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Who Needs Religion?
Townhall.com ^ | September 29, 2009 | Mona Charen

Posted on 09/29/2009 6:00:16 AM PDT by Kaslin

Well, that's one way to look at it. Writing in Haaretz, Orna Coussin praised Yom Kippur (the Jewish Day of Atonement that began Sunday night and ended Monday night) as the ultimate green holiday. Coussin is a secular Israeli and was expressing her appreciation for the fact that everyone is obliged to travel by foot on Yom Kippur. All traffic stops in Israel. No cars, busses, trains, or taxis clog the streets on that day. The shops and offices are closed and the city is given over to pedestrians. "Last year, on Yom Kippur," she exults, "carbon monoxide levels fell from 205 parts per billion, on the day prior to the holiday, to just 2 parts per billion at its height -- a phenomenon unmatched anywhere in the world."

That's nice. But for millions of Jews worldwide the Day of Atonement continues to exert its traditional power. Coussin may see it as a day for walking the city; religious Jews are trying to walk with God. But even non-religious Jews can find uplift in the Yom Kippur service.

Fierce secularists like Christopher Hitchens deny that religion is necessary for morality. In any particular case, this is impossible to deny. Many highly moral people are non-religious (though, I would venture, less often anti-religious). But people being the way they are -- rationalizing, lazy, self-satisfied, absent-minded, and evasive (to list only some of our milder shortcomings) -- the religious tradition, with its weekly (or in some cases only yearly) kicks in the backside, prods us toward virtue, or perhaps even righteousness.

Yom Kippur is a day of fasting and repentance. This is well known. But the fast -- though severe (it lasts 25 hours and requires abstention from food and water) -- is not the substance of repentance, only a symbol. The whole High Holiday season, which begins with Rosh Hashana, is a period of prayer, self-examination, and repentance. This is a time to give generously to charity -- both for its own sake (the Hebrew word for charity is "justice") and to demonstrate our sincere repentance. We are encouraged to pay our debts during this time, and to ask forgiveness from those we have wronged. If we are rebuffed, we're expected to ask again ... twice. Offenses against our fellow human beings are not forgiven on Yom Kippur unless the wronged party has extended forgiveness. As for offenses against God, worshippers are reminded that God is not interested in fasting alone, only in genuine repentance. The measure of sincerity is altered behavior.

The confession of sin is communal -- and quite exhaustive. For those who might have thought they had a pretty good year, the Al Heyt prayer makes them think again. The offenses listed include, as one might expect, lust, gluttony, envy, cruelty, gossip, and dishonesty. But the liturgy also requires confession of impertinence, foul language, being stiff-necked, and "haughty looks." We ask forgiveness for sins of commission and sins of omission, and for sins committed knowingly and unknowingly. Come to think of it, considering its breadth and comprehensiveness, the Al Heyt could have been drafted by a lawyer. In any case, it stands in stark contrast to the narcissistic spirit of our age.

The concept of communal confession may seem odd to Christians whose traditions tend to stress individual repentance and reconciliation with God. One explanation frequently advanced for this practice is that the entire Jewish community is expected to take responsibility for the sins of all of its members. Peoplehood and nation remain key features of the Jewish faith. But it is also the case, I think, that when reciting that long list of offenses, only the most self-deluded sinner could fail to recognize that he had committed more sins that he cared to acknowledge during the preceding period of self-examination. The ancient catalogue of wrongdoing remains as fresh today as ever -- because however much the outward world has changed, the human soul remains what it has always been.

Even with the best will in the world, we are inclined to backsliding. If we haven't been reminded lately to give generously to those in need, or to visit the sick or bereaved, or to extend ourselves to the handicapped, or to thank a member of the armed services, or in other ways to try to please God, we will fall short.


TOPICS: Editorial
KEYWORDS: faith; monacharen

1 posted on 09/29/2009 6:00:16 AM PDT by Kaslin
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To: Kaslin
“Fierce secularists like Christopher Hitchens deny that religion is necessary for morality.”

This reminds me of something I have desired to see for a long time. When crimes are reported in the news, I would like to see as part of the reporting - to the best that can be ascertained from investigative reporting through family, friends, neighbors, coworkers, etc - if the suspect is known to be a church going Christian or not.

That's all.

Because it seems to me on the few occasions that a known church goer does commit a serious crime - THAT makes the news - but never the other way around.

Then after a time let's have this debate about religion and morality.

2 posted on 09/29/2009 6:09:36 AM PDT by Berlin_Freeper (It's a Girl!)
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To: Kaslin

And to the Jewish FReepers among us...Shana tova to you and yours.

Actually to all...;)


3 posted on 09/29/2009 6:23:25 AM PDT by Tainan (Cogito, ergo conservatus)
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To: Kaslin

I think the ones that need it, already have it.


4 posted on 09/29/2009 6:24:31 AM PDT by stuartcr (If we are truly made in the image of God, why do we have faults?)
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To: stuartcr

“If we are truly made in the image of God, why do we have faults?”

Seriously?


