Thursday, 8 October 2009

Religion vs. Xianity?


Why do some Xians insist that they don't belong to a "religion" but have a "personal relationship" with Jesus instead? The very definition of religion seems to indicate that all Xians are part of a religion:
religion [ri-lij-uhn]
noun
1. a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, esp. when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.
2. a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects: the Christian religion; the Buddhist religion.
3. the body of persons adhering to a particular set of beliefs and practices: a world council of religions.
4. the life or state of a monk, nun, etc.: to enter religion.
5. the practice of religious beliefs; ritual observance of faith.
6. something one believes in and follows devotedly; a point or matter of ethics or conscience: to make a religion of fighting prejudice.



I've been told that it is an attempt to bypass the negative connotations of the word "religion" but I simply don't buy that. In this country (the US) there are no negative connotations to the word religion, and there certainly isn't any in the dictionary definition.

Is this an attempt to somehow claim that their beliefs are more valid or more special than the mundane beliefs of "religions?" Does anyone know why some Xians claim they aren't part of a religion?

114 comments:

Tracy said...

I read you saying that you don't buy it, but, as a Christian, the reason I shy away from the word "religion", is exactly because of the negative connotations.

Religion as it's defined here is neutral. But so many actions ranging from merely annoying to downright evil have been taken in the name of religion.

Leo said...

Same here. "Religion" brings to mind a set of rules that are ultimately important. Christianity is about Jesus sacrifice. You accept it, you go to Heaven. No relationship with Christ, no salvation. The rest is gravy.

Robert Madewell said...

The type of christians that most often try to deny religiousity, are probably fundamentalists. (I could be wrong, but I don't think so.)

When I was growing up, I was told that we were not religious. I think it's because they (fundies) don't want their belief system to be categorized with other religions such as Islam, Mormonism, Budhism, etc. Because? They believe that all those other religions are "false" and that they have the one true way to salvation in the whole melting pot of world religions.

That's only my opinion, of course.

Also, it seems that when we get into discussions with fundies that deny religiousity, we get into trouble by having two different definitions of religion. I don't know how many times I have charged into that brick wall.

ethinethin said...

...which is a rule, Leo, but that's beside the point.

Whether you find the term "religion" distasteful or not does not change the fact that christianity is a religion.

Tiger said...

It's an attempt to portray their religion as special, somehow distinct from all the hundreds of others out there.

Personally, I respond by saying that they're right, a personal relationship with a guy who's been dead for 2000 years isn't a religion. It's a cult.

Tracy said...

Had to smile at Tiger's comment.

Of course Christianity is a religion.

I think Leo and I are both (forgive me Leo if I'm wrong but I think we're coming from the same space) not into saying we're religious because frequently in Christian religious culture we spell out a bunch of "sins" that are REALLY appalling to God and somehow these specific sins are those that the group who is doing the spelling do not have problems with. But Christians do, indeed, just as GCT said, put the emphasis on a relationship with Jesus vrs rules or regulations.

Tyler said...

I usually prefer to say, "If it's personal, keep it to yourself."

Of course, they can't, because they're all commanded to spread the word, so all they tend to do is support the maxim, "Better to be thought a fool than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt."

B.J. said...

"religion" does have negative connotation. if not with the majority i am sure it does with atheists.

GCT said...

I disagree that "religion" has negative connotations. The definition certainly does not, as Tracy and I have both pointed out. The US culture also automatically equates "Xian" with "good" (how many times do people say, "What a good Xian person?") Whatever evils have been undertaken by religious people can not be jettisoned by simply disavowing the word "religious," and personally, I think it's a little bit dangerous to think this way, as that way leads to more attrocities and evil.

Goyo said...

That's right GCT. The crusades and inquisition were done by the Christian church, not the "religious" church.

Anonymous said...

Do you not understand what the word connotation means GCT? No word by it's own definition has a negative connotation. Connotation is related to the feeling that a word invokes, and in our society, the word "religion" has a negative one. So does the word "atheist."

GCT said...

Anon,
No one is sneering out the word "religion" as they do with "atheist" or "liberal" (for another example). In fact, we fall all over ourselves in this country to associate good with religion and evil with non-religion, or evil not with religion. The only people I see that insist that religion has a negative connotation are those Xians that claim they aren't part of a religion.

Anonymous said...

Ok, now you've proven you don't know what connotation is. It has nothing to do with the way you say the word. It's about the feeling evoked by simply hearing the word spoken at all.

I wish we could actually switch places for a day. I think we'd probably learn a lot. I know you'd be surprised by the reaction "religious" people get from the general population. It's similar to being a "smart kid" in school. Those who are relatively intelligent are thought of highly. Those who are "supersmart" are ostracized for it, because deep down others are jealous and feel the need to even the playing field somehow. This is how the truly devout Christian is treated. I get made fun of daily for the fact I go to every service at my church. I get spoken poorly of because I actually go to the altar and pray after our services. Sure, the folks INSIDE the church are supportive, (and really only about half there, as many resent it), but the general populice is actually very rough towards folks who are "too religious." That's why people try to get to a point where they aren't "too churchy for the world or too worldly for the church." People want to be on this middle ground, not on the devout side of things, nor what they would consider the "heathen" side of things, which is where most would classify atheism.

We actually probably have more in common than either of us would like to admit.

While I hate the fact you deny God, I do at least have a level of respect that you are not just luke-warm and "playing church" like most of the world.

Tracy said...

I can relate to some of what you say Anon. Not exactly; but I was surprised when GCT commented on how our culture is so supportive of Christianity. I think 50 years ago that may have been more true, but it's certainly not today. My beliefs are frequently not at all what is politically correct and my lifestyle is considered weird by our current culture; I can't count how many people throughout my life have considered me way too intense. But basically, it doesn't matter. When it's all said and done, I've got to do what I believe is right.

I actually think that we feel a certain connection to GCT because he's intense too (I mean come on, having a site entitled "Why I hate Jesus" - definitely intense!) - just in a different direction. But at least we all are concerned about the macro issues; vrs just wanted to accumulate material possessions.

Not sure if I'm expressing what I'm trying to very well.

GCT said...

Anon,
"Ok, now you've proven you don't know what connotation is. It has nothing to do with the way you say the word."

It does have to do with how people perceive the word, and talking about how people "sneer" is part of that. Perhaps I could have been more clear. The point is that no one is claiming that religion is negative, except those Xians that claim that aren't part of one.

"This is how the truly devout Christian is treated."

I won't deny that there has been some movement in US culture towards secularism, however, there's no doubt that religion is held as a good thing.

"I get made fun of daily for the fact I go to every service at my church. I get spoken poorly of because I actually go to the altar and pray after our services. Sure, the folks INSIDE the church are supportive, (and really only about half there, as many resent it), but the general populice is actually very rough towards folks who are "too religious.""

This has nothing to do with "religion" having a negative connotation as with your actions being perceived as somehow negative. Do you think that if you claim that you aren't part of a religion that any of this changes?

"We actually probably have more in common than either of us would like to admit."

I'm sure that what we want out of life is pretty common: security, love, a comfortable lifestyle, etc.

"While I hate the fact you deny God, I do at least have a level of respect that you are not just luke-warm and "playing church" like most of the world."

What harm does it do you for me to not believe in your god?

Tyler said...

Anon: I wish we could actually switch places for a day. [...] We actually probably have more in common than either of us would like to admit. While I hate the fact you deny God...

You're negligibly less an atheist than any atheist here. You deny all the gods a full blown atheist denies, save one.

The only difference is full blown atheists don't fear any cosmic boogeymen. You choose to fear one. Suffice to say, that's just plain silly.

Anonymous said...

"What harm does it do you for me to not believe in your god?"

None at all, save that I care for you and don't want you to go to Hell.

Modusoperandi said...

Anonymous "None at all, save that I care for you and don't want you to go to Hell."
But aren't you afraid that by denying Mohammad, Allah's True Prophet, you've set yourself inexorably on the path to jahannam? I don't know if this helps, but if the Muslims are right, I'll meet you there. I'll save you a space in the chow line.
Personally, I'm getting in shape, just in case the Norse were right. I mean, the various versions of hell are bad, but being a thrall in Ragnarok would, frankly, be embarrassing.

