Ask a Seminary Student

Jared is a seminary student.

How did he get involved in that career path?

I got involved in a large ministry and traveled all over Eastern Europe doing missionary stuff both while I was finishing school and a little bit after school. Then I worked for corporate America for a few years and I realized I needed to be in ministry. Not that I think everyone should be in ministry, but I have a gift for teaching, and I really enjoy preaching, writing, and helping people through tough times. So with a wife and two kids, I came to seminary. I hope to get a masters degree which will prepare me to be a pastor or a church in a largely “unchurched” area. I want this because I prefer to be around people who aren’t steeped in “church culture.” I believe Christianity has a lot of answers for us, but sometimes it is easier to talk about those answers to people who want to know them. I have found that often “church folks” think they have all of them already and don’t really want to learn more. Often it’s the people who wouldn’t immediately claim to be Christians that want to find truth. I believe the story in the Bible holds truth and I want to teach other people how to find the truths it holds.

I am not all the kind of guy who wants to “evangelize” everyone I see. I do believe the Bible is the only truth, but I would rather see an intelligent person explore truth and come to believe something else (an untruth), than to blindly accept the truth and not understand it.

He describes his future goals this way:

After school I want to plant a church in a community that is what I would call “post-Christian” or “un churched” Not because I want to reach the heathens, but because I feel more comfortable in a community that does not cling to what is commonly thought of as “traditional Christianity.”

It’s not all that often you get a chance to ask questions to someone who is currently studying to be a pastor.

Well, not the atheist crowd, anyway :)

If you have questions for Jared, let him know in the comments. He’ll respond to them directly in this thread.


[tags]atheist, atheism, Christianity[/tags]

  • Adam

    I have a question for Jared:

    You state that you feel more comfortable in a community “that doesn’t cling to [...] traditional Christianity.” I’m wondering what characterizes the type of Christianity you wish to teach and how it differs from “traditional Christianity”? You mentioned that “church folks” often do not want to learn any more about their religion, but what would be different about this new Christianity itself?

  • Renacier

    I would rather see an intelligent person explore truth and come to believe something else (an untruth), than to blindly accept the truth and not understand it.

    Wouldn’t that entail the person in question going to hell for refusing the foremost tenant of Christianity: worship Jehovah and only Jehovah? Is that something you’re comfortable with, actually encouraging a member of your congregation to turn their back on the only way to salvation?

    And I don’t mean to be rude, but please don’t say that Christianity isn’t the only way to salvation; other religions worship the same god in different ways. Because it simply isn’t true. Religions are mutually exclisive, either one and only one belief system is correct or none of them are.

  • http://www.jaredmlee.net jared

    Wouldn’t that entail the person in question going to hell for refusing the foremost tenant of Christianity: worship Jehovah and only Jehovah? Is that something you’re comfortable with

    Comfortable? not at all… i would much rather see them understand that Christianity is correct. But at least they would have thought about it.

    Religions are mutually exclisive, either one and only one belief system is correct or none of them are.

    You are right, religions are mutually exclusive, but that means only ONE of them can be right… it does not mean none of them can be right. A good study makes it seem that the truth claims of Christ are the most reasonable. Surely they could all be wrong, but they can’t all be right.

  • Renacier

    A minister who thinks that your intellectual integrity is more important than your soul, eh? That’s a church I wouldn’t have any problem with.

  • grazatt

    Just how do you feel what you are doing is different from evangelism?

  • http://highinquisitor.wordpress.com David

    Hi Jared,

    I’m curious as to why you are confident Christianity is *the* truth, in the sense that other religions must have their picture of the supernatural grossly wrong. What is it you are convinced by? The historical / archaeological evidence, by the content of the Christian / biblical message, personal experience of the divine, etc.?

  • Viggo the Carpathian

    “Renacier said, ‘A minister who thinks that your intellectual integrity is more important than your soul, eh? That’s a church I wouldn’t have any problem with.’”

    Correct me if I am wrong Jared, but you are exactly saying that. Would it not be more accurate to say that you merely respect the individual’s right to choose? Not putting any one thing above another.

    If I am correct in my interpretation, I applaud you. If Renacier is correct, I have to say, Huh? That is a bit contrary to the Christianity I know.

  • http://lifebeforedeath.blogsome.com Felicia Gilljam

    Jared, how do you deal with (explain) the factual errors and blatant contradictions in the bible, as well as the fact that it was put together by men? What is your view on the gospels that didn’t make it into the final version?

  • Learjet

    Christianity teaches us that all death and suffering entered the world when Adam sinned. If man arose through evolution, then by definition, his predecessors lived and died. (Billions of them). Therefore, belief in evolution requires acceptance that a basic tenet of Christianity is blatantly wrong.

    So my question is: Do you believe in evolution, and if so, how do you reconcile this with the conflicting tenets of Christianity? Also, what is the purpose of Jesus if death and suffering were not caused by Adam? Was Jesus not sent to redeem mankind for the mistakes of Adam?

  • Peter

    Jared, a question for you:

    Hypothetically, a Christian dad claims that God saved his child from cancer, once he learns that the tumor has gone into remission. The dad connects his own constant prayer to God’s mercy.

    Elsewhere, a family of Christians prays for their youngest member, also child with cancer. Unfortunately, the child dies. The Christian family attributes this to the fallen state of humanity, and the laws of nature that were once set forth by God.

    In the first case, the Christian man claims God preferred his child over the child of the other Christian family. He also claims he and God have a better relationship than the entire Christian family, since his single prayer was answered while their multiple prayers were ignored. Lastly, this man claims he knows the mind of God and “God’s Plan”, and that he knows his child is part of God’s Plan, while the other family has no such knowledge.

    Claiming to know the mind of the Creator of Everything, and being preferred in His Plan over others, seems like pure arrogance and ego-driven delusion to me.

    What are your thoughts? Do you see the Christian Dad’s position as humble, or moral, or anything resembling decency?

  • http://justanotheratheist.blogspot.com Justanotheratheist

    Jared,

    I was almost in your shoes. I was ready after High School to begin down the road to the Roman Catholic Priesthood.

    I have found that many of my fellow non-believers have a great knowledge of world religions, their scriptures and cosmologies. My question to you is, which book of the Bible is your favorite to read and why? What positive lessons can non-believers take away from that book?

    Also, which other tradition’s scriptures are you familiar with? Have ready, say Bhagavad Gita, the Koran, Dianetics (I had to throw that out there)? Is there anything of value in those other faith traditions that Christians can take away?

  • http://leoquix.blogspot.com Quixie

    My question is simple:

    You are certain that “the Bible is the only truth.”

    How did you arrive at this conclusion?

    Be specific, please.

    peace

    Ó

  • Jeff P

    Jared, just a comment.

    After 47 years, I’m a Christian de-convert. There are many ways that someone who loves a crowd, is good at teaching, and is enthusiastic and warm could spend their vocation.

    I’m not sure why you volunteered to share your story on an atheist site, but I for one would have at least these suggestions to make: talk to ministers who left the ministry. Read about those who have made a career of religion, and understand why they might leave it. Read “Leaving the fold,” edited by Ed Babinski, and the same title by Marlene Windell, PhD. Read everything you can on “freethinking” and “doubt.” Even if seemingly abrasive, read all the “new atheist” stuff. Freethinkers (by Susan Jacoby) and Doubt (by Jennifer Hecht) are excellent as well.

    As friendly as you seem, I couldn’t endorse another “missionary” in our world, where someone believes they have the “truth” to share to needy, hurting people. There are many wonderful ways to help people in all walks of life, bedsides making a career of “spreading the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”

    Read the headlines of any major paper daily. Look at the effect of religion and beliefs on the world. Study the history of the “church” and recognize where it’s been an institution for good, but also where it’s severely prevented and delayed scientific and emperical reason, enlightenment values, and general human freedom.

    Again, I am afraid I can’t “wish you well in your mission vision,” because ultimately I think it spreads an unneeded, non-productive idea, possibly a harmful idea, into the world sphere. You may have a different “idea” regarding your approach to evangelism, but Christianity is exclusively a proselytizing and converting religion, and damns people should they choose not to “believe and be baptized.” I’m afraid I believe that less religion is needed instead of more.

    Respectfully, Jeff P

  • Irving Kliptoman

    You say, “The Bible is the only truth”. Yet there are obviously many kinds of truths not contained in the bible. For example, open a math book, such as Hardy & Wright’s Introduction to the Theory of Numbers. There you will find such truths as “every non-negative integer is the sum of four integer squares”. This is an example of a truth not contained in the Bible.

    So how did you come to your (obviously wrong) belief, and how do you reconcile it with examples like the one above?

  • http://www.jaredmlee.net jared

    Lots of great questions I will try to deal fairly with all of them and keep my eye here for more. For what is worth, I would like to plug my book review of the His Dark Materials Trilogy. Feel free to read and post your thoughts, I would appreciate any feedback.

    it is here.

    Now for the first round of questions.

    Just how do you feel what you are doing is different from evangelism?

    Oh, It’s not I hope I do evangelism well… Evangelism is telling people the good news that there is hope in a world that often doesn’t seem to find any.

    Evangelism does not mean beating people into submission until they accept our way of life. It also isn’t the need to win an argument. I realize that’s what a lot of folks think… but I just don’t agree. Evangelism is just being honest about who I am as a believer without guilting others into something.

    “I’m curious as to why you are confident Christianity is *the* truth, in the sense that other religions must have their picture of the supernatural grossly wrong. What is it you are convinced by? The historical / archaeological evidence, by the content of the Christian / biblical message, personal experience of the divine, etc.?”

    Several things convince me. I was once convinced epistemologically. In other words I believed that all reason pointed directly to a divine being. A chain of dependent beings must lead to an independent being, ontological arguments, things like that. You have heard them all… when I was an atheist, (and curious) I asked an eye doctor if he believed in evolution. He described to me how majestic the human eye is and just how every single thing was so minute, yet so significant. He said there was no way he could accept that it came into being by accident. These things led me to accept some supernatural being.

    In the course of time and study I noticed that Jesus claim to divinity was incontrovertible and mutually exclusive. Now some will say that these are old documents and we have no way to rely on their validity, yet we can be more sure that the writing of the new testament were penned by first century witnesses than we can be sure that Aristotle actually lived. This is based on the wealth of ancient manuscript evidence preserved by the early church. They cared much less for the ancient writings like Aristotle’s (and yes we can thank – that’s not sarcasm – the Muslims for preserving much of our “secular” history).

    Now I realize that the worldview offered in the Bible really does explain so much of our existential mess, that I cant understand why someone wouldn’t believe it. I think we all recognize that things aren’t the way they ought to be. We all have a sense that the misery that humans experience isn’t quite right. The Bible explains that. We also need hope. Call me a weak human who needs a crutch if you must. But I think the hope we have in the end of the book (the last two chapters of revelation) are something to hope in. We see that we wont always be left to self destruction, but that God is at work to make things right again. I don’t have time here to express why this gives new life to art, music, literature, science, architecture, and every other human endeavor which we find beautiful and redeeming.

    “Renacier said, ‘A minister who thinks that your intellectual integrity is more important than your soul, eh? That’s a church I wouldn’t have any problem with.’”
    Correct me if I am wrong Jared, but you are exactly saying that. Would it not be more accurate to say that you merely respect the individual’s right to choose? Not putting any one thing above another.
    If I am correct in my interpretation, I applaud you. If Renacier is correct, I have to say, Huh? That is a bit contrary to the Christianity I know.

    Viggo, you are right. I respect an individual’s right to choose, and I hope every individual would choose truth, but that’s not up to me, and I will still interact with and learn from them no matter their choice.

    Jared, how do you deal with (explain) the factual errors and blatant contradictions in the bible, as well as the fact that it was put together by men? What is your view on the gospels that didn’t make it into the final version?

