Top 10 Ways Christians Tend to Fail

John Shore (a Christian) wrote up his list of the Top 10 Ways Christians Tend to Fail:

  1. Too much money
  2. Too confident that God thinks we’re all that and a leather-bound gift Bible.
  3. Too quick to believe that we know what God really means by what he says in the Bible.
  4. Too action-oriented.
  5. Too invasive of others generally.
  6. Too invasive of others personally.
  7. Too quick to abandon logic.
  8. Too fixated on gays and lesbians.
  9. Too insular.
  10. Too quick to condemn fellow Christians.

The explanations don’t all satisfy me.

#8, about being fixated on gays and lesbians, doesn’t condemn the Christian practice of shunning or mistreating homosexuals. He just asks them to lay low for a little bit. (And then? Will they resume their gay-bashing ways?)

Also, for #10, I disagree with Shore. It would be better if “liberal” Christians did rebuke the fundamentalists. Change is only going to come from within. Why would you want to link yourself with the fundamentalists? You’d be implicitly endorsing the anti-Science, anti-homosexual, anti-woman, anti-freedom, anti-everything beliefs they have. I would think moderate Christians would want to sever those ties, not build them up.

There are some rebukes, though, of Christians who evangelize to you:

… what we seem to too often lose sight of is how impossible it is to talk someone who isn’t a Christian into being one. I think maybe we should spend more time “just” living as Christians, and letting God worry about the non-Christians. I’m pretty sure he can handle that job. He saved me, and that phenomenon sure didn’t have anything to do with anyone ever telling me I should become a Christian. Trust me on this: I was saved in spite of Christians trying to save me, not because of them.

This one (#7) was my favorite:

I think when talking to others about our faith, we Christians too often resort to a language and line of reasoning that leaves good ol’ fashion logic sitting on the ground behind us, waving a sad good-bye. “It’s true because the Bible says it’s true” can’t mean anything to a non-Christian, because (hurt though it does to admit it, I know) it’s such a manifestly illogical assertion. ”It’s true because the Bible says it’s true” is no more a reason for anything actually (as in objectively) being true than was your parents’ old, infinitely frustrating ”Because I said so!” As a logical argument, “It’s true because someone with a vested interest in it being true says it’s true” is Beyond Useless. Why in our dealings with non-Christians we so often fail to grasp that is a total mystery to me.

Check out the full list here.


[tags]atheist, atheism[/tags]

  • http://steingrueblwe.blogspot.com Heather

    Informative. I think that a lot of the list could apply to just about anyone. My more “universal” list would read:

    1. Too lousy of a lousy relationship with money
    2. Too confident we’re all that
    3. Too quick to believe our solution will work for everyone else
    4. Too much acting first, thinking later
    5. Too invasive of others generally
    6. Too invasive of others personally
    7. Too quick to abandon logic
    8. Too fixated on the fear of what we don’t understand
    9. Too insular
    10. Too quick to condemn others

    I mean really, these are all human characteristics! I think that a deity adds an extra level of obfuscation but really that’s about it. And whatever we do to live, thrive and survive there are some things that make us all the same. You, me, them, everybody…everybody!

    (cue music here)

  • http://wineymomma.wordpress.com wineymomma

    I agree with what John says in his post and I agree with most of what you say here. I do take issue with the description of number 8 though. I think John might have a similar background as I do here. I was raised and still live with some pretty high levels of intolerance (not towards me. I’m not gay.) from some family members.

    I think what John might be saying (my opinion) is that old habits die hard. If we can break people away from this deeply ingrained hatred of something they don’t understand then maybe we could build a newer habit. Just saying that if we can get out of the habit of judging and into the habit of loving then everybody wins.

  • http://bornagainblog.wordpress.com Justin McKean

    The thing about uglier parts of the Christian faith (coming from an ex-Christian, here) is that moderates do believe the same things, basically, that the more extreme-seeming brethren do. They just know it’s ugly and don’t talk about it. Homosexuality, for example, is condemned very clearly in the Bible and all but the most progressive Christians buy into this even as they find it bad form to gay-bash.

