What is Christianity FOR?

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What is Christianity FOR?

1. What is Christianity FOR?

2. Are the things that Christianity is FOR rational?

3. Which of the things that Christianity is for are EXCLUSIVE to Christianity and inaccessible or impossible for non-Christians?

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When I use the word FOR, I mean something VERY specific. I mean that in order to answer this question, a Christian may not use ANY
"negative" terminology, that is, one must leave what God is "against" out of the answer.

To say God is "for NOT being gay" or "for NOT sinning" is missing the point of the question.

We can make a long list of every single thing that we should NOT do. We can do this both in secular culture and religious culture. We have a large number of laws in secular culture to tell us what we're not allowed to do. This also occurs with religious culture, but interestingly, there are a significant number of religious laws that are NOT secular laws. This is evidenced by the fact that only 2 of the ten commandments are laws: killing and stealing.

But creating an enormous void is not going to tell me what I SHOULD DO with my life.

Give me some THOU SHALTS, but omit all the THOU SHALT NOT's.

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There is another important caveat to this question. A rule for answering, if you will. When one answers the question, he should also eliminate any answers about what we should do concerning a propogation of the message of what we should not do.

In other words, we must use a thought experiment and imagine a perfect world in which there is no one to preach to... In this perfect world, everyone gets the message and agrees to the list of what people should not do. There is essentially no one to preach to. We assume that there is no one to kill or persuade because we all share exactly the same beliefs.

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Now, I will attempt to pre-emptively address each of the prescriptions that Christians might provide.

A. Pray, worship, and glorify God.

B. Make and raise lots of babies.

C. Charity and generosity.

D. Be nice and kind to people.

E. Enjoy God's creation... but not TOO much, and only certain parts of his creation. (Looking at boobs is off limits.)

F. Collect brownie points for heaven.

G. Accept Jesus Christ as your personal savior.

What else?

To what extent am I allowed to have fun? Are there specific pursuits that I should follow that are righteous?

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Question 2. Are the things that Christianity is FOR rational?

Question 3. Which of the things that Christianity is for are EXCLUSIVE to Christianity and inaccessible or impossible for non-Christians?

A. Pray, worship, and glorify God. This one is logically contradictory with God's assumed property of perfection. If God is perfect, then no amount of prayer, worship, or glorification will add to his already infinite perfection. This is exclusive to Christianity, that is worshipping Yahweh, BUT, who cares? He needs no worship, and it does nothing. Prayer: The best way to do nothing and think that you're still helping.

B. Make and raise lots of babies. This is also flawed. It makes sense in prehistoric times to make babies to prevent extinction... But NOW, with rampant overpopulation of the world as evidenced by global warming, making babies may actually LEAD us to extinction. We can have families as atheists, though, so this is not exclusive.

C, D. Charity and generosity. Being nice to people. I agree this is good. Not exclusive to Christianity.

E. Enjoy God's creation, but not too much. My enjoyment of music, art, and nature is no different than that of a Christian.

F. Collect brownie points for heaven. This is extremely irrational because it nullifies the basis for ethics. The reason you do good things is for the people you're doing the good things, NOT to help yourself out!

G. Accept Jesus. This is both part of worship, which I have shown to be logically contradictory; and secondly, it violates my request not to add things that we should NOT do. Accepting Jesus is required to save you from your sins, so at the heart of accepting Jesus is another expression of the things that you should NOT do. In other words, Jesus is the logical solution for Christians getting out of this trap of so much negation of activity. Perhaps Jesus is so important because he creates a center upon which to focus on for purposeful action... But when the worship of Jesus is examined, it is really just another expression of what you can't do.

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My point is that after you cut through all the bullshit that Christianity has to offer, and you eliminate all the things you're NOT supposed to do, you have a core set of positive prescriptions for action. Some of these are extremely irrational, and the ones that are rational can be experienced by atheists as well.

I see major problems with the fact that there is so much negation in Christianity. Things we should NOT do... Given my prior scenario where all the world is perfect and without sin, there's really nothing to DO when we look at Christian doctrine. We just sit on our asses and sing Kum-by-ya around a fire, trying to be as inactive as possible because we are afraid of sinning.

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Ultimately, I ADD some things to the Atheist list of things that we should do, considering the same scenario.