5 posted on 09/29/2009 7:26:16 AM PDT by dsc (Any attempt to move a government to the left is a crime against humanity.)
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To: dsc

Yeah, why do we? We have faults, God doesn’t. Or does being made in His image just mean our bodies look like Him?


6 posted on 09/29/2009 7:29:40 AM PDT by stuartcr (If we are truly made in the image of God, why do we have faults?)
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To: Kaslin
carbon monoxide levels fell from 205 parts per billion, on the day prior to the holiday, to just 2 parts per billion at its height

It probably rained! And if it didn't, as I suspect was the case, I would wonder what the levels do from Thursday to Saturday, especially around Jerusalem.

ML/NJ

7 posted on 09/29/2009 7:31:37 AM PDT by ml/nj
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To: dsc

Because we had free will like God.
Unlike Him we did not use it wisely.

the other part of that statement is we are CREATED in His IMAGE

Only God is uncreated, we are an image of Him. No one mistakes the painting for the subject that was painted.


8 posted on 09/29/2009 7:34:29 AM PDT by Mom MD (Jesus is the Light of the world!)
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To: Berlin_Freeper

Last I heard, the percentage of prisoners who identified as none, atheist or unknown (refused to answer) on the religion question was about 20%.

Of “none” that can include those who don’t identify with a specific religion or Christian denomination, IOW, non-denominational Christian.

Basically, there appears to be no correlation between religious belief and criminal behavior. There is a correlation between adhering to religious beliefs and lower criminal behavior*, but then that’s the same as an atheist who adheres to the moral standards of our society, which in large part consists of following the law.

* Jihadi Muslims excluded, of course.


9 posted on 09/29/2009 7:52:51 AM PDT by antiRepublicrat
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To: antiRepublicrat
I am specifically setting the bar at church attending people. Those who live it and not just give it lip service when the occasion is self serving.

I wonder what the result would be of a poll asking prisoners if they are innocent or guilty of the crime they were convicted of.

Asking prisoners if they are religious is much the same. The desire is to say they are religious because ultimately they are looking to get back out.

10 posted on 09/29/2009 8:32:40 AM PDT by Berlin_Freeper (It's a Girl!)
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To: Mom MD

I think that answer would better have been addressed to the other fellow.


11 posted on 09/29/2009 8:36:01 AM PDT by dsc (Any attempt to move a government to the left is a crime against humanity.)
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To: antiRepublicrat

Does history warrant the conclusion that religion is necessary to morality — that a natural ethic is too weak to withstand the savagery that lurks under civilization and emerges in our dreams, crimes, and wars? ... There is no significant example in history, before our time, of a society successfully maintaining moral life without the aid of religion.

Will and Ariel Durant


12 posted on 09/29/2009 8:39:19 AM PDT by dsc (Any attempt to move a government to the left is a crime against humanity.)
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To: dsc

Sorry. It appeared to me you were asking an honest question, and the other fellow was chiming in and agreeing. I’m sorry if I misinterpreted.


13 posted on 09/29/2009 8:41:35 AM PDT by Mom MD (Jesus is the Light of the world!)
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To: stuartcr

“Yeah, why do we? We have faults, God doesn’t. Or does being made in His image just mean our bodies look like Him?”

We have free will - which means the ability to turn away from God and do bad things. Our relationship with God was damaged through original sin, and, of course, Satan roams the world seeking the ruin of souls.

The world is a machine, a device, through which people can become what God wants us to be. Unless people have the ability to choose Evil, unless bad things can happen to good people for no discernable reason, the machine doesn’t function.


14 posted on 09/29/2009 8:54:17 AM PDT by dsc (Any attempt to move a government to the left is a crime against humanity.)
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To: Mom MD

I guess I was expecting people to hear my tone of voice and read my facial expression.


15 posted on 09/29/2009 8:54:52 AM PDT by dsc (Any attempt to move a government to the left is a crime against humanity.)
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To: dsc

Sorry. I’m a bit tone deaf this AM.
Forgot to turn the Freeper radar on!
Have a good day.


16 posted on 09/29/2009 9:01:29 AM PDT by Mom MD (Jesus is the Light of the world!)
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To: dsc

I guess then, If God cannot choose evil, we must not be made in His image.


17 posted on 09/29/2009 9:22:25 AM PDT by stuartcr (If we are truly made in the image of God, why do we have faults?)
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To: stuartcr
I guess then, If God cannot choose evil, we must not be made in His image.

He doesn't drink coffee either. Strike two.

(Is the /sarc tag really necessary?)

18 posted on 09/29/2009 11:09:56 AM PDT by thulldud (It HAS happened here!)
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To: thulldud

???


19 posted on 09/29/2009 11:20:12 AM PDT by stuartcr (If we are truly made in the image of God, why do we have faults?)
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To: stuartcr

Do you seriously wish to discuss the nature of the “image of God” on FR?


20 posted on 09/29/2009 11:30:56 AM PDT by thulldud (It HAS happened here!)
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To: thulldud

Sure, just about everything else is discussed here. I doubt we’ll come up with anything new though.


