What is Christianity?

Looks like somebody had a bad experience at church:

religionfactandfiction.jpg

I have no problem with the red words. Not saying I believe them or approve of them, but I think most Christians would stress those things.

The black words get out of hand, though.

I know the image’s creator is referring to all religion, not just Christianity (just look at the image title: “Religion Vs Reality”). But since the cross is symbolized, and the red words refer to the Christian faith, I can only assume the black words are intended to focus on the Christian faith as well.

Who can really accuse modern Christians of being terrorists? Being usurpers? Starting wars? Acting murderous?

There are the crazies in every bunch. But to say certain (black) words in the image represent most people in the faith is foolish.

Some words are fair game: Superstition. Contradictory. Sexist. Mythological.

But not all of them.

(via My Confined Space)


[tags]atheist, atheism[/tags]

  • B-Liever

    Wow, that caught me off gaurd… I almost teared up when I saw how Christianity has come off to the masses…

    I did tear up when I read what was written by the person who posted it. Thank you.

  • http://www.evolvedrational.com Evolved Rationalist

    That picture looks pretty accurate to me.

    Ah, the joys of theistarded belief in an imaginary sky-daddy.

    (shrug)

  • mikespeir

    When I first looked at it I figured this was something a Christian had put together, so I expected the legend at the bottom to read the other way around.

  • Polly

    Who can really accuse modern Christians of being terrorists? Being usurpers? Starting wars? Acting murderous?

    I’ll do it.
    Starting with the religious war we are fighting in the Middle East. Sure, it’s for oil, but there’s no way the American public would’ve been so quick to bomb and occupy another “Christian” nation that wasn’t (to borrow Hemant’s term) full of brown people.
    Pastor Hagee, who McCain recently renounced, and apocalyptics like him have millions of followers across the country who see Muslims as the enemy of Jesus. He advocates attacking (if not nuking) Iran. I read the post of a Bible-quoting Christian on another board wherein he said he’d be happy to see all Muslims wiped off the Earth, and he didn’t mean through reasoned debate, either. My own mother thinks this way.
    Meanwhile, occupier-soldiers try to convert the local Iraqis to Christianity…when they’re not planting weapons on massacred civilians.

    As individuals, no xian I know would think of committing these barbarous acts. As a community/nation/voting bloc absoutely! They have and will continue to do so.

    end.rant()

    edit: It goes without saying, but I’ll say it just to make sure everyone knows. I’m talking about “Fundies.”

  • http://seabhag.blogspot.com/2006/10/vista-of-endless-possibilities.html Seabhag

    I would say that it does (in my opinion) state what the Church (or Christianity) has stood for in its nearly multi-thousand year reign of terror (We are about what, 306 years short if my math is correct?). Maybe not the average liberal/modern sect; but for the history of the Church, and the people I grew up around it is highly accurate.

    Unlike FA my experience was growing up in a ultra-fundamentalist dominionist environment and speaking from experience about the only black word that I haven’t seen or experienced myself is murder. Though I have to say with the recent deaths of young children because of their parent’s disbelief in medicine I think we can even include murder in there (or the guy who bombed abortion clinics/doctors for that matter). As a matter of fact, I could give at least one example for EACH of those words in something that I have either experienced myself, or have witnessed happen to someone that I knew well.

    I would have to say that, that image is a profoundly true one. All the more so because of those who demand that we treat religion with kid gloves; and ignore all the human rights abuses that the image above represents. I prefer the velvet coated iron glove, religion needs to be treated softly when it doesn’t attempt to force others to convert (so no “convert or die” situations. Preaching to someone and then being okay if they walk away isn’t the same thing). Anyone’s right to religion ends (I think) when they start forcing that religion on anyone else. Especially when the two main (let’s face it Judaism doesn’t have as many followers as Islam/Christianity) monotheistic religions are known more by the black words than by the red ones.

    I appreciate that people want to take the “live and let-live” approach to religion. And for the more liberal take on any given religion I think that’s a great idea. But for the environment I grew up in. Nothing but a relentless defense and even a bit of offense will work to protect the world from these monsters. I’m all for allowing freedom of religion and allowing one to follow what they believe (or don’t); but when your religion states that I have no rights if I don’t follow what it says, then your religion needs to have limits on it to protect people and allow them freedom of and from religion.

