Belated replies to visitor comments, chapter 22. I'll catch up someday, darnit!
Rick, I have been skimming you blog and the title was soooo tempting I just had to have a look and raise some maybe obvious points with you.
I have been off the site for a long time and I am slowly trying to read and catch up with the things that interest me.
I liked the blog so far, and I know it’s a very serious blog at times, but I’m a quite a serious sort of person, so it’s okay as far as I am concerned and I also understood it.
Hope you're still out there someplace, mrsjaz, and that you get back to this blog long enough to see this much-belated reply to your post here, which was incredibly thought-provoking and much-appreciated. Having visitors to this blog who have such thoughtful and provocative things to say is always a pleasure. Of course, heck, having visitors to this blog who have nothing to say at all is also a pleasure, but that's a different kind of pleasure. :) Anyway thanks for stopping in and commenting.
If you do choose to scrap it I still hope that it helped you work through some of the very real dilemmas that people(Christians) have had to endure at the hands of such a (imo) corrupted idea.
I say corrupted because there exist evidence to suggest the fundamentals of your faith originated not out of nothing, but from the mythologies and events of much older cultures.
If Christianity originated out of the mythologies and events of older cultures, how does that make the fundamentals of Christianity corrupt? Logically speaking, I don't see why that must follow. Christianity makes life-altering propositions about the nature of reality that may or may not be true, but whether or not those propositions are unique to Christianity would not necessarily make them true or untrue.
I would suggest that they are unique to Christianity in at least this way: Christianity's propositions about the nature of reality are centered on Christ. I don't think that's the case with older mythologies, although I understand that some people think Christ was just another version of a mythological figure who appears in older religions also, but I don't believe that or see any reason to believe that. Yet. Perhaps you can persuade me otherwise! :)
Still, I think you can guess by now that I am no believer in god or any religion, but I don’t like extremes much either, and the alternatives, the rational, science based ideologies seem to deny humanity any real empathy.
I'm very glad that you chose to post here in spite of the fact that you don't believe in a god or any religion; that alone makes me interested in your perspective already, especially since you seem to have arrived at that position with serious thought. I arrived at Christianity with serious thought and rejected every alternative I've heard yet, but it wasn't the serious thought that convinced me to do that. Regardless, I respect serious thought by anyone on any subject.
Why is empathy important? If you don't mind the question. I may ask others here too, but it's fine if you don't reply to them, although I'd be interested in your replies to any of this. I like discussions and dialogs when I can have them.
I once asked someone here on E, why he thought people who believed in god could enslave another people, he replied, Because there was no law against it… I followed with; How come these same people did not enslave their own mothers, brothers and families. Or kill and rape and castrate them? He did not give a clear answer.
He could have simply said they lacked empathy!
I know the example was kind of strange but the point I was trying to make was that the feeling one has for family should be the same for strangers, if you’re a Christian.
As I understand it, this shows great insight into Christianity. I agree.
The hypocrites, and parasites have called themselves Christians or whatever for a long time, you know them and I know them, but my problem with "bad" Christians is that I cannot tell them apart, the “good” Christians, the sheep, often sound and look like wolves to me.
Totally, strongly agree.
I could not call myself a Christian (if I was one) because of this point. So given what you think of certain Christians it surprised me that you still have to consider yourself of that faith. That, as you pointed out in your blog must be a very hard thing to do!
It's a free choice rather than anything I feel that I "have" to do. Your points about the challenge of associating oneself with others as historically and utterly reprehensible as my fellow Christians are well taken. I hate associating myself with them but choose to do so anyway; I'm sure they don't like me much either! hehehehehe Well, most of 'em anyway.
I wanted to ask you quite a few questions, and I know I have bombard you with too many of them to answer all at once., but my first is why did you choose a religion and not spirituality?
I feel the two are very different. Religion, to me, has been used to exploit our need for rules and our connection to nature. Spirituality is universal and can require no cultural god figure. Could you feel spiritual and not worship anything or anybody?
It sounds like an alternative with certain obvious appeals, like the ones you describe here. Because I have chosen to believe Christianity, I can't believe that it's possible for anyone to be spiritually healthy or aware or even alive without becoming a Christian, because Christianity claims that everyone has a spirit that is so corrupt that it's basically dead. It also claims that there is one and only one way to fix that problem, and I choose to believe its claims, although I respect and admire many other people who reject its claims altogether.
Here's something I can never say enough in this blog. I am no authority on Christianity, not even close. I am not a good person to learn about Christianity from, not only because I don't know all that much about it, but also because I'm not at all a good person for anyone to learn anything from, considering how many problems and enormous flaws I am riddled with on a daily basis. All that said, I take seriously the responsibility laid upon every Christian to speak openly about it without disrespecting others, so I try to do that in this blog and in other places where it seems appropriate.
But it's so important for anyone who reads any of this blog to realize that there are knowledgeable and authoritative and trustworthy people out there who can talk to you or to anyone about Christianity, and I am not one of them, so if anyone wants to consider Christianity seriously, they should talk to one of those people. Nothing I say and nothing you can learn from any source besides one of those trustworthy Christian leaders is a remotely-adequate substitute for what they can tell you in person
I also wanted to pick up on a point about the nature of your god.
