The past comes back

Wherein I have a talk

Atheism, secularism & freethought etc.

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The past comes back

#1  Postby pelfdaddy » Jul 06, 2017 4:04 pm

I recently had a face-to-face discussion with an old Christian friend, and I thought the readers here might enjoy a run-down of our brief talk.

My friend is a preacher who pastors a church and hosts a Christian radio talk show in a town in the Rockies. We went to seminary together when we were both in our early twenties, and he is a very likeable guy to this day. Recognition was followed by a firm handshake and a man hug. Very brief catching-up chatter was followed by his asking, "So...how's your walk?" by which he of course meant, "How is your relationship with Jesus?" I told him...

"I'm a non-believer these days".

His apparently lack of surprise told me he already knew. Preachers love gossip, and the rumor mill is always humming. He said, "You know, a lot of people are drifting away from the Lord because they think science has disproven God. The New Atheism that's out there says God is dead and religion is dangerous... but you know what? Ever since I started to really study science, I've found that my faith is stronger than ever, because science backs up every word in the Bible."

"Except the part about the stars".

"Which part is that?" he asked, hitching up his pants and putting his hands on his hips. Aggressive, just like the younger version I once knew.

"Where it says he made the stars also."

"Well..." he chortled..."uh--He DID make the stars also."

"We know what the stars are. They are unimaginably vast engines of power. Our galaxy is but one of billions, every one containing untold millions of stars, our sun being one of them. Its energy is so tremendous that it challenges description. That energy radiates outward in a sphere. That sphere dissipates its energy as it grows--spreads itself thinner and thinner. It hardly notices the tiny speck we live on as it passes by. When it arrives here, that sphere of energy has a radius of 93 million miles. We are getting hit by a section of that sphere that is about 2 millionths of a percent of its total output. And that tiny fraction is running the whole planet, and has been for ages. That's just your average star."

"But that only makes my point. You're singing my song, Brother. The more you know, the greater God really is!"

"But it's wrong."

"What's wrong?"

"The perspective is backward. The stars were here first, and they are vast and far away. They are not lights that God stuck into our ceiling to decorate our nights as a nice little afterthought. And an afterthought is what you have when you lamely throw in, 'Oh yeah...he made the stars also'."

"But you're acting like you expect the Bible to be a science book. That's not the point. The use of metaphor in scripture is no surprise--what would people have thought way back then if God had told them everything there was to know? They could never have understood."

"It's wrong. Not just missing detail, but actively the opposite of correct. The perspective is human, totally human. The author did not know what those things in the sky actually were. As a result, he gets it backwards. He is not using metaphor. He is directly misinforming the reader through his own ignorance. That's your Holy Spirit writing words through human authors--it comes out looking like it's just the human authors, and it is."

He put his hands in his pockets, smiled and asked, "One question, and answer honestly, OK?"

"Absolutely."

"You didn't walk away from God because of science, did you?" He wanted to pin me down as an abdicator who stepped down from my position in the kingdom of God because of some sinful desire.

I answered frankly. "No, not initially. I got bored and frustrated. God doesn't do anything. So I stopped caring about what he thought. When I realized I didn't need him, it didn't take long to realize he just wasn't there at all. I knew there was no God before I got interested in science. It was a renewed interest in science that convinced me that the whole idea of God was just...kinda stupid. But the main thing is, I just don't need God. Now...your turn to answer a question for me--honestly, OK?"

"Go for it."

"Your faith isn't stronger because if science, is it?"

He shrugged, "I dunno, I guess not really." Then he took a meaningful and dramatic step toward me, poked me in the chest and hissed, "I NEED him." Then he stepped back as though waiting for this profundity to sink in.

"You know what?" I said, "You've gotten really fat."

He threw back his head and laughed, patted his swollen belly and howled, "God's been blessin'!"
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Re: The past comes back

#2  Postby Skinny Puppy » Jul 06, 2017 7:39 pm

Excellent read... as are all of your posts! :thumbup: :thumbup:
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Re: The past comes back

#3  Postby crank » Jul 06, 2017 9:17 pm

For a christian, I'd go straight for the fundamentals of their dogmas, like what the fuck is this about dying for our sins, and atoned to who? And why, and for what? And what the fuck is original sin when Eden is a myth? These are utterly vacuous ideas and the twisted, pretzel logic they spew in defense is laughable. Plus, if he already died for our sins, when we weren't even born, why should we refrain from sinning now? ALL our sins have been pre-atoned for. It's baffling that anyone can buy this nonsense. I did somewhat for a long time, but mainly because I was too naive to question it seriously.
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Re: The past comes back

#4  Postby pelfdaddy » Jul 06, 2017 10:34 pm

Skinny pup, you're one of the nicest people I (don't actually) know.
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Re: The past comes back

#5  Postby Skinny Puppy » Jul 08, 2017 7:52 pm

pelfdaddy wrote:Skinny pup, you're one of the nicest people I (don't actually) know.


