How I became a Christian Atheist

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Post by huddsbaggie » Tue Aug 11, 2009 8:55 am

Onyx wrote:
SinisterHand wrote:Ever heard the saying "He was either Lord, liar, or lunatic"?
Yeah, I answered that question twice on this thread already. It's on about page 4, I think.
That's most famously in CS Lewis, I think, in Mere Christianity. Please correct if not.

It makes assumptions about the veracity of the writers of the Gospels, and their claims for Jesus, which I will allow for the sake of this point. I understand Lewis did not stray much into history, composiition and editing of the NT.

There are, of course, more than three possibilities if Jesus is not just a myth or a legend. Jesus may simply have been wrong. So as to whether any of this proves Jesus' followers' claims about him (as we don't have any first hand writing or claims), Lewis is patently wrong. And his deductions from asserting the other three alternatives are unconvincing. It's an all or nothing approach which is, frankly, bluster.

As with so much, he wrote, I'd say. Have look at George Orwell's review of Lewis' religious guff.
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Post by twentyoneeight » Tue Aug 11, 2009 10:01 am

Onyx wrote:
twentyoneeight wrote:You may also wish to check out this book too.
Thanks. I just saw someone had dug out this thread, and noticed your recommendation.

Since posting this thread, I've read What's So Great About Christianity by Dinesh D'Souza. It really is a superb book (which I've now lent to a friend). So I'm very interested to read Timothy Keller's book also.
No problem. Here are the sermons that he preached to his church on the subject matter. Obviously there is more contained in the books and he interacts more with the source material in the book. I wanted to re-read the book this summer but classes start on the 17th of this month and I just won't have time with that, work, and a new baby on the way. I don't mind interacting with you on what is presented, though. You may just have to be patient with me! :wink:
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Post by SinisterHand » Tue Aug 11, 2009 5:34 pm

huddsbaggie wrote:
Onyx wrote:
SinisterHand wrote:Ever heard the saying "He was either Lord, liar, or lunatic"?
Yeah, I answered that question twice on this thread already. It's on about page 4, I think.
That's most famously in CS Lewis, I think, in Mere Christianity. Please correct if not.

It makes assumptions about the veracity of the writers of the Gospels, and their claims for Jesus, which I will allow for the sake of this point. I understand Lewis did not stray much into history, composiition and editing of the NT.

There are, of course, more than three possibilities if Jesus is not just a myth or a legend. Jesus may simply have been wrong. So as to whether any of this proves Jesus' followers' claims about him (as we don't have any first hand writing or claims), Lewis is patently wrong. And his deductions from asserting the other three alternatives are unconvincing. It's an all or nothing approach which is, frankly, bluster.

As with so much, he wrote, I'd say. Have look at George Orwell's review of Lewis' religious guff.
"Jesus could have simply been wrong"? Don't you think that a man who thought he was the Messiah but wasn't is a little more tha misguided? Crazy, even? What would call me if I claimed to be the Messiah? And, of coarse, I don't buy the b.s. about the NT being edited in a fashion to conceal thing or hide the truth. From a traditional Christian view, these are pretty much the only three options.
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Post by SinisterHand » Tue Aug 11, 2009 5:35 pm

Onyx wrote:
SinisterHand wrote:Ever heard the saying "He was either Lord, liar, or lunatic"?
Yeah, I answered that question twice on this thread already. It's on about page 4, I think.
Sorry to belabor.
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Post by Onyx » Wed Aug 12, 2009 2:52 am

SinisterHand wrote:
Onyx wrote:
SinisterHand wrote:Ever heard the saying "He was either Lord, liar, or lunatic"?
Yeah, I answered that question twice on this thread already. It's on about page 4, I think.
Sorry to belabor.
No sorry is necessary. It's a good question. I just thought I'd reference it rather than trying to answer again.