    It’s the same as if everyone at a party saw the smear of food on your chin and said nothing, so as not to embarrass you, then some jerk loudly points it out. Everyone sees it, but most are too nice to bring it up. This is the moderate Christian attitude toward any “sinful” lifestyle.

  • http://blog.lib.umn.edu/fole0091/epistaxis/ Epistaxis

    As an atheist (though not the Friendly one), I’m hesitant to question how believers choose to interpret their religion. They already know I think everything they worship is a lie, so why would they care if I tell them the proscriptions against homosexuality are more of a lie than the directives to support the poor? I already know they draw their ethics from their scriptures, so should I really expect anything productive if I appeal to their sense of sympathy when the commandments are already clear on the matter? Theologically speaking, I have no more of a beef with fundamentalists than with moderates – perhaps even less.

    But I don’t know what it actually sounds like to a Christian when the atheist tells her Jesus would research embryonic stem cells. Would it be any different than hearing it from a Muslim or Hindu?

  • http://emergingpensees.com MikeClawson

    It would be better if “liberal” Christians did rebuke the fundamentalists. Change is only going to come from within. Why would you want to link yourself with the fundamentalists? You’d be implicitly endorsing the anti-Science, anti-homosexual, anti-woman, anti-freedom, anti-everything beliefs they have. I would think moderate Christians would want to sever those ties, not build them up.

    Yes and no. I totally agree that we progressive Christians need to distance ourselves from those attitudes and do nothing to encourage them. On a political and social level, we will need to be out front opposing these agendas.

    But on the other hand, if we do want change to come from within, then we can’t sever the relationships themselves. If there is some hope of producing a change in someone’s life (or even in an institution like a church or denomination), in persuading a fundamentalist Christian (or church) to stop being fundamentalist (and I have been successful at “converting” a few people personally), then I can’t just cut that person off from my friendship. Change will have to come through open conversation in authentic relationships (and not even simply because I’m hoping to “convert” them from being a fundie – that would just be “friendship evangelism” in reverse, a term which I despise for all of it’s manipulative connotations – I have to really value the relationship, period, even if they never change).

  • grazatt

    I don’t want to insult Mike C or any of the other nice Christians who post here but I have to say that I found this http://johnshore.wordpress.com/2007/04/13/the-happiest-ending-ever/
    to be apapllingly dumb, was it supposed to be profound?

  • http://www.skepchick.org writerdd

    Mike C, I agree with you much to frequently for my own comfort. :-)

    As I said on skepchick recently, it’s important to remember that most fundies “are not the evil, bigoted fools portrayed by the media. Although these people do exist, primarily as hypocritical leaders who care more about power or money than they care about spirituality or charity, the layperson sitting in the pew is much more likely to be sincere and compassionate, with a burning desire to please God and to help humanity.”

    It’s when they get mixed up in politics and try to force their rules on the rest of us that I get mad at fundies. But I think it’s a vocal minority that created the religious right, and unfortunately suckered a lot of others into their system and then distorted the message of Jesus, which is bound to happen when you mix politics and religion (power corrupts, and all that). Now many in the pews are finding that they are unhappy with the results.

    Donna

    P.S. I’m using “fundamentalist” loosely here, to also encompass evangelicals, Penetcostals, and others who take the Bible at least mostly literally. Not in the original sense (Christians following the “five fundamentals” of faith) or in the current sense (any Christian who is extremist).

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Hello, Mr. Friendly Atheist! Thanks for linking to my humble little posting. I appreciate it.

    I thought I’d take a moment to address your criticisms of my posting. You thought I should have more boldly renounced the “Christian practice of shunning or mistreating homosexuals,” and that, likewise, I should have more vigorously denounced fundamentalist Christians.

    I don’t think you know this (and why would you, of course), but Suddenly Christian, my WordPress site, is essentially a mirror site for everything I write for Crosswalk.com, which is the largest Christian website in the world. Crosswalk is read and written by Christians who are in the main quite conservative. So whenever I write about subjects that I know are of particular concern to my Crosswalk readers, it’s important that I do so in a way that’s tactful–one that encourages and and promotes communication, rather than severs it.