21 posted on 09/29/2009 11:34:50 AM PDT by stuartcr (If we are truly made in the image of God, why do we have faults?)
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To: stuartcr

God isn’t the problem. Religion is the problem. The turn-off for most people that don’t attend church regularly is that every denomination thinksit has cornered the “real” truth. Christians believe the Muslims, Budhist, Jews, Hindus etc...all have it wrong and vice-versa.

Often in history, these differences of opinion have led to massive bloodshed.

Religion is a man made idea. Men establish rules and dictate you are going to “hell” if you don’t follow them. that is the big problem.

If you want to go in your back yard, sit under a big tree, look up into the sky and pray/talk top your god...that’s good enough for me. You don’t need to go sit in a huge elaborate structure with expensive stained glass windows in order to be “moral”.

George Carlin had it right when he said:

“Religion has actually convinced people that there’s an invisible man living in the sky who watches everything you do, every minute of every day. And the invisible man has a special list of ten things he does not want you to do. And if you do any of these ten things, he has a special place, full of fire and smoke and burning and torture and anguish, where he will send you to live and suffer and burn and choke and scream and cry forever and ever ‘til the end of time!

But He loves you. He loves you, and He needs money!”

have your own relationship with god if you want. If it brings you peace, that’s great. just don’t go around and claim your particular brand of religion is the only one that’s true and the rest of us are stupid and/or damned.


22 posted on 09/29/2009 11:52:35 AM PDT by strider44
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To: strider44

Well put.


23 posted on 09/29/2009 12:12:15 PM PDT by stuartcr (If we are truly made in the image of God, why do we have faults?)
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To: dsc

Consider it from a different angle. Religion is a tool to enforce societal rules on people. Religious rules are simply societal rules encoded into religion. Notice how the rules of religions tend to follow the mores of the societies in which they were founded.

Thus there is no basic difference between religion and laws for making people behave. The difference comes only in the power of them. Laws can have you executed, religion will damn you for eternity.

So maybe the basic difference is that, essentially, religion is a bigger club for keeping the people in line. Maybe it is possible that the bigger club is needed.


24 posted on 09/29/2009 12:15:08 PM PDT by antiRepublicrat
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To: antiRepublicrat

“Religion is a tool to enforce societal rules on people.”

Buncombe. Religion is our response to what God has told us of Himself.

“Religious rules are simply societal rules encoded into religion.”

You have it backwards. “What is right is not derived from the rule, but the rule arises from our knowledge of what is right.” Julius Paulus

“Notice how the rules of religions tend to follow the mores of the societies in which they were founded.”

It would be much more productive to notice how there are similarities among most of the world’s religions. After, of course, one controls for human error.

“Thus there is no basic difference between religion and laws for making people behave.”

That might be true, were your premises not false.

“The difference comes only in the power of them. Laws can have you executed, religion will damn you for eternity.”

You have started by assuming that which must be demonstrated: the nonexistence of God. As God exists, religion is not a club, but rather a set of guidelines that the wise follow as best they can, to their advantage.

And religion doesn’t damn you: You damn yourself by acting like a petulant teenager, and cutting off your nose to spite your face. God-haters are like children who insist on sticking a fork into the electrical socket, because they can’t see that their parents’ instructions are only meant to protect them.

“So maybe the basic difference is that, essentially, religion is a bigger club for keeping the people in line.”

It is no sort of club, unless distored and misused by fallible men. Fundamentally, it is the road to freedom.

“Maybe it is possible that the bigger club is needed.”

No club will avail. As John Adams said, “Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

Only a moral and religious people will act right without being clubbed, which means that only a moral and religious people can live in freedom.

Scumbags have to be clubbed - by the government, not the Church.


25 posted on 09/29/2009 1:23:25 PM PDT by dsc (Any attempt to move a government to the left is a crime against humanity.)
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To: dsc
You have started by assuming that which must be demonstrated: the nonexistence of God. As God exists

And you start by assuming the existence of God. As I said, consider it from a different angle.

And religion doesn’t damn you

Original sin?

God-haters are like children

I have to go with you that far. That's why I don't like anti-theists like Dawkins, kids who feel the need to tear down everyone else who does not believe the same. Of course, the religious have their versions too

Fundamentally, it is the road to freedom.

If religion first takes your freedom away, telling you the deity is watching your actions and damning you to Hell if you don't believe, then religion will of course be the one to give that freedom back. To use your road analogy, I shouldn't get credit for putting you on the road if I'm the one who knocked you off it in the first place.

Only a moral and religious people will act right without being clubbed

I'm missing one of those, and I've never even been arrested. I'm squeaky clean with the exception of one speeding ticket in the 80s that wasn't my fault.

26 posted on 09/29/2009 1:35:23 PM PDT by antiRepublicrat
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To: antiRepublicrat

“And you start by assuming the existence of God.”

Oh, my, no. I assume nothing. The existence of God has been empirically demonstrated to me. I have no more room to deny the existence of God than I have to deny the existence of the sun, or to assert that the Earth is flat, or to reject the cogito.

“As I said, consider it from a different angle.”

Not when that angle is error, thank you.