GCT said...

Anon,
I don't want anyone to go to hell either, even the worst person that ever lived. It's because hell is infinitely unjust and cruel. It's too bad that your god is not a moral entity.

ethinethin said...

It's because hell is infinitely unjust and cruel.

Indeed, infinite punishment for finite crimes.

At least the mormon jesus gives you a choice to accept redemption after a thousand years of suffering.

Anonymous said...

Is sin really finite?

ethinethin said...

Yes, whatever sin is, it's something done in our mortal life. How could we possibly do anything infinite?

Even the crimes of the worst humans in history had finite effects.

Anonymous said...

I disagree. All sin has a lasting effect. Just as all good actions do.

Even if you wanted to consider them finite, it's pretty simple: You are given X amount of time to accept Jesus as your Savior. If you don't do that, it's your own fault.

ethinethin said...

I disagree. All sin has a lasting effect. Just as all good actions do.

What about neutral actions?

Anonymous said...

Does that matter?

ethinethin said...

Yes.

Anonymous said...

why?

GCT said...

"Even if you wanted to consider them finite, it's pretty simple: You are given X amount of time to accept Jesus as your Savior. If you don't do that, it's your own fault."

Which justifies torture of any kind, let alone infinite torture?

ethinethin said...

Because I'm trying to point out how ridiculous it is that any actions would have an infinite effect.

The only infinite effect you could possibly ascribe to actions would be the reward/punishment of your god, but that's a hard sell to someone who doesn't believe in your god.

Otherwise, however, all actions by humans have finite effects (since infinity is a concept and does not exist or have meaning in a practical sense). Even the greatest crimes committed in the history of humanity have finite effects; even if we still feel their effects today, and for a very long time, they cannot possibly last infinitely.

Tyler said...

Anon: All sin has a lasting effect. Just as all good actions do.

What is the lasting effect of sin in heaven? What is the lasting effect of the good actions of non-christians?


Even if you wanted to consider them finite, it's pretty simple: You are given X amount of time to accept Jesus as your Savior. If you don't do that, it's your own fault.

So, what you're actually saying is that the only good action is accepting Jesus (unless you're prepared to argue that people are going to be punished in heaven, which is the only way you can reconcile your claim that sin has a lasting effect with the idea of the eternal bliss of heaven), which, suffice to say, throws a huge stick into the spokes of that whole "known by their works" bullshit.

You're not making a bit of sense, boy.

Anonymous said...

Tyler-research the Bema seat of Christ. Sin of the Christian leads to missing out on blessings, and therefore does have a lasting effect. The atheist has invented a Heaven where everyone is equal. This is fundamentally untrue.

Tyler said...

Anon: Tyler-research the Bema seat of Christ.

How about you just do what your imaginary friend commanded you to do and answer my questions, since the convoluted horse shit referred to as "bema" doesn't answer them.

Again, what is the lasting effect of sin in heaven? What is the lasting effect of the good actions of non-christians?


Anon: Sin of the Christian leads to missing out on blessings, and therefore does have a lasting effect.

Which sins cause a christian to lose which blessings? Where are you getting your information?



Anon: The atheist has invented a Heaven where everyone is equal.

I've invented no such thing. Stop bearing false witness, asshole.



Anon: This is fundamentally untrue.

I agree. Christianity is fundamentally untrue.

Robert Madewell said...

Anon, I don't believe in Heaven.

Anonymous said...

Tyler, the bema seat of Christ is the judgement of the saved individual. This is where our works will be examined and rewards (crowns) will be given to those who deserve them. Others may have nothing. All will still be in Heaven, but not all will be equal there.

GCT said...

So, you're positing a heaven that is not eternal bliss?

Anonymous said...

No, I'm saying that some will have more rewards than others. However, that doesn't destroy the bliss of those who do not. As Christians, we rejoice for one anothers gains, instead of coveting them and having the "If I can't have it, NOBODY should" opinion the world holds.

Anonymous said...

Anon:
As Christians, we rejoice for one anothers gains, instead of coveting them and having the "If I can't have it, NOBODY should" opinion the world holds.

Sorry Anon, you got this wrong, you meant "As True Christians". Just pointing it out before the misguided atheists attempt to point out some not-true-christians who covet the gains of others.

GCT said...

"No, I'm saying that some will have more rewards than others. However, that doesn't destroy the bliss of those who do not."

Except for those, of course, who recognize that they could be happier given better rewards, and then become unhappy for not having them.

"As Christians, we rejoice for one anothers gains, instead of coveting them and having the "If I can't have it, NOBODY should" opinion the world holds."

That's a false dichotomy. I can rejoice for someone else's gains and still wish to have what they have and be saddened in some way that I don't - without resorting to scorched earth ways of thinking. It's not either I rejoice and don't want, or scorched earth.

Tyler said...

Anon: Tyler, blah blah blah...

Thanks for dodging my questions again. If you don't want to answer them, just say so, chickenshit.

Anonymous said...

"I can rejoice for someone else's gains and still wish to have what they have and be saddened in some way that I don't - without resorting to scorched earth ways of thinking."

If that is true, I'm glad. You are different than the majority of the world however. Most folks are of the opinion that "If I can't have it, I don't want anybody to have it."

Tyler, I generally ignore your comments. You are incapable of having a respectful discussion, and I'm not interested in anything else.

GCT said...

"If that is true, I'm glad. You are different than the majority of the world however. Most folks are of the opinion that "If I can't have it, I don't want anybody to have it.""

You've basically just admitted that you've used a false dichotomy. Now, I'm wondering if you will deal with the obvious weakness of your arguments that rely on this false dichotomy.

Anonymous said...

How have I admitted such a thing? Just because you are not the norm doesn't make the argument any less valid.

Tyler said...

Anon: Tyler, I generally ignore your comments. You are incapable of having a respectful discussion, and I'm not interested in anything else.

Translation: Tyler, I can't back up my claims, so I'm only interested in whining about your giving me the medicine I'm dishing out.

GCT said...

"How have I admitted such a thing? Just because you are not the norm doesn't make the argument any less valid."

You've admitted that it's not all or nothing, and even in this comment you further that thought. And, yeah, it does hinder your argument, because your argument was that either one is happy with what others have or one want to destroy all. This was in defense of heaven being a place where everyone would be happy despite having different rewards. This is simply not the case, which damages your idea of heaven. Would you like to try again?

Anonymous said...

Your state of mind doesn't even matter to the argument. The point was that a CHRISTIAN will not lack bliss because of otehrs receiving rewards that they didn't.

GCT said...

And, you are simply wrong. Are you really trying to say that only True Xians that will be in heaven will not lack bliss if they are given less rewards than someone else? How is that attainable without giving up free will?

Anonymous said...

"How is that attainable without giving up free will?"

It's not even necessary to attain. They've already got it. Not because of lack of free will, but because of God's love within them.

GCT said...

"It's not even necessary to attain. They've already got it. Not because of lack of free will, but because of God's love within them."

IOW, god forces them to feel a certain way...hence no free will is possible. Thanks for confirming.

Anonymous said...

God gives them the ABILITY to feel that way. They choose to live it out.

GCT said...

And, if someone "chooses" not to live it out that way? Then, your conception of heaven is in error and there's no eternal bliss. In order to make sure that eternal bliss happens, god must make it so that one can not "choose" this. Ipso facto, free will can not exist.

Anonymous said...

'And, if someone "chooses" not to live it out that way?'

Satan did that.

GCT said...

And, you don't see the contradiction? If people can be evil and cast out of heaven, then it's not a place of eternal bliss, is it?

Anonymous said...

It is if you live righteously. Why wouldn't you? If God is providing for everything that exists in your world, why would you not serve him?

GCT said...

Do you even think about the things that you've previously said before contradicting yourself?

You just said that Satan was cast out for thinking for himself. If one can think for oneself, then heaven will not be a place of eternal bliss, since freethinking will lead to non-bliss in some way (it already has, according to you). You're implying that we have to freely choose to act in this way, but what if someone doesn't as you already concede is possible since it has already happened? Then, heaven is not as advertised. In order for heaven to be as advertised, free will must not exist. (It mirrors the fact that free will can't exist with an omni-max god, so it seems pretty natural.)

