Sunday, December 31, 2006

WELCOME

Introduction

Many may be here, from my other blog, Political Yen/Yang. Many may be getting here through other means. But no matter how you got here, I want to welcome you to The Psychological/Philosophical Theology Of God.

This is a project I have been thinking about doing for some time now, with some measure of trepidation, given the sensitivity of the subject.

As is sometimes the case in political discussions, the topic turns to religion. I am not sure why that is, but it is, and sometimes I feel that it has little or no bearing on certain political discussions. There are times that it does, and when I feel that is the case, I will keep the discussion on PYY. But when I feel that the topic evolves too much in the theological direction and has little or no relevance to politics, this is where I will post my commentary.

Purpose

My sole purpose for starting this blog is not to convert anyone to my way of thinking or doctrinal belief system, but to facilitate discussions about theological topics of the day and to give readers something deeper to think about than many can receive in a church setting. But know this and understand it well, this is not an effort to proselytize. Subsequently, this board will not be used for that purpose by me or any commenter.

Rules for Commenting

As I say in the opening description, intolerance will not be tolerated. Views can be discussed, challenged, and refuted in a classy, intelligent, and dignified manner; but I will not allow people to condemn anyone to hell or have their characters called into question over this. If this happens, comments will be deleted and if need be, commenters will be banned. If this proves to become more common than I would wish, I will delete the blog, and can it into non-existence.

Helpful Hints for Commenting

As I have said, I will not tolerate mean-spiritedness or any judgemental comments, in any way. There are ways to post comments on views that will be expressed here, WITHOUT engaging in this kind of behavior.

Some examples are as follows:

Wrong:

Commenter A says: I believe in ........

Commenter B says: You are an idiot and are going to hell.

Right:

Commenter A says: I believe......

Commenter B says: I have heard this, but I have always believed.......

Surely, that is not too hard of a concept to grasp.

Who Can Comment

Anyone. As I said earlier, this will be written primarily from a Judeo-Christian perspective. But I welcome comments from any religion. Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Atheist, and any other people from any other faiths are most certainly welcome. But understand that your views may or may not be accepted. But rest assured, you will not be condemned for them.

Summary

I hope this goes well and hope that this can be a source of inspiration (and in some cases enlightenment) for whoever reads it. My readers from PYY are some of the best, in the world. I do not feel that hoping for this same type of clientele is too far out of reach.

I am not a mainstream Christian, I do not belong to any sect or denomination, and I will more than likely express some views that will not be consistent with many mainstream denominations. So, read with an open mind and if you cannot grasp the things I will be saying, so be it. Like I said earlier, I am not proselytizing and conversion is not an objective here.

I probably will not be posting as much on this site as I do on PYY. But when I do, I will post an announcement on PYY and provide a link. Some of those posters may or may not make the trek over here, and that's okay. But for those that do, I hope this is as much of an experience as can be expected, in such a touchy and sensitive subject.

So if you have made it this far and plan to return, I say again:

Welcome and thank you for reading.

98 comments:

Cao said...

What a nice idea.

Mustang said...

I am looking forward to this, LA. An excellent idea and here's hoping that your visitors will be as mindful of the opinions of others, as they are of their own. You may be interested in my last post (several days ago).

Here's one opinion already (LOL). Religious issues often assume political overtones because it is nearly impossible to compartmentalize our cultural influences -- and religion is one of those. I believe that religion, whether we like to admit it or not, is the foundation of our values. This is not to say that a non-believer is without values, but rather that most Americans have been influenced by the Ten Commandments . . . And it is also true that these commandments heavily influenced the entire body of English Common Law.

Semper Fi,

All_I_Can_Stands said...

LA,

Good luck with this endeavor. There are a couple of blogs that I have considered starting. A theological one is something I have toyed with. However, I don't have the time to keep up with my current one like I want. Maybe for now I will just come here and comment when the bug bites me.

Mary Ellen said...

Hello LASunsett, this sounds like it will be great! I especially like to see the ground rules laid out so plainly. Oftentimes, discussions about religion bring out the worst in people and as I've always said, respect is always the key towards better understanding.

mustang: you make a very good point about how religious issues often assume political tones. It gets very confusing for others when I am a clear liberal Democrat, yet have very conservative religious views.

The separation of church and state is oftentimes confused, IMO, with separation and those who want to eliminate religion all together.

Mustang said...

Mary Ellen:

I agree with the idea of a separation between church and state, and I think that many of the so-called "Christian Right" do not understand that their point of view is a two-edged sword. If one insists on prayer in school, then by definition that means accomodating a prayer session for every religion. Do we want Muslim children spreading out their prayer carpets five times a day during regular class periods? Do we really want Buddhists lighting scented candles for their particular prayer ceremonies?

At the same time, I don't think that the separation of church and state necessarily means a national separation from God. I see no conflict with having depictions of the Ten Commandments inside our courts, especially since these rules form the basis for our legal system.

I also believe that those who profess Christianity are being discriminated against in the application of secular rules. Why is it okay to depict a Muslim celebration on a US postage stamp, but it is wrong to depict a cross?

These kinds of double standards do not provide salve to the wounds that many religious people perceive being inflicted upon them. Typically, our politicians (who are mostly morons) have done little to find "common ground" in this very sensitive area.

I apologise for yapping too much.

Semper Fi

Mary Ellen said...

mustang

I agree with you on the prayer in school. There should not be time put aside for this. However, I think if a group or an individual wants to find time to do prayers or Bible study outside the school curriculum,in school, they should have that right. No one should be forced to pray, however, no on should be kept from prayer on their own time (i.e. during lunch period, between classes or after school).


//At the same time, I don't think that the separation of church and state necessarily means a national separation from God. I see no conflict with having depictions of the Ten Commandments inside our courts, especially since these rules form the basis for our legal system.//

I agree.


//I also believe that those who profess Christianity are being discriminated against in the application of secular rules. Why is it okay to depict a Muslim celebration on a US postage stamp, but it is wrong to depict a cross?//

I agree,however, I don't know what the rule with postage stamps are anymore. They do have postage stamps with the Blessed Mother and the baby Jesus and they also allow you to put your own pictures on postage stamps now. Has there ever been law suits about a cross on a postage stamp before?

//Typically, our politicians (who are mostly morons)...//

I agree! :-D

IMO, the biggest problem Christians are having in the US today is due to the fact that the extreme Christian right have been trying to force their version of religion on everyone and forgetting about the rights of others to practice their own faith or not to practice any faith at all. I can understand why an atheist would be angry when listening to someone tell them that they are going to hell because they don't believe in Jesus. I'm not too keen on anyone playing God and telling who is and who isn't going to hell...or even that hell exists.
There just seems to be little respect for others belief's or non belief's on both side of the religious argument.

LASunsett said...

Cao,

//What a nice idea.//

Judging from the response to the introductory post, I guess it was. (Certainly more of a response than I expected.)

Thanks for stopping by.

LASunsett said...

Mustang,

//I am looking forward to this, LA. An excellent idea and here's hoping that your visitors will be as mindful of the opinions of others, as they are of their own. You may be interested in my last post (several days ago).//

I am looking forward to it too, albeit with some apprehension. Politics is touchy enough. Religion is even more so.

As for your post, I read it not long after you posted it. I have plans to link to it and make some comments in a future post, from here. (That is, if it's okay with you and when I get the time.)

For those that want a head start, they can read it here .

Thanks for stopping by, sir.

LASunsett said...

AICS,

//Maybe for now I will just come here and comment when the bug bites me.//

You know your input is welcome in any blog I run. I look forward to your contributions.

In fact, I will be more than glad to accept guest posts. You all have my e-mail, let me know if and when you would like to and send it to me, I'll put it up verbatim and fully credit it.

LASunsett said...

Hi ME,

//....this sounds like it will be great! I especially like to see the ground rules laid out so plainly. Oftentimes, discussions about religion bring out the worst in people and as I've always said, respect is always the key towards better understanding.//

I wouldn't have it any other way.

