Kingdom of Priests

Kingdom of Priests


No Such Thing as Atheism or Secularism

posted by David Klinghoffer

A profound message in the week’s Torah reading, Eikev, reminds us there is really no middle ground between adhering to God and adhering to idolatry. On the verse, “Beware for yourselves, lest your heart be seduced and you will turn astray and you will serve other gods and prostrate yourselves to them” (Deuteronomy 11:16), Rashi explains that there is a basic dichotomy between serving God and serving idols: “Once a person parts from the Torah” — that is, from divine teaching — “he goes and attaches himself to idolatry.” Those are the two choices every persons chooses between, and there are only two.

I was just listening to some joker called David Eagleman on Coast to Coast AM. Eagleman calls himself a “possibillian.” That means there are a multitude of “possible” spiritual perspectives that are neither secular materialist atheism nor Bible-based theism.
No, there aren’t. All the alternatives boil down to the same thing.

What about people who embrace no particular faith? Ah, that’s what they say, but of course they embrace a faith. It takes the form of some source of moral authority, accepted every bit as much on faith as a Jew or Christian’s embrace of the Bible. Typically what a “secularist” worships is simply the Zeigeist meshed with his own ego imperatives.
In short, no one is without a god. Either you worship God, or you worship other gods — which the Bible calls idolatry. Get used to it.


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Kieran

posted August 7, 2009 at 3:12 am


In short, if the only piece of evidence you can produce is a quote from the bible, we can safely reject your conclusions. That which can be asserted without evidence can be rejected without evidence. And the bible is NOT evidence.



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Thelemite

posted August 7, 2009 at 9:49 am


Well, if you want to play that game – Jews and Christians must worship the god of the bible, and since that god doesn’t exist there is no such thing as Jews or Christians. Get used to it.
Oh, and please spare us the “everything in the world takes the same amount of faith to believe as the invisible, unprovable, self-contradictory god of the bible” argument.



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Alan Stillman

posted August 7, 2009 at 10:11 am


dualistic thinking is the simplest type of thought processes. and it is usually wrong. when W said “you are either with us or with the terrorists” he was wrong. I could be critical of his policy decisions and still be a patriotic American. criticizing a president does not automatically equate with being a member of a terrorist organization. it is rare that the world works in sets of two.
the true nature of God is ultimately unknowable to us – we do not have the capacity to comprehend. therefore every religion offers us one view, one perspective, one tiny slice of the truth. even these pieced together do not come close to describing deity. in my faith tradition we learn that, through nature, the Goddess teaches us that the most diverse ecosystems are the healthiest.
that being said, there are multiple forms of idolatry. some are helpful and many are unhealthy. I do not worship God in the form laid out in the Torah, and I will admit to using anthropomorphic imagery to assist me in creating a personal relationship with deity. idolatry if you will. but worship of the Goddess, or Buddha or Nature or many other extra-Torah forms of idolatry are not inherently bad or evil or harmful.
greed, the pursuit of material possessions (especially at the expense of other people or pursuits), the cult of celebrity and fame, addictions – these are forms of idolatry that do harm to the pursuer and to those around her/him.
dualistic thinking helps support people in their pursuit of victimhood. perhaps that is another form of idolatry. if all people are either with you or against you there are bound to be a lot of people that you choose to see as against you. give up the us/them mentality and choose to see the continuum and you stop being a victim and start becoming a participant in a very dynamic conversation. we do not all have to agree or reach consensus – we just need to commit to the conversation.
because in the end, as a Unitarian Universalist minister I respect very much once said in a sermon, we are all agnostic because none of us really know. just be wary of those of us who claim we do know.



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Dave

posted August 7, 2009 at 12:25 pm


“the true nature of God is ultimately unknowable to us – we do not have the capacity to comprehend.”
How can you know this unless you have some conception of the “true nature of God?” I am not suggesting here a complete kknowledge, as far as I know, no religion makes this claim, but to make your claim that the true nature is unknowable implies at least partial knowledge of the true nature. Therefore we do have the capacity to comprehend a part, if not the totality.
“… therefore every religion offers us one view, one perspective, one tiny slice of the truth.”
And if each of these pespectives, slices, truths, are contradictory then they are not all true.
“…even these pieced together do not come close to describing deity.”
If they contradict each other how could they?
“…in my faith tradition we learn that, through nature, the Goddess teaches us that the most diverse ecosystems are the healthiest.”
If we cannot know the “true nature of God” how is it that you can know there is a “Goddess” or that this “Goddess” “teaches”? From where do you receive your revelation?
“…we are all agnostic because none of us really know. just be wary of those of us who claim we do know.”
How do you know?



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Your Name

posted August 7, 2009 at 12:57 pm


So many atheists took to worshipping Marx. When I’ve asked people about the big questions of origins the response often is “we have faith that science will answer those question someday”. It all comes down to faith.



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Alan Stillman

posted August 7, 2009 at 3:41 pm


@ Dave
in my role as a therapist I teach my clients that a) they are doing the best that they can, and b) they can do better. just because these two ideas seem contradictory does not mean that they can not be simultaneously true. dealing with contradiction, uncertainty and ambiguity is a part of life and it is certainly part of human spirituality and theology.
how can we know the true nature of God? by paying attention. truth makes itself evident to those who listen and pay attention. many religions teach mindfulness – paying attention to the here and now – as a practice that brings enlightenment. these truths do not need to be identical to be true. my truth is the Goddess. your truth may be atheism. or Christ. your truth being true for you in no way diminishes my truth being true for me. but if we have a mind to we can both learn a lot from having a real dialogue with one another. the objective of dialogue is not to come to consensus or for one to convince the other. the objective is simply to listen and understand.
how do I know? personal revelation. I have engaged in a lot of seeking and have practiced techniques from various religious traditions. the truth, as revealed to me, is that a life giving, nurturing, healing and teaching deity is female – the Goddess. even within Goddess traditions there are many forms that She might take and She speaks to me through a particular voice. this is my truth. this is how I establish a personal relationship with the creative and destructive powers inherent in the Universe.
this is how I know.
your truth is likely very different. that is cool with me. if you want to have a dialogue I can learn from trying to understand your truth. and you can learn from mine. however the tone of your comment causes me to a first impression that you are not interested in this type of dialogue. if that is true it is too bad – we both might miss out on a great learning opportunity.



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Glen Davidson

posted August 7, 2009 at 4:00 pm


Why are “Darwinists” uncivil?
Could the (initially) unprovoked stereotyping and name-calling from the IDists have anything to do with it?
David pre-judges everybody, deprecating every argument that goes against his beliefs, and dehumanizing anybody who thinks differently. Leaving no room for discussion at all, unless one wishes to buy into his biases against “Darwinists” and atheists, at which point one is allowed to discuss why they’re evil and wrong, without ever establishing either claim first.
So once again, there’s no call for discussion, just a judgment against anybody else based solely upon his “authorities” whose ability to make universal judgments has never been established.
It’s prejudice pure and simple. Discussion within the assumptions that anyone disagreeing with David is a lesser human whose statements are already discounted, but that’s all that is invited. True, we can comment as we wish, yet the message that the opinions of others is automatically disregarded has already been sounded, loud and clear.
Glen Davidson
http://tinyurl.com/mxaa3p



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Reginald Selkirk

posted August 7, 2009 at 4:23 pm


“In short, no one is without a god. Either you worship God, or you worship other gods”
In short, no one is without a car. Either you drive an actual Car, or you substitute something else as a car, such as your feet, bicycle, wheelchair, etc.
Do you actually read what you write? Does it bother you that a grown man could write such drivel?



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Peri Craig

posted August 7, 2009 at 4:26 pm


What about people who embrace no particular faith? Ah, that’s what they say, but of course they embrace a faith. It takes the form of some source of moral authority, accepted every bit as much on faith as a Jew or Christian’s embrace of the Bible. Typically what a ‘secularist’ worships is simply the Zeitgeist meshed with his own ego imperatives. In short, no one is without a god. Either you worship God, or you worship other gods — which the Bible calls idolatry. ”
I just read a very interesting blog-post from David Klinghoffer, here on Beliefnet. The above quote is from his blog-post, and set me to thinking. First, reading this makes it seem obvious … either you live by a moral code that you accept on faith (not a gang or mob code, for instance, that is accepted for material gain or to avoid injury or under threat of intimidation if one strays from whatever omerta is in place), or you don’t. If you don’t, then its what not just the Bible but many holy books calls “idolatry”: the chase for material or physical pleasure OR PAIN (for those who find sensual pleasure or sexual excitement through pain). But … lets look deeper.
What is “Zeitgeist?”
Zeitgeist is the “Spirit of the Times” … the moral, cultural, political and ethical climate of an era. It is the spirit of an era (using a small “s” there, to differentiate from Spirit in the religious sense), literally translated from the German as “time-spirit.” Its a word that has been bantered about with very little descretion … there is even a “Vampire Zeitgeist. ”
Most recently, there is a movie titled “Zeitgeist,” a conspiricist theory movie, which seems to have developed from one of the major elements of Zeitgeist around the world today: the generalized belief that there are powers and plots afoot of which we are not being informed, and over which we have virtually no control. The conspiricist zeitgeist is not unique to our age, but was a large portion of Ancient Rome, Ducal Italy and German WW vision. It seems to crop up in cultures during the period of time that preceeds radical change, generally by their fall, as they are torn apart from the inside.
More interestingly from a political-religious perspective, there is now a Zeitgeist Movement (thezeitgestmovement.com), and an associated Venus Project, that are seeking to alter the current “Zeitgeist” by reshaping society from the outside in, and from the inside out.
What is an “Ego Imperative?”
The concept of the “Ego Imperative” originated with S. Freud. It emerged from his early model with a more comprensive definition than the one originally stated, but one that Freud himself may have been struggling to express. A person’s “ego imperative” are those fundamental basics of the species (Where do we come from? What is our purpose as a people?) and of the individual within the larger system (Why was I born? How do I fit into the larger picture? How can I get positive recognition?). It is the search for purpose, meaning and self. This subject was touched upon indirectly by Martin Buber in “I and Thou,” and is at the basic root of all psychology, and the deeper meaning of our literature, movies, etc.
Finally, what is a Secularist?
Miriam-Webster’s defines secularism as “indiference to, or rejection or exclusion of religion and religious considerations.” This term however, like zeitgeist, has evolved far beyond its simple meaning. There are now secularist movements and groups. One such group has celebrated the 200th birthday of Charles Darwin with billboards urging people “Evolve Beyond Belief.” Ann Druyan urges us to “work for science and reason against the forces of superstition and fundamentalism. ”
Now we have David Klinghoffer making a case that “there is no such thing as atheism or secularism.” That we all follow a source of moral authority, whether regulated from current social codes & trends of thought that help us to answer (or at least more comfortably live with) our personal questions and meet our personal needs of inclusion … our ego imperatives, or we follow a moral authority as defined by a religious platform. Here, however things become a little elemental … as in the elements, not as in simplicity.
Klinghoffer starts with what appears to be a solid foundation, quoting Rabbi Eikev Rashi , in an analysis of Deuteronomy 11:16. The selected verse reads, “Beware for yourselves, lest your heart be seduced and you will turn astray and you will serve other gods and prostrate yourselves to them.” Ravi then defines this as: “Once a person parts from (divine teaching), he goes and attaches himself to idolotry.”
“What about people who embrace no particular faith? Ah, that’s what they say, but of course they embrace a faith. It takes the form of some source of moral authority, accepted every bit as much on faith as a Jew or Christian’s embrace of the Bible. Typically what a ‘secularist’ worships is simply the Zeitgeist meshed with his own ego imperatives. In short, no one is without a god. Either you worship God, or you worship other gods — which the Bible calls idolatry. ”
I just read a very interesting blog-post from David Klinghoffer, here on Beliefnet. The above quote is from his blog-post, and set me to thinking. First, reading this makes it seem obvious … either you live by a moral code that you accept on faith (not a gang or mob code, for instance, that is accepted for material gain or to avoid injury or under threat of intimidation if one strays from whatever omerta is in place), or you don’t. If you don’t, then its what not just the Bible but many holy books calls “idolatry”: the chase for material or physical pleasure OR PAIN (for those who find sensual pleasure or sexual excitement through pain). But … lets look deeper.
What is “Zeitgeist?”
Zeitgeist is the “Spirit of the Times” … the moral, cultural, political and ethical climate of an era. It is the spirit of an era (using a small “s” there, to differentiate from Spirit in the religious sense), literally translated from the German as “time-spirit.” Its a word that has been bantered about with very little descretion … there is even a “Vampire Zeitgeist. ”
Most recently, there is a movie titled “Zeitgeist,” a conspiricist theory movie, which seems to have developed from one of the major elements of Zeitgeist around the world today: the generalized belief that there are powers and plots afoot of which we are not being informed, and over which we have virtually no control. The conspiricist zeitgeist is not unique to our age, but was a large portion of Ancient Rome, Ducal Italy and German WW vision. It seems to crop up in cultures during the period of time that preceeds radical change, generally by their fall, as they are torn apart from the inside.
More interestingly from a political-religious perspective, there is now a Zeitgeist Movement (thezeitgestmovement.com), and an associated Venus Project, that are seeking to alter the current “Zeitgeist” by reshaping society from the outside in, and from the inside out.
What is an “Ego Imperative?”
The concept of the “Ego Imperative” originated with S. Freud. It emerged from his early model with a more comprensive definition than the one originally stated, but one that Freud himself may have been struggling to express. A person’s “ego imperative” are those fundamental basics of the species (Where do we come from? What is our purpose as a people?) and of the individual within the larger system (Why was I born? How do I fit into the larger picture? How can I get positive recognition?). It is the search for purpose, meaning and self. This subject was touched upon indirectly by Martin Buber in “I and Thou,” and is at the basic root of all psychology, and the deeper meaning of our literature, movies, etc.
Finally, what is a Secularist?
Miriam-Webster’s defines secularism as “indiference to, or rejection or exclusion of religion and religious considerations.” This term however, like zeitgeist, has evolved far beyond its simple meaning. There are now secularist movements and groups. One such group has celebrated the 200th birthday of Charles Darwin with billboards urging people “Evolve Beyond Belief.” Ann Druyan urges us to “work for science and reason against the forces of superstition and fundamentalism. ”
Now we have David Klinghoffer making a case that “there is no such thing as atheism or secularism.” That we all follow a source of moral authority, whether regulated from current social codes & trends of thought that help us to answer (or at least more comfortably live with) our personal questions and meet our personal needs of inclusion … our ego imperatives, or we follow a moral authority as defined by a religious platform. Here, however things become a little elemental … as in the elements, not as in simplicity.
Klinghoffer starts with what appears to be a solid foundation, quoting Rabbi Eikev Rashi , in an analysis of Deuteronomy 11:16. The selected verse reads, “Beware for yourselves, lest your heart be seduced and you will turn astray and you will serve other gods and prostrate yourselves to them.” Ravi then defines this as: “Once a person parts from (divine teaching), he goes and attaches himself to idolotry.”
Klinghoffer ends with what appears to be a solid foundation: ” In short, no one is without a god. Either you worship God, or you worship other gods — which the Bible calls idolatry. Get used to it. ” A solid statement perhaps, but based upon a questionable thesis. And the bon mot :”Get used to it.” is a fiery challenge … good for encouraging blog-response activity, but not aiding the cause of unity between those of divergent ideology (not necessarily idolatry).
But what happens in-between the beginning and the end?
We learn that Mr. Klinghoffer was: “just listening to some joker called David Eagleman on Coast to Coast AM. Eagleman calls himself a “possibillian.” That means there are a multitude of “possible” spiritual perspectives that are neither secular materialist atheism nor Bible-based theism.”
That’s it. No thought is given to the very possibilities of those possible spiritual perspectives. Spiritual perspectives that are neither secular materialist atheism or Bible-based theism. Lets look at this “watery” justification. If Zeitgeist is the spirit of the times, then it includes the culture of the times … not merely the materialistic aspects of our humanity, but the beliefs … the faith … of those who have helped to shape that culture over the ages. The Christians, the Jews, the Budhists, the Islamics, the … pick a lable. From these beliefs emerge our codes of behavior, from Hammurabi on down the line. And from where does the very concept of religion emerge? From the “ego imperative” first defined by Freud … those questions that prompt us to look outside ourselves, or with ourselves … for the answers to every sentient individual’s possibly ingrained questions, those that help us to meet our basic needs.
Perhaps our society is on the brink of toppling itself into a cultural extinction, as well. Are we at a point of social AND religious evolution in which we have the maturity to live within our specific beliefs, and still relate to others from a perspective of secular humanism? Is this the Zeitgeist of the future? Are we standing on the brink of finding the unity of spirit that religion has tried to instill in us throughout the ages?
Perhaps … if we can grow past our differences of phrase and shades of meaning to find a common language.



