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Author Topic: Agnosticism on the rise in the US  (Read 7315 times)

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Offline Pumpkin Seeds

Re: Agnosticism on the rise in the US
« Reply #75 on: March 14, 2009, 06:01:10 AM »
So if a government can fragment the ideals, politics has people moving against their code of ethics and those in religion also believe in science...what is wrong with someone worshiping in a form of organized religion?

Also, picking at arguments is certainly fun and acceptable.  Generalizing an entire group of people is not picking at their arguments.

Offline MHaji

Re: Agnosticism on the rise in the US
« Reply #76 on: March 14, 2009, 08:27:31 AM »
Quote
Also, picking at arguments is certainly fun and acceptable.  Generalizing an entire group of people is not picking at their arguments.

True.

Quote
So if a government can fragment the ideals,

Not my point at all. I'm saying that the ideals were never a unified whole - they were always fragmented, always colliding with each other. The government should reflect this truth, rather than try to sweep it under the rug by establishing a given religion.

Quote
politics has people moving against their code of ethics and those in religion also believe in science...what is wrong with someone worshiping in a form of organized religion?

Nothing's wrong with worshiping. Quite a bit is wrong with the position of the vocal minority of religious people who try to establish their chosen type of worship as an officially sanctioned doctrine, or the 48% of Americans who would shut people out of a political office on the grounds of a religious disagreement.

A rise in agnosticism is not a strike against organized religion, but a realization that other choices are available, and that it is acceptable to make those choices.

Online Zakharra

Re: Agnosticism on the rise in the US
« Reply #77 on: March 14, 2009, 09:11:25 AM »
Nothing's wrong with worshiping. Quite a bit is wrong with the position of the vocal minority of religious people who try to establish their chosen type of worship as an officially sanctioned doctrine, or the 48% of Americans who would shut people out of a political office on the grounds of a religious disagreement.

A rise in agnosticism is not a strike against organized religion, but a realization that other choices are available, and that it is acceptable to make those choices.

 So far it is a majority that still believe in some form of Christian religion. About 88% I believe. That is a huge majority.

Offline MHaji

Re: Agnosticism on the rise in the US
« Reply #78 on: March 14, 2009, 09:15:50 AM »
A majority are Christian, but it's a small, vocal minority that's actually trying to make the country into a theocracy. I said "the vocal minority of religious people who try to establish their chosen type of worship as an officially sanctioned doctrine" specifically in order to make the point that the vast majority of Christians would rather not establish a sectarian government.
« Last Edit: March 14, 2009, 09:18:16 AM by MHaji »

Online Zakharra

Re: Agnosticism on the rise in the US
« Reply #79 on: March 14, 2009, 09:59:28 AM »
 True, but because of that vocal minority, which is a small percentage of the religion, all Christians are being labeled that way and there are a lot of athiests, agnostics that are trying to remove -all- religious backed/leaning laws, symbols and substance. Even going as far as to say that the Founding Fathers were not religious/Christian. When there are groups that are actively trying to remove religious symbols from monuments, State, county, and city seals.

  A number of years ago, I remember hearing about a law that was attempted, in Oregon I believe, that was going to regulate how tall the steeples/crosses could be on churches. Because some people were offended at seeing the crosses when they drove along.

 On another board I am on, I've seen people posting that religion should be outlawed because it is 1, outdated. 2, repressive and 3, the people who believe in it are idiots and morons and should not be allowed to vote or hold office.

 Christianity is under serious attack in this country by those who want to push their/i] view point on the Christians.

Offline MHaji

Re: Agnosticism on the rise in the US
« Reply #80 on: March 14, 2009, 03:44:54 PM »
Quote
True, but because of that vocal minority, which is a small percentage of the religion, all Christians are being labeled that way and there are a lot of athiests, agnostics that are trying to remove -all- religious backed/leaning laws, symbols and substance.

A lot of atheists? A lot of agnostics? As you just noted, atheists are a minority. Although I do appreciate any attempts to do away with religious-leaning laws in a secular state; religious laws are to be enforced by one's conscience, not by the strong arm of the government.

Quote
Even going as far as to say that the Founding Fathers were not religious/Christian.

Straw-man. The claim isn't that the Founding Fathers weren't Christian or religious, but that many of them were Deists who believed in a God that wasn't big on direct intervention, and that most reached the common agreement that they didn't want an Established Religion. They understood that if you allowed one creed to dominate, others would suffer.