    I do apologize if the above sounds hateful, it isn’t meant to and I tried to be as gracious as I can be but this is an area I feel fairly strongly about. Don’t worry, I won’t be pushing for making religious belief illegal, just working for more protection for people who don’t want to hold a belief. Maybe iron shield and velvet glove would be a better image instead of a velvet coated iron glove.

  • Siamang

    The terrorism thing isn’t widespread. But awhile back I got creeped out when a poster to the comments section Off The Map started defending the actions of Eric Robert Rudolph.

    It’s not the majority of Christians. It’s not even a significantly sized minority group among Christians in America.

    But I’m actually afraid that it’s not merely isolated to a few mentally-imbalanced and culturally isolated individuals.

  • Scott Van Tussenbrook

    > Who can really accuse modern Christians of being terrorists? Being usurpers? Starting wars? Acting murderous?

    You must never have spent much time in the Mormon church, then. ;) Sure, they’re not waging a war now, but the Mountain Meadows Massacre wasn’t exactly a very good exercise in “love one another” style Christianity.

    Most of the other Words In Black fit in with my Mormon experience as well — Oppressive, mind-controlling, punitive — even schizophrenic, contradictory, fanatical, deceitful, inconsistent — yup, all there. Are we sure this person isn’t a former Mormon? ;)

    – S

  • http://www.ratmanifesto.com Robbie Taylor

    The Irish have quite a bit of experience with Christians being terrorists, on both sides of the Protestant divide, and that struggle is entirely an inter-Christian fight. Black people in the American south experienced a gigantic terrorist campaign from their Christian brethren in the KKK and other white supremacist organizations. The white supremacists of the Christian Identity movement were killing people like Alan Berg and robbing banks and armored cars as recently as the 80′s.

    Most Christians, like most Muslims, Hindus, Jews, Atheists, etc, are decent, nice people. But, none of us is free of the stain of terrorism.

  • Pseudonym

    Seabhag:

    I would say that it does (in my opinion) state what the Church (or Christianity) has stood for in its nearly multi-thousand year reign of terror (We are about what, 306 years short if my math is correct?).

    What follows is very interesting, but I have to wonder if this is what the church has stood for, or just what humanity has stood for?

    Yes, some Christians (the ones in charge, perhaps) have done some horrible things, but so have people in general.

  • Mark Browne

    I came to say that I disagree with you that Christianity has not taken part in many of the “black” activities, but I see that I have been beaten to it. Not only that, while, say, the established churches (Church of England, Catholic Church…) do not appear to sanction such behaviour now, their followers most certainly take part in it – Ireland at a lower level, and Iraq seems to me a very Christian-motivated event.

  • Darryl

    Wow, I was going to say that the words in black are more properly attached to right-wing Christian conservatives than to Christianity, but after reading the previous posts, I now realize that the words are accurate. The only detail is the degree to which they are accurate.

  • Jack

    “Who can really accuse modern Christians of being terrorists? Being usurpers? Starting wars? Acting murderous?”

    All black words look accurate to me. I can easily think of many examples that apply to all of them without straining. A few:

    Threatening children with hell or other retribution for being bad.
    Killing abortion doctors and/or their staff.
    They’re most certainly “usurping” the constitution in a myriad of ways!
    Wars?:
    http://www.religioustolerance.org/curr_war.htm

    Friendly atheist consistently pisses me off with his pussy-footin’ around the religious.

  • Kate

    Friendly atheist consistently pisses me off with his pussy-footin’ around the religious.

    Idiots like you piss me off with your blanket stereotypes. Every Christian has killed an abortion doctor, really? Or, every Christian is pro-life? Also, your reading comprehension seems a bit weak…do you know what the word f-r-i-e-n-d-l-y means?

  • mikespeir

    I have to agree with Kate. I, myself often express concern over a faith that works so arduously to rationalize and justify the atrocities of the Bible, to include the notion that we’ll burn forever just because we can’t believe. Where that kind of rationalization exists, the potential for savagery remains.