“feel the need to tear down everyone else who does not believe the same. Of course, the religious have their versions too”

One must, however, draw a distinction between those who have a need to “tear down” others, and those who merely assert the truth of their own religion.

“If religion first takes your freedom away, telling you the deity is watching your actions and damning you to Hell if you don’t believe”

Christianity doesn’t do that, nor, I think, does Judaism. The only religion I can think of that acts as you describe is the fictional religion invented by the God-haters.

As a matter of fact, your description is radically removed from Christian theology. Not even close. Not in the same ball park, nor even in the same galaxy.

“To use your road analogy, I shouldn’t get credit for putting you on the road if I’m the one who knocked you off it in the first place.”

I had a road analogy? Oh, well, whatever, religion doesn’t knock us off the road. Our corrupt spirituality and Satan’s influence are up to that task. That said, God is not looking for “credit.”

“I’m missing one of those, and I’ve never even been arrested. I’m squeaky clean with the exception of one speeding ticket in the 80s that wasn’t my fault.”

Well, let’s see how we all do when the leftards show up at our doors with piano-wire nooses. Such extremes aside, not having been arrested does not constitute proof of a moral life.

All of us offend God. Religion helps us to know what offends Him, and provides guidance wrt repenting, doing penance, and amending our lives. The more times we promise to flee the near occasion of sin (peccandique occasiones proximas fugiturum) the more likely we are actually to strive to do it.


27 posted on 09/29/2009 5:06:07 PM PDT by dsc (Any attempt to move a government to the left is a crime against humanity.)
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To: strider44

“turn-off for most people that don’t attend church regularly is that every denomination thinksit has cornered the “real” truth.”

So, if one religion is wrong, they all are? The fact that all assert the truth of their own beliefs means that none of them is right? Even in those things where they agree?

Where’s the logic in that?

By the way, the Church has plenty of room to acknowledge where other religions have something right, as well as to contradict them where they are wrong.

“Often in history, these differences of opinion have led to massive bloodshed.”

It’s hardly that simple. Rarely, if ever, have religious differences been the sole casus belli.

“You don’t need to go sit in a huge elaborate structure”

Whether there is a need or not, it is far better to have such Churches and to worship in them, for a number of good and sufficient reasons.

“George Carlin had it right when he said”

George Carlin had nothing right about the Church.

He turned his back on the church when he was in the throes of adolescent rebellion, and that’s as far as his comprehension ever went.

Everything in that quotation is wrong. It bears no resemblance to Catholic theology.

None.

“just don’t go around and claim your particular brand of religion is the only one that’s true and the rest of us are stupid and/or damned”

(1) The Church doesn’t claim that those outside her are “stupid” or “damned.”

(2) Where religions contradict each other, they cannot all be right. However, one or some of them can.

(3) Some religions have more stuff right that others. Just a fact, and no amount of relativism can make it go away.

(4) Taking measures to stop people from asserting the truth of their own religion would be a violation of their Constitutional rights.


28 posted on 09/29/2009 5:24:54 PM PDT by dsc (Any attempt to move a government to the left is a crime against humanity.)
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To: antiRepublicrat
Let's also not forget that the racial group that comprises the largest share of the inmate population is also the most devoutly churchgoing. Politically incorrect, but true.

So, who would you rather be surrounded by?: Secular Japanese and Swedes, or thugged out Christian American hood rats?

29 posted on 09/29/2009 5:28:36 PM PDT by Clemenza (Remember our Korean War Veterans)
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To: Kaslin
People need the Lord.
30 posted on 09/29/2009 5:33:33 PM PDT by HokieMom (Pacepa : Can the U.S. afford a president who can't recognize anti-Americanism?)
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To: dsc
The existence of God has been empirically demonstrated to me.

That's fine -- for you. But you still assume God exists as your starting point, where for purposes of my post I assumed man invented religion. You preferring your version doesn't invalidate the other.

One must, however, draw a distinction between those who have a need to “tear down” others, and those who merely assert the truth of their own religion.

The religious like to call atheism a religion; therefore, one can say from your perspective that Dawkins and his ilk are merely asserting the truth of their own religion.

our description is radically removed from Christian theology

So if I don't believe I'm not going to Hell?

Well, let’s see how we all do when the leftards show up at our doors with piano-wire nooses.

Piano wire vs. a .44 -- I'm betting on the latter. :)

not having been arrested does not constitute proof of a moral life

Conversely, being arrested does not constitute proof of an immoral life. Arrested essentially equaling running afoul of the rules, violating biblical rules doesn't constitute proof of immorality either. I would also consider following some of the rules and examples of the Bible to be quite immoral.

Religion helps us to know what offends Him

Back to my original point, religion helps us to know what offends the society that wrote down the rules for that religion. But that can be difficult to nail down, as you even have four conflicting versions of the Ten Commandments with different interpretations for some of them.

31 posted on 09/29/2009 8:43:58 PM PDT by antiRepublicrat
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To: dsc; NFHale; hiredhand; Squantos
what you said...