Thanks for the compliment! :oops:

Your writing skills are excellent, not just in dotting I’s and crossing T’s, but your use of words to describe a scene/event while (superbly) using very descriptive adjectives makes the story both captivating and interesting.

It’s a skill that I wish that I had. I find writing interesting and have done some writing on the net where I’ve reviewed some products.

I’m guessing here (not prying) that you’ve done some formal and/or professional writing since your writing skills are simply outstanding!
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Re: The past comes back

#6  Postby Skinny Puppy » Jul 08, 2017 8:09 pm

crank wrote:For a christian, I'd go straight for the fundamentals of their dogmas, like what the fuck is this about dying for our sins, and atoned to who? And why, and for what? And what the fuck is original sin when Eden is a myth? These are utterly vacuous ideas and the twisted, pretzel logic they spew in defense is laughable. Plus, if he already died for our sins, when we weren't even born, why should we refrain from sinning now? ALL our sins have been pre-atoned for. It's baffling that anyone can buy this nonsense. I did somewhat for a long time, but mainly because I was too naive to question it seriously.


I have to tread carefully here because to give a complete and full explanation might contravene the FUA on preaching. Even though I’ve tossed Christianity aside, the FUA is clearly spelled out.

It doesn’t work that way. In a nutshell and to use an analogy.

If you win the lottery, but hold onto the ticket, you’ll never get your money. Yes all sins ‘can be’ forgiven (except for one), but it’s a gift that must be claimed. If you don’t claim it you simply don’t get it. If you do claim it, then no, you can’t go on sinning, at least not consistently and intentionally.

The key words above are ‘can be’.
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Re: The past comes back

#7  Postby Arjan Dirkse » Jul 10, 2017 10:37 pm

Excellent post. The "I need him" reply is the most honest apology I think there is, I feel like that too sometimes, like I want there to be a god. Not the one from the Bible though.
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Re: The past comes back

#8  Postby crank » Jul 11, 2017 3:17 am

Skinny Puppy wrote:
crank wrote:For a christian, I'd go straight for the fundamentals of their dogmas, like what the fuck is this about dying for our sins, and atoned to who? And why, and for what? And what the fuck is original sin when Eden is a myth? These are utterly vacuous ideas and the twisted, pretzel logic they spew in defense is laughable. Plus, if he already died for our sins, when we weren't even born, why should we refrain from sinning now? ALL our sins have been pre-atoned for. It's baffling that anyone can buy this nonsense. I did somewhat for a long time, but mainly because I was too naive to question it seriously.


I have to tread carefully here because to give a complete and full explanation might contravene the FUA on preaching. Even though I’ve tossed Christianity aside, the FUA is clearly spelled out.

It doesn’t work that way. In a nutshell and to use an analogy.

If you win the lottery, but hold onto the ticket, you’ll never get your money. Yes all sins ‘can be’ forgiven (except for one), but it’s a gift that must be claimed. If you don’t claim it you simply don’t get it. If you do claim it, then no, you can’t go on sinning, at least not consistently and intentionally.

The key words above are ‘can be’.

How is breaking the FUA at risk? As to the issue at hand, what doesn't work what way? One of my points is the whole thing is completely without a rational thought involved. If our sins are atoned for, pre-atoned for, then they're already atoned for. I don't see the problem. I do see a problem with the idea that we can be born in sin. or that we should be required to atone to some asshole who made us broke to begin with. Etc etc, I wish I could channel Hitchens, he really expresses a lot of this superbly. Just because your idea of how it works leads you to say what you said, so what? Why is your version any better than mine, or someone else's? It's not like there's a god that could decide which is the correct version.
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Re: The past comes back

#9  Postby The_Piper » Jul 11, 2017 3:29 am

crank wrote:For a christian, I'd go straight for the fundamentals of their dogmas, like what the fuck is this about dying for our sins, and atoned to who? And why, and for what? And what the fuck is original sin when Eden is a myth? These are utterly vacuous ideas and the twisted, pretzel logic they spew in defense is laughable. Plus, if he already died for our sins, when we weren't even born, why should we refrain from sinning now? ALL our sins have been pre-atoned for. It's baffling that anyone can buy this nonsense. I did somewhat for a long time, but mainly because I was too naive to question it seriously.