Quote
When there are groups that are actively trying to remove religious symbols from monuments, State, county, and city seals.

And these groups are generally assumed to be fringe crackpots - on the grounds that they object to the idea that it's assumed that a government will be by Protestant Christians, for Protestant Christians, and that its symbols will reflect that.

Quote
A number of years ago, I remember hearing about a law that was attempted, in Oregon I believe, that was going to regulate how tall the steeples/crosses could be on churches. Because some people were offended at seeing the crosses when they drove along.

I thought it was because projecting displays on businesses are limited in size and visibility, and a small minority thought that churches ought to follow the same rule.

Quote
On another board I am on, I've seen people posting that religion should be outlawed because it is 1, outdated. 2, repressive and 3, the people who believe in it are idiots and morons and should not be allowed to vote or hold office.

On the Internet, you will find people who will post a lot of things, and the loudest will be the most extreme. This does not mean that they have a snowball's chance in the heart of the sun. Anyone who seriously thinks that religious people should not be allowed to vote or hold office is living in some sort of Bizarro world. In America, only religious people can hold office. See below.

Quote
Christianity is under serious attack in this country by those who want to push their view point on the Christians.

The claim that there's a massive War on Religion by fanatical atheists has been propagated by a number of sources, notably News Corp. Claiming that 86% of the population is about to be stripped of their religion by a small, but powerful cabal of the godless is a great sell, but the truth is more along these lines:

For centuries, it has been assumed by the rank and file that Christianity was not only the default state, but the only way a person could be trusted not to be pure evil. Even Thomas Jefferson's presidential campaign suffered most from attacks claiming he was an atheist who would "ban the Bible" if elected. Eventually, Catholicism and Judaism got a pass from at least some, but there's currently only one open atheist in Congress, and he's nearing retirement and getting senile. Though a cynical society may well be attacking Christian values - values shared by many atheists as well! - there's no War on Christianity.

There IS an attempt by some to make sure that religion remains a personal, rather than a State, matter. But calling this a "serious attack" against religion is like calling women's suffrage a "serious attack on the rights of men." It's not an attack on religion, it's an attack on the idea that religion is inherently privileged. Churches should be allowed to exist, and their members should be allowed to advertise their existence, to proselytize their faith, and so on. But they should not be allowed to use the government as a pulpit, or place the symbols of their particular religion in a place that's supposed to represent impartial justice.

Offline The OverlordTopic starter

Re: Agnosticism on the rise in the US
« Reply #81 on: March 14, 2009, 04:09:36 PM »


 Christianity is under serious attack in this country by those who want to push their/i] view point on the Christians.

Well I suppose itís a matter of perspective and a vicious little circle.

From where Iím standing, there appears be at least elements of the Christian right that want to carry their Ďvaluesí (a seriously overused and tiring term heard far too often by the GOP this past election process) beyond their own thresholds and into common law, and thatís a problem where some of us are concerned.

Itís impossible to deny popular media has had a strong liberal slant in past years, something Iíve discussed (or argued) on with members of my own family. The vicious circle is obvious; popular media is powerful and widespread, and I can understand some feelings by the right of being besieged.

So, some of them get more belligerent and in-your-face about their faith, which only gets hair to bristle on the left.


I think a crucial question thatís overlooked is why thereís a strong bias thereÖbecause one day the media moguls woke up and unanimously decided they needed to pick on someone at random? Unlikely.


My view on it; I donít want to by definition push my view on Christians, but I will admit my urge to enlighten some of them on the wider view outside their faith, as surely as they would feel compelled to Ďsaveí me.

But at worst I only want to push them back into their corner; that being those instances where they seem to standing in boots five sizes too large for them and get the notion whatís good for them is good for everyone.

Of course that doesnít just apply to the Christian faith; my aunt in Texas believes we need to continue the war in the Middle East Ďbefore America is under Sharia law', which is of course just hard right folly and propaganda, and the Red Scare all over again.