    Anyway, just know that I write everything I do fully cognizant (sp??) of the fact that it will be read by two quite distinct audiences. (I say that because in the 10 or so months since I lauched my WordPress blog it has, I’m deeply pleased to report, grown its own readership, separate from Crosswalk’s. And of course I deeply value those readers, too. A LOT.)

    The bottom line is that I don’t want to alienate my Crosswalk readers. They read me on Crosswalk. They hear me there. Crosswalk has been wonderful about wholly and proudly presenting my stuff to its amazingly vast audience. I am engaging conservative Christians, directly, in their territory, and I think doing that is important. But it does mean that as I work I must do so cognizant (there’s that word again!) of the fact that I’m essentially a guest in someone else’s home. I can’t insult my readers, or too aggressively take issue with whatever of their personal beliefs might run contrary to my own. That’s not productive. I want the dialogue I have going with them to continue, so that, by virtue of that dialogue, we all have a very real chance to continue to learn and grow.

    Being confrontational is easy; there’s no art to it. When engaging in conversations rooted in issues and concerns about which I know people to be deeply passionate, I personally have found the best way to proceed is with delicacy and respect–and whatever subtlety and/or grace I can produce given my woefully limited powers of expression. So I proceed, carefully, one good-natured step at a time.

  • http://wineymomma.wordpress.com wineymomma

    @grazatt-

    I didn’t find the post you cited by John to be particularly profound. What I see when I read it though, is what most people who are believers struggle to define for nonbelievers. When you find yourself faced with the realization that you believe in something you can’t quantify, can’t support with physical evidence. I hate to actually type this part out because I feel certain it is opening myself up to …. well, anyway. When you find yourself thinking I know this is all true and I can’t prove a bit of it-it is a bit disconcerting. But then I find myself not needing to prove it, just believe it and live it.

    That being said-I know that what I feel and believe is for me and I am not ever going to convince someone of anything about those beliefs (This is a really convoluted sentence but I think you get my meaning). John’s post, IMHO, is a man’s story of “just knowing” . If you read the posts before and after I think you get a better idea of what he was trying to say/do with this particular post.

    WM

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Grazzat: Are you sure that in a condescending assessment of someone else’s intelligence, you want to use the phrase “apapllingly dumb”?

    Also, if you write ” … to be apapllingly dumb, was it supposed to be profound?” you have misused extremely basic punctuation. You want a period where you used a comma. I’m sure you already know this, though, given your apaplling intelligence.

  • http://looneyfundamentalist.blogspot.com/ Looney

    “It would be better if “liberal” Christians did rebuke the fundamentalists.”

    Reality check needed here: Liberal Christianity’s entire existence is premised on the need to negate and rebuke conservatives. Without fundamentalists, liberal Christianity loses its reason to exist and dies – like in Europe.

  • grazatt

    wineymomma you expressed your self alot more eloquently than he did!

  • Julie Marie

    I think whatever helps people see the potential of their lives rather than wallow in the sadness of their present is helpful. (re: John Shores blog entry) Some can do it themselves, some use a spiritual construct. I’d say, whatever works. We all respond to the world and its challenges in our own way – and that way can change as we grow and develop. I know it has for me.

  • Siamang

    Julie Marie,

    That reminds me of a passage in The Little Book of Atheist Spirituality.

    “For me, this world is enough; I’m an atheist and happy to be one. Other people, most likely the majority, are equally happy to be believers. It may be that they need a God to console and reassure themselves, to escape from absurdity or despair (such is the meaning of Kant’s “postulates of practical reason”), or simply to give their lives some sort of coherence; it may be that religion is what they see as the highest part of their lives, either affectively or spiritually — their sensitivity, their education, their history, their thought, their joy, their love. . . . All these reasons are worthy of respect. “Our need for consolation is impossible to satisfy,” as Swedish novelist Stig Dagerman once put it. So is our need for love and protection; we all have to deal with these needs as best we can. Mercy upon us.”

