Christian: Don’t Too Readily Dismiss the Rational Atheist

Generally speaking, atheists have championed what we Christians too readily surrender: the sacredness of thought that’s uncompromisingly rational and unapologetically independent.

Too often we believers commit the sin of intellectual indolence. The Bible is difficult to decipher—so we accept as (so to speak) gospel whatever our pastor tells us it says. A logically unassailable theology is difficult to reason through—so we substitute the clamorous fervor of emotion for the quiet discipline of studied comprehension. Understanding the evolution of our theology takes dedicated time and effort—so we rapturously focus on the future we can’t study rather than study the history we might.

Bringing to bear upon his speculations the full host of his powers, the rationalist is galvanized by a truth that Christians are long overdue embracing as divine: that it’s at the moment that you think you know everything that you know nothing.”

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About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is co-founder of The NALT Christians Project and founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here). His blog is here. His website is JohnShore.com. John is a pastor ordained by The Progressive Christian Alliance. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. And don't forget to sign up for his mucho awesome monthly newsletter.

  • Rich

    I now see the genius in writing Religion/Atheism posts! You're guaranteed at least two posts per thought. Working smarter, not harder…very nice.

    In response to this post itself, I think you're exactly right. All too often the extent of a Christian's rational thought is "God said it, I believe it, that settles it". (Side note…the middle part of that statement is superfluous…"God said it, that settles it"…but that's another post) As someone who grew up in that kind of teaching, I'm finding it an exciting–while also a little disconcerting–to begin to delve into my faith and understand exactly what I believe and why I believe it. I think that too many Christians equate questioning their faith with investigating their faith.

    • jes

      All too often the extent of a Christian’s rational thought is “God said it, I believe it, that settles it”.

      Those are the same sorts who may be heard to say such inanities as “If English was good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for me!”

  • Rich

    I now see the genius in writing Religion/Atheism posts! You're guaranteed at least two posts per thought. Working smarter, not harder…very nice.

    In response to this post itself, I think you're exactly right. All too often the extent of a Christian's rational thought is "God said it, I believe it, that settles it". (Side note…the middle part of that statement is superfluous…"God said it, that settles it"…but that's another post) As someone who grew up in that kind of teaching, I'm finding it an exciting–while also a little disconcerting–to begin to delve into my faith and understand exactly what I believe and why I believe it. I think that too many Christians equate questioning their faith with investigating their faith.

  • Mark Lattimore

    To quote Rob Bell (which I only do quite selectively)…

    Yep.

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

    Rich: ACTUALLY this kind of … parallell [sp?]/dual approach thing is HARDER to write than … a single … thing. But. Who cares? And your'e right, of course: we believers too readily equate questioning with doubting. And they ARE close–except they're so totally different.

    Mark: Thanks. (Rob Bell sure is popular, yes? I read his "Velvet Elvis.")

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

    Rich: ACTUALLY this kind of … parallell [sp?]/dual approach thing is HARDER to write than … a single … thing. But. Who cares? And your'e right, of course: we believers too readily equate questioning with doubting. And they ARE close–except they're so totally different.

    Mark: Thanks. (Rob Bell sure is popular, yes? I read his "Velvet Elvis.")

  • http://fvthinker.blogspot.com Mike (FVThinker) Bur

    "The moment you think you know everything, you know nothing."

    There is so much wisdom in that one sentence.

    • http://mine4thetaking.blogspot.com/ FreeFox

      I prefer the phrasing: “When you meet the Buddha, kill the Buddha.” But then, I’ve been told I still had a lot to learn from Jesus and Gandhi… ^_^

  • http://fvthinker.blogspot.com Mike (FVThinker) Bur

    "The moment you think you know everything, you know nothing."

    There is so much wisdom in that one sentence.

    • http://mine4thetaking.blogspot.com/ FreeFox

      I prefer the phrasing: “When you meet the Buddha, kill the Buddha.” But then, I’ve been told I still had a lot to learn from Jesus and Gandhi… ^_^

  • http://fvthinker.blogspot.com Mike (FVThinker) Bur

    "The moment you think you know everything, you know nothing."

    There is so much wisdom in that one sentence.

    • http://mine4thetaking.blogspot.com/ FreeFox

      I prefer the phrasing: “When you meet the Buddha, kill the Buddha.” But then, I’ve been told I still had a lot to learn from Jesus and Gandhi… ^_^

  • http://fvthinker.blogspot.com Mike (FVThinker) Bur

    Helllooooooo….. Is this blog on?

    It seems that you don't get much of an audience when your topic grants the non-believer a little slack. :-)

  • http://fvthinker.blogspot.com Mike (FVThinker) Bur

    Helllooooooo….. Is this blog on?

    It seems that you don't get much of an audience when your topic grants the non-believer a little slack. :-)

  • http://fvthinker.blogspot.com Mike (FVThinker) Bur

    Helllooooooo….. Is this blog on?

    It seems that you don't get much of an audience when your topic grants the non-believer a little slack. :-)

  • Rich

    Us four and no more, huh?

  • http://inkstainedpaws.blogspot.com casey

    as always, interesting post. but alas I fear I might have to start reading the dictionary just to understand the more specific points. Still suddenly hoping for a post on what christians want none christians to know. lol

  • http://inkstainedpaws.blogspot.com casey

    as always, interesting post. but alas I fear I might have to start reading the dictionary just to understand the more specific points. Still suddenly hoping for a post on what christians want none christians to know. lol

  • http://inkstainedpaws.blogspot.com casey

    as always, interesting post. but alas I fear I might have to start reading the dictionary just to understand the more specific points. Still suddenly hoping for a post on what christians want none christians to know. lol

  • Mark Lattimore

    John, don't you get it? Most Christians aren't responding because you used the word "evolution." That's as bad as saying "Catholics do it this way" at a Southern Baptist church. Know your audience, man!

  • Mark Lattimore

    John, don't you get it? Most Christians aren't responding because you used the word "evolution." That's as bad as saying "Catholics do it this way" at a Southern Baptist church. Know your audience, man!

  • http://skerrib.blogspot.com skerrib

    Maybe they were all touched so deeply that they converted, so there aren't any left? Man, I'm smart!!

  • http://skerrib.blogspot.com skerrib

    Maybe they were all touched so deeply that they converted, so there aren't any left? Man, I'm smart!!

  • brian walton

    I was digging it, John. Though I think you're right that your increase in verbosity might have scared some readers away. Maybe you should consider a four syllable limit?

    Here's another option. Maybe people aren't commenting because they are feeling convicted?

    Also, you channeled a little Socrates at the end. I was digging it.

  • brian walton

    I was digging it, John. Though I think you're right that your increase in verbosity might have scared some readers away. Maybe you should consider a four syllable limit?

    Here's another option. Maybe people aren't commenting because they are feeling convicted?

    Also, you channeled a little Socrates at the end. I was digging it.

  • http://fvthinker.blogspot.com Mike (FVThinker) Bur

    Don't modify things an iota John. I deem the commentary to be in jest. If not, then we are better served by those readers getting intimate with a dictionary as opposed to you writing to the lowest common denominator.

  • http://fvthinker.blogspot.com Mike (FVThinker) Bur

    Don't modify things an iota John. I deem the commentary to be in jest. If not, then we are better served by those readers getting intimate with a dictionary as opposed to you writing to the lowest common denominator.

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

    But … the lowest common denominator is … my whole milieu!! Them's my peeps!

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

    But … the lowest common denominator is … my whole milieu!! Them's my peeps!

  • natalie

    It’s not controversial.

  • natalie

    It’s not controversial.

  • natalie

    It’s not controversial.

  • Dan Harrell

    John, I read recently read that there are three degrees of doubt. The first called doubt, always leaves room for answers and hopes answers appear. The second is called skepticism. It supposes that there may not be any answers but still hopes that there may a surprise out there somewhere.

    The third is cynicism. Not only does it doubt there are answers, it actively seeks reasons not to believe.

    I tried not believing in electricity or love, but darn it, they were still there. For me, believing is having faith in the unseen, but I admit that I still have doubts. I may always have doubts, but sometimes, at least for me, that's part of being Christian.

  • Dan Harrell

    John, I read recently read that there are three degrees of doubt. The first called doubt, always leaves room for answers and hopes answers appear. The second is called skepticism. It supposes that there may not be any answers but still hopes that there may a surprise out there somewhere.

    The third is cynicism. Not only does it doubt there are answers, it actively seeks reasons not to believe.

    I tried not believing in electricity or love, but darn it, they were still there. For me, believing is having faith in the unseen, but I admit that I still have doubts. I may always have doubts, but sometimes, at least for me, that's part of being Christian.

  • Dan Harrell

    John, I read recently read that there are three degrees of doubt. The first called doubt, always leaves room for answers and hopes answers appear. The second is called skepticism. It supposes that there may not be any answers but still hopes that there may a surprise out there somewhere.

    The third is cynicism. Not only does it doubt there are answers, it actively seeks reasons not to believe.