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Soulless

posted August 7, 2009 at 4:43 pm


There is no such thing as religion. There is only secular rationalism or various degrees of madness. Take your pick.



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Dave

posted August 7, 2009 at 5:19 pm


“the true nature of God is ultimately unknowable to us – we do not have the capacity to comprehend.”
How can you know this unless you have some conception of the “true nature of God?” I am not suggesting here a complete kknowledge, as far as I know, no religion makes this claim, but to make your claim that the true nature is unknowable implies at least partial knowledge of the true nature. Therefore we do have the capacity to comprehend a part, if not the totality.
“… therefore every religion offers us one view, one perspective, one tiny slice of the truth.”
And if each of these pespectives, slices, truths, are contradictory then they are not all true.
“…even these pieced together do not come close to describing deity.”
If they contradict each other how could they?
“…in my faith tradition we learn that, through nature, the Goddess teaches us that the most diverse ecosystems are the healthiest.”
If we cannot know the “true nature of God” how is it that you can know there is a “Goddess” or that this “Goddess” “teaches”? From where do you receive your revelation?
“…we are all agnostic because none of us really know. just be wary of those of us who claim we do know.”
How do you know?



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moleboy

posted August 7, 2009 at 5:30 pm


I was going to make some disparaging remarks about how this writer had absolutely no actual insight into, well, anything…
but, when I thought about it, I decided he’s right.
Idolatry is putting anything above god.
Of course, if there is no god, and there isn’t very likely one, then all things are above god.
So, really, I enjoy a good cookie, and since I believe cookies are more important than imaginary friends, then I suppose I am taking part in idolatry.
Of course, if there is no god, then nothing is above god either (you can’t hold something in higher esteem than a non-existent entity in which you hold no esteem…anything compared to a null is, well, null) so maybe I’m wrong and I’m not engaging in idolatry because no comparison can be made that resolves into anything other than null.
But I AM right in saying that David can’t see outside of his own little worldview to understand, well, anything.
Beliefnet doesn’t have a very high bar, it seems



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kenneth

posted August 8, 2009 at 12:24 am


Not all non Judeo-Christians are idoloters. I know because I’m one, and they’re simply not turning up in our database!



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Dave

posted August 8, 2009 at 1:46 am


Hello Alan
Sorry about the repeat posting. The silly machine reloaded my earlier post when I refreshed the security code. Oh well…
in my role as a therapist I teach my clients that…
a) they are doing the best that they can, and…
they are doing the best that they can (at the present time)
b) they can do better.
they can do better. (in the future)
just because these two ideas seem contradictory does not mean that they can not be simultaneously true.
As I just demonstrated, they are not contradictory, nor are they simutaneously true, they contain hidden premises which were not articulated in the original form. Your job as a therapist is to facilitate their improvement. Given time and guidance they will do better. They are serially true statements (if you’re a good therapist) 8^>
dealing with contradiction, uncertainty and ambiguity is a part of life and it is certainly part of human spirituality and theology.
Yes it is, and the best way to deal with contradiction, uncertainty and ambiguity is to learn to how recognize it and then how to resolve it.
how can we know the true nature of God? by paying attention. truth makes itself evident to those who listen and pay attention. many religions teach mindfulness – paying attention to the here and now – as a practice that brings enlightenment.
I would agree with the above statement except for the very real possibility that your conception of “mindfulness” is something entirely different from my conception of “mindfulness” (ambiguity). When I use the term “mindfulness” I conceive of using my mind to sort out the contradiction, uncertainty and ambiguity in hope of learning the truth the matter. When we embrace contradiction, uncertainty and ambiguity we find ourselves caught in the trap of incoherence.
these truths do not need to be identical to be true.
No, they do not have to be identical, but they can not contradict each other. If two “truths” contradict each other then one of them can not be true, one is opinion, the other is knowledge (true belief). Truth is a statement about the way things really are – “the truth of the matter” – and all else is opinion. You have a right to your “opinion” but it may well be a false opinion, or my opinion may be false, or we may both have false opinions, but the truth does not depend upon what we believe to be true, the truth is what it is and we can only discover it.
my truth is the Goddess. your truth may be atheism. or Christ. your truth being true for you in no way diminishes my truth being true for me.
As I noted above, truth is the way things really are. If I step off the roof of my house I will fall to the ground, no matter how strong my belief that gravity is a myth. The same is true about the belief that there are no god(s), or goddess(es), or there are god(s) or goddess(es). No matter what we believe (opinion) there is a state of affairs that is “true” and there is a state of affairs that is “false”.
but if we have a mind to we can both learn a lot from having a real dialogue with one another. the objective of dialogue is not to come to consensus or for one to convince the other. the objective is simply to listen and understand.
But if I really care about you, and I really think “truth” is something important, should I not share with you the knowledge (true belief) that I have discovered? I would be a lousy friend if I enabled you to continue on in the wrong direction simply because I didn’t want to upset you. If you were going to the store to buy bread but had started off in direction that would take you away from the store you would appreciate (I hope) being pointed in the right direction. Are the big questions about life, the universe, and everything less important than a loaf of bread?
how do I know? personal revelation. I have engaged in a lot of seeking and have practiced techniques from various religious traditions. the truth, as revealed to me, is that a life giving, nurturing, healing and teaching deity is female – the Goddess.
And are these revelations ever contradictory, uncertain, or ambiguious? I don’t doubt your personal commitment to the virtues of truth, life, nurture, healing, and teaching. These are vituous pursuits. But are you looking in the right direction to receive proper guidance?
even within Goddess traditions there are many forms that She might take and She speaks to me through a particular voice. this is my truth.
Do these voices ever contradict? As I suggested, truth cannot contradict truth, when “truths” contradict there is a problem.
this is how I establish a personal relationship with the creative and destructive powers inherent in the Universe.
Do you have a relationship with abstract “power” personified? Or a person with power to shape the universe? Is this power/person creative and destructive? How do you determine what is good and and what is evil? Within several faith traditions (and within some atheist traditions) good and evil are merely psychological constructs that have no objective value. Yet, most of us seem to believe that good and evil are objectively real, even the ones who would deny it in their philosophy. “contradiction, uncertainty and ambiguity” How do we overcome it?
this is how I know.
Is it knowledge (true belief) or opinion?
your truth is likely very different. that is cool with me. if you want to have a dialogue I can learn from trying to understand your truth. and you can learn from mine.
Your belief about the nature of truth, while very commonplace in our world, is that truth is subjective – whereas my belief about the nature of truth is that it is objective. I don’t know if we can discover truth if we have different answers to the question “What is truth?”
however the tone of your comment causes me to a first impression that you are not interested in this type of dialogue. if that is true it is too bad – we both might miss out on a great learning opportunity.
I have an abrupt manner sometimes (most of the time?) and dislike “fuzzy” thinking. In my “opinion” (I concede the possibilty that I am mistaken) truth is objective – it is what it is, whether I like it or not, whether I know it or not. I think we can discover truth, we have the capacity as rational beings to know true knowledge. But we will never discover the truth unless we first assent to the truth that some opinion is false.
BTW, I chose the term “fuzzy” as descriptive of unclear, or un”mindful” thinking and do not intend any offence.



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Dave

posted August 8, 2009 at 2:02 am


Hi soulless
There is no such thing as religion.
The Christians, Buddhists, Taoists, Secular Humanists, Atheists, Sikhs, Moslems, Jews, Janes, etc. will be pleased to learn that, particularly the next time they are duking it out in court over the First Amendment.
There is only secular rationalism…
“Secular rationalism”… isn’t that an oxymoron?
or various degrees of madness.
Sounds an awful lot like “There is only belief in the one true God or idolary.” Funny how that works out, isn’t it.
Take your pick.
We all do.



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Dennis

posted August 8, 2009 at 4:29 pm


When people are depressed, they tend to think uncritically in over-inclusive either/or terms–a black and white world with no diversity or colors. Perhaps David is depressed?



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David

posted August 8, 2009 at 5:13 pm


Hey i feal sorry for the people that God the Father has not called yet.I to was very lost and blind untill He reveiled Himself to me, all i can say is cry out to HIM and he might just introduce Himself, and if he does..you wont need to be having all these childish talk between you, you will be born again, i was 33 when the Lord showed himself to me, before that i told people they were fools for thinking that there was this GOD of the Bible, boy was i wrong..i hate to say this when i half to some times, and this is one of them, let me put it as nicely as i can..God made hell for the people that didnt want to come live with him, it is by no meens where he wants you, you take yourself there, the most important thing in life is your salvation, only fools dont know this, people that choose to have it there way, that think its ok to believe in anything, please go to JESUS and give him a chance, its your eternal life!



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Gabriel Hanna

posted August 8, 2009 at 5:37 pm


God made hell for the people that didnt want to come live with him, it is by no meens where he wants you, you take yourself there…
God as Tyrant. I might serve such a God from fear, but I could not love or worship Him in my heart.



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Gabriel Hanna

posted August 8, 2009 at 5:47 pm


What about people who embrace no particular faith? Ah, that’s what they say, but of course they embrace a faith. It takes the form of some source of moral authority, accepted every bit as much on faith as a Jew or Christian’s embrace of the Bible.
This is dumb. Your definition of “faith” is so broad it doesn’t mean anything. It is one thing to have moral postulates, but worship is something else entirely. Your faith, David, is based on the Torah, that’s where your postulates come from, but you worship God, not the Torah.
Typically what a “secularist” worships is simply the Zeigeist meshed with his own ego imperatives.
A generalization based on nothing whatever. Dawkins might say, “Typically what a religious person worships is simply his superstitious fears mixed with the self-interest of priests”, and it would be every bit as relevant. All you’ve done is express your prejudices, as he does.
In short, no one is without a god. Either you worship God, or you worship other gods — which the Bible calls idolatry. Get used to it.
Only if you get to make up your own definition of “worship” and “idolatry”.
“Either you believe in the Risen Christ, or you worship other gods, which the Bible calls idolatry. Get used to it.”
“Either you are an atheist, or you are irrational. Get used to it.”
Anybody can play that game. It’s a stupid one.



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Lowell

posted August 8, 2009 at 5:53 pm


I’ve seen some really ignorant foolishness and garbage coming from theists, but this is mind-boggling in its denial of the truth.



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Lowell

posted August 8, 2009 at 5:55 pm


Oh, “Discovery Institute”. That explains the insanity.