I am glad you stopped by, as you are most welcome here. It looks like you and Mustang have a lot of common ground.

Mary Ellen said...

Thanks for the welcome LASunsett. It is strange how I can be so liberal with my politics, yet so conservative with religion. It really confuses people....and there's nothing I like more than confusing people! ;-)

Greg said...

Wait a minute! A blog written from the judeo-christian tradition and point of view? I cannot imagine anything more offensive! Can't I sue to stop this?

Okay, enough sarcasm. Without religion, America and even modern democracy and human rights do not exist. America's legal tradition is the same tradition that created the Ten Commandments. Ain't nothing wrong with it. In fact, we can be proud that our traditions are part of a movement that has been built over the course of thousands of years. I'm not even a church-goer, and I understand this.

Can't wait to see what you come up with here, LAS....

Mary Ellen said...

Greg

I'm just thrilled to death that LA has come up with a blog on religion where I won't have to be called a "jesus freak" or "xian" without intervention. I like the fact that we can discuss without insult. Thanks for that LA!

Mary Ellen said...

Why is it that some atheists are so offended by the sight of the 10 Commandments displayed anyway? Also the sight of a a cross or a nativity scene for that matter? It seems they don't mind seeing those images in art galleries, or artists who use those images to defame them by putting them in urine or other venues. Is it a double standard of some sort?

LASunsett said...

ME,

//It is strange how I can be so liberal with my politics, yet so conservative with religion.//

You are one of the few people that I know that can pull this off. ;)

Here's a thought that I will get into a little more. later down the road:

When Christ's disciples asked him if it was lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, he asked for a coin and asked them whose inscription was on it. Of course, they replied it was Caesar's.

He then said to render the things that belong to Caesar, to Caesar; and render the things that belong to God, to God. It was at that point that He separated church and state.

LASunsett said...

Greg,

//Can't wait to see what you come up with here, LAS....//

Me too. ;)

I may have bitten off more than I can chew with this one. Time will tell.

LASunsett said...

ME,

//Why is it that some atheists are so offended by the sight of the 10 Commandments displayed anyway? Also the sight of a a cross or a nativity scene for that matter?//

Maybe for the same reasons vampires are so fearful?

Just kidding of course, but to answer your question more seriously, I am not sure I can. But more than anything there seems to be an element of anger that has thrust some of these people into such a fit of rage at the sight of such a display.

Maybe for some, it was some tragic event that caused them to question their beliefs, or it could be there was some other kind of trauma caused by a misunderstanding or misinterpretation of the teachings, their church taught. (So much so, that they not only rebelled against the church, but also God.)

I cannot believe that every atheist gets offended. Only those that have carried their atheism to the level that they feel they should spread their beliefs, much like an fundamentalist evangelist does his/hers, seem to care much at all. Unfortunately, they are the ones that make the most noise.

Mary Ellen said...

//Maybe for the same reasons vampires are so fearful?//

Funny, I've had that same thought myself. I've seen some who cannot even write the name "Jesus" without being sure to do it in a small 'j'. Now, what is that supposed to mean? If my name is written with a small 'm', does that mean I never existed or that my life is less valuable or pertinent?

//I cannot believe that every atheist gets offended. Only those that have carried their atheism to the level that they feel they should spread their beliefs, much like an fundamentalist evangelist does his/hers, seem to care much at all. Unfortunately, they are the ones that make the most noise.//

True, it does seem to come more from those atheists who have brought their non-belief to the extreme of sheer hatred of God and those who believe in God. I think of them as the extreme evangelical atheists, those who feel that blasphemy should be taught to school children or be made an Olympic sport as I've seen on another blog. They don't seem to feel that respect is due to anyone who has such belief's in any religion, but most of the anger I see goes directly to Christians.

On the other hand, my husband who is an atheist shows respect for those who do have belief in God or any other deity. For example, recently while on a trip to my daughters graduation in December, we had a motel that was directly next door to a Catholic church. We always would stay there while visiting her because it was convenient for my son and I to attend Sunday mass before leaving for home. This particular weekend, I overslept and missed the last Mass. I felt horrible, because I don't usually do that. My husband, without even being asked, made sure not to make any long stops on the way home and offered to eat a snack in the car instead of dinner just so he could get us to the 8:00 pm mass at our church. To me, that is showing respect, regardless of his own feelings about God or religion.We may not agree on religion, but both respect each others feelings regarding this issue.

LASunsett said...

ME,

//those who feel that blasphemy should be taught to school children or be made an Olympic sport as I've seen on another blog//

We both know this person, but I have to say that I think he says these things only to provoke a response.

The point is, what anyone says about God or those that believe in Him, can only affect us, if we allow it to. What is said by this person (or anyone else for that matter) cannot hurt me and certainly cannot hurt God.

As for being married to someone with different beliefs, my wife and I are both Christian and yet we differ on a good many things as far as doctrine is concerned. Yet, we have a mutual respect of each other's beliefs and they do not get in the way of a healthy relationship. It sounds very similar to what you have with your husband.

Mary Ellen said...

//The point is, what anyone says about God or those that believe in Him, can only affect us, if we allow it to. What is said by this person (or anyone else for that matter) cannot hurt me and certainly cannot hurt God.//

I wish I could be that way. I take things too personally, especially when it concerns my faith. Something I'm trying to work on, a New Years resolution, I guess.

Gosh, I just realized, I'm taking up way too much space on this thread! Sorry!

Mustang said...

It may be interesting to consider atheism as part of this discussion. In ancient times, the word suggested “ungodly” persons, or behavior, but a later definition suggested those who simply did not believe in a deity. Such simplicity cannot exist in a complex world, however, and so there is a wide range of uses for the term “atheist,” One meaning of the word suggests that such individuals are hedonists because in their disbelief, they seek only to behave immorally, but such generalizations are patently unfair and impossible to support. Such persons might be said to be “practical” atheists, as opposed to those who are contemplative atheists. The latter might suggest a personally held philosophy that simply does not permit one to believe in a deity, and which has nothing at all to do with morality.

Karl Marx was an atheist, and we have come to regard “communism” as godlessness personified. It is true that atheists have caused a great deal of suffering among believers, but it is also true that hundreds of thousands of people have suffered because of zealots. Atheists have existed since before Plato, and from every part of the world. I think it is also interesting to note that the Romans persecuted Christians because they did not believe the Emperor was a deity. Today the term most associated with nonbelievers is “infidel,” but I think no matter how you seek to define it, it is simply true that as freedom loving people, we should allow everyone to believe, or not, as they themselves choose. It would be an erroneous assumption to conclude that atheists are immoral, just as it would be a mistake to assume that a so-called believer always demonstrates moral behavior.

Anonim said...

LASunsett, good luck to you in this new blog. And like others, looking forward to what you'll come up with here. Specifically, how you'd delineate religion from politics. Even in this first welcome thread, you are deep into politics :)

As for ten commandments in courthouses and similar public displays of religion, I don't know if objections to such can be easily separated from the political rhetoric of advocates of the same. In the above exchange with ME, you may be oversimplifying objectors and whitewashing the advocates.

In my personal case, I am utterly disinterested in symbols. I don't exalt them; nor do I feel threatened by any. I am driving a second-hand car for about three years now; on the front license holder is the emblem of a rival local university, and on the trunk is a Jesus fish. I didn't bother taking either one off. Had the previous Christian owner (from whom I bought the car directly) made an unseemly point of sticking her basketball team or beliefs to me, I would probably have taken them off first thing on the day I bought the car. On the contrary, she was extremely modest, honest, upfront, and trusting.

Of course, historical religion and its contributions to social development are one thing, and theological legitimization of laws and legislations are quite another. I sort of believe that "freedom from religion" is the best assurance of "freedom of religion."

