Thought you'd all like to read this
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01-02-2011, 11:24 AM
 
Thought you'd all like to read this
Yes, it's another facebook debate. I thought you guys could get a good chuckle out of this. This guy doesn't want to accept the fact that I do make donations to good causes, with money and time. To him, I can't really talk until I've been in the military, adopted a child overseas, and consoled victims of rape. Absurd! Here's the thread (so far):

ME: Posted a link to an Evid3nc3 video and added the caption "Be! Objective! B - E - Objective!"


HIM: Don't confuse "objective" with "think the same way as I do," k? Smile


ME: I've heard that retort before, and it's quite inaccurate. The goal is not to have others think as I do, just to simply think without bias; rationally and not emotionally. Either way, you won't find me going door to door trying to recruit.... I do however try to learn all I can from others, whether the view is the same or different, by engaging in conversations with those willing to do so. If one is not willing, I do not want to push. Who knows what can come of broadening your intellectual horizons? Never know unless you try.

Why are (most) Christians so deeply vexed in the fact that their scriptures contain errors, contradictions, and discrepancies, to the point that they will embrace claims not supported by the bible rather than acknowledge its flaws? What do you make of your fellow Christians who reject the biblical inerrancy and literalism? I used to be a Christian myself, but in my teenage years I took a journey seeking truth, even if it led me away from my previous conclusions. Eventually, Christianity became difficult to defend (like Obama Wink )

Another thing I'm curious Matt, knowing you to be a fiscal conservative and religious man, what do you think of Leviticus 25:30-41 - "If one of your countrymen becomes poor and is unable to support himself among you, help him as you would an alien or a temporary resident, so he can continue to live among you. Do not take interest of any kind from him, but fear your God, so that your countryman may continue to live among you. You must not lend him money at interest or sell him food at a profit." Wouldn't this mean that we should help the poor people of our nation?

Interestingly, Leviticus 25:44-46 goes on to say - "As for your male and female slaves whom you may have-- you may acquire male and female slaves from the pagan nations that are around you. You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property. You can will them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly." So, basically, as long as they are not members of your own country, they can be slaves?

Keep in mind Matthew 5:17 - "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” Meaning that Jesus stands behind the Old Testament and its books.

1) Why won’t god heal amputees?
Matthew 21:22 - And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive
John 16:23 - In that day you will not question Me about anything. Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask the Father for anything ...in My name, He will give it to you
Mark 11:24 - Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you.
Matthew 7:7-8 - Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened

2) Why are there so many starving people in our world?
Isaiah 45:7 - I form the light, and create darkness, I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord that do all these things.

3) Why does god demand the death of so many innocent people in the bible?
Romans 5:8 - Christ died for us while we were still sinners. This demonstrates God's love for us.

4) Why is god such a huge proponent of slavery in the bible?
Leviticus 25:44-46 - As for your male and female slaves whom you may have-- you may acquire male and female slaves from the pagan nations that are around you. You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property. You can will them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly.
Exodus 21:20-21 - If a man beats his male or female slave with a rod and the slave dies as a direct result, he must be punished, but he is not to be punished if the slave gets up after a day or two, since the slave is his property.

5) Why didn’t any of Jesus’ miracles in the bible leave behind any evidence?

6) Why would Jesus want you to eat his body and drink his blood?
John 6:53-55 - Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink.

7) Do babies (not competent enough to seek salvation) end up in hell when they die? (Also, where do the mentally handicap people go?)
Nothing directly said in the bible about this.

So...these are some of the simple questions I wonder about. Any way any of you can shed light on the subjects for me?


HIM: I've actually met several hundred amputees, paraplegics and quadriplegics and I've never met one who said they asked God to grow them a new arm or a new set of legs. I'm curious why we, since other animals are able, haven't evolved to the state that we could grow one back on our own. Wink

And again to your comment, you're not asking for objectivity you're asking for concurrance. I'm just trying to help your writing structure.


ME: Objectivity - Ability to view things objectively: the ability to perceive or describe something without being influenced by personal emotions or prejudices.