    Anytime two different people see something they bring their own perspectives to it. The Bible was written by men and I believe inspired by God, but God never uses humans differently from the way he made them. We are all different, with different viewpoints, backgrounds and perspectives. The things that appear to be “contradictions” are guys who emphasized different things or saw things from a different angle. I also believe God in his sovereign design used men just like the guys who wrote the stuff, to codify it.So that what we have as “The Bible” is exactly what God meant for us to have, nothing more nothing less. The things that didn’t make it in are useful to us, but not on a level with the writings that are in the Bible.

    Christianity teaches us that all death and suffering entered the world when Adam sinned. If man arose through evolution, then by definition, his predecessors lived and died. (Billions of them). Therefore, belief in evolution requires acceptance that a basic tenet of Christianity is blatantly wrong.
    So my question is: Do you believe in evolution, and if so, how do you reconcile this with the conflicting tenets of Christianity? Also, what is the purpose of Jesus if death and suffering were not caused by Adam? Was Jesus not sent to redeem mankind for the mistakes of Adam?

    Personally I simply don’t accept evolution. I fully accept the Genesis account. I do think it is possible to accept evolution if you believe the first real humans lived like Adam and Eve, but it seems unnecessary. The mistakes of Adam caused all kinds of mess. Not just death, but the ongoing strife between humans (see Cain and Abel) and the strife between Humans and the environment. Global warming and pollution are caused by Adam too. Jesus came to cure all of it.

    Hypothetically, a Christian dad claims that God saved his child from cancer, once he learns that the tumor has gone into remission. The dad connects his own constant prayer to God’s mercy.
    Elsewhere, a family of Christians prays for their youngest member, also child with cancer. Unfortunately, the child dies. The Christian family attributes this to the fallen state of humanity, and the laws of nature that were once set forth by God.
    In the first case, the Christian man claims God preferred his child over the child of the other Christian family. He also claims he and God have a better relationship than the entire Christian family, since his single prayer was answered while their multiple prayers were ignored. Lastly, this man claims he knows the mind of God and “God’s Plan”, and that he knows his child is part of God’s Plan, while the other family has no such knowledge.
    Claiming to know the mind of the Creator of Everything, and being preferred in His Plan over others, seems like pure arrogance and ego-driven delusion to me.
    What are your thoughts? Do you see the Christian Dad’s position as humble, or moral, or anything resembling decency?

    Good question! I think this is a slight misunderstanding. If anything I think the second family is closer to the truth though. After Adam’s mistake, God came in and he cursed humanity. Death and toil would be a part of our existence. But there would also be grace. After the fall, the first thing God did was kill a beast to cover the shame of Adam and Eve. While sending them out of the peace and Beauty of the garden he would continue to interact in relationship with humanity. He even reacted with grace to Cain. Cain was cursed but he was also protected.

    I think living as a human being means we are bound to live according to both these principles. We will call it blessings and curses. In eternity, for some there will be only blessings for others only curses, but for now we all have a mix of both. Those are distributed according to be a human. Some babies die, some babies live. Some people are rich some are poor. There is no way of garnering the favor of God so that you will be one or the other, but no matter our station in this life, we need to always be mindful we will always suffer, and we will always have good things. Our hope does not need to be in “one day when I get…(fill in the blank)” But in “one day God will take all the cursing away forever.”

    I think the Christian Dad in the example has a different worldview from the one the Bible teaches and a more individualistic capitalistic “if I work hard…” worldview that is much more western than it is Biblical.

    My question to you is, which book of the Bible is your favorite to read and why? What positive lessons can non-believers take away from that book?

    I am compelled to give you two. The first from the Jewish Scriptures, Genesis. Genesis gives us a background for understanding everything else. Without this we have no starting point. It tells why we are messed up, it tells of our efforts to make ourselves better, and tells of God choosing Abraham to make things better for all of us. This is the place to start. So often people read it and think “oh we are supposed to be like those guys.” NO AT ALL! We are supposed to read it to understand why things the way they are, and see how God has dealt with screwed up individuals like us.

    Second I say The Gospel of John. This shows us the inbreaking kingdom. I use that word because up to this point the devastation wreaked by the fall had no bounds. Yet here we see Jesus curing the blind, feeding the hungry and healing the sick. He tells people he is “bringing the kingdom of God.” This means he is beginning to erase the effects of Adams mistake, all of them, wherever they were. This gives us a paradigm to understand that his death and resurrection were about saving humans, but also about saving the world.

    which other tradition’s scriptures are you familiar with? Have ready, say Bhagavad Gita, the Koran, Dianetics (I had to throw that out there)? Is there anything of value in those other faith traditions that Christians can take away?

    I am familiar with all of those and some others. I think these are extremely useful for understanding what happened at Babel. The people said “we will make a name for ourselves.” As if they could do something to make it better. They cant. These are all efforts from Humans to understand and to make the world better. The Christian story is one of God making it better.

    Quixie said,
    My question is simple:
    You are certain that “the Bible is the only truth.”
    How did you arrive at this conclusion?
    Be specific, please.
    Peace

    I think I answered this above, please let me know if you don’t think I did.

    You say, “The Bible is the only truth”. Yet there are obviously many kinds of truths not contained in the bible. For example, open a math book, such as Hardy & Wright’s Introduction to the Theory of Numbers. There you will find such truths as “every non-negative integer is the sum of four integer squares”. This is an example of a truth not contained in the Bible.
    So how did you come to your (obviously wrong) belief, and how do you reconcile it with examples like the one above?

    Fair enough, poor choice of words on my part. The Bible contains a story which leads us to understand the truth of God. All other truths we find (such as Math) point easily back to the truth we understand from the Bible. For instance in this case, a creator who is so perfect he had math in mind when he created a universe which could be demonstrated mathematically.

  • http://www.skepchick.org writerdd

    If you want to help people, why do you feel that evangelism is more worthwhile than becoming a doctor or a teacher or an aid worker and helping people in some way that can tangibly make their lives better?

  • Jeff P

    Jared, wow I’m not sure where to start. But I will ask a few questions:

    The “eyeball” example you give is a good example of the argument for “irreducible complexity” and has been shown, fairly conclusively I think, to be a very weak argument (it is regarded within the scientific community as pseudoscience.) It has been shown certainly false on many accounts, yet it seems to have been a foundational assumption upon which you “converted” into a belief-system. Have you really researched this claim? What would it take to change your mind about the eyeball, or anything that seemed “too good to be true” to have been arrived at through evolution under the pressures of natural selection?

    Second, do you consider the scientific method a reliable way to discover patterns in our observable world?

    Third, what would it take to convince you that the entire Christianity story of God’s grace and redemption through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross for all mankind’s sins is completely false? (If you’re interested, there’s a very discreet list of things that would completely convince me of the presence of a God, not necessarily of the God of Christianity but of an omniscient God–the list has actually been posted on this site before. Therefore, I do have an open mind and can be specific about the arguments and proofs that would do it for me.)

    Thanks for your replies if you get time…

  • Viggo The Carpathian

    Jared,

    I was raised Christian and have for most of my life, been a Christian. The thing that finally drove me away (and was the thing that caused me the most misery while an avowed Christian) was “original sin”. How do you as a Christian, who wants to teach, deal with this issue? I cannot imagine a more unjust and arbitrarily cruel concept than original sin.

  • Irving Kliptoman

    Jared:

    I’m glad you admit that your claim about “the Bible is the only truth” is false. Now that you’ve admitted that is wrong, perhaps you will begin to see that there are many other books that contain truths not contained in the Bible. Perhaps there is hope for you after all!

    I am intrigued by your claim that “All other truths we find (such as Math) point easily back to the truth we understand from the Bible.” Let’s take a math statement whose truth value is currently unknown: every even number >= 4 is the sum of two primes. (This is Goldbach’s conjecture.)

    Now, according to current knowledge, this could be either true or false. Which, in your opinion, “point[s] easily back to the the truth we understand from the Bible”? The fact that every even number >= 4 is a sum of two primes, or its negation?

  • Siamang

    Hi Jared,

    Thanks for coming here and answering our questions.

    You wrote this:

    After Adam’s mistake, God came in and he cursed humanity. Death and toil would be a part of our existence. But there would also be grace. After the fall, the first thing God did was kill a beast to cover the shame of Adam and Eve.

    Okay… I realize that somehow you and I are culturally removed from the authors of the Bible by an order of a few thousand years…. but this passage seems to roll off your tongue as if you have somehow internalized some aspect of ancient hebrew culture. Please explain this to me, as I’m stumped. God killed a beast to cover the shame of Adam and Eve? How does that work, exactly? How does killing a beast cover shame? Like, if I’m ashamed of yelling at my wife, can I kill an animal to cover that shame? I’m trying to be realistic here… what does this mean? How does an animal’s death cover a shame? Wasn’t Adam ashamed of what he did to God (disobedience)? How does a killed animal cover shame? Isn’t that literally scapegoating? Does a killed animal placate God’s anger? Or does it distract God from punishing you further?

    Or did it make Adam feel better? Did God say, “Don’t be ashamed, Adam, here, let me kill a buffalo”? And then Adam went “ah, thanks God. Now I feel better.” Doesn’t it add a shame to a shame? Wouldn’t and SHOULDN’T you feel bad for the poor animal? Why did an animal have to die (indeed all animals) because of something Adam did? Why did God curse animals anyway? It seems like God cursed animals the day he made man… after that they were doomed. That’s not exactly fair.

    Doesn’t that shame still last… like according to you, until today? How did killing the animal help at all? Does killing an animal to cover shame still work in the world today? What kind of animal, and in what way do we kill it?

    I mean, that’s all my question… but really a totally different part of the question is, is THIS everyday language to you? Do you work and trade in a world where culturally you casually say things like “God killed a beast to cover man’s shame”? Does it not strike you that this is an odd passage? Is it not culturally as alien to you as it is to me? You present it here without explaination, as if it were the most natural thing in the world.

  • ash

    Jared, i did want to respond at length, but i realised your reliance on assumption and assertion makes it extremely diffcult/impossible to do so in any manner approaching respectful. just being honest.

    what do you think “traditional Christianity” is? do you honestly think non-christians would be interested in your approach to christianity, or that it even differs to “traditional Christianity”?

    I believe Christianity has a lot of answers for us, but sometimes it is easier to talk about those answers to people who want to know them.

    now, who would want christian answers? um, perhaps christians?

    I have found that often “church folks” think they have all of them already and don’t really want to learn more.

    what, like a christian that believes in literal biblical creationism, and doesn’t want to hear scientific explanations against irreducible complexity?

    Often it’s the people who wouldn’t immediately claim to be Christians that want to find truth.

    i’m guessing you’re referring to your version of ‘truth’, n’est-ce pas? and how did you find that truth? so far, you’ve only cited dodgy philosophical arguments and circular reasoning. is that it?

    I would rather see an intelligent person explore truth and come to believe something else (an untruth),

    BTW, ‘untruth’ = fancy way of saying lie. so sorry if i’ve seemed a little harsh (and trust, i held back. a lot.) but frankly, you set the tone.

  • http://mollishka.blogspot.com mollishka

    Jared said:

    Global warming and pollution are caused by Adam too. Jesus came to cure all of it.

    So …. Jesus supposedly came and went 2000 years ago …. roughly 1800 to 1900 years before global warming and pollution … so … how does that timing work, exactly?

  • http://www.jaredmlee.net jared

    Adam sorry I missed you earlier!

    You state that you feel more comfortable in a community “that doesn’t cling to […] traditional Christianity.” I’m wondering what characterizes the type of Christianity you wish to teach and how it differs from “traditional Christianity”? You mentioned that “church folks” often do not want to learn any more about their religion, but what would be different about this new Christianity itself?

    The Christianity I want to teach (and Cling to) is older than a couple hundred years. It is not republican and it believes that Jesus came to save and redeem a whole world. Not only Human Beings.