Offline Pumpkin Seeds

Re: Agnosticism on the rise in the US
« Reply #82 on: March 14, 2009, 09:23:24 PM »
The objection raised earlier dealt with organized religion governing the lives of others.  If what you say is true, then there is little to fear from government regulating someoneís life from a religious pulpit.  Real world examples such as abortion being legal, there still being no prayer in schools and that governments still tread lightly in giving vouches to parochial schools should enforce this system.  So as you state there is no problem with people getting together for organized worship.  That is, while round about, my point.  To simply shore up the idea that organized religion is fine so long as it does not harm those around it.

People will always attempt to impose their values on others.  That is simply how they view the world and anyone pulled into their circle will be placed under that scrutiny.  That organized religion has more people due to their organized nature does mean they have more influence.  Of course 88% of the population having a common belief would have influence anyway.

As for presidential election, Iím not understanding the real problem.  How many people would vote for an openly Islamic president?  How about a gay president?  Recently a black president got into office, which is a historical event that few saw coming.  There was a mormon that tried for office and was voted down with his faith being attacked.  According to surveys a president with a doctorate has a much lower chance of being elected than one with a Masters.  Protestants have a better chance than Catholics.  That 52% of the country would elect an agnostic as their President is honestly quite surprising. 

I mean, I donít call men stupid cause they havenít elected a woman yet.  Nor do I consider all men historically stupid for the oppression they placed on women.

As for attacking Christianity, I believe Christians are safe.  People will quibble over crap just to see if they can get away with it and stretch their limits.  Just like the student president that tried to enforce a prayer at a public highschool football game.  Also the Kansas Education board trying to push for Creationism to be taught over evolution.  There are people on both sides fighting for this or that.

Yet I do not feel that agnostics have a ďplace.Ē  I also donít think that I am going to enlighten them by telling them about God, nor do I really want to.  I donít know the truth and presuming I do only makes me an idiot.  So I find it funny that you can say that imposing views is bad, but in the same breath say you want to show them their place.

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Re: Agnosticism on the rise in the US
« Reply #83 on: March 15, 2009, 03:34:53 PM »
. . .I have only read the first page of posts. . .I am responding to the original article.

I am a polytheist.  I do not think I have all the answers, nor do I think that my religion is necessarily correct in any views.  I also do not think that my religion is for everyone.  I think that people should pick a religion that works for them and doesn't suppress their true hearts.  There is nothing wrong with having religion and having a religion doesn't make a person weak or stupid.  I choose to have a religion because it is what I want to have in my life.  I don't care how wrong or right is may be to the world it is right for me.  That's all that matters to me.  I like to listen and learn and find out about other religions and constantly add things to my own beliefs to make it better for me.  I love life and I love my faith.  This is my way and it makes me happy.  If being agnostic makes more Americans happy then that's good for them.  My opinion of it though is that most people claim to be agnostic because they don't want to be beaten down for their beliefs.  Beliefs are scrutinized so hard in America that it makes it hard to proudly and openly believe in anything. 

Offline Sho

Re: Agnosticism on the rise in the US
« Reply #84 on: April 01, 2009, 12:05:34 AM »
...What I don't understand is why science and religion have to be so contradictory. Of course, right-wing Christians who are fully mired in their beliefs might argue with me, but I'm a churchgoer. Admittedly, my church isn't Catholic or terribly traditional, but I am a Christian nonetheless.

My church teaches that God is a spiritual being who can save you. God is there so that you always have someone to turn to in your darkest hour, so that you are never alone. So that someone is always looking after you. My church also teaches that it is up to students to make their own choices as to what they believe in. The church presents creationism, but just the other day our pastor asked, "Why is it that it's so impossible that God created the world...and then created evolution?"

Personally, I'm inclined to believe that.

I won't deny evolution...the proof is there, set out. What caused this earth to be born is still a mystery. There are vague theories, but no hard proof to prove where the earth came from. This way, science and religion mesh comfortably in my mind.

What I have to say irks me more than a little bit is this attitude that Christians are close-minded, anti-abortion, anti-gay marriage, anti-everything. We're not. Most aren't. Most Christians are caring, loving individuals who let their love for God guide them to be better people. Of course there is a section of Christians who are extremely conservative and seem terrifying to people like OverLord. I get it. But...don't lump us all together. It's insulting to be told that my religion has absolutely no worth because science, often times unproved, is undeniably better than anything people have used for thousands of years to guide them.

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Re: Agnosticism on the rise in the US
« Reply #85 on: April 01, 2009, 12:31:37 AM »
Out of curiosity - Unitarian?  We had our wedding at a Unitarian church, because they were just cool that way.