Anonymous said...

Do you even comprehend the things I previously said?

" Satan was cast out for thinking for himself"

No, he wasn't. He was cast out for doing something contrary to God. You can think for yourself and do things you want to do as long as they don't violate God's law.

GCT said...

So, let's get this straight:

We have free will, so we can't possibly perfectly follow god's will, which is why we need saving. Yet, somehow we'll still have free will in heaven, yet we will be able to perfectly follow god's will. When it's pointed out that someone may disagree with god, you agree in pointing to Satan and think that somehow it supports your view that everyone will perfectly align with god and that heaven will be full of eternal bliss because no one will disagree with god? It's called cognitive dissonance to hold two contradictory ideas in your head and think them both true. Sorry, but you're full of cognitive dissonance.

Chris McGinnis said...

"We have free will, so we can't possibly perfectly follow god's will, which is why we need saving."

We can possibly perfectly follow God's will. Jesus faced the same temptations we did and accomplished this. The fact is that nobody other than him has ever done it!

Modusoperandi said...

"Anonymous "No, he wasn't. He was cast out for doing something contrary to God. You can think for yourself and do things you want to do as long as they don't violate God's law."
A poor workman blames his tools.

Chris McGinnis "We can possibly perfectly follow God's will. Jesus faced the same temptations we did and accomplished this. The fact is that nobody other than him has ever done it!"
So...only God Himself can perfectly follow His own will? Again, a poor workman yadda yadda yadda.

Chris McGinnis said...

BTW, Hi. I stumbled here via SuperstitionFree via Eric Hovind's blog. Hope you don't mind that I chimed in mid-discussion.

"So...only God Himself can perfectly follow His own will?"

You have to remember that Christ lowered himself to human level in order to live a sinless life that would make him an acceptible sacrifice for our sins. It is my understanding that he never used his access to divine power to overcome temptation. If he had, then he wouldn't have had to live to adulthood here. God could have sent him down as a full grown man, had him crucified the same day, and then resurrected him 3 days later.

If I don't remember to check back here, I hope you'll keep examining the Bible, and seeking answers to your questions. The answers are there.

GCT said...

Chris,
You are welcome to comment here, although I do have to point out that the Bible does not have the answers and is full of inconsistencies and errors.

I also don't understand why Christ becoming more human than divine would mean that the sacrifice was more acceptable. What you are claiming is that Jesus had to be sinless in order to be acceptable, yet as god he would have been sinless. So, I don't see why god had to plan out some 30+ year long redemption thing that makes no sense what-so-ever both in the short and long terms.

Also, if one could live without committing a sin, then Jesus would not have died for that person, and the idea that Jesus died for all of us would be wrong. Xian doctrine is that we are all in need of salvation and that all will fall short of the glory of god, not that some might not.

Chris McGinnis said...

Thanks for the welcome, GCT. I know we fundamentally disagree, but I'll make one last post here for the sake of the information.

Jesus did indeed die for all, because even if the capability was for someone to live a sinless life, God, being omniscient knows that nobody has and nobody will. That's why he could confidently say, "There is none righteous, no not one."

I hope maybe that clears things up a bit. If you have any other questions, feel free to e-mail me.

Anonymous said...

Who cares why you've sinned. You've done it, and now you need to get right with God. Believe or not, he is returning soon, and you don't want to be at odds with him.

Modusoperandi said...

Chris McGinnis "Jesus did indeed die for all, because even if the capability was for someone to live a sinless life, God, being omniscient knows that nobody has and nobody will. That's why he could confidently say, 'There is none righteous, no not one.'"
Again, a poor workman blames his tools.

Anonymous "Who cares why you've sinned."
If you make a car that doesn't run, do you blame the car?

"You've done it, and now you need to get right with God."
Man is not imperfect because he's "Fallen". Man is imperfect because he's Man. We're the cobbled-together result of everything that came before us. It's not "survival of the fittest". It's "survival of the fit enough".

"Believe or not, he is returning soon, and you don't want to be at odds with him."
Is this just a general feeling, like that of every generation of Christians since the first one, or do you, like the Millerites, have a date? I'll clear a space on my calendar.

Anonymous said...

Let's just say that today it is closer than it was yesterday. Are you prepared? If your heart stopped beating right now, and you stood before God, would you be seen as blameless by Him? If you're trusting in the sacrifice of Jesus, then you will be seen as blameless.

ethinethin said...

If your heart stops beating tomorrow, Anonymous, are you ready to stand before Allah and Muhammad for eternal judgment?

This, hopefully, sounds like an absurd question to you. This is how absurd you sound to us.

I'm a scientist. Give me compelling evidence that Jesus is the "One True God(tm)" and I'll consider it. Threats are not evidence. As of right now, you have given me nothing to convince me that you are right.

If that's your only position, then it's as viable as a Muslim saying "I'm right, and if you don't believe as I do, you will burn in eternal hell". Or any of the other nine bazillion religions that have existed since the beginning.

Anonymous said...

How many have been close to suicide, and Mohammed touched their soul and they changed their mind.

How many have put down the bottle who had tried for years, and finally by the grace of Allah, were able to achieve it?

Jesus changes lives. If a "god" can't do that, then I wouldn't believe in him either.

Modusoperandi said...

Anonymous "Jesus changes lives. If a 'god' can't do that, then I wouldn't believe in him either."
"Allah changed my life"

ethinethin said...

So then you have no evidence, as usual? Thought not. Oh well, I tried.

GCT said...

Chris,
You are essentially telling me that it's possible but it's not possible at the same time. If god knows that no one will be able to do it, then it is impossible for all intents and purposes.

Anon,
Lots of people don't even take up drinking due to Allah, so that one-ups Jebus right there. Still, all religions have their miracles and their tales of extraordinary things, just like Xianity.

Leo said...

I'm not in this discussion, but wanted to answer your question about Brother McGinnis's comment:

"If god knows that no one will be able to do it, then it is impossible for all intents and purposes."

Nobody said, "God knows that nobody will be ABLE to do it." What he was saying is that God knows nobody WOULD do it. Abiity and willingness are two different things.

GCT said...

If god knows ahead of time that no one will do it, then it is impossible to conclude that anyone could do it, since that would show god to be wrong.

Anonymous said...

Just because God knows the future does not mean he dictates it.

Tyler said...

Anon: Just because God knows the future does not mean he dictates it.

If your god is the creator of all that is, that's exactly what it means.

Anonymous said...

God makes us and sets everything in motion. He does not make us mindless drones that can only do what he says. Granted, he can see the future and what you will do, but it's not because he predestined you to do it. Imagine you created a TV show, then gave control of it to the producers, writers, etc. One day you're watching an episode you've seen before, and so you know how it ends. Does that mean you made it end that way?

God created the show. We're doing the writing.

Tyler said...

Anon: God makes us and sets everything in motion.

If god knew what was going to happen before he made us, he dictated what we would do by creating us.

Are you arguing that god didn't know everything before he created everything?


Anon: He does not make us mindless drones that can only do what he says.

:snort:

So, why do you mindlessly drone on about your god?

Anon: Granted, he can see the future and what you will do, but it's not because he predestined you to do it.

According to the bible, our fates are explicitly predestined. Of course, that's beside the fact that if god knew everything that was going to happen before he created everything, he dictated everything that would happen by creating everything.

Anon: Imagine you created a TV show, then gave control of it to the producers, writers, etc.

So, I have control over the show that is my life? Cool! There's no heaven or hell in my script.

I win.

Anonymous said...

"According to the bible, our fates are explicitly predestined."

Citing?

Anonymous said...

Careful your show doesn't get cancelled.

Tyler said...

Anon: "According to the bible, our fates are explicitly predestined."

Citing?


Sure thing. I'll cite the verses as soon as you logically demonstrate, per your claim, how anyone can have any semblance of a will at all if the creator of all that is knew everything that was going to happen before he created everything. Until then, you'll just have keep that flaccid little prick of christian apologetics in your pants.

Tyler said...

Anon: Careful your show doesn't get cancelled.

Yeah, well my dad can beat up your dad!

Sniveling little prick.

Do you really think your puerile threats carry any weight whatsoever, boy?