1. ENJOY YOURSELF AND THE COMPANY OF OTHERS PROVIDED IT DOES NOT HARM OTHERS.

2. BE NICE TO EVERYONE REGARDLESS OF RACE, RELIGION (OR NON-RELIGION), AGE, GENDER, SOCIOECONOMIC STATUS, SEXUAL ORIENTATION, DISABILITY, INTELLIGENCE LEVEL, OR NATIONALITY.

3. CULTIVATE AND SHARE YOUR TALENTS WITH OTHERS, AND USE YOUR TALENTS TO MAKE THE WORLD A GOOD PLACE TO LIVE.

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This is for Christians and atheists both. Atheists, what would you add to the list of atheist "Thou should's"? And Christians, how would you answer each of my questions?

Any clarifications needed?


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Christianity exits so that

Christianity exits so that atheists have something on which to heap contempt.


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wavefreak

wavefreak wrote:
Christianity exits so that atheists have something on which to heap contempt.

 

You guys went and made a religion just so I could blog about it?

That's sweet. 


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Maragon wrote: wavefreak

Maragon wrote:

wavefreak wrote:
Christianity exits so that atheists have something on which to heap contempt.

 

You guys went and made a religion just so I could blog about it?

That's sweet.

 

Well not me. By any "real" Christian's definition, I am not one. I'm just collateral damage  in the rhetoric wars.


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Christianity isn't for

Christianity isn't for anything. It has been used for many things, controlling the minds of the masses, justifying wars as well as some positive things, comforting people, building communities (even a staunch anti-religious person like me can't deny those things). But as for an actual reason for it existing I see none, there are reasons why it exists which are basically because people are stupid.


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I'm not really sure what

I'm not really sure what your point is.  I agree that Christianity, as it is often manifested, includes a great list of "thou shalt nots" (though negative moral precepts are not exclusive to Christianity).  However, most Christian theology does provide a more positive morality, focusing on what one should do. (although this is often given in abstract terms).  Also, most of the theological tradition assumes that aspects of morality are present to all persons, regardless of religious standing.  Of course, there has always been the assumption that salvation is unique to Christianity.  However, even this has been dropped by the majority of 20th century academic theologians (not to mention many mainline denominations).  
Also, which aspects of Christian morality are irrational, that is, the things that Christianity should be for?  Rationality, in terms of morality, I think, is tricky to define anyway.  For example, I don't think that showing charity and kindess is necessarily irrational, and I don't think you do either.  But if an ethical position assumes a type of egoism for its model, then charity may very well be irrational in some circumstances.  Could you maybe clarify a bit more?
All the best.

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John's Gospel presents a

John's Gospel presents a rational response to what Christianity is for. I have read the new testament several times, and the Christians writing it should get credit for actually explaning what it was they represented and were trying to accomplish.

 

Logos (The Word that became flesh) is where we get logic from. John was a great thinker. And in his day, he would have been considered a free thinker. Interesting huh?

0 x 0 = Atheism. Something from nothing? Ahhh no.
And Karl, religion is not the opiate of the people, opium is. Visit any modern city in the western world and see.


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IMO Judaism and Christianity

IMO Judaism and Christianity initially was an updated attempt to give a scientific explaination for the universe that placed the tribes of Israel firmly at the centre, thus creating a lovely propaganda machine for the theocratic rulers of the day. It's kept that role, with different rulers shoehorning themselves into the role of the elders of Israel, but also been turning into a moneymaking venture, a tool for civil social control and an inspiration to artists and do-gooders.

Lazy is a word we use when someone isn't doing what we want them to do.
- Dr. Joy Brown


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I genuinely think as a way

I genuinely think as a way of explaining the universe Christianity is pretty redundant, especially with the progress of modern science. We are knowing more and more through rational, empiricism and it constantly contradicts the word of the buybull. It doesn't necessarily contradict God, but the scientific method gives us no reason to believe in God.


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doctoro wrote: 1. What is

doctoro wrote:
1. What is Christianity FOR?

As in, what does Christianity support?  Like, a list?

You have a few pre-suppositions about this already.

doctoro wrote:
Pray, worship, and glorify God. This one is logically contradictory with God's assumed property of perfection. If God is perfect, then no amount of prayer, worship, or glorification will add to his already infinite perfection.

Worship, prayer, and glorification do not impart any properties on their subject.  If someone worshipped you, you would not be "bettered" somehow, moved closer to "perfection."

doctoro wrote:
Charity and generosity. Being nice to people. I agree this is good. Not exclusive to Christianity.