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churchmouse

posted August 8, 2009 at 6:09 pm


No Such Thing as Atheism or Secularism
David klinghoffer
Kieran said, “And the bible is NOT evidence.”
Then what is evidence? Is it subjective? Are there no absolutes?
The Bible whether you like it or not is a historical document. It demonstrates accuracy and reliability. Its full of information about he Jews and other ancient civilizations as well as early Christianity. No other ancient document can boast as short a time span between its autographs and presently existing copies. Look at the manuscripts works of Caesar, Plato, Aristotle etc……none can come with the amount of information and the number of manuscripts of the Bible. Do you also dismiss them as false?
Thelemite you said, “Well, if you want to play that game – Jews and Christians must worship the god of the bible, and since that god doesn’t exist there is no such thing as Jews or Christians. Get used to it. Oh, and please spare us the “everything in the world takes the same amount of faith to believe as the invisible, unprovable, self-contradictory god of the bible” argument.”
Can you prove there is no God? Talk about a leap of faith………If you make a truth claim…..THERE IS NO GOD, then you must possess all the knowledge mankind has ever known. You have faith obviously in the claim you make. Faith at least by definition that I am willing to accept is the acceptance of something as truth which you have sufficient rational grounds for doing so. That would mean faith in anything. So show me the evidence you have, to convince me with no doubt, with 100% certainty that there is no God.
Even when a person says there is no God, that person violates a basic philosophical principle. He is a person with a finite understanding making an absolute statement about the nature of infinity. It would be like asking how much total knowledge mankind possesses. I think it was Albert Einstein who said that mankind grasps less than one percent of total knowledge. If we have only one percent of total knowledge, would it not be possible for God to exist in the other ninety-nine percent?
It is impossible for a person with a finite mind to make an absolute statement that there is no God because to do so one would need to possess total knowledge. That is impossible.
Allan Stillman says, “because in the end, as a Unitarian Universalist minister I respect very much once said in a sermon, we are all agnostic because none of us really know. just be wary of those of us who claim we do know.”
So then you really don’t know whether rape or murder is wrong. If truth is in the eye of the beholder than rape for someone could be right. You are saying there is no one right, one wrong. You just tell people what THEY want to hear, what will make them feel good. I do not mean this with any disrespect but I believe that Jesus never taught any of the heresies that Unitarianism teaches today. I do not buy into their views that they can find the truth within themselves. You are a humanist and you put your trust in manmade philosophies, not those from Gods Word. I went to the tragic funeral of a teenager who committed suicide. The funeral was tragic too. The pastor said that we have the power within us to live fully without God. I sat there crying inside I can only imagine how hopeless his parents felt. All religions cant be right because they contradict each other. Jesus said HE was the only way to the Father. That means for a true Christian He is the Way. And if you do not believe this……Jesus said, they will not spend eternity with Him.
For the universalist there is no such thing penalty for sin. Everyone makes it. There is no incentive to be good. As tragic and evil as Hilters actions were to the Universalist they were nothing……Hitler was never punished and never will be.



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churchmouse

posted August 8, 2009 at 6:12 pm


“I teach my clients that a) they are doing the best that they can, and b) they can do better.’
How do you know they are doing the best they can? And how do you know they could do better? What do you base this on? What would you tell a person who is married and having multiple affairs? If he said he gave up one affair…….would you tell him good that’s the best you can do……but eventually stop them all? Why should he stop them all? God is love right? Isn’t adultery to you ok? And if you say yes, who told you it was wrong?
“truth makes itself evident to those who listen and pay attention. many religions teach mindfulness – paying attention to the here and now – as a practice that brings enlightenment. these truths do not need to be identical to be true. my truth is the Goddess. your truth may be atheism. or Christ.”
What if my truth is honor killings or torturing animals? What if my truth as an adult is a loving relationship with a minor? What if my truth is stealing or cheating on a test? That might just enlighten me. You are saying here ANYTHING GOES. That whatever you believe it’s the truth.
If an accident happens at an intersection and the police interview witnesses……how many times will the police get different accounts of what happened. The truth is however, there is only one way it happened whether we know it or not.
A lot of people have personal revelations. Hitler had a personal revelation and so did Jeffrey Dahmer and Jim Jones.
How on earth do you know the sprits enlightening you are female?



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new beginning

posted August 8, 2009 at 6:23 pm


If you have faith, you need no proof.
If you need proof, you will never have faith.
If all faith is nuanced black and white, then gray is wrong. Ergo if you don’t believe as I do, you are wrong.
I think Rowan Atkinson’s comedy skit on the devil and various religious adherents’ entry into hell was better.
I think we are all wrong.
Could I be right?



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Gabriel Hanna

posted August 8, 2009 at 8:21 pm


churchmouse: Do you think it’s moral to own slaves? The Bible does, as long as you treat them in a certain way.
Old Testament: see the Torah generally, an example is Exodus 21:20-21, “If a man beats his male or female slave with a rod and the slave dies as a direct result, he must be punished, but he is not to be punished if the slave gets up after a day or two, since the slave is his property.”
New Testament: see Epistle to Philemon, Paul’s intercession for Onesimus, a runaway slave
Do you think it’s okay to cut the hand off a married woman if she squeezes a man’s testicles? The Bible does (Deuteronomy 25:11).
You believe in the “nice” parts of the Bible. The Bible is NOT the source of your morality.



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Alan Stillman

posted August 9, 2009 at 11:31 am


@ Dave
I agree that there is a factual, objective truth. there is also a Truth (capitalized only for purpose of clarity, not to denote any kind of hierarchical importance). Truth as I refer to it is related to how a person finds meaning in the world, how they answer the big questions. and then there is behavior.
objective truth is based on facts, yet we approach these facts with our own biases. this can be readily seen in the debate on this blog related to ID, evolution and the nature of science. the facts are clear, but people accept or reject them, rank the facts in terms of importance and draw different conclusions.
Truth is even more difficult. I do not really see that a person’s Truth is an opinion, but rather a lens through which the view and order the world. one’s Truth is a component of how one determines opinion. I believe that as a species humans have a very strong need and/or desire to find meaning and discover purpose.
my perspective is to see Truth as individual and personal. I would argue that no two people share identical Truths. even members of a common religious faith tradition do not share identical ways of making sense of it all, of relating to the Universe and Life. sure, in a fairly restrictive tradition the Truths may be different in nuanced ways. in my UU congregation the Truths are likely to be fairly divergent. I do not think it is fair to assume that I have an ‘anything goes’ mentality.
which brings us to behavior. behavior is concrete – you either did a thing or you did not. that being said, the meaning and importance of the behavior is up to interpretation. did Lincoln abolish slavery because it was wrong, or because it was the best strategy for winning the war? up to debate and opinion. consequences are concrete, although these can also be the subject of opinion. some people do not think that incarceration is all that bad and others think it would be the worst experience imaginable. and while past behavior is fact, future behavior and the choices a person can make are largely based on the truth and the person understands it, and their Truth.
perspective makes it difficult to assign objective truth to most situations. yes, if you were to walk off of your roof you would fall and could get hurt or even killed – depending on how tall your roof is and how and where you landed. facts. this would not be a good situation for anyone. not you, not the roof, not the ground, or trampoline or swimming pool where you landed.
however, if you look at a lioness taking down an old gazelle, the situation is more ‘fuzzy’. this concrete occurrence is good for the lion – she gets to eat and survive. it is good for the rest of the the gazelle herd. they are not the ones being eaten and removing the weaker members of the herd results in more resources for the stronger members. it is not good for the gazelle being killed. unless that gazelle is certain that he is going to a better place after his painful death experience. perspective.
now lets discuss ‘female circumcision’ which is often referred to as ‘female genital mutilation’. I prefer the latter term. Western cultures see the practice as a cruel method of controlling a woman’s expression of her sexuality. cultures that practice it see it as protecting a woman and sometimes as a religious necessity. as strongly as I abhor the practice, because my personal ethics defines hurting someone or limiting their freedom as ‘bad’, I also believe (opinion) that one culture telling another culture what is can and can not do as ‘cultural imperialism’ and bad. there is the ambiguity. which bad do I choose?
my personal Truth evolves over time. at one point I was vegan because I had problems using animals as food. this has changed, but it does not mean that I am free to eat anything I want. I practice eco-kosher (I prefer the term eco-kashrut). I make informed choices about what plants and animals I consume based on what I know about the impact on the Earth and whether or not I am promoting sustainability. I still base my decisions on a fairly hard line ethical code of ‘do no harm when I can and do the least harm when necessary’. I can not grow all of my own food, so I make choices that I can live with in terms of what I buy and consume. yeah, that can be ‘fuzzy’ because I need to take many perspectives into account.
so, when it comes to assigning labels such as ‘good’ and ‘bad’ I do tend to be relative. the powers of the Universe are both creative and destructive. I don’t favor one over the other because they are both necessary. many cultures through human history have recognized and valued the cycle to birth, growth, decay and death leading to a new round through the cycle. Kali the Destructress cleared the way to make way for new beginnings. Jesus died in order to rise again. Eve had a choice, eternal life or knowledge. if she chose knowledge her children would die. if she chose eternal life her children would be ignorant. I am glad she made the choice she did.
now, as far as your choices – you say that if I am misguided and you are a caring person you will offer guidance. if I want bread because I am hungry and I am about to enter a shoe store, I would like you to point out the bakery as an intervention. that is objective fact. on the other hand, if you think my Truth is off base, share yours but accept my possible rejection as a valid choice.
you see, if you think I am wasting my time on mumbo-jumbo, I will argue that my Truth fills my life with color and meaning and is an important source of inspiration that helps me make ethical decisions.
if you think that my Truth is going to lead me to hell and you want to save me, don’t bother. I have tried to engage with people who were intent on saving me from hell. the succeeded only when they went away.



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Harrietb98

posted August 9, 2009 at 1:30 pm


Yes, there is such a thing as being a secularist, agnostic or even an athiest.
Religious people may not like to hear this. But, they exist.
And that doesn’t mean that you are worshiping other gods.
There are terrible things that are done in the name of religion and of God.



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Soulless

posted August 9, 2009 at 2:49 pm


I do not need or even want a god of any stripe. I can’t imagine why I would want or need a god. The only reason one could want or need a god is if they feel or think they lack something they feel or think they should have, which I’m willing to bet is the cessation of fear and a modicum of peace. But I am a complete individual. I generate my own peace and happiness, and I fear nothing. So what purpose would I need a god? I have not bought into the fairy tales of an afterlife because there is no such thing as a “soul”. Proposing a “soul” serves no purpose and generates a great many unanswerable questions. Since a “soul” cannot be shown to exist, why believe it does? Even near death experiences have been explained yet people who insist that there is such a thing as a “soul” never attempt to refute the scientific explanation they simply dismiss it. That is a fundamental flaw, because if you can’t prove there is such a thing as a soul then any and all suppositions to what happens to it after death disintegrate into absurdity.
as David up the comment list said, “I feel sorry for the people that God the Father has not called yet.”
Well I feel sorry for anyone who is not a complete individual who feels that they require something external from themselves to find completeness. That’s very sad in my opinion.



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Turmarion

posted August 9, 2009 at 3:07 pm


Gabriel: You believe in the “nice” parts of the Bible. The Bible is NOT the source of your morality.
In fairness, the Bible never really has been the source of morality for Orthodox Jews or for Catholic, Orthodox, or non-Evangelical, non-Fundamentalist Christians. As Harold Bloom points out in his quirky but excellent book, The American Religion, Judaism and the older forms of Christianity are not actually Biblical religions. This is because these faiths have interpretive mechanisms and institutions that interpret, extend, and sometimes even abrogate or reverse the actual content of Scripture. In Judaism, this is done by the Oral Torah, later codified as the Talmud and by rulings of religious scholars. For Catholicism and Orthodoxy, this is done by Tradition, as developed from the Church Fathers, decisions of synods of bishops, the Popes and patriarchs, etc.
In a sense, then, over time these mechanisms have emphasized the “nice” parts of the Bible and minimized or rejected the less-nice parts. One could be cynical about this, but I’d interpret it as God’s way of dealing with the very flawed human race. The recipients of Divine Revelation were vicious, cruel, and barbaric (I’m not slurring early Jews or Christians–most human societies at these times were cruel, vicious, and barbaric, by modern standards). This had the natural result that a lot of not-nice stuff (“kill everyone who pisseth against the wall!”; “I’m gonna send your slave Philemon back to you!”) got mixed in with the Divine stuff and later confused for it. The interpretive systems of Judaism and Christianity developed under subtle Divine guidance as a way of gradually weeding out the nastier stuff and moving in a more human and, well, Divine direction.
I suppose one might ask why God didn’t make things clearer to begin with, but one might as well ask why He made malaria, or why He made beings as problematic as humans, or why evil exists at all. Those are questions of theodicy, for those who believe. In any case, my point is that it is not necessarily a dismissal of Judaism or Christianity to say that they believe only in the “nice” parts of the Bible. It may seem less consistent, but for the reasons I’ve pointed out, I don’t think it is. Heck, would you rather we did believe in the ugly parts and went back to the halcyon days of the Inquisition?



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Alan Stillman

posted August 10, 2009 at 12:06 pm


@ Churchmouse
sorry, but many of your arguments make very little sense or carry very little weight.
you wrote >
not knowing the definite Truth about the nature of deity is not the same as knowing the difference between right and wrong. you also said > so that means that you admit that you don’t know, or you are a person who does possess infinite understanding. you contradict yourself.
related to Unitarian Universalism, you claim that > that is entirely untrue. we do not believe in sin or in divine retribution, but we do not need to rely on a fear of God’s punishment to follow our own moral and ethical standards. we uphold the inherent worth and dignity of all people. that calls us to strive to find dignity even in those who engage in horrific acts. it is a struggle, but we do not condemn our fellow women and men to eternal punishment. our God, if we have one (it is a personal thing to us) would nto do that to the creatures S/He profeese to love.
finally, you argue > and so did Jesus and Paul – so they are the same? I mean no disrespect but your argument is as meaningful as stating Jeffrey Dahmer had a penis. Jesus had a penis (we know this because there is a celebration of his bris, or ritual circumcision) therefore Jesus is the same as Jeffrey Dahmer. ridiculous.
I believe that Jesus was a divinely inspired man with a very meaningful message. he just was not divine. we all have the opportunity to find inspiriation, divine or mundane, that helps us to live moral, ethical productive lives.



