Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Who Said This? #1

"Secular schools can never be tolerated because such schools have no religious instruction, and a general moral instruction without a religious foundation is built on air; consequently, all character training and religion must be derived from faith . . . we need believing people." - who said this?

Monday, July 25, 2005

Questions for Christians, Part Deux

Several members of my family claim to have a "personal relationship" with Jesus. Some claim that Jesus is their "buddy" that they talk to all day long. Although I claimed for the majority of my life to be a Christian and to know Jesus, I never made the claim that I had a "personal" relationship with him because to me, a personal relationship must be at least partly physical. But that's just me.

If you make the claim that you have a personal relationship with Jesus, I have some forthright questions for you:

Do you actually talk to Jesus? And by "talk" I mean actually form words with your mouth as you exhale and cause vibrations in the air that others could hear? Do you physically see him? Physically touch him? Since it is a relationship, I assume Jesus at least talks back. Is it a physical sound that you hear (that others would hear if they were there)? Does he physically appear and touch you? Okay, if it is not a physical conversation, what is it then? Do you have the conversation in your mind? Do you mentally ask actual question in your mind and hear the answers directly, either physically or mentally? Do you "carry on a conversation" in your head, where your words and Jesus’ words are distinctly different? Or is it more of a "feeling in your heart" where you pray or talk, then have inspired thoughts as a result? Or do you (as I have done in the past) ask a question, open the bible, drop your finger and assume it has been guided?

I never did, but many children have imaginary friends. I believe most child psychologists have said that they are a normal part of development. Yet, as parents, we recognize that they are only in the child’s imagination. We are told, however, not to squash the child’s belief, as it can be very real to them, and maybe even be harmful if we don’t let them run their "normal course" where the child eventually says goodbye and lets their imaginary friend go.

Is there a difference between a child with an imaginary friend and a Christian that claims Jesus is their buddy? Obviously, any Christian would say there’s a huge difference. In that case, it should be easy to explain, and I would appreciate your explanation of what that difference is.

BTW - Please don't answer with something to the effect that "since you're not a Christian, you could not understand" or somesuch. If you are inclined to say that, just admit to yourself that you don't understand it either. I'm looking for someone that is comfortable with their beliefs and is willing to explain them in secular terms. Who knows, maybe you can save someone!

Thursday, July 14, 2005

A Reflection of God

Anonymous wrote in response to my post "God is Good, All the Time": "If the Bible is not a reflection of God, what is? How are we to learn about who He is? You see, I have just as many questions for Christians as you do and am interested to know where you stand with God. Thanks for respecting my anonymity!"

I wish I had answers for you, but I know far more about what God isn’t than what He is. But this is a very short version of how I feel now. Remember, your opinion is every bit as valid and important as anyone’s, including mine.

You want a reflection of God? Look in a mirror!

One of the strongest spiritual experiences of my life was looking into my daughter’s eyes and getting the overwhelming feeling that I was staring into the eyes of God. I’m not alone in this feeling. Listen to Eric Clapton’s "My Father’s Eyes", a song he wrote after his son drowned at age 4. God doesn’t reside in some distant holy place, unable to co-exist with sinners. He is inside every one of us.

Read the "Conversations with God" series by Neale Walsh. I do not totally agree with the books, but the concept of God presented there is the most logical I have found. It offers by far the most reasonable explanation of why there is evil in the world, and why so many people have strong feelings about prior lives.

You want to learn about who He is? Look around you. Study science. Learn about the universe. My dad always said that the more we know about our world, the closer we are to God. God and science can not conflict. Ironically, the more scientists learn about the building blocks of matter, the more spiritual science becomes.

Faith is an attempt to spiritually grasp what we do not understand about our physical world. That means that religion must change and adapt to survive, as we are learning more about our physical world all the time. This is a message from Bishop Spong, and may explain why Christianity as a percentage of the world population is dropping about 1 percent per year.