But I also want to say - thanks for sharing your experience in coming through the Pentecostal movement. I appreciate that. I did experience a similar disappointment. Although I want to add that this did not lead me to conclude that everything was fake. I don't think it's all fake, I'm a fan of Christianity. I just don't believe it all. And I understand that for many Christians, it's all or nothing. I also understand that they have fairly good logic for taking that position. But I disagree.
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Post by SinisterHand » Wed Aug 12, 2009 3:40 am

Onyx wrote:
SinisterHand wrote:
Onyx wrote:
SinisterHand wrote:Ever heard the saying "He was either Lord, liar, or lunatic"?
Yeah, I answered that question twice on this thread already. It's on about page 4, I think.
Sorry to belabor.
No sorry is necessary. It's a good question. I just thought I'd reference it rather than trying to answer again.

But I also want to say - thanks for sharing your experience in coming through the Pentecostal movement. I appreciate that. I did experience a similar disappointment. Although I want to add that this did not lead me to conclude that everything was fake. I don't think it's all fake, I'm a fan of Christianity. I just don't believe it all. And I understand that for many Christians, it's all or nothing. I also understand that they have fairly good logic for taking that position. But I disagree.
Thanks for your honesty and candor. Many would have just vanished from a group like this. Or left the initial post and checked out. Thanks for sticking around. I hope you continue to do so.
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Post by huddsbaggie » Wed Aug 12, 2009 6:26 am

SinisterHand wrote:
huddsbaggie wrote:
Onyx wrote:
SinisterHand wrote:Ever heard the saying "He was either Lord, liar, or lunatic"?
Yeah, I answered that question twice on this thread already. It's on about page 4, I think.
That's most famously in CS Lewis, I think, in Mere Christianity. Please correct if not.

It makes assumptions about the veracity of the writers of the Gospels, and their claims for Jesus, which I will allow for the sake of this point. I understand Lewis did not stray much into history, composiition and editing of the NT.

There are, of course, more than three possibilities if Jesus is not just a myth or a legend. Jesus may simply have been wrong. So as to whether any of this proves Jesus' followers' claims about him (as we don't have any first hand writing or claims), Lewis is patently wrong. And his deductions from asserting the other three alternatives are unconvincing. It's an all or nothing approach which is, frankly, bluster.

As with so much, he wrote, I'd say. Have look at George Orwell's review of Lewis' religious guff.
"Jesus could have simply been wrong"? Don't you think that a man who thought he was the Messiah but wasn't is a little more tha misguided? Crazy, even? What would call me if I claimed to be the Messiah? And, of coarse, I don't buy the b.s. about the NT being edited in a fashion to conceal thing or hide the truth. From a traditional Christian view, these are pretty much the only three options.
I think you are wrong. You wish the three "options" to be so, but are you discounting the idea that a person may be be wrong or even deluded in a belief, but not actually insane? 2,000 years ago, a man inculcated by religion in such times might believe he was destined to be messiah without being mad, a liar or the real thing. To presume otherwise is an all or nothing approach which is fallacious.

By the way, why don't you "buy" the idea (BS) that the NT is anything other than second or third and fourth hand reportage full of contradictions and with almost no corrobarative evidence, edited by the "winners" in the battle for control of the cult? (And even so, all the denominations and sects still have their own take on it, some widely differing, despite the canon being established). Believers may contend that the victors for control of the cult had divine guidance and assistance. Looked at dispassionately, it's a typical human power struggle.

So, having once been been a credulous Christian, with the historicity of the project barely revealed or discussed properly, I now believe the whole thing to be a sham and with tragic consequences over the centuries. You have faith to bind the thing together, and that's OK. I wouldn't say it's BS. It's all unravelled for me in the light of personal research and reason.
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Post by Irish-Dane » Wed Aug 12, 2009 7:35 am

Onyx wrote:
Thoth wrote:I'll pray for you as well, that you may pass through this period, this dark night of the soul.
Thoth, I've gotta say that I tried to appreciate all the messages of prayer for the genuine concern that they communicate. (It is a tad patronising since I'm not exactly asking for prayerful support in all this - but I know it's not meant that way, and I appreciate the generous heart in your statement.)