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Dave

posted August 10, 2009 at 12:37 pm


Hello Alan
I agree that there is a factual, objective truth. there is also a Truth (capitalized only for purpose of clarity, not to denote any kind of hierarchical importance). Truth as I refer to it is related to how a person finds meaning in the world, how they answer the big questions. and then there is behavior.
I think we are taling at cross purposes… I agree with you that there is a factual, objective truth. I just happen to think that factual objective truth extends further than you are (apparently) prepared to pursues it. The existence of God (or gods or spirit etc) is either fact or fantasy. If it is fact it may be the most important fact there of all. What we believe about that fact – what you have defined as “Truth” – is what I would call our personal attitude toward that fact or our “belief” in its veracity. So I would suggest that any statement about the nature of God, or the nature of man, or the nature of “nature”, is either true or false. Truth or falisty is objective and does not rely on our belief. We may believe something that is false, mistakenly thinking it is true, but believing something doesn’t make it true.
objective truth is based on facts, yet we approach these facts with our own biases. this can be readily seen in the debate on this blog related to ID, evolution and the nature of science. the facts are clear, but people accept or reject them, rank the facts in terms of importance and draw different conclusions.
Are the facts clear? or do we select and weight facts according to our belief? I suspect we select and weight facts according to how well they support our beliefs about the nature of reality. As an example, I find the debate over free will facinating for this reason. There is a common belief that every act we as human beings perform is conditioned by prior circumstances. We may think we are acting as agents but we are “in fact” acting out an existing program coded in our genes and conditioned by our environment. Every event is determined by prior events. We cannot do otherwise and thus, we must inevitably conclude, we lack free agency. Darwin understood this to be a warranted conclusion drawn from his theory.
http://eeb.bio.utk.edu/darwin/Archives/1998ProvineAbstract.htm
On the other hand, we, as human beings, think we are free agents. That we have the mental freedom to choose between options. Furthermore, free agency is not merely something we believe we have, but is a necessary prerequisite for attaining knowledge about the world we inhabit. If we are, as materialist biology asserts, the biological equivalent of billiard balls, being knocked about the billiard table of the world by forces external to ourselves, then any belief we hold is determined by external, non-rational, forces acting on our material selves. If our thoughts and beliefs, are themselves simply events determined by prior causes. then they are the result of deterministic, non-rational, forces acting upon us, and therefore they cannot offer any surety that they are objectivey true. To arrive at any ‘truth’ as such we must have th capacity to weigh different possibilities and discard, on intellectual grounds, those which are false.
But “the facts are clear” – only if you believe the Darwinial paradigm before you examine the facts. In actuality (in fact?) if you examine human nature (What is man, that you are mindful of him?) you will discover that the “facts” are not so clear after all. You will discover that blind devotion to the Darwinian paradigm has led you into an intellectual cul de sac where your most basic claims to true knowledge are no longer valid.
Truth is even more difficult. I do not really see that a person’s Truth is an opinion, but rather a lens through which the view and order the world. one’s Truth is a component of how one determines opinion. I believe that as a species humans have a very strong need and/or desire to find meaning and discover purpose.
I hope the example above demonstrates both the truth and the error in this section. “a person’s Truth” is the lense through which he views the world. However, I would (respectfully) suggest that what you term “a person’s Truth” is a subjective belief which may not be supported by any objective standard. It may, in fact, be contra factual, that is to say, a belief may be held to be true even though there is substantial evidence that it is false. We simply ignore the evidence to the contrary and will ourselves to believe what, for reasons of our own, we want to believe. (or if you follow W. Provine, we have no choice about what we believe and facts are irrelevant).
my perspective is to see Truth as individual and personal. I would argue that no two people share identical Truths. even members of a common religious faith tradition do not share identical ways of making sense of it all, of relating to the Universe and Life. sure, in a fairly restrictive tradition the Truths may be different in nuanced ways. in my UU congregation the Truths are likely to be fairly divergent. I do not think it is fair to assume that I have an ‘anything goes’ mentality.
Far be it from me to assert that most people (any two people) have valid reasons for their belief system (that which you have termed “Truth”). One ofthe most ancient, and most conscienciously ignored, philosophical creeds is “Know thyself” – examine what you believe and why you believe it. Since our culture encourages a superficial attitude to such things it should not surprise us if we discover that most people just Make it up as they go along. Nor does this superficial attitude imply an “anything goes” mentality in the sense you have interpreted my words. It is equally possible to develop a rigid moral code from a superficial philosophy – plenty of Christians have demonstrably accomplished the task, as have plenty of atheists, and as have plenty of other traditions. Some environmentalist/animal rights traditions are both rigidly and violently moralistic. But their moral code is anchored in a subjective belief system which is not coherent. For example; the apparently simultaneously held beliefs that humans are ‘nothing more’ than animals (i.e. ‘natural’) and that humans are morally responsible for their impact on the environment/biosphere (i.e. not ‘natural’).
which brings us to behavior. behavior is concrete – you either did a thing or you did not. that being said, the meaning and importance of the behavior is up to interpretation. did Lincoln abolish slavery because it was wrong, or because it was the best strategy for winning the war? up to debate and opinion. consequences are concrete, although these can also be the subject of opinion. some people do not think that incarceration is all that bad and others think it would be the worst experience imaginable. and while past behavior is fact, future behavior and the choices a person can make are largely based on the truth and the person understands it, and their Truth.
I think you erroneously separate behaviour from belief. While it is true that behaviour is the substance of belief, belief is the director of action. Your question about Lincoln for example, is only valid if we radically de-contextualize Lincoln and the Emancipation Proclamation. Lincoln’s beliefs weere well know by his contemporaries and Lincoln’s beliefs led his contemporaries to believe Lincoln would act (behave) in accord with his publicly known beliefs. Those of Lincoln’s contemporaries who believed slavery justified acted (behaviour) in accord with their belief by acting (behaviour) to declare independence thus initiating the very war Lincoln sought to end. Belief defines our moral codes and our moral code determines our behaviour. I think it no accident that the 10 Commandments end with warning about our thinking “though shalt not covet…” – thought (and belief, the “substance” of thought) precedes (and conditions) action.



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Alan Stillman

posted August 10, 2009 at 1:37 pm


@ Churchmouse (sorry the quotes did not come through – trying again)
sorry, but many of your arguments make very little sense or carry very little weight.
you wrote: “Allan Stillman says, “because in the end, as a Unitarian Universalist minister I respect very much once said in a sermon, we are all agnostic because none of us really know. just be wary of those of us who claim we do know.”
So then you really don’t know whether rape or murder is wrong. If truth is in the eye of the beholder than rape for someone could be right.”
not knowing the definite Truth about the nature of deity is not the same as knowing the difference between right and wrong. you also said: “Even when a person says there is no God, that person violates a basic philosophical principle. He is a person with a finite understanding making an absolute statement about the nature of infinity.” so that means that you admit that you don’t know, or you are claiming to be a person who does possess infinite understanding.
in one paragraph you stated that my claim that we are limited in our understanding meant that I could not know right from wrong and then you confront a person with a different worldview than your own as not being able to truly know because we are limited in our ability to comprehend deity. you contradict yourself.
related to Unitarian Universalism, you claim that: “For the universalist there is no such thing penalty for sin. Everyone makes it. There is no incentive to be good.” that is just untrue. we do not believe in sin or in divine retribution, but we do not need to rely on a fear of God’s punishment in order to follow our own moral and ethical standards. we uphold the inherent worth and dignity of all people. that calls us to strive to find dignity even in those who engage in horrific acts. we struggle to find the dignity in the man who gunned down people in a Sunday Worship service at a UU congregation. it is not always easy. but we are unwilling to condemn our fellow women and men to eternal punishment. our God, if we have one (it is a personal thing to us) would not do that to the creatures S/He professes to love.
finally, you argue: “A lot of people have personal revelations. Hitler had a personal revelation and so did Jeffrey Dahmer and Jim Jones.” and so did Jesus and Paul – so they are the same? I mean no disrespect but your argument is as meaningful as stating Jeffrey Dahmer had a penis. Jesus had a penis (we know this because there is a celebration of his bris, or ritual circumcision) therefore Jesus is the same as Jeffrey Dahmer. ridiculous.
I believe that Jesus was a divinely inspired man with a very meaningful message. I just do not believe that he had any claim to a divinity greater than my own. as a Pagan I understand everything in the Universe to be made up of divine stuff – all part of the whole that I conceptualize as the Goddess. I also believe that as humans we all have the opportunity to find inspiriation, divine or mundane, that helps us to live moral, ethical productive lives.



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Alan Stillman

posted August 10, 2009 at 2:06 pm


@ Dave
you said: “One of the most ancient, and most conscientiously ignored, philosophical creeds is “Know thyself” – examine what you believe and why you believe it. Since our culture encourages a superficial attitude to such things it should not surprise us if we discover that most people just Make it up as they go along.”
I agree with you on many points here. “Know thyself” is a very old and very wise teaching. it was written above the door to the Temple of the Oracle at Delphi. as a Pagan, “Know thyself” is one of our first rules. you can not begin to construct your own meaningful and intentional theology/thealogy unless you have done a very thorough self-examination.
I also agree that our culture encourages a superficial attitude. this is why the cult of celebrity (idolatry by my definition) is so strong that anyone who has appeared – even briefly – on a ‘reality show’ is eligible to appear on “I’m A Celebrity – Get Me Out Of Here”. culture thinner than the skin of my teeth after my semi-annual dental cleaning.
I disagree with you that most people just make it up. in my experience most people either plod through in total ignorance without thinking about it at all, or they sign up to be led around blindly doing and believing what others tell them.
as to the argument related to environmental activism. yes, some of it is incredibly rigid based on a morality. but I would disagree that there is a contradiction in the ideas that humans are merely another species of animal and that we are responsible for our impact on the planet.
I believe that we are members of the animal kingdom. however, we are very gifted members who have developed the capacity to “know themselves” in a way that has not been demonstrated to any degree in other species. our ability to comprehend abstract thoughts and to manipulate our environments has caused us to change the ecosystem more than any other species in the history of life on this planet. other species tend to find balance or they work themselves into extinction. we may be doing the same but we are going to be taking a lot of uninvolved species along with us. we also have the ability to understand our impact. and for the sake of our own survival we need to take responsibility for our actions and to try to correct the damage.
if we do not, I have faith in life. life will survive. it will just survive without us.



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Gabriel Hanna

posted August 10, 2009 at 10:10 pm


Dave:If we are, as materialist biology asserts, the biological equivalent of billiard balls, being knocked about the billiard table of the world by forces external to ourselves…
Straw man. No biologist, “materialist” or otherwise, believes this. Physicists, almost 100 years ago, proved this couldn’t be way the Universe works.
You are arguing with a caricature of science propounded by people like David Klinghoffer. If you only listen to one side of an argument, it is very likely you will never have more than a distorted picture of the other side.
David Klinghoffer has enough education to know that his presentation of mainstream science is distorted. You do not, and so you are easy to sucker in.
A nervous system, human or otherwise, is such a complicated system that even if it were completely deterministic (which it cannot be), there is no way to predict its behavior by deterministic laws. Every scientist knows this, and has for over one hundred years. There are physical theories that describe this situation, the theory of chaos and the theory of quantum mechanics.
Quit listening to only one side of the story. Let mainstream science offer its own case in its own words.
If you were on trial for a crime, and neither you nor your lawyer was allowed to speak to the jury; but the jury heard your side of the story from the prosecution only, as a summary, would you think your trial was fair?
In this metaphor, you are the jury. By listening only to people like David Klinghoffer, you are not doing your duty. Let science speak for itself. That means, get off your butt and study mainstream science as presented by mainstream scientists.
If you have an open mind, you will come away very angry at the lies people like David told you about it.



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davidf

posted August 10, 2009 at 11:37 pm


DavidK here lays down a fundamental point which makes a valid distinction and gets at an essential truth. Serious Jews, Christians Muslims and perhaps others who are involved with a relationship in God make one kind of choice for which there is no logical alternative. Atheism and secularism (and for our friend Alan Stillman, the house pagan)are godless ideologies and involve the explicit denial of God. I am also listened to that man on late night radio–and I agree that his point is incoherent.
The point that this is similar to former Pres Bush saying, regarding the war on terror that you are either with us or against us–is another kind of distinction and not the same kind of question. It can be possible to be against one particular public policy matter and not be on the other side of morality since some questions have more than one correct response. In defense of Pres. Bush–he sensed that defeating the terrorists was the kind of public stand that allowed for only one kind of response–a frontal attack but there is an argument that a terror war could be conducted another way–ignoring the fact no Dem ever came up with that option–it is a theoretical argument.
DavidK’s bottom line that secularists commonly only worship their own sensibility, making themselves in effect, their own god is a perfectly square allegation. For Jews, either we worship God and respect God’s law or me worship other gods by creating our own rules from our own sensibility.
As for Gabriel’s broadside, which has nothing to do with the subject of this thread–it is more than a bit irrational to declare that poor DavidK is stopping science from speaking for itself and I remind him that the Discovery Institute is run in its entirety by people who have advanced degrees in mainstream science but oppose one small aspect–Darwinian evolution– since it simply makes no sense in context of scientific understandings.



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Gabriel Hanna

posted August 10, 2009 at 11:50 pm


DavidK’s bottom line that secularists commonly only worship their own sensibility, making themselves in effect, their own god is a perfectly square allegation.
An allegation supported by no evidence.
since it simply makes no sense in context of scientific understandings.
Tens of thousands of scientists disagree.