Now Matthew, let me ask you, when entering into a conversation with a prejudice that... the Bible was written by our creator and every word in it is true because of that, then how could this be called objectivity?

If you stand back and look at the Bible objectively, you can see it for what it is, a compilations of stories written by many men which has been edited many times throughout history in an effort to prove itself infallible. There are also many other books written on the subject and I would like to refer you to the book A History of God, written by Karen Armstrong. This books talks about the history of the Bible and the way it evolved from Greek polytheism to the original books of the Old Testament, the revised books of the Old Testament, and into the New Testaments and its many revisions.

As for the question I asked about amputees and your rhetorical question in response, are those verses I quoted any less accurate? Does it not say that we can pray for "anything" and get what we want if we truly believe? Please let me know if I'm misinterpreting. You're also right, some creatures, such as certain lizards, have evolved to have the ability to grow back certain limbs. Since we, as humans (and God's chosen), do not have that ability, does that mean that the creator loved us less?

As for those other questions, I'm still very curious about them. Any way you could offer me some more insight?


HIM: Sorry I missed your questions, for some reason my PC wasn’t showing all the comments (the longer ones), just the shorter ones and no “see more” button.

My disclaimer is that my answers are based on my own understanding; I’m not the church I...’m just me.

First, read Matthew 22:37 – 40
Second, keep in mind two things:
1. If you miss the Kingdom of God, you miss everything. So, if you read the Bible looking for objectivity or inaccuracy – you’ll find just that – just as God promises you, “seek and ye shall find.”
2. We are God’s “plan B” – we’re to be the miracle and it’s up to us to end injustice. If you see the need for change today, complacency starts tomorrow.

Second, I ended up writing you a 4-page thesis, so I emailed it to you instead.

(And the PM goes on here)

Regarding Matthew 5:17, Jesus and the Old Testament Law, he summed up the entirety of the Old Testament when in Matthew 22:37-40 he said, “Love the Lord your God…and the second is like it, love your neighbor as yourself.” Quite frankly, until someone is able to grasp that the rest of the conversation on the finer points of theology and deep secrets of the Bible are pointless. Those two instructions are ridiculously simple, and most – including me – aren’t achieving that. I hope that will save you a lot of time digging through the OT looking for faith – those 4 verses sum it up. Hang out in Romans and Proverbs instead of digging through the Talmud. I can tell you for certain that if you’re looking for Jesus in the OT you’re holding a compass looking for outer space. Just look up, and there’s your answer.

If there are discrepancies or contradictions in the Bible, there is no discrepancy or contradiction in Matthew 22:37-40. It’s very plain, simple language and we fall short. I take the Bible on faith, and as a document that tries to take the limited cognizant functions of humanity and our inefficient written and oral communication skills and cram God’s knowledge into that construct. “Seek and ye shall find, ask and it will be given to you” – you’re right my friend, and it sounds like you’re finding what you’re seeking in the Bible. If you seek reasons for the Bible to be false, I promise you’ll find it. If you’re looking for overlaps and errors, I’m sure you’ll find that too. Just last night I was reading about Noah and his boating vacation and only chapters apart it said to take 2 of every kind of animal, then it said to take 7 of every “clean” (edible) animal. I could make a note and dwell on it and spend months questioning my faith – or I could take it as something I’ll understand later, on faith, which I do. My relationship with Jesus doesn’t depend on how many critters Noah brought to the BBQ.

You’re lucky you’re a male who “used to be Christian” and not a female who “used to be a Muslim” – even in the United States. If you’ve not heard of “honor killings” Google it and prepare to be mortified. A true Muslim, also an Abrahamic Religion, would tell you honor killings are an atrocity and built on mankind’s sin and fear, not “of God.” In the same way others will say something is of “God” or “Jesus” when really it’s of their own sin or fear.