GCT said...

Free will vs. heaven

Free will

I could also dust off the book example where god writes a book that details everything that happens in a person's life, down to the smallest detail, including the death the person has at a specific time and specific place due to simply being careless in crossing the street (not looking both ways). If god gives this book to the person it details, do you think that person has the free will to call in sick from work on the day of her death and not go out, thus averting certain death by being hit by a car?

Anonymous said...

I have fully read both posts, and I understand your confusion, but you are still simply off-base on your logic.

This reminds me of a conversation I had recently with a brother-in-law. He is an extremely logical person, a computer engineer, and rejects anything faith-based. He is in graduate school, and was telling me of a discussion they had in one of their classes (can't remember which class). They stated that, going by the odds, if you were on the game show "Let's Make A Deal" and started with three doors, then eliminated one and were offered the chance to change your choice once down to two doors that using numerical theory, you can prove that your odds of winning increase by changing your choice of door, rather than keeping the same original choice. I haven't searched, but I'm sure this is all talked about somewhere online. If you can't find it, let me know and I'll get the info off of him.

Now, while a professor can put all this on paper, and present a very convincing argument that he would call you stupid to argue with, you and I both know that you start off with three doors, and only one has the prize behind it. Eliminating one door doesn't add another prize anywhere, and while you now have more info by eliminating a door, your odds are the same of having originally picked the correct door. Switching, while mathematically appears to increase your odds, really doesn't change anything.

Logic, and the appealing to logical fallacies makes one sound very intelligent, but sometimes they can be pursued to a point of inane stupidity. Your free will vs. heaven argument falls into this category. Yes, I can see how you can paint a nice picture and say, "See! It's so obvious!" Unfortunately, as much as you hate to admit it, God can not be restricted by any human invention or observation. Physics, chemistry, biology, and yes logic, are all things that God can choose to either adhere to or not. It is my opinion that he so desperately desires us to choose Him on faith alone that he makes it so without taking a leap of faith, you CANNOT come to him. The belief almost HAS to go against human logic, or else everyone would believe, and for whatever reason (which is really up to Him as the Creator) he only wants belief by faith. If you can't give him that, he has no use for you. If you feel this is evil or cruel, I understand, but again, it's His world and we just live in it. Might does indeed make right. God's ruling over the universe is not a democracy, but a dictatorship. Like it or lump it, that's how it is. You can either get on board, or suffer for eternity. Those are the only choices. You don't have to agree with the rightness of the rules, but those are the rules still.

Anonymous said...

Tyler - my Daddy is God, and your daddy is Satan. I read the report of the fight, and yes, your Daddy loses. No threat.

Tyler said...

Anon: Tyler - my Daddy is God...

God fucked your mom too? Man, that guy sure gets around.

Anon: ... and your daddy is Satan.

Nuh uh!

Anon: I read the report of the fight, and yes, your Daddy loses.

Oh, snap.

Anon: No threat.

Submit or suffer. Nah, no threat there.

Child.

Tyler said...

Anon: You can either get on board, or suffer for eternity. Those are the only choices.

Nah, no threat there.

Child.

GCT said...

"I have fully read both posts, and I understand your confusion, but you are still simply off-base on your logic."

And, I assume you'll show me where the logic fails...(scans ahead)...nope, you didn't. Pity.

"...if you were on the game show "Let's Make A Deal"..."

I know this problem well. I could explain it to you, but your appeals to "Switching, while mathematically appears to increase your odds, really doesn't change anything," are not necessarily correct. If the odds are increased, they are increased, regardless of whether it's intuitive to you or not. In fact, many things that are so are not intuitive, like the Earth moving around the Sun.

"Logic, and the appealing to logical fallacies makes one sound very intelligent, but sometimes they can be pursued to a point of inane stupidity."

Only if the logic is faulty.

"Physics, chemistry, biology, and yes logic, are all things that God can choose to either adhere to or not."

So, god can make a burrito so hot that even he can't eat it?

"It is my opinion that he so desperately desires us to choose Him on faith alone that he makes it so without taking a leap of faith, you CANNOT come to him."

IOW, the logic is sound, you just reject logic. Unfortunately for you, the question of whether we have free will is restricted by the logic and rules of this universe.

"Might does indeed make right."

So, if someone is bigger and stronger than you, then it is right for them to punch you in the face if they feel like it?

"God's ruling over the universe is not a democracy, but a dictatorship. Like it or lump it, that's how it is."

Thank you for pointing out that you are unconcerned with defending god's morality and are willing to admit that the idea of god's morality is bunk. (You'll of course object that this is not what you've done, but I advise you to think about it before you answer.)

Anonymous said...

I'm saying that God, even if he doesn't fit YOUR idea of what is moral, is still God, and you (and I) are beneath him in every way.

I can't believe you would even agree to the "Let's Make a Deal" logic. I take that back. It actually makes sense for you to believe that. Do you not realize that when one door is eliminated, that means the the odds of your current choice also went up? You are in possession of a choice that has 50% odds of the prize, and if you change you are only getting the same odds. Yes, the odds are better than WHEN you made the original choice, but the odds of the two having the prize are exactly the same before you change your choice.

Logic is not perfect.

ethinethin said...


Eliminating one door doesn't add another prize anywhere, and while you now have more info by eliminating a door, your odds are the same of having originally picked the correct door. Switching, while mathematically appears to increase your odds, really doesn't change anything.


Actually you are mistaken. While with your first choice, you would have a one in three chance of choosing correctly, once they eliminate one incorrect door, your chances have changed -- effectively choosing the same door but with different odds.

Switching from your original choice to the other door does not statistically increase your chances of winning, but removing one incorrect door does.

Anonymous said...

Once the 1st door is opened and found incorrect, your odds have changed, whether you change your choice at that point or not. The logic problem claims your odds go up BY SWITCHING after the incorrect door is opened.

You can see why they say this in detail at http://www.usna.edu/MathDept/.courses/pre97/sm230/montyhal.htm

Tyler said...

Anon: You can see why they say this in detail at http://www.usna.edu/MathDept/.courses/pre97/sm230/montyhal.htm

It so amuses me to watch these ironic morons attempt to use mathematical (logical) proofs to demonstrate a god which in the next/previous breath they claim is beyond logic.

Anonymous said...

You fool, I wasn't using that to prove God. I was using it to prove that logic can't explain everything, and God is one of those things. Catch up.

GCT said...

Anon,
First off, I didn't say that it was better to switch your choice or not, you simply read into what I was saying. Second, it depends on the situation.

It is better to switch your choice if the host is obliged to open up a door after you have chosen and give you the option to switch. If the host is not obliged to do so, then the odds do not favor you.

The reason for this is pretty simple actually. When you choose the door the first time, you have a 33.3% chance of success. There is a 66.6% (roughly) chance that the prize is behind one of the other two doors.

Let's say you've picked correctly (door 1). The host opens up a door (door 2 or 3), you switch and you lose.

Let's say you picked incorrectly (door 1) and the prize is behind door 2. The host is obliged to open door 3 and if you switch, you win. If you pick door 1 and the prize is behind door 3, then the host must open door 2 and you switch and you win.

Of the three possible outcomes (prize behind door 1, 2, or 3) you come out a winner 2 out of 3 times for switching.

"Do you not realize that when one door is eliminated, that means the the odds of your current choice also went up?"

Not unless the game show is allowed to re-shuffle the location of the prize.

"Logic is not perfect."

This makes no sense to me. You are trying to logically argue that your stance is correct, while making claims that the logical stance is what you aren't arguing, so that you can argue against logic itself? Will you kindly make up your mind what you want to argue?

"I'm saying that God, even if he doesn't fit YOUR idea of what is moral, is still God, and you (and I) are beneath him in every way."

Which is basically just asserting that which is under debate. You can't very well claim that god is god and therefore moral no matter what. You're relying on relative morality (a big no-no for Xians) and you've got issues with Euthyphro's dilemma.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for clarifying your "Let's Make A Deal" opinion. I think you've easily demonstrated how logic can blind you to the truth sometimes.

Three doors, a prize behind one. No matter what your choice, it is always a guess, and while on paper you can argue that the odds are greater by switching, the actuality is that no matter what door you picked, you either have the prize or you don't.