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DavidF

posted August 11, 2009 at 2:42 pm


Most of the people who respond to DavidK on this blog believe that this is the exact basis of morality: their own sensibility. How can you, Gabriel, deny what the people are saying? They believe that what is right and what is wrong comes from their own beliefs and this kind of moral compass is one of idolatry and is very different from the morality of religion which offers an objective truth and timeless principles. The morality of the secularist and the atheist, that is the morality of the idolater, is based upon changing standards of behavior–the current fad of the day. This conclusion is evident by simply asking those who believe in the tenets of religion vs. those who do not. What is the objection to the observation, Gabriel?
First, you do not respond to the fact that there is nothing faulty in the scientific knowledge of those hundreds and thousands of PHD scientists who believe differently than you concerning the alleged power of random mutations, chance and natural selection. The fact remains, undisputed, that the vast majority of scientists do not involve themselves with the HOW of science–how is simply too big of a scientific question. The detail of the discipline in which they involve themselves concerns the WHAT–the mere observation–and this is very difficult in its own right. HOW is pursued and pursued aggressively but you need to understand that How concerning a tiny fragment of the one system is almost never pursued in context of HOW in the overall understanding of the entire system so that small bits of life functions can be explained and understood–this is the work of science–scientists who seek to explain ‘global’ issues are relatively speaking very few and far between. This is why when one delves into a specific discipline, the phrase “evolution” or natural selection or Darwin–never occurs. These are philosophical questions outside the realm of science and the scientific process. So there are no hard core group of believing scientists whose life work testifies to the fact of unguided natural processes explaining the global HOW questions. What we do have is a very dedicated group of scientists doing their level best to get at some of the easy questions about how life works. Our side does not wish to prejudice the overall context of the philosophical debate concerning the fundamental CAUSE and make-up and life processes–that would be your point of emphasis.



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Dave

posted August 11, 2009 at 3:06 pm


Hello Alan
I believe that we are members of the animal kingdom.
No one of whom I am aware has ever denied that we share ‘animate’ being with the other creatures we observe. We are born, we live, we bleed, we die, we eat, we excrete. In this sense we are animals in the broad sense of the term. But is this all we are?
however, we are very gifted members who have developed the capacity to “know themselves” in a way that has not been demonstrated to any degree in other species.
And would you characterize this “gift” as a difference in degree from the capacitie we observe in other animal species or would you characterize it as a difference in kind? The reason I ask is that a difference in degree could be an evolved difference, but a difference in kind involves a jump. “Natura non facit saltum” (Nature does nothing in jumps). Both answers imply problematic answers to our understanding of humanity (know theyself).
our ability to comprehend abstract thoughts and to manipulate our environments has caused us to change the ecosystem more than any other species in the history of life on this planet.
Not at all, our techne is obvious to us because we are intimately familiar with it, but the impact of our techne is actually quite trivial, despite the declamations of neo-Luddites and neo-Malthusians. You might want to investigate the environmental impact of bacteria – it is far greater than our trivial efforts.
other species tend to find balance or they work themselves into extinction.
Think about this statement… You have just said “either they live or they die” which is, at best, a tautology.
we may be doing the same but we are going to be taking a lot of uninvolved species along with us.
There are no “uninvolved” species. We inhabite an incredibly well organized biosphere in which the simple bacteria has arguably more impact on nature, and has far greater ramifications to life on this planet, than our trivial techne has had. I could equally argue that human efforts have helped to preserve as many “uninvolved” species as our abuses have eliminated.
Furthermore, your whole argument is predicated upon the neo-Luddite belief that human techne is generally harmful. Techne is only a tool and, as such, is only as good or as bad as the philosophy which guides its use.
we also have the ability to understand our impact.
Do we? Or do we misunderstand our impact? and does that misunderstanding lead us to pursue misguided ends through misguided means?
and for the sake of our own survival
And what evidence do you have that our survival is in jeopardy, other than the perenial “end is near” declamations of neo-Luddites and neo-Malthusians, all of which have proven, not merely wrong, but prodigiously wrong. We have not run out of resources, we do not experience massive starvation, nor do we witness “extinction events”. If anything we observe more resources, better used; more food, better distributed; and increased efforts to protect marginal species.
we need to take responsibility for our actions
Which brings us back to my first question… Are we nothing more than members of the animal kingdom? If we are “nothing more than animals”, if our difference from the animals is only a difference in degree, from whence comes this moral culpability? If our difference is a difference in kind – whence comes the difference?
Animals (and bacteria, etc.) do not have moral culpability. The bear does his business wherever he so desires and we scold him not. The human may not. The human must conform to particular standards of behaviour conditioned according to his cultural milieu. This standard of human behaviour is recognized universally even when applied locally. Your assertion that we “must take responsibilty for our actions” is an affirmation of this difference between man and beast. If that difference is only apparent, a difference in degree, then your assertion applies a standard without offering a justification for its application. If there is a difference in kind, then we must ask how this “jump” came about.
Like begets like. Matter and energy have no moral culpability. All of nature is a-moral. If all of nature is a-moral matter evolved then humanity is a-moral matter evolved. If we have moral culpability (a cpaccity which appears to be universally recognized) then someone has fiddled with things. The universe cannot make it on its own.



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Alan Stillman

posted August 11, 2009 at 3:09 pm


DavidF: you wrote “The morality of the secularist and the atheist, that is the morality of the idolater, is based upon changing standards of behavior–the current fad of the day. This conclusion is evident by simply asking those who believe in the tenets of religion vs. those who do not.”
first of all, what category do you assign me to? I am a theist, but I have a very different understanding of the nature of the deity than you. so am I a secularist? and atheist? and idolater?
secondly, I will agree that my morality has evolved over the years based on my understanding of facts and my opinions. I have at one time chosen not to eat animal products and to eat organic food based on my understanding of how these resources impact the Earth. when I learned that locally grown food with minimal fertilizer and natural pest control had a smaller footprint than organic food grown in and shipped from California I adapted my practices. this has not been based on the shifting winds of fad, but based on a solid core value and access to new information.
thirdly, not all religions hold the same values and beliefs. Episcopalians have allowed members in committed same sex relationships to be ordained and Lutherans have held that gay and lesbian identified clergy who are celibate can be ordained, although they are now considering a vote to allow committed non-celibate gay and lesbians ordination. is this due to current fads, or a more nuanced understanding of human sexuality? or a more (or less) enlightened interpretation of biblical teaching?
religions change over time. this does not mean that the foundation they are built upon are shaky. religions that fail to evolve might fail to meet the needs of human culture which certainly changes over time.
or is it all idolatry? how many goats do I need to sacrifice at the Temple in order to make amends for that sin? oh – I forgot. we don’t engage in the animal sacrifice called for in the Torah anymore.



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davidf

posted August 11, 2009 at 8:57 pm


Alan, your practice of goddess worship means you are a pagan and this practice is idolatrous by definition. With a Jewish last name, penning entries on a Jewish blog–I sense you are born a Jew. Therefore, you are a Jew who practices idol worship and DavidK recited the relevant verses in Eikev concerning that question.
Judaism does not evolve in the way you refer and the Temple does not exist so we do not bring offerings to a non-existent Temple. This does not mean anything has changed or evolved *in Judaism*–it means that we substitute our prayers for those sacrifices.



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Gabriel Hanna

posted August 12, 2009 at 1:27 am


The morality of the secularist and the atheist, that is the morality of the idolater, is based upon changing standards of behavior–the current fad of the day. This conclusion is evident by simply asking those who believe in the tenets of religion vs. those who do not. What is the objection to the observation, Gabriel?
You never asked anybody. You just claim to read minds. Where’s your survey? You never asked me what MY morality is based on-you just claim to read my mind.
You have never had the intellectual honesty to try to find out, from the mouths of secularists or atheists, why they think what they think.
As for you morality, do you believe that it is okay to keep a slave and beat him as long he survives? Because your Bible says that, among other objectionable things that would get you thrown in jail anywhere but Iran.
you do not respond to the fact that there is nothing faulty in the scientific knowledge of those hundreds and thousands of PHD scientists who believe differently than you concerning the alleged power of random mutations, chance and natural selection.
Hundreds and thousands you MADE UP.
http://ncseweb.org/taking-action/project-steve
About 1100 scientists, all named Steve, signed this statement in favor of evolution. This is more than the Discovery Institute can get to sign a statement in favor of intelligent design, no matter what their name is.
This is why when one delves into a specific discipline, the phrase “evolution” or natural selection or Darwin–never occurs.
And what biology departments do you spend your time in? What graduate school did you attend where you got advanced degrees in the sciences?
When I studied biophysics, evolution and natural selection came up from time to time.
If the truth were on your side, you wouldn’t have to make things up.



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Alan Stillman

posted August 12, 2009 at 8:00 am


davidf:
you wrote: “Judaism does not evolve in the way you refer”
if Judaism does not evolve, why are there Women rabbis? why is there Orthodox, Conservative, Reformed, Reconstructionist and Revisionist movements within modern Judaism?
you are correct about my name and my upbringing. I practice either a Pagan form of Judaism or a Jewish form of Paganism depending on how you look at it. I have blended my two spiritual pathways into a form that is meaningful to me. I have found Talmudic support for some of my practices, but that is not that important to me unless I am trying to explain my practice to someone with a more traditional view of Judaism.
frankly, a practice that has deep personal meaning that I am motivated to continue is more important to me that finding some writings of a long dead Jewish scholar that support my choice. my personal practice is much more important to me that engaging in ritual that has no meaning and that I find empty.
my family are mix of fairly conservative to orthodox. yes, they struggle with my personal choices related to spirituality. but they see that I am happy that they find meaning in their religious traditions and they have learned how to be happy that I have a spiritual practice that is meaningful to me. they are happier that it is based in Jewish philosophy and ritual – even if it takes a very different form than what they believe and practice.
and they have never once suggested, as the passages that DavidK has cited dictate, that I should be smited or killed as a consequence of my beliefs or practices. their Judaic thinking has evolved, too.



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DavidF

posted August 12, 2009 at 2:44 pm


Regarding Alan S, thanks for the response and the personal details. No one on this board, certainly not David K or myself might suggest how the Almighty might handle you–we all have our sins. What is clear however, is that we have clear parameters and your choice to invoke a goddess and engage in a goddess worshiping is a pagan, idolatrous act. Further, it is clear that you have no standards to base your choices upon except mere personal preference–whatever floats your boat for the moment. It may be true that I have made some poor choices in my life but this is not because of any defect or lack of “evolution” of Judaism–it was my own personal failing.
The corollary here is that for well over 3000 years, Judaism did not change and there was no (essentially no) splinter sects. Reform Judaism, Conservative and Reconstructionist Judaism are all inauthentic avenues for Jews–mistaken ventures–even if they serve a useful purpose. Indeed, I have been part of Reform and Conservative congregations–the trouble is making their basic beliefs “Jewish” and this is the problem.
It is a bit of a chuckle here to see how left-wing Jews love the concept of “evolution” even when it comes to Judaism–they want an evolving Judaism since they believe that a Judaism of today can he higher and better than yesterday! This is not possible and this is another example of how this faulty concept of evolution corrupts so many things–including religious observance. There can be no doubt that Jews are not close to being on the same level as we were 2200-3000 years ago in an age of prophecy and when the Temples stood. Our lives, our practices, our beliefs have descended over time and this is the real power of EVOLUTION which, when it is observed demonstrates a degradation over time and not an improvement. The improvement we witness is the result of the design of the organism, its flexibility that comes from its DNA–how it is programmed to change and improve over time. Left to the forces of nature, biological systems will decay and so will Judaism–therefore the fact we have signs of decay in the form of the heterodox movements is no reason to celebrate–it is simply evidence of a natural loss of vitality.
Gabriel, the fact that there are hundreds and hundreds of scientists with PHD’s who dispute the power of natural selection, chance and random mutations to explain life processes proves my point. The further fact that there are many thousands more who disbelieve evolution but will not say so based upon leftist power also proves the point. No sane person can come forward and claim mistrust of evolution is for crackpots only–is a another common bullying technique of the Left. If you want to say that MORE people believe that evolution is the best theory–fine. What is scientific here is the requirement to search for a much better theory and the fact that evolution is barely even mentioned–by your own testimony–is good evidence that evolution is very limited in its power to explain life processes.



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Alan Stillman

posted August 12, 2009 at 4:40 pm


DavidF:
we simply agree to disagree. as I see it, humanity is wonderful in its diversity and diverse spiritual expression is one glorious manifestation. I am at heart a Universalist and can not believe in a God who would condemn or punish her/his creations for finding awe and purpose in different ways. I believe that we are all the chosen people and you prefer to draw a much tighter circle.
if I had not forged the spiritual path that I have, I would not be a practicing Orthodox Jew. I would be irreligious. perhaps still spiritual, as this is a very strong calling that comes from a place deep in my spirit. but I could not partake in ritual and practice that has no meaning for me.
I celebrate that I, that anyone, can find a deeply moving and personally meaningful spiritual practice. you condemn non-Jews (including any Jew who does not worship in your specific way) to punishment. it would seem that there is no more room for discussion. I will not change you, you will not change me. but still, the conversation has not failed.



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DavidF

posted August 12, 2009 at 5:59 pm


To repeat, since I am not God, in no way have I condemned you to punishment and the mitzvot are for the Jews alone. Many non-Jews are doing a great job of conforming to the will of God. Indeed, anyone can find a “spiritual experience” if we define this as a relationship with God. To discover a goddess is not at all the same thing–it is a waste of time–I am not “condemning” you–I am merely challenging the basis by which you find such a relationship palatable.
I am no big fan of the comedian George Carlin but he did have a routine concerning religion which applies to this case–people who believe that their soul goes to a garage in Buffalo might have a right to believe such things but this challenges what we know of a Creator and belittles religion. The belief in a goddess who has power independent from God is idol worship which also makes no sense.
Awe and purpose are fine. Meaning comes from understanding and wisdom. The wisdom associated with goddess worship cries out for explanation. In the realm of God as Creator, there are many perfectly legitimate paths–so your argument is false. The trouble is that some paths are false–you are fine–your path is bad.