Regarding Leviticus 25:30, et al; yes I absolutely believe we’re called to help the poor. However, I think you’re confusing politics and religion. This isn’t a call for socialist government or a welfare state; it’s a call to action. Should I reference Matthew 22:37-40 again? There are no examples of an efficient government that can administer social welfare; it’s inefficient at all levels. We are supposed to take care of it – you and I. We are supposed to know our neighbor well enough to know when they’re in need. Christians are called to tithe at least 10%, and give as needed beyond that; 10% is the baseline. If I know of someone who needs $500, and I have $500, not only is it my responsibility to give it to them interest-free but without expectation of repayment. Jesus said, “As you do unto the least of these you do unto me.” The concept is difficult to understand in our country where the “economy” is really a reflection of credit-worthiness and spending levels, and our banking system is solely built on collecting interest. If I hear of a need that I can fill and don’t, then I haven’t lived up to Matthew 22:37-40, and the rest of all the knowledge in the world is pointless. But many do live up to that. Most Christians I know who are giving, give far in excess of what the government takes in taxes. I personally know one person who “reverse tithe’s.” He makes more than $3m/ year. He gives away 90% and lives off 10%. After taxes, that means that he makes $3m/ year and is living on less than $200k. He lives in a small home on a small street and drives a small car. That’s not everyone, but it’s some.

To some of your other points:
1. Why won’t god heal amputees?
God will heal an amputee, and help them see that they still have a calling and purpose. Physical comfort and bliss isn’t the promise of the Bible, quite the opposite. Paul tells us over and over that the life of a Christian is hard, difficult, and painful. Praying for a blissful, carefree, pain free life for one’s self is selfish. I’ve earned all my scars and I’d like to keep them. And when put into context with slavery above, seems rather insignificant. I ask of God all the time, and he delivers. I’ve even been fortunate enough to see in hindsight why God didn’t answer some of my prayers.

2. Why are there so many starving people in our world?
That’s again something mankind has created and is enabling. You’re either the miracle or you’re not. You’re either seeing that food gets on the ground in Haiti, Africa, even the US, or you’re not. However, you’re still talking about an idea of a life free from any suffering or pain – that’s just not life friend. I can tell you that there are mission groups I support that were in Haiti before the earthquake and they’re still there now, feeding people and managing a cholera outbreak. The aide our country sent is still, largely, sitting at port waiting for paperwork and I’m not kidding. Here’s one for you – the recent “ethanol” craze in the US has meant that a lot of the farmland we used for growing crops to send to starving countries has instead been turned into cornfields. That’s not God’s problem – that’s our problem. That’s YOUR problem.

3. Why does god demand the death of so many innocent people in the bible?
We’ll all die, and none of us are innocent. Again, you’re focusing on an easy, pain free life and that’s just not the case. I’m not sure how Romans 5:8 relates. If I die, or if my loved ones die, it isn’t God’s “fault” for taking me, or them – that is unless I don’t have faith that I’ll be seeing them again. Inasmuch as a person wouldn’t be able to “blame” God who doesn’t believe in Him, the argument doesn’t hold water. If I have faith in God I have faith in his word, and faith in the Kingdom.

4. Why is God such a huge proponent of slavery in the bible?
Regarding the rest of Leviticus and slavery, you’re as much a slave as any in Leviticus if you “own” a home or have any kind of note or loan. The Bible goes on to say the borrower is slave to the lender, and it’s true. There’s slavery today, and if anything in your home was made in West Africa, Indonesia, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Tibet, even Romania, you’re likely supporting slavery. God isn’t a proponent of that, because that slavery is built on our consumption and the greed of manufacturers and factory owners. Make it more real - someplace in Spokane, right now, there’s a Russian woman who was told she was coming to America to be a housekeeper who’s force-injected heroin and is a sex slave who may or may not have seen daylight in the past week. God isn’t a proponent of that. That’s not God’s fault, that’s ours. It’s our home – so it’s our fault. And, frankly, until you’ve given money to the rape crises center where she’ll stumble into or volunteered at Anna Ogden Hall, speculating on the philosophical or religious arguments is worthless. Moses, the author of Leviticus, was himself a slave as was his audience. After the 2nd crusade, many Christians had to sell themselves into slavery – regardless of race, creed or nationality (although they were – because they couldn’t pay the $10 negotiated as the fee to safely leave Jerusalem. Is it possible for slavery to exist and still “love your neighbor as yourself”? Well…if we keep borrowing money from China, selling China rights to our natural resources, and rely on them to manufacture for our constant consumption, we’ll soon find out. It’s not up to me to justify or defend slavery in the Bible or know God’s reasons – but the NT says once we’re saved we’re no longer “slaves to sin” but are instead “slaves to the gospel.” I’m okay with that.