Mary Ellen said...

mustang

//It would be an erroneous assumption to conclude that atheists are immoral, just as it would be a mistake to assume that a so-called believer always demonstrates moral behavior.//

I agree (geez, I've been saying that a lot to you), some atheists don't like that term and I understand if it is put into the context of being immoral or an infidel. My husband doesn't really call himself an atheist, he just says he's a non-believer.

I can understand how an atheist can look at a Christian, especially a Catholic (like me) and say they think it's all a bunch of bunk. I can listen to their arguments (when they aren't being rude) and agree that believing in God or Jesus isn't always easy. But how do you explain faith? They call it "brainwashing", but if that is true, what makes someone who is an avid atheist come into the church later in life? I hear stories about that all the time, where an avid atheist will feel as if he is missing something in life and seek out God on his own, without the help of others.

I've also heard often about how religious people have been responsible for a large number of deaths in the world, throughout history, but those who say this never mention the amount of deaths caused by those who are atheists. IMO, there is evil in many human beings and many will use God as an excuse to carry out that evil, I don't think of those people as "religious", I think of them as users of religion. They are nothing more than criminals who put up a front in order to deceive.

No matter what side of the coin zealots are on, atheist or religious, zealotry is never a good thing. Zealots breed hatred, and that has nothing to do with religion or God, it's just a form of greed for power.

Thanks for the good points about what the term atheism implies to many.

Anonim said...

ME, individual faith on its own right cannot be labeled as being brainwashed. But unquestioning wholesale mass subscription to a particular sect cannot come without some brainwashing, either. Some may take this to extremes in their conduct, that's not good. Some others may be measured, that's good. After all, we're all brainwashed to some degree with regards to this or that (parenting?) so that we can function in a society. I don't know you, but I spent 40 years of my life believing that Pluto was a planet. Sorry if my sense of humor offends anyone, or is seen as a lack of seriousness.

Mary Ellen said...

anonim

Is being taught how to behave by parents brainwashing or just learning? There is a difference between the two, I think.

Would you also say that choosing a political side is also brainwashing? Or, learning about science and scientific theories...is that brainwashing? I don't think the scientific community would think so.

BTW, I'm all for keeping Pluto as a planet,however, Uranis could stand a new name since it is the butt of many jokes. Ok, that was a lousy joke. See? Christians just aren't funny...and Catholics can't sing, it's a known fact.

Greg said...

Hi, mary-ellen! The aetheists you have a problem with are just like the religious extremists they paint every believer out to be: they want everyone to think like them. That can create problems in any relationship :)

BTW, I wouldn't take "xian" as an insult. I don't get that one....

P.S. - Obviously God wants the Saints to make it to the SuperBowl, but let's hope for a Bears-Pats matchup. Hopefully you'll still be my friend after yet another Pats win. Sigh.....

LASunsett said...

ME,

//Gosh, I just realized, I'm taking up way too much space on this thread! Sorry!//

Not true. You are welcome to omment all you want.

LASunsett said...

Mustang,

//It is true that atheists have caused a great deal of suffering among believers, but it is also true that hundreds of thousands of people have suffered because of zealots.//

Your whole comment was spot on, but this particular part was by far the most poignant.

There has to be a happy medium in anything. Faith and religion are no exception.

Good lesson, sir. (crisp hand salute)vibde

Mary Ellen said...

Hi Greg!


//P.S. - Obviously God wants the Saints to make it to the SuperBowl, but let's hope for a Bears-Pats matchup. Hopefully you'll still be my friend after yet another Pats win. Sigh.....//

Football can't break up a friendship for me...now if the Red Sox and White Sox are in the World Series...all bets are off. ;-D

LASunsett said...

Anonim,

//In my personal case, I am utterly disinterested in symbols. I don't exalt them; nor do I feel threatened by any.//

I drive by a mosque and a Hindu temple on occasion, where I live. I have no reason to be offended by their presence, at all. When any religion makes a deity out of a symbol, I personally equate it to an idol. The reason I say that is, material things (no matter what they represent), are still just things. They are inanimate, they have no life within themselves. We are the life, as God as given it to us. Not the images we create.

Man can cut down a tree and divide it into thirds. With one third he can build, with another he can warm himself, and another, he can create an idol. I believe that the hypocrisy in this, is more than evident.

But, as I said about the mosque and the temple, I drive by and think about how great it is to have the freedom to choose your own faith. Anyone can hold dear to them any theology they wish, without fear of reprisals. He can choose to be a Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, or whatever. He can take a third of that tree and carve out an idol, without being stoned to death. How great is that? That's tolerance.

LASunsett said...

ME,

//Football can't break up a friendship for me..//

So, let's just say he blasphemes further by pulling for LSU over ND tomorrow night. Are you are going to feel the same way?

;)

Anonim said...

ME, I am with you on parenting. On the other hand, A could be be easily accused of being brainwashed about X by B who is a radical believer of Y as opposed to X. Examples of this can be found in all sorts of debates; and the accusation reflects more on B than on A really. I don't see why you couldn't simply laught it off if and when you were accused of being a brainwashed Christian if you were the average kind of American Christian that I came to know somewhat. And a politically liberal one at that! And one who can't sing! Take it easy.

Mary Ellen said...

//So, let's just say he blasphemes further by pulling for LSU over ND tomorrow night. Are you are going to feel the same way?//

I guess I'll just have to leave that up to God...and my bookie. :)

superfrenchie said...

Hi LA. Best of luck with that new blog.

Now that I'm done with the niceties, let me start taking issue with something...:

Your use of the word free-thinker!

You describe yourself both as a "non-denominational Christian" and as a "free thinker."

Of course you can describe yourself as you wish. But if words have meaning, then you are not a free-thinker. Freethought is defined by wikipedia as a "philosophical doctrine that holds that beliefs should be formed on the basis of science and logical principles and not be comprised by authority, tradition, or any other dogma.

Further: "When applied to religion, the philosophy of freethought holds that, given presently-known facts, established scientific theories, and logical principles, there is insufficient evidence to support the existence of supernatural phenomena."

So you either are a Christian who by definition and no matter the denomination believes that Christ was (is?) the Son of God, died, resurrected, and ascended to heaven or you are a free-thinker and you do not believe in supernatural events and thus you cannot believe in, say the resurrection or the afterlife.

Having said that, I'd love to have you on the side of the free-thinkers... :)

Mary Ellen said...

Wikapedia's definition isn't the only definition of a freethinker, Denis.

Freethinker - A person who forms his opinions about religion and God without regard to revelation, scripture, tradition, or experience.

I don't want to speak for LA, but I think he is referring to the fact that he doesn't hold to just one dogma, but takes a little from each and formed his own opinion or thought. Hence, he is a freethinker.

Mary Ellen said...

Also, IMO, anyone who claims to be a freethinker, as many atheists do, are only fooling themselves. To keep your opinions only to scientific fact, makes you a scientist. To only look at one side, is narrowminded. Whereas, many Christians hold on to their belief system, and still respect and understand science.

superfrenchie said...

And while I'm at it, let me take issue with something else...

Mustang: //I see no conflict with having depictions of the Ten Commandments inside our courts, especially since these rules form the basis for our legal system.//

No, they don't!

Commandment #1: 'You shall have no other gods before Me'

Where does it say that someone shal have no other God before the Christian God in any United States law? Not only that, but the frst amendment pretty much contradict it.

Commandment #2: 'You shall not make for yourself a carved image--any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.'

Has anyone ever been punished in America for drawing God?

Commandment #3: 'You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain.'

If saying Goddammit was against the law, I would be in prison since I first landed in the filthy Houston airport in 1983!

Commandment #4: 'Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.'

Could someone tell my wife that malls are to be closed on Saturday?

Commandment #5: 'Honor your father and your mother.'

Find me a single law that says I can't disrespect my mom!

Commandment #7: 'You shall not commit adultery.'