    I tried not believing in electricity or love, but darn it, they were still there. For me, believing is having faith in the unseen, but I admit that I still have doubts. I may always have doubts, but sometimes, at least for me, that's part of being Christian.

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

    Ah. Right. Too many big words, AND not controversial. Double whammy. Too funny. Well, I’m happy to say the thing’s getting READ as much as I’d like.

    Still, though. LOTS of stuff I write isn’t controversial, and people always have one thing or another to say about it anyway.

    Maybe Christians don’t want to talk about the part of the rationalists world-view that IS good. Plus, here I DID criticize Christians. Maybe now they’re mad at me.

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

    Ah. Right. Too many big words, AND not controversial. Double whammy. Too funny. Well, I’m happy to say the thing’s getting READ as much as I’d like.

    Still, though. LOTS of stuff I write isn’t controversial, and people always have one thing or another to say about it anyway.

    Maybe Christians don’t want to talk about the part of the rationalists world-view that IS good. Plus, here I DID criticize Christians. Maybe now they’re mad at me.

  • Candace

    When I don't comment, it's generally because I agreed, feel I have nothing to add, and/or have no additional questions/thoughts on the post or the comments offered. Secondary reason would be if I have to think on it for a while. Rarely, it might be a time issue. Even MORE rarely, it's because there's such a glaring disconnect that there's no point in chiming in. That hardly ever happens.

  • Candace

    When I don't comment, it's generally because I agreed, feel I have nothing to add, and/or have no additional questions/thoughts on the post or the comments offered. Secondary reason would be if I have to think on it for a while. Rarely, it might be a time issue. Even MORE rarely, it's because there's such a glaring disconnect that there's no point in chiming in. That hardly ever happens.

  • http://megaloi.blogspot.com Redlefty

    I disagreed with blogger Dinesh D'Souza recently when he stated that believers can empathize with the atheistic view, but the atheists don't empathize with believers.

    Most believers I know don't leave any room for things they're not sure about. They know their faith is right. Just like atheists know their lack of faith is right. And both sides sit across from the table, staring…

    Your picture of the relationship, and commonalities, across all levels of faith is much more realistic, I think. And it's feel-good to boot!

    p.s. — I'm finally on facebook. So I'll join your thingy.

  • http://megaloi.blogspot.com Redlefty

    I disagreed with blogger Dinesh D'Souza recently when he stated that believers can empathize with the atheistic view, but the atheists don't empathize with believers.

    Most believers I know don't leave any room for things they're not sure about. They know their faith is right. Just like atheists know their lack of faith is right. And both sides sit across from the table, staring…

    Your picture of the relationship, and commonalities, across all levels of faith is much more realistic, I think. And it's feel-good to boot!

    p.s. — I'm finally on facebook. So I'll join your thingy.

  • http://megaloi.blogspot.com Redlefty

    I disagreed with blogger Dinesh D'Souza recently when he stated that believers can empathize with the atheistic view, but the atheists don't empathize with believers.

    Most believers I know don't leave any room for things they're not sure about. They know their faith is right. Just like atheists know their lack of faith is right. And both sides sit across from the table, staring…

    Your picture of the relationship, and commonalities, across all levels of faith is much more realistic, I think. And it's feel-good to boot!

    p.s. — I'm finally on facebook. So I'll join your thingy.

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

    Dan: I always really appreciat your humble, honest, open-hearted good nature. Very nice.

    Candace: That makes total sense. That's how I am, too.

    Redlefty: You're right: It IS fun to boot people. Wrong, but fun. (And what you've said is right, for sure. Though I sure DO experience a lot of the truth of what ol' Dinesh said there. I feel like I'm forever basically PROVING to atheists that I empathize and in some way even truly identify with their world view–and yet only very, very rarely do any of them ever not completely negate mine. But, whaddaya gonna do?

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

    Dan: I always really appreciat your humble, honest, open-hearted good nature. Very nice.

    Candace: That makes total sense. That's how I am, too.

    Redlefty: You're right: It IS fun to boot people. Wrong, but fun. (And what you've said is right, for sure. Though I sure DO experience a lot of the truth of what ol' Dinesh said there. I feel like I'm forever basically PROVING to atheists that I empathize and in some way even truly identify with their world view–and yet only very, very rarely do any of them ever not completely negate mine. But, whaddaya gonna do?

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

    Dan: I always really appreciat your humble, honest, open-hearted good nature. Very nice.

    Candace: That makes total sense. That's how I am, too.

    Redlefty: You're right: It IS fun to boot people. Wrong, but fun. (And what you've said is right, for sure. Though I sure DO experience a lot of the truth of what ol' Dinesh said there. I feel like I'm forever basically PROVING to atheists that I empathize and in some way even truly identify with their world view–and yet only very, very rarely do any of them ever not completely negate mine. But, whaddaya gonna do?

  • http://fvthinker.blogspot.com Mike (FVThinker) Bur

    Dinesh D'Souza triggers my gag reflex. Please try to not bring his name up again!! :-)

  • http://fvthinker.blogspot.com Mike (FVThinker) Bur

    Dinesh D'Souza triggers my gag reflex. Please try to not bring his name up again!! :-)

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

    I just re-read this piece. (Which, for me, is weird; for some bizarro reason I never go back and read stuff I’ve posted.) And now I AM wondering: Why aren’t any atheists/rationalists (except you, Mike Freebrain) showing me any love? They’re all OVER me if they think I’ve criticized them. And here I show them mondo support and respect, and … zilch.

    Snubbed by the godless. What next??!

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

    I just re-read this piece. (Which, for me, is weird; for some bizarro reason I never go back and read stuff I’ve posted.) And now I AM wondering: Why aren’t any atheists/rationalists (except you, Mike Freebrain) showing me any love? They’re all OVER me if they think I’ve criticized them. And here I show them mondo support and respect, and … zilch.

    Snubbed by the godless. What next??!

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

    I just re-read this piece. (Which, for me, is weird; for some bizarro reason I never go back and read stuff I’ve posted.) And now I AM wondering: Why aren’t any atheists/rationalists (except you, Mike Freebrain) showing me any love? They’re all OVER me if they think I’ve criticized them. And here I show them mondo support and respect, and … zilch.

    Snubbed by the godless. What next??!

  • http://odgie.wordpress.com odgie

    John,

    I always read what you post and always find it worth mulling over. I tend to save my comments for when I have something to say that hasn't already been touched upon. A string of "ditto"s and "yeah, what he said"s does not a great thread make.

    I appreciate your ongoing efforts to engage non-believers on your own blog. I attempt to do the same on my own blog and the blogs of others. Sometimes I enjoy it, but for now I feel a little burned out.

    I have always acknowledged that non-believers have valid points and raise important questions. Yet invariably what starts as discussion turns into a pissing contest. Christians are judged by the worst among us. It seems that sooner or later all believers are guilty of delusions, credulousness, racism, homophobia, misogyny and all other sorts of social ills, simply by association. Far too many insist on a zero-sum game and it has become tiresome.

    Oddly enough, I have almost never had an experience like that in the real world. I am in a social work graduate program (i'll finish in May) and profession that draws a very diverse collection of faiths and worldviews. Yet discussions almost never turn nasty. I don't know if I run with an unusually tolerant crowd or if the anonymity and distance of the blogosphere emboldens people to abandon even the most basic common courtesies in discussion. But after engaging with people of differing views so much in my daily life, I have little energy and less patience for doing it on the web.

    John, since you are a writer by trade this is obviously a forum where you can have great impact, and I commend you for doing so (and envy your talent). But I think that I will stick to doing it face-to-face; that seems to be what I have the aptitude for and I get the bonus of common courtesy. And I will always be reading and thinking about what you have to say, whether I comment or not.

    Regards,

    Odgie

  • http://odgie.wordpress.com odgie

    John,

    I always read what you post and always find it worth mulling over. I tend to save my comments for when I have something to say that hasn't already been touched upon. A string of "ditto"s and "yeah, what he said"s does not a great thread make.

    I appreciate your ongoing efforts to engage non-believers on your own blog. I attempt to do the same on my own blog and the blogs of others. Sometimes I enjoy it, but for now I feel a little burned out.

    I have always acknowledged that non-believers have valid points and raise important questions. Yet invariably what starts as discussion turns into a pissing contest. Christians are judged by the worst among us. It seems that sooner or later all believers are guilty of delusions, credulousness, racism, homophobia, misogyny and all other sorts of social ills, simply by association. Far too many insist on a zero-sum game and it has become tiresome.

    Oddly enough, I have almost never had an experience like that in the real world. I am in a social work graduate program (i'll finish in May) and profession that draws a very diverse collection of faiths and worldviews. Yet discussions almost never turn nasty. I don't know if I run with an unusually tolerant crowd or if the anonymity and distance of the blogosphere emboldens people to abandon even the most basic common courtesies in discussion. But after engaging with people of differing views so much in my daily life, I have little energy and less patience for doing it on the web.

    John, since you are a writer by trade this is obviously a forum where you can have great impact, and I commend you for doing so (and envy your talent). But I think that I will stick to doing it face-to-face; that seems to be what I have the aptitude for and I get the bonus of common courtesy. And I will always be reading and thinking about what you have to say, whether I comment or not.