But I will just speak up on the grounds that a "dark night of the soul" is mischaracterisation of what I'm going through. Fact is, I'm loving it. I'm reading more, thinking more, talking to more old friends, to family... I'm doing more things that I'd been putting off. I've had a dark night of the soul so I know what that means. It was in an abusive church. Today I may not agree with some Christian theology, but I'm not experiencing a dark night of the soul.
I just found this thread so I apologize if this issue gets spoken to as the conversation goes forward, but I felt the need to comment as I read your response to Thoth. The one thing I did not read in your original posting was anything of a dark nature. While I see where Thoth was coming from -- that it seemed to him you are in a dark place -- the very detailed way you described your life clearly defined that you are happy. Thoth, we really need to be careful that we are not so condescending, even in our concern.

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Post by blenheimbard » Tue Aug 18, 2009 10:53 pm

Onyx

I think from my reading of your post the word you want is agnostic, you have found no basis for saying whether is a God or not, as opposed to Atheist, which requires I think as big a jump of faith to absolutely deny the possability of a god, as it does to believe i n God.

And I always find it amazing the number of people without questions and without doubts, some for the very reasons you state, like the fact that it is absolutely impossible for opposing scriptures to both be literally true. I find a fascination in the research into the origins of the Bible, tracing back the books to the earliest sources and thereby correcting any "errors" that have crept in. And despite the fact that some stories cannot literally be true, there no being enough water to cover all of the earth, the evidence for the "flood" in that region is there, and a lot of other biblical events are shown to have a factual historical basis.

But for me that is the quest, and as i was told long ago by a minister, when i was disgusted with the narrow minded and very un-christian behavior found among a congregation, "a church is not a group of people who are perfect, but a group of people who are imperfectly trying to find perfection."

To me the quest is finding out what was Christ's path, and sorting it out from all the corruptions of the message. The Bible literalist will screasm and pull their hair at this, but there are a who lot of "borrowed" parts of the accepted theology. Like the story of a virgin birth, which is not original with Christianity, but was claimed by previous religions Mithra among others.

I would commend to you the following poem:

Abou Ben Adhem

Abou Ben Adhem (may his tribe increase!)
Awoke one night from a deep dream of peace,
And saw, within the moonlight in his room,
Making it rich, and like a lily in bloom,
An angel writing in a book of gold:—
Exceeding peace had made Ben Adhem bold,
And to the Presence in the room he said
"What writest thou?"—The vision raised its head,
And with a look made of all sweet accord,
Answered "The names of those who love the Lord."
"And is mine one?" said Abou. "Nay, not so,"
Replied the angel. Abou spoke more low,
But cheerly still, and said "I pray thee, then,
Write me as one that loves his fellow men."

The angel wrote, and vanished. The next night
It came again with a great wakening light,
And showed the names whom love of God had blessed,
And lo! Ben Adhem's name led all the rest.


James Henry Leigh Hunt

I hope you get through the basic reaction to your fundamentalist background and find a happy place in your search for meaning. If you cleave to the basic law to "love your neighbor as yourself", I don't think you can go wrong. It makes a life a better place for both you and others here and now, and if there is a judgement and afterlife, it should cover you there too. :)

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Post by blenheimbard » Tue Aug 18, 2009 11:06 pm

wosbald wrote:+JMJ+
FoxHound wrote:But as I continue to find conflict with the doctrine of an infallible Church (as I understand it... or apparently misunderstand it) in the formulations I have read (modern Catholic writers, most prominently Dave Armstrong and Richard John Neuhaus), I don't know where my ecclesial ramblings are leading me.
No wonder you're confused. You are studying post-Vatican II Catholisticism instead of straight-up Catholicism.
Is this another one of those "splits" to be entered into the time line of the true and unchanging orthodoxy of the Catholic Church? :twisted:

Are we "non-popish" types going to have to ask are you a "straight up Catholic" or are you a "Vatican 2 Catholic"? Are you going to have seperate or alternating Popes? LOL

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Post by blenheimbard » Tue Aug 18, 2009 11:30 pm

Kerdy wrote:
CaptainBlack wrote:The inconsistancies you mention seem to be inconsitancies with one's interpretation of Scripture versus one's world view rather than inconsitancies within Scripture itself - unless I missed something.
I agree completely. I have noticed many people I speak with who say there are inconsistancies in scripture, when asked to show what they are talking about, refer to a variety of areas....