    On the other hand, Christians compartmentalize just like the rest of us. Yes, it’s inconsistent, but thinking that it was somehow right for the Israelites to slaughter all the Amalekite babies so that a few wouldn’t be sacrificed to Moloch doesn’t automatically mean they advocate the same thing today. Some of the finest people I know are Christians–even Evangelical/Fundamentalist Christians, BTW.

  • Cade

    You really have to take it person by person with these sort of things. The vast majority of Christians aren’t murderers or terrorists or destroyers. I would say that almost all of the things on this picture are true about some Christians. But to say that that’s all that religion or the church is is like a new form of Godwin’s Law.

    I don’t like this type of rhetoric just on principle anyways, simply because it’s a shallow way of gaining support.

  • http://emergingpensees.com Mike Clawson

    There are the crazies in every bunch. But to say certain (black) words in the image represent most people in the faith is foolish.

    Thank you for acknowledging that Hemant. I’m increasingly frustrated by those who can’t make distinctions among broad swaths of people (i.e. those who think all atheists or all Christians are just the same and equally culpable for the sins of all those who also wear the label). Perhaps it would be more helpful if we followed Martin Marty’s lead and referred not to Christianity, but to multiple Christianities.

    Who can really accuse modern Christians of being terrorists? Being usurpers? Starting wars? Acting murderous?

    There are some, even these days. However I found it interesting that when Christiane Amanpour did her three part “God’s Warriors” series on militant forms of Islam, Judaism and Christianity, she was able to find literal warriors for the first two, but only metaphorical “culture warriors” for Christianity. (Personally I don’t think she looked hard enough… or maybe she just couldn’t get access to the White House. ;) )

  • Jack

    And you “friendly atheist” sheople piss me off too! Every one of you failed to think outside the box that FA laid down for you when he erroneously and prejudicially spoke to the content of the image: “But to say certain (black) words in the image represent MOST PEOPLE in the faith is foolish.” That is NOT what it says, that’s FA’s subjective interpretation of the image.

    Neither the image, nor I (in my previous post), speak in regard to a quantity — the few, the many, or the majority of adherents. It, and I, spoke to the things that have often been done and are still done in the name of, and for the god of, Christianity, as well as those overarching characteristics that constitute its domain.

    In all your desire to foremost feel good about yourselves, you bend over backwards in the extreme and fail to see the forest for the trees. In constantly pointing only to the quite obvious that not every individual adherent (how many is not the issue here) participates in many of the anti-human behaviors mentioned, and in persistently (at this site) going out of your way to focus on that aspect alone, you are effectively blinding yourselves from the real damage being perpetrated by the whole of the beast. And in doing so, are effectively giving the beast (Christianity) a pass as you let that which should be utterly condemned, just go by.

  • Awesomesauce

    Who can really accuse modern Christians of being terrorists? Being usurpers? Starting wars? Acting murderous?

    The first time I ever saw a gun, it was strapped to the back of a British soldier in Belfast. My father has scarred brain tissue due to an explosion in the building next to his house. His neighbors were protestant. My mother met my father while they were working with orphans, many of whose parents had been killed. I am twenty-two. I’d say that the xians involved were fairly modern.

    And you “friendly atheist” sheople piss me off too! Every one of you failed to think outside the box that FA laid down for you when he erroneously and prejudicially spoke to the content of the image: “But to say certain (black) words in the image represent MOST PEOPLE in the faith is foolish.” That is NOT what it says, that’s FA’s subjective interpretation of the image.

    Neither the image, nor I (in my previous post), speak in regard to a quantity — the few, the many, or the majority of adherents. It, and I, spoke to the things that have often been done and are still done in the name of, and for the god of, Christianity, as well as those overarching characteristics that constitute its domain.