What other religions decree absolute charity?  Total servitude to every person?  I know of none off-hand, but I may just be tired and forgetful.

doctoro wrote:
Collect brownie points for heaven. This is extremely irrational because it nullifies the basis for ethics. The reason you do good things is for the people you're doing the good things, NOT to help yourself out!

Correct. Smiling

doctoro wrote:
Accepting Jesus is required to save you from your sins, so at the heart of accepting Jesus is another expression of the things that you should NOT do.

Do you mean accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and savior is equivocal to a mandate to not sin?  This is false.  If it were humanly possible to not sin we would have no need of a savior.

doctoro wrote:
2. Are the things that Christianity is FOR rational?

That rather depends on your worldview.  If there is no God, all propositions are absurd because life itself is absurd without God.  It's all dice and forces, and by whatever random chance we are able to choose between a few of those forces (instincts, motives, drives, etc.).  Why obey any of them?  Why fight any of them?  It's all irrelevant.

doctoro wrote:
3. Which of the things that Christianity is for are EXCLUSIVE to Christianity and inaccessible or impossible for non-Christians?

Worship of God is done because it is right to worship God, and for no other reason.  This is unique to Christianity, and I would say a non-Christian is incapable of worshipping a God they do not know.

Acceptance of Jesus Christ as Lord of your life and your savior from sin is the very definition of what sets Christianity apart from its predecessor Judaism.  As its defining trait, a non-Christian would be incapable of this.  Doing it is the act of becoming a Christian.

Being absolute in charity: not possible for Christian and non-Christian alike.

I think I've hit a few of the bigger points.  I would rather hear more of your side before going on.  Thanks!

"The map appears more real to us than the land." - Lawrence


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spiritisabone

spiritisabone wrote:

However, most Christian theology does provide a more positive morality, focusing on what one should do. (although this is often given in abstract terms).

Hmmm… What are these positive prescriptions? I thought I discussed most of the big ones. Where is your response to my refutation of those prescriptions?

spiritisabone wrote:

Also, most of the theological tradition assumes that aspects of morality are present to all persons, regardless of religious standing.

Not to my knowledge on Christian thought. Most Christians I talk to say that one can only be moral if he or she is Christian.

They will say that the INTENT of any action must be “based on serving God,” or with “Jesus on your heart,” or any one of a myriad of reasons. I still hold firm to the fact that the only GOOD basis for morality has nothing to do with God, and everything to do with treating each person as the final ends and purpose of the intent for good acts. By that, I mean the reason you do good things for people is specifically to help a person out as the one and only ends for do-gooding. Adding God into the mix as a justification for doing good is both unnecessary and immoral.

spiritisabone wrote:

Of course, there has always been the assumption that salvation is unique to Christianity. However, even this has been dropped by the majority of 20th century academic theologians (not to mention many mainline denominations).

I would find it astonishing if I were unable to find pre-Christian traditions based on the concept of salvation. Do you really need me to go researching to find them? I feel a bit lazy… But will pull them up if you so desire.

spiritisabone wrote:

Also, which aspects of Christian morality are irrational, that is, the things that Christianity should be for? Rationality, in terms of morality, I think, is tricky to define anyway. For example, I don't think that showing charity and kindess is necessarily irrational, and I don't think you do either. But if an ethical position assumes a type of egoism for its model, then charity may very well be irrational in some circumstances. Could you maybe clarify a bit more?

I don’t think this was my point. My point was not that we should nitpick what decisions are rationally ethical in a myriad of specific cases. I’m saying that the GENERAL basis for ALL Christian morality is extremely irrational, because it sees the purpose for doing good things as something you’re doing for GOD, not the person you’re helping. Cut out the middle man and do good for the sake of doing good. I don’t need someone to beat me with a stick if I don’t do good or give me cookies if I DO good.

spiritisabone wrote:

All the best.

Ditto. I hope you find what you’re searching for here.


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nonbobblehead

nonbobblehead wrote:

John's Gospel presents a rational response to what Christianity is for. I have read the new testament several times, and the Christians writing it should get credit for actually explaning what it was they represented and were trying to accomplish.

 

Logos (The Word that became flesh) is where we get logic from. John was a great thinker. And in his day, he would have been considered a free thinker. Interesting huh?