The Lords existence, and His Power is folly to those who have never truly [honestly] asked...

man doesnt have to 'find God'...He is not the one lost...

the Truth is in the honest seeking, and real life miracles happen everyday when people choose to do so...

the worlds religions can be debated, and I have my proven Faith, but the denial of His Truth for myself was a very empty and pointless existence...

32 posted on 09/29/2009 9:18:17 PM PDT by Gilbo_3 (Gov is not reason; not eloquent; its force... Like fire, a dangerous servant & master. GW)
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To: ml/nj

“...carbon monoxide levels fell...”

Wait, wait! I thought carbon DIOXIDE was the problem!!! Isn’t that what they were telling us last week (month, year, decade???)

Oh. Right. I’m conservative, so automatically I suffer from TFS (Too F*cking STOOOOOPID) Syndrome; prevents one from getting the “sublte nuances” of lib-speak.

That must be it.


33 posted on 09/30/2009 8:43:18 AM PDT by NFHale (The Second Amendment - By any means necessary.)
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To: antiRepublicrat
...you even have four conflicting versions of the Ten Commandments with different interpretations for some of them.

Never heard of that. Could you be more specific?

34 posted on 09/30/2009 11:07:00 AM PDT by thulldud (It HAS happened here!)
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To: thulldud
Never heard of that. Could you be more specific?

You have four: Jewish, Anglican/Protestant, Catholic/Lutheran and Orthodox. To do this right I'll have to split it into 12 commandments, let's hope I get it straight:

  1. I'm the Lord
  2. No other gods before me
  3. No making idols
  4. No taking in vain
  5. Sabbath
  6. Honor parents
  7. Murder
  8. Adultry
  9. Stealing
  10. False witness
  11. Coveting neighbor's wife
  12. Coveting neighbor's other property
The first three are mixed up and combined in various ways by the four versions. The last two are combined by the Catholics. Catholics say "kill" instead of "murder." Some Jewish tradition says 9 is about kidnapping, not theft of property.
35 posted on 09/30/2009 2:17:46 PM PDT by antiRepublicrat
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To: antiRepublicrat
...let's hope I get it straight:

Your first one is not a commandment, just a statement, or preamble to your second one. Kinda like the Second Amendment.

Your last two are really part of the same one also, and they are really about the same thing.

You really didn't detail the differences between these different traditions anyway, which you ought to do if you propose to claim that they are mutually antagonistic.

36 posted on 09/30/2009 2:39:53 PM PDT by thulldud (It HAS happened here!)
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To: thulldud
Your first one is not a commandment, just a statement, or preamble to your second one.

That's the Protestant position. To Jews it is the first commandment.

Your last two are really part of the same one also, and they are really about the same thing.

That's the Catholic position. The others consider them to be separate commandments.

You really didn't detail the differences between these different traditions anyway, which you ought to do if you propose to claim that they are mutually antagonistic.

I didn't claim they were antagonistic, just different. There's a difference between killing and murder, there's a difference between stealing property and kidnapping (stealing a person). The two great Book religions, Judaism and the three major Christian sects, can't even agree on what their basic commandments are. This is a problem when you have people defining the laws.

BTW, I don't consider Islam to be a great religion, so mentioning only two was on purpose.

37 posted on 09/30/2009 3:42:11 PM PDT by antiRepublicrat
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To: antiRepublicrat

“That’s fine — for you.”

And…drum roll…the five-hundredth iteration of a little game I play. I remark to a “skeptic” that the existence of God is empirically demonstrated, and he ignores it.

If someone said something like that to me, I’d be all over it like a duck on a june bug. But “skeptics” never—never, never, ever—address it, never inquire. It’s the elephant in the living room, but the God-haters never confront it.

“But you still assume God exists”

No, when something is empirically demonstrated it is known, not assumed.

“…for purposes of my post I assumed man invented religion.”

Assumed incorrectly, as it happens, on the basis of no empirical evidence whatsoever. Further, you assume that which must be demonstrated before you can move forward with conclusions that require it.

“You preferring your version doesn’t invalidate the other.”

No, empirical proof does.

“The religious like to call atheism a religion; therefore, one can say from your perspective...”

My, aren’t you just the king of assumptions and tarring with a broad brush? You have no idea whether or not I call atheism a religion, and, therefore, no idea what my perspective is.

“Dawkins and his ilk are merely asserting the truth of their own religion.”

So? Do you presume I’d like to lynch them?

“So if I don’t believe I’m not going to Hell?”

Not necessarily, no.

If you can get over adolescent rebellion and study grown-up theology from an adult viewpoint, at least you won’t be shooting nothing but blanks in discussions like this.

“Piano wire vs. a .44 — I’m betting on the latter.”

The piano wire is just for torture, and if we get to the point that the Nazi leftards are showing up at our doors with piano wire, your .44 will be long gone.

“I would also consider following some of the rules and examples of the Bible to be quite immoral.”

That statement is either nutty or ignorant. Tell me which.

“Back to my original point, religion helps us to know what offends the society that wrote down the rules for that religion.”

Just as wrong now as it has been every time you have asserted it. And it always will be wrong. It’s never going to be right, no matter how many times you repeat it.