    In all your desire to foremost feel good about yourselves, you bend over backwards in the extreme and fail to see the forest for the trees. In constantly pointing only to the quite obvious that not every individual adherent (how many is not the issue here) participates in many of the anti-human behaviors mentioned, and in persistently (at this site) going out of your way to focus on that aspect alone, you are effectively blinding yourselves from the real damage being perpetrated by the whole of the beast. And in doing so, are effectively giving the beast (Christianity) a pass as you let that which should be utterly condemned, just go by.

    Jack,

    I really think that you’re being defensive/offensive too early. You have a valid point, but why all the hostility? Realize that some of these people feel accused by this message. Shouldn’t they have a right to point out that they aren’t like how this picture portrays them?

    Again, your point is valid; we too often overlook atrocities without always meaning to. Many times we do this by changing the focus to the xians who don’t do these things. However, are you really going to get people to be listen to your point if you immediately go on the offensive?

    I think not. I bet people are much more inclined to listen to somebody who doesn’t preface their point with

    You sheople piss me off…

  • Pseudonym

    Awesome sauce:

    The first time I ever saw a gun, it was strapped to the back of a British soldier in Belfast. My father has scarred brain tissue due to an explosion in the building next to his house. His neighbors were protestant. My mother met my father while they were working with orphans, many of whose parents had been killed. I am twenty-two. I’d say that the xians involved were fairly modern.

    This is usually a bad sign, but I really feel for you, your parents and the community that you grew up in. Nobody should have to live under those conditions.

    Now, here’s what Hemant said in full:

    Who can really accuse modern Christians of being terrorists? Being usurpers? Starting wars? Acting murderous?

    There are the crazies in every bunch. But to say certain (black) words in the image represent most people in the faith is foolish.

    I’m not Irish or British, and I don’t claim to understand the whole situation as it was then or is now. The second paragraph in this quote partly addresses your point. But I do think that it would be unfair to call most of the British soldiers (or most of the IRA and like groups, for that matter) “crazies”.

    The mess that was the circumstances where you grew up, I think we all know, had little to do with religion and everything to do with politics, even though it was often framed as a religious issue. And this, I think, is where we run into difficulty. When you don’t have a clean separation of church and state, it’s very hard to separate the actions of church from the actions of state. The British soldiers weren’t carrying guns in your neighbourhood because they were Christian, or even because they were Protestant. And those bombs exploded not because the people who planted them were Christian, or even Catholic.

    Stepping back a moment, there were certainly atrocities perpetrated by Organised Catholicism over the centuries. But does it follow that Christianity is an inherently violent religion? Or does it merely follow that some governments are violent entities, and that power corrupts?

    To my mind, the problem is when a religion gets real power, or political influence, or is framed as being an issue in a political or social struggle. That’s what causes the trouble, not religion itself.

    Having said that, I wouldn’t defend the actions of a religion that got itself involved in politics today. We understand the problems now, and quite frankly, they deserve the bad karma that they get.

  • http://seabhag.blogspot.com Seabhag

    And those bombs exploded not because the people who planted them were Christian, or even Catholic.

    Pseudonym, those bombs exploded PRECISELY because the people who planted them where Catholic. Sure you could make the argument that they exploded because the timer, or fuse set them off. But that’s just semantics.

    Those bombs were planted because his neighbors were “Orange” (Protestant).

    Something else you said in response to my first post.

    What follows is very interesting, but I have to wonder if this is what the church has stood for, or just what humanity has stood for?

    Yes, some Christians (the ones in charge, perhaps) have done some horrible things, but so have people in general.

    Humanity hasn’t stood for these things unless you mean stood by while those who could crush them perpetrated atrocities. Since the early 300′s CE Christianity as a whole as stood for every one of those words written in black All the while claiming that they were really all about the words in red. Since the advent of the Enlightenment we have had ‘liberal’ denominations that have realized that the Bible isn’t even close to the highest sort of morals or ethics that can be practiced. These groups, I think, aren’t generally as guilty of the picture above. But, by insisting that religion is a ‘sacred’ or otherwise untouchable subject, they have enabled those who act out the words in black. I say that these groups I think aren’t as guilty, because I’ve only ever heard about them. The Christianity I am familiar with practices most of those words in black. Sure not murder, for the most part; and maybe not terrorism, for the most part. But even with murder and terrorism I can think of several cases within this year where someone has murdered someone else because “God told them too”.