Where did you get those shoes?
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Re: The past comes back

#10  Postby Sendraks » Jul 11, 2017 9:00 am

Skinny Puppy wrote: (except for one)


It's that one unforgivable sin that clearly paints it all as nakedly obvious means of control crock of shit that it is.
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Re: The past comes back

#11  Postby Matthew Shute » Jul 11, 2017 11:07 am

Look at it this way.

You're god, and you have a problem. The people you created with the ability and propensity to think and do things that you disapprove of... keep thinking and doing these things. You've defined such thoughts and deeds as sinning, and you don't like it one bit. This has been going on for tens of thousands of years, and you've stood (or floated or whatever) aghast as countless souls doomed themselves to a hell you've set up for them. You want to forgive them, you really do... but how? As an omnipotent being with the power to do anything you want, you could simply say, "Okay, I forgive all you chaps and chapesses. Please try not to think or do those things in future. Accept me as your saviour, and we're cool." Direct, like! Easy. But what kind of plan would that be? Much too crude. Hmm. How about this? You can impregnate a woman and have yourself incarnated as your own human son. You could give moral guidance and some wise parables to a select few people in the Middle East, and then wait until some of the humans you want to forgive have you killed in a horrible way (in accordance with your divine plan). Then what you can do is bring your son's corpse back to life, to prove something deeply profound about conquering death, before you, as your son, rejoin yourself in heaven. Now, now you can forgive these humans... if they ask nicely and sincerely try to change their ways. Them torturing you/your son to death makes all the difference! I mean, how were you supposed to forgive them before some of them tortured you/your son to death? That would just be mad, unthinkable!

Christian redemption, everyone.

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Re: The past comes back

#12  Postby crank » Jul 11, 2017 1:52 pm

The_Piper wrote:
crank wrote:For a christian, I'd go straight for the fundamentals of their dogmas, like what the fuck is this about dying for our sins, and atoned to who? And why, and for what? And what the fuck is original sin when Eden is a myth? These are utterly vacuous ideas and the twisted, pretzel logic they spew in defense is laughable. Plus, if he already died for our sins, when we weren't even born, why should we refrain from sinning now? ALL our sins have been pre-atoned for. It's baffling that anyone can buy this nonsense. I did somewhat for a long time, but mainly because I was too naive to question it seriously.

Where did you get those shoes?

I get most of mine off dead folks. Now, please don't ask where I find the dead folks.

I had that album from when it came out. Very very good. I was too oblivious for years before I ever thought about what the title meant, it was just the name of a song.
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Re: The past comes back

#13  Postby Skinny Puppy » Jul 11, 2017 7:44 pm

crank wrote:
Skinny Puppy wrote:
crank wrote:For a christian, I'd go straight for the fundamentals of their dogmas, like what the fuck is this about dying for our sins, and atoned to who? And why, and for what? And what the fuck is original sin when Eden is a myth? These are utterly vacuous ideas and the twisted, pretzel logic they spew in defense is laughable. Plus, if he already died for our sins, when we weren't even born, why should we refrain from sinning now? ALL our sins have been pre-atoned for. It's baffling that anyone can buy this nonsense. I did somewhat for a long time, but mainly because I was too naive to question it seriously.


I have to tread carefully here because to give a complete and full explanation might contravene the FUA on preaching. Even though I’ve tossed Christianity aside, the FUA is clearly spelled out.

It doesn’t work that way. In a nutshell and to use an analogy.

If you win the lottery, but hold onto the ticket, you’ll never get your money. Yes all sins ‘can be’ forgiven (except for one), but it’s a gift that must be claimed. If you don’t claim it you simply don’t get it. If you do claim it, then no, you can’t go on sinning, at least not consistently and intentionally.

The key words above are ‘can be’.

How is breaking the FUA at risk? As to the issue at hand, what doesn't work what way? One of my points is the whole thing is completely without a rational thought involved. If our sins are atoned for, pre-atoned for, then they're already atoned for. I don't see the problem. I do see a problem with the idea that we can be born in sin. or that we should be required to atone to some asshole who made us broke to begin with. Etc etc, I wish I could channel Hitchens, he really expresses a lot of this superbly. Just because your idea of how it works leads you to say what you said, so what? Why is your version any better than mine, or someone else's? It's not like there's a god that could decide which is the correct version.


You’re asking me to explain what is at the very heart of Christianity. In fact, it’s the very reason that Christianity exists today. The entire NT (for the most part) was written with one purpose in mind. I can certainly explain it, that’s easy to do since I have 20+ years’ worth of being a born again Pentecostal (a fanatical one to say the least) follower.