Some are simply out of context. Others are, when read in context, written for a specific group of people. Some are OT vs. NT without the understanding of "Under the Law" and "Under Grace" and a long list of other things. I have personally have never seen any scripture that cannot be explained with proper research of the scriptures. But thats just me.
It all depends upo0n how deeply you look. Biblical research shows that the "earliest" (accepted) NT texts are the Pauline letters and the gospel of Mark, and neither mentions a virgin birth. But the later Gospels of Matthew and Luke both include this "miracle" and Matthew assigns to it the signifigance of fulfilling the prophecy of the book of Isiah. Only problem is that the original Hebrew does not specify that the Messiah come from a virgin, only in the later translation into Greek, was the word for "young woman" changed to "virgin".

Now if the first "miracle" of your faith was a "virgin birth", on a faith of many miracles, do you think any authoritative voice of the faith would somehow omit that detail?

Not being a "fundamentalist", who has to accept "whole clothe, or none", this is just another of many questions to seek an answer to. But if you are a fundamentalist you either have to find an answer or deny the question exists, otherwise your whole foundation is at threat.

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Post by FredS » Wed Aug 19, 2009 3:55 pm

blenheimbard wrote: . . .Only problem is that the original Hebrew does not specify that the Messiah come from a virgin, only in the later translation into Greek, was the word for "young woman" changed to "virgin". . .
Can the same "young woman" not also be a "virgin"? The terms don't conflict.
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Post by huddsbaggie » Wed Aug 19, 2009 4:23 pm

They do in this context, FredS. A young woman can conceive, all right and it happens all the time. A virgin, however, can't give birth and never did, via a celestial seed or otherwise.

And how come, even if we allow this miracle that, given Jesus' precocity and "otherness", that Mary seems to have forgotten the visit from the angel and her night of nights with the Lord and then, 9 months later, the visits by the wise men and the shepherds (acounts differ) ? It might just have rung a bell with her, d'you not think?
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Post by Del » Wed Aug 19, 2009 4:40 pm

blenheimbard wrote: Now if the first "miracle" of your faith was a "virgin birth", on a faith of many miracles, do you think any authoritative voice of the faith would somehow omit that detail?

Not being a "fundamentalist", who has to accept "whole clothe, or none", this is just another of many questions to seek an answer to. But if you are a fundamentalist you either have to find an answer or deny the question exists, otherwise your whole foundation is at threat.
What is your question, exactly?

It seems that you want every source to mention every miracle.

But even the last Gospel, according to John, makes no mention of the Christmas story.

As much as modern Christians love the Christmas story, it was not central to the faith of the early Church. To them, the defining miracle was the Resurrection of Christ.

So I guess I am denying that your question exists.

It does not trouble me that some Gospel writers do not tell the Christmas story. And it does cause any difficulty, that Jesus' birth to a young virgin girl fulfills both the Greek and Hebrew versions of Isaiah, no matter how we interpret them.
=============
I've haven't thought about it much.... but a prophecy saying that a babe will be born to a young girl isn't really much of a prophecy, is it? The original meaning must have always been "virgin."
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Post by huddsbaggie » Wed Aug 19, 2009 4:45 pm

It's the sheer weight of inconsistencies, Del. It troubled me and it proves it can't be literally true - and that's just the intrinsic problem, never mind extrinsic/corroborative.
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Post by Onyx » Wed Aug 19, 2009 4:49 pm

Thanks for the comments, blenheimbard. I'd certainly like to have a long chat over a beer about all this stuff. As far as the imperfect Christians go... that didn't surprise me. Actually, the Christians are, by and large, a wonderful group of people. I like their generosity of heart and mercy of conscience.

