So As Not to Hijack Another Thread

Crossover
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So As Not to Hijack Another Thread

Mellestad...I didn't want to get too far off topic in the Christian Mental State thread so I figured I' start from scratch here and try to respond.

mellestad wrote:

Wouldn't the early church have a better handle on what was literal than the later church?  I would think our handle on interpretation would slip as time went by rather than grow more firm.

 

To me, Revelation is pretty straight forward, it is a symbolic way to get people riled up.  To give people a pep talk, you know, your enemies will all die and the chosen elite will achieve eternal reward!  From the way it is written it is immediate, he talks about this stuff like it will happen in his lifetime and there are many things that point to him talking specifically about Rome.  I don't think the violence is out of character for much of the Bible, although it would be for Jesus.  So it makes sense to me.  As a theist the confusing part is the lack of immediacy...Rev 1:1, 3, 22:10, 22:7, 12, 20...they all point to something happening soon, not something thousands of years away.

 

But anyway, the most confusing parts.  As an atheist, honestly, the Bible makes sense to me.  I look at it as a product of the time and culture when it was written and I get it, it makes sense.  That isn't to say I think it is logical or that it isn't contradictory, or that the teachings or lessons are applicable to modern life.  It just means it isn't confusing.

As an ex-theist, the things that are the most confusing, in no particular order:

1. The Genesis story in light of modern knowledge.  The order and method of creation, the birth of life and man, the abilities of early man and the entire flood story are all directly contradicted by modern science.  And it is clearly not written as a symbolic work, so that makes it hard to figure out.

2. The Garden of Eden story, the curse of man and the resulting original sin.  The whole process doesn't follow any rational thought process.  Why create man and give a test that insures failure?  Why the curse?  Why let the snake in?  Why have the choice to be evil?  What is evil and why would you create it?  If God didn't create it arbitrarily, then what did?  Since God is supposed to be omnipotent and omni-present what is the point of the whole exercise?  Why Hell?  Etc.

3. Tower of Babel, whether literal of metaphorical.

4. The huge personality shift between the God of the OT and the God of the NT.

5. The need for blood sacrifice, from goats all the way up to Jesus.  This is pretty broad...from Isaac's son to general ritual killing to the entire Jesus story itself.  It doesn't make sense why God literally needs to be appeased with innocent life to get me off the hook for the curse he put on me because my original ancester acted according to their God given nature and broke a rule also created by God.

6. Matthew 27:46.  "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?"

7. The concept of the trinity, and how that isn't polytheism.

8. Sexual morality as represented in the Bible.

 

Off the top of my head anyway, I could go on.  Haha, I was a very confused theist.

I would agree about the early church, for sure.

1) There are a lot of different explanations that people come up with. Some stick with the Bible, some say certain elements of Genesis are allegorical. I'd have to ask what you're refering to that contradicts the Bible.

2) That falls into what I just posted in another forum as Lapsarianism. Depends on what theology you subscribes to as to why God did it.

3) What is the confusing part?

4) The shift isn't so much of a personality shift as it is a portrayal shift. He is portrayed in the OT as vengeful and in the NT as graceful, because of The shift from Old Covenant to New Covenant.

5) Confuses me too.

6) There is no short answer to this. I would point you to Christ's Words from the Cross for the full explanation.

7) Simple explanation is think of an equilateral triangle. 3 separate sides equal in size, but 1 triangle.

Cool I've never heard that before. What you mean specifically.

My Master has no desire to be merely victor in a debate: he did not come into the world to fight a battle of logic just
for the sake of winning it. --Charles Spurgeon


mellestad
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Crossover

Crossover wrote:

Mellestad...I didn't want to get too far off topic in the Christian Mental State thread so I figured I' start from scratch here and try to respond.

mellestad wrote:

Wouldn't the early church have a better handle on what was literal than the later church?  I would think our handle on interpretation would slip as time went by rather than grow more firm.

 

To me, Revelation is pretty straight forward, it is a symbolic way to get people riled up.  To give people a pep talk, you know, your enemies will all die and the chosen elite will achieve eternal reward!  From the way it is written it is immediate, he talks about this stuff like it will happen in his lifetime and there are many things that point to him talking specifically about Rome.  I don't think the violence is out of character for much of the Bible, although it would be for Jesus.  So it makes sense to me.  As a theist the confusing part is the lack of immediacy...Rev 1:1, 3, 22:10, 22:7, 12, 20...they all point to something happening soon, not something thousands of years away.

