that’s what I’ve been told and that’s what I must believe” is sheer lack of courage to accept the unknown.

    This fear existed thousands of years ago. It existed down through the ages. It is the same fear that drives religions today, it is the same fear that keeps people enslaved in their steeped traditions.

  • Irene Wagner

    Thankyou Regis, for noticing that. I had no intention of coming back to argue with you after I’d given you shared First Place for your limmericks.

    But, since I’m here…You think I choose this way because it’s COMFORTABLE?

    One of the people closest to me who died, likely did so cursing God with his last breath. Or maybe not. I wasn’t there. It was a suicide.

    Others were infants. I think they “made it in” personally, just like I think A LOT of people who haven’t SEEN a Bible I can quote chapter and verse and believe cover-to-cover and love–I think God cares about them, and has ways of reaching them in ways that you don’t know about.

    And I know God loved the innocents (many of whom were lived in a condition where their parents might offer them a bloody sacrifice to Molech, you know, if the crops looked like they might need a little divine help that year–or grownups who were horrified by the practice but had to live among people who did it) he took those innocents home WAY before their time. Just like he took my own children away from me way before their time. I don’t hold it against Him, anymore than I take the death of innocents in the Old Testament against him.

    He knew about the way some things were going to turn out ahead of time.

    And there are another two whom I have and do love, who, at present, appear to have no intention of dying with anything but curses for God on their lips, if there is any mention of him at all.

    Comfort? Being associated, because I am an American who loves the name JESUS– being associated with a bunch of well-intentioned, patriotic, salt of the earth helpful people–whom I also love for that reason, even though they are concerned I show signs of going FAR astray– who under the direction of wolves in sheep’s clothing, those who have money to make from fomenting war and hate God, have been led into war, “for Israel’s sake, their Crosses wrapped in flags carried aloft! You call those associations COMFORTABLE?

    Those whose primary identifying features are that they 1) hate homosexuals 2) love babies — unless they’re Iraqi babies, or Sudanese babies, or…well, anything but American babies….Some Americans who love Jesus are NOT like this. Unfortunately, none of them seem to be as noisy as I am. Comfortable? Yeah, big heaping loads of comfort THERE!

    My faith makes me COMFORTABLE? My big toe it makes me comfortable!

    Only when I am with the Bible, knowing that I am talking to God and he is talking to me (through little almost daily evidences that, despite their incredibly frequent nature, you’d pass off as coincidences–even the odd medical miracle–those are admittedly rare) This is the way that I know that he is with me, and with others who aren’t afraid that people will think they’re crazy if they admit to such things…and that I do that my life is not irrelevant, not to HIM anyway, that it is worth it to try to make peace…

    …in my own without MAKING FUN OF PEOPLE (except if they DANG well know I’m kidding around with them), or INTIMIDATING THEM into silence, or attacking their character or intelligence, or without respecting their views (except once when someone called Ron Paul a racist, but I’ve only had a comment deleted once because of the fact the guy a liar.

    And when people like Richard Dawkins try to make a case for encouraging people to take my babies away from me because I am poisoning them with evil “memes” I try to make a cogent case in return, one with which atheists like Dave Nalle who deserves a lot more respect than he gets around here, agree with me.

    The End. Please don’t reply. I can’t think of anything else to say. I have spilled my guts to the world.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Many ways to witness, Irene, without bearing the cross.

  • John Wilson

    The major tragic figure in the bible is god himself.

  • Regis

    John, I think you are right. The God painted by the Bible is indeed immorally tragic and has remained so down through the ages. The Bible God cannot possibly be my God.

  • Dan

    Beautiful sentiments Irene. I’m glad I caught that (#279). Coincidence perhaps?

    Did you happen to see Ben Steins documentary “Expelled”? Some argue that it was an unfair set up, but I think Richard Dawkins rendered himself irrelevant by his own shifting logic.

    An explaination that seems reasonable to me for Gods harsh treatment of humanity in the Old Testament is that the primitive mental and spiritual evolution of the time didn’t allow for gentle moral lessons.