5. Why didn’t any of Jesus’ miracles in the bible leave behind any evidence?
I’m not sure what evidence you’re looking for that we’d find about Jesus’ miracles, but if there were artifacts we could put in the Smithsonian, there wouldn’t be much need for faith would there? The evidence will be there when you’re ready, of that I’m certain. I think Olivia, and I’m certain Avery are proof of God’s miracles. I’ve seen other miracles, too, but if you’re looking for them as a basis of faith then “looking” is all you’ll ever get to do.

6. Why would Jesus want you to eat his body and drink his blood?
John 6:53 – on: The reason for the symbolism around communion is complicated, you should really ask someone more qualified. If you want I can give you a name. Jesus was giving a practical example to a group of people that literally lived hand-to-mouth, if they didn’t find work each day or find food, they would starve. The metaphor used is that whoever calls on Jesus “remains in me, and I in them,” meaning food and drink that you never have to replace – you won’t go hungry. Again, if you want to talk with someone who actually knows the theology behind it I can send you his info.

7. Do babies (not competent enough to seek salvation) end up in hell when they die? (Also, where do the mentally handicap people go?) Babies (and the mentally handicapped per your example) go to heaven. Read 2 Samuel 12, particularly 22-23. “But now that (my newborn child) is dead, why should I go fasting? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him (heaven), but he will not return to me (earth).” Babies and the mentally handicapped aren’t able to receive the Gospel or understand the concept of God. Besides, God wants us in heaven, “The Lord is willing that none should perish,” so automatically removing 10 - 20% of the population of the universe through miscarriage, 1% through infant mortality, or 3% for being mentally handicapped. That could be up to 25% of what would have been the potential world population. Besides the mentally ill aren’t handicapped once they get to heaven, since we’re all made new. THAT is when your pain-free living starts, my friend.

When entering into a conversation with a prejudice like the Bible, I’m happy to stand by it. You've entered with just the opposite - convinced that without concrete proof, God must not be real. You're not looking for God, you're looking for any flaw that proves the contrary. Remember, everyone worships something. I choose God. Others worship intellectualism, or philosophy. or sex, drugs, and addiction, or themselves.

If you stand back and look at the Bible objectively, then you’ll see it objectively and you’ll miss the Kingdom. If you miss the Kingdom of God, then you’ve missed everything. If you focus on the wrongdoing and sinfulness of man, then you’ll see it – objectively – and you’ll miss the Kingdom. If you have faith that Jesus didn’t come for me, he came for you too, and faith in the Kingdom, then “you shall know and be known.”

You might spend your whole life looking for solid evidence of God, works, miracles - and if you do you'll never find him. Smile. There's nothing bigger and no other truth.


ME: I actually have 1/3 left to read, not 1/3 read, sorry that wasn't clear. In any sense, the thoughts of the article you linked seemed modular, and I was taking notes as I was reading the various claims and subjects. I'm sure I'll have more notes tomorrow. Wink

As I've mentioned, my initial approach in searching deeper into the Bible as a teen was from a Christian's viewpoint, and in search of assurance of my beliefs, not to disprove them. My thought process at that age had become much more full of questioning and a certain type of thinking than when I had learned about this stuff as a kid and accepted it without question. To say "seek, and ye shall receive," would indicate that I would have found the scientific evidence of God and the miracles of Christ that I wanted to find in the beginning of my search. Later, after my own deconversion, to look at the Bible and recognize it as a simple collection of old writings, it became more clear and less confusing than it ever was. Just know, at the beginning of my journey, I was not looking for "reasons for the Bible to be false," that was just an assumption made by you. Another assumption is that everyone worships something. To choose truth and call it worshiping intellectualism, or to call Atheism/Agnosticism a religion, makes as much sense as calling "OFF" a channel, or calling not collecting stamps a hobby.