It's interesting what you say about the virgin birth. I'm also aware that the word virgin in it's context refers to a young and unmarried woman. The word (Biblically) doesn't make a claim as to whether the woman has had sex, although that may have been normally assumed within the culture of the time.

Furthermore, it's very interesting if as you say only the later writings (post Pauline epistles and gospel of Mark) claim a miraculous conception... (although I didn't know this and haven't checked it out.) But I would add to that that even the scriptures which do reference a miraculous conception do not speak of a "virgin birth" [EDIT: meaning in the modern sense of the word - not having had sex]. A virgin conception, yes. But a virgin birth... well, a lot can happen in nine months. And a perpetual virgin...? I just don't know why someone would teach that, unless there is some underlying issue with the wholesomeness of sex. Mary was after all a married woman.
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Post by wosbald » Wed Aug 19, 2009 4:55 pm

+JMJ+
Onyx wrote:A virgin conception, yes. But a virgin birth... well, a lot can happen in nine months. And a perpetual virgin...? I just don't know why someone would teach that, unless there is some underlying issue with the wholesomeness of sex.
By all means, no. It's taught simply because it the Truth.




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Post by chazman » Wed Aug 19, 2009 5:18 pm

Onyx wrote:Thanks for the comments, blenheimbard. I'd certainly like to have a long chat over a beer about all this stuff. As far as the imperfect Christians go... that didn't surprise me. Actually, the Christians are, by and large, a wonderful group of people. I like their generosity of heart and mercy of conscience.

It's interesting what you say about the virgin birth. I'm also aware that the word virgin in it's context refers to a young and unmarried woman. The word (Biblically) doesn't make a claim as to whether the woman has had sex, although that may have been normally assumed within the culture of the time.

Furthermore, it's very interesting if as you say only the later writings (post Pauline epistles and gospel of Mark) claim a miraculous conception... (although I didn't know this and haven't checked it out.) But I would add to that that even the scriptures which do reference a miraculous conception do not speak of a "virgin birth" [EDIT: meaning in the modern sense of the word - not having had sex]. A virgin conception, yes. But a virgin birth... well, a lot can happen in nine months. And a perpetual virgin...? I just don't know why someone would teach that, unless there is some underlying issue with the wholesomeness of sex. Mary was after all a married woman.
yeah, not a chance of that. i mean, Jesus had brothers and they were not concieved in the same way. as you said, she was a married woman.
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Post by blenheimbard » Wed Aug 19, 2009 11:07 pm

Onyx wrote:Thanks for the comments, blenheimbard. I'd certainly like to have a long chat over a beer about all this stuff. As far as the imperfect Christians go... that didn't surprise me. Actually, the Christians are, by and large, a wonderful group of people. I like their generosity of heart and mercy of conscience.

It's interesting what you say about the virgin birth. I'm also aware that the word virgin in it's context refers to a young and unmarried woman. The word (Biblically) doesn't make a claim as to whether the woman has had sex, although that may have been normally assumed within the culture of the time.

Furthermore, it's very interesting if as you say only the later writings (post Pauline epistles and gospel of Mark) claim a miraculous conception... (although I didn't know this and haven't checked it out.) But I would add to that that even the scriptures which do reference a miraculous conception do not speak of a "virgin birth" [EDIT: meaning in the modern sense of the word - not having had sex]. A virgin conception, yes. But a virgin birth... well, a lot can happen in nine months. And a perpetual virgin...? I just don't know why someone would teach that, unless there is some underlying issue with the wholesomeness of sex. Mary was after all a married woman.
Onyx,

Among many sites you might take a peak at:
http://www.geocities.com/paulntobin/virgin.html

Unseeking Christians tend to take what they have been told by "authority" and see no reason to question. Some us are more like the apostle Thomas and always have questions.