    Punishing David by calling back his young child doesn’t seem so harsh when you consider that life, death, pain, grief, and even time are all divine constructs that are insignificant in the larger scheme.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Can’t be the same Dan I’m thinking of. Tell me I’m wrong.

  • Dan

    See another facet roger?

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Sure do.

  • Irene Wagner

    Dan, I returned to ask the COMMENT EDITORS TO DELETE #279, but if it keeps just ONE person from becoming an insufferable God Loves America Best-er, then my keyboard and I will have fought the good fight.

    [So…instead, I will just respectfully request that the COMMENT EDITORS discretely remove lines 4,5,16,17…cursing with their dying breaths, etc. etc.]

    Didn’t intend to sound self pitying there, was just pointing out that my primary reason for believing is NOT that it gives me hope that I’ll see Loved Ones Who Have Gone Before. Regis had written an article about how comforting it would be if he could believe he’d be with his wife for eternity. Some people believe, because it gives them hope that they’ll see Those Who Have Gone On Before again. That’s not my primary reason. It’ll be swell to spend eternity in the company of my believing husband–snoring problems all solved!–but there are ALSO people I love now who don’t WANT to spend eternity with God, and so…they probably won’t.

    I have not seen Expelled, although a free-thinker (not a Christian) recommended it to me because…eh…she’s not much of a fan of the way decisions are made in the upper echelons of academia.

  • Regis

    An explaination that seems reasonable to me for Gods harsh treatment of humanity in the Old Testament is that the primitive mental and spiritual evolution of the time didn’t allow for gentle moral lessons.

    God had just given the ten commandments. Why would He contradict Himsels so easily:
    “Thou shall not kill.
    Thou shall not commit adultery
    Thou shall not covet thy neighbor’s wife
    Thous shall not steal
    Thou shall not covet thy neighbor’s goods.

    The Israelites, let alone King David surely did not understand these God given commands.

  • Regis

    The He typed above should be S/he!

  • Irene Wagner

    1. #288 But I thought you said you had been a..?
    2. How much money do you get everytime someone clicks on this, Regis?

  • Irene Wagner

    Just wondering, because it sort of seems like I should be getting a cut, you know? Just sayin’.

  • Irene Wagner

    While I’m waiting for #289 be edited or deleted, I’ll watch “Expelled.”

  • Irene Wagner

    No, I meant #279. Nothing wrong with #289, except for the implicit statement: “King David knows commands, and King David disobeys commands” is a contradiction.

  • Irene Wagner

    Finished the movie. Yeah, Richard Dawkins WAS cornered into making himself sound like a fool at the end of “Expelled.” It was a fitting conclusion, though, to a documentary featuring interviews with so many formerly fully-functional scientists who were put in the “dunce” chair and shelved after someone picked up a whiff of I.D. in their publications.

    I can understand how people who don’t even believe in ID would have problems with that kind of heavy-handedness.

    Comment editor, would you mind taking a look at #287 where I made a request? Thanks so much.

  • Regis

    Irene, I get nothing at all for the clicks. I certainly have learned a lot from other people’s comments including your insights.

    I just finished reading a book written by Temple Grandin, a PhD who has spent her life dealing with her own autism. The book is titled Thinking in Pictures.

    The insights of this woman into death are interesting and comforting to me:

    “I believe that a person goes on to somewhere else after they die. I do not know where. How a person conducts themselves on Earth during their life will have an effect on the next life. I became convinced that some sort of an afterlife exists after I discovered God …” (Page 230)

    If you are interested, I will be writing a review for this book for Blogcritics that will appear with my other reviews.

  • Irene Wagner

    Regis, I too, have read about Temple Grandin, and this book sounds interesting. I was kidding about the pay-per-clicks. :) Well, I guess I’m not going to get ‘em to change my comment. I suppose if it doesn’t bother them, it shouldn’t bother me. See you around.

  • http://pajamasmedia.com/blog/author/danmiller/ Dan(Miller)

    Irene, I’m a big fan of Temple Grandin. You might be interested in another of her books, Animals in Translation, in which she used her autism to understand the ways in which non-human animals react to stimuli. She is a high level autistic person, and received her doctorate in animal science at the University of Illinois. She is now a professor of animal science at Colorado State University. She has devoted many years to making slaughter houses far more humane, and received a PETA award in the “visionary” category:

    Her improvements to animal-handling systems found in slaughterhouses have decreased the amount of fear and pain that animals experience in their final hours, and she is widely considered the world’s leading expert on the welfare of cattle and pigs.