    “Church Folks” by that i mean people often steeped in evangelical conservative republican cultures – are not interested in truth, but are often interested in preserving their value systems which are usually (as are all of ours) stained with sin and need to change.

    f you want to help people, why do you feel that evangelism is more worthwhile than becoming a doctor or a teacher or an aid worker and helping people in some way that can tangibly make their lives better?

    I dont think it is neccessarily “better” only better suited for me. All these things are fine ways to help and serve people. I have only chosen one of many good options.

    What would it take to change your mind about the eyeball, or anything that seemed “too good to be true” to have been arrived at through evolution under the pressures of natural selection?

    I don’t think anything could change my mind. After at one time (and coming to Christianity based upon) believing strongly in enlightenment ideas. I have come to realize that the idea that we can know everything is completely ridiculous! Science has its value, but there are some things it can never prove. One of those is the existence of God. And as long as it cant prove it, it will be trying to disprove it (thus to show that it – Science – has absolute power to know all things) You see science wont stand for unknowns. Since it cant prove a God, it will present theories like evolution. I have never seen a positive genetic mutation. I would need to see lots of interspecies adaptations and lots and lots of interspecie breeding (brought about naturally) to even begin to buy into evolution.

    Second, do you consider the scientific method a reliable way to discover patterns in our observable world?

    reliable not iron clad

    Third, what would it take to convince you that the entire Christianity story of God’s grace and redemption through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross for all mankind’s sins is completely false?

    I have become convinced at this point in my life that this is the only absolute truth which I will die for. – thus I suppose the answer is nothing. :)

    How do you as a Christian, who wants to teach, deal with this issue? I cannot imagine a more unjust and arbitrarily cruel concept than original sin.

    Yeah thats tough.. its not fun, but I totally accept it. It isn’t fair and its not right, but it a part of the fall dating back to the garden. Otherwise what explanation is there for the Nazi Holocaust? For 800,000 people being murdered by their own neighbors with machetes in less than 90 days in Rwanda one Summer? How do you account for the brutal rape and murder of little children who are not lucky enough to be allowed to live long enough to murder their own friends in Sudan?

    Original Sin is a devastating thing. I am thankful that the Grace of God eases its effects now and will one day erase them completely.

    Now, according to current knowledge, this could be either true or false. Which, in your opinion, “point[s] easily back to the the truth we understand from the Bible”? The fact that every even number >= 4 is a sum of two primes, or its negation?

    Irving, I would simply say that arguing something so petty is silly in light of everything else, uniformity and mystery are both a part of God’s character, and all truth is God’s truth.

    Siamang, good point, and something that we might be able to discuss in another topic, but my point by covering shame was simply that “they were naked and ashamed” the dead beasts skin was used to cover their nakedness. :) but it is interesting that they were supposed to represent God to the world (thats what image bearer means) and now because of their sin an animal had to die. God dint curse the ground – we did. Why are the animals and the earth in trouble? read it “because of YOU” we people need to take that seriously, we – you me – all of us are still image bearers. Yes this is the language I speak :) I like to think I have gotten a little bit in touch with Hebrew Language and Culture, but I am still a long way off..but i think this way of understanding helps us get there.

    Do you work and trade in a world where culturally you casually say things like “God killed a beast to cover man’s shame”? Does it not strike you that this is an odd passage? Is it not culturally as alien to you as it is to me? You present it here without explaination, as if it were the most natural thing in the world.

    Normally I would take better care to bring that to our culture in a relevant, applicable way, and I could do that, but that would have gone beyond answering the question into an area I dare not tread. An area of personalizing a passage like that to make it true in our own lives… Also potentially evangelism. It would make an intriguing evangelistic paper Would you read it if i wrote it? :)

    BTW, ‘untruth’ = fancy way of saying lie. so sorry if i’ve seemed a little harsh (and trust, i held back. a lot.) but frankly, you set the tone.

    Ash, You have a lot to say, but it seems youwant to argue mostly… I will say the same to you i said a bit ago… arguing is silly, and that’s not why i am here. I am not going to convert you, you aren’t going to convert me… but let’s be real with each other. I think if you seriously read what I say instead of skimming for idiosyncrasies, some of what I said might make more sense :)

    I will address what I copied above though… you are right… sorry I was trying to be nice, an untruth is a lie, I wont deny that. I consider a religion other than Christianity to be a lie. Sorry if it offends. That doesn’t mean i don’t like you If you disagree with me!

    Take care!

  • http://www.jaredmlee.net jared

    Molishka… A chain of events was begun where men were now set against each other an the world instead of living at peach with one another and with the world. Adam didn’t invent CDC’s he just disobeyed God.

  • ellen

    How can you accept the Bible as literally true while at the same time admitting it’s full of writers’ mistakes? How do you know which things are factual and which are metaphorical?

    Also, why do you suppose god allows 5 million children under the age of 5 to die of starvation-related causes every YEAR? Yes this is the classic problem of evil. But specifically in this case, you would have to postulate that god has a plan that can BEST or ONLY be fulfilled by allowing millions of children to be born into intense suffering and die shortly thereafter. Please explain as this is a big one for us atheists.

    Finally, why does prayer never result in amputees’ limbs regrowing?

  • jenny wren

    Otherwise what explanation is there for the Nazi Holocaust? For 800,000 people being murdered by their own neighbors with machetes in less than 90 days in Rwanda one Summer? How do you account for the brutal rape and murder of little children who are not lucky enough to be allowed to live long enough to murder their own friends in Sudan?

    People sometimes do evil things to each other. That’s all.

    Isn’t that a lot easier to believe than a story about a talking snake?

  • Renacier

    Jared, I’d like to thank you for having the courage to face up to this ravening band of the godless. If some of our questions seem rude or aggressive, I’m sure it’s because many of us rarely get the chance to ask them of someone willing to listen. We’re champing at the bit, as it were. Be assured, we may not be a friendly crowd, but we are not an unkind one. Whatever mean things we may say about your beliefs or arguments, we hold no hostility towards you as a person. That said…

    Your explanation of Biblical (in)errancy leads to this: If the Bible is perfect because of Jehovah’s guiding hand, that’s well and good. But what of the atrocities committed in his name over the centuries? Were those men also used by Jehovah to fulfill his plan?
    If yes, then where do the Crusades, The Inquisition, the St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre, Galileo’s censure, The Salem Trials, the Native American Boarding Schools etc etc fit into his plan for love, compassion and truth?

    If not, then why not? If Jehovah would wield men like pens to write his message in a book, then why would he not wield them to maintain the integrity of his message and not allow it to be used to justify these horrors?
    And please avoid the “men are fallible can misunderstand the truth” response. If Jehovah is willing to guide these scribes and editors to make no mistakes, then he has no reason not to be willing to guide the recipients of the message to make no errors in understanding.
    Please also avoid saying that we ‘shouldn’t blame the vessel for being corrupt, the water within is still pure’ If the water really was so pure, it would have the power to cleanse the vessel. And we see everywhere evidence that this water is not of such purity.

  • Purple

    Jared -

    I think you’re such a wonderful person to talk like this. You’re certainly much braver than I am. Onto my question. You said:

    I would rather see an intelligent person explore truth and come to believe something else (an untruth), than to blindly accept the truth and not understand it.

    Now, I know that children are often raised into the Christian faith. However, doesn’t this count as “blindly accept[ing] the truth?” Even if those same children later grew up and considered whether or not Christianity was the truth and decided ultimately that Christianity was ultimately the way of life, wouldn’t those same people be biased? If I can take your meaning literally, would you rather have children growing up without a specific faith, and then slowly introduced into many different types of religions, allowing them to make their own decisions?

    Secondly, consider if a person such as Mother Teresa was not Christian. Does this justify such a person going to Hell? It’s always bothered me that the only thing that could save people was belief in God, not the act of good deeds, because if one believed in God, then God could forgive their sins no matter how heinous the crimes were.

    Thank you so much for your time,
    Purple

  • Peter

    jared: “He said there was no way he could accept that it came into being by accident. These things led me to accept some supernatural being.”

    1) The eye is nothing miraculous and and is quite mundane. The eye has evolved at least 40 times *separately*. It takes little imagination to picture early, light sensitive cells.

    2) Evolution is not about accidents. Mutations, the events that cause the freckles on your skin, are as far as the randomness goes. Evolution is a very directed, finite, channeled process (selection by nature).

    Please never use the “accidents” or “amazing eyes” arguments again. They are distractions and border on lies.

    we can be more sure that the writing of the new testament were penned by first century witnesses than we can be sure that Aristotle actually lived

    Somewhere, sometime, someone told you ancient history is the truth. It is not. It is a best-guess narrative based on weak fragments of hearsay. It is the best we can do, so it is a worthy venture. But it is a narrative. There is more evidence for a guy named Hal living today in the Sahara (I just made that up) than real humans referred to in the narrative of Jesus or Aristotle. It’s a narrative, not a report. To think some people base their views of reality on ancient historical narratives… *shudder*

    I cant understand why someone wouldn’t believe it

    The bible was wrong about the sun. The so-called Aristotle was right about logic. Which has more explanatory reliability?

    God is at work to make things right again

    God oppresses the people he creates to be gay. He gives children cancer. He flies airplanes into buildings. God is not worthy of worship. Science saves real lives, and I have the peer reviewed studies to prove it.

    I think Listerine has done more to save lives that God.

    I have come to realize that the idea that we can know everything is completely ridiculous

    Science claims that we don’t know, but here is our best idea so far. Absolute knowledge is never permitted in science. It’s a world of probabilities. Please never make this argument again as it is distracting and borders on lies.

    Science has its value, but there are some things it can never prove.

    Science doesn’t try to “prove”. It tries to offer best-guess explanations based on limited evidence. Please never make this argument again as is a distraction and borders on lies.

  • http://www.jaredmlee.net jared

    How can you accept the Bible as literally true while at the same time admitting it’s full of writers’ mistakes? How do you know which things are factual and which are metaphorical?

    I didn’t say mistakes – i said personalities and viewpoints. Certainly we can agree that there are different ways to see the truth. As for fact versus metaphor. I use the old context method. In order to understand any writing (even if its a birthday card from your grandmother) you need to understand why it was written in the first place. Was it written to explain a misunderstanding? to encourage some confused person? to explain historical events? to be a song sung as praise to God? the Bible has all these different genres. we have to first understand that particular piece in its own cultural context before we can understand what it means today.

    Also, why do you suppose god allows 5 million children under the age of 5 to die of starvation-related causes every YEAR? Yes this is the classic problem of evil. But specifically in this case, you would have to postulate that god has a plan that can BEST or ONLY be fulfilled by allowing millions of children to be born into intense suffering and die shortly thereafter. Please explain as this is a big one for us atheists.

    I will build on this more in a minute, but for now, lets just say its the fall. Mankind has brought this on themselves, and God is working it out.

    Finally, why does prayer never result in amputees’ limbs regrowing?

    Good question. I guess God doesn’t always work against his natural laws. sometimes, but rarely.

    People sometimes do evil things to each other. That’s all.

    Isn’t that a lot easier to believe than a story about a talking snake?

    Not really. I cant understand why people can be so evil if it isn’t something embedded deeply within our DNA. Especially when we know that behavior like this is wrong. We might say that these people are insane and unique, but even you and I who are relatively normal, sometimes do, think and say evil things concerning others.

    Jared, I’d like to thank you for having the courage to face up to this ravening band of the godless. If some of our questions seem rude or aggressive, I’m sure it’s because many of us rarely get the chance to ask them of someone willing to listen. We’re champing at the bit, as it were. Be assured, we may not be a friendly crowd, but we are not an unkind one. Whatever mean things we may say about your beliefs or arguments, we hold no hostility towards you as a person. That said…

    Renacier, I appreciate the honesty. I can handle rudeness… and I sincerely want to answer these questions. its fun and its good for me! I need to learn to treat everyone with the dignity and respect I believe they are due. My theology says we are all in the image of God – Christian or not – and due dignity. We Christians sometimes have a hard time living that one out.