Tyler said...

Anon: You fool, I wasn't using that to prove God. I was using it to prove that logic can't explain everything, and God is one of those things.

Which, by circumstantial extension, is an attempt to demonstrate the existence of a god.

Anon: Catch up.

You first.

GCT said...

"Thank you for clarifying your "Let's Make A Deal" opinion. I think you've easily demonstrated how logic can blind you to the truth sometimes."

I worked it out for you. By switching (given the rules caveats that I stated) you win 2 times out of 3. I'm sorry that you don't understand that simple principle.

"Three doors, a prize behind one. No matter what your choice, it is always a guess, and while on paper you can argue that the odds are greater by switching, the actuality is that no matter what door you picked, you either have the prize or you don't."

It is initially a guess of three, but once the host has opened a door, you've been given extra information that you did not previously have which skews the equations. But, hey, it's not intuitive for you, so it must be wrong, and I'm sure the sun really does go around the Earth.

Anonymous said...

So you disagree that originally you had 1 in 3 chance of being right, and after 1 incorrect door is opened you have a 1 in 2 chance with either door, whether you switch or not?

You can't let logic override common sense in every circumstance.

GCT said...

Think of it this way. Originally you have a 1 in 3 chance of being right. If you could choose the other 2 doors, you would have a 2 in 3 chance of being right. Now, suppose that the host allows you to pick two doors, wouldn't you take that? I've already worked it out for you by going through the exercise of listing all the possible outcomes and how they turn out based on your actions. There are three possibilities and by switching you win 2 out of 3 times. I'm sorry that you don't understand probability or the plain explanations that have been laid out for you. I'm also sorry that you must cling to your beliefs regardless of the evidence or the examples given, although it does go a long way towards showing why you cling to your belief in god regardless of reality.

Modusoperandi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Modusoperandi said...

I think Anonymous is trying to show how "common logic" isn't the same as actual logic. The Monty Hall Problem came about because, when shown the open door to the booby prize, most people don't switch (following common logic, they've got the same chance of winning whether or not they switch), but they should.
I don't know how a proper statistical analysis of the Monty Hall Problem reflects on anyone's gods. Poorly, probably. It would be like trying to analyze Pascal's Wager while taking into account all the gods he didn't believe in and all the gods that nobody has heard of yet and, where unlike the Monty Hall problem, no Monty opens a door to reveal a booby prize. In any event, a "counting on my fingers until I run out of them" runs up to the statistics being at least 9-1 against any one choice being the right one, assuming that Monty's not in the picture showing you one that's wrong.

Doug said...

I don't know if anyone has already said what I'm about to say, but I'm not about to read 98 comments to find out.

This is why I, as a Christian, insist that Christianity is not a religion.

First, we're obviously defining "religion" differently from the definition you provided in your post because no one who understands the issue would deny that Christianity is a worldview that includes such things as cause and purpose of the universe, supernatural agents, moral direction, etc. That much is obvious.

I'd like to add to that definition the further qualifications that "religious" worldviews include a concept of salvation and an afterlife. That's important for what I'm going to say next.

When I insist that Christianity is not a religion, I am thinking of "religion" as "the use of morality as a way to arrive at the good afterlife and avoid the bad afterlife." In more understandable words, religion is the belief or practice of obeying certain rules or conforming or confining one's behavior to a prescribed pattern or parameter, IN ORDER TO "earn" or "attain" salvation.

Well, that second attempt actually wasn't any clearer, was it?
How's this one? One of my professors used this definition in class, and it's absurdly simple. Religion is "morality as a way to being good."

We all want to be good people, don't we? In religion, by any definition, God is good. The reason that we have to even worry about such a thing as salvation is because we are NOT good. We "sin", which means "miss the mark." Religion's ("morality as a way to being good") answer to that problem is to follow God's rules very closely (using morality) in hopes of being called "good" and earning salvation. That's Judaism and Islam. And a common way of thinking even for a lot of people who do not affiliate with any established religious (your definition) worldview.

The reason people tend to think this way without any specific religious teaching to this effect is because this makes really good sense.
Good is good. Bad is bad. Good deserves reward. Bad deserves punishment. I do bad stuff sometimes. Therefore, I have reason to think that that deserve and will receive punishment. How do I counteract that? I'll do more good and less bad. Hopefully, in the end, my life will contain more good than bad and I'll receive more reward than punishment, or all reward and no punishment.

It all checks out, logically. I have no complaints about that thinking except that it leaves out some VERY important pieces, not the least of which is the fact that we are far, far, far more bad than good, and we are utterly incapable of being good.

Secondly, it betrays a really skewed meaning of "good". "Good" is "perfect". God is good. When God makes stuff, including us, he makes it good. If something deviates from its intended goodness by 1%, it is no longer good. You may say, "But it's still far closer to good than it is to bad!", but that's not how good works. Good is perfect. God is good, and he made us to be good. But he also made us with some measure of moral freedom, and we chose poorly. We are all in willing, active rebellion against God, the source of all good. That's damnable. We're damnable - and in fact damned unless something can remedy the situation.

(Comment continued below)

Doug said...

I'm sort of jumping around, but here we are again at religion. Religion ("morality as a way to being good") attempts to fix this problem by behaving really well and following all the rules very closely in order to tip the scale in our favor.
As I've already said, the "tipping the scale" idea is a perversion of what "good" means. There is no "good ENOUGH". Not good is not good, and we are not good.
Also, everyone has already sinned, so there's no need to think that being perfect from here on out will make it any better. You've already departed from "goodness".
Some will say that's not fair. "Why should just one offense deserve a penalty? That seems harsh." Doesn't it work like that in everyday life? When you get pulled over for going 80 mph, you know that you can't use as your defense, "But officer!!! I have obeyed the speed limit every day of my life until this one time! The scales are in my favor! It's only one offense!" One offense is enough to being punishment, and rightly so.
Lastly, at least for my explanation of why religion is a bad solution to our badness -
Even our seemingly good actions are bad because religion is self-focused. Anyone with an even slightly religious way of thinking (and I submit that ALL people have streams of religious thought) will perform good actions for bad reasons, which is a bad action. Someone might sell all his or her possessions and more to Bangladesh to help people. That's good. But they're going it at least in part because they know that it will get them a ton of "good points" for salvation, it will impress people, it will impress themselves, etc. All those thoughts are sin.
See, that's a problem with religion. It's downright arrogant. It's arrogant to think that by your adherence to a code of conduct, you'll impress a righteous, eternal, almighty God. In that regard, religion is a sin. He's not impressed. You're still bad.
So there's nothing we can do. We're screwed. We're damned. Our hearts are thoroughly wicked. We cannot gain salvation.

Okay, so we still have no solution to our badness and subsequent rightful damnation. That's where Christianity, or rather, Christ, steps in. God himself is grieved by our sin. Oh yes, he's angry, but he's grieved, too, like a good father's response to his kid running by the pool. "Sam! How many times have I told you not to ...!" is accompanied by "Please don't, Sam! That's dangerous, son! You'll slip!"

He also knows that we have no way of recovering. He knows even better than we do that we're damned. After all, he's the one damning us, rightfully, mind you, for betraying and belittling him, the God of the universe.
Here's the amazing part that totally freaks out the religious worldview. God the Son became a man in Jesus of Nazareth. He lived a perfect life to fulfill the requirement that we could not fulfill. Then he was tortured and brutally, bloodily murdered on the cross, absorbing the punishment for sin, the wrath of the righteous God. Then he returned to life again, literally, physically came back to life three days later to signal his final victory over death. In his perfect life and gruesome death, he paid for the sins of all who would believe in him. Because of our rebellion against God, we are in debt to him. God himself paid that dept for all who would believe. While we were still sin our sins, still deserving of his damnation and wrath, he instead opted to be tortured and killed to reconcile us with himself. He suffered in order to make his enemy into his friend. I could just go on and on. It's the greatest news ever!

(Comment continued below)

Doug said...