I'm sure it must be even harder to live as a deconverted female ex-Muslim, but that does not discount that fact that I have lived as a believer and lived as a non-believer, and seen more than one side of the fence. I also don't endorse the Islam faith any more than I endorse Christianity.

With regards to Matthew 22:37 – 40, it would seem contradictory for there to be only 2 commandments that matter when there are countless other commands made in the Bible. Even so, to "love thy neighbor as you love thyself" also aligns itself with the golden rule of treating others as you would like to be treated, which all Atheists/Agnostics that I know subscribe to. Once again, a man does not need the Bible to have a strong moral fabric and to follow rules that show respect and love for their fellow man. I also don't see how this passage "sums up the entirety" of the OT.

One simple passage that you like doesn't excuse the various contradictions and atrocities found in the Bible, OT and NT (Let me know if you want me to list some of these). Without ever reading the Bible and through life experience, or just reading various non-theistic quotes of many philosophers can help you come to the same enlightenment as those "good" passages found in the Bible.

For a "document that tries to take the limited cognizant functions of humanity and our inefficient written and oral communication skills and cram God’s knowledge into that construct," you would think that the Bible would at least utilize the best of the written and oral communication skills to at least not be full of contradictions and horrible atrocities.

You're a more evolved Christian Matthew, one that doesn't "sweat the small stuff," that chooses to believe despite those things. You pick and choose. Some Christians of other denominations might hear this and say that you are not a true Christian, that you do not believe the word as infallible and thus will not be welcome in the Kingdom of Heaven with them. What do you say to such Christians? Would I also be correct in assuming that there are self proclaimed Christians of other denominations and interpretations of the book that you would claim are not "true Christians?"

If you want to keep the politics out of the religion, then that's cool, I'll drop the issue and how it relates to politics. Unfortunately many politicians bring their religion whole heartedly into their work and their policies and the laws (imposing morality) that some of them right. I would like for these two to be mutually exclusive, but unfortunately they're not. If, however, you'd like to pretend they are, that's fine too. I could go on and on about how religion affects politics and how the actions of politicians often contradict their religious beliefs, but it's probably best to stay on point anyways. A quick note on it though, the large corporations that are shipping the jobs overseas for bigger profits and using farm resources as fuel for cars instead of the starving, are being protected by the right-wing.

Another assumption I'm reading is that I (and perhaps other Atheists/Agnostics) don't give money to good causes or volunteer their time? I hope that's not what you're saying, because it is very untrue. I was just having this conversation the other day with Kara about what we would do if we got a billion dollars tomorrow. We don't want or need that kind of money and we would give away over 99% of that if we had it. We give what we can, when we have more we give more, when we have less we give less. We also have our own little things we volunteer for. Also, surely you don't think that I have to donate to every cause that I want to have an opinion on?

I'm not sure you quite get the stance I'm trying to convey about prayer and the many horrible things that happen in the world every day. You say that God answers your prayers, what kind of prayers I don't know, but there are also starving children in the world who are praying as well, but as God is seemingly answering your prayers, he is also seemingly ignoring the prayers of those starving children. Those children are not being selfish, all they want is some clean drinking water to give them the strength to go another day. Many of them die every day.

I can get on board with the idea that slavery in some contexts of the Bible was actually a financial debt (though it doesn't seem that way). It still does not make much sense of EXODUS 21:20-21, unless that means it's OK to beat a man who owes you money if he doesn't pay up? I suppose the mafia is actually in coherence with the word of the Lord after all. Wink Or again, maybe I can't talk about slavery until I donate to the rape crisis center?

I'm glad you picked the baby question to comment on, as I also heard the same thing from another Christian. The Bible, however, doesn't truly specify. When I asked my other Christian friend (who believed these babies and mentally handicap went to Heaven as well) why there wasn't something more specific in the Bible, he replied that it was because Christians would then go around killing babies of parents with different beliefs to guarantee those babies will make it into Heaven. I suppose the "thou shalt not kill" thing slipped his mind.

