Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Thought for the Day

Do you have more than one child? If so, do you have a favorite? Have you chosen one child over the others for special treatment?

Are you thinking, “Of course not, Dave, that is ridiculous. I love every one of my children equally! How could you even suggest such a thing?”?

Every parent loves every child just as much as the others. Differently, yes, but not more or less. I can’t even begin to think of what I would do if I were forced to make a “Sophie’s Choice”. I literally get a lump in my throat to even think about it.

Yet Christians believe that God does have special children. Chosen children. They believe that even though God knows every decision that every child will ever make before He even creates them, this God will judge them at the end of their lives, sending some to live in bliss with his son forever, the rest to suffer for eternity in hell.

Absurd.

22 comments:

Rodney Roe said...

Hi, Rowan sent me here. I scanned through a few of your blogs and know that I will be back! I went through the journey you are taking now a number of years ago. it is difficult, but necessary for thinking people.

Dave said...

Thank you Rodney. I have ben lurking on your blog, and have enjoyed it very much. I agree with most if not all of what you have to say. It is very comforting to find good folks with similar viewpoints, and I look forward to further exchanges. Warm regards to you and yours!

Rodney Roe said...

Thanks for lurking on my blog. Any time you feel like expressing another view, feel free. I welcome dialog. Writing is a way of organizing my thoughts and I often wonder if what I have written is intelligible to anyone else.
Rodney

Rowan said...

Checking in here. Been a while since I've had the opportunity.

I, too, find this absurd...generally to the point of completely dismissing it. Just another bewildering mythological tome in my opinion.

Anonymous said...

What's absurd?

Dave said...

Anonymous, thanks for your replies, but, um, you need to be a little more specific. Do you have a particular point you would like to make?

Anonymous said...

I'll have a point to make after someone explains what's "absurd" in all of this (as stated twice in this post).

Dave said...

It’s absurd that god has chosen children (as stated twice in this post).

You know, Anonymous, I really appreciate you taking the time to stop by and post, but I am a bit reluctant to enter into a discussion here for a couple reasons.

First, this is not a debate forum. As stated in my header, it’s simply a dumping ground for my religious and political frustration. My de-conversion process is continuing, but I am past the stage where I feel the need to convince anyone of anything.

Second, by your asking what’s absurd after reading a post that, to me anyway, clearly defines what I find to be absurd, indicates your purpose in posting may not be to enter into an open and honest conversation. If I am wrong, please excuse my misunderstanding and proceed.

Anonymous said...

If you'd rather not enter into discussion, then perhaps turn off the comment feature on these posts...?

See, what I'm struggling with is what's wrong with God having 'chosen people'? When people choose God, God in turn calls them His children. It's a two-way street. The whole "many are called, few are chosen" kind of thing. Billions of people are called during their lives, but only a few will be chosen at the judgment because of their faith and righteousness.

I would love to have an open and intellectual conversation about this.

Jason said...

Hey, isn't there a "I love any and all feedback, good, bad, or indifferent" line on your header...?

Good luck, dave :) You picked a tough subject.

Dave said...

Hi Jason! Yes, I certainly said that in my header, and it was certainly true. I do love feedback. There is, however, a slight difference between “feedback” and “debate”.

I have also progressed since originally starting this blog. My de-conversion from Christianity has been rotating through the usual emotional cycles (the denial, anger, acceptance thing) and I am much calmer about the whole thing than I once was. I will give you and example. I live a long way from my siblings and mom, so I only see them about once a year. 4 Christmases ago I brought the celebration to it’s knees when a niece challenged my wandering off the Christian path and a huge argument ensued.

The last time I was there a few months ago, however, I calmly attended church services with these same people. Anyone that observed me would have thought I was a smugly smiling chosen Christian like everyone else.

Anyway, back to the subject at hand. The “two way street” you refer to requires me to worship a god that literally murders his very own creation, including children. I am morally incapable of doing that. Simply and irrevocably incapable. And if I was to believe the biblical definition of god, he knew I would become incapable of worshipping him before he even created me.

That, my Christian friend, is absurd to me. Yet I once believed in it. It’s a weird thing, Jason, and very difficult to explain, but somewhere along my de-conversion path, nearly everything about Christianity became clearly, well, immoral.

In my mind, I have not rejected God. Just the opposite. I simply reject the biblical god. Do I know who God is? Nope. I simply know who He is not.

He would not murder children. He would not condemn all man for a decision that an ignorant woman made. He would not cause unimaginable suffering in a global flood when he could snap his holy fingers and fix everything. He would not send anyone to hell (or let them die) if he could give everyone eternal life. He would never test anyone by asking them to murder their son. He would never enter into a wager with Satan and kill a man’s family. He would never kill thousands of first born children just to change a man’s mind that he himself hardened. He would not have Chosen Children.