    Regards,

    Odgie

  • FreetoBe

    Well, John, when you’re right, you are right ;-) So, our Christian friends are mulling this over, and our atheist friends are all elbowing each other, going “yeah, he’s right, see?”

    Anyway, good, thought-provoking blog for this Christian….may I be saved from ever thinking I know it all.

  • FreetoBe

    Well, John, when you’re right, you are right ;-) So, our Christian friends are mulling this over, and our atheist friends are all elbowing each other, going “yeah, he’s right, see?”

    Anyway, good, thought-provoking blog for this Christian….may I be saved from ever thinking I know it all.

  • FreetoBe

    Well, John, when you’re right, you are right ;-) So, our Christian friends are mulling this over, and our atheist friends are all elbowing each other, going “yeah, he’s right, see?”

    Anyway, good, thought-provoking blog for this Christian….may I be saved from ever thinking I know it all.

  • Lynn

    Not only are you a literary marksman John, but an equitable one. After enjoying your blog for more than several months I anticipate that you will balance the scales on some topics. And you do. I’m glad your approach is frosted [as in cookie frosting not as in cold] with a good sense of humor.

  • Lynn

    Not only are you a literary marksman John, but an equitable one. After enjoying your blog for more than several months I anticipate that you will balance the scales on some topics. And you do. I’m glad your approach is frosted [as in cookie frosting not as in cold] with a good sense of humor.

  • Candace

    For almost 10 years I have belonged to an e-group (discussing dogs and dog training) with 150-200 members. The person who founded the group made a rule from the get-go that every post by every participant had to be signed with the writer's (real) name (first and last), and the city, state and (if not a US resident) country of residence. New members have occasionally given her a very hard time about this, but it surely HAS — for the most part — kept the discussions civil. And there's not another similar group out there that has lasted as long, offers as much valuable information, or is in such high demand as hers. She'd have 1,000 members if she hadn't ended up having to severely limit access to keep the AR terrorists out. But that's a whole other (irrelevant to this venue) topic.

  • Candace

    For almost 10 years I have belonged to an e-group (discussing dogs and dog training) with 150-200 members. The person who founded the group made a rule from the get-go that every post by every participant had to be signed with the writer's (real) name (first and last), and the city, state and (if not a US resident) country of residence. New members have occasionally given her a very hard time about this, but it surely HAS — for the most part — kept the discussions civil. And there's not another similar group out there that has lasted as long, offers as much valuable information, or is in such high demand as hers. She'd have 1,000 members if she hadn't ended up having to severely limit access to keep the AR terrorists out. But that's a whole other (irrelevant to this venue) topic.

  • http://fvthinker.blogspot.com Mike (FVThinker) Bur

    I have my theories why the believer/non-believer thing is tiring for the believers, but not for the non-believer. Verbalizing them, alas, is almost sure to offend, thought it is not my intent to do so. If I were allowed to use big words [ :-) ], (and if I knew the appropriate big words) I might be able to add more nuance, but here goes…

    Even recognized here; believers acknowledge important and valid points are brought up by the non-believer. These might be considered rhetorical 'wins' by the non-believer. In my experience, the believer gets far far fewer of those wins (that may be generous). [ http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/2007/06/08/extra-extra-a... ]. It would be pretty darn fatiguing to me the other side was lobbing laser guided ordinance and all I had to throw back was dirt clods.

    At present; the Christians are in the majority in the U.S.. Christians can't really claim they are being treated unfairly. Christians can assume that the majority of their neighbors consider them [at least] good people. Christians are not kept from public service. Christians don't have much of an ax to grind. Non-believers don't live in quite the same environment even though we are demonstrably at least as moral, ethical, caring, inclusive, and intelligent as the Christian. This is a pretty significant motivator for a lot of non-believers to stay on-message.

    Public policy in the U.S. is increasingly influenced by religious ideology. Stem cell research, Intelligent Design, abortion rights (let's not go there), ceremonial bill recognizing Christianity, etc. etc.. In a Kentucky Courthouse/10 Commandments case, Justice Antoni Scalia (along with several others) said the following:

    With respect to public acknowledgment of religious belief, it is entirely clear from our Nation's historical practices that the Establishment Clause permits this disregard of polytheists and believers in unconcerned deities just as it permits the disregard of devout atheists"

    In a nutshell, a near-majority of our Supreme Court justices, say that our country, with 'religious liberty' as major tenet, think that we can dismiss the opinions of everyone except monotheists. Let us remember that our Constitution is only what the Supreme Court says it is. Thankfully, the ideologs, here, were in the dissenting (minority) opinion…but only by one justice. Notwithstanding Obama's other policy positions; probably the most important legacy he will have is to appoint justices that are not driven by religious ideology.

    Why are we not weary? Because it is important.

  • http://fvthinker.blogspot.com Mike (FVThinker) Bur

    I have my theories why the believer/non-believer thing is tiring for the believers, but not for the non-believer. Verbalizing them, alas, is almost sure to offend, thought it is not my intent to do so. If I were allowed to use big words [ :-) ], (and if I knew the appropriate big words) I might be able to add more nuance, but here goes…

    Even recognized here; believers acknowledge important and valid points are brought up by the non-believer. These might be considered rhetorical 'wins' by the non-believer. In my experience, the believer gets far far fewer of those wins (that may be generous). [ http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/2007/06/08/extra-extra-a... ]. It would be pretty darn fatiguing to me the other side was lobbing laser guided ordinance and all I had to throw back was dirt clods.

    At present; the Christians are in the majority in the U.S.. Christians can't really claim they are being treated unfairly. Christians can assume that the majority of their neighbors consider them [at least] good people. Christians are not kept from public service. Christians don't have much of an ax to grind. Non-believers don't live in quite the same environment even though we are demonstrably at least as moral, ethical, caring, inclusive, and intelligent as the Christian. This is a pretty significant motivator for a lot of non-believers to stay on-message.

    Public policy in the U.S. is increasingly influenced by religious ideology. Stem cell research, Intelligent Design, abortion rights (let's not go there), ceremonial bill recognizing Christianity, etc. etc.. In a Kentucky Courthouse/10 Commandments case, Justice Antoni Scalia (along with several others) said the following:

    With respect to public acknowledgment of religious belief, it is entirely clear from our Nation's historical practices that the Establishment Clause permits this disregard of polytheists and believers in unconcerned deities just as it permits the disregard of devout atheists"

    In a nutshell, a near-majority of our Supreme Court justices, say that our country, with 'religious liberty' as major tenet, think that we can dismiss the opinions of everyone except monotheists. Let us remember that our Constitution is only what the Supreme Court says it is. Thankfully, the ideologs, here, were in the dissenting (minority) opinion…but only by one justice. Notwithstanding Obama's other policy positions; probably the most important legacy he will have is to appoint justices that are not driven by religious ideology.

    Why are we not weary? Because it is important.

  • Candace

    Oh, and maybe what I posted the other day (asking “what’s the point?”) was really my way of saying: Doesn’t the whole Atheist vs. Christian thing get awfully wearying?

    So yes, apparently, it does. Still worth talking about though, and I definitely admire you for being willing and persistent in hosting the conversation on an ongoing basis. God’s working, John. No small thing.

  • Candace

    Oh, and maybe what I posted the other day (asking “what’s the point?”) was really my way of saying: Doesn’t the whole Atheist vs. Christian thing get awfully wearying?

    So yes, apparently, it does. Still worth talking about though, and I definitely admire you for being willing and persistent in hosting the conversation on an ongoing basis. God’s working, John. No small thing.

  • http://fvthinker.blogspot.com Mike (FVThinker) Bur

    Certainly abortion has arguments that that are both theistic and non-theistic. The idea of late-term abortions seems abhorrent to me. My concern is that the argument against abortion 'in any form' seems strictly religious. I have yet to hear a non-ideological argument against embryonic stem cell research.

    Odgie said: There seems to be this idea that the human race would be free of prejudice, war, and illness if not for all of the mouth-breathing, slope-browed religious folk.

    I suppose there might be a few that think a utopia would result in the absence of religion, but I don't know any. At best, it would be one less reason for good people to do bad things.

    So should I go blog over at http://www.godhatesfags.com instead of Suddenly Christian. I am sorry, but to address the "slope-browed religious folk" there, it is important that the moderates realize that they work from the same owners manual and there are no wrong interpretations of the Bible. Demanding respect for the belief system of the progressive is tacit protection for the primitive.

    I fully acknowledge the valid points that Christians make…each and every time they repeatedly bring up those valid points. Does religion have the potential to help the individual? Yes. Does religion have the potential to give comfort to the sick and dying? Yes. (you may continue the list if you like). I am more concerned with what is factually true. Realize that no argument that has been forthcoming has demonstrated anything more that 'effectiveness' of the belief system. This decidedly different than being 'factually true'.

    It takes little effort to come up with an 'effective' religious narrative. If we made up a religion that said "if you do not study hard in math and science, demons will invade and eat your internal organs." We would necessarily benefit from a population more literate in the math and science, but do the means justify the ends? I would say no.