    Your explanation of Biblical (in)errancy leads to this: If the Bible is perfect because of Jehovah’s guiding hand, that’s well and good. But what of the atrocities committed in his name over the centuries? Were those men also used by Jehovah to fulfill his plan?
    If yes, then where do the Crusades, The Inquisition, the St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre, Galileo’s censure, The Salem Trials, the Native American Boarding Schools etc etc fit into his plan for love, compassion and truth?

    If not, then why not? If Jehovah would wield men like pens to write his message in a book, then why would he not wield them to maintain the integrity of his message and not allow it to be used to justify these horrors?
    And please avoid the “men are fallible can misunderstand the truth” response. If Jehovah is willing to guide these scribes and editors to make no mistakes, then he has no reason not to be willing to guide the recipients of the message to make no errors in understanding.
    Please also avoid saying that we ’shouldn’t blame the vessel for being corrupt, the water within is still pure’ If the water really was so pure, it would have the power to cleanse the vessel. And we see everywhere evidence that this water is not of such purity.

    Hmmm, ok avoid the truth is still good, and people are fallible. OK. I will resort to what i said earlier about the curse. This too in a way relates to the earlier question which hinges on the problem of evil. My answer to that used to go like this. God is completely sovreign, all knowing, and perfectly good. Its just that what we define as perfectly good and what he defines as perfectly good are different. We are shortsighted and can’t see what good really is. Now there is some truth to that. If God lives in light of forever, and people last forever (given a resurrection from the dead doctrine) then he sees all the way into eternity, and perhaps an early death is better than a lifetime of unforeseen tragic events. That is a possibility – Sometimes.

    But I think we also just have to recognize that these things that exist aren’t right. They are not the way its supposed to be. Someone said on my blog that God judges people for being exactly who he made them to be. To believe this is to misunderstand the story. We are exactly the opposite of how we are supposed to be. Christians (though some may disagree) are not perfect. In fact like everyone else they are screwed up. God is at work to make them better, but they will never be perfect until he “makes all things new.”

    I honestly believe that without understanding that we were supposed to be perfect, and WE SCREWED UP, and one day God will make everything right again, nothing else makes sense. For God to prevent all the disaster and tragedy that has occurred in his name, would be to work in a way contrary to what he decided to to do. He is certainly at work to make it better, and he does indeed use Christians to slowly improve things.

    I like the farmer analogy. A farmer is trying to turn wilderness into something manageable. All his life he (and his sons if they keep the farm) will always be pulling weeds, and fertilizing. It will never be perfect, but they keep plugging away trying to make it better all the time. The work of the kingdom is just like that, Christians (the Church) have the task of making this world better. Some generations do a better job than others, and some fail all together, but over time small advances and good things come about which show us that there is indeed some good in it. These things happen not because were are good, but rather in spite of the fact that we aren’t. These small tastes are what The apostle Paul would call “first fruits” the things that give us hope that there will indeed be a perfection one day.

  • http://www.jaredmlee.net jared

    I know that children are often raised into the Christian faith. However, doesn’t this count as “blindly accept[ing] the truth?” Even if those same children later grew up and considered whether or not Christianity was the truth and decided ultimately that Christianity was ultimately the way of life, wouldn’t those same people be biased? If I can take your meaning literally, would you rather have children growing up without a specific faith, and then slowly introduced into many different types of religions, allowing them to make their own decisions?

    I have kids. I raise them to believe in the God I do. But I also teach them to think for themselves. To not teach them the things i believe to be true, would be child abuse. the same as the atheist who does not raise their children to believe what they believe. Children need a frame of reference as they grow. This has to be provided by their surroundings. But as they get older and learn what it meant to think and they begin to understand the world on their own terms, hopefully I will have given them the skills to think objectively. If my sons grow up and someone asks them why they are a Christian, and their best answer is “because that’s the way I was raised” I will be terribly disappointed. Now some people simply don’t have the IQ to investigate, so i don’t subject those people to the same standard, but I hope every person who professes to be a Christian can explain why this religion makes the most sense to them.

    Yes they would certainly be biased, but isnt every person biased in some way towards or against something? its part of being human. I would rather my kids be biased toward what i believe to be true, than towards something I disagree with. Call me inconsistent. Like Bias, inconsistency is a part of humanity. I do my best.

    Secondly, consider if a person such as Mother Teresa was not Christian. Does this justify such a person going to Hell? It’s always bothered me that the only thing that could save people was belief in God, not the act of good deeds, because if one believed in God, then God could forgive their sins no matter how heinous the crimes were.

    I know. In my heart i agree with you. I want to believe with all I am that these people (lets use Ghandi who wasn’t a Christian) who do such incredible things with their lives and overcome such obstacles (not for themselves, but for all humanity!) will go to heaven. But what i believe requires that I have to say “apart from Christ, there is no salvation.”

    Ghandi was an amazing man, I wish I could be more like him! But the distance between his holiness and the standard of God is like the distance between the Eiffel Tower and the moon. Most of us walk the earth, Some of us can get to second story, but Ghandi made it to the Eiffel, lets be honest. But God requires the moon! (and Neil Armstong flew there so he doesn’t count) It doesn’t seem fair when you compare men like Ghandi to men like me, but when you compare men to God, it starts to make sense.

    Peter, You said alot…I think i have already answered most of the questions you might imply, but I will respond to this:

    Somewhere, sometime, someone told you ancient history is the truth. It is not. It is a best-guess narrative based on weak fragments of hearsay. It is the best we can do, so it is a worthy venture. But it is a narrative. There is more evidence for a guy named Hal living today in the Sahara (I just made that up) than real humans referred to in the narrative of Jesus or Aristotle.

    I have two degrees in history, and have seen texts that were written down before Jesus was on earth. This History was not written during the renaissance, it was written down by eyewitnesses who were careful in reporting the truth. There are so many excellent histories written so long ago that to deny The Greek wars or culture is the same as denying you were born. You can do it, but it amounts to a strange philosophy, not actual history.

    Please dont make this argument again as it is a distraction and borders on lies :)

    Touché

    I am going to go now… i will check back tomorrow… this is fun! thanks Hemant!

  • ash

    Jared, way to avoid my questions, let’s try again…

    The Christianity I want to teach (and Cling to) is older than a couple hundred years. It is not republican and it believes that Jesus came to save and redeem a whole world. Not only Human Beings.

    so, you wish to support the seperation of church and state? you do not wish to see ID/creationism taught in science classes? what’s the bit about saving + redeeming a whole world, not only human beings, mean? (no rapture/end times when the planet becomes irrelevant? heaven consists of being ghosts on this planet? animals hold equal physical/spiritual status to humans?) explain please?

    “Church Folks” by that i mean people often steeped in evangelical conservative republican cultures – are not interested in truth, but are often interested in preserving their value systems which are usually (as are all of ours) stained with sin and need to change.

    but you consider yourself evangelical, and literal biblical creationism is a conservative view. is it just the republicanism you have a problem with? or are you against other typically conservative values, such as homophobia and the denial of equal rights for gay marriage and ‘traditional’ roles for men and women? and by such ‘not being interested in truth’, do you not just mean that they don’t agree with your version of such? and how does ‘all of our value systems need to change’ fit with “I don’t think anything could change my mind.”?

    That doesn’t mean i don’t like you If you disagree with me!

    i don’t have an opinion on you as a person either, i don’t know you. i do disagree strongly with most of your explanations/arguments.

    I think if you seriously read what I say instead of skimming for idiosyncrasies, some of what I said might make more sense

    no, i think if you made more sense you might make more sense. science as an entity with an agenda? say what now?

  • http://leoquix.blogspot.com Quixie

    This time my question is for the friendly atheist:

    Is this guy featured here for comic relief?

    He’s not even clever. He simply repeats the same old same-oldisms that we’ve all heard a thousand times before.

    “Nothing new under the sun”, indeed! (To which I’ll add a quick, “O vanity of vanities!” – guess which of the books is MY favorite. – winks)

    Ó

  • Renacier

    I honestly believe that without understanding that we were supposed to be perfect, and WE SCREWED UP, and one day God will make everything right again, nothing else makes sense

    Hold it right there, my friend. I did nothing. I ate of no fruit, I did not kill Abel, I did not worship Baal, I did not throw dice on Jesus’ robe. And yet I am treated as no different from those who did? The discussion comes back to original sin, it seems. Merely by being born, I am damned. This is the single most hideous tenant of your religion. Because of the actions of two people, uncountable billions more must suffer. Why have such a curse in the first place?

    Why not just destroy Adam and Eve and start over? Is it because he loved them too much? If Jehovah is all-loving, then he loves every person equally. Wouldn’t it be less painful for him to kill these two now, rather than have to mourn millions later?
    Why didn’t he cast Adam and Eve out to suffer and seek salvation, but whisk away their blameless children to Eden, to await the day their parents redeemed themselves and returned home to paradise?
    Or why didn’t he simply wipe the knowledge from their minds, reducing them back to the state of innocence? Jehovah clearly has no problem forceably manipulating people’s minds- as with the (inexplicably anonymous) Pharaoh.
    Imagine a child who lived her whole life in the most remote place, in the most pitiable conditions. Now, she is slowly starving to death. She has never heard of Jesus; she has had not one chance in her life to be saved by his grace. Will your god make a special dispensation for her? Will he stay his wrath, understanding that it is through the fault of others that she has not heard his message, and no choice of her own? No. When she dies, she will burn for all eternity. Because one naive woman was curious. From birth to death and even beyond, this girl knows nothing but pain and this is how God shows his love.
    I’m sorry, Jared, but your farmers are elbow deep in blood.

  • Jen

    I have two degrees in history, and have seen texts that were written down before Jesus was on earth. This History was not written during the renaissance, it was written down by eyewitnesses who were careful in reporting the truth. There are so many excellent histories written so long ago that to deny The Greek wars or culture is the same as denying you were born. You can do it, but it amounts to a strange philosophy, not actual history.

    Would you please name some of these sources written about Jesus that are not found in the Bible? I am not sure denying one man’s existence when there are few sources on him is the same as denying that Greece existed and had a culture.

  • Irving Kliptoman

    Jared:

    I’m sorry you lack the intellectual and/or personal resources to answer my question, and that your only defense mechanism is to dismiss it as unworthy of answering. Perhaps prayer will reveal the answer!

    (I doubt it.)

  • Viggo the Carpathian

    Jared said, “Yeah thats tough.. its not fun, but I totally accept it. It isn’t fair and its not right, but it a part of the fall dating back to the garden.”

    God as Christianity defines him is supposed to be justice incarnate, absolute justice. The imparting of original sin to every human born is the construct of this God according to Christian theology. He imputes it to each new generation. He set up the situation with arbitrary rules and then condemns the innocent by the billions. Tell me how that is justice.

    Jared said, “Otherwise what explanation is there for the Nazi Holocaust? For 800,000 people being murdered by their own neighbors with machetes in less than 90 days in Rwanda one Summer? How do you account for the brutal rape and murder of little children who are not lucky enough to be allowed to live long enough to murder their own friends in Sudan?”

    I reject this as being the result of original sin. Humans are corrupt. Yes, I admit it, but humans are corrupt by their own decisions; by their culture and surroundings. Do you honestly thing that those Sudanese children would not have lived good honest productive lives had they been in Sweden or the Us or some other area? The environment sets the stage and the decisions make the person. Humanity does not need a malevolent deity imputing a taint from birth to make evil. BTW, the issue in Sudan is primarily caused by the presence of religion.