So in the end, consider two me: 1) A moral man who lives loving others and treating them right, even by Jesus' standards, but does not accept the Christian gospel and chooses to be an Atheist. 2) A man that sometime lies, steals and lives an immoral life by most standards, but believes in every word of the Lord and believes that this will mean Jesus will forgive him for his sins. - Which of these two men do you think will be allowed in to this all exclusive "Kingdom of Heaven?" The moral Atheist or the questionably moral Christian?


HIM: If you want to talk to someone who knows theology and the more intricate details, I'll set you up to have coffee with my friend Bobby Moore. Otherwise, we could just email back and forth forever and bask in my glorious ignorance.

Jesus' verse does, in fact, sum up all of the other commandments. Love God, love your neighbor. All 10 (or 530+ depending on who you ask) fall into one of those two headings, that's why it's called "the greatest commandment."

As for "true Christians," the only thing that makes such a thing is belief that Christ is the son of God and that he died for me. The rest is all built on loving God and loving people - the greatest commandment - and we would all spend our whole lives just trying to do that. Beyond that I'm not concerned with theology or dogma or religion. What difference does it make if we shouldn't eat pork like the Jews, Muslims, and some Christians, if my neighbor has no food and I don't feed him? Who cares if the sabbath is on Fri, or Sat, or Sun, or Mon, as different groups argue, if I'm not going to help anybody but myself on that day anyway?

Remember in "Bruce Almighty" when he opens this filing cabinet with all his "sins" and he's thrown back hundreds of feet as the drawer flies open? In that "file," if it were 1,000 feet long, I am absolutely certain that the first 995 feet are going to be sins where I turned my back to a problem, when I didn't love others, when I didn't help when I could. The other 5 feet is going to be the things that we argue over like the "little stuff."

You'll take offense to this - and maybe it'll help you grow - my point is until you get your hands dirty solving the world's problems, you don't have the perspective to understand a problem beyond its conceptual or philosophical relevance.

I've seen starving children, I've seen raped, battered, beaten women, I've seen people die at the hands of other people and by their own hand. I didn't read it in the news or see it in a book. I fully comprehend those are actions and failures of mankind, not God. Your points and opinions don't reflect a man who's hands have gotten dirty solving those problems. That's not a judgment against you, it's a call to action - go solve problems, you're a smart man and more than able to do so. It doesn't make me "better" for having done so, but it certainly gives me a perspective and experience that you don't (yet) have. It'd be like telling someone how to cook who's spent their whole life in a kitchen because you've watched several videos and read several books. Get in the kitchen, my friend. Smile Someone said to me once, "why do you bother, you can't save all these kids," and I said, "no, but I can save this one."

Do something simple - go to worldvision.com and "adopt" a child, it's $35/ month. I've seen their balance sheet - they have a lower admin/ overhead than even the Red Cross. I personally know people working for them in the field, the money goes where it's supposed to go. You don't need a billion dollars to change the world, $35 will save one and that's where you start.

On a side note - I know you're a pacifist, but you're not to old to join the military and go see the world with your own eyes, get your hands dirty and solve some problems. Go be an officer in the Air Force, their engineers are doing things like solving the logistics of feeding 4 million starving Afghan kids without the warlords capturing the food convoys, and they're well away from any gunfire. You don't have to support violence to support service, you could even join the Peace Corps and do much the same thing.

I wasn't always a Christian. In fact it's only been the last decade or so that I've really known Christ. If you had met me you wouldn't have liked me. I don't lean on my salvation to erase what I've done or who I was, I lean on my salvation for what I'm going to be doing in the world today and beyond. I don't like forgiveness because I like to feel forgiven, I like forgiveness so that I can forgive others and solve problems in the world now.

I've been on both sides of a beating, both unjust and cruel along with well earned and well given. It doesn't hurt forever, God made us and our bodies heal. Given your perspective on of inflicting any kind of pain on others, I'm not sure you understand what it is you're trying to describe beyond the concept.

I'm willing to go out on a limb and say that at some point in your teen years you felt rejected or hurt by someone at church and it seems fairly clear you're still angry about it. When you think of "Christians," you think of them, and I'm no different. I've been rejected by more Christians than I can recall. I've literally been told not to come back to churches because of who I was, how I acted, or questions I asked. That wasn't "of God," that was of men.