  • http://fvthinker.blogspot.com Mike (FVThinker) Bur

    Certainly abortion has arguments that that are both theistic and non-theistic. The idea of late-term abortions seems abhorrent to me. My concern is that the argument against abortion 'in any form' seems strictly religious. I have yet to hear a non-ideological argument against embryonic stem cell research.

    Odgie said: There seems to be this idea that the human race would be free of prejudice, war, and illness if not for all of the mouth-breathing, slope-browed religious folk.

    I suppose there might be a few that think a utopia would result in the absence of religion, but I don't know any. At best, it would be one less reason for good people to do bad things.

    So should I go blog over at http://www.godhatesfags.com instead of Suddenly Christian. I am sorry, but to address the "slope-browed religious folk" there, it is important that the moderates realize that they work from the same owners manual and there are no wrong interpretations of the Bible. Demanding respect for the belief system of the progressive is tacit protection for the primitive.

    I fully acknowledge the valid points that Christians make…each and every time they repeatedly bring up those valid points. Does religion have the potential to help the individual? Yes. Does religion have the potential to give comfort to the sick and dying? Yes. (you may continue the list if you like). I am more concerned with what is factually true. Realize that no argument that has been forthcoming has demonstrated anything more that 'effectiveness' of the belief system. This decidedly different than being 'factually true'.

    It takes little effort to come up with an 'effective' religious narrative. If we made up a religion that said "if you do not study hard in math and science, demons will invade and eat your internal organs." We would necessarily benefit from a population more literate in the math and science, but do the means justify the ends? I would say no.

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

    Odgie: Beautiful.

    Mike: I couldn't actually follow too exactly what you were meaning to say here. But … it's probably just me.

  • http://fvthinker.blogspot.com Mike (FVThinker) Bur

    Should'a done more quoting of odgie as it was a response to him.

  • http://fvthinker.blogspot.com Mike (FVThinker) Bur

    Should'a done more quoting of odgie as it was a response to him.

  • http://odgie.wordpress.com odgie

    Mike,

    Please note that I said tiresome, not tiring. Acknowledging when your opponent has a point is intellectual honesty, not a concession of the discussion. Just because atheists refuse to acknowledge when a Christian makes a valid point doesn’t mean that the Christian doesn’t have one (such as John’s prior post). As to your comments on religious influence in society and culture, it probably won’t do any good that neither John nor any of his Christian readers wants to live in a theocracy, so you are arguing that point in the wrong place. Regardless of history, anybody who makes an honest reading of the New Testament can’t come away thinking that Christianity is supposed to be a state religion.

    I keep hearing about the axes that atheists have to grind. Yet your agendas are as varied and muddled as any religious group. Some seem to want nothing more than a level playing field. Okay, fair enough. Others seem to want to silence all people of faith – to run them out of academia and the public square. There seems to be this idea that the human race would be free of prejudice, war, and illness if not for all of the mouth-breathing, slope-browed religious folk.

    The issues that you bring up: abortion, stem cell research, etc. can be argued from both sides without even bringing religion into it. Do atheists really think that there are no ethical quandaries in these issues aside from religious ones?

  • http://odgie.wordpress.com odgie

    Mike,

    Please note that I said tiresome, not tiring. Acknowledging when your opponent has a point is intellectual honesty, not a concession of the discussion. Just because atheists refuse to acknowledge when a Christian makes a valid point doesn’t mean that the Christian doesn’t have one (such as John’s prior post). As to your comments on religious influence in society and culture, it probably won’t do any good that neither John nor any of his Christian readers wants to live in a theocracy, so you are arguing that point in the wrong place. Regardless of history, anybody who makes an honest reading of the New Testament can’t come away thinking that Christianity is supposed to be a state religion.

    I keep hearing about the axes that atheists have to grind. Yet your agendas are as varied and muddled as any religious group. Some seem to want nothing more than a level playing field. Okay, fair enough. Others seem to want to silence all people of faith – to run them out of academia and the public square. There seems to be this idea that the human race would be free of prejudice, war, and illness if not for all of the mouth-breathing, slope-browed religious folk.

    The issues that you bring up: abortion, stem cell research, etc. can be argued from both sides without even bringing religion into it. Do atheists really think that there are no ethical quandaries in these issues aside from religious ones?

  • http://odgie.wordpress.com odgie

    Mike,

    Please note that I said tiresome, not tiring. Acknowledging when your opponent has a point is intellectual honesty, not a concession of the discussion. Just because atheists refuse to acknowledge when a Christian makes a valid point doesn’t mean that the Christian doesn’t have one (such as John’s prior post). As to your comments on religious influence in society and culture, it probably won’t do any good that neither John nor any of his Christian readers wants to live in a theocracy, so you are arguing that point in the wrong place. Regardless of history, anybody who makes an honest reading of the New Testament can’t come away thinking that Christianity is supposed to be a state religion.

    I keep hearing about the axes that atheists have to grind. Yet your agendas are as varied and muddled as any religious group. Some seem to want nothing more than a level playing field. Okay, fair enough. Others seem to want to silence all people of faith – to run them out of academia and the public square. There seems to be this idea that the human race would be free of prejudice, war, and illness if not for all of the mouth-breathing, slope-browed religious folk.

    The issues that you bring up: abortion, stem cell research, etc. can be argued from both sides without even bringing religion into it. Do atheists really think that there are no ethical quandaries in these issues aside from religious ones?

  • http://odgie.wordpress.com odgie

    Mike,

    There is no magic trick to interpreting the Bible – just hard work, and it starts with regard for the fact that the books are varied in genre, context, and intent. The trick is in the application of scripture now, 2000+ years removed from the original context. And like any other work, it has to be studied in whole. Of course, nobody gets the interpretation or application perfect – but some are closer than others. To use your example: The "God Hates Fags" folks have seized on one issue (that is only mentioned 9 times in the entirety of scripture) and built their whole religion around it. Of course, they also say that God hates Catholics, actors, and pretty much anyone that Fred Phelps happens to hate. Attempting to sanctify their hate by putting God's name on it doesn't make it a valid interpretation of scripture. I believe that the 3rd commandment addresses such uses of God's name.

    I don't expect you or any other atheist to take this seriously, but Jesus said that his followers should be known by the fruits of their labor. If you want to know who is getting the Christian faith "right" (or as close to right as anyone can hope to be) look at the results of what they do – are they feeding the poor, caring for the beleagured, friends to the friendless; or are they causing fear and strife?

  • http://odgie.wordpress.com odgie

    Mike,

    There is no magic trick to interpreting the Bible – just hard work, and it starts with regard for the fact that the books are varied in genre, context, and intent. The trick is in the application of scripture now, 2000+ years removed from the original context. And like any other work, it has to be studied in whole. Of course, nobody gets the interpretation or application perfect – but some are closer than others. To use your example: The "God Hates Fags" folks have seized on one issue (that is only mentioned 9 times in the entirety of scripture) and built their whole religion around it. Of course, they also say that God hates Catholics, actors, and pretty much anyone that Fred Phelps happens to hate. Attempting to sanctify their hate by putting God's name on it doesn't make it a valid interpretation of scripture. I believe that the 3rd commandment addresses such uses of God's name.

    I don't expect you or any other atheist to take this seriously, but Jesus said that his followers should be known by the fruits of their labor. If you want to know who is getting the Christian faith "right" (or as close to right as anyone can hope to be) look at the results of what they do – are they feeding the poor, caring for the beleagured, friends to the friendless; or are they causing fear and strife?

  • http://odgie.wordpress.com odgie

    Mike,

    There is no magic trick to interpreting the Bible – just hard work, and it starts with regard for the fact that the books are varied in genre, context, and intent. The trick is in the application of scripture now, 2000+ years removed from the original context. And like any other work, it has to be studied in whole. Of course, nobody gets the interpretation or application perfect – but some are closer than others. To use your example: The "God Hates Fags" folks have seized on one issue (that is only mentioned 9 times in the entirety of scripture) and built their whole religion around it. Of course, they also say that God hates Catholics, actors, and pretty much anyone that Fred Phelps happens to hate. Attempting to sanctify their hate by putting God's name on it doesn't make it a valid interpretation of scripture. I believe that the 3rd commandment addresses such uses of God's name.

    I don't expect you or any other atheist to take this seriously, but Jesus said that his followers should be known by the fruits of their labor. If you want to know who is getting the Christian faith "right" (or as close to right as anyone can hope to be) look at the results of what they do – are they feeding the poor, caring for the beleagured, friends to the friendless; or are they causing fear and strife?

  • http://inkstainedpaws.blogspot.com casey

    like mother teresa? she’s pretty well known in the christian circle. Or the obama minister dude….

  • http://inkstainedpaws.blogspot.com casey

    like mother teresa? she’s pretty well known in the christian circle. Or the obama minister dude….

  • http://inkstainedpaws.blogspot.com casey

    like mother teresa? she’s pretty well known in the christian circle. Or the obama minister dude….