    Jared said, “Original Sin is a devastating thing. I am thankful that the Grace of God eases its effects now and will one day erase them completely. ”

    Why should I be thankful (taking the premise that it is true) for God finally erasing a system that he created? This seems a lot like Stockholm syndrome to me or the typical rationalization of the abused… he only hurts me because he loves me.

  • http://heathendad.blogspot.com/ HappyNat

    I think we all recognize that things aren’t the way they ought to be. We all have a sense that the misery that humans experience isn’t quite right. The Bible explains that.

    I don’t think we can all recognize that, Jared. You have made several comments like this, where apparently you expect the world to be perfect. Why? Humans are animals, but we are animals that have big complicated brains. We think we deserve something better because our big brains have afforded us the pleasure and pain on exaiming “life”. We have compassion and we have a fear of death, we want to explain this so we create religion/God to explain why everything isn’t peaches and sunshine. Everything isn’t peaches and sunshine because we are animals. Animals and nature can be very ugly at times. The only thing that makes us special is the ability to think we are special.

    There was a quote from The War by Ken Bruns, that has stuck with me. One of the soilders said something along the lines of, “As long as there is evil in the world man will have the need to create religions. And there will always be evil in the world.” Somehow it is easier to blame Adam eating from the tree of knowledge than to examine how ugly humnas can be or why they act that way. Saying original sin is the reason doesn’t get us any closer to a solution.

  • Jeff P

    Jared, thanks for your honesty. The answers you provided to my questions are predictable, but sadly common among Christians. Often times, the ultimate response is “well, it’s based upon my faith and I’m willing to die for it.”

    To suggest that “nothing” would change your mind about something for which there are arguable and legitimate positions is to end the conversation. Before you begin the journey of skeptcism toward established scientific theory, please do some real study (rather than rely upon an opthamologist’s personal incredulity about how he “just can’t see that it could have happened by accident.” You will be in a position of leadership–don’t lead people astray from rational thought.

    Ultimately, our country can’t afford more denial of the scientific method, or having ministers or “missionaries’ proclaim to vulnerable and open people about recommended distrust of science, or of the proclamation that somehow our human scientific endeavors are manifestations of a sinful “world.”

    It’s the exact mindset and worldview that allows “absolute truth” to dictate people’s lives and in more dangerous situations, to set policy.

    Your answers (thanks again for being willing to do this on an atheist site) will tend to inspire me to be more active politically, socially, and personally and financially to battle the “religious truth” mindset whenever and wherever I have opportunity.

    My hope for you is that, over the years, you’d be willing to incorporate new “truths” throughout your life, to be open to suggestions and learning and life experiences outside of the context of religious certainties, and if you must be a “missionary” that you spend the majority of that time doing what Marcus Borg and other contemporary Christian theologians describe as Jesus’ primary message of tackling injustice, leveling the playing field among people, and battling power structures that hold people down. These are admirable traits that Jesus embodied, that we’d all do well to follow.

    Finally, I hope there might be a time where your “nothing would change my mind” philosophy will change, and that any potential damage we all do with that mindset is reversible.

  • http://mollishka.blogspot.com mollishka

    Seriously, Quixie. I don’t know what in particular made me quit taking Jared seriously first: the rejection of evolution (and, you know, science), the poor grammar and spelling, or the hampering on the concept of original sin which does nothing but give people something to feel guilty about so that the church can forgive them. *sigh*.

  • Viggo the Carpathian

    Jared: “…lets just say its the fall. Mankind has brought this on themselves, and God is working it out. ”

    I have to jump on this one.
    According to Christian theology, God is Sovereignty, Righteousness, Justice, Love, Eternal Life, Omniscience, Omnipresence, Omnipotence, Immutability, and Veracity (This list is directly form ‘The Doctrine of Divine Essence’ by R McLaughlin) It is asserted that each of these attributes it manifest in it totality by God. If this is the case, then there cannot be anything that God is “working … out.” A being that knows all, is simultaneously all places, all powerful, and unchanging cannot by definition work anything out. He already knows all and has for eternity.

    In fact according to the ‘essence’ of God, God has to be inert. These attributes lock him into total inaction.

  • Viggo the Carpathian

    There has been a lot of talk in this thread about “original sin”. I would like to post an except from the writings of R McLaughlin who I quoted earlier. (He is the pastor of a church on Massachusetts and a typical example of some of breed of evangelicals who follow and teach theology as laid down by Louis Sperry Chafer)(This is excerpted from a document free for download so I assume free for distribution and reprint.)

    I think that this piece is instructive as to the mind set of a good many evangelicals. I want to know what lab or labs give them this biological information.

    From “The Doctrine of the Womb” by Robert McLaughlin.
    Original Sin–
    “The sin nature is transmitted at conception through the twenty-three male chromosomes that fertilize the female ovum. The sin nature is transmitted in the womb as a part of biological life. The woman was deceived in the original sin while the man’s sin was a sin of cognizance. GEN 3:13, Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” And the woman replied, “The serpent deceived me and I ate.”

    1TI 2:14-15, And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. (But the woman shall be saved through the bearing of children) We’re all saved through the birth of one child, Jesus Christ, when undiminished deity and true humanity were united in one person forever.

    Our original parents, Adam and the woman, did not have any children in the Garden. Before the Fall, the woman did not ovulate and pregnancy occurred after the original sin and the fall of mankind. Our original parents acquired spiritual death first and then the old sin nature. The opposite is true with us, first we have the sin nature and then we have spiritual death. In dying spiritually, Adam originated the sin nature.

    After mankind acquired the sin nature, the woman began to ovulate and pregnancy occurred, biological life plus the sin nature occurred in the womb. Biological life and the sin nature are the only two things that have ever been in the womb.”

  • Peter

    that to deny The Greek wars or culture is the same as denying you were born

    Jared, please do not be slimy in your responses. There is no need to falsely represent my arguments. I stated that ancient history is a narrative based on fragmented evidence. I did not say we should deny the existence of Greece.

    To be honest, calling me an “Ancient Greece Denier” is pretty insulting. Why did you feel the need to behave like Bill O’Reilly? Are you angry and want to put me down? What’s up, Jared?

  • Viggo the Carpathian

    I’m am ancient Greece denier… I don’t believe there was an ancient Greece. It spontaneously appeared in the middle ages by divine decree and Satan created all of the Greek artifact to confuse us…. Bwwwahhhahahah!!

    I makes as much sense as the world being 6000 years old.

  • Siamang

    that to deny The Greek wars or culture is the same as denying you were born

    This from a person with “two history degrees” who denies the existence of “prehistory”.

    Not to sound like a heckler, Jared. But when was the paleolithic period anyway? You’ve got two history degrees — when were the caves painted in Lascaux? When was the dog domesticated? When was the first agricultural revolution? When was corn domesticated? When was the banana first cultivated? When was the first dynasty in ancient Egypt, before or after “the flood”? When was the Venus of Lespugue carved?

    Tell me, Jared, have you really looked into the quality level of your education? Have you brought it under critical scrutiny?

    For example, very close to my house is the La Brea Tar Pits… a natural wonder that allows us a window back in time to a world 38,000 years ago. Have you ever visited there? Have you tested, I mean rigorously tested your historical knowledge by going to a place like that, getting your hands dirty in an active digsite that according to your belief system shouldn’t even exist?

  • http://www.jaredmlee.net jared

    Ok another round… I will try to do things differently. First let me apologize. I think I have been a little bit mean (the post in response to Peter was certainly that way) let me try again to be more clear about some things and simply answer the questions.

    So, you wish to support the separation of church and state?

    Yes, the state has nothing whatsoever to do with the church – it never has (or at least it should never have)

    You do not wish to see ID/creationism taught in science classes?

    Science should be science. The honest answer to our origins is we have a couple of guesses. I don’t care what the present as long as they say Science honestly can’t tell for sure.

    What’s the bit about saving + redeeming a whole world, not only human beings, mean?

    Look back At Genesis. The whole earth was cursed because of the fall. The whole earth needs to be redeemed. It has been poor teaching that led this generation to believe the message was only about “souls.”

    (No rapture/end times when the planet becomes irrelevant? heaven consists of being ghosts on this planet? animals hold equal physical/spiritual status to humans?) Explain please?

    The planet never becomes irrelevant. God created it and said it was “good” in the end, heaven is not a place in the clouds… it comes to earth! WOW! No we won’t be ghosts. We will be physical people. Animals are not equal because they are not made in the image of God, but they are good, and should be respected. And yes I believe there will be animals in heaven. Why wouldn’t there be? If heaven comes back to earth and the original intent of creation is recaptured.

    Is it just the republicanism you have a problem with? Or are you against other typically conservative values, such as homophobia and the denial of equal rights for gay marriage and ‘traditional’ roles for men and women? And by such ‘not being interested in truth’, do you not just mean that they don’t agree with your version of such? And how does ‘all of our value systems need to change’ fit with “I don’t think anything could change my mind.”?

    It is the dominance of Christianity by republicanism that bothers me. I am not a homophobe. They are human beings made in the image of God. Sinners like the rest of us, but not any more so than I am. I am not a politician. Some people get involved in politics to espouse their religious beliefs. Most espouse their religious beliefs to get involved in politics. I make no judgments, but the policies of this nation in regard to these things are something I am somewhat ambivalent about. That may be something I need to reconsider, but for now that is my opinion. I am not sure what traditional roles for men and women mean. If you mean 1950’s housewife stuff, that’s a cultural value that is fading. If you mean Spiritual leadership in a home and in church, I think that is still valid. That is only a reflection of the created order and certainly not any sort of superiority. Believing that Jesus was the incarnation of God and redeeming the world is not a value system. A value system is gays are terrible people and we should vote republican.

    No, I think if you made more sense you might make more sense. Science as an entity with an agenda? Say what now?

    All things are entities with an agenda. Take a corporation, a non profit, a church, a community. They are social systems that seek to expand themselves and their influence. This is corporate sociology 101.

    He’s not even clever. He simply repeats the same old same-oldisms that we’ve all heard a thousand times before.

    I am surprised to hear that! I didn’t think the church was very clear about redemption of all creation – not just mankind. I didn’t think the church has been saying “the agenda of the republican party is not the gospel” but I am glad to hear that.

    Merely by being born, I am damned. This is the single most hideous tenant of your religion. Because of the actions of two people, uncountable billions more must suffer. Why have such a curse in the first place?

    You know this question speaks to what I think is really a deeper issue. I am glad you asked this or I may not have noticed. We are so steeped in western civilization that this becomes a serious dilemma. This question comes from a value system that places the individual above the community. There is an underlying belief in our culture that hard work and perseverance should reap rewards, and that each person should look out for his own interests. The reality is this is a post enlightenment idea that has no place in the biblical worldview. I am sorry to say that, because I realize most of us want to value individuals over communities, but I am not sure that that is the right perspective. Certainly it can go wrong in the other direction (and has) but there is a balance and western culture is at the far end.

    Why not just destroy Adam and Eve and start over?

    Because their children would have done it too.

    I’m sorry, Jared, but your farmers are elbow deep in blood.

    Yes I know. It is Jesus’ and they are applying that blood to cure the ills of the world.

    Would you please name some of these sources written about Jesus that are not found in the Bible? I am not sure denying one man’s existence when there are few sources on him is the same as denying that Greece existed and had a culture.

    Yes that was extreme, I was partly responding to a denial of Aristotle. But Josephus is a huge source as well as a few other less well known Roman and Jewish historical writings.

    God as Christianity defines him is supposed to be justice incarnate, absolute justice. The imparting of original sin to every human born is the construct of this God according to Christian theology. He imputes it to each new generation. He set up the situation with arbitrary rules and then condemns the innocent by the billions. Tell me how that is justice.

