What's the point?

Thandarr
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What's the point?

I've been lurking around here ever since I heard about your blasphemy challenge. You seem to be very dedicated, but I really wonder what motivates you. I know Sam Harris's position that even moderate religion just facilitates the extremists, but really, folks. Are you guys really worried about Baptists flying airplanes into buildings?

Christianity floods this land, but the flood is about an inch deep. Sure there are fanatics, but most just go along because of a vague sentiment that they're supposed to. They'll give the right answer to pollsters--assuming they know the right answer. Sure, there are millions of genuine adherents. But most so-called Christians know far less about traditional Christianity than you guys do. For most of them Christianity is more a civic religion than the confusing mumbo jumbo found in the Bible and various catechisms. They like the symbols of Christianity, the closed book with a cross on it, the cross, the Lord's Prayer, the Pledge of Allegiance, and the like. Their Jesus isn't the Jesus of the Bible. He's the Jesus of Sunday school.

I enjoy "disputations" with Christians. I'm a sick puppy. I know. I loved it when Jehovah's Witnesses or Mormons used to come to my house. (They have some kind of marking system, like hobos used to have, and now they've marked my house and don't come back. I have found some useful ammunition here in case they ever do). I enjoy it when some fool suggests that we ought to post the Ten Commandments in public and I ask him/r to just go through them one by one and tell me why we need them posted. Most of them don't realize that the fact that dedicated Christians frequently can't recite the fundamental laws of their religion that supposedly provide the background for their ironclad moral code is the perfect reason we ought to post the Ten Commandments. Then I tell them the actual Ten Commandments are in Exodus 34.

The thing is, I'm not a particularly knowledgeable Bible scholar. I've just read more of it than most so-called self-proclaimed Christians.

So if you guys are successful and talk them out of their religion, there goes one of my favorite kinds of entertainment.

Really, what's the point? You guys are working awfully hard.

Thandarr


Yellow_Number_Five
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Thandarr wrote:I've been

Thandarr wrote:
I've been lurking around here ever since I heard about your blasphemy challenge. You seem to be very dedicated, but I really wonder what motivates you. I know Sam Harris's position that even moderate religion just facilitates the extremists, but really, folks. Are you guys really worried about Baptists flying airplanes into buildings?

While Muslims may have it in spades in the terrorism department at the moment, I won't pretend that Christians like Eric Rudolph, James Charles Kopp, the Christian Identity movenment, and the Army of God don't condone and carry out similar acts.

What I'm actually more concerned about is the religious right's assault on civil liberties and science though.

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Christianity floods this land, but the flood is about an inch deep.

Isn't the best time to stick your finger in the dike BEFORE the flood waters get too deep?

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Sure there are fanatics, but most just go along because of a vague sentiment that they're supposed to. They'll give the right answer to pollsters--assuming they know the right answer. Sure, there are millions of genuine adherents. But most so-called Christians know far less about traditional Christianity than you guys do.

And don't you think this challenge will actually educate these Christians as to nuances of their faith? How many Christians know that Jesus will forgive a murderer, but not a blasphemer? How many Christians might not be Christians if they simply knew the truth?

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For most of them Christianity is more a civic religion than the confusing mumbo jumbo found in the Bible and various catechisms. They like the symbols of Christianity, the closed book with a cross on it, the cross, the Lord's Prayer, the Pledge of Allegiance, and the like. Their Jesus isn't the Jesus of the Bible. He's the Jesus of Sunday school.

Right, and you're telling us to stop telling them the truth about their own faith. Are you saying we should simply knock it off and let them have their delusion - when that delusion isn't even part of the Bible, but a bastardized spoon-fed half truth given to them every Sunday?

I've said flat out before, that if all we do is get Christians to actually read the Bible, they'll come to reason on their own - that's how it worked for me.

Educating a person, or getting them to educate themself, is one of the kindest things you can do, IMO.