  • http://fvthinker.blogspot.com Mike (FVThinker) Bur

    Don't get me wrong Odgie. I give props to any organization that provides the social services you mention. It is an unfortunate reality that non-believers don't have a club where we get together and can organize such efforts. After all, there are not organizations that meet based on their non-belief in Zeus…it is the same with Jesus. Many of the teachings of the main protagonist in the Bible are admirable. But so are the main protagonists in 'To Kill a Mockingbird' and the 'It's a Wonderful Life'. My point being that good deeds done in the name of Jesus does not make Jesus real. Hamas does good deeds in the name of Mohammed and you and I both know that he doesn't exist (in the supernatural sense). Others do good in the name of Krishna.

    As far as the interpretation of the Bible, I think you make my point. While I don't disagree with your characterization of the Fred Phelp types; you claim to know that you are [more] right than other groups interpreting the text…but have no basis to claim so. My point (made repeatedly) is that interpretations are interpretations and there are none are right or wrong. Looking at an impressionist painting; you might see a boat while I might see a tree and neither of us are wrong. Some read 'To Kill a Mockingbird' and see a girl coming of age and learning about compassion while I see a single parent doing the best he can in raising his child.

    My assessment is that the frightening people are those that read the their holy texts literally. The progressives are those that dismiss more of the text when it doesn't jive what we know innately.

    We have been interpreting the Bible (or its components) for 1400 to 1900 years. If there was a right and wrong interpretation, I think we would have landed on it by now.

  • http://fvthinker.blogspot.com Mike (FVThinker) Bur

    Don't get me wrong Odgie. I give props to any organization that provides the social services you mention. It is an unfortunate reality that non-believers don't have a club where we get together and can organize such efforts. After all, there are not organizations that meet based on their non-belief in Zeus…it is the same with Jesus. Many of the teachings of the main protagonist in the Bible are admirable. But so are the main protagonists in 'To Kill a Mockingbird' and the 'It's a Wonderful Life'. My point being that good deeds done in the name of Jesus does not make Jesus real. Hamas does good deeds in the name of Mohammed and you and I both know that he doesn't exist (in the supernatural sense). Others do good in the name of Krishna.

    As far as the interpretation of the Bible, I think you make my point. While I don't disagree with your characterization of the Fred Phelp types; you claim to know that you are [more] right than other groups interpreting the text…but have no basis to claim so. My point (made repeatedly) is that interpretations are interpretations and there are none are right or wrong. Looking at an impressionist painting; you might see a boat while I might see a tree and neither of us are wrong. Some read 'To Kill a Mockingbird' and see a girl coming of age and learning about compassion while I see a single parent doing the best he can in raising his child.

    My assessment is that the frightening people are those that read the their holy texts literally. The progressives are those that dismiss more of the text when it doesn't jive what we know innately.

    We have been interpreting the Bible (or its components) for 1400 to 1900 years. If there was a right and wrong interpretation, I think we would have landed on it by now.

  • http://odgie.wordpress.com odgie

    Mike,

    I don’t think that you are dismissing good works. My point about interpretation and application is that we do this with everything we read, and there are interpretations that make sense and interpretations that don’t.

    To borrow your example (again): Both of the understandings you mentioned of “To Kill A Mockingbird” are valid. But suppose I told you that the book is actually about how Boo Radley is an alien and saving Jim and Scout at the end of the book is a part of his world’s plot to take over our world – and insisted that my theory is the subtext of the entire novel. You would laugh yourself into a hernia, and rightly so. While neither of the interpretations of “…Mockingbird” that you gave are the only reasonable ones, they are a lot closer than my example, wouldn’t you say?

    And I think that this same principle applies to the Bible.

  • http://fvthinker.blogspot.com Mike (FVThinker) Bur

    I will never think of 'Mockingbird' the same again!! :-)

  • http://fvthinker.blogspot.com Mike (FVThinker) Bur

    I will never think of 'Mockingbird' the same again!! :-)

  • http://brianjwalton.wordpress.com/ brianjwalton

    I have to agree with Odgie. To argue that no interpretation is right or wrong places the bible into a method of interpretation that no textual critic ever uses for any other text. The bible is not a novel and is not a painting, it is a historical document with real authors living in real times with real cultural beliefs that allow for a vast amount of data for textual criticism.

    Here's one example. We know that the New testament writers were not gnostics because we know that gnosticism was mostly a melding of neo-platonic philosophy with Christianity that arrived primarily in the 2nd or 3rd century. In other words, well after the time of the NT writers.

  • http://brianjwalton.wordpress.com/ brianjwalton

    I have to agree with Odgie. To argue that no interpretation is right or wrong places the bible into a method of interpretation that no textual critic ever uses for any other text. The bible is not a novel and is not a painting, it is a historical document with real authors living in real times with real cultural beliefs that allow for a vast amount of data for textual criticism.

    Here's one example. We know that the New testament writers were not gnostics because we know that gnosticism was mostly a melding of neo-platonic philosophy with Christianity that arrived primarily in the 2nd or 3rd century. In other words, well after the time of the NT writers.

  • http://fvthinker.blogspot.com Mike (FVThinker) Bur

    What you describe, Brian, is completely subjective though. It is 'right' if you think it is right and it is 'wrong' if you think it is wrong. I don't disagree that the Bible allows for textual criticism. MAN, does it allow for textual criticism!!

    Let's see. Authors writing about events after they have ostensibly died. Authors separated by as much as 600 years from the events described. Chock full of contradictions. The all-loving god committing horrible genocides. Yes. There is a vast amount of data for textual criticism.

    For a quick read, pick up American patriot Thomas Paine's "The Age of Reason". Have some fun poking around at http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/ . You can watch an excellent program on the archeological history of the Bible at http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/bible/ .

  • http://fvthinker.blogspot.com Mike (FVThinker) Bur

    What you describe, Brian, is completely subjective though. It is 'right' if you think it is right and it is 'wrong' if you think it is wrong. I don't disagree that the Bible allows for textual criticism. MAN, does it allow for textual criticism!!

    Let's see. Authors writing about events after they have ostensibly died. Authors separated by as much as 600 years from the events described. Chock full of contradictions. The all-loving god committing horrible genocides. Yes. There is a vast amount of data for textual criticism.

    For a quick read, pick up American patriot Thomas Paine's "The Age of Reason". Have some fun poking around at http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/ . You can watch an excellent program on the archeological history of the Bible at http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/bible/ .

  • http://brianjwalton.wordpress.com/ brianjwalton

    There is certainly a degree of subjectivity, but to call it completely subjective is unscientific and absurd.

    "Authors writing about events after they have ostensibly died."

    I don't know anyone that ever demanded a book of the bible have a single author, or why inspiration is any less plausible by, say, a scribe assisting John in his writing.

    "Authors separated by as much as 600 years from the events described."

    Oral history, especially that practiced by the Jews, had a high degree of certainty. The authors also claim to be inspired by God for the most part. If you are not at least willing to accept that as a foundational claim for the sake of debate, I don't know what the point of debating is.

    "Chock full of contradictions."

    I would be more worried if a group of historical documents over two thousand years had absolutely no contradictions. That would sound more like tampering then anything else.

    "The all-loving god committing horrible genocides."

    Admittedly the hardest part to swallow. But all loving goes hand in hand with totally just. If you understand the concept of depravity, then God's mercy comes suddenly into focus. You might ask, why would a God want to destroy his creation? Well, I would ask, what should God do to a creation in total rebellion.

    "Yes. There is a vast amount of data for textual criticism."

    My favorite argument FOR the truth of the bible is that its unity vastly outweighs any large number of relatively insignificant contradictions thrown its way. For instance, the three hundred prophecies fulfilled by Christ.

    Sorry for the long and certainly boring response, but you must admit that you threw the "kitchen sink" argument my way.

    (a large amount of the claims at the skeptics site are simply based on a bad understanding theology. It's simply uncharitable in argument to fail to accurately represent the opposition's point of view, isn't it?)

  • http://brianjwalton.wordpress.com/ brianjwalton

    There is certainly a degree of subjectivity, but to call it completely subjective is unscientific and absurd.

    "Authors writing about events after they have ostensibly died."

    I don't know anyone that ever demanded a book of the bible have a single author, or why inspiration is any less plausible by, say, a scribe assisting John in his writing.

    "Authors separated by as much as 600 years from the events described."

    Oral history, especially that practiced by the Jews, had a high degree of certainty. The authors also claim to be inspired by God for the most part. If you are not at least willing to accept that as a foundational claim for the sake of debate, I don't know what the point of debating is.

    "Chock full of contradictions."

    I would be more worried if a group of historical documents over two thousand years had absolutely no contradictions. That would sound more like tampering then anything else.

    "The all-loving god committing horrible genocides."

    Admittedly the hardest part to swallow. But all loving goes hand in hand with totally just. If you understand the concept of depravity, then God's mercy comes suddenly into focus. You might ask, why would a God want to destroy his creation? Well, I would ask, what should God do to a creation in total rebellion.

    "Yes. There is a vast amount of data for textual criticism."