Offline Sho

Re: Agnosticism on the rise in the US
« Reply #86 on: April 01, 2009, 03:02:07 PM »
I have a great fondness of Unitarian churches, but no, we're not. Actually completely non-denominational (not in the sense of evangelical or mega churches)...there were a bunch of Protestants, Catholics, and Baptists in our neighborhood that wanted to raise their children with Christian values and a church to go to on Sundays, so they all got together at a town meeting and decided to fundraise for and build a modest, but pretty, church.

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Re: Agnosticism on the rise in the US
« Reply #87 on: April 01, 2009, 03:28:54 PM »
Interesting. How do you handle the differences of doctrine?

Offline Sho

Re: Agnosticism on the rise in the US
« Reply #88 on: April 01, 2009, 05:24:36 PM »
Well, there  have been a few problems but the pastor essentially sat down and said, "Look, here's how we're going to do it..." And he talked about how he wanted to allow kids to come to their own conclusions about religion and science, and how the Sunday school would teach from the Bible, but would tell kids not to forget about what they learned in school. Everyone's been pretty happy with it. I don't really know intimately...I'm one of the kids who sortof missed the Sunday school by a few years and I've only recently gotten into the church. My parent's generation is the one that started up the church. All I can say is that everything seems to be going pretty well so far.

Offline Mycroft

Re: Agnosticism on the rise in the US
« Reply #89 on: April 01, 2009, 09:49:57 PM »
They wanted to raise their children with Christian Values...

What precisely are Christian Values, if I might inquire? Given the various incarnations of the faith, which you are unfairly lumped together with, precisely what Christian Values are on the agenda?

Offline Sho

Re: Agnosticism on the rise in the US
« Reply #90 on: April 02, 2009, 05:46:48 AM »
Well, its a pretty general statement. I suppose I meant that they wanted to raise their children with the knowledge that they had a church to turn to. But, as fara s Christian values, that would include honesty, charity, openness, and faith to God. Not to say other people don't have those values either. They're just sort of inherent in the church's teachings for children.

And...how is it unfair that our church lumped the incarnations together?

It works out really well. We have a church we go to. We pray to God. We're happy and feel secure in our faith. I don't see what's bad about it...

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Re: Agnosticism on the rise in the US
« Reply #91 on: April 02, 2009, 05:52:06 AM »
I suspect he is refering, as I did, to doctrinal issues. Every sect of christianity has its own take on things, its own set of unique beliefs that separate it from the other sects. While the core teachings remain common, there's plenty around that that isn't.

Take the issue of saints .. fairly big in the catholic church, not so hot in the protestant ones. Contraception .. big no no for catholicism, not an issue for protestants.

Offline Sho

Re: Agnosticism on the rise in the US
« Reply #92 on: April 02, 2009, 06:05:28 AM »
The Catholics in our church pushed a few of those issues but there was so much backlash that we ended up settling on a plain cross (no image of Jesus hanging from it) for the wall of the church. Also, kids are taught about the saints but I don't think they pray to them. Not really certain on that...like I said, I missed the Sunday school by a few years so I never went. I'm sure my church has given a lecture on contraception, buuuuut... :) I've only recently gotten back into the swing of Christianity, so I missed quite a few speeches in between. I'm pretty sure they worked out doctrinal issues by sitting down and taking a vote with the founding members of the church on whether or not various things would be included (like saints) in the education of their children. I think some people decided to sacrifice certain aspects of their doctrine in order to have a unified neighborhood church.

Seems to work well, though.

As it is, there were a few Catholics who wanted a more Catholic church and ended up going to a Catholic church that's a few miles away. So, I think the ones who were the most gungho about keeping their doctrine actually ended up attending a Catholic church anyways, instead of ours. So the people left on the board were more moderate, as far as making concessions to include the views of other religions.

Offline Inkidu

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Re: Agnosticism on the rise in the US
« Reply #93 on: April 02, 2009, 06:10:40 AM »
I suspect he is refering, as I did, to doctrinal issues. Every sect of christianity has its own take on things, its own set of unique beliefs that separate it from the other sects. While the core teachings remain common, there's plenty around that that isn't.