One thing I always like to point out is Jesus' final words on the cross before passing into death. He said, "It is finished."
Isn't that great news?! It's finished! The work is done! All that is needed to being you into a right relationship with God is DONE! There's nothing for you to do! God did it all! IT. IS. FINISHED. There's nothing to boast about. If you're saved, you should be incredibly humble because a God who could have rightfully damned you for eternity gave you GRACE instead! You didn't do anything! It was all him! That drives religion nuts because it wants to say we had some part in the deal. It wants to say that we deserve it because we're pretty good people. But we're not! Paul, the writer of most of the Bible's New Testament even calls himself the foremost of all sinners. We're sinners deserving of God's justice in punishment, but he grants salvation to anyone who believes. ANYONE. Even the worst.

I think I kinda got side-tracked while trying to show that Christianity is not religion, but the end result worked out. I just got really excited about the good news of Jesus and couldn’t help but explain it. I think that once the Good News of Jesus is explained, it should be pretty obvious by Christianity is not religious in nature, as in "morality as a way to being good".

Here's a really cool song that WONDERFULLY shows the curse of religion on man's attempt to please God, contrasted with the BEAUTIFUL, LIFE-GIVING news of Jesus' defeat of death.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jaXMkJfW-k0

By the way, blog-writer, I wrote this just as much for anyone else as I did for you. I suspect that you already knew where I was going as soon as I defined "religion" the way that I did.

(Comment finished)

GCT said...

"When I insist that Christianity is not a religion, I am thinking of "religion" as "the use of morality as a way to arrive at the good afterlife and avoid the bad afterlife.""

If you are free to simply re-define words to match your wants and desires, you can make just about any argument. Unfortunately for you, you don't get to simply redefine words and claim that your religion all of a sudden doesn't count.

Also, I'll note that once again we have an explicit admission from a Xian that Xianity has nothing to do with morality.

"It all checks out, logically."

No, it doesn't.

"...we are far, far, far more bad than good, and we are utterly incapable of being good."

This is contradictory to the idea that god made us good and contradictory to the idea of free will as it is used in attempts (failures) to defeat the problem of evil.

""Good" is "perfect". God is good."

Why do religious people tend to see things in such black and white terms? And, why would we think that a god that creates beings that are "utterly incapable of being good," and then tortures them eternally for it is somehow "good?" Are we also redefining that word?

"Some will say that's not fair. "Why should just one offense deserve a penalty? That seems harsh." Doesn't it work like that in everyday life?"

Actually, this isn't quite the situation you're asking us to subscribe to. The situation is more like this: You're pulled over for speeding and the cop pulls you out of your car and beats you and tortures you for eternity. Seems a bit out of proportion, doesn't it?

"...ALL people have streams of religious thought..."

How so? What atheist is trying to do good in order to earn salvation?

"See, that's a problem with religion. It's downright arrogant."

Yes, yes it is. It's also arrogant to think that god cares so much about puny humans that he went through some intricate blood sacrifice in order to "save" us.

"He said, "It is finished."
Isn't that great news?!"

No, it's not good news, and it's not finished either. It's never finished for a vindictive god that tortures people for eternity for finite crimes for the crime of being human.

Tigerboy said...

Doug's post is filled with wishful thinking! That is the essence of religion.

Far beyond his desire to redefine words for which the world already has perfectly good definitions, Doug is redefining how the universe operates, as fast as he can!

Doug says:

---"When I insist that Christianity is not a religion, I am thinking of "religion" as "the use of morality as a way to arrive at the good afterlife and avoid the bad afterlife."

So, we're just assuming that "the good afterlife" and "the bad afterlife" are actual, real places or experiences? Doug, do you have a shred of evidence that either place, or experience, actually exists?

Your foundation is an assumption which is very religious. Your whole worldview (universe view) is colored by your religious indoctrination. There is no evidence for an experience of "afterlife."

Doug said...

For GCT:

----“If you are free to simply re-define words to match your wants and desires, you can make just about any argument. Unfortunately for you, you don't get to simply redefine words and claim that your religion all of a sudden doesn't count.”
I did not redefine any word to match my want and desire. I explained what I meant by “religion” when I used it in a certain way. I am not using an alternate definition of “religion” to exclude Christianity from the first definition. I made that clear by saying this: “First, we're obviously defining ‘religion’ differently from the definition you provided in your post because no one who understands the issue would deny that Christianity is a worldview that includes such things as cause and purpose of the universe, supernatural agents, moral direction, etc. That much is obvious.”
Keep in mind my overarching point: to explain why many Christians say that Christianity is not a religion. It’s obvious enough by the poster’s provided definition that Christianity IS a religion in the purest sense. Clearly, when they say that Christianity is not a religion, they mean something other than the given definition of “religion”. So for me to answer the question being posed by the poster, I would HAVE to give an alternate definition for “religion”. Nowhere did I ever say that the alternate definition is the right one. I just introduced it to explain what Christians typically mean when they say that it’s not a religion.
By providing the definition that I did for “religion” (“morality as a way to being good”) and showing that Christianity is something different from that, the point is to show that Christianity is not “morality as a way to being good.” I understand that this is not a definition of “religion” that most people are familiar with, so I’m not pushing it. The point, however, is to understand what people typically mean when they say that Christianity is not a religion. I did my best to explain this by saying people probably mean “religion” in X way and this is why Christianity is not X.
You drastically oversimplified and misrepresented what I was saying. Unless you sincerely misunderstood me or unless it was my fault for being unclear. If that’s the case, I apologize.

----“Also, I'll note that once again we have an explicit admission from a Xian that Xianity has nothing to do with morality.”
No you don’t. What you have is an explicit admission from a Christian that Christianity does not use morality as a route to attain salvation. Please don’t oversimplify and misrepresent my words.

Doug said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Doug said...

----"...we are far, far, far more bad than good, and we are utterly incapable of being good."
“This is contradictory to the idea that god made us good and contradictory to the idea of free will as it is used in attempts (failures) to defeat the problem of evil.”
You kinda got me on that one. I wrote that part poorly. First, I’ll try to correct my wording. What I should have said is something like “…we are far more bad than good, and we want it that way, so we willingly persist in badness, determined to avoid God.”
Here’s how I understand it. Sometimes I see holes in this. Sometimes I don’t. Here it goes.
We are free to do what we want. But we want nothing to do with God. The Bible says that we are “hostile” to God. As long as we are that way, we cannot be good because God, the source of all good, is outside the bounds of our desires, and the freedom of our will is limited to things in our desires. The important difference here is that this is willing. We want to avoid God. So yes, we “cannot” be good, but it’s really about not wanting to be good.
Now when someone is saved by Jesus and they receive the Holy Spirit, their original freedom is returned to them and they are given a desire to love God and do his will. They may or may not obey that new desire, but it’s there if they’re saved.
Believe me (or not, if you prefer), it’s a real battle everyday between the two opposing desires. Take a look at Romans 7:7-25, particularly 14-25. That’s the greatest evangelist that ever lived, a guy that penned over half of the New Testament, saying that he does evil stuff all the time and has a battle brewing inside all the time. I think that’s pretty neat.

----“This is contradictory to the idea that god made us good.”
That’s not the case. God made us good, but he made us good and free. Adam and Eve (figurative or literal) had much more free will than modern people. They could freely choose good or bad. They chose bad and cursed mankind with “the fall”, the fall from perfect community with God into willing, active rebellion against and separation from God. Now we still are able to choose what we want, like Adam and Eve could, but our will is bound by our wicked desires. So even though we can choose what we want, the category of “what we want” is limited to things that oppose God.
Long story short – Yes, God made us good. But we were also free. We chose to become bad. Now we’re bad and willingly less free, restrained by our own desires.
Our being bad does not contradict the fact that God made us good because he also made us free, and we chose to be bad.

----“…why would we think that a god that creates beings that are ‘utterly incapable of being good,’ and then tortures them eternally for it is somehow ‘good’?”
I caused this problem by misspeaking earlier about “utterly incapable of being good.”
Hopefully I’ve made it a little more understandable with my correction.
God created beings that chose to be bad and continue to choose to be bad. He is just and right to damn them, as a judge is right to sentence a murderer to prison.

Doug said...