    I would really like to meet these mythical ‘liberal’ Christians because I’ve never seen them, only heard of them. Let me tell you that here in the heart of the Bible Belt… The lying, the manipulation, the bullying, the sexism, the cover-ups, the paranoia, the demands for instant and total obedience to ‘authorities’. All of this I have witness and experienced on a daily or weekly basis growing up. And that’s without having to think too hard.

    I don’t think it’s a baser human nature to be that way. However, I do think it is intrinsic to religion. Nietzsche, I think, said it best when he said something to the effect of “In their attempt to see the world as bad and evil, Christians have made the world evil and bad.” I think it is tied explicitly to the thought that Christianity have that this life is worthless and only preparation for a future eternal life. This dislike of life and desire for the afterlife and its rewards drives Christians to follow the words in black in that image.

  • Pseudonym

    Pseudonym, those bombs exploded PRECISELY because the people who planted them where Catholic. Sure you could make the argument that they exploded because the timer, or fuse set them off. But that’s just semantics.

    On the contrary, I’m arguing that the reason they exploded is because of British colonisation and the reaction to it, not religion. To find the real answer, you need to look back to Oliver Cromwell and beyond.

    To commit an atrocity, people need a “good reason” to justify it, and any tenuous link will do. The US occupation of Iraq today is justified by words like “freedom” and “democracy”, yet nobody would seriously argue that freedom and democracy are bad ideas that inevitably cause war.

    Religion is one of those “good reasons”.

    I would really like to meet these mythical ‘liberal’ Christians because I’ve never seen them, only heard of them.

    Pleased to meet you!

    Just to prove my liberal credentials: There’s one black word on the image that I not only agree with, but am positively proud of. Want to guess which one it is?

  • Mark Browne

    On the contrary, I’m arguing that the reason they exploded is because of British colonisation and the reaction to it, not religion. To find the real answer, you need to look back to Oliver Cromwell and beyond.

    The way I see it, religion is just another aspect of politics – a way to control people. In the case of Ireland, the Protestants objected rather less to the control from England than the Catholics – if that doesn’t make it a religious conflict, I don’t know what does. The reason the British army was sent to NI in the sixties/seventies was originally to protect the Catholic population from Protestants.

    Just to prove my liberal credentials: There’s one black word on the image that I not only agree with, but am positively proud of. Want to guess which one it is?

    I can’t particul;arly see any words to be proud of, but my guess would be “Obedience”. Blind obedience can (not always, but sometimes) lead to things like the German concentration camps… “I was just following orders.”

  • http://emergingpensees.com Mike Clawson

    Just to prove my liberal credentials: There’s one black word on the image that I not only agree with, but am positively proud of. Want to guess which one it is?

    I’m going to go with “mythological”. Atheists and other Moderns tend to use that word as if it’s an accusation of some sort. And yet personally I see myths as deeply meaningful and powerful. Not to mention that the technical (i.e. literary) definition of the word is not at all synonymous with “untrue” or even “unhistorical”.

  • Pseudonym

    Mark:

    The way I see it, religion is just another aspect of politics – a way to control people.

    Growing up where and when you did, I can understand that. I can imagine that people living in the US “Bible Belt” would feel the same. But I grew up in a largely secular country in a very liberal religion, so the “control” thing is not in my experience.

    Mike:

    I’m going to go with “mythological”. Atheists and other Moderns tend to use that word as if it’s an accusation of some sort. And yet personally I see myths as deeply meaningful and powerful. Not to mention that the technical (i.e. literary) definition of the word is not at all synonymous with “untrue” or even “unhistorical”.

    You got it, and for exactly the right reasons, too.

  • Mark Browne

    Mike:

    Not to mention that the technical (i.e. literary) definition of the word is not at all synonymous with “untrue” or even “unhistorical”.

    I’ve got to disagree with that – this is from disctionary.com: “based on or told of in traditional stories; lacking factual basis or historical validity;”

    Pseudonym:

    Growing up where and when you did, I can understand that. I can imagine that people living in the US “Bible Belt” would feel the same. But I grew up in a largely secular country in a very liberal religion, so the “control” thing is not in my experience.