Tough subject? To you perhaps, but to me it is simple. I reject such a god. And whomever God really is, whether it is some superior being up in the clouds, a spirit that lives in each of our hearts, or simply the cosmos, I am at peace with Him for the first time in my life.

Jason said...

Then it would seem you believe you know better then the God of the Bible, that your rules and sense of justice trumps His. Are you not judging God in terms of your own perception? And whose concept of right and wrong do you adhere to if not God's?

The suggestion that God may be unfair implies that we have certain rights, which somehow God is violating. The fact that God was our Creator and our constant sustainer means that we have no rights. We live constantly in His mercy, not just when we sin. 'Human rights' is a human concept, created by humans to justify themselves. We came into this world with nothing, and we will exit with nothing. Every single thing we have is an absolute gift, given for a short time to see how we will respond to it. If God calls us to a closer relationship with Him, we should joyfully respond. To refuse to do so because others have not been invited, while certainly admirable on some short-term humanistic level, is to reject God's mercy.

We're simply not meant to know all the whys and hows when it comes to God's actions. "The secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us" (Dt.29:29). The Gospel is called "that which may be known of God" (Rom.1:19), implying there is much else that cannot yet be known. There are certain true principles which we can clearly see in God's word; and there are many other facets of God's character which these lead on to. But there are countless other "secret things" about God's ways, to which we have no access in this life.

(And if it helps, no one's going to hell - at least not according to the BIble - not that this is a debate or anything :) )

Dave said...

Jason, the Bible has no authority for me at all. It used to, but no longer. When you ask if I know better than the god of the bible, you may as well ask me if I know better than the god in The Lord of the Flies.

You ask if I am not judging God in terms of my own perception. Of course! How can I not? You perceive the Bible as God’s authority, so you judge everything on that perception.

You ask whose concept of right and wrong I adhere to? Mine! Using my God-given ability to determine what is wrong and right. Please don’t tell me you use the Bible as a moral example. It’s the most immoral book I have ever read.

The Bible is the work of scared ignorant men, and has nothing to do with God whatsoever. I have come to this conclusion from rational reason, emotional reason, study, and prayer. God, whomever or whatever He is, lives inside each of us, and a book, even if it made sense, would not be needed. Isn’t God everywhere? Don’t you have a close and personal relationship with your savior? If so, what would you possibly need a book for?

You did say something that is brilliant: “If God calls us to a closer relationship with Him, we should joyfully respond”. Yes! That is EXACTLY what I did! If you care to read them, my blog postings document my journey away from Christianity and towards God. And my relationship with God is as valid as anyone’s, including yours. The major difference, however, is that you worship a cruel vindictive god that effortlessly kills, savors the aroma of burning flesh, does not respect women, promotes violence and slavery, and revels in the blood of men, women, and children. I no longer worship such a god, and my walk away from Christianity has been the most positive spiritual journey of my life.

Jason said...

Well this is very interesting. Your concept of right and wrong is based on what, exactly? How do you figure out the difference between good and evil?

I have no problem using the Bible as a moral guide. It hasn't turned me into a serial killer :) But then again, if you're only following your own rules about right and wrong, you can't call anything immoral because that's nothing more then personal opinion :) Dave's idea of evil doesn't apply to me, it applies to Dave, so I'm not sure on what grounds you're judging me for worshipping a "cruel" God.

Let's see, what would we need a book for. Hm. Well, without a book, would you understand the vital importance of baptism? Without a book, would we understand the rules we're supposed to abide by? Without a book, would we understand how God works in our lives? Without a book, would we grasp the simple concept of prayer? Without a book, how would you even know who your saviour is, what he saved you from, and how he did it?

Dave said...

Jason, you asked a lot of questions I feel I have already answered. But let me wrap this up by repeating each one and give you another answer in as concise as way as possible.

Your concept of right and wrong is based on what, exactly? How do you figure out the difference between good and evil?

Simply by using my God-given ability to determine what is wrong and right. I believe that God instilled in each of us a intrinsic value system.

Example: Using that God-given sense of value, I determine whether or not the action I will take will result in long term happiness or grief. If I steal something, it may have a short term financial benefit for me, but it causes others grief. And I’ll feel guilty and may suffer long term grief. Guilt is a natural and unpleasant thing, not learned from a book. 5 year old children, even those that have never been brainwashed by Christianity, know what guilt feels like. You know, Jason, the 10 Commandments add nothing that we don’t already know in our hearts (except the silly religious crap) and can be summarized in one word: Honesty.