  • grazatt

    John Shore it was just an opioion!
    and if GWB can make it as far as he has, I think there am hope for me

  • Karen

    I think what John might be saying (my opinion) is that old habits die hard. If we can break people away from this deeply ingrained hatred of something they don’t understand then maybe we could build a newer habit. Just saying that if we can get out of the habit of judging and into the habit of loving then everybody wins.

    What he’s saying, according to the follow up comments in the post grazatt cited, is that bad habits are supernaturally ingrained in people by original sin and they CAN’T be changed by any individual efforts.

    You’re born human. That means you’re extremely inclined to be selfish, greedy, snarky, gossipy, lazy, impatient, mean-spirited, ego-driven, etc., etc. You’re just born to … self-promote, shall we say. It’s not all you’re born to be: you’re also born to be virtuous and kind and loving and so on.

    But all that good stuff about being human isn’t the stuff that poisons your experience. What wrecks being a human is the destructive, nasty stuff you do do, to yourself and others, as a matter of course.

    No good. Come a day (I’m guessing you’re yet quite young), it’s likely you’re going to want to stop having to live with the Bad You.
    And then, perhaps, you’ll get serious about Seriously Evolving.

    And so you’ll do things people typically do when they’re trying to Improve Themselves. Maybe you’ll take yoga. Maybe you’ll learn to skydive. Whatever. But you’ll try.

    And you’ll fail like a mouse attacking an elephant. And you’ll fail, and fail, and fail, and fail — and then (and on this day you’ll be worthy of pity) you’ll maybe — if you’re lucky — break.

    This is by-the-book conservative theology. We are bad, bad, bad and nothing we try to improve ourselves is going to work.

    First of all, that bunkum is demonstrably false. Second, it’s terribly destructive and designed to do exactly what he predicts – break people down emotionally to the point where they grasp onto the supernatural because they experience so much self-loathing and learned helplessness.

    Nicely written as his conversion story is (and I respect his experience though I don’t find it persuasive of the supernatural), and as much as I admire his efforts to reform fundamentalism, the clinging to original sin undermines the power of his message for me.

  • Sarah H.

    Going back to what Justin said:

    It’s the same as if everyone at a party saw the smear of food on your chin and said nothing, so as not to embarrass you, then some jerk loudly points it out. Everyone sees it, but most are too nice to bring it up. This is the moderate Christian attitude toward any “sinful” lifestyle.

    From my experience growing up in an insular Christian environment, this is completely true. This is why the loud, “extreme” Christians seem like such a (loud) minority, yet the polls and elections in this country still show an overwhelming prejudice against homosexuality, for instance. I think there’s a lot of cognitive dissonance involved, as well as politeness, but for lots of Christians, ‘moderate’ or even ‘liberal’ just means keeping quiet instead of being vocal in their condemnation.

    I think the number one problem with Christians today is the widespread, blind belief in the Bible. Examining it from an academic perspective, admitting that it is a product of its time (which most Christians will already do, selectively, such as regarding passages about slavery), and adjusting their values to deal with a modern world (where loving your neighbor includes neighbors with same-sex partners and Muslims and atheists) would benefit the Christian community immensely.

    A few progressive churches are already taking these measures, and it’s amazing how quickly it cleans the air, both within a church and with the community around it.

  • Julie Marie

    What he’s saying, according to the follow up comments in the post grazatt cited, is that bad habits are supernaturally ingrained in people by original sin and they CAN’T be changed by any individual efforts.

    I saw that too, and agree that as long as the inherently sinful nature of man is internalized, it is unhealthy at best.

  • http://www.skepchick.org writerdd

    I saw that too, and agree that as long as the inherently sinful nature of man is internalized, it is unhealthy at best.

    That’s what I dislike most about Christianity, that it disparages human nature and makes little of the goodness that humans do exhibit. If something is good, then God did it. If something is bad, then it’s the sin nature or, worse, the devil. And that makes it sound like a waste of time to try to make improvements without buying into Christianity, which is just a lie.

    Donna

  • http://religiouscomics.net Jeff

    Heather said,
    I think that a lot of the list could apply to just about anyone…
    I mean really, these are all human characteristics! I think that a deity adds an extra level of obfuscation but really that’s about it.