Early on in the establishment of Christianity (both in the establishment of the "doctrines" and the establishment as a popular faith) it had competitors. Among these competitors were a number of religions that claimed founders born of virgins by the intercession of god(s), as in Mithra, and others. There is a suspicion among many Biblical scholars that this popular "proof" of validity was grated onto the Gospels to make it an easier "sell".

In a like manner the establishment of the December celebration of Christmas co-opted the pagan celebration of the Winter solstice, Saturnalia. I mean if you look at the internal evidence of the Gospels, then the shepherds being in the hills watching their flocks does not speak to it being Winter. That was not the practice of the time and place. And the original celebration for the Nativity were generally placed in March.

But Saturnalia was a very popular Roman holiday , lots of drinking, feasting, and other "fun" stuff for the people to do, so let's put a Christian "spin" on it. The first "feast of the Nativity" is recorded in 336 AD, and December 25th just happened to be the date of Mithra's birth. (The Eastern churches celebrate the 12th day of Christmas, either January 6th or 7th, depending upon which rite is followed.)

I enjoy Christmas, and I enjoy gift giving, and the whole shebang. Now if you start messing around and moving my birthday on me I might be upset, but I somehow don't think it matters to the Son of God, unless you are trying to claim it as "historical" fact.

Al

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Post by blenheimbard » Thu Aug 20, 2009 12:08 am

Del wrote:
blenheimbard wrote: Now if the first "miracle" of your faith was a "virgin birth", on a faith of many miracles, do you think any authoritative voice of the faith would somehow omit that detail?

Not being a "fundamentalist", who has to accept "whole clothe, or none", this is just another of many questions to seek an answer to. But if you are a fundamentalist you either have to find an answer or deny the question exists, otherwise your whole foundation is at threat.
What is your question, exactly?

It seems that you want every source to mention every miracle.

But even the last Gospel, according to John, makes no mention of the Christmas story.

As much as modern Christians love the Christmas story, it was not central to the faith of the early Church. To them, the defining miracle was the Resurrection of Christ.

So I guess I am denying that your question exists.

It does not trouble me that some Gospel writers do not tell the Christmas story. And it does cause any difficulty, that Jesus' birth to a young virgin girl fulfills both the Greek and Hebrew versions of Isaiah, no matter how we interpret them.
=============
I've haven't thought about it much.... but a prophecy saying that a babe will be born to a young girl isn't really much of a prophecy, is it? The original meaning must have always been "virgin."
Del, now take time to digest this, if you are putting forth as one of your tenets of your religion is that the founder was the result of a miraculous conception, namely born of a "virgin", then you would expect that fact to be included in the earliest writings of that faith. It is put forward by those who proclaim it as the foundation of the claim to the title "the Son", and therefore is fundamental. In comparison, the miracle of the "loaves and fishes" is interesting, but Jesus is not known as "the caterer" :D

And yes the final miracle of the resurrection is included because it is the keystone to the"'miracles". And assuming you accept that "Acts" is the second volume of "Luke", the resurrection is is in ALL the Gospels, and in other NT texts also.

And no Del, it does not follow that because it doesn't make sense to you otherwise, that:
"The original meaning must have always been "virgin."
That's a cop out. I'll give you that figuring out what a Biblical prophecy means can be more than challenging, they tend to come into clear focus only after the fact, but you can't rewrite and claim fulfillment in the same breath.

And a "perpetual virgin" who has multiple children, but only one of them is supposedly a miracle conception, say again...? That's only necessary if you accept St. Augustine's interpretation of "original sin", as opposed to St. Anselm's view, or if you want to establish the worship of Mary, as contrasted to the worship of Christ.

I will agree with you on one point: "I've haven't thought about it much.." Yup, it shows.


Del- You spend a lot of time answering a question you deny exists. :D[/b]

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