Your statement is only reasonable if one assumes the non-existence of God—an error.

“But that can be difficult to nail down, as you even have four conflicting versions of the Ten Commandments with different interpretations for some of them.”

Utterly irrelevant. We begin with the sure knowledge that men often get things wrong. That doesn’t mean they never get them right, even partially, nor does the fact that they often get things wrong in any way demonstrate the non-existence of Truth, or of God.

Fortunately, God’s mercy is infinite and he will forgive us for messing up, if we are truly repentant and resolved to try and do better. However, until a person wraps his brain around this, he remains a child:

The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit;
A broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.

— Psalm 51:17 NRSV


38 posted on 09/30/2009 3:54:07 PM PDT by dsc (Any attempt to move a government to the left is a crime against humanity.)
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To: dsc
I remark to a “skeptic” that the existence of God is empirically demonstrated, and he ignores it.

You say it was empirically demonstrated, but I have yet to see any such thing. Yes, I have read the apologetics, I have heard all of the supposed evidence and proof. Some people see fluffy bunnies in clouds, others see God in everything. Doesn't make either objectively correct.

but the God-haters never confront it.

I can't speak for them.

You have no idea whether or not I call atheism a religion, and, therefore, no idea what my perspective is.

That seems to be the meme here among the more religious. Apologies if you are not among them. Do you call atheism a religion?

Do you presume I’d like to lynch them?

We are lucky that Christianity has grown out of that stage.

If you can get over adolescent rebellion and study grown-up theology from an adult viewpoint,

No adolescent rebellion. Simple lack of belief stemming from lack of convincing argument and evidence. I was religious once, but I didn't leave in some angry rebellion. Gradually, over time, and with much study, I grew out of it.

your .44 will be long gone.

I think we're both on the same side concerning the chances of that happening, cold dead hands and all.

39 posted on 09/30/2009 5:41:46 PM PDT by antiRepublicrat
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To: antiRepublicrat

“Some there are who presume so far on their wits that they think themselves capable of measuring the whole nature of things by their intellect, in that they esteem all things true which they see, and false which they see not. Accordingly, in order that man’s mind might be freed from this presumption, and seek the truth humbly, it was necessary that certain things far surpassing his intellect should be proposed to man by God.”
Thomas Aquinas

“You say it was empirically demonstrated, but I have yet to see any such thing.”

What do you leave unsaid there? Is it that if any such thing existed you yourself would certainly have seen it? God couldn’t possibly choose to reveal himself to some people and not to you?

Ever seen “Song of Bernadette?”

As for bunnies and seeing God everywhere, doesn’t it stand to reason that a God who can create a universe could make Himself known to sane men unmistakably, when He so chooses? I rather imagine you will reply, “Maybe, but since there’s not a God, the question is moot.”

Well, there is a God, and he does make himself to sane men unmistakably, far more often than most people imagine in this blinkered and blindered age of faux skepticism.

“Yes, I have read the apologetics”

Sure you have.

“I have heard all of the supposed evidence and proof.”

Sure you have.

“Do you call atheism a religion?”

To annoy the God-haters, not because it is one in kind with positive religions.

“We are lucky that Christianity has grown out of that stage.”

Good grief, do you know *any* accurate history?

“No adolescent rebellion.”

Oh, yes. Just exactly that and nothing more noble, or even reputable.

“Simple lack of belief stemming from lack of convincing argument and evidence.”

The only way to avoid the huge mass of convincing argument and evidence is to deny without justification, to close your eyes and ears…and I speak from experience.

“I was religious once, but I didn’t leave in some angry rebellion. Gradually, over time, and with much study, I grew out of it.”

No, you wandered away from the truth, and if you think Satan had nothing to do with that, well, Satan’s greatest trick was convincing people that he doesn’t exist.

“I think we’re both on the same side concerning the chances of that happening, cold dead hands and all.”

Over the last twenty years I have watched my countrymen knuckle their foreheads and cower before the left, to the point that I have become cynical. I really wonder if there is any man left among us who has the stones to fire the first shot, or if there is, if anyone else will jump in.


40 posted on 09/30/2009 11:46:44 PM PDT by dsc (Any attempt to move a government to the left is a crime against humanity.)
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To: dsc
God couldn’t possibly choose to reveal himself to some people and not to you?

No, I'm saying that just because you experienced doesn't make it objectively fact, especially on a subject that relies purely on your subjective view.

“Maybe, but since there’s not a God, the question is moot.”

No, that wouldn't be my reply. This doesn't mean that I'm right, it just means that you aren't speaking from a position of absolute authority either. Your perceptions don't create reality for the rest of us.

Sure you have.

Yes, I have. I still have the books. To others, Christianity was something that grew the more they studied it. To me the more I studied, the more it failed.

Just exactly that and nothing more noble, or even reputable.

I've noticed that it is almost always the "good Christian" who gets nasty and personal first around here. It's a good insight into the kind of people Christianity can produce, and another reason why I am no longer a Christian. You look down upon those who don't believe as you do (neither "noble" nor "reputable"), not even caring about the quality of the person.

You are Dawkins, just on the other side of the debate.