 

But anyway, the most confusing parts.  As an atheist, honestly, the Bible makes sense to me.  I look at it as a product of the time and culture when it was written and I get it, it makes sense.  That isn't to say I think it is logical or that it isn't contradictory, or that the teachings or lessons are applicable to modern life.  It just means it isn't confusing.

As an ex-theist, the things that are the most confusing, in no particular order:

1. The Genesis story in light of modern knowledge.  The order and method of creation, the birth of life and man, the abilities of early man and the entire flood story are all directly contradicted by modern science.  And it is clearly not written as a symbolic work, so that makes it hard to figure out.

2. The Garden of Eden story, the curse of man and the resulting original sin.  The whole process doesn't follow any rational thought process.  Why create man and give a test that insures failure?  Why the curse?  Why let the snake in?  Why have the choice to be evil?  What is evil and why would you create it?  If God didn't create it arbitrarily, then what did?  Since God is supposed to be omnipotent and omni-present what is the point of the whole exercise?  Why Hell?  Etc.

3. Tower of Babel, whether literal of metaphorical.

4. The huge personality shift between the God of the OT and the God of the NT.

5. The need for blood sacrifice, from goats all the way up to Jesus.  This is pretty broad...from Isaac's son to general ritual killing to the entire Jesus story itself.  It doesn't make sense why God literally needs to be appeased with innocent life to get me off the hook for the curse he put on me because my original ancester acted according to their God given nature and broke a rule also created by God.

6. Matthew 27:46.  "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?"

7. The concept of the trinity, and how that isn't polytheism.

8. Sexual morality as represented in the Bible.

 

Off the top of my head anyway, I could go on.  Haha, I was a very confused theist.

I would agree about the early church, for sure.

So, let me preface this a bit.  I do understand that there are answers to each of the questions below, I'm even familiar with most of them.  The thing is something about my personality makes me want things to make sense.  The takeaway is that, for example, when talking about the issues below there are two ways to look at it.  One is theological...in that method you assume the Bible is true and divine, and then you *must* figure out how it makes sense internally, even if you need to really go out on a limb to do so.  So that is method one.  The second method is objective, in that you take the book as it is without any internal assumptions.  Of course you still have assumptions, like reality is real Smiling, but those assumptions are not internal to the Bible or the stories inside of it.

So having said that, even when I was a theist I have a hard time using the first method.

Crossover wrote:

1) There are a lot of different explanations that people come up with. Some stick with the Bible, some say certain elements of Genesis are allegorical. I'd have to ask what you're refering to that contradicts the Bible.

The universe was not created in the timeframe mentioned.  Life did not spring into being fully formed.  Man did not live 1,000 years.  There was no world wide flood.  The geneology is not complete, because the earth is not 6,000 years old.

Crossover wrote:

2) That falls into what I just posted in another forum as Lapsarianism. Depends on what theology you subscribes to as to why God did it.

And again, this runs into my preface.  Yes, you can make a complex excuse for what happened, but does that make more sense than simply saying the story is a myth by an ancient tribe to explain suffering?  Which is the simpler explanation?

Crossover wrote:

3) What is the confusing part?

If it is metaphorical, what does it mean?  If it is literal, what does *that* mean?  Why does God seem to desire chaos among man?  Again, which makes more sense, the idea that something actually happened, or that this is just another myth to explain language?

Crossover wrote:

4) The shift isn't so much of a personality shift as it is a portrayal shift. He is portrayed in the OT as vengeful and in the NT as graceful, because of The shift from Old Covenant to New Covenant.

But the question is how does an omiscient, omnipresent deity have a change of attitude about anything?  Why not set the process up right the first time?  Why the drama?  The act creates so many logical problems that it seems nonsensical.  The change is more than a portrayal, there is a factual change in the deities behavior.  Rituals change, requirements change, attitude changes.  Although, at the core, there is still a deity that requires death as payment for the sins of our ancestors.

I just don't see how a deity goes from, "Burn their city, enslave their women, kill the men and crush the babies heads" to "Turn the other cheek".

Crossover wrote:

5) Confuses me too.

This is pretty much just 4.

Crossover wrote:

6) There is no short answer to this. I would point you to Christ's Words from the Cross for the full explanation.

