Thanks for the tip, Oniya. :) I don't recall if my spellchecker knew "ideation," but today, I found out that it knew "rococo," and that impresses me. It doesn't know "miniscule" for some reason, although it may know "minuscule," which isn't the spelling I personally prefer.
English nerds unite!
Okay, hope you're still out there and that you notice me finally getting around to responding to the posts you made a while back. :)
It sounds to me like you care a great deal about having scientific support for any belief system or religion before you would feel comfortable accepting their claims. That's an understandable expectation, perfectly natural, and I also think that it's a wise way to approach life in general: when confronted with any claim that has important ramifications, one ought to test the claim with one's truth-sniffing equipment before accepting it or rejecting it. Science and logic are the best truth-sniffing equipment available to anyone ... sort of.
Jesus claimed that he was
the Truth; truth could only be found in him. What the hell does that mean? I don't know, exactly, but that's what he said, or at least, that's what certain sources claim that he said.
The claim could be false, either because the sources were unreliable, or because Jesus never existed, or because he did exist but was full of shit. Those are all possibilities that we can't rule out using our best truth-sniffing gear -- using science (in this case, scientifically-sound historical research) and logic.
If the claim is true, however, it has extremely important ramifications for each and every person alive. Jesus was claiming to be God and expected to be worshipped and followed; he expected his followers to devote their entire lives to him above all else. Any person who believes his claims has to conduct their lives in a very different way than if they rejected his claims.
Christianity claims to contain the absolute universal truth about life. Here's another way of saying the exact same thing: Jesus claimed to be the Truth with a capital "T". He claimed to be the highest authority on truth -- higher even than science or logic; highest of all. That means that if science or logic point in one direction, and Jesus pointed in another, then science and logic are wrong, and Jesus is right.
The last sentence in the last paragraph ought to stick very badly in the craw of any sensible adult, because any sensible adult ought to know that science and logic are the best truth-sniffing equipment available to anyone -- far, far better than emotion; often better than popular opinion; sometimes even better than the advice of loved ones. When a person's mother, for example, tells that person to do something that seems illogical to that person, he or she needs to do what seems right to him or her -- go with what his or her judgment (logic) indicates, rather than what mom said to do. That's what it means to be an adult who is responsible for himself or herself.
Strictly applied, science and logic tell us that we cannot rule out the possibility that Jesus's claims were true. Science cannot rule out the possibility that the Christian God is real and is the one true God. The Jim Holt interview (linked above) included a mention of this fact that the best physicists are aware of the many mysteries that are beyond the reach of physics; God falls into that category.
From what I could tell, Star, you were using the scientific principle of the importance of simplicity
to assert that God's involvement in the formation of the universe is unnecessary and therefore highly improbable. I don't disagree. Jim Holt mentioned the simplicity emphasis of science also; it's sometimes referred to as "Occam's Razor." It's a sound principle (although there are some rare exceptions to it, even in nature, I think). Probability or likelihood is not proof
, however. If one is going to use logic and science as a guide, then one must apply their rules strictly, and using science to say that God's existence is improbable
is not at all the same thing as using science to say God's existence is impossible
My point here is just to say that if one is going to take a sensible, scientific, and logical approach to life, then when confronted with Jesus's (and Christianity's) key claims, one cannot rule those claims out. Each person has to decide whether or not to believe the claims using something other than strict logic or the best science. The most that those things can tell us is that Christianity is improbable and perhaps entirely unnecessary, but still not impossible
Whether you accept any of what I'm saying here or not is for you to decide, Star, and I realize that it's highly unlikely that anything I say will change your mind about Christianity being a big crock. I don't feel that I have any responsibility whatsoever to change your mind about that. What I'm trying to do here is simply share my thoughts about the subjects you raised in your posts, and those subjects included assertions of the falsehood of Christianity. I consider it true and feel a responsibility to say so and to explain why.
I wonder very often why any person who is not a Christian would ever think about becoming one. I also wonder why any person who is a "nominal" or "casual" Christian -- someone who takes the religion more lightly than I do -- would ever think about focusing their entire lives on Christianity, as I try to do. Science and logic do more than just tell non-Christians that Christianity is improbable and unnecessary. They also tell Christians that too much Christianity is a major pain in the ass and will only result in personal hardship and unpopularity.