41 posted on 10/01/2009 9:46:50 AM PDT by antiRepublicrat
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To: antiRepublicrat

“No, I’m saying that just because you experienced doesn’t make it objectively fact”

Are you listening to yourself? Yes, that I experienced it most certainly does make it objectively fact. You may refuse to believe it, but that in no way affects the underlying reality.

“especially on a subject that relies purely on your subjective view.”

Can’t you hear yourself? A phenomenon experienced is not subjective, it is objective.

“This doesn’t mean that I’m right, it just means that you aren’t speaking from a position of absolute authority either. Your perceptions don’t create reality for the rest of us.”

*— You can’t tell me what to do! You’re not the boss of me! I’ll do what I want to do! —*

There speaks the authentic voice of adolescent rebellion.

I don’t claim to be speaking from a position of authority. I claim to be speaking the truth.

People are free to disbelieve, of course. It might even be reasonable to disbelieve me; however, it is utterly foolish to disbelieve all the people who have reported the same experience down the millennia. On other subjects, two or three eyewitness accounts make a proposition credible; on this one, tens of thousands, perhaps even millions, are dismissed out of hand.

“Yes, I have. I still have the books.”

Thousands and thousands of them, no doubt. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

“To others, Christianity was something that grew the more they studied it. To me the more I studied, the more it failed.”

The more you indulged in misguided study, the further into error you fell. “The devil is a better theologian than any of us, and is a devil still” A. W. Tozer

“I’ve noticed that it is almost always the “good Christian” who gets nasty and personal first around here.”

That you falsely call my remarks “nasty and personal” is so absurd that one struggles for a meaningful response. My remarks were not “nasty and personal,” and I’d put that before any jury of my peers. Do you really think that stooping to such tactics can lead to anything good?

“It’s a good insight into the kind of people Christianity can produce, and another reason why I am no longer a Christian.”

Perhaps if you were still a Christian, you wouldn’t be making groundless accusations.

Oh, well, it is as Thomas Sowell wrote: “It is amazing how many people think that they can answer an argument by attributing bad motives to those who disagree with them. Using this kind of reasoning, you can believe or not believe anything about anything, without having to bother to deal with facts or logic.”

“You look down upon those who don’t believe as you do (neither “noble” nor “reputable”), not even caring about the quality of the person.”

Oh, come on, you couldn’t possibly believe that. It is quite clear that “noble” and “reputable” refer to a specific behavior, and not to a person or his character. It’s just not credible that anyone could miss that.

It has nothing to do with my looking down on people for disagreeing with me, although you God-haters are ever eager to lodge that nonsensical charge against those who know or believe that God exists. It is simply a description of behavior.

On the other hand, your comment regarding Dawkins below shows us just who is really looking down upon whom.

“You are Dawkins, just on the other side of the debate.”

How interesting. Still, an explication of what you imply but leave unsaid requires more subtlety than the substance of the comment warrants.

You, whether you deny it here or not, must be a great admirer of Richard Dawkins. A comparison to him is no insult in your book, but you (incorrectly) assumed that I would take it as an insult. What are the implications of that?

That you look down on me, and probably all believers, which is demonstrated by your apparent belief that you are bright enough to lay intellectual traps that will fool me. (And you must believe that, or why would you have tried?) You thought that I would be insulted and angered by a comparison to Dawkins, because you think that people of faith really are like the ludicrous caricature you described in your note. (Hardly flattering, that.)

You expected that I would be angered by a comparison to someone who disagrees with me, because you assumed that I “look down on” people merely for disagreeing. (Less flattering still.) You hoped that I would be baited into unseemly behavior, which you could use as Sowell described to create the false impression that you had made strong points.

Actually, Dawkins is bright, and very good at what he does. You thought I would be insulted by comparison to a bright, articulate, moderately famous, and rich author, just because he is wrong on this subject. Now that’s what I call looking down on someone.

Yes, it is true that he is wrong—obstreperously, obdurately wrong—but that just means that the splash when he ultimately bows his head and admits that God exists will be all the bigger.

From here, the only thing that will be seen is you becoming increasingly angry and insulting, and I don’t see any reason that I should pay attention to that. If you’re ever disposed to conduct an intellectually honest debate, I’ll probably be here.


42 posted on 10/02/2009 5:36:39 PM PDT by dsc (Any attempt to move a government to the left is a crime against humanity.)
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To: dsc
Yes, that I experienced it most certainly does make it objectively fact.

And a Scientologist thinks Xeno is objectively fact. Doesn't make it real either. The Thetans he's dealing with are objectively fact. They have experienced the Truth too. At least according to you.

The more you indulged in misguided study, the further into error you fell.

The misguided study started with the Bible then. And it included apologetics suggested by Christians I knew who thought they would bring me back into the fold. They were wrong.

That you falsely call my remarks “nasty and personal” is so absurd

Perfectly grounded. You basically called me ignoble, unreputable and adolescent. Yes, you started with the personal insults. You even added foolish in this post. Yes, it reflects poorly on you and on all Christians. Yes, this nasty attitude is one thing that keeps me away. I simply don't want to be associated with such hateful people.

although you God-haters

There you go again with the lies. Well, you seem fond of quotes, so I'll leave you with this one:

"I like Jesus. It's his fan club I can't stand."