    They are all indeed human human characteristics.
    The issue, though, is that when bad or negative tendencies are elevated to THE WORD OF GOD then the bad tendencies can be made much much worse. Like
    1. passing constitutional amendments denying certain rights to certain people
    2. passing laws denying membership in taxpayer supported groups or elected positions because of religious (or non-religious) affiliation
    3. or even (in some countries like Afghanistan) condemning people to death for blasphemy.

    There are lots of examples where a negative human tendency that might be a little-bit bad becomes really bad once it gets all wrapped up with religion.

    I guess in theory, a religion could be crafted so as not to amplify negative human tendencies. Unfortunately, Christianity (with the bible as written) is not such a religion.

  • http://wineymomma.wordpress.com wineymomma

    Human nature is imo very much like survival of the fittest. Not necessarily that we are bad bad bad just looking out for number one. We are weak, frail creatures-whether you believe we are that way as a result of creation/original sin or evolution. Our sense of self and reasoning can be the thing that pulls us up out of the muck or drives us straight into it.

    I don’t give God credit for all the good in my life and I don’t blame the devil or sin for the difficulties in my life. I do give God credit for giving me free will and choices. If I choose the path of least resistance sometimes I gain from it and sometimes I am made weaker by it. It is all about choices and accepting responsibility for those choices for me!

    I really like the idea of The Little Book of Atheist Spirituality. That is something that has been bothering me because my atheist friends seem to be very spiritual and they cannot seem to admit/explain it so I intend to check out this link!

  • http://www.skepchick.org writerdd

    We can overcome human nature because we have language and culture and we can think, unlike other animals who cannot overcome their instincts because they lack the mental capacity to do so. There’s no reason to think this has anything to do with God; basically it’s because of our evolutionary history that we now have the ability to reason ourselves out of following instincts when it serves us.

    The Little Book of Atheist Spirituality is very interesting. It’s written by a French philosopher and translated, and if you’re familiar with European philosophers that will be obvious to you when you read it. It’s a great addition to the literature and presents some thoughtful and thought provoking ideas. Sam Harris also wrote about spirituality in the last chapter(s) of The End of Faith.

    I also wrote an article on these topics a few years ago, and it’s here.

  • http://ohthethinksyoucanthink.blogspot.com Linda

    grazette,

    I don’t want to insult Mike C or any of the other nice Christians who post here but I have to say that I found this http://johnshore.wordpress.com/2007/04/13/the-happiest-ending-ever/
    to be apapllingly dumb, was it supposed to be profound?

    I thought the post by John Shore was very honest, poignant, touching, and brave. I didnt’ read anything derogatory in the post that would warrant such a comment from you.

    I really don’t understand why some atheists are angered or disgusted by the mere fact that theists believe in something beyond themselves. If you want to be respected for your non-belief, wouldn’t it be fair for you to do the same in return? Or is the “friendly” just a facade?

    Now the more I think of it, the more I’m confused… The angry atheists criticize Christians for their rude and belligerant behaviors. They don’t like the fundamentalists who promote division and hatred rather than understanding and peace. Yet there are some of you that continually attack and verbally beat up the Christians who are trying to understand you and respect you. How do you expect people to be honest with their points of view when you ridicule and dismiss their thoughts? I just don’t get it…

  • Pingback: Friendly Atheist » “A Simple Twist of Faith”

  • http://www.skepchick.org writerdd

    I really don’t understand why some atheists are angered or disgusted by the mere fact that theists believe in something beyond themselves.

    It’s because believing in things without evidence often leads to making all kinds of bad decisions that are injurious to the individual and to society.

    Whether it’s God or gods or goddesses or voodoo or homeopathy or even UOFs or bigfoot it’s all the same to unbelievers.

  • grazatt

    Linda My name is grazatt, but I will forgive you. As to my post, I did not say his post was derogatory. I said his post was appallingly dumb. Especially when compared to the eloquence of some Christians (such as Mike C).

  • http://ohthethinksyoucanthink.blogspot.com Linda

    It’s because believing in things without evidence often leads to making all kinds of bad decisions that are injurious to the individual and to society.