    The way I see this, there are two fallacies inherent in the question. First an overemphasis on individualism, and a misunderstanding of justice. Hypothetically follow this argument. If God indeed created world, he has every right to whatever he pleases with it. He demands worship and singular adoration. That’s not too much to ask of your creation if you are God. We rebel against him. Everyone of us chooses to worship and adore ourselves above him. Justice would require that we be punished for this rebellion. It is also important to recognize that if this story is true, God himself paid the penalty for our rebellion and invites us back to him. This maintains his justice in making sure rebellion is punished, but it allows us to be invited in to his grace. His favor which as rebels we don’t deserve. If indeed that story is true, who wouldn’t want to worship a God like that?

    Jared said, “Otherwise what explanation is there for the Nazi Holocaust? For 800,000 people being murdered by their own neighbors with machetes in less than 90 days in Rwanda one Summer? How do you account for the brutal rape and murder of little children who are not lucky enough to be allowed to live long enough to murder their own friends in Sudan?”
    I reject this as being the result of original sin. Humans are corrupt. Yes, I admit it, but humans are corrupt by their own decisions; by their culture and surroundings. Do you honestly thing that those Sudanese children would not have lived good honest productive lives had they been in Sweden or the US or some other area? The environment sets the stage and the decisions make the person. Humanity does not need a malevolent deity imputing a taint from birth to make evil. BTW, the issue in Sudan is primarily caused by the presence of religion.

    This makes me think of the popularity of hero stories in our culture (and in every culture) we value heroes because they do what we understand to be right. They are willing to sacrifice themselves for a greater good and we somehow see this as noble. Whereas a story of a greedy miser (take Scrooge before the visit from the ghosts) we immediately recognize as bad. Why do we have these values inside us if there is not some degree of understanding that Humans should be good?

    Jared Said – I think we all recognize that things aren’t the way they ought to be. We all have a sense that the misery that humans experience isn’t quite right. The Bible explains that.

    I don’t think we can all recognize that, Jared. You have made several comments like this, where apparently you expect the world to be perfect. Why?

    I think the hero story sort of touches on this.

    Viggo, there are actually some good things in what you cited above, but absolutely wrong thing. And I would say this to the pastor you are quoting from.

    He said:

    Our original parents, Adam and the woman, did not have any children in the Garden. Before the Fall, the woman did not ovulate and pregnancy occurred after the original sin and the fall of mankind. Our original parents acquired spiritual death first and then the old sin nature. The opposite is true with us, first we have the sin nature and then we have spiritual death. In dying spiritually, Adam originated the sin nature.
    After mankind acquired the sin nature, the woman began to ovulate and pregnancy occurred, biological life plus the sin nature occurred in the womb. Biological life and the sin nature are the only two things that have ever been in the womb.”

    That is absolutely wrong. The mandate to “multiply” came prior to the fall. It is nuts to think this could happen if there was no ovulation and no pregnancy. No, child birth is not a result of the fall, but it is true that original sin is.

  • http://www.jaredmlee.net jared

    Not to sound like a heckler, Jared. But when was the paleolithic period anyway? You’ve got two history degrees — when were the caves painted in Lascaux? When was the dog domesticated? When was the first agricultural revolution? When was corn domesticated? When was the banana first cultivated? When was the first dynasty in ancient Egypt, before or after “the flood”? When was the Venus of Lespugue carved?

    Tell me, Jared, have you really looked into the quality level of your education? Have you brought it under critical scrutiny?

    For example, very close to my house is the La Brea Tar Pits… a natural wonder that allows us a window back in time to a world 38,000 years ago. Have you ever visited there? Have you tested, I mean rigorously tested your historical knowledge by going to a place like that, getting your hands dirty in an active digsite that according to your belief system shouldn’t even exist?

    I would argue that the things you mention were mostly done prior to the flood. I do know some theologians (and I respect most of them) who would say the flood was not actually a worldwide event, only “worldwide” to what was at that time the known world. This makes sense, and I can appreciate this view, but i don’t hold it personally.

    But that’s not really the point of your question. The tar pits are an excellent view of the past. I am not into carbon dating or any of that, so I am far from an expert, but I have heard that there are some varying ways of dating that produce different results. I don’t see why this would be a problem for me either way though.

    The the first 12 chapters of Genesis were not written not to be a scientific document, but a story which demonstrated a couple of significant things.

    1 – God made this world
    2 – He made it good
    3 – people screwed it up
    4 – God will get to work making it better again.

    The La Brea tar pits are not mentioned, because they are not the point. remember what I said earlier, we have to always keep in mind the reason something was written before we can understand it.

  • http://www.jaredmlee.net jared

    peter, in my effort to scan and answer i skipped yours. I was thinking about it though. And i meant what i said. earlier up. My response was unfair. I felt like you were only wanting to argue with a Christian and with a bad attitude I reacted. Sorry about that.

    One thing I will say in regard to your question. The historical evidence (and by that i mean the weight of historical evidence) really is greater for the reliability of the new testament than it is for the reliability of Herodotus.

  • Purple

    If God indeed created world, he has every right to whatever he pleases with it. He demands worship and singular adoration. That’s not too much to ask of your creation if you are God.

    I disagree. If God created us, wanting us to worship Him freely (thus giving us free will). Not only that, but He created us knowing what kind of people we were, since he is omniscient. And yet, knowing that we would ultimately sin, He said that if we did not follow his mandate, He would send us to Hell for ever. I don’t see this as an act of a merciful God of Justice.

    You know this question [of Original Sin] speaks to what I think is really a deeper issue. I am glad you asked this or I may not have noticed. We are so steeped in western civilization that this becomes a serious dilemma. This question comes from a value system that places the individual above the community. There is an underlying belief in our culture that hard work and perseverance should reap rewards, and that each person should look out for his own interests. The reality is this is a post enlightenment idea that has no place in the biblical worldview. I am sorry to say that, because I realize most of us want to value individuals over communities, but I am not sure that that is the right perspective. Certainly it can go wrong in the other direction (and has) but there is a balance and western culture is at the far end.

    I’m sorry to say that I don’t quite understand. Could you restate this? What does the individual vs community have to do with the Original Sin?

    Because their children would have done it too.

    Why couldn’t God have killed everyone, including their children, and started over?

    Why do we have these values inside us if there is not some degree of understanding that Humans should be good?

    Actually, evolutionary scientists have begun to explain this to a point, if I remember this correctly. Evolution apparently favored Homo sapiens that worked together as a community. Thus, the humans that were born with an inborn sense of ‘morality’ survived while those that didn’t help others didn’t and were lost. I’m not sure if I explained this correctly, so if anybody else would like to correct me I’d be glad to welcome the help.

    4 – God will get to work making it better again.

    If God is All-Powerful, why can’t He do this immediately? Why can’t He do anything immediately? I once heard an explanation as for why He waited so long to free his Chosen People from slavery in Egypt: that it took so many years for the population to grow so that the people could safely rebel. But that made me wonder, why couldn’t God have just sent down angels?

    Also, why can’t God just give us a sign that He is real?

    Thank you again for your time,
    Purple

  • Viggo the Carpathian

    Jared: “First an overemphasis on individualism, and a misunderstanding of justice.”

    How can there be an over emphasis on the individual. Christianity emphasizes the individual. Thus, the focus in personal faith for salvation, not corporate faith. The emphasis on the individual that is prevalent in Western Civilization, at least in Western Europe and America, since 1215 is rooted in Christian concepts. I would think that a historian would be familiar with these influences.

    Jared: “If God indeed created world, he has every right to whatever he pleases with it.”

    No he would not. Be this rational I would have the right to kill me children.

    Jared: “He demands worship and singular adoration. That’s not too much to ask of your creation if you are God. We rebel against him. Everyone of us chooses to worship and adore ourselves above him. Justice would require that we be punished for this rebellion.”

    Yes, it is too much to ask. I did not ask to be created. If accepting him is required, then it is incumbent upon him to reveal himself in an irrefutable and rational means.

    Why is punishment required? If the story is true, I have an eternal conscientiousness. There is nothing I could do in one short life to justify eternal torture. Not even Hitler deserves that. Six million years maybe but not eternal.

    I do not worship myself above anyone. I do not worship!

    Jared: “If indeed that story is true, who wouldn’t want to worship a God like that?”

    Anyone who stops and thinks about it. He creates the situation, condemns mankind for it than offers a convoluted and unconvincing mechanism for acquittal.

    Jared: “This makes me think of the popularity of hero stories in our culture…”

    You are equating morality with God. The existence of a single atheist with a high moral sense, an this site has plenty of them, disproves the premise.

    Jared: “That is absolutely wrong. The mandate to “multiply” came prior to the fall. It is nuts to think this could happen if there was no ovulation and no pregnancy. No, child birth is not a result of the fall, but it is true that original sin is.”

    Check your theology. Although command to multiply occurs in Gen 1:28 and the casting out from the garden occurs in Gen 3:16, it is widely accepted among theologians and scholars that the chronology is reversed. Ch. 1 is regarded as an executive summary for lack of a better term.

  • http://www.jaredmlee.net jared

    I’m sorry to say that I don’t quite understand. Could you restate this? What does the individual vs community have to do with the Original Sin?

    it doesn’t really have anything to do with original sin per se – it does have a great deal to do with many westerners immediate knee jerk reaction to the concept.

    Why couldn’t God have killed everyone, including their children, and started over?

    because the do overs would have done the same thing.

    If God is All-Powerful, why can’t He do this immediately? Why can’t He do anything immediately? I once heard an explanation as for why He waited so long to free his Chosen People from slavery in Egypt: that it took so many years for the population to grow so that the people could safely rebel. But that made me wonder, why couldn’t God have just sent down angels?

    God enjoys story. He gave us one that he is developing even now, and Heaven will be much greater when we ponder the amazing thing he did in the story.

    Also, why can’t God just give us a sign that He is real?

    wouldn’t that just defeat his purpose? requiring faith in himself?

    How can there be an over emphasis on the individual. Christianity emphasizes the individual. Thus, the focus in personal faith for salvation, not corporate faith. The emphasis on the individual that is prevalent in Western Civilization, at least in Western Europe and America, since 1215 is rooted in Christian concepts. I would think that a historian would be familiar with these influences.

    Modern Christianity emphasizes the individual, Biblical Christianity emphasizes human dignity. I will choose Biblical Christianity above modern Christianity.

    No he would not. Be this rational I would have the right to kill me children.

    I there were no God, I would agree with you.

    Yes, it is too much to ask. I did not ask to be created. If accepting him is required, then it is incumbent upon him to reveal himself in an irrefutable and rational means.

    Nothing is too much to ask of your own creation, and nothing is incumbent upon its creator.

    To worship is to esteem something above other things. We are all made to worship. There is one thing for all of us which we prize above all else. For some it is God, for others it is self, for some it could be the new porsche, but everyone worships. and none of us properly worship God the way he should be worshiped – none of us. Failure to worship an eternal God is deserving of eternal punishment.

    Jared: “If indeed that story is true, who wouldn’t want to worship a God like that?”

    Anyone who stops and thinks about it. He creates the situation, condemns mankind for it than offers a convoluted and unconvincing mechanism for acquittal.

    Yes, but unconvincing as it may be, if it is indeed true… then that is something to want to be a part of.

    Jared: “This makes me think of the popularity of hero stories in our culture…”

    You are equating morality with God. The existence of a single atheist with a high moral sense, an this site has plenty of them, disproves the premise.

    No, not God, our own recognition that humanity has a higher purpose than to be base animals. If we believe that it must mean there is something better than to murder kill and despise one another which we were intended for.

    Jared: “That is absolutely wrong. The mandate to “multiply” came prior to the fall. It is nuts to think this could happen if there was no ovulation and no pregnancy. No, child birth is not a result of the fall, but it is true that original sin is.”

    Check your theology. Although command to multiply occurs in Gen 1:28 and the casting out from the garden occurs in Gen 3:16, it is widely accepted among theologians and scholars that the chronology is reversed. Ch. 1 is regarded as an executive summary for lack of a better term.