“…because he is real, and knowing God through him is the whole reason any of us were put here to begin with.”
Who is the “us” you speak of, all humans? All English speaking westerners? Or “us” as in us believers?
Your god is universal right?
Right, I believe there's only one God, a "universal" one, who made every person and has a purpose for every person which he chose to tell all of us, as mentioned previously.
Another point similar to one already made by Oniya, when she asked why god would choose a particular group of people over any other group of people… a good point, and I understand that you could not answer, after all you are not in your god’s mind are you?
I can't really respond to the point about what Oniya said because there's so durn much material in this silly blog that I have no idea where to look to find that part! Sorry! :) But if you want a direct response to that point so much that you're willing to dig up the relevant part and provide a link, I'll be happy to reply to it. Don't bother on my account though; I hope our conversation can take place without either of us making any great effort or doing any research like that, unless you really want to. :) I'm lazy, it's true.
Christianity claims that God chose to reveal certain truths about his purposes and actions and intentions, and he didn't reveal those exclusively to me but to everyone who hears about Jesus and understands what he did on behalf of humanity. I have no special knowledge or special access to God whatsoever, but I believe the things I've been told about him in Christianity, as anyone could.
My point is similar. How could I, as a heathen from say the Congo, believe in the introduction of a white god figure into my culture? How is that truth? Is it just coincidence that your god looks like you?
I sympathize with this point, but strictly speaking, Christianity does not claim that God looks like any person except Jesus, who was not white according to the best available information about him, not just in the Bible but what historical indications we have. Or so I've heard, not being greatly knowledgeable about the historical research. Personally Jesus's ethnicity isn't important to me very much. I think it's funny that so many Westerners and so many Christians picture Jesus, an ethnic Jew of Middle Eastern origin, as a white dude. :) It's so silly to think that. But again, I don't consider it important. I've heard people claim Jesus was "black," but I suppose they meant that he may have had extremely dark skin, and I suppose that might very well be true.
I'm not white. I don't talk about that much in this blog. Maybe I will someday. I like white folks though, nothing against 'em! People of all ethnicities, I like ya.
Again I know you are not “god” so you are unable to answer and I understand that, but it’s because of these types of unanswered questions, and the disastrous history Christianity has had on people, societies, and cultures, that I find hard to forgive.
I also find it very hard to forgive indeed. I'm usually not able to feel much of anything but scorn and anger towards other Christians, even the ones who deserve better, but I'm trying to improve that terrible attitude of mine, because it's wrong to look down on anyone or hate anyone, and also because I'm a Christian myself and don't want to be a hypocrite if I can help it.
How any person would/could support that institution ( given they have the choice that is) seems strange to me, even after reading all the criticisms you have aimed at the institution and it’s people, why do you still call yourself a Christian?
Could you ever imagine (from your religious perspective) that you could be supporting the wickedness of a corrupt organisation? ( The devil’s work) With respect, can you see why I might not think you were experiencing truth or free will? That you are as sheepish in your need to follow something as many others are?
Yes I can see how you may think that; in fact, if I read this blog and wasn't me, I'd probably reach nearly identical conclusions, if not far less charitable and respectful ones.
I call myself a Christian because I choose to believe Christianity contains the one and only and most important truth about reality, and making that simple choice is by far the most important thing I've ever done, because it has transformed my entire life and continues to do so. In other words, it's pretty much my whole life, in the sense that even though I have many interests that have nothing to do with Christianity, those other interests pale by comparison in terms of my personal priorities.
It's an unpopular choice, especially in some places, but if it's the truth, then its unpopularity isn't important.
It seems to me that Christianity and religions are like traps that you might fall into unless you are very, very careful. True you would need to know what to look for in order not to fall in, but that is knowledge … to know, not to believe or to have faith … but to know.
I'm glad to hear you say this because it shows that you have a sharp intellect and a high degree of skepticism and a healthy respect for knowledge and facts. Those are all so important, and I aspire to have all those things too. I also believe that it's possible to become convinced based upon human knowledge that Christianity is bollocks; that's what most of the smartest, most knowledgeable people believe. I believe those people have fallen into a very dangerous trap that is very hard to get out of, but it's possible to get out of. They (and perhaps you) believe the same about me and consider my belief in Christianity to be foolishness of the first order.
I love to dialog with anyone who is knowledgeable about almost any subject, and I try hard to listen and learn from people who know things I don't, because there are so many people like that -- including yourself of course, mrsjaz -- and I am grateful for opportunities to learn from them.
I hope some of these points are clear enough for you to understand.
I hope I understood your points clearly and responded in a way that you found respectful and perhaps interesting or at least enjoyable to read; I certainly enjoyed the heck out of your comments and the opportunity to dialog with you, and I hope you'll feel free to comment here or visit here any time. It's a pleasure and honor to have readers and commenters like you and the others who have posted here. :) Thanks for reading!
More replies to old stuff pending, thanks for your patience.