    I think it is wrong to assume that believing will lead people into making bad decisions. People make bad decisions regardless of what they do or do not believe.

    Also, what qualifies as evidence seems to be different depending on who you talk to. There are things that are true without having proof for someone else to see. But that’s an argument that just goes around in circles. I don’t think you necessarily have to disprove or discredit someone else’s beliefs in order to justify your non-belief. I also happen to believe the opposite is true, and I don’t believe in evangelism… not the way the church teaches it.

  • http://ohthethinksyoucanthink.blogspot.com Linda

    Linda My name is grazatt, but I will forgive you. As to my post, I did not say his post was derogatory. I said his post was appallingly dumb. Especially when compared to the eloquence of some Christians (such as Mike C).

    Sorry for the misspelling, grazatt! Thank you for forgiving me.

    I didn’t say you said it was derogatory. I only meant that there was nothing in his post that would warrant such derogatory comment from you. And, his style of writing and his expertise is different than Mke Clawsons’s and may write from a slightly different perspective. That does not make one more eloquent than the other. It would be like me saying siamang is much more to the point and articulate than you.

  • grazatt

    but I am not a published author, John Shore is! He has got to learn to deal with a little criticism. Otherwise he might wind up like Anne Rice,and that is a fate I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy!

  • http://ohthethinksyoucanthink.blogspot.com Linda

    Okay, fine. You have a right to say your mind, I suppose. I just thought “appallingly dumb” would fit more into an insult category than criticism… And I know from experience that the story he posted comes from a very special and sacred place in his heart. The exposed heart is very senstive, you know…

  • grazatt

    but if you expose your heart to the world, be prepared to suffer the slings and arrows of an unkind world!

  • http://ohthethinksyoucanthink.blogspot.com Linda

    Touche!

  • http://bornagainblog.wordpress.com Justin McKean

    I’d like to quote John Shore…

    “Being confrontational is easy; there’s no art to it. When engaging in conversations rooted in issues and concerns about which I know people to be deeply passionate, I personally have found the best way to proceed is with delicacy and respect…”

    …and say I totally agree. He’s spot on right. This is what makes it difficult for moderate Xians, I think. Makes it hard for us, too, as atheists.

    However, while I’m going to try not to be confrontational here, I am going to be blunt. The story, if you’re listening, John, of your conversion is indicative of precisely the problem with Christianity which caused me to leave the faith after having lived in it for nearly thirty years.

    You do have the power to change your own life. You do have the power to surround yourself with a mastermind group of loyal friends to assist in the life change (which is all that practicing Xians do, anyway). Everything else is rather obviously in your head. Just like it was in mine.

    And here’s where it gets potentially confrontational:

    To teach others that they must adhere to your personal lifestyle in order to “be right with God” and thus be able to be blessed by said deity with a transformational life is a self-centered and rude thing to do. To teach that any person does not possess the power to alter their own destiny is an evil thing to do, shameful and destructive. To not give credit where credit is due, that is, to the individual humans who are the entities responsible for providing the assistance you needed, is a dishonest and insulting thing to do.

    Someone lied to you, telling you that you needed to live like they do to be fulfilled. Someone lied to you, telling you that you were powerless. Someone lied to you, telling you that it’s ok to give credit to a myth for what your loved one’s have done for you.

    They might have done it in the name of a myth, but the humans did the work. The myth just sat in the corner and took the credit.

    I am guilty of all of these things, by the way, in my Christian years, so saying such things is a self-inflicted personal indictment. I’m so grateful to no longer be bound by the limiting & destructive teachings of that awful faith, and I’m rooting for you, John, that you will find your way to the truth and that it will set you free, as the man said.

  • http://www.skepchick.org writerdd

    I think it is wrong to assume that believing will lead people into making bad decisions. People make bad decisions regardless of what they do or do not believe.

    The second sentence is, of course, true. But there are many bad decisions that only come from faith or belief. Here are a few that I’ve personally witnessed, and several of these bad decisions are ones that I made myself in the past:

    To choose exorcism as a treatment for mental illness or mental retardation requires faith.