    Some theologians may say that. You can find a theologian to say just about anything you want, but that doesn’t mean it is true. I know what you mean about the “executive summary” issue. but remember that the chapter divisions were placed there much later. where did the original author intend for his “executive summary” to end?

    You can also see the implicit exclusion of animals for food in the end of chapter one. the first death took place after the fall. so this mandate is given at a time when animals were not to be killed. neither by one another nor by mankind. this is the magnificent thing about the story. when we fell, death entered the world. In the new earth, “the lion will lay down with the lamb” that is the restoration of all things i have been talking about.

  • Purple

    it doesn’t really have anything to do with original sin per se – it does have a great deal to do with many westerners immediate knee jerk reaction to the concept.

    But even then – you didn’t answer the question. To save you some time from scrolling and finding the question again, here it is:

    “Merely by being born, I am damned. This is the single most hideous tenant of your religion. Because of the actions of two people, uncountable billions more must suffer. Why have such a curse in the first place?”

    because the do overs would have done the same thing.

    Is it not possible that God can create beings that have the genetic disposition not to sin?

    God enjoys story. He gave us one that he is developing even now, and Heaven will be much greater when we ponder the amazing thing he did in the story.

    What you are saying is that human suffering is… a story to God? This doesn’t convey the loving God I think you mean to portray. I would assume that God would want to save every soul, no matter what the cost. Yes, He may have done amazing things, assuming He exists, but He’s also done terrible things as well. What I don’t understand is that (I don’t want to say “you Christians,” because that seems awfully mean, but most of the Christians I have talked to share this view) people always seem to take all the good things that have happened in the world, and attribute them to God, ignoring all the bad things. Evil things have happened, but why does God turn a blind eye?

    Of course, the standard answer to the question of evil is that God has a mysterious, ultimate goal that we as lesser human beings couldn’t possibly understand. What I don’t understand is why God couldn’t give us the ability to understand; God is All-Powerful – He can do anything!

    wouldn’t that just defeat his purpose? requiring faith in himself?

    I never understood this argument. My parents want me to love them, and yet they don’t hide themselves from me and send mysterious tests my way. By showing themselves to me, and showing me what they have done for me, that doesn’t force me to love them. Rather, it gives me a reason to love them. God has practically been nonexistent in my life. Why should I love Him? How should I know whether or not He exists?

    Thank you again not once, not twice, but three times for your wonderful patience!
    Purple

  • Siamang

    Trying to pin you down on this, because you claim to be a historian. Can you give me dates, for example, of the flood vs the first dynasty of ancient egypt? If the domestication of corn (in the americas) occurred pre-flood, how did corn survive the flood… since, you know, it was unknown to the western world before Columbus?

    It should be really simple for a historian: what year was the flood? It should really be simple… here was the single most cataclysmic event in Earth’s history. It should be easy to nail down, within 100 years, let’s say. Given a 6000 year old earth, that’s got to be pretty easy. Given that there’s only been 60 centuries, which one did it happen in? The evidence should be overwhelming. You should not have any trouble giving me a century. I’ll then ask follow up questions, of course, about other things happening on the planet at that time, and we’ll see if anyone as far away as the Nile Delta noticed anything wierd that century.

    Also, in your altered 6000 year timeline, when did the La Brea Tar Pits appear? The scientists have their answer… it’s pretty good, roughly 38,000 years ago. So they’ve roughed it in to an error range roughly plus or minus one millionth of the age of the earth. I’m not going to hold you to that level of precision. But again, just the century, if you could. And if it’s the same century as the flood, if you could just tell me which one was first. I think I’ve made it easy for you.

    Also if the La Brea tar pits is pre-flood… is there a reason why we don’t find dinosaurs in it? Or indeed pre-ice-age mammals that we find their fossils in sedimentary rock just a few short hours away. Mainstream science tells us that we don’t find these animals in the Tar Pits because they went extinct millions of years before the asphault bubbled up in the area we locals call the Miracle Mile. If it indeed is pre-flood, it would also be post-flood, as it continues to ensnare life-forms today.

    If it was functioning as a snare of animals and plants pre, post and during flood, why have we found not one salt-water fish or plant in there?

    If it’s post-flood, why do we see so much variation and diferentiation of animal and plant species so quickly after the diversity bottleneck event of having every animal’s genetic diversity cut down to a single mating pair per “kind”? And again, why only the animals that mainstream science tells us should be there, and never, ever something that would truely confound the conventional scientific explanation? Do you think the volunteers there are lying and hiding dinosaur bones? Do you, like Answers in Genesis, contend that it’s all a matter of the scientists interpreting the data from an atheistic viewpoint? If so, I’m sorry, but I don’t care what your viewpoint or your interpretation is… it doesn’t matter if you’re a Christian, a Jew, an atheist or a Scientologist, it doesn’t make dinosaur bones appear in a post ice-age digsite.

    And for that matter, in a young earth, how is it that the tar pits have TAR to begin with, since that tar is the remains of millions of years of accumulated dead swampland under great pressure?

    Because, see, I can visit the tar pits. I can volunteer to dig there, as friends of mine have. I can get my hands dirty in the pits and find plenty of evidence for what the scientists tell me. They’ve pulled millions and millions of fossils out of there, representing the wide scope of life in post ice-age southern California. Never once pulled out any animal that “confounds the scientific timeline” or “ain’t supposed to be there”, if you know what I mean. Doesn’t it make you more timid in your assertions to state that you’re right about this, and every scientist working at this dig site and every dig site is wrong? Have you retraced your intellectual steps and asked yourself the all important question: is it possible that 99% of all biologists, botanists, geologists, physicists, archeologists, palentologists etc are right about this, and the clergy, just might, you know, very tiny possibility here, but they just might be pulling a Gallileo on this one? If you only get your information from believers and not from the “horse’s mouth”, how would you ever know. Ever go to an ice-age digsite and ask for an answer from the “horse’s mouth”?

    Are you sure you’ve researched this sufficiently? Have you gone to the tarpits and talked to the scientists there? It’s a public park, right on Wilshire Blvd in Hancock Park. They’ll answer your questions, too. They’re part of the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History. Very nice, friendly (and very smart) people. They don’t bite.

    How can you, in good conscience, lead others to believe what you tell them about such things if you haven’t really looked critically at your own level of education? Aren’t you in danger of, as evangelical Christian blogger Steve Martin calls it “defending the wrong gospel?” By supporting your faith with false science, pseudo-science, fringe-science and the like, don’t you run the danger of building scientific illiteracy into a foundational tenant of Christianity, such that none can come to the Father but through radical and willful misinterpretation of the fossil record?

    Anyway, I’ve been to the tarpits. I know they’re real. Can you understand why I don’t buy your assertions that everything that science knows about them is false, when you provide no evidence for that assertion? Where’s your tar pits? Where do you have, fossilized in stone, a talking snake? Where is your dig site where I can volunteer and pull bones out of the ground and see if you’re telling the truth, or if you’re just one more self-deluded creationist?

    Can you see where this is a barrier to belief? You’re arguing with millions and millions and millions of fossils here. Hard evidence. I think you’re erecting a barrier to salvation.

    Whooo, I wrote too much. Sorry for that Jared. Take care. I’d really like you to be able to see that science isn’t something we can pick and choose from… and it does Christianity no service at all to teach people (including children) scientific falsehoods.

    Some day all those Christian children are going to grow up and realize that Velociraptor wasn’t a contemporary of Canis lupus familiaris or Homo sapiens. And that’s the day that every Christian should dread, because that’s the day that all those Christian children ask the question: “if Pastor Bill was wrong about dinosaurs, what else was he wrong about?”

    Hopefully that’s before Pastor Huckabee amends the Constitution to bring it into line with “the Word of the Living God”. I’ll be living in Canada (hopefully)by then.

  • ash

    Jared,

    the state has nothing whatsoever to do with the church – it never has (or at least it should never have)

    Science should be science.

    we agree on these.

    The planet never becomes irrelevant. God created it and said it was “good” in the end, heaven is not a place in the clouds… it comes to earth! WOW! No we won’t be ghosts. We will be physical people. Animals are not equal because they are not made in the image of God, but they are good, and should be respected. And yes I believe there will be animals in heaven. Why wouldn’t there be? If heaven comes back to earth and the original intent of creation is recaptured.

    i still don’t entirely understand…what, when and where is heaven to you then? do you even believe in an afterlife? if there is a heaven and animals can get there, wouldn’t that mean that as innocents, every animal that has ever existed in the history of the earth would be there? wouldn’t they then outnumber humans by millions to one? are insects et al included?

    I am not sure what traditional roles for men and women mean. If you mean 1950’s housewife stuff, that’s a cultural value that is fading. If you mean Spiritual leadership in a home and in church, I think that is still valid. That is only a reflection of the created order and certainly not any sort of superiority.

    yep, you got the right idea, and i’d agree it’s a fading cultural value, but i’d extend that argument to the idea of spiritual leadership. i presume when you refer to ‘created order’ you may be referencing genesis again, but to take genesis as literal truth, you have to accept that god either made mistakes or is a flawed designer. i cite male nipples, the appendix and vestigial tailbones as my examples. you may argue that a god could create any old piece of exterraneous tat as part of us, but it would undermine your insistence of the idea of return to ‘perfection’. unless you argued that these features were created because of the fall, but that would contradict the insistence of evolution as false.

    Believing that Jesus was the incarnation of God and redeeming the world is not a value system.

    your belief that this is not only truth, but the only acceptible version of truth (and thereby judging other versions of truth against that) is a value system.

    There is an underlying belief in our culture that hard work and perseverance should reap rewards, and that each person should look out for his own interests. The reality is this is a post enlightenment idea that has no place in the biblical worldview. I am sorry to say that, because I realize most of us want to value individuals over communities, but I am not sure that that is the right perspective.

    difference between OT and NT; god viewed people as communities (and slaughtered them as such, no ‘individual circumstances’ justice from that guy) yet arguably, jesus valued people as individuals – he was anti the community of money lenders, yet spoke to and hung out with ‘undesirable’ individuals, prostitutes, sick people etc. for how jesus viewed the community vs the individual, try Matthew 18:12-14 “If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off?” or Matthew 10:37-39 “Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me”. as jesus emphasised individualism (and you have tried to use the same emphasis in your ‘heroes’ argument), perhaps you should take it up with him.

    Science has its value, but there are some things it can never prove. One of those is the existence of God. And as long as it cant prove it, it will be trying to disprove it (thus to show that it – Science – has absolute power to know all things) You see science wont stand for unknowns.

    All things are entities with an agenda. Take a corporation, a non profit, a church, a community. They are social systems that seek to expand themselves and their influence. This is corporate sociology 101.

    i think you’ve taken ‘corporate sociology 101′ and forgotten to put it into it’s surrounding context of general sociology, psychology and philosophy; and then worsened the situation by imposing your own misunderstandings of scientists, science and the scientific method to make crude, misinformed and disingenous sweeping statements to serve a self interested purpose – look up ‘strawmen’. then look up Ken Miller, come back, and explain where he fits. and he ain’t the only one…

  • ash

    “Why couldn’t God have killed everyone, including their children, and started over?”

    because the do overs would have done the same thing.

    again, i’m calling huge design flaw.

  • Tamy

    I’ll tell you what I learned having been involved in a church plant or two, the pastor’s income potential is unbelievable and not open for debate.
    Soured to the experience? You bet your sweet salvation bedpost I am.

  • http://www.jaredmlee.net jared

    “Merely by being born, I am damned. This is the single most hideous tenant of your religion. Because of the actions of two people, uncountable billions more must suffer.

    Yes –

    Why have such a curse in the first place?”

    It wasn’t my idea. I wont defend it, but I still think if you could remove some of the value you place on individuality, and understand the infinite worth of God, it might make more sense.