Ask Clinton if it's against the law.

Commandment #10: 'You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor's.'

That's the worst and most despicable one. Not only will you not find anything in American law against that commandment, but you will find laws against slavery, not condoning it.

So having eliminated 7 commandments, there remains just 3.

#6: 'You shall not murder.'

Murder is against the law in every single society and culture, for obvious reasons that have nothing to do with religion!

#8: 'You shall not steal.'

Same remark!

#9: 'You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.'

I'm in a good mood, so I'll give you this one. But I'll note that it's also against the law to bear false witness in Islamic countries, in buddhist countries and in the completely secular countries of Europe. In fact, I don;t think there is a single culture where it's not against the law to bear false witness.

So to sum up, not only are the 10 commandments NOT the basis of your laws, but they are in fact mostly in contradiction with your laws.

Which, in my opinion, is a very good thing, as I consider at least the 10th commandment with its implied condoning of slavery to be absolutely immoral and repugnant!

superfrenchie said...

ME: //Freethinker - A person who forms his opinions about religion and God without regard to revelation, scripture, tradition, or experience.//

Then according to this definition he wouldn't be a Christian since you can only be a Christian if you accept what the scriptures say about Christ.

superfrenchie said...

Small correction about what I wrote on Commandment #10:

I wrote:

//That's the worst and most despicable one. Not only will you not find anything in American law against that commandment, but you will find laws against slavery, not condoning it.//

I meant:

That's the worst and most despicable one. Not only will you not find anything in American law based on that commandment, but you will find laws against slavery, not condoning it.

Mary Ellen said...

Denis

There are many forms of Christianity, all based on the belief of Jesus Christ. You can be a freethnker if you pick and choose from each one of these dogmas. You don't have to pick some dogma from every religion on earth in order to be considered a freethinker.

Open up your mind to the possibility that some religions or particular parts of religion hold the same truths and you can be a freethinker. Saying that none of them are correct because you can't see scientific proof that bears that out is being narrow minded. There are many things that science has not proved and yet call it truth. They are theories. Yet, you accept them as fact. If you can be open minded about science, why not religion?

Mary Ellen said...

SF:

The Ten Commandments

1. I am the Lord, your God. You shall have no other gods besides Me.

2. You shall not take the name of the Lord, your God, in vain.

3. Remember to keep holy the Sabbath day.

4. Honor your father and your mother.

5. You shall not kill.

6. You shall not commit adultery.

7. You shall not steal.

8. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

9. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife.

10. You shall not covet anything that belongs to your neighbor.

The 10th commandment says that you should not want the same as your neighbor to the point of stealing it or obtaining what he has in an illegal manner.

If you want to disrespect your mom, go ahead. These are moral laws, not governmental laws. If you want to be immoral, fine. Our country based its laws in many areas regarding moral behavior. No one said that our country is based sticktly and solely, word for word with the 10 commandments. However, our country's laws are based on a Judeo -Christian moral system.

superfrenchie said...

ME: //They are theories. Yet, you accept them as fact. //

ME, you are confused as to what is a scientific theory.

A scientific theory is an established and experimentally verified fact or collection of facts about the world. Unlike the everyday use of the word theory, it is not an unproved idea, or just some theoretical speculation.

What you call a "theory" in everyday language, scientists call that a hypothesis.

That's why gravity is a scientific theory. In everyday language, we call it a fact. Scientists call it a theory. Nobody denies that gravity exists.

Mary Ellen said...

SF

You say that God does not exist. It is possible that there is no evidence at all for God. But this cannot be stated absolutely, since all evidence would need to be known to show there is no evidence. Therefore, since all evidence cannot be known by any one person, it is possible that evidence exists that supports the existence of God.

Before scientists or man came to the knowledge what the sun is, or what the stars were, does that mean they didn't exist until they did?

superfrenchie said...

ME: I have #9 and #10 as such:

NINE: 'You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.'

TEN: 'You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor's.'


But I wouldn't be surprised if there are several versions. That's another reason not to rely on those texts. Nobody is even quite sure what they really say.

//No one said that our country is based sticktly and solely, word for word with the 10 commandments.//

What I am saying is that it is not based at all on the 10 commandments.

//our country's laws are based on a Judeo -Christian moral system. //

Hum. You may have to explain what is a "Judeo-Christian moral system," and how it is different from a secular moral system. The Bible condones slavery, but not your laws. Your laws condemn incest, but the Bible condones it in several places. Your laws strongly condemn stoning non-virgins on their wedding night, the Bible says it's OK. And on and on and on.

superfrenchie said...

ME: //But this cannot be stated absolutely, since all evidence would need to be known to show there is no evidence. Therefore, since all evidence cannot be known by any one person, it is possible that evidence exists that supports the existence of God.//

Sure. Same thing for the existence of a pink unicorn or a flying teapot. But neither you nor I would make our lives revolve around something as improbable as them.

superfrenchie said...

ME: //You say that God does not exist.//

Actually, that's not what I say. Because as you point out, nobody can prove that something doesn't exist.

What I am saying is that there is no evidence for it and that I am not making my life revolve around something completely improbable.

Mary Ellen said...

SF

I asked you this once before and you never answered. Why is it that you are stuck on the Old Testament? Why is it that you want to compare the cultures of the past to the culture of today? When the commandments were given, they were given in the context of that days culture and lifestyle. They had slavery, they had donkeys.

The American government and laws are based on morals that those who came to our country and set up those laws learned in their Judeo-Christian faith. Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not kill. Did I say that atheists do not hold those same values? No!

The versions of the 10 Commandments are solid. They are written in plain language now, for those people like you, who cannot seem to face the fact that those laws are timeless. When you see things from France...say art, that was produced hundreds of years ago, do you say they no longer are beautiful because they are old? In the paintings where women are nude and show they are fat compared to today's women...are they not beautiful anymore, are they irrelevant?

Let go of the strick interpretation of the Bible as your excuse to bash religion and actually take the time to study it. It will help you to at least make an argument that isn't a cherry-picked, misunderstood version of what you call religion.

Mary Ellen said...

//What I am saying is that there is no evidence for it and that I am not making my life revolve around something completely improbable.//

Why is it improbable? Because Science hasn't proved it? Science hasn't found a cure for cancer, either. Does that mean that it is improbable that they ever will? So, all those who have cancer should just give up? Doesn't sound very enlightening to me. In fact, it sound quite archaic.

superfrenchie said...

ME: //I asked you this once before and you never answered. Why is it that you are stuck on the Old Testament?//

I'm not. Who brought up the 10 commandments? Not me. The 10 commandments are in the Old Testament. Either they are to be repudiated, or they are to form the basis of our morals. I'd say the first, strongly.

superfrenchie said...

ME: //Why is it improbable? Because Science hasn't proved it? //

What is improbable: God, Zeus, Allah, Thor, Appolo, Venus, thousands of other Gods, the Pink Unicorn, the Flying Teapot, the Spaghetti Monster, Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, Elvis is still alive, little green men living on Mars, etc...

Science has neither proven nor disproven any of those. Should I believe in all of them because there's no certainty that one, or all of them, exist? More to the point, should I make my life revolve around any of those things, just because there's a possibility that they exist?

Mary Ellen said...

Personally, I really don't care what you revolve your life around. Your lack of belief in any religion is fine with me. To say that a Christian is not a freethinker and that term only applies to atheists is wrong. I just pointed out that Christians are not only freethinkers but they are not narrow minded enough to only believe what science dictates to them. I believe that those who seek out God or religion are open minded, freethinkers!

superfrenchie said...

me: //To say that a Christian is not a freethinker and that term only applies to atheists is wrong.//

I did not decide that, as I don't make up definition of words or expressions.

You may feel that the word has been hijacked by atheists like me, but the concept dates back to the 16th century (and later was popularized by French thinkers like Diderot or Voltaire, still 17th century...) so if you want to claim it back you may have your work cut out for you... :)

Mary Ellen said...