Is there even a long answer to it that is rationally coherent?  One option is that you've got this outrageous situation where an immortal being is sacrificing itself to itself to buy itself off on behalf of a third party in an act of human sacrifice and the part being sacrificed gets...scared?  Betrayed?  Somehow cut off from the rest of itself?  The other option is that these are the words of a Roman era holy man who realizes the 'angels' in his head aren't going to pull him off of this cross, and he panics.

Crossover wrote:

7) Simple explanation is think of an equilateral triangle. 3 separate sides equal in size, but 1 triangle.

Again, this is a preface problem.  Yea, I get that you can say that, but the whole thing *doesn't make sense*.  Sure, I guess an omnipotent omnipresent deity could split itself into three parts, only not, just because, but really, why would it?

Crossover wrote:

Cool I've never heard that before. What you mean specifically.

Christian sexual morality, and many Christian morality laws in general, make some amount of sense in a patriarchal tribal society thousands of years ago.  Some don't make any sense (Numbers 5:11-31? Mose of things in Leviticus.), but some do make sense.

In the modern era though a lot of it just isn't applicable.  Homosexuality, consensual sex outside of marriage, lustful thinking...the world and societies work just fine when these things happen.  It wouldn't be such a big deal except that is something modern Christians seem to be obsessed with.

Everything makes more sense now that I've stopped believing.


Crossover
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I'm sorry but I'm not in

I'm sorry but I'm not in great condition to be using the quote function so I'll do this:

 

1) I agree. Well, apart from the flood thing. The whole age of the world being 6,000 years old bother the crap out of me. And, it is my understanding, that man living for 1,000 years is due to a difference in calender keeping. However, I can't say I ever looked into that.

2) I agree, however I'm answering these question on the "assume that it is true" idea. It makes sense to me...most of it. Maybe I'm not the best at explaining why, maybe it's just because that I will never be able to explain it good enough for the people on this board. But I stay pretty clear of directly going "atheist v.s. theist 'I will convince you I am right" since I know that I won't. I mostly post my opinions, and ask others opinions. I'm not trying to prove anything on the second platform, simply explaining how it makes theological sense. If I can convince y'all that it makes theological sense then at least you don't think we are as ignorant as you did before. That's all that matters to me.

3) It is literal. Why? Because that was God's way of punishing man for trying to unite against him basically. Some theorize things that are well beyond that, but to me it seems pretty simple.

4) I guess I can see a personality change, but not a change in nature. So long as that line is drawn I will agree. He treated people like a father treats children growing up. He held their hands, made stuff simple, and told them how to get back at bully's. Until they grew up and were mature enough to be left alone. It's a flawed metaphor but I hope it explains it a LITTLE better.

5) Still cant answer. Maybe its symbolic?

6) Yes, the long answer makes sense. If you can find the text on line (since the book I referenced is actually a sermon) you'll see the answer. However, I am not going to paraphrase his commentary since I'd do it injustice, and it's way to long to type. It made no sense to me until I read Christ's Words from the Cross.

7) He didn't split. He is one. I could simply explain Oneness to you and it'd make everything a lot simpler, however I don't believe Oneness. on the surface it makes more sense, but it doesn't pass the scriptural test.

Cool I'm not going to even pretend here. There are two topics I can't comment on. Sexual morality and drinking. I'm a 20 year old college kid who is just smart enough to make scripture OK those two things. If there is one thing I can do, it's make a pastor rethink his position on his theology. And trust me, I can make sex, homosexuality, and drinking scriptural OK by most peoples standards of interpretation. I'm not homosexual myself, however suffice to say a little intelligence and theological knowledge can make the bible seem like it ok's sex and drinking. Not saying I'm right for doing it, but it is capable. I'm not a great example cause it's 1 am my time and I am going to leave from posting this to party. So there are two topics I will not comment on at all. Sexual morality and drinking. Cause I'm not the example to look to for a tried and true Christian in those areas.

My Master has no desire to be merely victor in a debate: he did not come into the world to fight a battle of logic just
for the sake of winning it. --Charles Spurgeon


mellestad
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Crossover wrote: I'm sorry

Crossover wrote:

I'm sorry but I'm not in great condition to be using the quote function so I'll do this:

No problem, I do the same thing when things start to get long and complicated.  Sorry for the long post delay, I've been busy painting our new house every single stupid day after work.  I hate painting.  Anyway, tally-ho!