    Is it not possible that God can create beings that have the genetic disposition not to sin?

    Sure its possible – but thats not the way he did it.

    I would assume that God would want to save every soul, no matter what the cost. Yes, He may have done amazing things, assuming He exists, but He’s also done terrible things as well. What I don’t understand is that (I don’t want to say “you Christians,” because that seems awfully mean, but most of the Christians I have talked to share this view) people always seem to take all the good things that have happened in the world, and attribute them to God, ignoring all the bad things. Evil things have happened, but why does God turn a blind eye?

    Interesting you should say that. there are different view points on this. Some people say a part of what makes heaven so great is that hell exists…

    I say that God offers Jesus to all humanity. This is a free gift. The problem is that because of original sin and our own rebellion, we reject this. Unless God himself changes an individuals heart, they will never see the amazing thing that Jesus did! This guy was a hero way better than Jack Bauer (my second favorite). But because coming to Jesus first requires us saying, “I am not good enough” we reject this gift. This is the natural reaction. we would all react this way without God giving us spiritual CPR and leading us to appreciate him enough to lay down our own pride.

    Evil happens because men are wicked, men are wicked because they rejected God (and they go one doing so). I wont say it again about the plans and the future and the hope and all that :)

    I never understood this argument. My parents want me to love them, and yet they don’t hide themselves from me and send mysterious tests my way. By showing themselves to me, and showing me what they have done for me, that doesn’t force me to love them. Rather, it gives me a reason to love them. God has practically been nonexistent in my life. Why should I love Him? How should I know whether or not He exists?

    You are right one thing i left out, stupidly, because it makes he most sense…. if he revealed himself to you, you would die. Remember Moses hiding his face in the rock? he only saw God’s back and when he did his face turned so white he had to wear a veil to keep from freaking the people out.

    Siamang,

    Impressive rant… I wish this blog had audio for that one :)

    First, i don’t remember saying the earth was 6,000 years old. I really don’t remember that.

    But consider this for a second. several civilizations have dragon myths. In all of these the dragons have wings and breathe fire. This is scientifically ridiculous. But look at the evidence! All these witness seeing something very similar? Or what about unicorns? — less likely less evidence — but there is tremendous evidence for a bigfoot or yeti yet no scientific evidence… Here is my point. Science says these things are not possible, becaus eit cant prove them. But the weight of the evidence suggests they were at least once a reality. I am not saying Science is pointless, I am saying there are many many areas of realty which Science has never touched.

    How old is the earth? I dont know. It’s not the point. I think when it comes to creation we just have to stress that. Zealous creationists have all these scientific formulas to show all this stuff… That just isnt the point… atheists and scientists argue thier point of view and reject Christianity because of the creationists defending a doctrine which – IS NOT THE POINT. I said earlier the First 12 Chapters of Genesis were written to make four points.

    God made the earth
    He Made it Good
    We Screwed it UP
    He is going to make it better again.

    Thats it. There is no reason, as far as I am concerned that you cannot believe the earth is billions of years old, and dinosaurs died out 33 million years ago and all that. (by the way i never knew what a valcioraptor was until jurassic park… you?). As long you can accept those four points you can get on the Jesus boat. Personally, i believe in a short day creation, but it is not an essential. And most of my reasoning behind believing in short day creation has less to do with the Bible and more to do with my rejection of most empirical data. I am much more a philosopher than a scientist. As i know you all realize by now. Don’t reject me outright for that. I haven’t reject Science, only its ability to explain as much as we think it can.

    For instance, Science cant explain why we are all slaves. We are by the way. This again comes not from my Christianity, but from my particular economic leanings… Within our system of economics people become slaves to corporations. why? because they cant find a better health package. People in our culture become slaves to drugs, entertainment, money, lifestyles, alcohol and as terrible as it is to other people. Even in America there are millions of human slaves, but we all serve something. Something that gives us meaning, hope, purpose, makes us feel better. These things whatever they are hold power over us. Human beings have always been that way. Jesus said the truth will set you free. Science cannot explain how the truth that we are indeed enslaved will free us. But it is true.

    Ash, I saw your post… but I am tired. You raise some interesting points, let me say this. You cited Jesus insistence that the shepherd leave the flock to go after the one. Part of the reason this was cool, is that the flock was safer than the one, because in community is safety. so this does not dispel the value of community. I would never say Jesus did not care about individuals, only that he cared more about community than Americans do.

    I will be back later. For what its worth this is a coming warning… i have my own blog and lots of other priorities, i will slow down the response time here soon. Just a heads up. I don’t want anyone thinking i am copping out, and i will continue to come back and discuss, but after another day or two not as often.

    take care!

  • http://www.jaredmlee.net jared

    I’ll tell you what I learned having been involved in a church plant or two, the pastor’s income potential is unbelievable and not open for debate.
    Soured to the experience? You bet your sweet salvation bedpost I am.

    Really??? what denomination? cause i was planning on being poor forever! I need more details :) I know this seems like a joke but i am serious if there is a big salary package for a church planter I want to know about it.

  • Claire

    This guy was a hero way better than Jack Bauer (my second favorite).

    I really have to question your choice of heroes here. Jack Bauer tortures people without a second thought. He shoots them in their kneecaps, he shocks them, he breaks their fingers one by one. This is a hero to you?

    This is from a British newspaper:

    But while 24 draws millions of viewers, it appears some people are becoming a little squeamish. The US military has appealed to the producers of 24 to tone down the torture scenes because of the impact they are having both on troops in the field and America’s reputation abroad. Forget about Abu Ghraib, forget about Guantanamo Bay, forget even that the White House has authorised interrogation techniques that some classify as torture, that damned Jack Bauer is giving us a bad name.

    You said you don’t like to think of yourself as one of those ‘traditional christians’, but I find your views distressingly familiar. In addition to the above, you dismiss science not just in reference to religion (which is legitimate) but also in reference to what science IS for, such as biology. Statements such as “You see science wont stand for unknowns. Since it cant prove a God, it will present theories like evolution” and your rejection of evolution based only on one ophthamologist’s opinion show that you don’t have even a basic grasp of what science is about.

    But look at the evidence! All these witness seeing something very similar? Or what about unicorns? — less likely less evidence — but there is tremendous evidence for a bigfoot or yeti yet no scientific evidence… Here is my point. Science says these things are not possible, becaus eit cant prove them. But the weight of the evidence suggests they were at least once a reality.

    Myth is NOT evidence. Stories passed around are NOT evidence. They are not even CLOSE to evidence. I don’t know where you got your education but it seems to have missed the basics of critical thinking as well as science.

    Yeah thats tough.. its not fun, but I totally accept it. It isn’t fair and its not right, but it a part of the fall dating back to the garden.

    Original Sin is a devastating thing. I am thankful that the Grace of God eases its effects now and will one day erase them completely.

    My question is, have you ever noticed how similar the kind of relationship with god (as reflected in the statements above) is to an abusive relationship with a spouse or child? There’s the defense of the abuser, the excuse put forward that the abused person asked for it by being disobedient or disrespectful, and that the abuser is doing this for the victim’s own good, and the best response to abuse is to try harder to please. The worse the abuse, the more intensely the victim defends the abuser and how it’s not really abuse, but love. Abuse is abuse, can you explain more about why you find it acceptable?

  • Viggo the Carpathian

    Siamang: “…none can come to the Father but through radical and willful misinterpretation of the fossil record?” I just about fell out of my chair. Funniest statement in years. Can I make a bumper sticker?

    Jared: “…and more to do with my rejection of most empirical data.” WOW! You certainly do. Everything that led me to reject the church has been gloriously demonstrated here. Thank you Jared for your reinforcement of my dis-belief. I grew up with a constant stream of circular logic and denial of facts. It was so liberating the first time I could say, “I am not a Christian.”

    Jared, your focus on the community or group and the de-emphasis of the individual is troubling. Look at the ideologies that have pushed this. The Third Reich was a wonderful example of ideological suppression of the individual.

  • http://heathendad.blogspot.com/ HappyNat

    This makes me think of the popularity of hero stories in our culture (and in every culture) we value heroes because they do what we understand to be right. They are willing to sacrifice themselves for a greater good and we somehow see this as noble

    I agree, Jared. We want a powerful hero who works for good to come and save society. A man or woman who avoids temptation and can cheat death to save all of us is a beautiful thought and I wish it were true. Unfortunately because something sounds great and we wish for it does not make it true.

    He demands worship and singular adoration.

    Why does God need to be worshiped? How can an all knowing, all powerful being have a self esteem problem?

  • J Sveda

    Jared said, “Otherwise what explanation is there for the Nazi Holocaust? For 800,000 people being murdered by their own neighbors … in Rwanda one Summer? How do you account for the brutal rape and murder of little children … in Sudan?”
    Viggo said, “I reject this as being the result of original sin. Humans are corrupt. (…) Do you honestly thing that those Sudanese children would not have lived good honest productive lives had they been in Sweden or the US or some other area? The environment sets the stage …

    I’m reading a book “Anatomy of human destructivity” by Erich Fromm, which deals exactly with the issue of human brutality, sadism and origins of cruelty, war and other common destructive (aka “evil”) behavior. His anthorpology and etology research suggests that this kind of behavior war extremely rare until first civilizations – city states – began to emerge. So the two things that enabled this was agriculture and using surpluses as capital, which enabled further development of the community/state. In this period, wars and slavery became common. According to Fromm, culture and habits play so big role in forming human that lack of some trait which one society has and considers it part of being human, lack of the trait usually means that other cultures are not humans and don’t deserve to be treated like humans, essentially givingg them right to kill or enslave them.

  • Karen

    For what its worth this is a coming warning… i have my own blog and lots of other priorities, i will slow down the response time here soon. Just a heads up. I don’t want anyone thinking i am copping out, and i will continue to come back and discuss, but after another day or two not as often.

    Jared, you’ve been a trooper and though we obviously disagree on the essentials, I thank you for taking the time to participate here.

    What I hope you take away from the experience is some glimmering that maybe you need to do more research and investigation into a number of areas before you are responsible for teaching others about life and being looked up to as an authority figure in the community.

    For instance, as Claire said, your knowledge of science and the scientific method seems to be pretty much nonexistent. Much as you’d rather concentrate on philosophy and theology, science is an incredibly important thing to know about. To teach children bad science not only undermines their educations and their potential as adults, but it also is profoundly dangerous to us as a society. Look at our students’ test scores in the sciences and that will become obvious. Please, please do not influence children away from the importance of real science and the scientific method. Learn about it yourself, learn to value it, understand that it need not be in direct conflict with your religious beliefs. I cannot overemphasize this.

    Also, you need to do some research on religious history and read some opinions from non-conservative biblical scholars. Josephus’s Testimonium, for instance, is widely considered to be fraudulent . For goodness sakes, don’t take Wikipedia’s word on it: Do your own research, follow the information where it takes you, think for yourself, and reach your own conclusions.

    Just make sure that those conclusions are backed up by good information from all sides of these arguments, and hold them lightly, rather than as ultimatums. This will make you a good scholar, a good pastor, a good person. Good luck to you.

  • Viggo the Carpathian

    J Sveda” … In this period, wars and slavery became common.”

    Organized religion, with a set priesthood, is definitely an agricultural by-product. I think that the cruelty and inhumanity is an off shoot of the religion. After-all, it is the priests who first kept up the records and stores of surplus. The also were the driving force behind establishing the belief in “some trait which one society has and considers it part of being human” or at least the punishing the lack thereof.

  • J Sveda

    Viggo: Organized religion, with a set priesthood, is definitely an agricultural by-product. I think that the cruelty and inhumanity is an off shoot of the religion. After-all, it is the priests who first kept up the records and stores of surplus. …

    Good point. And it seems that switch to patriarchal society also played an important role.