SF:

I don't think you can claim a word as your own can you? I just pointed out, that there were multiple definitions of the word free thinker. Those who are atheists may want to claim it as their own...but I don't think there are squatters rights on words.

I feel, that LASunsett's definition of himself as a free thinker was accurate. I think an atheist can also call himself a free thinker if he likes, if he wants to only stick to your definition of the word.

Damn...I'm arguing like a Frenchman. I need a break!

superfrenchie said...

Mary Ellen:

Let's say that I would tell you that I am in favor of the freedom of businesses to do absolutely what they want, including making people work 60 hours a week without overtime pay, and no minimum wage at all.

Then I would say that therefore, I am a "liberal."

When you ask what would qualify me as a liberal, I would say that "liberal" comes from the word "liberty," and that's what I am in favor of: liberty for companies to do whatever they want!

My feeling is that you would contest my definition of "liberal," and would refer me to its traditional meaning.

That's all I am doing. Freethinker is a term that has a certain accepted and traditional meaning. You can make up your own definition, but communication is based on the common acceptance of what words mean or convey. In this case, it has long been accepted that freethinkers refers to people who do not accept supernatural explanations to the world.

Look up freethinkers on Google and you'll see that this is indeed what people understand by that.

superfrenchie said...

By the way, in your definition of freethinker (your 2:24pm), you left out a large part:

free-think-er n. A person who forms opinions about religion on the basis of reason, independently of tradition, authority, or established belief. Freethinkers include atheists, agnostics and rationalists.

No one can be a freethinker who demands conformity to a bible, creed, or messiah. To the freethinker, revelation and faith are invalid, and orthodoxy is no guarantee of truth.

Mary Ellen said...

SuperFrenchie

I didn't leave anything out, you just found a definition that added it's own spin on the word. Many people who are Christians are freethinkers. That's how the Reformation started, remember? They broke away from the dogma of the Catholic Church and formed the Protestant church...they were free thinkers. Geez....

//No one can be a freethinker who demands conformity to a bible, creed, or messiah. To the freethinker, revelation and faith are invalid, and orthodoxy is no guarantee of truth.//

Not true! "Freethinkers include atheists, agnostics and rationalists." Freethinker include but do not exclude Christians or other religious believers.

superfrenchie said...

ME: can you send me a link to your definition?

Mary Ellen said...

SF:

In the words of Bertrand Russell:

The expression "free thought" is often used as if it meant merely opposition to the prevailing orthodoxy. But this is only a symptom of free thought, frequent, but invariable. "Free thought" means thinking freely--as freely, at least, as is possible for a human being. The person who is free in any respect is free from something; what is the free thinker free from? To be worthy of the name, he must be free of two things; the force of tradition, and the tyranny of his own passions. No one is completely free from either, but in the measure of a man's emancipation he deserves to be called a free thinker. A man is not to be denied this title because he happens, on some point, to agree with the theologians of his country. An Arab who, starting from the first principles of human reason, is able to deduce that the Koran was not created, but existed eternally in heaven, may be counted as a free thinker, provided he is willing to listen to counter arguments and subject his ratiocination to critical scrutiny. ... What makes a free thinker is not his beliefs, but the way in which he holds them. If he holds them because his elders told him they were true when he was young, or if he holds them because if he did not he would be unhappy, his thought is not free; but if he holds them because, after careful thought, he find a balance of evidence in their favor, then his thought is free, however odd his conclusions may seem.

Mary Ellen said...

SF: I can't find the link I got the first definition from, I had already cleared my history column from the computer.

Here is the definition of free thinker in Websters Dictionary:

A person who forms his opinions independently of authority or tradition (especially in religious matters).

Ok...this definition does not say that those who are religious cannot be freethinkers.

Many religions have gone off and formed their opinions independently and started their own churches. For example, the Baptist church. They have many different denominations (not sure if that's the correct word) of the original Baptist Church.

Some people, like LA, have decided not to follow a particular church, but still have belief in the same God that all the other Christian churches have. That makes him a free thinker. He has formed his opinion independently of particular Christian churches. He may not participate in all their rituals, yet he still carries many of the same beliefs.

Mary Ellen said...

Ooops, sorry. That definition came from the Random House Dictionary of the English language...a very,old beat up book that I use religiously!

Mustang said...

In most cases, people simply do not know what they don’t know. I regard this as an interesting discussion, but let us endeavor to keep our passions in check.

For many people, there is no proof that God exists. Among others, there is no doubt that that God exists. My own personal view is that the proof of God’s existence is our conscience, and it is through our sense of right and wrong that He speaks to us daily. It does not bother me in the least that my view may very well be in the minority; I simply wish for all human beings to determine for themselves what they choose to believe.

Similarly, there is no proof that God does not exist. Just because you cannot reach out and touch Him does not mean that he does not exist. I suppose that if we went back far enough in time, one might have been able to argue that the concept of an exploding atom was pure poppycock; thus, in the absence of proof, any such idea was incredible.

Perhaps in time, the proof that some people demand will become evident. On the one side, let us hope that the proof – if or when it is revealed – will not catch us off-guard. On the other hand, even in the absence of any proof of God’s existence, what have we really given up by living a moral life? I happen to agree with John Locke that in the state of nature, people are inordinately good. Unseemly behavior is learned. What keeps people moral is, I believe, a set of guidelines, reinforced over a very long period. I think that ME’s point is that the Judeo-Christian ethic internalizes the Ten Commandments as providing those moral guidelines, and I agree.

Whether or not SF thinks or agrees that English Common Law incorporates the Ten Commandments and that the American body of law incorporated these precepts, is entirely up to him. He is entitled to his opinion. However, common law relies upon earlier precedents established by duly appointed jurists. The precedence’s that admonish murder, theft, lying, and bearing false witness are clearly associated with the Ten Commandments. In some states, it is against the law to commit adultery. It is equally clear that American law incorporates these same proscriptions. I am emphasizing English Common Law because it is distinct from concepts embodied in Napoleonic Law, which has far less emphasis on stare decisis.

Okay, sorry folks . . . I’m done now.

superfrenchie said...

ME: Here is the definition in Webster:

one who forms opinions on the basis of reason independently of authority; especially : one who doubts or denies religious dogma

From American Heritage dictionary

One who has rejected authority and dogma, especially in religious thinking, in favor of rational inquiry and speculation.

Like I said, we have to accept somewhat traditional definitions of words, or we cannot define anything.

If definitions are flexible, then I would call Greg a democrat (he's in favor of democracy), Mary Ellen a republican (she believes in the republic) and myself a Christian (I once went out with a girl named Christie) :))

Mary Ellen said...

Sorry SF

I missed this one:

//
What is improbable: God, Zeus, Allah, Thor, Appolo, Venus, thousands of other Gods, the Pink Unicorn, the Flying Teapot, the Spaghetti Monster, Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, Elvis is still alive, little green men living on Mars, etc...

Science has neither proven nor disproven any of those. Should I believe in all of them because there's no certainty that one, or all of them, exist? More to the point, should I make my life revolve around any of those things, just because there's a possibility that they exist?//

First of all, Christians believe in Jesus Christ, as the Son of God. Jesus is presented as an historical figure by reputable people in both secular and sacred historical writings. Jesus is presented as a real person who claimed to be divine and who performed miracles. These accounts are attested to by reputable witnesses and have been transmitted to us reliably through the New Testament. These writings concerning Jesus exhibit an historical, cultural, religious, and political context with verifiable names, events, and places being an integral part of the record of that context and reality.
Considering that the gospel accounts were written by individuals who knew Jesus personally (or were under the guidance of those who knew Him), that the gospels are historically accurate, superbly transmitted to us through the copying method, we can then assume at the very least, that Jesus was an actual historical person.

You cannot say that for anyone or anything on the list that you gave me.