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Alan Stillman

posted August 12, 2009 at 7:44 pm


David F:
again I state that we agree to disagree.
would it make any difference if I revealed to you that I was adopted and raised Jewish, but did not come from Jewish birth-parents? that I have blond hair and blue eyes? maybe not the Goddess part, but would I be held to the mandate that I worship in a traditional Jewish way? or as a genetically non-Jew am I spared the obligation of the mitzvot?
the basis by which I find the possibility of a Goddess palatable is that in deity I see a life giver, a nurturer, a healer and a teacher. these are both biologically and culturally female activities. I am not saying that men can not nurture, heal or teach – many do these quite well. but we know that birth is a female activity. and my way of viewing the universe is to understand that the Goddess gave birth to it. that is the basis of my own personal relationship with deity.
the idea of a male force giving birth to (or creating) life just makes no sense to me. I believe that your argument is false – not for you, but for me. and just because some very divinely inspired men wrote this stuff down as their truth 3000 – 5000 years ago in no way seals the deal that I have to buy into it.
and to be totally frank – and lets face it, I have obviously proven myself to be far from shy about sharing of myself here – I find the “you are fine your path is bad and illegitimate” argument to be as offensive and patronizing and as the Catholic “love the sinner hate the sin” crap.
my spirituality is at the core of my being – it is one of the most important things in my life and it has brought me to a greater understanding of who I am and what my place in the world is. it is the foundation for almost every decision that I make. so when you call it false and illegitimate you can not then turn around and add that I am OK. I won’t accept that kind of treatment.
I accept that your religious practices are true and meaningful to you. I respect that. all I ask is that you be open to the possibility that my practice is true and meaningful to me. I do not ask you to agree with my beliefs, just respect that they are true for me because I show you the same courtesy. if you can not voice respect for what I believe – about a subject where there is no source of objective truth – then state what you believe and keep your judgment to yourself.



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davidf

posted August 12, 2009 at 10:00 pm


Then you can confidently declare how the goddess brings you to make good choices on a daily basis.
You offer the religion of Alan S–supposedly meaningful to Alan S and in contempt of anyone who questions you have found something substantial.
I will not hold you in contempt, Alan, Your beliefs, on the other hand–I can easily say require some work and if you fail to sense the significance of how Jews have willingly died for their beliefs–can you really expect anyone to believe that you would die for yours? No–you merely hope the spread of tolerance created by the Judeo-Christian continues so you never have to defend yourself. This is your good fortune but do not allow it to be a cover for the search for genuine meaning.



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Alan Stillman

posted August 12, 2009 at 11:27 pm


DavidF:
I have repeatedly stated that I respect your faith tradition and that I honor and celebrate that you have a spirituality that works for you. I have firmly, but in my opinion respectfully, pointed out that your tradition is not one that works for me based on my core beliefs.
you have judged the majority of Jews (Conservative, Reformed, Reconstructioninst and Revisionist) as being not Jews because they do not practice their Judaism in you way. you continue to belittle my personal faith and spiritual practice by calling it false and meaningless – “supposedly meanignful” to be exact.
I have invited you to speak about your beliefs while firmly and respectfully setting a boundary that you refrain from attacking mine. you disregarded that boundary.
and I am the one who is voicing contempt?
despite what I have shared here, you know precious little about me. you have no idea what I would fight and even die to defend and protect.



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Alan Stillman

posted August 12, 2009 at 11:36 pm


DavidF:
I have continuously voiced respect for your faith tradition and have stated that I honor and celebrate that you have a spirituality that works for you. I have firmly, and I believe respectfully, stated that your faith tradition does not work for me on the basis of some fundamental ways that I perceive the universe and my place in it.
you have judged the majority of Jews (Conservative, Reformed, Reconstructionist and Revisionist) as not being Jews because they practice their Judaism in a way that is different than yours.
I invited you to write about your beliefs while firmly and respectfully setting a boundary that you not judge mine. you disrespected that boundary by calling my personal spiritual practices false and meaningless – or “supposedly meaningful” to be exact.
and I am the one who is voicing contempt?
despite how much of myself I have shared on this site, you know precious little about me. you have no idea what I would fight and or die for to protect and defend.



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DavidF

posted August 13, 2009 at 3:50 pm


Alan–please refrain from mis-representing my position. I have never judged any other Jew as “not Jewish.”
Indicating that one belief or another “works for you” or does not work for you presupposes a good grasp of the alternatives and it is apparent you have never tried living as a Jew. If I had your standard purely–I would have no idea what to think from one day to the next. Surely, marriage to one woman makes no sense and it would not “work for me” if I did not know my relationship was blessed by the Almighty and the institution sacred. Otherwise–why be married? Habit? Mutual respect, love and fidelity? Not enough. Why not steal like everyone else? Personal pride?–that is not enough. And when I challenge you to explain what in your goddess worshiping you would live for or die for–you deflect the question and tell me off, saying that I have no idea about another person. Indeed, that is why I am asking as a matter of curiosity. I do wonder if you have ever considered just how shallow your beliefs are–no need to respond to me–just something to consider for yourself.
However, you have decided to have a point of pride in a public forum to proclaim your pagan ideals–fine, if you have that much pride–can you offer any defense or explanation? It seems not but it is surely your call.



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Gabriel Hanna

posted August 13, 2009 at 5:53 pm


Gabriel, the fact that there are hundreds and hundreds of scientists with PHD’s who dispute the power of natural selection, chance and random mutations to explain life processes proves my point.
Not biologists.
the fact that evolution is barely even mentioned–by your own testimony
That is not what I said. If you had the truth on your side you wouldn’t have to lie.



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Gabriel Hanna

posted August 13, 2009 at 6:05 pm


Davidf: Scroll to the bottom of this page
http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/dover/day12pm.html#day12pm109
and see the pile of books and textbooks dealing with how the immune system evolved. That’s just the immune system.
(There’s a story behind this pile–Michael Behe admitted, under cross-examination, that even though he’d not read any of them he was sure they couldn’t meet his standard of proof, whereas there wasn’t anything in the mainstream literature published about ID, yet he was willing to believe in it. This unreasonable double standard figured prominently in Judge Jones’s decision.)
I taught an astronomy class that had a whole chapter on evolution (it was about extraterrestrial life), and we spent about a week on it. We also had to cover cosmology, geology, basic physics, the solar system, and some of the wide variety of organisms on Earth which might have analogues on other planets; given such a large amount of material, to spend one entire week on evolution by natural selection is pretty good, I think.
In short; you, sir, are a liar. You don’t actually know what goes on in science classes, and you misrepresented what I said.
If you had the truth on your side you wouldn’t need to lie.



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Alan Stillman

posted August 13, 2009 at 11:08 pm


DavidF:
You wrote: “Alan–please refrain from mis-representing my position. I have never judged any other Jew as ‘not Jewish’.”
you also wrote: “Reform Judaism, Conservative and Reconstructionist Judaism are all inauthentic avenues for Jews–mistaken ventures–even if they serve a useful purpose.”
if I am misrepresenting you, please correct me. but referring to someone’s Judaism as an “inauthentic avenue” sounds to me like you are dismissing their practice as invalid. they may be Jews by birth but to you their expression of Judaism is wrong. I may have gone too far in my interpretation of your sentiment, but your sentiment is a strong dismissal of the way a majority of Jews practice their religion.
you also wrote “Jews have willingly died for their beliefs–can you really expect anyone to believe that you would die for yours?”
this is not a challenge to explain what it is about my faith that I would die to defend. it is a dismissal of what you perceive my level of commitment to my faith. you did not ask, you make a judgment that I would not put my life on the line for my faith.
in your more recent post you do ask, so I will tell you. I would defend – with my life if necessary – my right to believe and practice my faith tradition as I see fit. religious freedom is something that I passionately cherish. is there a line? of course. if you told me that sacrificing children was a vital tenant of your religion I would call you a murderer and report you to the police. that is not religion, it is delusion.
but believe me, if the people who want to create America as a theocracy were to gain power, I would fight. through education, awareness and legal methods. but if those people instituted an inquisition, another holocaust – you can bet that I would arm myself and fight for my religious freedom.
you can also believe me that the people who would found a theocracy in this country would not put your religious practice on the short list of approved expression. I do not see this happening in this country, but I am aware that this element is out there and I refuse to lull myself into any sort of complacency. a more realistic threat would be individual acts of aggression in the form of a hate crime. people who are members of various different groups have felt the real pain inflicted by intolerant thugs. and if I were attacked for who I am and what I believe I would fight back to whatever extent necessary.
I still say that you are misunderstanding and/or mischaracterizing my belief system and my daily, monthly, yearly and lifelong practice. it is true that it has changed and – I will use the word – evolved as I have learned and explored. it is not, as you wrote, a practice where “I would have no idea what to think from one day to the next.” you say this is how you might respond “if I had your standard” but you know nothing about what my standard is.
I do not have the time or space to write down everything I believe and do here. that would take a book. a book that I am in the process of writing. but here is an example. I build on a foundation of Kashrut to make dietary choices. my understanding of Kashrut from the 16 years of religious education I received in my Hebrew school (yes, I have lived as a Jew in a glot kosher household) is that the laws of Kashrut are based in respect for life. that God created life and that life is sacred.
for me this does not stop at how certain animals are slaughtered. plants that are raised in monoculture are an insult to the diversity created by the Divine. fertilizers and pesticides that do not work in balance with natural systems are an insult to the creation. as a Pagan, who recognizes the immanence of the Divine – the Shekhina – I hold that all life, that the planet as a whole is sacred. so I practice eco-Kashrut. I eat locally grown, minimally processed, organically produced plant and animal based foods. I don’t eat seafood that is from over fished species or waterways as that depletes the resource and does not honor the life force. I limit my consumption of animal based foodstuffs to those species that do not use an inordinate amount of resources to produce. so beef – even Empire Kosher hotdogs – are off the menu.
to my way of thinking, feeling, believing, eating animals that have been slaughtered in a kosher manner alongside a vegetable sidedish made from plants grown using petroleum-based fertilizers and powerful pesticides and then shipped across the country is contradictory. the animal was raised and brought to my plate in a manner that demonstrates respect for life but the other food does not.
is it a perfect solution? are there 100% strict guidelines that I can rely on? no. but I do the best that I can given the information I have. when I am presented with information that helps me make a more informed choice I alter my practice to accommodate the newer information. but eating becomes a practice in reverence of life – animal and vegetable – and therefore it becomes a spiritual practice. that is very much in line with the religious practices I was raised with where we gave thanks through recitation of brucha before and after every meal.
perfectly stable? no. willy nilly? no. solidly grounded? I think so. and I do not really need your approval for my personal practice. it is mine. you can share it or reject it as you feel fit. I just hope that this offers you a small bit of insight into how I make my decisions about spiritual practice.



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davidf

posted August 14, 2009 at 12:20 am


Gabriel–please don’t sit there and call me a liar. I said that the practice of science in its various specialized disciplines spends very little time on natural selection, random mutations and chance in explaining fundamental HOW questions. In fact, How is not often addressed since science is not at that point yet. Many speculate we will never understand life processes in terms of how they developed. You came forward to admit that evolution came up “from time to time”–this is what you said. Evolution is hardly foundational to scientific knowledge or research–it is a philosophical spin–a allegation of a context. It is and correct to argue that if some liberal-style bureaucrat decided to enforce a dictate (no one on our side would ever propose this–we value both science and free-speech!!)to never mention evolution in a science classroom–science would not be affected in any meaningful way.
Yes, science can CHART things–bravo. The relevant scientific question is HOW? Charting something very, very complex is indeed a great achievement but it fails to answer the question.



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davidf

posted August 14, 2009 at 12:30 am


Yes, Alan, you are entitled to have your own spiritual practice and your own guidelines. This is America–at least part of what we assume to be American rights still seem to be in effect this week–subject to change until Obama runs out of support or money.
I cannot say that I can respect or debate with someone who believes that their own personal take on matters can constitute a personal religion since it implies a kind of special, almost prophetic insight very few human beings can claim to embody.