 

logic Look up logic at Dictionary.com
1362, "branch of philosophy that treats of forms of thinking," from O.Fr. logique, from L. (ars) logica, from Gk. logike (techne) "reasoning (art)," from fem. of logikos "pertaining to speaking or reasoning," from logos "reason, idea, word" (see logos). Meaning "logical argumentation" is from 1601. Logical attested 1500 as "pertaining to logic;" 1588 as "conformable to laws of reasoning;" 1860 as "following as a reasonable consequence."


logos Look up logos at Dictionary.com
1587, "second person of the Christian Trinity," from Gk. logos "word, speech, discourse," also "reason," from PIE base *leg- "to collect" (with derivatives meaning "to speak," on notion of "to pick out words&quotEye-wink; used by Neo-Platonists in various metaphysical and theological senses and picked up by N.T. writers. Other Eng. formations from logos include logolatry "worship of words, unreasonable regard for words or verbal truth" (1810 in Coleridge); logomachy "fighting about words" (1569); logomania (1870); logophobia (1923); and logorrhea (1902).


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doctoro wrote: 1. What is

doctoro wrote:

1. What is Christianity FOR?

JHenson wrote:

As in, what does Christianity support? Like, a list?

Exactly. Write me up a list. Does mine not suffice?

JHenson wrote:

You have a few pre-suppositions about this already.

What, praytell, are they?

 

doctoro wrote:

Pray, worship, and glorify God. This one is logically contradictory with God's assumed property of perfection. If God is perfect, then no amount of prayer, worship, or glorification will add to his already infinite perfection.

JHenson wrote:

Worship, prayer, and glorification do not impart any properties on their subject. If someone worshipped you, you would not be "bettered" somehow, moved closer to "perfection."

 

If worship of God is not FOR God, and only for the worshipper, why would God banish me to eternal suffering for NOT worshipping him? Sounds a lot to ME like the worship is for HIM, not ME! Besides that, need you read the OT to remind yourself of God’s jealousy and ego? What’s the first commandment? Don’t worship any God’s but me. If Yahweh was a righteous God, he would care a lot less about his own glorification… oh yeah, to benefit the ones worshipping him. The subject of worship is not gaining something from its worship? That sounds logically false.

If all the worship is for the benefit of the worshipper, you would need to prove that the benefits attained by the worshipper were not attainable through other means.

Furthermore, the “benefits” of worship are quite vague to me… Can you enlighten me as to what these benefits are?

Why doesn’t God just grant non-worshippers the benefits through some other means?

 

doctoro wrote:

 

Charity and generosity. Being nice to people. I agree this is good. Not exclusive to Christianity.

JHenson wrote:

 

What other religions decree absolute charity? Total servitude to every person? I know of none off-hand, but I may just be tired and forgetful.

 

LOL! I thought I was the one with presuppositions and assumptions!

Examine the assumptions you made with your statement.

1. You assume that absolute charity and total servitude is good.

2. You assume that Christianity actually preaches total servitude and absolute charity.

3. You assume that one must have RELIGION to have absolute charity or “total servitude”.

Let me respond. Firstly, I would argue that ABSOLUTE charity and TOTAL servitude is NOT GOOD. In fact, I would argue that it is harmful and undermines the purpose of charity and servitude in the first place.

In response to assumptions #1 and #2 I offer the following from Harry G. Frankfurt’s “The Reasons of Love.”

Harry G. Frankfurt, Reasons of Love wrote:

After all, are we not told by an Author whose moral authority compares quite favorably to Kant’s that we should love our neighbors AS WE LOVE OURSELVES? That injunction does not sound like a warning against self-love. It neither declares nor implies that we should love others INSTEAD of loving ourselves. Indeed, it does not in any way suggest that self-love is an enemy of virtue, or that it is somehow discreditable to hold the self dear. On the contrary, the divine command to love others as we love ourselves might even be taken to convey a positive recommendation of self-love as an especially helpful paradigm--a model or ideal, by which we ought seriously to guide ourselves in the conduct of our practical lives.

 

Now that I have undermined the idea that ABSOLUTE or TOTAL charity/servitude are GOOD things, let’s again ask if a “healthy” amount of charity or servitude is impossible for a non-Christian… Still think so? If you are indeed correct that Christianity is about absolute and total servitude, then I cannot support the morality or positive prescriptions of Christianity. But if Christianity makes prescriptions for self-love as well, in balance and harmony with “agape”, that is, the greek term for love of others, then I see no reason why such harmony is exclusive to Christianity.