You can say that you don't believe in what the writers of the gospels say happened while Jesus was alive, but you cannot refute that He existed. The fact, IMO, that Jesus said he was the Son of God...tells me that God does exist. So, in reality, I do have proof of God,and I don't need to see him to believe he exists anymore than I need to see George Washington, to know that he existed also.

Mary Ellen said...

// especially : one who doubts or denies religious dogma ''

it says "especially", not exclusively. I still stand by my definition. I don't think my old Random House English Language Dictionary would ever let me down!

superfrenchie said...

mustang: //Similarly, there is no proof that God does not exist. Just because you cannot reach out and touch Him does not mean that he does not exist.//

That's right. Like the Pink Unicorn or Zeus or the tooth fairy or the flying teapot.

//Whether or not SF thinks or agrees that English Common Law incorporates the Ten Commandments and that the American body of law incorporated these precepts, is entirely up to him. He is entitled to his opinion.//

Well, it's an opinion, but it's based on facts. Even if we accept that laws about murder, theft, bearing false witness and in some states adultery are based on the 10 commandments, it remain that 60% of the commandments have no bearing on any single law, and in fact some of them are contradicted by the law.

//I think that ME’s point is that the Judeo-Christian ethic internalizes the Ten Commandments as providing those moral guidelines, and I agree.//

But the reality is that it doesn't. Or tell me why people have no moral qualms working on Saturday?

//On the other hand, even in the absence of any proof of God’s existence, what have we really given up by living a moral life?//

Morals have nothing to do with religion. Nobody gets their morals from religion, although many people think they do.

If they did, they would think that stoning women who are not virgins on the day of their marriage is fine, or that people should be banned from working on Saturday. Now before you tell me that these are no longer acceptable practice, let me ask you this: how do you know, if you are taking your morals from religion? The very fact that you are able to say that stoning non virgins is wrong or that working on Saturday is fine shows that you do not take your morals from religion.

Mary Ellen said...

SuperFrenchie

//
That's right. Like the Pink Unicorn or Zeus or the tooth fairy or the flying teapot.//

Already answered that one in the comment above. There is no evidence of a flying teapot...but there is historical evidence of Jesus Christ, Son of God.

//Well, it's an opinion, but it's based on facts. Even if we accept that laws about murder, theft, bearing false witness and in some states adultery are based on the 10 commandments, it remain that 60% of the commandments have no bearing on any single law, and in fact some of them are contradicted by the law.//

If you look closely, mustang said that the English Common Law incorporates the Ten Commandments, he specifically pointed out which of those commandments are incorporated into Enlish Common Law which was then incorporated into American law. I also pointed out to you that not ALL of the Commandments are used. Using the same argument and ignorning the facts doesn't help your case, SF.


//But the reality is that it doesn't. Or tell me why people have no moral qualms working on Saturday?//

Some people do work Saturdays and some don't. The laws of government don't expect anyone to take off to worship God, but they respect the people who live in this country and who a majority of them do worship God on Sunday. It is a day of rest for many, religious or not. I, nor mustang had never said there is not a separation of church and state, only that there is freedom OF religion in our country.

//f they did, they would think that stoning women who are not virgins on the day of their marriage is fine, or that people should be banned from working on Saturday. Now before you tell me that these are no longer acceptable practice, let me ask you this: how do you know, if you are taking your morals from religion? The very fact that you are able to say that stoning non virgins is wrong or that working on Saturday is fine shows that you do not take your morals from religion.//

Again, your argument makes no sense. No one on this blog said that morals only come from religion. You are making an argument about something that was never said and does not exist.

Using stoning women, a part of a culture in the Middle East, where laws and cultures were far different than the modern culture of today, is just ridiculous. Did Jesus not stop the people from stoning a woman accused of adultry from a story in the New Testament? Did He not say, "Let the man without sin throw the first stone". Was that not a lesson taught to Christians something that came from the moral authority of Jesus, Son of God?

Did Jesus tell of the parable of the good Samaritan? Did He not teach us that to treat our neighbor with kindness is the way to live our lives? That came from the moral suthority of Jesus, Son of God.

So, yes, those who follow religion, use the Bible as a tool to teach morals. Some who don't follow the Bible learn their morals from their families...who probably, somewhere down the line, learned them from someone else...who may have had a Bible!

superfrenchie said...

ME, re the gospels: they were written at the minimum 20 years after the death of Jesus and many think between 50 and 100 years after. That's in a time of oral tradition, and we all know how things get distorted when transmitted orally.

Besides, they're full of contradictions and scientific mistakes!

//I also pointed out to you that not ALL of the Commandments are used//

That's right. A minimum of 60% are not used, and an additional 10% are not enforced. I could make just the same argument that American laws are based on Buddhist principles, since those principles also disallow murder, lying and stealing!

//The laws of government don't expect anyone to take off to worship God//

Even though the 10 commandments require you to do so. Exactly my point. Laws are not based on the 10 commandments. Some laws just happen to be the same as 3 (or 4 if you include adultery) of the same commandments, but then they also happen to be the same as what thousands of religions past and present require of their followers.

//Did Jesus tell of the parable of the good Samaritan? Did He not teach us that to treat our neighbor with kindness is the way to live our lives? That came from the moral suthority of Jesus, Son of God.//

Yes. So did atonement, which is abhorrent! What kind of moral system condemns every child to inherit the sin of a remote ancestor even before they are born?

superfrenchie said...

ME: //Using stoning women, a part of a culture in the Middle East, where laws and cultures were far different than the modern culture of today, is just ridiculous.//

Yet, isn't it where "judeo-christian" culture originated?

Mary Ellen said...

Judeo-Christian theology is based on the bible, which has the New Testement, that if you would bother to read it, tells the life of Jesus Christ. During his life, he showed those who stoned women, that they were wrong to interpret God's laws in that way. He admonished the Saducci's (sp?) and those in Jewish authority to quit worrying about the stupid little laws and to abide by the most important commandments, which was to love the Lord or God with all your might and to love your neighbor as yourself. He taught the apostles to spread His word, to show that God is loving, merciful, and righteous. There are many lessons in the Old Testament taught by Jesus in order to understand the complexities of his word.

Most of all,He showed us that He was willing to have His own Son die for us, the ultimate sacrifice, the ultimate and perfect gift. These are the lessons that Christians are supposed to follow. These are the eternal lessons which follow all spans of time.

If an atheist wants to use the argument of archaic laws like stoning, from a culture long gone, fine. They just aren't relevant to Christianity, because if you read a little further in the book, you will see that Jesus corrected those laws that were misunderstood from the beginning.

superfrenchie said...

ME: //Most of all,He showed us that He was willing to have His own Son die for us, the ultimate sacrifice, the ultimate and perfect gift.//

Die for what? What did I do that warranted someone dying for me? I wasn't even born!

Besides, if God wanted to atone for my future sins (what a bizarre concept!), why didn't he just do it, instead of condemning the Jews to be viewed by most Christians as Christ killers for the next 2000 years?

Mary Ellen said...

Gee, SF. Where did you ever read that Jesus condemned the Jews for his killing? I seem to remember in the Bible, the words that Jesus spoke on the cross, "Father forgive them, for they no not what they do." He held no anger towards the Jews. Up to his last breath, He was still teaching us about God's love and forgiveness, and mercy.

I guess when you look at something with hate, you see hate. I look at the teachings of the Bible and see the love that is taught, especially in the New Testament.

As far as feeling that you have nothing to be forgiven for, fine. I don't ever recall saying that you are forced to accept God's love, forgiveness, or mercy. Remember, he gave us free will? You have the freedom NOT to believe or accept His teachings.

LASunsett said...

SF,

//Of course you can describe yourself as you wish. But if words have meaning, then you are not a free-thinker.//

The definition you cite is the classical and historical definition of freethinker. But if you notice, I did not say I was a freethinker, nor did I say I was a free-thinker, either. I said I was a free thinker. Please not the space between the words, free and thinker.

