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"When they wont stop proselytizing then its a social problem" November 13, 2003 12:08 PM   Subscribe


Skallas, I am am not trying to make sure all posts are too my liking. What I am concerned about here is not so much your link, per se, but your chronic attacks on religion and people who hold those views. It's not your views that bother me. You're intelligent and logical. I'm most definitely on the God fencepost these days, and your arguments are very compelling. But you're nasty and overbearing and rude and you keep hammering on the same themes relentlessly, and you definitely come across as believing that everyone who thinks other than you do is an idiot and/or immoral. In one thread, for instance, you called konolia "morally bankrupt". I agree with you more often than I agree with konolia, but that sort of thing is really out of line and undeserved. The use of a modicum of charm would be in order.
posted by orange swan at 12:10 PM on November 13, 2003


And I really am very sorry I ruined your thread - I certainly wasn't intending to.
posted by orange swan at 12:11 PM on November 13, 2003


People, people, learn from the past. Skallas is possibly psychotic and cannot be reasoned with and has grinded his High School Atheism Axe down to the stick. Like that whole Insomnyuk episode, where after about 4 Metatalk threads he somehow figured out he needed a "thicker skin" for Metafilter. Or how this is all he ever talks about, sort of like the time for no reason he railed against Jerry Orbach's stance on Christianity. I'm thinking the Pope ran over his puppy and raped his Mom or something.
posted by Stan Chin at 12:16 PM on November 13, 2003


the link itself is pretty funny, although I like my parodies to include illustrations. =)

orange swan, some may think you derailed the thread, but many others (myself included) know that skallas loves to have this same argument almost every week.
posted by whatnot at 12:18 PM on November 13, 2003


Oops, that should have been "etiquette/policy", not "bugs". Excuse that. I was so horrified by what I'd done to Skallas' thread that I was in too much of a hurry to get this posted.

whatnot, I know he does. And I've too often said so to him - I should have taken this to MeTa awhile back.
posted by orange swan at 12:22 PM on November 13, 2003


Not to take attention away from this skallas-bashing clusterfuck that I'm sure I'll enjoy, but he's definitely not the only one to go on the christian-killing rampages around here.
posted by angry modem at 12:23 PM on November 13, 2003


Oh lord!
Alternately, Good god!
posted by me3dia at 12:26 PM on November 13, 2003


Maybe Skallas has a sophisticated and rational argument against Christianity. I wouldn't know, because he's never articulated it here.

Skallas's arguments (in religion and politics) are always superficial and, to all appearances, hate-filled. Given his beliefs, this is called irony. Skallas, I know I've said it before, but if you want to be perceived as reasonable and intelligent - or, heck, if you even want people to read what you write - then I suggest you calm down and practice tolerant disagreement.

he's definitely not the only one to go on the christian-killing rampages around here.

True, but I stopped reading rushmc's comments years ago. For this very reason. (Maybe there are others too, but I'm not aware of them).
posted by gd779 at 12:29 PM on November 13, 2003


Other people, not other reasons, is what I meant.
posted by gd779 at 12:31 PM on November 13, 2003


Being an atheist, I've never understood the instinct of other atheists to hunt down and stamp out any evidence of christian faith in everything and anyone. Skallas (on the religious issue) seems hell-bent to somehow show that christians are not only wrong about their ideas of reality, but morally, intellectually and culturally inferior. It's been getting tiring for awhile now and I've been avoiding reading his posts for months now, but I was redirected from another poo-fling-party of a metatalk post.

I love metafilter and I still believe it can be a great website but let's chill with the propaganda and needless arguing that has more place in a college coffeehouse. I don't care that if you're an atheist and I don't care if you're a believer of some faith, I'm only going to get annoyed if you won't stop talking about it. Faith is personal and while the personal isn't above discussion and debate a certain modicum of respect needs to be kept if anyone is going to learn anything.

And why should I need a thick skin to read metafilter? I need a thick skin to do my job, walk down a alley after dark or deal with public transportation.

*goes back to playing with crunchland's latest post*

PS: Your favorite band still sucks
posted by elwoodwiles at 12:48 PM on November 13, 2003


Fundamentalist atheists are one of the main reasons I turned agnostic.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 1:04 PM on November 13, 2003


There are a lot of axegrinding posts made to the front page, and whether I agree or disagree with the stance presented I almost never read the threads because they usually reflect the absolute worst MetaFilter has to offer and are almost always nasty, mean and repetitive. Once in a blue moon I miss a good thread by employing this strategy. I can live with that.
posted by taz at 1:10 PM on November 13, 2003


The use of a modicum of charm would be in order.

That's funny to hear coming from the person who derailed the thread with a personal attack. There's nothing unfair or obnoxious in how that link was presented. If you've got a problem with Skallas, take it to e-mail.
posted by rcade at 1:11 PM on November 13, 2003


What I am concerned about here is not so much your link, per se, but your chronic attacks on religion and people who hold those views. It's not your views that bother me. You're intelligent and logical.