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churchmouse

posted August 14, 2009 at 1:49 am


No such thing as athiesm or secularism
Gabriel you said, “The Bible is NOT the source of your morality.”
Oh but it is. It is the only source of my morality. I take what Christ said very seriously. I am NOT HELD TO THE OT. Whether Mosaic Law, Ten Commandments, or Sermon on the Mount, none are the Christian’s rule for living “because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.” 
“Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.” {Galatians 3:24,25}
“Having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.” {Colossians 2:14}
The Law made man aware of his lost-in-sin condition. He needed a remedy for his sin. Christ was that remedy. The Law led men to His arrival. The Law and all the prophets set out a plain course for Christ to follow. Israel did not learn the lessons very well.
When Christ said He did not come to destroy the Law, he did not mean the Law of Moses would be forever binding on men. The Scriptures show that His death brought this law to a close. We are held to what Jesus commands us to do, and how He says we should live.
Alan……where does your morality come from? You said there is objective truth. Who gets to decide what that is? On 9-11 as those buildings came tumbling down half the Middle East was cheering because they believe we are evil. There were many in America that thought they were the evil ones. So who is evil? Who would God say was evil? Did we deserve what happened to us on 9-11? By your standards no once is wrong and evil is only in the eye of the beholder.
You said, “I would argue that no two people share identical Truths.”
So you would agree that two people could look at pediphila in different ways. They could also look at adultry or stealing two different ways as well.
You said, “I also believe (opinion) that one culture telling another culture what it can and can not do as ‘cultural imperialism’ and bad. there is the ambiguity. which bad do I choose?”
So you would agree it was wrong to stop Hitler. And it was not necessarily wrong for people who want to have slaves.
I think truth is truth and it does not evolve over time. Is rape ever good? Is animal cruelty ever right?
“I make informed choices about what plants and animals I consume based on what I know about the impact on the Earth and whether or not I am promoting sustainability. I still base my decisions on a fairly hard line ethical code of ‘do no harm when I can and do the least harm when necessary’.”
Based on your logic and ethics, it doesn’t matter who thinks something is wrong. So if you don’t liter because it harms the environment but I don’t care……..we both are right.
“if you think that my Truth is going to lead me to hell and you want to save me, don’t bother. I have tried to engage with people who were intent on saving me from hell. the succeeded only when they went away.”
Well I believe what Christ said. He said HE is the only Way. I believe that. So you are making a decision that will impact your eternity. Your salvation is not my responsibility. The seed obviously has been planted and you made the choice to reject it. You will have to answer for what you believe.
I believe Alan that you avoided my questions.
I have faith and I believe that Christ died for me. Can I prove it? No. I believe and have weighed scripture and believe it to be true. I never made a statement like you did. You seem to think my personal revelation is ridiculous……but you say in the next breath that God is female. Can you prove that? Of course you can’t. You have faith that she is female but you have faith like I do in something.
“we uphold the inherent worth and dignity of all people. that calls us to strive to find dignity even in those who engage in horrific acts. it is a struggle, but we do not condemn our fellow women and men to eternal punishment. our God, if we have one (it is a personal thing to us) would nto do that to the creatures S/He profeese to love”
So there is no incentive to be good cause you would never get any punishment.
God is love, but that is not all He is. He has in the past poured out His Wrath on countries and people. He is just and He will keep His Word to mankind. Christ talked about hell more than he talked about heaven….because He came to save people. Its not all about love. Its about acceptance and living a life like Christ did.
“I believe that Jesus was a divinely inspired man with a very meaningful message. he just was not divine. we all have the opportunity to find inspiriation, divine or mundane, that helps us to live moral, ethical productive lives.
You said earlier that the Bible was not reliable and it was not the truth. So what are you doing…picking out the sweet things Christ said? He said that those that denied Him would perish. He said He would judge every living thing. He never said anyone would get a free pass. Its funny that you think that Jesus was just ordinary.
The Bible is the worlds best selling book of all time and Christ is the most loved and quoted person that has ever lived. The great musicians, poets, authors, painters most all centered work around Christ…….why?



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Gavriella

posted August 14, 2009 at 7:37 am


David said: “I was just listening to some joker called David Eagleman on Coast to Coast AM. Eagleman calls himself a “possibillian.” That means there are a multitude of “possible” spiritual perspectives that are neither secular materialist atheism nor Bible-based theism.
“No, there aren’t. All the alternatives boil down to the same thing.”
My my, aren’t we judgmental. So only your personal belief system is valid? I don’t THINK so. Nor do I think HaShem gives a hoot what belief system anyone practices, as long as it includes love, toleration, and non-harm to other beings. I don’t think HaShem cares a particle what we eat as long as it was raised humanely, without a ton of pesticide. I don’t think HaShem cares if we bow down to a personal god, an all-powerful being, a divine guide, or no one, as long as we treat our fellow beings – two or four legged – with love, caring, and respect.
Gavriella



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Alan Stillman

posted August 14, 2009 at 8:22 am


Churchmouse:
I never said that your faith or your personal revelation is a sham or “ridiculous” as you put it. it is just not the right path for me. if a vital tenant of your faith is that all people must believe your way, good luck with that. it has never happened in human history. as I have stated many times I support and celebrate that people can find and practice a spiritual tradition that is meaningful to them. but I also think, know that the reality of what the creative force is is too big and too complicated to fit into any one conceptualization. all valid religious philosophies describe a part of it.
I have never met anyone who has discussed the Flying Spaghetti Monster and really believed that it was a real faith or a real understanding of deity. there are lines.
I am not going to refute the exaggerated points you have made one by one. I believe that I have made a clear case for my belief system in terms of my reaction to the events you detail – the holocaust and the 9/11 terrorist attacks. to sum it up – if I am mindful about making sure that the vegetables that I eat are grown and produced in a way that affirms the life force am I really going to condone terrorism and widespread war crimes? I think you know the answer.
sometimes individuals and small groups of people do terrible things in the name of good religions. sometimes groupthink takes over a whole population. during the reformation huge numbers of Catholics killed huge numbers of Protestants and vice-versa. this does not invalidate either Catholicism or the Protestant sects – but it does highlight what harm can come from people not being able to accept a diversity of thought and practice when religion is the source of divergence.
to be consistent, if God is love, why would God condemn those s/he professes to love to eternal punishment. that does not sound like love to me. in my faith tradition we (yes, there are large numbers of Pagans and even Jewish Pagans) are not so concerned about Heaven or the next life. our focus is about trying to do right in this one to make it a better and healthier place for ourselves and the generations that follow.
through history Christ may be the most revered and quoted person who ever lived. some biblical scholars are debating what quotes attributed to him are authentic and which were added in later. even the interlopers were inspired by him. that is wonderful. but, and this should come as no surprise to you, I am not interested in which religious philosophies are the most popular. (you are not either, as there are religions today that have far greater numbers of followers than Christianity) I am interested in a practice that has meaning to me and that motivates me to live a good life, one that reveres the life force as I understand it.
if I am wrong, I will learn when I die. if God is loving then I will be taught a more proper way to worship him. if I am condemned to hell, then perhaps I made a good choice – I can not find it in me to worship that kind of vengeful entity. either way I am a big enough person to stand up for what I believe and accept the consequences for my decisions.



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Gabriel Hanna

posted August 14, 2009 at 11:51 am


You came forward to admit that evolution came up “from time to time”–this is what you said.
And YOU said that I said that it was rare–which was a LIE, because it was NOT what I said. Biophysics is the application of statistical mechanics to biological systems; and even in such a specialized field we still discussed it in the context of evolution.
I said that the practice of science in its various specialized disciplines spends very little time on natural selection, random mutations and chance in explaining fundamental HOW questions.
How much time have YOU spent in “the practice of science in its various specialized disciplines”? You’ve never answered this question. When you do, it will be revealed that you have no basis for your allegation. You are just repeating something that somebody else told you.
Hundreds, if not thousands, of research papers are published every year dealing with how things evolve by natural selection. For you to say otherwise is simply a lie.
if some liberal-style bureaucrat decided to enforce a dictate…
Quit nattering on about the LIBRULS, all right? I’m not a liberal any more than you.
no one on our side would ever propose this–we value both science and free-speech!!)
WHATEVER. The Scopes trial was for violating a law passed by by liberals? Please. Both liberals AND conservatives try to distort science for political ends and both of them use government power to interfere with people’s private lives.
If you had the truth on your side, you wouldn’t have to lie.
please don’t sit there and call me a liar.
Continue to lie and I will continue to call you one. When you allege things without any evidence, you are lying. When you say things you are not true, you are lying. When you say somebody said something they didn’t say, you are lying.



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Gabriel Hanna

posted August 14, 2009 at 11:56 am


churchmouse:Oh but it is. It is the only source of my morality. I take what Christ said very seriously. I am NOT HELD TO THE OT. Whether Mosaic Law, Ten Commandments, or Sermon on the Mount, none are the Christian’s rule for living “because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.”
In other words, as a Christian you have a license to rummage through the Bible and pick which bits you can obey and which you don’t have to. You choose based on your own conceptions of right and wrong, which means your morality is not based on the Bible?
So if a slave escaped and came to you, you would send him back to his master like Paul? You would keep women from speaking in church, and such things? Whatever.
And why doesn’t the Sermon on the Mount, which last I heard was to be found in the New Testament, not apply to Christians?



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DavidF

posted August 14, 2009 at 6:10 pm


Gabriel, yes I have seen numerous studies purporting to show things evolve through natural selection–but the trouble–these studies have nothing to do with natural selection and the people who did the research, the scientists, when you read the report never even reference “evolution” or “natural selection” and invariably describe complex systems. The headline screams–“Darwin vindicated” but in no way was anything in the study about evolutionary forces. Even sophisticated studies involving years of research and teams of researchers inevitably describe things in the same old, no-nothing format by saying one particular aspect “emerges.” The capacity of living organisms to adapt is wondrous and could be scientifically, either designed or evolved. Unless and until one knows HOW these features emerge can we know the truth.
I encourage you to point me to a finding that demonstrates a working knowledge of HOW questions (one must ask how at least twice to see if there is some real understanding)–one of your “thousands”–one link will do it. I may not know about the link you send me to examine but I assure you I have examined other such items and they fail to demonstrate that there is much of any understanding at all. A description is not a demonstration of knowing HOW something actually works, agreed?



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Gabriel Hanna

posted August 14, 2009 at 7:34 pm


A description is not a demonstration of knowing HOW something actually works, agreed?
No.
Are Newton’s laws an “explanation” to you? To me they are purely descriptive, but from them you can figure out how most everyday physical phenomena happen.
Maybe you need to explain what kind of explanation you are looking for. Otherwise I’ll be sitting here all day putting up links with you saying “doesn’t count” to every one.



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Gabriel Hanna

posted August 14, 2009 at 8:01 pm


I’ll give you an example, Davidf–maybe this will help us figure out if we’re talking about the same thing.
The principle of least action is an equivalent reformulation of Newtonian mechanics, which is usually easier to work with than force and accelerations. “Action” is an abstract physical quantity which has dimensions of energy times time (joule-seconds in SI units).
Think of the Earth going around the sun, and the path it takes to go from point A at time A’ to point B at time B’. What path is it and when does it get there?
The principle of least action states that it takes the path that requires the smallest amount of action, of any possible path that could ever be imagined; and that happens to be, in the case of the Earth, an ellipse with the sun at one focus which takes one year to go around the sun.
So how does the Earth calculate the action of all possible paths to know which one to take? It doesn’t have to. At each instant of time, all it has to do is “sense” the nearest point with the smallest action, and move to that point, in the same way that a stone rolls downhill. The stone doesn’t “know” where the bottom of the hill is or that it needs to go there; the stone just accelerates along the steepest direction of the point its sitting on at the moment, and ENDS UP at the bottom.
The Earth goes around the sun the same way. At each point, it moves to the next point with the lowest action, and when you plot all the points together you get an ellipse that take one year.
You see what happened? We took a very simple description-the principle of least action–and used it to figure out how the Earth goes around the sun.
But least action just DESCRIBES the motion.



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churchmouse

posted August 15, 2009 at 3:59 am


Alan said, “ if a vital tenant of your faith is that all people must believe your way, good luck with that.”
Well Jesus Christ actually said it. He said those that believed in Him and what He came to do would have eternal life. He set the standard and I believe He is the final judge. So if you are wrong, you will have to answer to Him. Nowhere in scripture does it say you get another chance after death.
“as I have stated many times I support and celebrate that people can find and practice a spiritual tradition that is meaningful to them.”
Even if that tradition harms innocent people? You say there are lines……I ask you who draws those lines?
Of course you won’t address the questions I asked……I am not surprised.
You can’t compare vegetables to 9-11 or the Holocaust come on.
“to be consistent, if God is love, why would God condemn those s/he professes to love to eternal punishment. that does not sound like love to me. in my faith tradition we (yes, there are large numbers of Pagans and even Jewish Pagans) are not so concerned about Heaven or the next life. our focus is about trying to do right in this one to make it a better and healthier place for ourselves and the generations that follow”
Either God exists or He does not, there is no middle ground. I believe that ignorance and apathy can have eternal consequences. Beliefs have consequences, that is why I spread the gospel. People without faith in God stand to lose a lot more than people that do.
But what is right? You said yourself there is no one right or wrong…so everything goes, it’s all in the eyes of the beholder. If you’re a moral relativist you would have to maintain there are no moral absolutes, no objective ethical right and wrong.
“( as there are religions today that have far greater numbers of followers than Christianity)”
Who? What religion has more followers? What book has sold more copies than the bible? And why so many copies sold? If its false, if it’s a lie and a fraud…how can you explain the numbers?
http://www.adherents.com/Religions_By_Adherents.html
“if I am wrong, I will learn when I die. if God is loving then I will be taught a more proper way to worship him. if I am condemned to hell, then perhaps I made a good choice – I can not find it in me to worship that kind of vengeful entity. either way I am a big enough person to stand up for what I believe and accept the consequences for my decisions.”
Yes, you will and based on what Christ said you will not have eternal life. You have your life on earth to either accept or reject the Word and Christ. That is why Christ came…to tell people that the decisions they made on earth would have eternal consequences. He talked about hell more than He did heaven and He did that for a reason. Christ died for you so that you could have eternal life. Why would he want people in Heaven that mocked what He did? The evidence is there. A heart must be open to accept being drawn in by God. Skeptics have been making pot shots at Christ for centuries, you are no different.
There can’t be ethics apart from God without first establishing the purpose and destiny of human life. God does that for the Christian. He tells us our purpose, He sets the stage for our lives. We live by His laws. His morals we accept as our own. What does the atheist, agnostic, the skeptic, the nonbeliever live by? What should society live by? Every society has to have boundaries, rules.
Any antitheist who lives a moral life merely lives better than his or her philosophy warrants. Right or wrong from a secular viewpoint, finds no common ground with cultures and people whose ethics are born out of religious commitment. Morality can’t be deduced from reason alone, it has to come from a higher source. GOD. An atheist only has himself. He only needs himself. One need not be a God believer to recognize that if God doesn’t exist, everything goes because without God morality is arbitrary. In Christianity there is a moral point of reference that is coherent and logical. You do not see that in the religion of atheism or in any other. By their standards morals change from society to society, from circumstance to circumstance. Gods direction for us is universal and is set in stone, it never changes. Truth never changes.
“In other words, as a Christian you have a license to rummage through the Bible and pick which bits you can obey and which you don’t have to. You choose based on your own conceptions of right and wrong, which means your morality is not based on the Bible?”
No as I said I believe all of it. I don’t pick and choose. I understand the OT law and what Christ did when He came and how that affected the law.
You ask would I hide a slave………do we have slaves in the United States? If so where? We have murderers and rapists however……I would not hide them would you?
The Sermon on the Mount does apply to Christians. …and your point?