----“Actually, this isn't quite the situation you're asking us to subscribe to. The situation is more like this: You're pulled over for speeding and the cop pulls you out of your car and beats you and tortures you for eternity. Seems a bit out of proportion, doesn't it?”
The illustration of a speeding ticket was meant to show nothing more than the fact that one offense is enough to merit a punishment.
Beyond that, though, your criticism of the illustration is off-base. Being tortured as punishment for speeding – yes, that’s out of proportion. Forever in hell as punishment for treason against God is, however, not out of proportion. Our offense against God is not a single, trivial offense like speeding. It is constant, day and night, and it is venomously, violently hostile to him. And it’s important to remember who he is. I know you don’t believe that such a being exists, and this is not an attempt to persuade you otherwise. I just want to increase understanding of what Christians believe. He is the greatest, most loving, beautiful, powerful, right, merciful, just, worthy, perfect, brilliant, clever, compassionate, being that can exist. He existed before the universe and will continue after because he is not subject to time. He invented matter and energy. By his mere will, he caused the universe’s existence to begin, and by his will he sustains and ordains it. He’s fully sovereign over every event and object. Etc. And he invented people. It all has a purpose for good, to display and magnify the goodness that he is. And we are all saying, “Screw you. I have my own way of doing things.” That deserves hell forever. The punishment is not out of proportion. I deserve it, as do you.

----"...ALL people have streams of religious thought..."
How so? What atheist is trying to do good in order to earn salvation?
I apologize if I indicated that this only pertains to earning salvation. Remember that the simplest definition I gave for this sort of religion is “morality as a way to being good.” That doesn’t mention salvation.
Anytime someone wants to be a good person and jumps to the idea of “I should do more good things” as the way to accomplish that, this person has just had a religious thought – using morality as a way to become good. I do this ALL THE TIME. It’s just not how it works.
Can you see how I would think that everyone has that sort of thought?

Doug said...

----"See, that's a problem with religion. It's downright arrogant."
Yes, yes it is. It's also arrogant to think that god cares so much about puny humans that he went through some intricate blood sacrifice in order to "save" us.
It would be kinda arrogant to think that God saved if we had made it up.
I know that you probably think that we DID make it up. Okay. I’m not trying to change your mind. I’m just speaking the Christian side.
If the origins of Christianity are some guy inventing a God that saves sinners (which I don’t for a minute believe), then you could probably call that guy arrogant. That does not, however, make modern Christians arrogant for thinking the same thing. If someone is misinformed about a God that saves sinners, their belief in such a God is not arrogance but misinformation. The first guy was arrogant. There are plenty of modern Christians that are plenty arrogant about this. Some think that that God saved them because they’re indispensible to His plan and he needs them, or something like that. Modern Christians are also arrogant for a whole slew of other reasons as well, primarily our desire to exalt ourselves ahead of God and be worshipped. This kind of behavior is common in people of ALL “belief systems”, but it’s especially repulsive when Christians do it because it often comes with an implication that “God himself made me better than you”, and that’s just begging for a kick in the mouth.
Yes, Christians sin. Oh dang! Gasp! Did I just say something I shouldn’t have? No. It’s no secret. You already knew that. The Bible makes no secret of it either. Look again at Romans 7:14-25. The apostle Paul sinned all the time. It’s not okay, but it’s also not avoidable. The hope is that gradually, over our lifetime, by pressing hard into His grace, we will become more and more like Jesus.
But if you want to call someone arrogant for saying that there’s a God who saves sinners, blame God. His prophets in the Old Testament talked about it quite a bit. Or blame the prophets if you don’t believe they were hearing from a God. Or blame Jesus. He said it, too. Just don’t blame the recipients (Christians) of the “arrogant” message for the message itself.
This is weird. I’m not used to defending the MESSAGE of Christianity. I’m used to having to explain the actions of Christians that run contrary to the message of Christianity, not the message itself.


----"He said, "It is finished."
Isn't that great news?!"
No, it's not good news, and it's not finished either. It's never finished for a vindictive god that tortures people for eternity for finite crimes for the crime of being human.
I don’t know if you really misunderstood what I said or if you’re just twisting it for fun. Please slow down and really read the arguments well so you can avoid responding rashly like this.
“It is finished” refers to the work required to achieve the reconciliation of God and his people. Your retort that “it’s not finished” cited unrelated claims, ones that do not contradict the idea that the work required to reconcile God and his people is finished. You just used “it is finished” as a jumping-off-point for reiterating one of your points – one which, as I just noted, is not actually contrary to the statement that “it (the work of salvation) is finished”.

Doug said...

Now to actually address your complaint that God is vindictive and tortures people -
To make such a claim requires an incoherent concept of who and what God is. A simple definition could be that God is the greatest conceivable being. By definition, God is perfect and right in all ways – fully good, not at all bad. So there could be a few things going on in your complaint that God is vindictive and torturing.
(1) You are actually trying to ascribe the negative traits of vindictiveness and torturing-ness to God, which is nonsensical. To ascribe bad traits to God is to be talking about something other than God. That would be like trying to describe the color red as being very green. It’s just nonsense.
(2) Or you could be asserting that because the God (good thing) of the Bible acts in ways that are vindictive and torturing (bad things), he is portrayed in the Bible as bad and therefore could not actually exist, precisely because the concept of an evil God is incoherent.

I suspect that you’re doing the latter.
I respond to that assertion by questioning the inherent badness of vindictiveness and torture.
It seems like you’re doing what you’ve done a few times already, and that is denying, or maybe just failing to see, that crime deserves punishment, and that the delivering of said punishment is right and good. By choosing “vindictive” and “torture”, you picked really good words to highlight the despicable connotation of evil. However, that’s not accurate.
Definitions from Merriam-Webster.com
-- Vindictive --
1 a : disposed to seek revenge; b : intended for or involving revenge
2 : intended to cause anguish or hurt
Yes, God does this. I don’t know if I’d call it “revenge” because that seems to imply that He is “paying back” for some kind of detriment done to him, and I don’t think that’s how it works. You don’t injury God by sinning. He’s not weak like that. He’s just rightly angered by it. So in general, I’d say yes, that God is vindictive in that he hands down punishment on those who’ve deserved it by their crimes. There ought to be no negative connotation with that because he is right to do so. In fact, we typically cry out against the releasing of guilty persons because we want justice. So why do we complain about a God who punishes the guilty? After all, he is the highest, most correct judge that there can be. So why all the objection? Because WE are the guilty.
It’s salvation that we should be complaining about. Salvation is really unfair. “We deserve hell but get life, instead? Come on! Don’t let the guilty go free!” But no, we complain about the fair side of it – the punishment.
-- Torture --
1 a : anguish of body or mind ; b : something that causes agony or pain
2 : the infliction of intense pain (as from burning, crushing, or wounding) to punish, coerce, or afford sadistic pleasure
You probably like the part about sadistic pleasure in the second definition because
It provides ammunition against God. However, remember that God is definitionally good and therefore not sadistic. Also, there is nothing to lead us to believe that he would be sadistic. The deserved-ness of the punishment is enough reason to deliver it. He need not have another reason to punish people.
Nor does he need to coerce people.

Back to the point, the first definition and the first part of the second definition are not inherently bad things. If the experiencer of torture deserves it, then how is it bad? It’s just. Now, I don’t like torture any more than you do. I don’t want to experience it. But do you think thieves WANT to spend time in jail? No, but they deserve it. Likewise, the desire to not experience torture does not make one undeserving of it.

Doug said...

Do not mistake this as me saying that I condone torture by any government. I do not. I don’t know what I think of the use of torture by governments to extract information from international criminals. I guess I think that IF IT’S TRULY NECESSARY, we can use it… but I struggle to fathom a realistic situation where it’s necessary.
Just because I say that torture can be done justly does not then mean that I believe that ANYONE can justly torture the guilty. I don’t think humans are in any position to hand out torture as punishment. But God is because he is the perfect judge of all wrongdoing. Perfect. His judgment is perfect, and his punishments are perfect.

Evil_Jake said...

Doug said...

---”We are free to do what we want. But we want nothing to do with God. The Bible says that we are “hostile” to God.

Actually, this is not necessarily true Doug. I am not “free” to be perfect and “good” if that is what I desire, no matter how much I desire it. Furthermore, it is set up this way by God, so the deck is stacked against you from the beginning.