(Here he shared a very personal story about his past, which he told me in confidence, so I won't go into details about it. In summary, his upbringing wasn't easy, big surprise)

If you'd like to be real and talk about Deater sometime I'm be all ears. If you'd like to know who to call to go get your hands dirty and start helping people, I can do that to. If you'd like to delve into specific theological or philosophical topics, I'll hook you up with Bobby.

What was it you were seeking that you didn't receive? What was it you were asking God for and didn't get?
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01-02-2011, 11:59 AM
RE: Thought you'd all like to read this
tl;dr but I'm sure you showed him! I'm long past the point of arguing, most theists are too convicted and a debate only results in frustration. But you've got gusto, so go for it Tongue

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01-02-2011, 12:48 PM
 
RE: Thought you'd all like to read this
ME: Matthew, your replies are getting more and more about assumptions about me, my character and my life experience, and I hope you can step back and turn off your blinders that cloud your ability to see that one does not need to be a Christian to be giving and compassionate.

Let me start out by telling you that my grandfather was in WWII and my two uncles were in Vietnam (all on my mom's side of the family). War turned them into hollow men, and despite adherence to Christianity and their country, they came out as men who have killed, who "got their hands dirty" and saw first hand the bloody, pointless and tragic outcomes of war. After the war her father became a drunk as well, beat her and her mother and her siblings. Both of her parents killed themselves. I've seen friends return from the Iraq war after killing children and they were ruined as well. Sorry, but no thank you when it comes to joining the forces, I'd rather keep my humanity and help in other ways.

My mother was also a very unstable drunk, and a single mother raising my sister and myself. My dad was not around, and in fact we didn't start building a relationship until I was in college. He died soon after I graduated. I had to become the responsible one in my family at an early age. One big turning point for me was in the 5th grade when my mom attempted to kill herself. She took a full bottle of sleeping pills at the end of a day of binge drinking. While I was trying to get my mom to sit up strait and eat some food in the kitchen (I thought she was just drunk), she passed out and hit the floor hard. I called 911 and the ambulance came. I found the empty bottle and gave it to the paramedic. They pumped her stomach and saved her (luckily I didn't just sit there and pray). My mom hasn't tried to kill herself since then, but believe me, it was a hard thing to deal with, and in some ways, it still is. Just like you though, I would not change a thing because it helped to shape the person I am, and I very happy with who I am as well.

There is more than just physical abuse as well Matt, and I've experience every kind. I've been beaten badly in more than one instance of my life (let me know if you want specifics), but I cannot say I've been on the giving end of such beatings. It's much harder to overcome the emotional pains of the various types of abuse than any physical pains. (spoke a little bit here about the personal experience he shared with me and the emotional ramifications of it). The real bruises are on the inside, and trust me Matt, my insides are stronger from all of the bruises I've sustained throughout my life. Life ain't easy man, and the grass is always greener on the other side. Please don't make assumptions and compare your life to mine claiming to have dealt with more adversity and rising to a higher level. Being an Atheist/Agnostic, I find a more clear understanding and I take more responsibility for the world around me. I don't think life is all divine intervention, it's physics, circumstance, and why I make of it.

As for donations I make and how much time and money I give, I don't do it for the recognition. I don't put the pictures on my fridge and at my work that say "tell your friends about me!" I don't do it so all of my friends and co-workers can see. I don't flaunt every letter to the people around me and say "look, I donate, it shows I care!" The time and money I give does make me feel better, so I do get something out of it and it's not a fully selfless act, but I think it becomes far more selfish when I flaunt it. You can take this any way you want, believe it, don't, I don't care, because I don't do it for you or my image.

One concepts that led me into Atheism was that of morality. Is something moral because it is moral, or because God makes it so? If God were to say that rape is moral, or killing in moral, would you follow his word? To look at the Bible and see the atrocities within it, it becomes possible to be truly moral, and even more so, without it. To give or love because you're trying to please a God or avoid eternal burning is not the right reasons. My morality is based on respect and understanding of my fellow humans and a desire not to inflict pain, but instead to improve lives, as doing so improves my own.