Free is separate because it is merely the adjective that modifies the noun, thinker. Let's see what the American Heritage Dictionary has to say about these words. (Do a Yahoo search if you do not believe me)

Free:

1. Not imprisoned or enslaved; being at liberty.

2. Not controlled by obligation or the will of another: felt free to go.


3.

a. Having political independence: "America . . . is the freest and wealthiest nation in the world" (Rudolph W. Giuliani).


b. Governed by consent and possessing or granting civil liberties: a free citizenry.


c. Not subject to arbitrary interference by a government: a free press.


and

Thinker:


1. One who devotes much time to thought or meditation.


2. One who thinks or reasons in a certain way: a careful thinker.


Where did I fail to make the cut on any of those definitions?

You are right. I am not a freethinker by the wikipedia definition. I am one that thinks freely. No one compels me by force to think any particular way, no one holds a gun to by head, no one legislates me to do so, no one coerces me, and no one imprisons me if I don't. I do it of my own FREE will.

This is where secular humanists (and others) invest in their own misunderstandings. Christianity is not something that binds the heart of man. It frees, it liberates, it unties the ties that bind a soul and a spirit. Furthermore, it's not a bunch of rules and regulation, but rather a philosophy, based on faith, experience, and a small measure of understanding.

//Having said that, I'd love to have you on the side of the free-thinkers...//

Sorry. It's not going to happen. I have considered much before arriving at my conclusions and still I could be very wrong on a host of things. But as one whose career is scientific in nature, I can say with much sureness that life could not have just happened without some design engineering and some energy force to create it. There no real machines in this world that can compare with the human body. It could not have happened by happenstance.

But stick with us here SF, we are going to cover a lot. And who knows? Maybe there is hope for my favorite socialist heathen. ;)

Mary Ellen said...

Gosh LA..I was wondering what happened to you. I feel like I've been at battle with the devil!

I'm sure SF will be back...he's busy having sex while blogging. I think that's what he told me he's doing on the other blog. :-D

LASunsett said...

ME,

//Gosh LA..I was wondering what happened to you.//

LOL

Long hours at the salt mine today. I get no government assistance and being the greedy American I am, I have to do something to pay the bills. ;)

(Psst. You are doing fine. I think you have him on the ropes) ;)

Mary Ellen said...

Thanks. I don't know if I have him on the ropes...but I drove him into a mad sex frenzy while blogging. I guess you have to release that stress somehow... :-D

Mary Ellen said...

I missed another one of your comments, SF. Regarding the gospels, you point out that they were written after the death of Jesus (so you admit He did exist).

I think one of the problems you are having is that you are treating the Bible as the only tool in which to learn about God or Jesus. You claim that they contain inaccuracies in science. However, if you recognize Scripture for what it is, you’ll see it wasn’t intended to be an instructional tool for converts. In fact, not one book of the Bible was written for non-believers. The Old Testament books were written for Jews, the New Testament books for people who already were Christians.

The Bible is not a catechism or a full-scale theological training course. Just look at the 27 books of the New Testament. You won’t find one that spells out the elements of the faith the way catechisms do or even the way the ancient creeds did. Those 27 books were written for the most part (except, the Gospels and the general epistles such as James and, 1 and 2 Peter) as documents addressed to particular audiences for particular purposes.

Most of the epistles were written to local churches that were experiencing moral and/or doctrinal problems. Paul and most of the other New Testament writers sent letters to these local churches in order to help them with these problems. There was no attempt on the part of the writers to force a vast body of basic doctrinal instruction to non-believers nor even to simply summarize everything for the believers who received the letters.

Your use of the Bible, to try and debunk teachings of the Church or prove that God doesn't exist only shows how little you know about the subject you have chosen to defame. I don't mean that as an insult, it just isn't as cut and dry as you have tried to make it.

LASunsett said...

Mustang,

//Unseemly behavior is learned.//

This is a very, very important point. Equally, seemly behavior is learned.

//What keeps people moral is, I believe, a set of guidelines, reinforced over a very long period.//

I certainly agree, but I would also add that the set of guidelines must be practiced by the one teaching, in front of the one learning, to have any realistic chance to get someone pointed in the right direction. A way of life is both taught and lived.

In all of this, the learner has the free will to choose which path he wishes to take. The best teachers and practitioners of morality (or anything else for that matter) can do their best, but it is ultimately up to the learner. Some will learn, some won't.

superfrenchie said...

LA: //But as one whose career is scientific in nature, I can say with much sureness that life could not have just happened without some design engineering and some energy force to create it.//

Well, if you are very much in the majority (in America) with your belief in God (87% of Americans "never doubt" God), you are in the minority when it comes to scientists. 93% of the members of the National Academy of Sciences do not believe in God.

//There no real machines in this world that can compare with the human body. It could not have happened by happenstance.//

2 things: one, nobody is saying that it happened by happenstance. The theory of evolution is saying that it happened through some chance mutations AND natural selection. Chance by itself indeed would have had no chance!

Two, if things that are complex can only be explained by a designer, then so is God. For designing such a complex world, he had to be extremely complex himself, and thus had to be designed. Who designed God?

In other words, you're explaining a mystery by another one. That may be intellectually convenient, but if logic is your underlying assumption, then that is fundamentally flawed.

superfrenchie said...

Besides, saying that the human body is so wonderful that it could only have been created by a designer ignores tons of flaws in said human body. Have you ever looked at Dick Morris, for God's sake? (oops, just violated the second commandment. Sorry!) Or Rosie O'Donnell?

But seriously, take a look at any Down syndrome kid to see how flawed we can be. And how come the Designer forgot to protect us from tiny microbes that can kill us in just a few hours? Or from cancer?

And what the hell (is this one OK by the 2nd commandment?) was the Designer thinking when he gave me nipples? Evolution explains male nipples. Intelligent design does not!

superfrenchie said...

LA: //I said I was a free thinker. Please not the space between the words, free and thinker.//

OK, but then the guy that recently did some repairs to my house was a free mason! He was free, and he was a mason.

LASunsett said...

SF,

//Well, if you are very much in the majority (in America) with your belief in God (87% of Americans "never doubt" God), you are in the minority when it comes to scientists.//

By now, I would think you know me well enough to understand that I care nothing (if anything at all) about whether I am in the majority or minority (except on election day).

I do believe that God is sorely misunderstood, even by the vast majority of Christians (to include church leadership), and oftentimes, that applies to me.

//Two, if things that are complex can only be explained by a designer, then so is God. For designing such a complex world, he had to be extremely complex himself, and thus had to be designed. Who designed God?

In other words, you're explaining a mystery by another one. That may be intellectually convenient, but if logic is your underlying assumption, then that is fundamentally flawed.//


There are many things that may never be understood. Man may not be able to grasp everything, as he may wish to do. I believe Mustang said it well when he said:

I suppose that if we went back far enough in time, one might have been able to argue that the concept of an exploding atom was pure poppycock; thus, in the absence of proof, any such idea was incredible.

As time passes, I personally learn more about God. As events occur that would likely make many get angry and in some cases even renounce God, those things only serve to strengthen my beliefs.

So to sum it up, I really do not care what scientists or highly educated theologians say or think. I do not care what anyone else thinks. I have a right and have my reasons to believe as I do, just as you have the right and reasons for believing as you do. Furthermore, it does not matter to me how God got here. What's more important to me is, understanding what I need to understand in order to get through this life with some resemblance grace, wisdom, and integrity.

//But seriously, take a look at any Down syndrome kid to see how flawed we can be. And how come the Designer forgot to protect us from tiny microbes that can kill us in just a few hours? Or from cancer?//

I will get to this all in good time, but for now just consider that not all products that come off of an assembly line are destined to be headed for retail sales.

LASunsett said...