The bible attempts to explain what man didn’t understand at the time it was written. In the bible, the earth is held up by pillars, the sky is a big dome with water behind it, and stars are so small that they can fall to earth. Man didn’t know about fossils, dinosaurs, or carbon-dating, so a 6 day creation 6,000 years ago did not conflict with what was known at the time. Since God created the universe, you would think that the bible would reflect some of his creation knowledge. It does not. It's not His Word. The mental gymnastics that a conservative Christian will go through to mesh the bible with today’s science can be quite entertaining.

As much as fundamentalists try to discredit evolution, it is evolving, if you will, into a perfect explanation for how the world and us came to be. Does that rule out God? Absolutely not! Evolution explains how we evolved, not how life got started. Other than the contradictory and nonsensical book of Genesis, there is no reason not to believe evolution is a tool that God created and used to make you and me. And unlike many Christians that think they are crap only worthy of God’s love because God murdered his own son to blind himself, I think God did a fine job with us. Just the way we are. When I think about all the people I love in the world, it is not in spite of their faults, it is because of them. I have no desire to spend eternity with former human beings that have been stripped of everything that made them human. God wasn’t stupid. God didn’t screw up. God made each one of us exactly the way He wanted to.

I love God, I love myself, and I love you, Anonymous, just the way you are.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

God is Good, All the Time

"And Jephthah vowed a vow unto the Lord, and said, If thou shalt without fail deliver the children of Ammon into mine hands, then it shall be, that whatsoever cometh forth of the doors of my house to meet me, when I return in peace from the children of Ammon, shall surely be the Lord's, and I will offer it up for a burnt offering. . . . And Jephthah came to Mizpeh unto his house, and behold, his daughter came out to meet him with timbrels and with dances: and she was his only child; . . . And it came to pass at the end of two months, that she returned unto her father, who did with her according to his vow which he had vowed." (Judges 11:30-39)

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Questions for Christians

How is it "unconditional love" when God has a special place of eternal torture for those that do not accept that Jesus is their saviour? Isn’t that the very definition of "conditional love"?

How can God have made the supreme sacrifice of giving up his only begotten son, when Jesus and God are one and the same? Besides, even if Jesus and God are separate, Jesus was raised from the dead to sit beside God. Where’s the huge sacrifice?

How can Eve be blamed for her "original sin" when at the time Eve made the decision to eat the apple she didn’t even know the difference between right and wrong?

Why did God lie to Eve and tell her if she ate the apple she would die that day?

Why do Christians assume the snake was the devil? There is no biblical reference to the devil in Genesis. And if it was the Devil, why doesn’t the Bible simply say so?

What is Jesus saving us from? Hell? But the illogical and immoral concept of hell is created in the Bible. The Bible saves us from something of it’s own making! Is his gift eternal life? Same logic. Where, other than the Bible, does it say we don’t live forever anyway?

Can children be born in heaven? If so, they would not have the "free choice" to choose Jesus, which according to Christians, is the entire reason for our miserable existence on earth. Also, with no death but new life, overpopulation would take on a whole new meaning. We’re talking infinity here. If no children are born, one of life’s greatest pleasures would be denied us. "But we wouldn’t care", right? If I don’t care about having children, it would not be me in heaven. Who would I be?

Is there free will in heaven? If so, people would be able to choose between good and evil. What if they choose evil? Will they be sent to Hell? But evil can’t exist in Heaven. So free choice would be between good and better?

If I make it to heaven, and all the bad parts of me are gone, what’s left? Who would I be? My personality, my humanness if you will, is due in large part to my vices as well as my virtues. What if the new me didn’t like it there?

If the Bible is the Word of God, and not written by man, why did man write it? Why didn’t it just appear out of nowhere (ala the Ten Commandments)?

How can God condemn those that make bad decisions when God knew they would make those bad decisions before He even created them?

What purpose is Hell, other than arguably the most evil and cruel place ever devised?

Punishment is normally done to teach, but in Hell’s case it has no end. If punishment in Hell has no purpose, isn’t it incredibly sick and twisted? Does that define God?

Would people in Heaven know about the people in Hell? Would they be enjoying the fact that they are here and they are there? Isn’t that sick?

Why did god use a flood to destroy mankind instead of simply removing the evil instead?

The Bible is clear about the unrighteous going to Hell. God created us. How can perfection create unrighteousness?

How can God’s own creation be unworthy of his love?