43 posted on 10/02/2009 10:02:39 PM PDT by antiRepublicrat
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To: antiRepublicrat

Okay, one more time, just out of a sense of duty. This is absolutely the last time I’m going to try to reason with you, so try to understand this time.

You are not rebutting my statements; you are addressing misunderstandings and distortions of what I have said.

“And a Scientologist thinks Xeno is objectively fact. Doesn’t make it real either. The Thetans he’s dealing with are objectively fact. They have experienced the Truth too.”

Back in note 38 I talked about the elephant in the living room that “skeptics” never, ever face, referring to my earlier statement that the existence of God has been empirically demonstrated to me. Now, days later, you still can’t even acknowledge the substance of the assertion, instead pretending that I am merely saying that I have a belief so strong that it assumes the character of knowledge.

That’s not what I am saying. You’ve had days to ask, but even after I repeated it and virtually rubbed your face in it, you’re still too scared even to let yourself understand the substance of my assertion.

Out of fear—not of me, but of what your intellect might discover if you took it off the leash—you equate what I am saying to a scientologist’s artificial belief in something he has never directly experienced. Scientologists have not “experienced the Truth,” because they have never physically been in the presence of a Thetan. They may believe, but they have not experienced.

“The misguided study started with the Bible then.”

It’s a poor workman who blames his tools. The problem is not with the Bible.

“and it included apologetics suggested by Christians I knew who thought they would bring me back into the fold. They were wrong.”

Of course. Anyone can “study,” but only those with open minds can learn. Scholarship is not easy, and theological scholarship is most difficult of all.

“You basically called me ignoble, unreputable and adolescent.”

Let’s be charitable and assume that you were actually…odd…enough to believe that on your first reading, unlikely as that prospect is.

Your error was subsequently explained to you, quite clearly. You have no excuse for thinking or saying that I “basically called” you those things. You are now aware that I referred to a behavior, a philosophical and theological position, and not to any person. And yet you continue to repeat the accusation, thereby transforming it from human error to groundless lie.

“Yes, this nasty attitude is one thing that keeps me away. I simply don’t want to be associated with such hateful people.”

Arrant nonsense. The only thing you find objectionable about my attitude is that I stand my ground and call fouls as they occur. It is because you can’t admit that—even to yourself—that you try to “win” the discussion by attributing bad motives to me, by inventing chimerical “insults” and trying on that basis to claim the moral high ground.

Yes, I am fond of quotations, particularly those of men more intelligent, wise, charitable, and/or holy than I. I think I’ll just throw in that Thomas Sowell quotation again, as it is so apt.

“It is amazing how many people think that they can answer an argument by attributing bad motives to those who disagree with them. Using this kind of reasoning, you can believe or not believe anything about anything, without having to bother to deal with facts or logic.”

“I like Jesus. It’s his fan club I can’t stand.”

That particular theological error is so easily demonstrated that it’s actually a little embarrassing that you put it out there with a straight face.


44 posted on 10/03/2009 3:29:38 PM PDT by dsc (Any attempt to move a government to the left is a crime against humanity.)
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To: dsc
you equate what I am saying to a scientologist’s artificial belief in something he has never directly experienced. Scientologists have not “experienced the Truth,” because they have never physically been in the presence of a Thetan. They may believe, but they have not experienced.

And you know this how? You have quite a bit of hubris. You think only you and those of your religion can "experience" and have "objectively proved" the existence of the religious deities/beings/whatever. Your experience is subjective. The experience of a Hindu or Muslim is subjective. And you have absolutely no more logical authority to claim truth than any of those religions.

The problem is not with the Bible.

Actually, it is. Full of barbarism, contradictions and condoned immorality. That's why I looked to the apologetics, to see if maybe I was just getting it wrong. Turns out the apologetics have to use logic that is quite tortured to get around all of that. The use of tortured logic is a good sign you're supporting the unsupportable.

Of course. Anyone can “study,” but only those with open minds can learn.

I started reading because I had an open mind. Apparently I had a good enough one to be able to spot the BS.

And yet you continue to repeat the accusation, thereby transforming it from human error to groundless lie.

Don't try to downplay it.

"There speaks the authentic voice of adolescent rebellion." I'm adolescent.

"it is utterly foolish to disbelieve all the people who have reported the same experience" I'm foolish.

"Sure you have." A claim that I am lying.

"[me: no adolescent rebellion] Oh, yes. Just exactly that and nothing more noble, or even reputable." I'm ignoble and unreputable.

Your words, not mine. As I said, it is usually the Christian who gets nasty and personal first around here. You followed the trend quite well.

Sad, though. I actually have no problem with Christianity and most Christians. I identify less with the likes of Dawkins than I do with most Christians. I'm not your enemy, yet you try to turn me into one with insults and condescension. Nice job.

45 posted on 10/03/2009 8:00:22 PM PDT by antiRepublicrat
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