    I also grew up in a secular country – I am British. That doesn’t stop me observing that the purpose of religion does appear to be a political (and therefore a control) thing.

  • Pseudonym

    I’ve got to disagree with that – this is from disctionary.com: “based on or told of in traditional stories; lacking factual basis or historical validity;”

    Two comments about that.

    First, dictionaries are compiled from how a word is used, so if people use a word “incorrectly” a lot, that’s a new meaning.

    Secondly, that doesn’t actually conflict with what Mike said. The purpose of representational art is not to depict nature “accurately” in the sense that a newspaper report or a biography is “accurate”. It’s meant to bring certain details into focus in a way that an “accurate” representation can’t.

    A good portrait need not be an accurate likeness. And good mythology need not be accurate history.

    I also grew up in a secular country – I am British.

    So you grew up in a country with an established church.

    That doesn’t stop me observing that the purpose of religion does appear to be a political (and therefore a control) thing.

    Politics isn’t always about control either. But for what it’s worth: For every anecdote there’s an equal and opposite anecdote.

  • Darryl

    This graphic ought to have been entitled “What are the sins of people?” Except for specific terms (fungible from religion to religion), all the negatives mentioned are present within every advanced culture that I’ve ever heard of, with or without religion. Christianity is not exceptional; people bring their worst qualities to their religion, just as they bring their best. Nationalism and racism provide rationales no less urgent than does religion. One myth is as terrible as another, if it is believed. A horrible cocktail of ignorance, moral weakness, and imagination makes all this possible. None of these is contingent upon religion. Were religion to disappear, the sins would remain. This is the most damning indictment of religion–it is impotent. It cannot cure us of sin. How can a symptom of a disease be its cure?

  • Pseudonym

    One more thing, while I think of it. I couldn’t help noticing the similarities between Darryl’s post and something that Mark said:

    That doesn’t stop me observing that the purpose of religion does appear to be a political (and therefore a control) thing.

    There’s something to be said for the argument that religion and politics have a lot in common: They bring out both the best and worst of humanity.

    Darryl:

    This is the most damning indictment of religion–it is impotent. It cannot cure us of sin. How can a symptom of a disease be its cure?

    Christianity explicitly teaches that we are not curable, or at least not in this life.

  • http://emergingpensees.com Mike Clawson

    First, dictionaries are compiled from how a word is used, so if people use a word “incorrectly” a lot, that’s a new meaning.

    Exactly; which is why I referenced the “technical”, literary use of the word, not the popular usage.

    Secondly, that doesn’t actually conflict with what Mike said. The purpose of representational art is not to depict nature “accurately” in the sense that a newspaper report or a biography is “accurate”. It’s meant to bring certain details into focus in a way that an “accurate” representation can’t.

    A good portrait need not be an accurate likeness. And good mythology need not be accurate history.

    Fantastic analogy Pseudonym. Mind if I borrow it?

  • http://seabhag.blogspot.com Seabhag

    The problem with believing in a mythology instead of fact is that you have no footing to say that your belief is any more accurate than someone else’s.

    I’ll grant that the technical definition of mythology includes things that might have a basis in fact somewhere in the past. Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey are a perfect example. Troy really did exist. Did Athena and Poseidon actually exist? Probably not. The problem with mythology is that while it isn’t always false it’s rarely close to the entire truth.

    For example, the Native American legends of Raven were an attempt to explain the fickleness of nature. While Hephaestus was the Greek’s way of explaining volcano’s.

    Mythologies are excellent resources to investigate how our ancestors attempted to explain the world without a mechanism like science. However, Pseudonym you said:

    The purpose of representational art is not to depict nature “accurately” in the sense that a newspaper report or a biography is “accurate”. It’s meant to bring certain details into focus in a way that an “accurate” representation can’t.