Take the issue of saints .. fairly big in the catholic church, not so hot in the protestant ones. Contraception .. big no no for catholicism, not an issue for protestants.
The act of necessary baptism is another. Catholic and Church of Christ say you have to be baptized. Baptists say it's not necessary for salvation.

Offline Sho

Re: Agnosticism on the rise in the US
« Reply #94 on: April 02, 2009, 06:20:05 AM »
Yeesh. I feel like I'm going to have to go through every single practice of my church now.

But...

Baptisms at my church are optional. I was baptized, my step-siblings were baptized, but not everyone in our church has been baptized. We're hardly a traditional church. It's very much, 'do as you please', so long as it doesn't step on anyone's toes.

Offline Mycroft

Re: Agnosticism on the rise in the US
« Reply #95 on: April 02, 2009, 10:07:32 AM »
Well, its a pretty general statement. I suppose I meant that they wanted to raise their children with the knowledge that they had a church to turn to. But, as Far a s Christian values, that would include honesty, charity, openness, and faith to God. Not to say other people don't have those values either. They're just sort of inherent in the church's teachings for children.

And...how is it unfair that our church lumped the incarnations together?

It works out really well. We have a church we go to. We pray to God. We're happy and feel secure in our faith. I don't see what's bad about it...

You said it was unfair to lump you in with other Christians.

My point, which you already make, is that none of the values you bring up are intrinsically Christian, except faith in God. Further, I'd make the argument that many of the good Christians you insist are in the majority (I would disagree, incidentally) are simply good people who happen to be Christian.

You can't on the one hand claim that a person's virtues are tied to their faith, while insisting that those "other" Christians are just naturally assholes. Given that you're a member of a Church that understands the flexibility of the doctrine and the leeway that exists for interpretation, you have to understand, those conservatives are reading the same textbook you are, and given it's nature their views are equally valid.

I don't attribute being a bigoted closed minded twonk with any particular religion, and it's equally laughable to associate a decent human nature with one. Everyone knows there are "good Christians" and "good Muslims" and "good scientologists" because they're composed of people, who are individuals. But the vocal minority (or majority depending on locale) are some scary dudes, Sho. You can't rightly disavow any knowledge of your associates, nor is it a particularly Christian thing to point the finger and say, "I'm not with those guys."

Your faith provides comfort and direction, and that terrifies the piss out of me. Because while many individuals may simply find comfort that "God is there so that you always have someone to turn to in your darkest hour", a great many use it as silent (or vocal) justification for pushing their beliefs on others.

In my personal experience, the holier than thou crowd is much much more prevalent than those who take quiet comfort from the Lord. So while I understand your disdain for being lumped in with the crazy Christians, their beliefs stem from the same source material and are equally valid. After all, who says where to draw the line when interpreting scripture?

When you question the scripture, at what point do you stop? At what point do you say, "Okay. These laws and parables mandated by my chosen Deity and his scribes are kind of crazy. We're tossing those. Now THESE on the other hand, are the thin line that keeps the world on this side of sanity." Did we really need faith to tell us it's a bad thing to bludgeon people to death or steal their stuff? And in a sect of Christianity where you set your own rules, at what point does God become somewhat redundant, except as a spiritual shoulder to cry on?

Offline Sho

Re: Agnosticism on the rise in the US
« Reply #96 on: April 02, 2009, 02:30:36 PM »
This argument is making my head hurt, just a bit. I tossed in my two cents to show that not all Christians are crazy, bigoted, right-wing people. I'm not saying that those values (as stated above, being honesty, charity, etc) are ONLY Christian values. They are also Jewish, atheist, etc. etc. values. BUT. They are also Christian values. Most countries, religions, and people put an emphasis on those values. I'm not saying that other people can't, and that being a Christian makes you an inherently good/bad person.

I'm sure that there are a great many out there who push their views onto those around them, using religion as an excuse to do so. I don't deny it. I've seen Jesus Camp (speaking of which, everyone should check it out...scary, but interesting at the same time!).

I think that, to you, the holier-than-thou crowd you fear (understandably so, I'm rather scared of them myself) isn't so much greater in number, but louder in voice. As most fanatics are.

I've found that most people who are just content in God being their guiding light/a friend to turn to tend not to speak out loudly. Afterall, they're happy with their lives. They don't feel threatened by people who are in any way not a part of their group.