If you respond to nothing else, I would like to hear your response to what I might call “The Problem of Selflessness.” Denying the self denies the intrinsic worth of the very people you would endeavor to serve.

doctoro wrote:

Collect brownie points for heaven. This is extremely irrational because it nullifies the basis for ethics. The reason you do good things is for the people you're doing the good things, NOT to help yourself out!

 

JHenson wrote:

Correct. Smiling

I am truly puzzled. You now agree that this type of “treating people as ends” ethics is good? The proper term is “Kantian” ethics, since Immanuel Kant came up with it. It would appear to me that Kantian ethics and Christian ethics are diametrically opposed. So why do good things in Christianity? Because good things are good to do for themselves? Because you want to please God? Because you want to go to heaven? What is it?


doctoro wrote:

Accepting Jesus is required to save you from your sins, so at the heart of accepting Jesus is another expression of the things that you should NOT do.

 

JHenson wrote:

Do you mean accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and savior is equivocal to a mandate to not sin? This is false. If it were humanly possible to not sin we would have no need of a savior.

Hmmm… Jesus was human. He must have sinned. Who is Jesus’ savior? Himself?

But, alas, I think you misunderstood me. What I was saying is that the whole purpose of Jesus is to fix the results of something you were NOT supposed to do. In drama, there is a term called “deus ex machina.” It means “Machine of the Gods”. In many strange movies, you will see a character in a terrible circumstance, and he or she wakes up from a dream to learn that nothing bad has happened. Shakespeare did this in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Jesus is like a Deus Ex Machina for your sins. He swoops in to save the day, just when you thought you were screwed beyond all hope. The problem with the Deus Ex Machina in drama is that it solves nothing, and you often feel cheated. I will say to myself in such cases, “Now what was the point of that.” In “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” a character states

Puck wrote:

If we shadows have offended,

Think but this, and all is mended,

That you have but slumber'd here

While these visions did appear.

And this weak and idle theme,

No more yielding but a dream,

Gentles, do not reprehend:

if you pardon, we will mend.

Jesus is a Deus Ex Machina in REAL LIFE! And it’s silly imaginary fairy tale logic!

The fundamental problem with “salvation” is that it TRANSFERS the sin of one person to another, and this is not logical in any other circumstance but Adam & Eve, and Jesus. Look at how silly the logic of the Bible works:

Adam and Eve sin, so EVERY single human after them pays for the sin. The sin is transferred to all humans. Then Jesus pops on the scene to swoop in and save the day by taking all the sin away -- thereby transferring all sins onto him. But Jesus is God, so God created a situation in which he KNEW Adam and Eve would sin, created a system in which sin was transferable, and then transferred the sin from humans to Jesus/God; thereby sacrificing himself TO himself in order to fix the problem that he created himself. I got a new idea: make sins NON-transferable!

If sins are transferable, why are they only transferable in special circumstances? If my father kills someone, why shouldn’t I pay for his crime? Should the police come and arrest me and let my father go free because my father decides to transfer the sin to me? If my father dies, do I pay for my father’s sin in jail because he was unable to serve all of the time that he was alotted in prison? Would such a justice system make ANY sense at all?!?!? NO! Then why does God employ the SAME ridiculous logic to his OWN justice system? YOU DO THE CRIME, YOU DO THE TIME. Whether its 20 years on earth or 20 million in heaven, you should pay your OWN debt. Assigning eternal punishments and transfering punishments is ridiculous.

doctoro wrote:

2. Are the things that Christianity is FOR rational?


JHenson wrote:

That rather depends on your worldview. If there is no God, all propositions are absurd because life itself is absurd without God. It's all dice and forces, and by whatever random chance we are able to choose between a few of those forces (instincts, motives, drives, etc.). Why obey any of them? Why fight any of them? It's all irrelevant.

1. Before you misrepresent what I said, let me explain it again. Look at all of the points that I claimed to be irrational. You can’t simply dodge those points by saying “everything would be irrational without God.” You have to address each point specifically.

2. “If there is no God, all propositions are absurd because life itself is absurd without God.” What is your support for that statement? I claim that life is absurd without Natalie Portman and Jessica Biel. Touche.