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Alan Stillman

posted August 15, 2009 at 10:23 am


my last post on this thread because this debate is not going anywhere.
Churchmouse, you posted: “Morality can’t be deduced from reason alone, it has to come from a higher source. GOD.”
I disagree. people can recognize our shared humanity and develop a sense of right and wrong based on that. they do not need a higher power to provide it to them. as I have stated before, I have seen mral and ethical behavior from athiests and cruel and hurtful behavior done by people who professed great faith.
I did not compare my eating vegetables to terrorism, I merely said that if I am mindful of how my personal consumption effects the Earth and whether or not it is in accordance with respect for life then it is pretty easy to understand how I would judge acts of terrorism and brutality. if you can not guess my reaction to those events then you are pretty stuck in a mindset that needs everything spelled out for you.
there are cases of black and white, all or nothing good and bad behavior. there are also a lot of areas where there is grey. the only way we can figure out a comprehensive response to the grey as a society is to engage in dialogue and come to the closest consensus we can. but if we are all unwilling to respect and attempt to understand another’s point of view, if we are only able to reject it outright when it does not conform with our own, dialogue is impossible and consensus a pipe dream.
I do not believe I have ever mocked Jesus or the majority of his teachings. I just do not accept that he was anything more than a divinely inspired man with some important truths to teach. truths that are not limited to Christianity. he is your savior and I respect that. he is not mine. to quote David K: get used to it.



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churchmouse

posted August 15, 2009 at 2:46 pm


“develop a sense of right and wrong”
So was Jim Jones wrong or right? Was Hitler wrong or right? Is Planned Parenthood wrong or right? Were the 9-11 terrorists wrong or right?
I am curious as to whether you are pro-/choice abortion or not…because you said this, “or not it is in accordance with respect for life.” Most the people I have come across with views like yours are pro-choice. They love mother earth and sympathize with PETA but condone mothers killing their babies in the womb. Not to get into a long term debate about that but are you pro-choice?
“I do not believe I have ever mocked Jesus or the majority of his teachings. I just do not accept that he was anything more than a divinely inspired man with some important truths to teach. truths that are not limited to Christianity. he is your savior and I respect that. he is not mine. to quote David K: get used to it.”
And you do not have to accept Christ or anything He said. Curious however that if you thought He had important truths to teach mankind what were they in your opinion? If you dismiss the entire Bible as what Christ claimed it was, then you must think that a lot of what He said was ridiculous and full of lies. In that case why believe any of it? Do you just pick out the love stuff as being important? Christ had a lot to say about a lot of different issues. If He is not who He said He was in your opinion, then why believe He was good, moral etc. He condemns mankind that rejects Him.
I believe dialogue is possible……….consensus with us not possible because Christ claimed He was the Truth the only way to eternal life with God. I believe that there are moral truths and they come from Christ, you do not. Our views are black and white, our lifestyles and worldviews opposite.
You know what the Bible says I’m sure. You have head knowledge but not heart knowledge because you reject the Holy Spirit. You have not been drawn in and God is the only one who can do that for you. If you know what the Great Commission says then you know what my role as a Christian is and what I need to do. He did not suggest but commanded that I spread the Good News, BUT to do it with love in my heart. I try to do that.
But I won’t do it or end the discussion with the arrogance of some line like…. To quote David K: “Get used to it.” But if that’s your style………wear it well.
God Bless



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Gabriel Hanna

posted August 15, 2009 at 4:29 pm


churchmouse:No as I said I believe all of it. I don’t pick and choose. I understand the OT law and what Christ did when He came and how that affected the law.
You ask would I hide a slave………do we have slaves in the United States? If so where? We have murderers and rapists however……I would not hide them would you?
The Sermon on the Mount does apply to Christians. …and your point?

First, you said yourself in your August 14 1:49 am post that
I am NOT HELD TO THE OT. Whether Mosaic Law, Ten Commandments, or Sermon on the Mount, none are the Christian’s rule for living “because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.”
That’s why I asked about the Sermon on the Mount, and as we can see YOU were the one who was confused.
Secondly you say
“I don’t pick and choose.” You just said vast sections of the Bible don’t apply to you! Not every law became invalid because of Jesus. It’s not okay for a Christian to steal or lie now is it?
Paul sent an escaped slave back to his master. Was this moral? Yes or no? You tried to dodge the issue by saying “I don’t see any slave around here”. Well, you don’t see a million dollars that doesn’t belong to you laying around either, but I doubt you would say that there is no moral position on stealing it.
Was Paul’s decision moral or immoral? Yes or no, very simple, let’s not play word games. Do feel free to explain why Paul’s decision was moral or not. Then we can examine your reasoning and see how much “comes from the Bible”.



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churchmouse

posted August 15, 2009 at 10:57 pm


The three-year ministry of Christ, ending in his death and resurrection and his establishment of his church, makes all the difference in the transition from the Old Testament or Covenant to the New Testament or Covenant. In those three years Christ ushered in a new era of salvation, although the old era contained the seeds of the new.
The most difficult statement on the relationship between Jesus and his disciples and the Old Covenant is found in Matthew 5:17-20, in the context of the Sermon on the Mount.
5:17 Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19 Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.”
The Old Covenant is to the New Covenant what promise is to fulfillment. How did, does, and shall Jesus Christ fulfill the promises of the Old Covenant? Christians are commanded to read the Old Testament and are allowed to benefit from it, but they do not take everything in it as final. Christians honor the Old Testament as the Word of God, just as Jesus did. But they read it, through the vision of Jesus and the Spirit-inspired authors of the New Testament books and epistles.
Jesus was a Jew and He honored the law. But His mission was to change from Old Covenant to New Covenant from the laws of Moses to the law of Christ. Christ said I HAVE COME. He is the one who fulfilled the Old Testament by his sinless life. He is the one to fulfilled its prophecies about his first coming. He fulfilled it by his death and resurrection. He fulfilled it by the establishment of his worldwide church. And he will fulfill it at his Second Coming.
In the Torah there are three different laws: moral, judicial and ceremonial law. Christ fulfilled them all, no one else came close. The moral law stated that the people keep perfectly Gods commands. You bring up Paul. In Romans 13:8-10 he repeats some of the Ten Commandments ( do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, and do not covet), but he concludes that “love is the fulfillment of the law” (v. 10).
Gabriel, Jesus boils down all the commandments in the Old Testament to two (love only God and love your neighbor). They are the best way to obey all of them. Jesus’ followers should live a life of divine love through the power of the Holy Spirit in Jesus’ name. Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, is in perfect agreement with Christ using the key words “fulfilled” and “fulfillment” (Romans 13:8-10):
13:8 [F]or he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. 9 The commandments, “Do not commit adultery,” “Do not murder,” “Do not steal,” “Do not covet,” and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: “Love your neighbor as yourself. 10 Love does no harm to the neighbor. Therefore, love is the fulfillment of the law.
The very words of Jesus Christ will remain even after the universe disappears: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away” (Matt. 24:35). This means that Jesus Christ supersedes the Old Testament, fulfilling it back then, now, and in the future. Christians should respect and revere the OT……but should live how Christ commanded us to live.
I honor and respect the Old Testament, but I interpret it through Jesus Christ and the new era of salvation and fulfillment that he ushered in on the day he was born.
I hope this helps show where I am coming from as far as being held to the Law.
As for the return of the slave.
I couldn’t explain it any better than this site can.
http://www.antipas.org/books/be_ye_transformed/a_brother_beloved.html
“Moses’ Law would release Onesimus from his obligation, or at least it would have released Paul from the obligation of giving up Onesimus to Philemon, but the law of Christ called for a repentance and a seeking of reconciliation, and a giving to Philemon the opportunity of granting freely what had been taken from him against his will.”
Paul also sent him back with a letter of reference and stood up for him. He converted and now was a believer. Paul makes an appeal to Philemon for a specific reason. He asks him to see him in a different light because the slave now was a believer and a brother. He said look at the good things that could happen because of what went on. Paul tells him to do the right thing. Slavery was embedding in the culture and Paul wanted him to envision a world in which there was no slavery where all Gods creatures are equal that no one would be property of someone else.
I see the actions of Paul as being life-changing for all three men.
I guess Alan is afraid to answer my question……..are you pro-choice abortion?



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Davidf

posted August 15, 2009 at 11:55 pm


I was speaking about life processes–not basic physical laws. Note Newton was a theist to the extreme and his search for these physical laws was in tune with his belief that a Creator would create rational laws–that apply everywhere in the universe.
I think for your argument to be demonstrated it needs to be shown where we were having the discussion–regarding life processes.



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Gabriel Hanna

posted August 16, 2009 at 1:00 pm


I was speaking about life processes–not basic physical laws.
So what, if not basic physical laws, makes life processes work? That’s not even the issue.
I asked you “what do you regard as explanation“? You said it was different from “description”, and I gave a counterexample.
Remember how we got here. You don’t think evolution by natural selection is “science” because it isn’t used to “explain” things.
Why don’t you decide what kind of thinq you are looking for, and I tell you if science produces it. In physics, description is all you get, and if physics isn’t science what is? It’s a little unreasonable to say that there is some definition of “scientific explanation” that only applies to biology.



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Joel

posted August 18, 2009 at 8:58 pm


I find it infinately interesting how people must label things in their own particular way to fit their own perception of reality. Is it really such a bear to call me an Atheist because I do not believe “God” exists beyond a concept?



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davidf

posted August 19, 2009 at 9:49 pm


My contention, Gabriel, supported by what I have discovered to be scientific fact is that natural selection explains only a few easy things and fails to give an explanation for most problems one can ask about. Further, I alleged that matters which are merely charted or described are alleged to have fulfilled the requirement of Darwinian proof when there is no such understanding of the process–only description.
This was true recently (perhaps circa 2006)when the NYT, in their science pages–trumpeted an incredible triumph *for Darwin* when scientists finally were able to chart one plant hormone called auxin. Fine–allow auxin to be the example. How does a blade of grass grow? Auxin is only one regulatory hormone essential for the growth of most plants–including grass. Many other hormones are at work–how are they orchestrated? How does this work? How it originally came to work is a more fundamental question not necessary for understanding right now. Yet, the basic scientific question remains–is this entire complex system designed or did it evolve? It is an interesting academic question. More specifically, when we consider the incredible complexity of this one plant hormone–which took decades to decode with team of scientists over decades with high power computers–HOW becomes not merely daunting–it seems impossible. *How* must be inserted at every stage of the examination of auxin since its functionality has nothing to do with base physical laws and everything to do with its own peculiar nature. Now that it is charted–is there any hope of understanding it, that is understanding HOW it works? This is the scientific challenge.
I thought you wanted to discuss biology, Gabriel–wasn’t that your call?



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Gabriel Hanna

posted August 23, 2009 at 11:15 pm


Now that it is charted–is there any hope of understanding it, that is understanding HOW it works? This is the scientific challenge.
Okay, so what KIND of answer would satisfy you? What do you think “HOW” means?
In my work, what I mean by “HOW” is that I have a good understanding of the physical processes that produce the phenomenon. For example, if you say “How is the blue color of the sky produced” I can tell you about atoms, electrons, electric fields, and Rayleigh scattering. But if you ask me something like “How do all electrons come to have identical masses and charges” I can’t explain that. It is an assumption that all the current theories are based on, and it could be wrong; if we assume it we find out that we can explain a lot of other things. If it IS wrong, it has to be wrong in a very subtle way, because it certainly seems pretty right.
But I think you are not actually interested in the exact chemical processes that make auxin regulate growth, am I right? What exactly is your question and what sort of answer do you require? Are you asking about the evolution of the growth regulation system, or what?



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Thank you for visiting Kingdom of Priests. This blog is no longer being updated. Please enjoy the archives. Here is another blog you may also enjoy: Kabballah Counseling Happy Reading!

posted 11:24:22am Aug. 16, 2012 | read full post »

Animal Wisdom: The Voice of the Serpent
Our family watched Jaws together the other evening -- which, in case you're wondering, I regard as responsible parenting since our kids are basically too young to be genuinely scared by the film. The whole rest of the next day, two-year-old Saul was chattering about the "shark teeth." "Shark teeth g

posted 3:56:33pm Mar. 16, 2010 | read full post »

Reading Wesley Smith: Why the Darwin Debate Matters
If the intelligent-design side in the evolution debate doesn't receive the support you might expect from people who should be allies, that may be because they haven't grasped why the whole thing matters so urgently. I got an email recently from a journalist whom I'd queried on the subject. "All told

posted 5:07:12pm Mar. 15, 2010 | read full post »

The Mission of the Jews
Don't miss my essay over at First Things on the mission of the Jews to the world. This, I think, the key idea that the Jewish community needs to absorb at this very unusual cultural moment, for the time is so, so right. Non-Jews are waiting for us to fulfill the roll God gave us in the Torah. Please

posted 6:14:16pm Mar. 05, 2010 | read full post »

Darwin at the Mountains of Madness: Evolution & the Occult
Of all the regrettable cultural forces that Darwinism helped unleash, perhaps the most surprising and seemingly unlikely is its role in sparking the creation of modern occultism. Charles Darwin himself could not have been less interested in the topic. But no attempt to assess the scope of his legacy

posted 2:04:11pm Mar. 04, 2010 | read full post »




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