    That, in my opinion, when applied to religion/mythology is horse shit.. We don’t go on a (or shouldn’t) psychic’s imaginings of how a crime took place. Instead we should use DNA evidence, and well tested forensics skills to determine ‘whodunit’. The only purpose for mythology is to understand how our ancestors used to explain the universe and teach their children how to get along with others. Representational art still represents reality, myth and religion only do as we use them to understand how our ancestors saw the world. Beyond that they are useless as a way to see ‘truth’.

    To use mythology as a basis for living your life would be like believing that Atlantis really existed because a fictional character in one of Plato’s accounts describes hearing the legends of Atlantis. We know enough of geology, history, etc to know that the odds are very high that Atlantis as described by Plato didn’t exist (there’s some who think his time/distance scale’s could have been off and he was referring to the downfall of the Minoan civilization). But this force of 10 million strong, as described in Plato’s Timaeus, probably didn’t attempt to invade Europe in 9500 BC.

    That side track taken; I’m going to assume that the mythology you pride yourself in believing is the Christian Myth. That is, that the Bible is literal and records what actually happened. What is it that compels you to believe such fantasy? There is a great lack of historical and archaeological evidence that important events actually happened. The Exodus has little evidence for it; the events ‘recorded’ by the Gospel writers aren’t recorded by any other historian living in the time (that I know of). Instead of revealed truth, Christianity at its core if all about control and domination.

    Christianity explicitly teaches that we are not curable, or at least not in this life.

    There’s another problem with your belief system Pseudonym. What about all the advances in ethics and morality in the last few hundred years? (Decrease in racism, end of slavery in many countries, equality of women etc). These were, and in some cases still are, resisted by Christian Churches who use the Bible to prove why what they believe is correct. Humanity is growing up and soon, I hope, as religion loses it’s stranglehold on people’s minds we will see a decrease in crime and violence. Once it is no longer preferable to kill someone of a different belief system because you are totally right about your belief system and they are leading people to Hell (or Hel, or whatever your version of the ‘bad’ afterlife is), I think we’ll see a change in wars etc. Then once a better understanding of neurochemistry is understood we’ll be able to help people who have imbalances that drive them to commit other crimes. Mythology holds no such promise, except in the afterlife that it provides no evidence for. The belief in the afterlife is exactly why a mythology/religion is so dangerous. The sheeple are told that this life doesn’t really count except for obeying the priests/pastors/leaders/authorities and ‘building up treasure in heaven’ where the real life begins. Check out the Rapture Ready forum sometime if you want to see a bunch of people who hate life (but still don’t want to ‘die’) and are only living to see God come back and take them away.

    Here’s what I see believing in a Mythology as being like. Belief that Homeopathy works. A single substance diluted down to the point where there’s no way to tell if there’s actually any of that substance left in the solution you are drinking. Truth/Fact in mythologies are like that substance diluted down 30,000 or more times. There may have been a truth that you can dig out of it. But the odds are pretty low and in the case of homeopathy you have a simple solution of water. In the case of Mythology you have the untruth left and worshiped. Not just worshiped, but belief in that untruth without evidence or fact to back it up is promoted and held to be the highest good. This is what led to 9/11, the murder of abortion doctors, the Crusades, the war going on in Sri Lanka, the great jihad directed against the enemies of Islam. This is what also drives the dominionists I grew up around to desire a way to take over the country and force everyone who doesn’t believe the way they do to either submit to their theocratic rule or leave.

    Pseudonym, for all your attempts to come off as a liberal Christian; you sound more like the dominionists I grew up around, and less like the ‘liberal Christians’ I’ve heard tell of.

    I think the sooner that the bandage is pulled off the wound of religion and exposed to the light of fact and truth the sooner that humanity will be able to grow up and leave such infantile belief systems in the past. When no mechanism for understanding the universe is available I can understand believing in mythology, but when that mechanism is available it, to me, reeks of deliberate ignorance. A desire to stick one’s fingers in their ears and shout “La-La-La I can’t hear you”. Why a person would want to cripple their understanding of the universe and its wonders doesn’t make sense to me. But then I never understood the believers when I was raised by them and they attempted to indoctrinate me (some of it took and I’m still working that crap out of my system).