So even if we did want anything to do with god –and there are a lot of people out there that are desperately seeking him, to no avail (like I was) –he created us so that we would be pulled away from him at every turn. How counter-intuitive is that? He wants us to seek him, yet designs us so that we're naturally inclined to fail.
Then, to make matters worse, he allows (yes, allows) Satan to tempt us even while we are DOING ALL THE RIGHT THINGS, seeking to praise him, and desperately trying, despite our natures, to please him.

---”we cannot be good because God, the source of all good, is outside the bounds of our desires, and the freedom of our will is limited to things in our desires.”

That's because we were created that way, which is once again, God stacking the deck against us. What you are saying is that we should be blamed for desiring what God created us to desire, even though it is impossible to desire god because the freedom of our will will not allow it? And we deserve everlasting torture for this you're saying?

Evil_Jake said...

Doug said...

---”Long story short – Yes, God made us good. But we were also free. We chose to become bad. Now we’re bad and willingly less free, restrained by our own desires.”

No, god made us evil, remember. God made Adam and Eve “good” supposedly, and they “chose to become bad”, not us. But one must wonder what Adam and Eve's understanding of good and evil was exactly. Consider the following:

Adam and Eve were probably the smartest beings in history. God actually walked among Adam and Eve too supposedly. Yet, the smartest, most perfect beings in history, who had the benefit of actually seeing and talking to god, either denied god exists, or that he was serious about his punishment.

Also, one cannot discount the fact that Adam and Eve had absolutely no experience with, nor had any knowledge of the concepts of Good or Evil, prior to eating from the tree. So why did god not call it the tree of “ickiness and horrible death” if he didn't want Adam and Eve to eat from it?

One would think god wanted them to eat from it; because these perfect beings were gonna be boring to live with for eternity. Sin brought in entertainment, and punishment, and a separation in worth and power. God could not wipe out a community of perfect beings who did everything right.

So he calls the tree something provocative, abandons the garden, if he ever did truly walk in it, and then allows a sneaky, genius con man-snake into the garden, who is coincidentally the most powerful and beautiful being next to god himself, and allows this sneakster to tempt these already intrigued beings into eating from this probably beautiful, enchanting, and inviting tree of knowledge, to open their minds to new ideas and experiences, and to make them more like god (which made god jealous).

And during this time, god could have easily intervened, and told Adam and Eve not to listen to the con-man, and reminded them that their creator loved them, but had given strict order not to eat from the henceforth to be named "tree of ickiness and horrible death"

So now you have half of the angels (god's first attempt, with even less free will presumably) that have turned against him, and one hundred percent of the second attempt at creation, humans, turned against him. The problem would seem to be, to any rational being, the conjunction of free will and imperfection.

Yet we have a case of god continually creating, or complacently allowing the propagation of beings who are far less perfect, are now born with a sinful nature, do not have the benefit of any contact or perceived existence of god, and STILL are incessantly tempted by a crafty, semi-divine con-man at the at the allowance of god. Not only this, but god apparently is going to send trillions of people to agonizing eternal torture for something he obviously saw coming.

Can you understand then maybe why people choose not to ascribe to this God?

GCT said...

Doug,
"I did not redefine any word to match my want and desire. I explained what I meant by “religion” when I used it in a certain way."

Which is different from the dictionary definition, which you seem to admit later on. Xianity is a religion. When Xians claim that it is not, they are engaging in redefinitions and special pleading.

"No you don’t. What you have is an explicit admission from a Christian that Christianity does not use morality as a route to attain salvation. Please don’t oversimplify and misrepresent my words."

IOW, the most important thing for us has nothing to do with our morality, as it does not lead to salvation. There's no misrepresentation going on here. You can't have it both ways.

"Forever in hell as punishment for treason against God is, however, not out of proportion. Our offense against God is not a single, trivial offense like speeding. It is constant, day and night, and it is venomously, violently hostile to him."

A) Any offense I have in this life is finite, so eternity in hell is infinitely out of proportion. Further, god being perfect can not be harmed by any action I take.
B) How is thought crime venomous or violent hostility? And let's be clear about this, you're talking about thought crime. You're talking about us not believing in god properly, which has nothing to do with morality. You're also claiming that morality does not lead to salvation, so doing bad things or doing good things don't seem to be on god's list. Unless you mean to argue that doing bad things count towards our punishment, but god could care less about our good deeds.
C) Since when is torture appropriate for any sort of punishment, let alone thought crime?

"He is the greatest, most loving, beautiful, powerful, right, merciful, just, worthy, perfect, brilliant, clever, compassionate, being that can exist."

This is your claim, but it is not borne out by the other claims made by you and other Xians. You're claiming that a being that created hell in order to torture people is good, etc. You're claiming that a god that has ordered genocide and rape and carried out at least one of them is good, etc. Once again, you must be redefining the words you use in order to apply them and hoping that others won't notice.

"Anytime someone wants to be a good person and jumps to the idea of “I should do more good things” as the way to accomplish that, this person has just had a religious thought – using morality as a way to become good."

Nice try, but you don't get to claim that religion is any time someone decides to do something nice. Further, this is completely contradictory to your earlier apologetic attempts at defending god's vindictiveness. Weren't you just claiming that we don't want to be good?

"It would be kinda arrogant to think that God saved if we had made it up."

You're assuming your conclusion. Also, would you not agree that other religions might claim the same thing? Further, you don't know that you are right and it's not made up.

"“It is finished” refers to the work required to achieve the reconciliation of God and his people."

Hmmm, you may be correct if you ascribe to predestination, but that argue makes god even more evil and destroys either your free will argument or your argument about morality (or likely both). You can't continue to post contradictory ideas and think that no one will notice.

GCT said...

"To make such a claim requires an incoherent concept of who and what God is."

Exactly. And, since your definition of god is incoherent, you've got some 'splainin' to do.

"You are actually trying to ascribe the negative traits of vindictiveness and torturing-ness to God, which is nonsensical. To ascribe bad traits to God is to be talking about something other than God."

You can't simply define away evil actions by claiming god is good. If the actions fit (which they do) and it makes your concept of god nonsensical, then there's something wrong with your concept of god.

"...precisely because the concept of an evil God is incoherent."

Actually, it's not incoherent, but it's contradictory to your concept.

"It seems like you’re doing what you’ve done a few times already, and that is denying, or maybe just failing to see, that crime deserves punishment, and that the delivering of said punishment is right and good."

I've not claimed that, but I will say this - better than strict punishment is rehabilitation. A good justice system would look to rehab criminals to make them into better citizens. god's plan, however, is nothing more than retribution - eternal retribution at that. To make matters worse, it's retribution for a victimless crime (god can't be a victim if he can't be harmed). god could also come and talk to us and tell us he's real and what he wants, yet he doesn't do so in unambiguous ways. You've also claimed that salvation doesn't depend on morality, so it seems that god isn't choosing on whether we are good or not - he's using some other criteria - capriciousness.

"Yes, God does this. I don’t know if I’d call it “revenge” because that seems to imply that He is “paying back” for some kind of detriment done to him, and I don’t think that’s how it works."

Really? Didn't you claim earlier that god sends us to hell for sinning against him? Instead of seeking to rectify the situation, he tortures us. How could that not be called "paying back?" Further, hell is pain and anguish, is it not? If so, then it must be intended to be that way, so god does intend pain and anguish.

"There ought to be no negative connotation with that because he is right to do so."

Once again you are assuming your conclusions. You assume god is right and just in everything, then claim that he is regardless of what god does.

"It’s salvation that we should be complaining about. Salvation is really unfair."

This is an explicit admission that god is not fair or just.

"However, remember that God is definitionally good and therefore not sadistic. Also, there is nothing to lead us to believe that he would be sadistic."

Yet creating a place for the sole purpose of torturing people and then following through on it is nothing less than sadistic - unless we're redefining that word too.

"If the experiencer of torture deserves it, then how is it bad?"

No one deserves torture of any kind and your defense of torture really leaves me wondering at your sense of morality. I'll also note that Xianity generally advocates absolute morality, but you seem to be saying that it's OK for god to torture and not OK for anyone else, which is contradictory to the idea of absolute morality.