To do it justice would require that I give a full explanation, (an abbreviated one wouldn’t begin to cover why so many people accept it) which would include quotes and references from the bible in order to validate what I was saying. Thinking it over leads me to believe that I would be pushing the boundary of the FUA regarding preaching, which I don’t want to do.

While many can write very effectively against Christianity, Dawkins, Hitchens and Harris, for example, having been there and done that does give one an insight into the mindset of Christians and how they think, why they can accept the bible as the ultimate truth and why it is so brutally hard to get them de-converted.

It took me roughly 2 years to finally break free; such is the power of being indoctrinated.

To assume that it’s nothing but nonsense is to assume incorrectly. There is a logical and well laid-out plan to it, although granted, some parts can be baffling and confusing (for Christians). We had a visiting pastor talk to us and he said:

I have questions, but I’m not questioning.”

That was a very powerful statement. So even for die-hard Christians all of the pieces don’t fit like a glove.

Just because your idea of how it works leads you to say what you said, so what? Why is your version any better than mine, or someone else's?


My version is based on having lived as a fundie for 2 decades. That doesn’t mean that I have all of the answers or that I walk on water, but it does mean that I can speak from first-hand experience. I, and others, have the advantage of having been on both sides of the fence.
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Re: The past comes back

#14  Postby The_Piper » Jul 11, 2017 8:37 pm

crank wrote:
The_Piper wrote:
crank wrote:For a christian, I'd go straight for the fundamentals of their dogmas, like what the fuck is this about dying for our sins, and atoned to who? And why, and for what? And what the fuck is original sin when Eden is a myth? These are utterly vacuous ideas and the twisted, pretzel logic they spew in defense is laughable. Plus, if he already died for our sins, when we weren't even born, why should we refrain from sinning now? ALL our sins have been pre-atoned for. It's baffling that anyone can buy this nonsense. I did somewhat for a long time, but mainly because I was too naive to question it seriously.

Where did you get those shoes?

I get most of mine off dead folks. Now, please don't ask where I find the dead folks.

I had that album from when it came out. Very very good. I was too oblivious for years before I ever thought about what the title meant, it was just the name of a song.

I've never heard anyone use that phrase before this thread, the only reference I knew about was the album. Steely Dan were great.
About you shoes, well I guess that'll be your little secret. :? :lol:
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Re: The past comes back

#15  Postby Zadocfish2 » Aug 31, 2017 5:15 am

Sounds like a conversation I'd have with my current pastor. Wonderful guy, but I don't think he'd ever buy into atheism. He certainly doesn't believe in complete in-errancy, though; he once told me that some of Paul's writings result from his slow shaking-off of Pharisee-ism, which wasn't yet complete at the time of writing. Very pragmatic approach to theology, which I can respect.

Regarding some of the posts about Christian beliefs... Does it help that a proper reading of the Bible indicates that there isn't really a torment at the end for sinners, the unsaved just die like normal? Like, they go out, and that's the end. It's just that those who believe and are saved, and those before who were close to God, get eternal life. It's like a straight "reward" system, rather than an "escape punishment" system, effectively. The idea of universal eternal life comes from a misunderstanding of certain metaphors. Doesn't that kind of take care of a lot of the moral issues people have with Christianity?
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Re: The past comes back

#16  Postby laklak » Sep 01, 2017 9:03 pm

As an atheist it doesn't matter to me whether it's a reward system or a punishment system, what does matter is it's a system designed to control people based on lies. You mileage may differ, of course.
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Re: The past comes back

#17  Postby Scot Dutchy » Sep 03, 2017 9:21 am

Never see a pastor or priest. Very thin on the ground, well non existent really TG(!)
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Re: The past comes back

#18  Postby pelfdaddy » Sep 05, 2017 4:09 am

zadocfish,

While the approach you suggest is certainly more reasonable in tone than the hellfire with which most of us are disenchanted, you must surely realize that the phrase "a proper reading of the Bible" is a flag flown by theologians of every generation to promote with unearned authority that which is either personal opinion or the latest in apologetic fashion. It is easy to forget how such fashions can fluctuate. If I were to address the terms in which you have framed the idea of eternal damnation, I would have to do so by first gaining some historical perspective.

When preachers who lived from the era of Chrisostom all the way into the Renaissance Age were faced with the decision, "How do I best understand and elucidate what Jesus says about Hell?" they had plenty of source material from which to derive the basic rules of interpretation. There is this thing called the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Old Testament. This is essentially God's autobiography. Call it...What I Think by Elohim Yeshua Yahweh.