Crossover wrote:

1) I agree. Well, apart from the flood thing. The whole age of the world being 6,000 years old bother the crap out of me. And, it is my understanding, that man living for 1,000 years is due to a difference in calender keeping. However, I can't say I ever looked into that.

Hmm, I've never heard about the age difference being a time keeping difference.  Is this a common approach?

Do you believe there was a literal flood that happened literally, as in the Bible?  Is that something you'd be interested in debating?  I enjoy debating the flood, but to be honest it is a pretty tough position to debate from a literalist position.  This is the kinds of questions I'd be asking:

 

1.  Divine gift of knowledge about boat building.

2.  Divine intervention to transport animals from habitat to ark.  Doubly hard for critters with strange symbiotic relationships, short life spans, exotic or specific diets, slow movement speed, land animals on other continents, animals that could not survive habitats between local habitat and ark site, etc.

3.  Loading ~30,000,000 animals in the ark, in a day.

4.  Feeding and caring for all those critters for months.  For that matter, gathering food for animals with special diets (did Koala’s carry their own bamboo shoots, etc.)

5.  The source of the water.

6.  Where the water went.

7.  Saltwater fish not dying from change in salt levels, freshwater fish not dying from change in salt levels, delicate fish surviving temp changes, etc.

8.  Plant seeds surviving for months in water, then germinating and growing in climates they could survive, close enough to other species to pollinate, doubly hard for delicate plants, or plants with exotic life cycles that need very specific conditions.

9.  Insects making it back from the ark to wherever those plants germinated in time to continue the life cycle (and insects breeding fast enough to do the work).

10.  Carnivores having food to eat before prey animals are reestablished after the flood.

11.  Same issue for herbivores, insects, critters and plants, again, with exotic life cycles.

12.  Animals getting back to habitats after flood.

13.  Inbreeding for leftover animals, having enough genetic diversity to account for current diversity among populations.

14.  Humans, animals and plants must be protected from diseases until populations are reestablished.

15.  Micro-organisms that cause those diseases must be…I dunno, held in stasis until that point, or just re-created directly by God at the appropriate time.  For the ark too, there would have to be intervention to prevent disease but retain the capacity to create disease for the future.

16.  Human inbreeding.

17.  Humans establishing enough population to re-create civilizations like Egypt extraordinarily quickly.  Or make it to China in time to start those civilizations.

18.  Pressure changes in water due to additional depth

19.  etc.

Like I said, it gets ugly, and those are just off the top of my head.

 

Crossover wrote:

2) I agree, however I'm answering these question on the "assume that it is true" idea. It makes sense to me...most of it. Maybe I'm not the best at explaining why, maybe it's just because that I will never be able to explain it good enough for the people on this board. But I stay pretty clear of directly going "atheist v.s. theist 'I will convince you I am right" since I know that I won't. I mostly post my opinions, and ask others opinions. I'm not trying to prove anything on the second platform, simply explaining how it makes theological sense. If I can convince y'all that it makes theological sense then at least you don't think we are as ignorant as you did before. That's all that matters to me.

Fair enough.

Crossover wrote:

3) It is literal. Why? Because that was God's way of punishing man for trying to unite against him basically. Some theorize things that are well beyond that, but to me it seems pretty simple.

Yea but there are problems.  Does this mean God can actually be threatened by tall buildings?  Is this another situation where God lacks the foresight to deal with a problem he knew would come up when he created man?  The story seems to indicate that man might have accomplished something if God had not intervened, and that seems strange when applied to a building that, structurally, would have been teensy by modern standards.

I guess where I get incredulous is the whole idea that this is a literal story.  When another religion talks about the world being on the back of a turtle it seems self evidently false, when the Indians talk about rocks having spirits it seems quaint, and when the Greeks talk about lightning from Zeus it seems silly, but when the Bible talks about God cursing man with multiple languages because they are building a tower to heaven it seems plausible?  Hmm.

Crossover wrote:

4) I guess I can see a personality change, but not a change in nature. So long as that line is drawn I will agree. He treated people like a father treats children growing up. He held their hands, made stuff simple, and told them how to get back at bully's. Until they grew up and were mature enough to be left alone. It's a flawed metaphor but I hope it explains it a LITTLE better.