    My favorite argument FOR the truth of the bible is that its unity vastly outweighs any large number of relatively insignificant contradictions thrown its way. For instance, the three hundred prophecies fulfilled by Christ.

    Sorry for the long and certainly boring response, but you must admit that you threw the "kitchen sink" argument my way.

    (a large amount of the claims at the skeptics site are simply based on a bad understanding theology. It's simply uncharitable in argument to fail to accurately represent the opposition's point of view, isn't it?)

  • http://fvthinker.blogspot.com Mike (FVThinker) Bur

    Brian,

    [Most of] the following is spoken tongue-in-cheek.

    I just assumed that "the gospel according to Luke" meant 'by (i.e.) Luke' not 'by Luke and his personal assistants'.

    If you play the game of telephone as a parlor game, you should know that a story can get totally munged in the span of half a can of soda…and you claim oral history is reliable over centuries?!?!?

    Funny, there are no contradictions in the math books that define the square root of two. I suppose the detectives like it when they get different stories from multiple witnesses. I had it all wrong. It is conflicting stories that get me closer to the truth! What have I been thinking?

    Re: genocide: I don't have time for an essay on that. You would have been better off dismissing the OT as fables like most contemporary religions do to sweep away the indefensible. Never mind that they weren't fables until very, very recently.

    Prophesies: Wow! It has been a long while since that chestnut has been pulled out. I was thinking that there were no more prophesy believers. Seriously…dude…you should really look at this stuff. 'Prophesies' sufficiently vague that they could be interpreted as having come to pass myriad times…or ALWAYS. Scholarship that shows some 'prophesies' were written down AFTER the event in an effort to garner credibility for the author. Scientists don't dismiss the prophesies because 'it conflicts with their atheistic/naturalistic worldview'. They dismiss the prophesies because they mean nothing. Anyone who could identify a real, precise prophesy (i.e. an accurate accounting of the structure of our universe or even MENTIONING the existence of microorganisms) would have given a lot of people something to consider…myself included.

    So there you go Brian. Any sliver of good will and I might have had here on this blog is gone because I had to respond to you. :-) I wish I could bite my tongue on this sometimes. But as Thomas Jefferson said "Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions."

    Now John might block me.

  • http://fvthinker.blogspot.com Mike (FVThinker) Bur

    Brian,

    [Most of] the following is spoken tongue-in-cheek.

    I just assumed that "the gospel according to Luke" meant 'by (i.e.) Luke' not 'by Luke and his personal assistants'.

    If you play the game of telephone as a parlor game, you should know that a story can get totally munged in the span of half a can of soda…and you claim oral history is reliable over centuries?!?!?

    Funny, there are no contradictions in the math books that define the square root of two. I suppose the detectives like it when they get different stories from multiple witnesses. I had it all wrong. It is conflicting stories that get me closer to the truth! What have I been thinking?

    Re: genocide: I don't have time for an essay on that. You would have been better off dismissing the OT as fables like most contemporary religions do to sweep away the indefensible. Never mind that they weren't fables until very, very recently.

    Prophesies: Wow! It has been a long while since that chestnut has been pulled out. I was thinking that there were no more prophesy believers. Seriously…dude…you should really look at this stuff. 'Prophesies' sufficiently vague that they could be interpreted as having come to pass myriad times…or ALWAYS. Scholarship that shows some 'prophesies' were written down AFTER the event in an effort to garner credibility for the author. Scientists don't dismiss the prophesies because 'it conflicts with their atheistic/naturalistic worldview'. They dismiss the prophesies because they mean nothing. Anyone who could identify a real, precise prophesy (i.e. an accurate accounting of the structure of our universe or even MENTIONING the existence of microorganisms) would have given a lot of people something to consider…myself included.

    So there you go Brian. Any sliver of good will and I might have had here on this blog is gone because I had to respond to you. :-) I wish I could bite my tongue on this sometimes. But as Thomas Jefferson said "Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions."

    Now John might block me.

  • http://brianjwalton.wordpress.com/ brianjwalton

    Well, I'm sorry to hear that my response has had such a drastic affect on your good will. I didn't realize I had such a power. ON another note, I do find your criteria for precise prophesy enormously interesting. The Greeks came up with the atom well before microscopes. Does that count? The psalms similarly talked about an expanding universe, although the six day creation thing does kind of set that neat tidbit in a bad light, doesn't it?

  • http://fvthinker.blogspot.com Mike (FVThinker) Bur

    Unfortunately, Greek atomic theory was wrong. I would not call it prophetic that one could say that stuff was made up of smaller stuff. We could tell that a stick was made up of wood fibers. And we could tell those wood fibers had some fibrous components and some fluid components. It seems eminently logical that pretty much anyone contemplating matter could arrive at the conclusion that everything is made of of really, really small things. Leucippus and Democritus posited that atoms were the smallest, indivisible building blocks of matter. We now know that to be false.

    That said; atomic structure is still 'just a theory'. We have never seen an atom. The closest we have come is indistinct bumps in a crystal of gold. http://www.eurekalert.org/multimedia/pub/6600.php

    Neils Bohr developed a theoretical model of the atom that is breathtakingly accurate in making predictions about how that matter behaves, but it is 'just a theory'.

    Re: the universe and creation: See?!?! You really need to let go of the Old Testament like most current denominations do. With that one act, you can sweep away a lot of the indefensible parts of God's Word! God won't mind…trust me! :-)

    • Matthew Tweedell

      Re: “Leucippus and Democritus posited that atoms were the smallest, indivisible building blocks of matter. We now know that to be false.”

      Actually, it your claim we know to be false. Rather, we happen to have come to now call an “atom” something that is in fact divisible and therefore simply not in fact what ancient Greeks had been referring to as “ἄτομος “. This is the sort of error that happens, however, when we judge by mere appearances.

  • http://fvthinker.blogspot.com Mike (FVThinker) Bur

    Unfortunately, Greek atomic theory was wrong. I would not call it prophetic that one could say that stuff was made up of smaller stuff. We could tell that a stick was made up of wood fibers. And we could tell those wood fibers had some fibrous components and some fluid components. It seems eminently logical that pretty much anyone contemplating matter could arrive at the conclusion that everything is made of of really, really small things. Leucippus and Democritus posited that atoms were the smallest, indivisible building blocks of matter. We now know that to be false.

    That said; atomic structure is still 'just a theory'. We have never seen an atom. The closest we have come is indistinct bumps in a crystal of gold. http://www.eurekalert.org/multimedia/pub/6600.php

    Neils Bohr developed a theoretical model of the atom that is breathtakingly accurate in making predictions about how that matter behaves, but it is 'just a theory'.

    Re: the universe and creation: See?!?! You really need to let go of the Old Testament like most current denominations do. With that one act, you can sweep away a lot of the indefensible parts of God's Word! God won't mind…trust me! :-)

  • http://fvthinker.blogspot.com Mike (FVThinker) Bur

    Unfortunately, Greek atomic theory was wrong. I would not call it prophetic that one could say that stuff was made up of smaller stuff. We could tell that a stick was made up of wood fibers. And we could tell those wood fibers had some fibrous components and some fluid components. It seems eminently logical that pretty much anyone contemplating matter could arrive at the conclusion that everything is made of of really, really small things. Leucippus and Democritus posited that atoms were the smallest, indivisible building blocks of matter. We now know that to be false.

    That said; atomic structure is still 'just a theory'. We have never seen an atom. The closest we have come is indistinct bumps in a crystal of gold. http://www.eurekalert.org/multimedia/pub/6600.php

    Neils Bohr developed a theoretical model of the atom that is breathtakingly accurate in making predictions about how that matter behaves, but it is 'just a theory'.

    Re: the universe and creation: See?!?! You really need to let go of the Old Testament like most current denominations do. With that one act, you can sweep away a lot of the indefensible parts of God's Word! God won't mind…trust me! :-)

    • Matthew Tweedell

      Re: “Leucippus and Democritus posited that atoms were the smallest, indivisible building blocks of matter. We now know that to be false.”

      Actually, it your claim we know to be false. Rather, we happen to have come to now call an “atom” something that is in fact divisible and therefore simply not in fact what ancient Greeks had been referring to as “ἄτομος “. This is the sort of error that happens, however, when we judge by mere appearances.

  • http://brianjwalton.wordpress.com/ brianjwalton

    "Re: the universe and creation: See?!?! You really need to let go of the Old Testament like most current denominations do. With that one act, you can sweep away a lot of the indefensible parts of God’s Word! God won’t mind…trust me!"

    Well, in lieu of something more then just strong encouragement, I will refrain for now with simply "sweeping it away." After all, a proper theology of the NT demands that you take the OT seriously. Parsing the words of Jesus to ignore his appraisal of the Mosaic law might still allow for some good inspirational reading from the other bits, but it is bad scholarship and even worse theology.

    As for authorship and prophecy and whatnot, I find your wholesale dismissal to be a little simplistic and uncharitable. I could go on and on about modern research and findings, but I assume you are at least aware of their existence. I can assure you that the book is not closed on these arguments, just like they haven't been despite Thomas Paine's insistence so many years ago. But since you gave me the privilege of reading a new book, I'll give you one as well.