There are many times in life when doing what Christianity suggests to do -- doing what Jesus said to do -- leads to an outcome that is bad according to any
sensible, human criteria. [This, by the way, is also why I am somewhat perplexed and in awe of non-Christians who conduct themselves according to strict moral rules. Living with strict morality will get you some respect from other people who strive to live that way, but IMO, it will also cause you grief in many many real-life situations. Life is full of times when doing the right thing gets you the wrong fucking result -- it ends up hurting you and sometimes doing no good for anyone else either. In those situations, the pragmatic and reasonable person bends his or her moral code and does the expedient and sensible thing instead. Most Christians do the same. (Just one of the simplest and most obvious examples: you'd have to be a little stupid or some kind of a masochist to literally "turn the other cheek" when physically assaulted. Most examples in life of situations where Christian teachings don't work out the way Christians would hope are far less obvious but just as befuddling and difficult to deal with. One of my favorite Simpsons
quotes:Bart: What religion are you?
Homer: You know, the one with all the well-meaning rules that don't work out in real life. Uh... Christianity.
If Christianity is true, then the only way for anyone to live a "good" life is to follow Jesus above all else. I think this is probably the only sensible reason for any non-Christian to become a Christian, or for any Christian to take his or her religion seriously: it will make your life "better" in a real way. The reason "better" is in quotes is because it doesn't always feel
better; sometimes it actually feels worse
. Sometimes the non-Christian or the nominal Christian has an easier time of things and feels better than the devout Christian; very often, in fact, in my opinion. But if Christianity is true, then the hardcore Christians are still the ones with "good" or "better" lives -- better
in the only real sense
, whether our human feelings tell us that or not.
This, to me, is what Christianity comes down to: it's the fucking truth, the only
truth; it is what's real
, above and beyond anyone's opinions. That's the reason to believe it. Do you care about truth? Want to know what's real in life, and what's not? I know truth; I know what's real; more real than how anybody feels, more real than anybody's fucking opinions about anything; more real and true than anything else I can tell you; and the only reason I know it is because it was given to me freely, without me deserving it; and it is freely available to you and to everyone. the truth has a name: Jesus is Truth, and anything other than Jesus that claims to be truth is a lie; any lifestyle or philosophy that doesn't have Jesus as its top priority is a bad way of living -- living according to lies or half-truths.
I know that whenever I say shit like that, I sound like a Bible-thumping zealot. :( It's probably part of the reason why I have this compulsion to use lots of expletives whenever I talk about religion: because most Bible-thumping zealots are uncomfortable with using expletives, and I prefer to distance myself as much as possible from other Bible-thumping zealots. Unfortunately, for better or worse, I am
a Christian zealot, or aspire to be one, at least ... albeit one who likes to cuss and jerk off to porn and get drunk and get high sometimes ... (not all at once, hehehe) ... one who (still) doesn't attend a church (yet; WIP) ... one who feels incredibly uncomfortable around other Christians, most of whom would probably consider him a mega-hypocrite or a misguided freak or a judgmental jerk ... one who does an unbelievably shitty job of following Christ or Christianity ... but a "zealot," nonetheless. "Fanatic," "devout," what-have-you. Sadly, it's something I have in common with a lot of unattractive and super-unlikable people, even some nutjob assholes like the Westborough Baptist bunch. Many Christians are nutjobs or assholes. I'm a Christian who may or may not be a nutjob asshole -- you can be the judge of that.
The above isn't as well-written as I'd like -- (heh, is it ever?) -- but it's representative of my thoughts on these matters, so there ya go. Star -- I read your posts closely but chose not to respond point-by-point; if I failed to respond to things that you would like responded to, let me know, because I'd be glad to. And as always, any responses you have are welcome but not obligatory in any way.
Considering that so much of my ridiculous blog has been talking about Christianity, it's way past time that I simply wrote out what I consider to be the core beliefs that constitute true Christianity. But, being incredibly and pathetically lazy by nature, I'm going to put that off for another time. Thanks for reading, whoever you are!