Maybe, but doesn't that sort of fall apart when you realize we're not talking about entities, but entire civilizations?  It isn't like God was raising a naughty child, he literally orders civilizations to be put to the sword.  He literally nukes entire cities.  He literally has followers that don't hesitate to consider human sacrifice as a reasonable request.

You go from that God, to a God who advocates non-violence and love?  I guess I have a hard time drawing that line as anything other than a dramatic shift of central identity.  Again, from a historical perspective it makes sense, the religion had a massive update to fit the times.  In the O.T. that is what things were like.  In the N.T. that is an evolution conforming to a more 'civilized' world.  I understand that, had Jesus existed in the time of Moses his religion wouldn't have worked because life was too brutal but to me that indicates that religion is a product of culture, not the other way around.  Does that make sense?

Crossover wrote:

5) Still cant answer. Maybe its symbolic?

Well, certainly it is from our perspective, lots of religions use sacrifice as a way to appease their deities.  But Christians usually like to think there is a difference between Isaac on the slab or Jesus on the cross or a bull in the Jewish temple fire pit and a sacrificial Mayan or a bull in Apollo's temple fire pit.  I'm not sure I see any, besides the fact that the Christian faith is around now to defend itself and the others are not.

This sort of goes back to my thoughts about how theists can always see the obvious flaws in other religions but tend to rationalize their own.  That isn't a swipe at religion specifically though, it is just a fact of human psychology.  But I think it explains a lot about why religion is the way it is.

Crossover wrote:

6) Yes, the long answer makes sense. If you can find the text on line (since the book I referenced is actually a sermon) you'll see the answer. However, I am not going to paraphrase his commentary since I'd do it injustice, and it's way to long to type. It made no sense to me until I read Christ's Words from the Cross.

If you have any specific references I'd appreciate it.  No biggie though.

Crossover wrote:

7) He didn't split. He is one. I could simply explain Oneness to you and it'd make everything a lot simpler, however I don't believe Oneness. on the surface it makes more sense, but it doesn't pass the scriptural test.

No, I get it, but I don't see it as anything but rationalization after the fact to explain away things that don't make sense.  Sort of like http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Handwaving

Crossover wrote:

Cool I'm not going to even pretend here. There are two topics I can't comment on. Sexual morality and drinking. I'm a 20 year old college kid who is just smart enough to make scripture OK those two things. If there is one thing I can do, it's make a pastor rethink his position on his theology. And trust me, I can make sex, homosexuality, and drinking scriptural OK by most peoples standards of interpretation. I'm not homosexual myself, however suffice to say a little intelligence and theological knowledge can make the bible seem like it ok's sex and drinking. Not saying I'm right for doing it, but it is capable. I'm not a great example cause it's 1 am my time and I am going to leave from posting this to party. So there are two topics I will not comment on at all. Sexual morality and drinking. Cause I'm not the example to look to for a tried and true Christian in those areas.

One of my gripes with religion is handily summed up in your response to number 8, and that is the constantly shifting morality.  To me, if morality is objective, defined (or simply part of) God then it wouldn't change.  But that isn't reality is it?  In your culture (and mine, I'm only 26) sexuality isn't a big deal.  We grew up after the sexual revolution of the 60's.  At a minimum, our parents grew up with birth control and condoms and the huge social impact those have.  We grew up with homosexuality being portrayed positively in the media (my kid will have been exposed to this her entire life, I doubt she'll ever even worry about homosexuality because it will just be a normal thing to her).  So we get to adulthood and we start to shift religious morality just like our parents, and their parents, and their parents, etc...4,000 years ago the Bible includes rules about beating your slaves.  2,000 years ago slavery wasn't even worth a mention from Jesus.  200 years ago we had pastors using the Bible to vigorously defend the idea that Blacks were inferior and cursed to slavery.  100 years ago they would use the Bible to defend segregation.  Today anyone who openly did that would be defrocked or shunned, and people would use the Bible to explain why slavery is horrible.

And every step of the way, everyone thinks they have God and Jesus in their corner.

Again though, this isn't a poke at religion, this is a poke at everything that uses historical teachings as sources of objective, absolute moral authority.  People do the same thing all the time in politics when they enshrine people/laws/documents but every generation those things are reinterpreted to suit modern life.

 

That's my rant for the day Smiling

 

Edit:  What are you studying?  Please tell me it isn't theology Sticking out tongue

Everything makes more sense now that I've stopped believing.