    CS Lewis's "On Miracles" is one of the three books that has impacted my faith the most. He's a much smarter man then I and gives one of the best arguments for the supernatural that I have ever seen. It's a good read.

  • http://brianjwalton.wordpress.com/ brianjwalton

    "Re: the universe and creation: See?!?! You really need to let go of the Old Testament like most current denominations do. With that one act, you can sweep away a lot of the indefensible parts of God’s Word! God won’t mind…trust me!"

    Well, in lieu of something more then just strong encouragement, I will refrain for now with simply "sweeping it away." After all, a proper theology of the NT demands that you take the OT seriously. Parsing the words of Jesus to ignore his appraisal of the Mosaic law might still allow for some good inspirational reading from the other bits, but it is bad scholarship and even worse theology.

    As for authorship and prophecy and whatnot, I find your wholesale dismissal to be a little simplistic and uncharitable. I could go on and on about modern research and findings, but I assume you are at least aware of their existence. I can assure you that the book is not closed on these arguments, just like they haven't been despite Thomas Paine's insistence so many years ago. But since you gave me the privilege of reading a new book, I'll give you one as well.

    CS Lewis's "On Miracles" is one of the three books that has impacted my faith the most. He's a much smarter man then I and gives one of the best arguments for the supernatural that I have ever seen. It's a good read.

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

    (Mike: Don’t worry; I won’t ban you. Why would I? My Ban Rule is pretty simple: Dont’ be an ass. You never are. So many, of course, use the anonymity of the web to be way snarkier and nastier than they’d ever dare be in real life. THOSE people I lose. But you’re always kind and respectful.)

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

    (Mike: Don’t worry; I won’t ban you. Why would I? My Ban Rule is pretty simple: Dont’ be an ass. You never are. So many, of course, use the anonymity of the web to be way snarkier and nastier than they’d ever dare be in real life. THOSE people I lose. But you’re always kind and respectful.)

  • http://fvthinker.blogspot.com Mike (FVThinker) Bur

    John,

    I so tooootaly feel like a 'd**k' when responding to Brian. So much so that I wondered if you were being sarcastic in your last comment. But then…you didn't block me…so maybe you weren't being sarcastic. :-)

  • http://fvthinker.blogspot.com Mike (FVThinker) Burns

    It is not important that every single prophesy be rigorously debunked. If one posits a list of 300 such prophesies as being proof and 200 of them are knocked down under scrutiny, it destroys the text in terms if it being any sort of credible body of work. It also spotlights very low standards for evidence held by the person who presented them.

    As far as being ‘uncharitable’…I do nobody any favors by remaining mute in the face of a bad argument. Indeed; it would be charity (in the most literal sense) to give the impression that I consider citations of prophesies and miracles to be anything more than mythology put forth by the credulous or ill informed. In fact, I am so made that I feel it unethical for me to remain mute.

    I will check to see if my library has “Miracles”.

  • http://fvthinker.blogspot.com Mike (FVThinker) Burns

    It is not important that every single prophesy be rigorously debunked. If one posits a list of 300 such prophesies as being proof and 200 of them are knocked down under scrutiny, it destroys the text in terms if it being any sort of credible body of work. It also spotlights very low standards for evidence held by the person who presented them.

    As far as being ‘uncharitable’…I do nobody any favors by remaining mute in the face of a bad argument. Indeed; it would be charity (in the most literal sense) to give the impression that I consider citations of prophesies and miracles to be anything more than mythology put forth by the credulous or ill informed. In fact, I am so made that I feel it unethical for me to remain mute.

    I will check to see if my library has “Miracles”.

  • http://fvthinker.blogspot.com Mike (FVThinker) Burns

    It is not important that every single prophesy be rigorously debunked. If one posits a list of 300 such prophesies as being proof and 200 of them are knocked down under scrutiny, it destroys the text in terms if it being any sort of credible body of work. It also spotlights very low standards for evidence held by the person who presented them.

    As far as being ‘uncharitable’…I do nobody any favors by remaining mute in the face of a bad argument. Indeed; it would be charity (in the most literal sense) to give the impression that I consider citations of prophesies and miracles to be anything more than mythology put forth by the credulous or ill informed. In fact, I am so made that I feel it unethical for me to remain mute.

    I will check to see if my library has “Miracles”.

  • http://fvthinker.blogspot.com Mike (FVThinker) Bur

    J.S. said:

    I think Brian’s done an admirable job of defending the faith.

    Interesting.

    Just for grins…If there is anyone still following this thread, I would be interested if people would vote on who "scored more points" in the exchange between Brian and myself [Mike (FVThinker) Burns]. I am not looking to determine a 'winner' or any such things, I am just interested in people's responses as a type of neurological study. I know "scored more points" is very loosely defined, but I don't make a living designing opinion surveys…it is what it is. Interpret it anyway you like.

    If respondents can simply leave a brief post rating our comments (BASED ON CONTENT NOT TONE) on a scale of 0 to 10. '0' being 'totally absurd' and '10' being 'brilliant insight' (i.e. Brian: 9, Mike:4)

  • http://fvthinker.blogspot.com Mike (FVThinker) Bur

    J.S. said:

    I think Brian’s done an admirable job of defending the faith.

    Interesting.

    Just for grins…If there is anyone still following this thread, I would be interested if people would vote on who "scored more points" in the exchange between Brian and myself [Mike (FVThinker) Burns]. I am not looking to determine a 'winner' or any such things, I am just interested in people's responses as a type of neurological study. I know "scored more points" is very loosely defined, but I don't make a living designing opinion surveys…it is what it is. Interpret it anyway you like.

    If respondents can simply leave a brief post rating our comments (BASED ON CONTENT NOT TONE) on a scale of 0 to 10. '0' being 'totally absurd' and '10' being 'brilliant insight' (i.e. Brian: 9, Mike:4)

  • http://fvthinker.blogspot.com Mike (FVThinker) Bur

    I am sure there was no 'winner', but you comments are well taken. Consider the 'poll' ended.

    Merry Christmas to you and yours.

  • http://fvthinker.blogspot.com Mike (FVThinker) Bur

    I am sure there was no 'winner', but you comments are well taken. Consider the 'poll' ended.

    Merry Christmas to you and yours.

  • Don Whitt

    We rationalists who insist on logic and scientific support and all that concrete, are somewhat retarded by that – it’s extremely difficult at times to tap into the spiritual side of life. Maybe someone’s already brought that up in this thread – my apologies if they have. But I often view my extremely logical nature as an impediment in relationships, faith and in the basic enjoyment of life.

    • jes

      I can’t say that I agree for myself, Don. I’m pretty steadfastly (though not unfailingly!) logical. Which I’ve applied to a lot of self-analysis over the years. Being able to sit back and analyze why I feel the way I do has actually been a huge help in relationships–I’m not likely to fly off the handle and make decisions based on anger or hurt, which I’ve seen ruin several friends’ relationships. If I can explain to myself why something upset me, I can explain it to my partner, which is much more helpful than just throwing emotion at them.
      Certainly logic has been no barrier to basic enjoyment of life! I find joy in many things, large and small, and feel emotion as acutely as anyone else (so far as such things can be established), I just don’t allow my emotion to over-ride my common sense.

    • Don Rappe

      I guess that’s why
      I like the program Bones.

      • Don Whitt

        Jes, that’s just the logic talking…

  • Don Whitt

    We rationalists who insist on logic and scientific support and all that concrete, are somewhat retarded by that – it’s extremely difficult at times to tap into the spiritual side of life. Maybe someone’s already brought that up in this thread – my apologies if they have. But I often view my extremely logical nature as an impediment in relationships, faith and in the basic enjoyment of life.

    • jes

      I can’t say that I agree for myself, Don. I’m pretty steadfastly (though not unfailingly!) logical. Which I’ve applied to a lot of self-analysis over the years. Being able to sit back and analyze why I feel the way I do has actually been a huge help in relationships–I’m not likely to fly off the handle and make decisions based on anger or hurt, which I’ve seen ruin several friends’ relationships. If I can explain to myself why something upset me, I can explain it to my partner, which is much more helpful than just throwing emotion at them.
      Certainly logic has been no barrier to basic enjoyment of life! I find joy in many things, large and small, and feel emotion as acutely as anyone else (so far as such things can be established), I just don’t allow my emotion to over-ride my common sense.

  • http://www.christianityinhighheels.com/ blessedbabe

    Hmm…that sounds like blind faith to generally just accept whatever’s been spoken to you and believe it despite that, which is why I have a difficulty agreeing.

    I also have difficulty agreeing that the Bible is that hard to decipher. It generally talks about love. Unmerited love where God loves you despite of who you are. It’s a simple truth that some people have a hard time accepting — like, God loves me even if I did something horrible? That’s it?

    It’s too simple compared to the scientific explanation as to how things were created. Arguments and discussions that require logic generally are lengthy compared to John 3:16.