    I think I learned a lot about our animals (four dogs, six horses and one cat) by reading and re-reading her book. Did you know that prairie dogs have a language with nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs? The different colonies have different dialects. If you are interested, do read the book.

    Dan(Miller)

  • Irene Wagner

    Dan(Miller) I actually thought of you when Regis mentioned Temple Grandin. No, I did not know you could parse a prairie dog sentence! But I’m really not surprised. The world is a wonderful place. :)

  • http://pajamasmedia.com/blog/author/danmiller/ Dan(Miller)

    Irene,

    The world is a wonderful place.

    As Clav would say, “quoted for truth.”

    Dan(Miller)

  • dimitar zdravkov

    RELIGION& SCIENCE CONNECT!BIBLE CODE UNLOCKED!-According to the Bible the world has been created in six days,but according to the Science this process has taken billions of years.If we exclude the difference in time and we pay attention to the SEQUENCE,we will see that there is no contradiction between both,but only the question-why in the Bible things happened so fast?There is an answer and it`s in the Bible itself.Moses described the Creation from his own sight as an eyewitness.Where and when he saw It,how could he have seen something happen before his existence?Answer:For forty days he has been at the mount Sinai where he got information about the past,present and future.The Creation had been REcreated to him in six days there,he had seen how the already existing world had been made.The long process of evolution had been shown to him in the first six days and the SEVENTH day had been dedicated to human`s appearing.After that he had seen the difference between Adam`s origin and Eve`s one.Adam comes from the dirt in the process of evolution,but Eve comes from DNA material out his body,which marks another jump for the evolution or in other words-the”missing link” which Science is looking for.The Creation continue and The Next Jump Is Coming…2012 ?!

  • Regis

    To Dimitar, your comments are interesting. Obviously, you are a believer in the literal interpretation of the Bible.

    However, exactly what Moses learned on Mount Sinai about God’s creation of the world could be exactly as you say.

    My concern with the Bible is this, the same God who allegedly told Moses and others what to write, also told the Israelites to commit certain acts of barbarism when conquering Canaan.

    I have no doubt that what is recorded in the Bible is what people truly believed.

    But why the Israelites, under Moses guidance would follow a God who told them to conquer, steal, rape, and murder the Philistine tribes, especially after receiving the 10 commandments from that same God, seems incredible.

    It is this same thinking today among the Israelites that keeps the conflict in the Middle East alive: Yahweh gave this land to the Israelites–thus, they feel they have a right to it, regardless of how they originally captured it.

  • Garry B

    God’s ways are not our ways … Your failure to trust the Creator to know what is right and wrong is proof of our lack of understanding..The Potter creates the clay bowl and yet he is not satisfied and breaks the bowl. Does the bowl have the right to question the Potter ? … The old saying “Everyone wants to go to heaven but no one wants to die” Surely you understand that to reach God’s heaven we have to die… or be here when Christ comes for us… That small baby was taken to be in God’s presence and the only ones who suffered was the sinners… The baby was in the very presence of God Almighty

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    I really wanted to respond to Garry B but really don’t know where to start!

  • http://www.regisschilkenwrites.com Regis

    To Gary, “If God’s ways are not our ways …” I fear that the reason you believe what you do is because the Bible tells you so.

    The Bible was written by priests who wanted the Israelites to conquer peoples they encountered and destroy them to such a degree, they would never be able to fight back.

    These Israelites needed a land of their own. Their priests convinced them wrongly that God wanted them to destroy, kill, rape, and plunder as a goad to horrendous activities. I’m including here both David and Solomon.

    You stated: “Does the bowl have the right to question the Potter?” Indeed it does if the bowl is human and the potters are also humans, not Gods.

    The Bible is only truthful in this sense. It is the believed word of the Israelites accurately copied down from one generation to the next because they believed in their priests who were using them to find a homeland, rather than be assimilated into other cultures.