    To choose a spouse because of a prophecy or because your pastor says God told him that you should be together requires faith.

    To quit high school and attend an unaccredited Bible school instead of going to college requires faith.

    To refused to conduct research that could find a cure for Parkinsons or other debilitating diseases because souls live in petri dishes requires faith.

    To choose homeopathy or prayer over tested medical treatments and to refuse to take your child to the doctor requires faith.

    To give money to your church when your mortgage is due and to believe that your tithe will come back to you tenfold before your bank forecloses requires faith.

    To fly planes into buildings chasing a reward of 72 virgins in the afterlife requires faith.

    Believe it or not, these are decisions being made in the 21st century in the modern world. These are not examples from the dark ages.

    It is always better to make decisions based on solid evidence than on faith. Of course, in the real world we rarely have all of the data needed to make the perfect decision and we also all tend to make some decisions based on emotional reactions rather than facts, and then we rationalize our decisions. Still, the foundation of faith is no foundation at all. It is nothing but wishful thinking and it is a well of poor decision making.

  • http://www.skepchick.org writerdd

    Justin McKean, wow and amen!

  • http://wineymomma.wordpress.com wineymomma

    @writerdd

    We can overcome human nature because we have language and culture and we can think, unlike other animals who cannot overcome their instincts because they lack the mental capacity to do so. There’s no reason to think this has anything to do with God; basically it’s because of our evolutionary history that we now have the ability to reason ourselves out of following instincts when it serves us.

    Yes-we have the ability to do these things (through reasoning, language and culture) but often, unfortunately, we do not opt for the choice to overcome our most base nature.

    And you pointed out that there is “no reason to think it has anything to do with God.” But for me (just little ol’me) there is no reason to believe that it doesn’t connect to God.

    WM

  • http://www.skepchick.org writerdd

    And you pointed out that there is “no reason to think it has anything to do with God.” But for me (just little ol’me) there is no reason to believe that it doesn’t connect to God.

    WM, I hate to use this oft repeated argument, but you’re the one making the extraordinary claims so you are the one who needs to provide the extraordinary evidence.

    Something about this has been rolling around in my brain a lot recently but I haven’t been able to articulate it yet. But basically it comes down to the fact that there is absolutely no evidence for the existence of God. If our ancestors hadn’t been so ignorant about the operation of the universe and the world around them, they never would have made up invisible intelligences to explain it to themselves, and we would not be having this discussion today.

  • http://wineymomma.wordpress.com wineymomma

    Yes, I will fully admit that I am making extraordinary claims for my life. I believe in God. That is what works for me. I have no expectations that you or anyone else believe what I believe. There is still so much about the operation of the universe that cannot be quantified that I truly believe that there is more to it than human understanding.

    And I respect your opinion, beliefs, evidence, and intelligence. I have no doubt that we could continue down the path of this discussion for a very long time. I happen to enjoy these discussions immensely. If I don’t find myself having these kinds of exchanges then I end up feeling as if I am not growing in my spirituality and intelligence.

    So thanks for the stimulating conversation.

    WM

  • http://www.skepchick.org writerdd

    WM, thank you, too. Very interesting topics here of late.

  • Karen

    You do have the power to change your own life. You do have the power to surround yourself with a mastermind group of loyal friends to assist in the life change (which is all that practicing Xians do, anyway). Everything else is rather obviously in your head. Just like it was in mine.

    Yes! Exactly, Justin.

    Probably the worst thing about conservative Christian doctrine is this insistence that an individual is inherently evil, dirty, filthy and – most depressing – powerless to improve herself. It sucks, and it’s so obviously untrue that I can’t believe people still adhere to it.

    Just look around! People get through tough times and improve their lives and beat addiction and get educations and make friends and get married all the time without religion. And those with religion just as often spiral down, have affairs, get divorced, steal from the church, and on and on. As you said, the mythology in the corner gets all the credit for the good stuff and the friends, family, personal grit and determination, medical treatment, etc. does all the work but gets none of the credit.