There are plenty of people in the world who are happy to keep religion and work separate, and I think that would be the majority (numerically) of Christians. Sadly, we get lumped in with the (admittedly growing) few who are loud and want to make everyone hear them. The same way I don't like to get lumped in with right wings, I'd assume (I may be wrong) that you don't want to be with the atheists who are completely unwilling to listen to anything anybody says that isn't in exact agreeance with them. I don't say that the right-wing aren't Christians; they're just not the crowd I hang with.

Now. Onto your last point. I'm not asking you to raise your children Christian, or to convert your friends. I'm just explaining my experience with the religion, so that other people at least have an example of a different type of Christianity. I don't think we need faith to tell us to be good people. We need families and friends and our conscience to do that. Christianity, for people like me, just offers another family both physical and spiritual that I know is there for me, all around the world.

Offline Nessy

Re: Agnosticism on the rise in the US
« Reply #97 on: April 03, 2009, 05:46:51 PM »

In my personal experience, the holier than thou crowd is much much more prevalent than those who take quiet comfort from the Lord. So while I understand your disdain for being lumped in with the crazy Christians, their beliefs stem from the same source material and are equally valid. After all, who says where to draw the line when interpreting scripture?


I don't think this is surprising at all. The holier than thou crowd, as you call them, are probably the most vocal of the Christian faith. Being the most vocal does not make you the majority. I went to school with a lot of people. I work with a lot of people. I have worked with a lot of people. I have no idea what their faith is except for a few, and those few were the ones that liked to talk about their faith a lot, justify it, maybe try and convert others. That doesn't mean that most the other people I worked with didn't have a religion, it just meant they didn't feel the need to bring it up. And why should they? Faith is a personal experience. You can't force people to believe something. You can force people to go to church but believing is a different issue all together. As for interpreting scripture, it's ancient text. Most people can't even agree on interpreting a document passed into law yesterday so how are millions of people from every walk of life all over the planet going to agree on the mean of the scripture. They don't. And not ever christian is part of a sect, and not all references to religion is a reference to christianity.

As to who says where do you draw the line in scripture, I say you do. If it's your faith, you follow it as you think its meant to be followed. I was only following ordes doesn't work for the military all the time and certainly doesn't work for religion. That's how religions have been used to commit horrific acts in history and will probably be used to do so again. However, the abscents of religion doesn't necessarily equal justic and tolerance. Believe me, the intolerant asswholes of the world find their way into every faith, or lack of faith. As for equal validit because they follow scripture, I would say, not entirely true. There have been cults that claimed to follow one scripture or another but clearly didn't not to mention false prophets.

Christians shouldn't be judged as a whole anymore than all  Americans, or all Brits, or all aethists or all muslims, all teachers, all lawyers... If you start grouping people into large groups to easily dismiss them to make your point, I would say that point is weak to begin with. (and by you, i don't mean you specific, i mean you as a general for people who might do this). And keep in mind a weak point isn't irrelevant but it's weakness is probably stemming for being too general. Be specific. Example: "I didn't like it when some preacher told me I was going to hell in high school because I wanted to use the condom", is not the same as "Christians don't believe in birth control and want to force their religion on other people."

Offline Sho

Re: Agnosticism on the rise in the US
« Reply #98 on: April 03, 2009, 05:50:16 PM »
Wow. thanks, Nessy. Took the words right out of my mouth, and much more eloquently than I could have said them.

Offline Mycroft

Re: Agnosticism on the rise in the US
« Reply #99 on: April 04, 2009, 12:58:44 AM »
I had hoped to let the matter lie, but I did have a question that hasn't really been answered.

The part that Nessy quotes was simply me stating that it was somewhat strange for one Christian to claim that ANOTHER Christian was crazy, when both are simply living their own interpretation of the Bible. Perhaps I wasn't clear, but it was my hope to illustrate that frankly they are equally valid, in so far as they are earnest interpretations of the same source material.

My following paragraph illustrated more candidly my confusion, in that I wondered at what point does God become redundant? The unitarian church outlined seems to approach the bible like a buffet, taking what it likes/what works, while ignoring the rest. That seems to me to be somewhat disingenuous.

Nessy suggests that it's the perception of the given adherent that sets the bar for what is good and moral. If so much relies on perception and interpretation of the individual, again, at what point does God become somewhat unneccessary?