I must admit though, I sometimes get confused on how to treat my slave, or whether to allow my wife to speak, or whether I should stone my gay friend to death… and in those cases the Bible would come in mighty handy.

Many of the most philanthropic and kind people in the world are not Christians, and many of the most evil and unpleasant people in the world are Christians. How do all those good non-Christians know the difference between good and evil? Do you really believe that all non-Christians don’t know the difference?

You say the Bible hasn’t turned you into a serial killer, but for many people it has. Millions have been slaughtered under the name of the biblical god. And why not? The Biblical god kills effortlessly and provides many guidelines for us to do so.

You also said “if you're only following your own rules about right and wrong, you can't call anything immoral because that's nothing more then personal”. I call BS on that one, as it applies to you too. You are following your own personal rules just as much as I am, it’s just that yours are based on your interpretation of the Bible. I am not a Christian, as is most of the world, yet I have no difficulty calling many things immoral.

Well, without a book, would you understand the vital importance of baptism?

No. So what? If you buy the bible, baptism is important. Go for it. To me and the God I worship, it is meaningless.

Without a book, would we understand the rules we're supposed to abide by?

I am not sure which rules you are talking about. The silly ones such as not eating shellfish, killing witches, how to treat your slave, not allowing non-Christians into your home, or when to beat your child? Personally, I abide by the rules imposed on me by the society in which I live and what I know is right in my heart.

Without a book, would we understand how God works in our lives?

If you have a personal relationship with Him, yes. I am getting a better handle on it everyday. Besides, you don’t understand how God works in your life fully either, as you said “We're simply not meant to know all the whys and hows when it comes to God's actions.

Without a book, would we grasp the simple concept of prayer?

If you need a regimented way to communicate with your creator, then the Bible is useful to you. I don’t. I feel that God resides in each of us, so prayer has no value to me. I dunno, maybe it’s semantics here… maybe how I personally communicate with God can be considered prayer. If so, I do not need a book to tell me how. Do you consult a book before talking with your dad? Do you have children? If so, did you provide them a book so they can understand you better? And don’t get me started about intercessory prayer. It is completely illogical.

Without a book, how would you even know who your saviour is, what he saved you from, and how he did it?

Again, the Bible is useful to you because you feel you need a savior. Savior from what? The death and/or hell that is self-contained in the Bible? That’s circular and meaningless to me. I have no desire to live forever or go to heaven. I am perfectly comfortable with whatever comes at death, whether it is simply not existing, reincarnation, becoming buddies with Jesus/God for eternity, whatever. I live my life as if it is the only gift of life from God that I have, and it makes my existence even more precious and special.

Did I miss any of your questions?

Jason, I have a personal question for you. What is your purpose in posting on my blog? Don’t get me wrong, I really appreciate that you do, especially since I have been ignoring my blog lately and your posts give me incentive to pay attention to it. You are obviously a very knowledgeable and sincere Christian, but if your intention is to change my mind and bring me back into the fold of Christianity, I will tell you with as much certainty as I have ever had about anything: It’s not going to happen.

If your intent is to bring others that read this blog into the fold of Christianity, you are welcome to try but are probably wasting a lot of time. You and I are about it on here. I have a statistics counter that shows this blog gets very few visitors. Besides, you have your own blog that likely gets tons more traffic than this one!

Regards, Dave

Jason said...

I’m still confused. If God has instilled in each of us an intrinsic value system, and this value system isn’t based on the Bible, what’s your basis for telling me I’m ever “wrong” about something? You could tell me that worshipping idols is wrong but what's the determining factor, your gut feeling?

If morals are based on the individual, which is what you’re saying, then we can’t judge people like Hitler or Stalin or any evil person because while they might seem evil to us, we must accept that their actions are based on what they deem to be morally acceptable. You’ve taken away your own right to judge what’s good and bad in this world by giving everyone free will to decide what’s right and wrong.

See, in reality, when someone does something wrong, we know it’s wrong because the Bible says it’s wrong. This is our scale: Scripture. It acts as our judge.

The 10 Commandments involve a bit more then honesty. Thou shall not kill is not a question of honesty, it’s a question of self-control and respect of life. Honour thy father and mother isn’t built around honesty, it’s built on respect and meekness. Same goes for worshipping idols and keeping the Sabbath. So please, explain how the 10 commandments are directly tied into “honesty”.