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I enjoy "disputations" with Christians. I'm a sick puppy. I know. I loved it when Jehovah's Witnesses or Mormons used to come to my house. (They have some kind of marking system, like hobos used to have, and now they've marked my house and don't come back. I have found some useful ammunition here in case they ever do). I enjoy it when some fool suggests that we ought to post the Ten Commandments in public and I ask him/r to just go through them one by one and tell me why we need them posted. Most of them don't realize that the fact that dedicated Christians frequently can't recite the fundamental laws of their religion that supposedly provide the background for their ironclad moral code is the perfect reason we ought to post the Ten Commandments. Then I tell them the actual Ten Commandments are in Exodus 34.

Good, on that much at least, we can agree.

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The thing is, I'm not a particularly knowledgeable Bible scholar. I've just read more of it than most so-called self-proclaimed Christians.

You need not be to apply simple logic.

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So if you guys are successful and talk them out of their religion, there goes one of my favorite kinds of entertainment.

Well, while I miss the fireworks as well, I think we're working for something bigger and better than simple entertainment and debate. We want to fundamentally change minds and teach people how to think critically.

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Really, what's the point? You guys are working awfully hard.

The point, as I see it, of the challenge is to 1) show the world what the Bible actually says, and hopefully invoke their sense of justice 2) show the world that there are more non-believers than they think, and that it is OK to NOT believe. 3) to show people that there is a strong community to go to for support when and if they come to reason, and 4) (and I think this is the most important) to generate and encourage frank and open discussion of these issues.

The RRS has an agenda that encompasses the above and well as delves into other areas. That's really it.

Oh, and welcome to the boards, Thandarr.

I am against religion because it teaches us to be satisfied with not understanding the world. - Richard Dawkins

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Yellow_Number_Five
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Sapient and I talk about

Sapient and I talk about this in a mailbag response. Click on it on the front page in the free downloads toward the bottom, it is the response to Kat, the "Live and Let Live" atheist.

I am against religion because it teaches us to be satisfied with not understanding the world. - Richard Dawkins

Atheist Books, purchases on Amazon support the Rational Response Squad server.


Thandarr
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Sorry, but I can't find it

I couldn't find the Response to Kat, or for that matter the Free Downloads (except the one for the shows). Perhaps this is because I'm a dumbass, but any help would be greatly appreciated.

Thandarr


Thandarr
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Thanks for your comments, YellowNo5

As to the Eric Rudolphs of the world, I think people like that would be destructive and hateful even if they didn't have a religion to blame it on. They obviously don't know anything about the teachings attributed to Jesus of Nazareth, and don't need them in order to be evil.

I'm not so much suggesting that you shouldn't engage Christians, Muslims, etc. in discussion of their own faith. I'm just seriously wondering why you go to so much trouble to do it. I'm more interested in your motivation.

I have to confess, my motivation is a selfish one. I enjoy arguing, and it's often fun to make people uncomfortable about what they say they believe. It's entertainment.

In fact, I believe the entire phenomenon of religion in America is best understood as a subset of the entertainment industry. Christianity was sustained by traveling preacher shows. There is a satisfaction in hearing that people you don't like will burn for eternity while God will validate you as one of the good ones. That satisfaction is similar to watching the good guys win in the movies. When I say religion is part of the entertainment industry understand that that's not bad. It's not an insult. To the contrary, it means religion is good for something after all. I'm not sure if you can distinguish the emotional and psychological satisfaction of a good church service from that of a good soap opera. I daydream about the gods. Yesterday, for example, I listened to part of the Iliad while I was working out to take my mind off what I was doing. Even though I do somehow doubt Zeus was all that active in the Trojan war, the story is still entertaining.

I think you're right that if Christians would actually make the effort to struggle through the Bible, most of them would reach the breaking point. Something would have to give. They might give it up completely. They might decide it is to be read in a spiritual way--in other words it means exactly whatever they want it to mean. That's why it's so difficult to get them to actually read the scripture. They come to hard points and find something else to do.

Thandarr