3. Without Natalie Portman, my life has no meaning.

4. Seriously, though, this is an incredibly fallacious way of reasoning. You claim that without God, other things in your life won’t make sense like they did before. This is the fallacy of dire consequences. The primary proposition, which is the existence of God itself, should not be affected by any HUMAN-CONSTRUCTED consequences of God’s non-existence. “Life would have no meaning.” “Life would be absurd.” “Why obey any drives or choices?” All of those statements or questions are logical consequences of God’s nonexistence, but they surely can have no bearing on whether or not God exists. Sam Harris uses a great analogy. It would make me sad if there was not a diamond in my backyard the size of a truck. My life would be absurd without it. My life would have no meaning without that diamond. My life would have no direction without the diamond. All of these logical consequences have no bearing on whether or not there is a diamond the size of a truck in my backyard.

5. I agree that life has no instilled meaning by a deity. I agree that we are forced to make choices by our circumstance without exceptionally good reasons for doing so. I find that an incredibly liberating idea, not one that would sink me into the depths of despair. It tells me that I have control over my own life, not an imaginary friend. RANDOM CHANCE, though? I think not. For instance, evolution is not random. Mutant individuals in a species have mutations that are random, but the process by which those mutations suceed or fail is not random at all and completely dependent on outside forces. In the same way, we humans are profoundly influenced by our environments, BUT, we have the power to profoundly influence our environments. Real life is more like a harmonious balance between determined action and free will.

6. Why obey any forces or desires? Frankfurt really does a good job of addressing this in his book. But I won’t share that. Go buy the book. Forces and desires are complex, and a great deal of internal struggle for humans comes from conflicts between our desires for different things. To pretend that religion has some good answer to this problem is to have faith in an imaginary security blanket. The real basis for our decisions lack absolute basis. So what? There is no logical necessity for an absolute basis, just a desire to have an easy out.

doctoro wrote:

3. Which of the things that Christianity is for are EXCLUSIVE to Christianity and inaccessible or impossible for non-Christians?

 

jhenson wrote:

Worship of God is done because it is right to worship God, and for no other reason.

Hmm… Not because God said so? Not because it confers a benefit to the worshipper? Still, I ask, WHAT are the benefits to the worshipper?

 

JHenson wrote:

This is unique to Christianity, and I would say a non-Christian is incapable of worshipping a God they do not know.

Or perhaps the non-Christian is incapable of worshipping an imaginary God that he DOESN’T believe in and can’t FORCIBLY “choose” to believe in. Beliefs are NOT choices. No one can CHOOSE to believe anything. If I told you to worship an invisible unicorn named Mr. Bojangles that made the universe, why wouldn’t you? Because it’s imaginary? Because your mind will not allow you to simply shift your belief from one imaginary deity to another? Well… such is the plight of the atheist. Believing in your God or choosing to believe in your God is as difficult for me, that is as impossible for me as it is for you to believe an invisible unicorn named Mr. Bojangles made the universe.

JHenson wrote:

Acceptance of Jesus Christ as Lord of your life and your savior from sin is the very definition of what sets Christianity apart from its predecessor Judaism. As its defining trait, a non-Christian would be incapable of this.


Big deal. Accept Jesus why? To be released from your sins. Answered earlier.

The point of my post was to show the following logic:

When boiled down to its elements, Christianity contains the following:

1. Thousands upon thousands of things that we should NOT do. The 613 Mitzvoh are only a few.

2. The remaining “positive prescriptions” or things that we SHOULD do in christianity are either IRRATIONAL or they can be achieved by non-Christians just as or more effectively than Christians.

--Hence, accepting Jesus is irrational for all the reasons stated previously.

Some of the only things left are helping people and doing nice things. I have shown why a non-Christian can do this just as effectively, if not more effectively than a Christian.


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doctoro wrote: If worship

doctoro wrote:
If worship of God is not FOR God, and only for the worshipper, why would God banish me to eternal suffering for NOT worshipping him?

This one comes up a lot on these boards.  God wants you to hold no other gods before him because the others are false.  The Rational Responders have a goal of erradicating falsehood and promoting truth, yes?  So does God.  A faithless person dies because they have thrown their lot in with death, not out of punishment.  The first command was: "You may freely eat of every tree in the garden; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die." (Genesis 16-17, NRSV).  Death was not a punishment but a consequence.