  • Pseudonym

    Mike, by all means, it’s yours.

    Seabhag:

    The problem with believing in a mythology instead of fact is that you have no footing to say that your belief is any more accurate than someone else’s.

    The real problem here (and most religionists do this too) is in thinking that religion is something that you “believe in”. I don’t think this actually makes a lot of sense. Religion should be something that you “do”.

    For the same reason, I have a real problem with asking if a religion is “accurate” or not. The only thing that I can positively claim about my religion (apart from, say, that it exists!) is that it works for me.

    Mythologies are excellent resources to investigate how our ancestors attempted to explain the world without a mechanism like science.

    I don’t propose to go over this again, but mythology has other important uses. As objects of study, they reveal something very deep about human psychology. Moreover, mythology has the power to inspire in a way that fiction which doesn’t model itself on mythology cannot.

    Did you ever wonder why there are a lot of scenes from classical mythology in Renaissance/Baroque art, even though nobody actually believed them? Archetypes are powerful.

    That, in my opinion, when applied to religion/mythology is horse shit.. We don’t go on a (or shouldn’t) psychic’s imaginings of how a crime took place.

    I don’t think anyone claimed we should. But that’s surely beside the point: we’re not trying to catch a criminal here.

    Oh, and a psychic’s imaginings aren’t “mythology”. I don’t want to knock imagination, because it is important, but mythology is far greater and more noble than mere imaginings.

    What I mean by “bringing into focus” is… OK, the example I used previously is satire. Take, for example George Orwell’s Animal Farm. On one level, it’s obviously untrue: There are no talking animals. On another level, it’s a deeply true story about certain events in the history of the Soviet Union. And at yet another level, it’s a deeply true story about the general corrupting nature of power and the fragility of idealism.

    If you were reading a retelling of the facts of the history of the Soviet Union, you might pick up on nuances, but then again, you might not. By telling a fictional story, you have a better understanding the point that Orwell was trying to make.

    That’s why art can reveal different kinds of truth than dry fact.

    To use mythology as a basis for living your life would be like believing that Atlantis really existed because a fictional character in one of Plato’s accounts describes hearing the legends of Atlantis.

    Do you really think that a bunch of historical facts is what is required for “a basis for living your life”?

    That side track taken; I’m going to assume that the mythology you pride yourself in believing is the Christian Myth.

    There you go with the “belief” again. I think that to understand liberal religion (in my case, Christianity), you really need to drop any preconceptions you have about what religion is.

    That is, that the Bible is literal and records what actually happened.

    If that were true, I’d call it “history”, which I did not.

    Maybe I can make this a bit more concrete. Let’s suppose that the Genesis creation story were literally true. We both know it’s not, but let’s suppose it for the sake of argument.

    My response to this is “so what”. What good does this knowledge do me? Essentially, none. If I want to know the history of the Earth, I can look at the Earth. Having it in ancient written form won’t change a thing.

    So even if it were true, its only use today is as allegory, as parable, as mythology.

    And no, it’s not just my mythology that this is true of. As I said earlier, the only thing I can positiviely claim about my religion is that it works for me. Your mileage may vary.

    Once it is no longer preferable to kill someone of a different belief system because you are totally right about your belief system and they are leading people to Hell (or Hel, or whatever your version of the ‘bad’ afterlife is), I think we’ll see a change in wars etc. [...] The belief in the afterlife is exactly why a mythology/religion is so dangerous.

    I don’t believe in “hell”. In fact, I don’t believe that a place of eternal punishment for humans is actually mentioned in the Bible at all. (You disagree? Feel free to prove me wrong, but it’s not a discussion that I want to waste a lot of time on.)

    In the church I grew up in, I didn’t hear the word “hell” mentioned once. And now that I think about it, I can’t recall very much, if at all, on an afterlife. Sermons tended to concentrate on what was relevant here and now, which, surely, is far more useful.

    Pseudonym, for all your attempts to come off as a liberal Christian; you sound more like the dominionists I grew up around, and less like the ‘liberal Christians’ I’ve heard tell of.

    Now that I’ve explained my beliefs a bit more, do you still think that?


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