  • Julie Marie

    To teach others that they must adhere to your personal lifestyle in order to “be right with God” and thus be able to be blessed by said deity with a transformational life is a self-centered and rude thing to do. To teach that any person does not possess the power to alter their own destiny is an evil thing to do, shameful and destructive. To not give credit where credit is due, that is, to the individual humans who are the entities responsible for providing the assistance you needed, is a dishonest and insulting thing to do.

    Someone lied to you, telling you that you needed to live like they do to be fulfilled. Someone lied to you, telling you that you were powerless. Someone lied to you, telling you that it’s ok to give credit to a myth for what your loved one’s have done for you.

    well said.

  • http://emergingpensees.com MikeClawson

    If our ancestors hadn’t been so ignorant about the operation of the universe and the world around them, they never would have made up invisible intelligences to explain it to themselves, and we would not be having this discussion today.

    You know, I hear this said all the time, and yet I’m also struck by the fact that there is so little in the way of “explanations” of the natural world in the Bible. I’m starting to think that it is rather misleading to assume that the primary reason people (whether ancient or modern) believe in God is merely to “explain” natural phenomenon. That seems like the smallest part of religion in my experience.

  • http://www.skepchick.org writerdd

    It may be a small part of religion today, but from what I see, it is the only reason religion and god were invented. Yes, in case someone is going to ask, I do think man created god.

  • http://emergingpensees.com MikeClawson

    It may be a small part of religion today, but from what I see, it is the only reason religion and god were invented.

    And yet, again, there is so little of it in the Bible. One chapter in Genesis pretty much covers the “where it all came from” question, and the rest is about all kinds of other stuff. It just doesn’t seem to me like explaining nature is really the main point. If that were the “only reason” Judaism was invented, you’d think there’d be a little bit more of it in there.

  • http://www.skepchick.org writerdd

    I’m not sure I agree, but in any case, I am not talking about the Bible. I’m talking about the origin of religion and belief in god(s), which came a LONG time before the Bible.

    Donna

    P.S. Always interesting to talk to you!

  • http://ohthethinksyoucanthink.blogspot.com Linda

    Mike,

    What about human nature? Doesn’t every single character in the Bible explain human nature? Isn’t it meant for us to understand ourselves, which is a huge part of nature from our perspective? What is “all kinds of other stuff” about if not to know ourselves and how Jesus sets us free from our own condition that we get ourselves into?

    writerdd:

    It may be a small part of religion today, but from what I see, it is the only reason religion and god were invented. Yes, in case someone is going to ask, I do think man created god.

    I agree with you that man created religion. But nobody “created” God. God just is. and always was.

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

    The Tower of Babel explains why people speak different languages and comes from many different places.

  • http://emergingpensees.com MikeClawson

    What about human nature? Doesn’t every single character in the Bible explain human nature? Isn’t it meant for us to understand ourselves, which is a huge part of nature from our perspective?

    Sure, I suppose. But I didn’t take it that that was the kind of thing Donna was talking about. She seemed to have in mind the sorts of explanations covered by the natural sciences, not the social “sciences”. That’s what I was referring to.

  • http://emergingpensees.com MikeClawson

    I’m not sure I agree, but in any case, I am not talking about the Bible. I’m talking about the origin of religion and belief in god(s), which came a LONG time before the Bible.

    Perhaps, though it’s really difficult to go much further back than the Bible without getting entirely into the realm of speculation. The Epic of Gilgamesh is about as far back as you can go in terms of written religious documents (only 500-800 years prior to Moses), and that’s not primarily focused on explaining nature either. Prior to written records we only have theories and speculation about how religion evolved (assuming that it did… though I think the hypothesis that religion did in fact “evolve” is somewhat suspect as well).

  • http://www.otmatheist.com/ Siamang

    Perhaps, though it’s really difficult to go much further back than the Bible without getting entirely into the realm of speculation.

    There are stone-age cultures in the world, and people from cultures which were recently stone-age, who still carry their oral traditions from thousands of years ago. Some of this history has been preserved in ways that predate writing… without going into speculation.

  • Steven Carr

    I don’t think the Biblical writers were in the least interested in explaining nature.

    The last few chapters of Job emphasise the hopelessness of puny Earthlings trying to understand nature.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X