The first chapter, which we commonly call the Book of Genesis, could be entitled, How I Did It. There is frankly nothing useful in this entire chapter, since it turns out not to be true when analyzed historically, archaeologically, or anthropologically. Therefore, the only way to make use of it is to assume that it is almost entirely metaphorical, which demands the question, "What then does it mean?" The answer to this question is a subjective one based entirely on the preferences of the reader.

Chapter two could be called Whom Do I Hate? Don't Get Me Started. Chapter three is Blood Sacrifice for Dummies. And the final two chapters might just as well be put down as Whom to Kill and Why parts I & II. I think you get my drift; that this blood-soaked documentary is directed, edited and produced by none other than the leading actor, God himself, who is not bashful about his intentions, and does not seem to mind that the words he has personally penned look just like something that a flawed, human representative of a primitive and barbaric tribal community would write. It includes everything such literature should include: devotion [our God], favoritism [who loves us], exclusivity [and hates you], and purpose [wants us to kill every motherfucker that gets in our way]. And that character is the primary reason why theologians for centuries were comfortable taking the words of Jesus literally, and have been preaching about a literal Lake of Fire.

Very ancient peoples were constantly engaged in tribal warfare. They fought for land, water, and pussy. Around these conflicts there often arose a triumphant literature describing the exploits of the local god by whose benefaction the tribe was attempting to prosper. Hebraism is just one more of these sectarian national divisions. When Greco-Roman civilization was in the ascendancy, it was necessary to find some means by which to preserve national and religious identity. That is why the gospel contains all the necessary elements to achieve this. It includes devotion [our God], inclusion [loves everybody], encouragement [so convert to our faith], and an ultimatum [or He will abso-fucking-lutely fry your ass].

Today, the Church has lost its ability to strike fear into the hearts of the populace, it has surrendered its moral authority, and it no longer has anything on its side that resembles truth or wisdom. It is reduced to a pathetic appeal from a position of weakness, resorting to apologetics in the absence of evidence, and passing out candy to children in the absence of compelling force. They even have reasonable people like yourself saying things like, "Well, if you read it correctly, he's not talking about actual flames or anything..." Glad to know we atheists have nothing to fear from God.

But lest there be a misunderstanding, let me just point out that we are not complaining about God and his cackling glee over the chance to fling us into the fire. We are simply saying that the likelihood such a being exists at all is slim to none, and that the character portrayed in the book itself makes this all the more clear. Thanks for your forbearance, and for your contributions, but God is just a dumb idea. Flames or no flames, it is too silly to take seriously.
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Re: The past comes back

#19  Postby Zadocfish2 » Sep 05, 2017 7:27 pm


Chapter two could be called Whom Do I Hate? Don't Get Me Started. Chapter three is Blood Sacrifice for Dummies. And the final two chapters might just as well be put down as Whom to Kill and Why parts I & II. I think you get my drift; that this blood-soaked documentary is directed, edited and produced by none other than the leading actor, God himself, who is not bashful about his intentions, and does not seem to mind that the words he has personally penned look just like something that a flawed, human representative of a primitive and barbaric tribal community would write. It includes everything such literature should include: devotion [our God], favoritism [who loves us], exclusivity [and hates you], and purpose [wants us to kill every motherfucker that gets in our way]. And that character is the primary reason why theologians for centuries were comfortable taking the words of Jesus literally, and have been preaching about a literal Lake of Fire.


You realize that Abel was very specifically the villain of that story, right? The whole point was "killing people is bad." Your characterization of the story can only come from either never having read it, or just having forgotten about it entirely. Possibly your memory of it has been tainted about it by your disdain for the religion as a whole?

Also, I think you're underselling Jesus' teachings. His teachings on how to treat other people go much farther than most... to this day, there aren't many that go as far as Jesus did. Loving enemies, doing things for the sake of doing them rather than reputation, giving until it hurts, all that. I can understand disagreeing with His teachings on obedience, but His teaching on love is hard to find flaws with even to this day.
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Re: The past comes back

#20  Postby pelfdaddy » Sep 05, 2017 10:10 pm

Zadocfish,

It seems you and I are not fully understanding one another. To be more direct, I do not get the thrust of what you just wrote. I cannot remember having referred to Abel.

Are you aware that I was characterizing the first five books of the bible as chapters one through five of God's autobiography? Sorry for the overwrought comparison. I was only trying to say something simple, that; the idea of God is unconvincing on its own merits, and the notion of a standard Christian theology that is free from a literal, flaming, retributive hell is only the soup du jour of a small segment of current theologians. This is what theology has always been. Do you disagree with this main point in some fundamental way?
pelfdaddy
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