Slaves, gay friends and women. And your issue is what, exactly? Abraham had slaves. So did David. And Solomon. The Bible doesn’t say, “Get slaves or you’re in trouble”. It lays out guidelines for those people who happened to have them when it was socially acceptable. As for homosexuals, you’re judging the Bible based on the old covenant, a common but incorrect platform to argue from. Leviticus talks about stoning homosexuals but fortunately, for us today, we don’t have to worry about this since Christ did away with the old law. Er, unless you think we should still be following every law mentioned in the OT…?

Another incorrect platform to argue from is “fairness”. God answers to no one, His judgments are what they are and we have no say in the matter. God doesn’t owe us anything, least of all an explanation for why He does something. Does the God you worship explain why He does things? As already mentioned previously, "The secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us" (Dt.29:29). Although what ‘killing guidelines’ has God provided for us today…?

Okay, so baptism isn’t important unless you buy the book. Fair enough. I wonder though, how do you know how to “worship” this God of yours? For what purpose are you worshipping Him? What are the consequences of not following him? How do you know what to do when the requirements of society conflict with the requirements of God? In other words, where do you get all this information from?

I won’t get you started on intercessory prayer. This isn’t a place of debate...

The purpose of posting on your blog is so I can try and figure out why people continue to give credence to false concepts such as Satan and hell since these do nothing but spread confusion and make it difficult for people who are honestly searching for an understanding of Scripture. And heck, it’s only fair: if you chose to attack God and the Bible, then it’s only reasonable to assume someone might take offence and want to defend their beliefs ☺ So no, don’t worry, I’m not here to change your mind or anyone else that that regularly reads your comments. I’m here to discuss. Don’t feel threatened. No one visits this blog anyhow ☺

One more question: Why did God create people?

Dave said...

Hi Jason,

Oh boy, lot’s more questions. You have made clear to me what was probably obvious to you… I am not very good at the written word. I know how I feel inside, but when I try to express it, it doesn’t get interpreted correctly. This is all a good thing then… I get to practice. And to be really honest, since I am much more sure about what I do NOT believe than what I DO believe, writing it out helps me to form those opinions. So, I thank you for the questions. I guess. :-)

About the right from wrong thing, I guess I don’t really know why I know the difference. It’s certainly not from the bible, as I dismiss it outright. I suspect it’s a combination of a bunch of things… intrinsic knowledge from millions of years of evolution, input from my parents and other people, formal education, etc. Do you really believe you were amoral prior to accepting the Bible? As you said over on the “Dwindling in Disbeleief” blog, ”A child doesn't know anything about sin but a child knows the difference between right & wrong.”. You tell me, how does a child know the difference between right and wrong?

“Honesty” was perhaps the wrong word to sum up the 10 commandments. How about “Integrity”? Personally, I don’t know how you can “honestly” commit murder, but hey, that’s just me. Did you really not know it was wrong to kill until you read the 10 commandments? Where you about to hop into bed with the neighbor’s wife, and thought “Wow, I shouldn’t do this because the Bible tells me not to?" Where you about to tell a huge lie and think “gosh, I’m not sure why exactly, but since the Bible tells me so, I won’t do this.”? My point is that other than the religious mumbo-jumbo, the ten commandments are intrinsically obvious to anyone. And based on your reprimanding me for referring to the old testament regarding gays and slaves, I suggest you refrain from any statements that the “Bible” is to be used as a moral guideline and say instead “The New Testament”. Other than some twisted blood-soaked anti-science history lesson then, what’s the Old Testament good for? And don’t I remember a quote from Jesus somewhere that the Old Testament still applies?

Speaking og the Old Testament, yes, that is where the killing guidelines come from. You claim they no longer apply, but these killing guidelines were nonetheless issued by the very same god that you worship today. Here’s an alphabetical list:

Adultery, bestiality, blasphemy, breaking the Sabbath, disobedient children, homosexuality, incest , murder, rape, stealing slaves, not being a virgin on wedding night, witches, and last but not least, worshipping another god. I’m sure there are more.

As far as how to worship my god, well, who cares? Doesn’t God know exactly what’s in my heart? Doesn’t He recognize my love for Him and all his creations by my thoughts and actions? If anyone was ever exempt from the rote rituals and rules that religions impose, it would be an omniscient god!

And finally, you dropped the big bomb question: “Why did God create people”. I have no answer. I think I’ll mull it over and start a new main post.

Again, thanks for posting!!

Jason said...

Here’s another question, and probably one I should have asked from the get-go: Why do you discount the Bible?

Prior to accepting the Bible, my morals were irrelevant. I had a sense of what was right or wrong but not in relation to God’s commandments. A child knows the difference between right and wrong because of what their parents tell them is right and wrong, the same as Adam & Eve in the garden prior to their sin. Does that answer your question...?