Eternal suffering is extra-Biblical.  Hell is taken from the Hebrew Sheol, land of the dead.  It has no moral alignment.  All people go to hell when they die, and all people will be resurrected on the Day of Judgement.  Those judged against are destroyed utterly.

doctoro wrote:
Furthermore, the “benefits” of worship are quite vague to me… Can you enlighten me as to what these benefits are?

Why doesn’t God just grant non-worshippers the benefits through some other means?

 Worship is right on its own merits, not because of any reward scheme.  It is nonsensical without faith though (why worship what you don't think you need?), so I don't think it's a pressing issue to explain.  Faith means confidence and trust, not "blind faith" believing something with no evidence, by the way.  A person usually knows God before (sometimes long before) putting faith in him.

doctoro wrote:
Firstly, I would argue that ABSOLUTE charity and TOTAL servitude is NOT GOOD. In fact, I would argue that it is harmful and undermines the purpose of charity and servitude in the first place.

...

But if Christianity makes prescriptions for self-love as well, in balance and harmony with “agape”, that is, the greek term for love of others, then I see no reason why such harmony is exclusive to Christianity.

One of the two greatest commandments, as you pointed out, is to love your neighbor as yourself.  Do you not love yourself by serving yourself?  How then can you say that serving others is not also love?  I should also point out that serving others is not exclusive of loving yourself.  Far from it, people who perform charity regularly, especially as their vocations, are usually very emotionally healthy and happy.  The Christian answer is that you are loving yourself most when dedicating yourself to others.  Therefore, absolute servitude is absolute love for everyone, including self.

Perhaps the problem was the connotative meaning of servitude, that is sounds too much like slavery?  Dedication might be more palattable.

doctoro wrote:
So why do good things in Christianity? Because good things are good to do for themselves? Because you want to please God? Because you want to go to heaven? What is it?

 Sorry for a lack of clarity.  You are correct that the "brownie points" mentality is absurd and unethical.  In Christianity, people are supposed to do good because it is their nature, but we don't because we are slaves to sin.  Not that we never do a single good act, but that we are incapable of truly being good.  At our best we are conflicted.

Once a person has faith in Jesus Christ as their savior the Bible teaches they are "justified."  This means it is as though they never sinned in the eyes of God.  A person is still sinful, however.  God begins "sanctifying" them, making them pure or cleansing their sin.  This is a process that is not finished in life.

doctoro wrote:
But, alas, I think you misunderstood me. What I was saying is that the whole purpose of Jesus is to fix the results of something you were NOT supposed to do. In drama, there is a term called “deus ex machina.” It means “Machine of the Gods”. In many strange movies, you will see a character in a terrible circumstance, and he or she wakes up from a dream to learn that nothing bad has happened. Shakespeare did this in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Jesus is like a Deus Ex Machina for your sins. He swoops in to save the day, just when you thought you were screwed beyond all hope. The problem with the Deus Ex Machina in drama is that it solves nothing, and you often feel cheated.

Ah, okay.  I thought it actually meant "God in the machine" ... but it's hardly important.  Jesus is the intercessor; he stands in for our punishment.  The punishment for sin is death, so Christ died in our place and resurrected.  Because he was our intercessor when he was resurrected, he created our way to salvation.  It's not that we don't have to die now, it's that he created a path through death that leads to resurrection.  I briefly discussed the process above, with justification and sanctification.

Could a person feel cheated out of taking part in their own salvation?  Absolutely, and you'd be right in at least realizing you have no active role.  It is better for a person to try to save themselves and realize their incapacity, that their faith will be unshakable.  That's my opinion, at least.

doctoro wrote:
Adam and Eve sin, so EVERY single human after them pays for the sin.

Yes and no.  Their debt is inherited to us.  If you are born into poverty surely it is unfair that you don't experience many basic human dignities, but only a fool shakes his fist at random chance for dealing his bad lot.  Of course, we would also make the same decision, and we do so throughout life.  We all sin.  The impoverished child never climbs out of his hole, and eventually raises his own impoverished family.

doctoro wrote:
If sins are transferable, why are they only transferable in special circumstances? If my father kills someone, why shouldn’t I pay for his crime? Should the police come and arrest me and let my father go free because my father decides to transfer the sin to me?