//OK, but then the guy that recently did some repairs to my house was a free mason! He was free, and he was a mason.//

Look up "freemasonry". They combine their words to make one noun.

But, in one sense he is free to make the choice of whether he wants to be a mason or not, right?

superfrenchie said...

LA: //But, in one sense he is free to make the choice of whether he wants to be a mason or not, right?//

Well, yeah, and come to think of it, he wasn't exactly free either... ;)))

Mary Ellen said...

SuperFrenchie

Regarding your questions (or statements?) on evolution vs. creationism, again, you are behind your reading on Christian doctrine. I can only speak for the doctrines of the Catholic Church, so please, if this does not correlate with another church, I apologize and mean no disrespect.

That said, back in 1950 Pope Pius XII wrote and encyclical "Humanai Generis", which was a document that tried to clear up the evolution vs. creationism argument. In it, he said:

"The Teaching Authority of the Church does not forbid that, in conformity with the present state of human sciences and sacred theology, research and discussions, on the part of men experiences in both fields, take place with regard to the doctrine of evolution, in as far as it inquires into the origin of the human body as coming from pre-existent and living matter—for the Catholic faith obliges us to hold that souls are immediately created by God. "

In other words, the Pope could live with evolution, so long as the process of “ensouling” humans was left to God.

Since then, Pope John Paul II had made this statement:

"Today, almost half a century after publication of the encyclical, new knowledge has led to the recognition of the theory of evolution as more than a hypothesis. It is indeed remarkable that this theory has been progressively accepted by researchers, following a series of discoveries in various fields of knowledge. The convergence, neither sought nor fabricated, of the results of work that was conducted independently is in itself a significant argument in favor of the theory."

A child can be born with defects, but the soul within the child is not defected, because that came from God, who can only create perfection. How can anyone look into the eyes of a child with Downs Syndrome and not see the loving soul within, is beyond me.

superfrenchie said...

ME: //A child can be born with defects, but the soul within the child is not defected, because that came from God, who can only create perfection.//

That's certainly one thing that always amazes me with believers: God always gets the credit for good things (nature's beauty, recovery from cancer, escaping unhurt from a crash, great weather, the game-winning shot, etc...) but never gets blamed for the bad stuff (earthquakes, dying from cancer (or really, getting cancer in the first place!), dying in a crash, bad weather, missing the game-winning shot, etc...).

Mary Ellen said...

SF

Those who believe in God know of his perfection. Sure, life sucks for a lot of us, me included, but I'm not going to stick the blame on God. I do blame governments for allowing pollution, starting wars, letting criminals go free, etc. They have free will and choose to use it in a bad way. I blame those who pollute for dirty air, polluted water, chemicals that end up in our systems that cause cancer...that's not God's doing. That comes from human beings who chose to treat the world badly. Our bad weather if often the cause of weather patterns that have changed due to global warming...well, who are the ones who caused global warming? Not God, humans!

Listen, from the very beginning, we were given free will to sin or not. We were given the opportunity to treat the world we were given with respect for its ecology or not. We chose not, so we pay the price.

If a parent tells you not to touch fire as a child and you do it and get burned, is it solely the fault of the parent? No! It as the will of the child to do something that was harmful.

God didn't create cigarettes and tell us to fill our lungs with tar and nicotine. He didn't create the chemicals that are in our water and sprayed on our food or put in the feed of animals, which causes many cancers.

Quit blaming God for all of our screw-ups and take responsibility for your own actions!

God gave us the chance at perfection in the beginning...man blew it. Now, those who do believe in God know that perfection won't happen on this earth. However, we can choose to make things better, we can stop starting wars, polluting, hating each other, and being intolerant of others views. At least, that is within our grasps.

superfrenchie said...

OK for the pollution, but how do you reconcile a benevolent God who can only do perfection, and a tsunami that kills 250,000 people, including many children?

Anonim said...

ME, IMHO, the Catholic church's position on evolution theory is remarkable. It stands out and deserves applause as it doesn't mistake science for religion or vice versa. John Paul is far ahead of some "scientists" who continue to twist, distort, misrepresent and deny this monumental discovery of science.

Mary Ellen said...

SuperFrenchie

You are still ignoring Christian doctrine and falling back on falsehoods in order to bolster your arguments.

You are basing your examples on a world that doesn't exist. You are acting as if our life on earth is heaven. It isn't! We were put on this earth to live, grow, and learn. We were given brains to think and use to survive. Why is it God's fault that those people killed in the tsunami weren't warned? Why, with all of our knowledge, enough to go into space, did we, as humans, not bother to put in a warning system..a system which does exist in other parts of the world, but not used there? That's God's fault???

Read again what I wrote about the churches views on evolution. Then think about your question again.

Mary Ellen said...

anonim

I really think that Pope John Paul II was an amazing man. The jury is still out with the new guy, Benedict, but he does have nice shoes... ;-D

superfrenchie said...

BTW, let me take one last issue with something Mustang wrote yesterday, in arguing about the 10 commandments being the inspiration behind US law. He said:

//I am emphasizing English Common Law because it is distinct from concepts embodied in Napoleonic Law, which has far less emphasis on stare decisis.//

To me, that would be another argument that US law is not based on the 10 commandments. The 10 Commandments is the mother of all written in stone laws, literally! The fact that English common Law is not written in stone strongly contrasts with the Christian tradition of relying on written "eternal" texts and scriptures.

Mary Ellen said...

I'm sure mustang has his own answer to this. Maybe this will help you to understand some of the religious views on the 10 Commandments.

The 10 Commandments spell out in plain language how we humans should behave. They define right and wrong, righteousness and sin. We value our intelligence and freedom, no governmental parliament, congress, senate, cabinet or any other legal body is qualified to legislate on moral issues. Moral issues are the domain of God. God is the only one who has the moral stature, the knowledge, the wisdom and the authority to legislate on human morals, in the eyes of those who follow Him. Governments, for centuries have tried to make moral laws that would bring peace and prosperity to their people. But they have all failed. All its laws conceived and penned by human beings have failed to bring peace on earth. The reason for this is plain, we humans just do not have what it takes to legislate on moral issues. We may try, but I have yet to see it succeed because man's interests are selfish, our judgements are faulty and our experience limited. Only God can define good, moral behavior that will produce peace, happiness and prosperity on earth. That is why God came down to earth and personally wrote the Ten Commandments, for the benefit of the human race. The Ten Commandments define right and wrong moral principles and actions which are essential to the welfare of the human race. Obvioiusly, humans are weak and due to that have not followed these commandments. Case in point, when Moses came down from the mountain, the people were already worshipping false idols.

Some governments may base their legislation on certain commandments, however, they cannot keep man from breaking those laws because we, as humans, were given free will. Governments can, however, give punishment to those who break those laws, as we as Christians understand, can and will be punished by God if we don't follow the laws He set before us. He understands our weaknesses and his judgments are merciful, kind, but also righteous.

superfrenchie said...

LA: I hope you don't mind but I mention our free thinking debate here on my blog.

Feel free to come by and defend your point of view, of course.

LASunsett said...

SF,

//I hope you don't mind but I mention our free thinking debate here on my blog.//

You know I don't mind. Anytime you want to cite me pro or con, it's okay with me.

BTW, your link to your site is bad. Feel free to re-post it if you want.

superfrenchie said...

Oops.

Here it is.

Probably God and Mary Ellen conspiring against me. ;)))

Mary Ellen said...

SuperFrenchie

I just got a message from God...wait....it's kind of fuzzy and I'm blinded by the light...God says, "Tell SF to quit blaming Him for his own incompetencies with the computer."

Oh wait...(sorry God) He also says..."It's ok to blame Mary Ellen though."

Hey!!!! I guess God thinks He's funny.

LASunsett said...

ME,

See if you can channel the winning Powerball numbers for me, will you?

nanc said...

okay - i promise not to call anyone an idiot if indeed, they are not and you can prove it!