Sleeping with the neighbour’s wife. Lol Look around at people today, do you think people believe that’s some kind of horrible, immoral act? Unfortunately not! Lying is taught as a method of getting ahead in life, specifically in the business world. So no, I can’t agree that the 10 commandments are intrinsically obvious to everyone. Murder rates are high, the family unit is breaking down, honesty and integrity are dying traits and God worship is low, or at the least, done for show only. Why? Because God and the Bible no longer have a place in society.

The Old Testament is vital for any number of reasons. In it we see the creation and role of man, we read about prophecy, we see foreshadowings of Christ, we’re given a history of the Jews, we’re told in detail the personality and characteristics of God and His plan and purpose with mankind, we’re given valuable lessons from God’s countless interactions with men and women, we’re painted a picture of God’s kingdom, and angels, and what happens when we die, etc. etc. Phew! Plus, Jesus quoted from the Old Testament regularly. If the OT wasn’t applicable, then why reference it to make and prove his points? The old LAW is no longer applicable, not the entire Old Testament.

The NT is a different gear altogether. It’s focus is more on the love and mercy of God towards everyone (not just Jews) who dedicate their lives to Him. Forgiveness, repentance and a measure of tolerance are the highlights of the new law.

(Breaking the Sabbath wasn’t punishable in the NT)

God most certainly knows what’s in your heart and He does recognize your love for your thoughts and actions but how do you know what actions show this love? The reason God lays down rules is to humble us and it’s a way for us to show Him we’re obedient to His will. He expects people to follow Him based on His requirements, not ours.

Cheers,
J

Dave said...

I will address your two primary questions with a new post, but I wanted to comment on some statements you made. You said ”Sleeping with the neighbour’s wife. Lol Look around at people today, do you think people believe that’s some kind of horrible, immoral act? Unfortunately not! Lying is taught as a method of getting ahead in life, specifically in the business world. So no, I can’t agree that the 10 commandments are intrinsically obvious to everyone. Murder rates are high, the family unit is breaking down, honesty and integrity are dying traits and God worship is low, or at the least, done for show only. Why? Because God and the Bible no longer have a place in society.”

With all due respect, Jason, this is total bullshit. I know nobody that finds it morally acceptable to sleep with their neighbor’s wife. I am in the business world, and not once in my career has dishonesty ever been tolerated, let alone condoned. Murder rates are at the lowest level they have been for nearly 40 years, as are all violent crimes. The most blatant and embarrassing violations of the commandments they pretend to follow are amongst the Christians themselves. Christian leaders fall like dominoes as their immoral exploits are revealed. It seems every month we hear of a parent that has drowned their children because god told them to. And perhaps your biblical god did tell them to. After all, he did so in the bible! And last but not least, the U.S. has immorally invaded a sovereign nation and killed untold thousands of innocent people under the command of a blatantly Christian president.

If what you say is true, then Christians would have lower divorce rates, commit less crimes, and spend less time in jail. I challenge you show me ANY data that links respect for the bible with moral integrity.

Here’s the chart from the U.S. Department of Justice showing the reduced violent crime rate: http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/glance/viort.htm. Do I think the increased rejection of the Bible has contributed? No, not really, but an argument just as valid as yours could be made.

jason said...

Oh no, I'm not saying cheating is "morally acceptable", what I'm saying is that morals are degrading in exactly the same manner as God and religion. They no longer control the urges of society like they used to. Marriages are falling apart like never before. Apparently, 40% of women and 60% of men will experience at least one extra-marital affair in their lives. Dishonesty is rampant in formerly hallowed places like government and the justice system and even sport figures, all lying about everything and their mother. Trust? Good luck. Remember, it’s only bad if you get caught…

Murder rates might be lower then North America, but look at the state of crime outside of our borders. It’s hardly a situation that’s improving! Look, I’m not arguing in the least that Christians don’t commit crimes and break rules, but that’s not the discussion here…hmmm…wait…how DID we get on the topic of morals??? :)

A Christian President. Ugh. Makes me shiver. Bush is about as Christian as Buddah. Votes, votes, votes. That’s all it is.

All that aside though, and this isn’t a trick question, do you think society, in terms of morals, is better or worse today then 50 years ago?

Dave said...

Merely my opinion: It’s the same. At least close enough that you could make an argument either way. I think many perceive a degradation in morals because of visibility… internet and cable television have brought into our homes what was once hidden. Some folks (including you perhaps?) use the perceived degradation of society as a religious recruiting method... sensational statements about the decline of society are made with no data to back it up.

Jason said...

Interesting. So from a social perspective, there's the same amount of goodness and badness out there today as there was in, say, 1957.

Like you said though, there's not enough evidence to prove anything either way. :)