It isn't an issue of specific crimes, it's that you are a subject - a slave - to sin.  Another example is your birth into a particular country.  You are automatically a citizen and under that country's laws, even though you had no decision in the matter.

doctoro wrote:
Seriously, though, this is an incredibly fallacious way of reasoning. You claim that without God, other things in your life won’t make sense like they did before.

Not that things won't make any kind of sense; they won't have any purpose.

doctoro wrote:
It would make me sad if there was not a diamond in my backyard the size of a truck. My life would be absurd without it. My life would have no meaning without that diamond. My life would have no direction without the diamond. All of these logical consequences have no bearing on whether or not there is a diamond the size of a truck in my backyard.

I don't really see how your life would be absurd without a truck-sized diamond, but if I understand your point - that the quality of your life has no bearing on truth - I agree.

doctoro wrote:
I agree that life has no instilled meaning by a deity. I agree that we are forced to make choices by our circumstance without exceptionally good reasons for doing so. I find that an incredibly liberating idea, not one that would sink me into the depths of despair. It tells me that I have control over my own life, not an imaginary friend. RANDOM CHANCE, though? I think not. For instance, evolution is not random.

Evolution is the result of random causality.  I don't think survivability is an issue with raw matter and energy, so natural selection has no applicability to, say, the formation of the earth.  Natural selection itself is necessarily instigated by random forces without a god, although the results may be causal.  Even so, because natural selection begins at random mutation we must assume that any evolutionary state is not optimal for survival, only better than bad.  Beyond that, we are in a seemingly-unique position to choose which instincts to follow, if any.  What motive would be have to follow any of them?

doctoro wrote:
Forces and desires are complex, and a great deal of internal struggle for humans comes from conflicts between our desires for different things. To pretend that religion has some good answer to this problem is to have faith in an imaginary security blanket.

I will grant that many "spins" on Christianity are security blankets.  The scripture teaches that without God as our Lord we are guaranteed to make the wrong choices.  However, our sinful state guarantees that we cannot take God as our Lord.  The answer therefore is impossible, so there is no security to be had.  The only security one might take is that while we aren't relieved of personal responsability or suffering, there is hope after death.  Even that is poor security since the truth of the matter is that we don't deserve it.  Our hope therefore is not in our happiness or comfort, but God's grace.

doctoro wrote:
Hmm… Not because God said so? Not because it confers a benefit to the worshipper? Still, I ask, WHAT are the benefits to the worshipper?

Worship is not done for benefit.  We do not look for the truth, let alone act on the truth, because it benefits us.  We do it because it is the truth.  I believe this is the goal of the RRS here, as well as many other philosophically-driven groups and people.  Many have posited it is the only worthy pursuit in life, and I tend to agree.

doctoro wrote:
Or perhaps the non-Christian is incapable of worshipping an imaginary God that he DOESN’T believe in and can’t FORCIBLY “choose” to believe in. Beliefs are NOT choices.

I agree, essentially.  This is why I said a non-Christian cannot worship a god they do not know.  We believe things we know, and disbelieve things we either do not know or know to be false.  Belief is knowledge, and vice versa.

doctoro wrote:
Well… such is the plight of the atheist. Believing in your God or choosing to believe in your God is as difficult for me, that is as impossible for me as it is for you to believe an invisible unicorn named Mr. Bojangles made the universe.

Paul the Apostle said that the gospel of Jesus Christ will sound like nonsense (the Greek word is actually moron, i.e. moronic) to someone who doesn't believe in God.  He also said that no amount of rhetoric, no clever arguments, could persuade someone to faith.  Jesus said that none come to him except those brought by the Father.  All that is to say is, within Christianity it is said that conversion by argument is foolishness.  I don't expect you to believe anything because of what I say, but by your own experiences.  All I would contend is that no person is excused from a pursuit of the truth, faithful and faithless alike.

doctoro wrote:
Hence, accepting Jesus is irrational for all the reasons stated previously.

I will agree that a non-Christian can do all of the good works a Christian can do, at least with regards to other people, but it is only because Christianity claims no magic transformation into a better person by belief.  Justification erases past sin, but does nothing for our sinful condition.  Sanctification isn't completed in this life.

The Law of God is "written on our hearts," as Paul claims.  Our conscience is God-given and imparted at creation and our birth.  Everyone has one.  Everyone is also prone to ignoring it or twisting its commands into something sinful.  It's part of being human.

"The map appears more real to us than the land." - Lawrence