I fell you come across as far less diplomatic and arrogant in your position than I, as if you have had a great deal more life experience than I have, so I don't know what I'm talking about. It's this ubiquitous stance on a moral high horse that often turns many off to the concept of religion. You're going to learn at some point that this stance is not going to be affective. If you learn anything from this conversation, perhaps it will be how to conduct and represent yourself better as a Christian. I'm quite sure as well that I've instigated such a defensive response, and for that I'm sorry, it is not my intention. And to answer your question, no, I'm not basing my stand on a single Christian that rejected or hurt me in my teen years. There have been MANY Christians of various denominations along the way whom I would say represented the group quite poorly and are certainly a variable of my equation, but there is no single person that has had such an effect on me.

As for the small stuff, you say "who cares about eating pork, or working on the sabbath," well wouldn't many of those commandments fit into loving your God, as he has requested? When you give offerings of bread and sacrifice, it must be done a certain way as outlined in the Bible. You see, you pick and choose, just like everyone else. You all have your own individual religion, but most of America likes to loosely base their individual religion on the life of a single man, and a single book. Certain parts don't fit? "It's all good, that doesn't mean I can't pick and choose. You can't take my security blanket away from me!" It's like trying to convince Linus to drop the dang blanket, you've grown out of it but you've also grown comfortable in it.

I'm a growing person, I'm open to new concepts and ideas. I'm not a Neo-Atheist, satanic, hating, cold human being like many Christian think Atheists are. I'm a positive Atheist, and I thrive every day to be better.

"We’re not trying to take down religion, we are trying to help the world through the promotion of evidence and reason as the basis for all beliefs…We hope to help the world deal with conflicts in a way it’s never been able to deal with conflicts before. We are former Christians, professors, scientists…and we are united in staking the decisions of our future on evidence, reason, and the scientific method. We care what you think, and we want you to join us in making a better world. We think you’ll want to leave your myths and legends behind, not because we hate them, but because we think we’ve found something you’ll like better: A Universe filled with natural wonder, an origin that connects us with all other life on the planet, a rich system of ethics, capable of formidably dealing with the moral dilemmas of a complex world, and most importantly, we have verifiable evidence for all of it, evidence that it’s real, that it works, and that it applies to you, and we are constantly revising our understanding based on new discoveries. We think the future that we will find together is greater than the assumptions of our past." -Evid3nc3

It's a wonderful and freeing feeling to feel more comfortable and secure in a belief structure I can make sense of. I still marvel in the wonders of the world, but with a more open mind. Was it created by a designer, or team of designers? I don't know, and neither do you. The Sun in the sky this morning was a wonderful sight, it's been too long since it's been out like this. This big burning star that provides life for us and accounts for over 99% of the total mass in our solar system, and when we see it and feel it, it feels good. It's one of our natural sources of energy and has been throughout our evolution. What an amazing phenomenon to be a part of.

You ask "What was it you were seeking that you didn't receive? What was it you were asking God for and didn't get?" -Well my answer to both of those questions is proof. In the beginning of my deconversion I was beginning to get very much into science, history and academics in general. I began to "think like an engineer," and it's my natural thought process. I thought perhaps I could find the proof I was looking for, but the proof sent me in another direction and I'm happy for the journey that I took and for being honest with myself along the way.
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01-02-2011, 05:10 PM
RE: Thought you'd all like to read this
I hate the ones that put a winking smily after every stupid misinformed comment that they seem to think just won an argument.

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01-02-2011, 06:16 PM
 
RE: Thought you'd all like to read this
(01-02-2011 05:10 PM)Cetaceaphile Wrote:  I hate the ones that put a winking smily after every stupid misinformed comment that they seem to think just won an argument.

Well, in all fairness, I did that a bit too. I also removed some the ones at the end of his comments, just couldn't get em all. I think it's meant to assure that despite the fact that we're getting serious in this conversation, it doesn't make us spin off of our chairs and doesn't affect our friendship.
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