    So what’s to explain except that there’s no catch when God loves you despite of who you are? It really comes to whether you believe it or not.

    • http://teenparentcafe.wordpress.com/ Kim Stephens

      Actually, as an atheist, the questions I have had are more related to “is there a God and in what form” rather than whether or not “S/He” loves me. I’ve always believed in a higher power, which I suppose one could label “God” since my H.P. embodies many of the same characteristics as what I’ve had explained to me as the Christian God – kindness, compassion, loving our brothers, respecting and cherishing our marriages, helping one another when in need. Much of the “God” argument boils down to one’s own definition of God, not whether or not a God of any particular shape or color actually exists.

      COEXIST.

  • jes

    Well, the reason I hadn’t gotten here yet is that I was still hung up in the cancer debate on a previous post… I’m sneaking reading this in between appointments at work and can’t keep up!

  • jes

    Well, the reason I hadn’t gotten here yet is that I was still hung up in the cancer debate on a previous post… I’m sneaking reading this in between appointments at work and can’t keep up!

  • jes

    It is not scary…therefore people aren’t on the defensive. It is more a post inciting quiet contemplation than vigorous debate.

  • jes

    It is not scary…therefore people aren’t on the defensive. It is more a post inciting quiet contemplation than vigorous debate.

  • jes

    It is not scary…therefore people aren’t on the defensive. It is more a post inciting quiet contemplation than vigorous debate.

  • http://teenparentcafe.wordpress.com/ Kim Stephens

    VERY nicely put! Bravo!

  • http://teenparentcafe.wordpress.com/ Kim Stephens

    VERY nicely put! Bravo!

  • http://www.progressivechristianitybook.com Roger Wolsey

    re: the original blog, Great point! Indeed, we Western Christians would do well to embrace the apophatic tradition of the Eastern Orthodox churches; i.e., focusing less on what we “know” about God, and humbly honoring God’s “unknowability.” A book that I highly recommend that conveys this is The Solace of Fierce Landscapes by Belden Lane. I also embrace the importance of doubt as essential to a healthy, vital faith life in my book, Kissing Fish: christianity for people who don’t like christianity.

  • http://www.progressivechristianitybook.com Roger Wolsey

    re: the original blog, Great point! Indeed, we Western Christians would do well to embrace the apophatic tradition of the Eastern Orthodox churches; i.e., focusing less on what we “know” about God, and humbly honoring God’s “unknowability.” A book that I highly recommend that conveys this is The Solace of Fierce Landscapes by Belden Lane. I also embrace the importance of doubt as essential to a healthy, vital faith life in my book, Kissing Fish: christianity for people who don’t like christianity.

  • Mary Wisner Miller via Facebook

    I love atheists. Have some atheist and agnostic friends. Love them.

  • Mary Wisner Miller via Facebook

    I love atheists. Have some atheist and agnostic friends. Love them.

  • Dave Smartt via Facebook

    I was never a fan of Christopher Hitchens in life. However, my condolences go out to his family, friends & fans at this time.

  • Dave Smartt via Facebook

    I was never a fan of Christopher Hitchens in life. However, my condolences go out to his family, friends & fans at this time.

  • Dave Smartt via Facebook

    I was never a fan of Christopher Hitchens in life. However, my condolences go out to his family, friends & fans at this time.

  • http://www.BuzzDixon.com buzz

    I never comprehend how people can say understanding the Bible is difficult.

    Love God

    Love your neighbor

    That’s pretty much it.

    (Understanding is easy, application is hard!)

  • http://www.BuzzDixon.com buzz

    I never comprehend how people can say understanding the Bible is difficult.

    Love God

    Love your neighbor

    That’s pretty much it.

    (Understanding is easy, application is hard!)

    • http://aebrain.blogspot.com Zoe Brain

      buzz : Matthew 22:35-40.

      People like myself consider 35-38 optional, and/or redundant.

      Everyone here is an atheist, it’s just the degree that differs. I just disbelieve in one more god than you, 3 more if you’re Trinitarian. If I’m wrong, then I believe that by following Matthew 22:39-40, I’m fulfilling the earlier parts too.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Demian-Rubalcaba/1121560301 Demian Rubalcaba via Facebook

    Absolutely true!..but qualify it it with this: Most hardline atheists do not operate from this position of uncertainty and humility either. And it is one of many points that I find they completely agree with most fundy Christians on, only from the other side of the argument. That is, that they, like a fundy, have it all figured out and everyone else’s perceptions on the matter are silly mistakes… I promise you that the next great human oppression will come not from the robe-laden preist but from the lab coat-laden scientist suffocating humankind by putting us under the microscope and subjugating us to statistical analysis, testable hypothesis, instinctual drives and approach/ avoid and reward/ punishment diminutives. I swear, as soon as we have pried the preist’s hand from our eyes, we find the scientist’s hands wrapped around our necks.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Demian-Rubalcaba/1121560301 Demian Rubalcaba via Facebook

    Absolutely true!..but qualify it it with this: Most hardline atheists do not operate from this position of uncertainty and humility either. And it is one of many points that I find they completely agree with most fundy Christians on, only from the other side of the argument. That is, that they, like a fundy, have it all figured out and everyone else’s perceptions on the matter are silly mistakes… I promise you that the next great human oppression will come not from the robe-laden preist but from the lab coat-laden scientist suffocating humankind by putting us under the microscope and subjugating us to statistical analysis, testable hypothesis, instinctual drives and approach/ avoid and reward/ punishment diminutives. I swear, as soon as we have pried the preist’s hand from our eyes, we find the scientist’s hands wrapped around our necks.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kimberly-J-Edwards/1248096635 Kimberly J Edwards via Facebook

    wonderful, john.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kimberly-J-Edwards/1248096635 Kimberly J Edwards via Facebook

    wonderful, john.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kimberly-J-Edwards/1248096635 Kimberly J Edwards via Facebook

    wonderful, john.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/JohnShoreFans John Shore via Facebook

    (thanks, Kimberly, as ever.)

  • http://www.facebook.com/JohnShoreFans John Shore via Facebook

    (thanks, Kimberly, as ever.)

  • http://www.facebook.com/JohnShoreFans John Shore via Facebook

    (thanks, Kimberly, as ever.)

  • http://williamgcook.wordpress.com William

    The western world has certainly lost one of it’s great

    Thanks for resharing this John

  • http://williamgcook.wordpress.com William

    The western world has certainly lost one of it’s great

    Thanks for resharing this John

  • http://williamgcook.wordpress.com William

    The western world has certainly lost one of it’s great

    Thanks for resharing this John

  • http://www.facebook.com/dwayne.g.mason Dwayne G Mason via Facebook

    “we substitute the clamorous fervor of emotion for the quiet discipline of studied comprehension.”

    I LOVE that line.

  • Anne Young via Facebook

    I love how he said that while there would be no death-bed conversion for him, “I like surpirses”…

  • http://crossexaminedblog.com/ Bob Seidensticker

    The challenge of encouraging the Christian to intellectually critique their religion is one that I tackled with my book, “Cross Examined: An Unconventional Spiritual Journey.” Intellectual indolence, as you put it, is the wide, easy path.

    (I also don’t think much of the Christian attitude toward gays.)

  • http://crossexaminedblog.com/ Bob Seidensticker

    The challenge of encouraging the Christian to intellectually critique their religion is one that I tackled with my book, “Cross Examined: An Unconventional Spiritual Journey.” Intellectual indolence, as you put it, is the wide, easy path.

    (I also don’t think much of the Christian attitude toward gays.)

  • http://crossexaminedblog.com/ Bob Seidensticker

    The challenge of encouraging the Christian to intellectually critique their religion is one that I tackled with my book, “Cross Examined: An Unconventional Spiritual Journey.” Intellectual indolence, as you put it, is the wide, easy path.

    (I also don’t think much of the Christian attitude toward gays.)

  • Don Whitt

    Jes, that’s just the logic talking…

  • Don Whitt

    Jes, that’s just the logic talking…

  • jes

    All too often the extent of a Christian’s rational thought is “God said it, I believe it, that settles it”.

    Those are the same sorts who may be heard to say such inanities as “If English was good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for me!”

  • http://teenparentcafe.wordpress.com/ Kim Stephens

    Actually, as an atheist, the questions I have had are more related to “is there a God and in what form” rather than whether or not “S/He” loves me. I’ve always believed in a higher power, which I suppose one could label “God” since my H.P. embodies many of the same characteristics as what I’ve had explained to me as the Christian God – kindness, compassion, loving our brothers, respecting and cherishing our marriages, helping one another when in need. Much of the “God” argument boils down to one’s own definition of God, not whether or not a God of any particular shape or color actually exists.

    COEXIST.

  • http://aebrain.blogspot.com Zoe Brain

    buzz : Matthew 22:35-40.

    People like myself consider 35-38 optional, and/or redundant.

    Everyone here is an atheist, it’s just the degree that differs. I just disbelieve in one more god than you, 3 more if you’re Trinitarian. If I’m wrong, then I believe that by following Matthew 22:39-40, I’m fulfilling the earlier parts too.