What I am concerned about here is not so much your unprovoked attack on skallas, per se, but your apparently chronic view that sites, links, and perspectives that do not assume a religious bias do not deserve to be represented on Metafilter and should be shouted down whenever anyone tries to do so. I don't recall ever seeing any non-religious member complain about a post relating to religion simply on the grounds that it was religious, and I find it unconscionable that you can't resist intervening on the other side. This was a harmless, humorous little link that a number of religious people admitted getting a chuckle from—it poked fun at certain tendencies to logical error, not at religious belief per se. And readers were warned in the post itself that the link had a sarcastic tone, so if you didn't feel you could handle that, or that it wasn't something you cared to read, you had no reason to click on it.

The bottom line here, it seems to me, is that you are trying to control another user's postings, first by derailing complaint and now, through this Meta post, by encouraging a pile-on to cow a user into limiting himself in future to the type of post/comment that you would approve of. And THAT, to me, is far more inappropriate than someone posting or commenting according to their inclination. Supposedly, one of the strengths of Metafilter is precisely the different worldviews that we all bring to the table.

Certainly, agenda posts are generally bad, but someone posting something that expresses a position different from yours is not automatically agenda posting, even when you can discern that it fits into the poster's overarching belief system. There are a number of users who frequently make posts that lie across a general theme other than religion...I don't see you declaiming them.
posted by rushmc at 1:17 PM on November 13, 2003

christians are not only wrong about their ideas of reality, but morally, intellectually and culturally inferior
Much like pedophiles.

... and no, that's not meant as a joke.

Further, we blame all christians for the actions of a few, because those few act in the name of all and the rest generally just sit by and allow it. A bit more self-policing like we saw today in Alabama would go a long way toward turning down the flame war.
posted by mischief at 1:24 PM on November 13, 2003


What rush said. It's just as tiring to see the continual picking on skallas as it may be for you to see his posts. That post was funny, and you guys derailed it right away, which sucks.
posted by amberglow at 1:34 PM on November 13, 2003


While Skallas has been obnoxious in the past, I didn't see a thing wrong with this particular FPP. I rather enjoyed it, in fact. What I do find unbearably obnoxious is the Christians who think that no one should ever be allowed to hold or express an opinion different than their own. If the post violates your extremely narrow world-view, then DON'T. READ. IT. Don't whine and mewl and expect the world to bend to your ridiculous beliefs. I'm just waiting for someone to play the "I'm being persecuted for being a Christian" card.
posted by Shoeburyness at 1:40 PM on November 13, 2003


you guys derailed it right away, which sucks

This despite my use of the </derail> tag early on!
posted by jpoulos at 1:46 PM on November 13, 2003


That tag's been deprecated around here for years. Check your specs. Or weren't you privy to the RFMeFi?
posted by yerfatma at 1:49 PM on November 13, 2003


the continual picking on skallas

Come on. Skallas goes over the top and asks to be picked on. I've commented before on one of his Bush-bashing threads that I agree completely with the sentiment, but it was something like his fourth with the same point in as many days.

That said, I also have no patience with this "faith is a personal issue and those who attack Christianity are intolerant bigots" crap. Folks, whether you believe in a particular faith or not, the most powerful country in the world is being governed right now by men who are eyebrow-deep in fundamentalist and/or quasi-fundamentalist Christian dogma, setting policies and taking actions that could easily bring about World War III, and they're making decisions based on the idea that that armageddon might be a good idea. So attacking Christianity is literally a form of self-defense.
posted by soyjoy at 1:50 PM on November 13, 2003


I'm just waiting for someone to play the "I'm being persecuted for being a Christian" card.


posted by PrinceValium at 1:55 PM on November 13, 2003


aaah, my eyes!!!!
posted by dabitch at 2:10 PM on November 13, 2003


Come on. Skallas goes over the top and asks to be picked on.
No one asks to be picked on, and unless you're a bully or an asshole or still in elementary school, you shouldn't do it. Skip the thread or bring it to meTa or devastate it with good argument. Picking on the poster does nothing but derail the thread.
posted by amberglow at 2:16 PM on November 13, 2003


There are a number of users who frequently make posts that lie across a general theme other than religion...I don't see you declaiming them.

No, but then I don't find their manner of doing so offensive.

I know I haven't handled this well, though. I have long been annoyed by Skallas' rude tone and relentless manner of grinding various axes - the insomnyuk thing was an example. And rcade was right, I should have taken it to email, not complained about it in the thread to a post that wasn't offensive (either in content or in presentation) in itself. And then I took it to MeTa - partly in an effort to save the thread, but there was a real element of "encouraging a dog pile for the satisfaction of it". No, I am not proud of this day's work. Sorry all, and especially to Skallas, for the means I chose to address this problem.
posted by orange swan at 2:44 PM on November 13, 2003


Tremendous. Quivering Vagina.
posted by dhoyt at 2:54 PM on November 13, 2003


Nary a quiver, dhoyt. So far as I know, anyway.
posted by orange swan at 2:59 PM on November 13, 2003


For what it's worth, I have placed skallas and certain other posters in a particular category. I know exactly what they are going to say and exactly how they are going to say it. Thus when they get on their soapbox here I simply consider the source. Lot less aggravation that way.
posted by konolia at 3:00 PM on November 13, 2003


Oh, orange swan, thanks for the kind words up there. I do appreciate them.
posted by konolia at 3:01 PM on November 13, 2003


Nary a quiver, dhoyt. So far as I know, anyway.

Sorry--I was referring to Skallas.
posted by dhoyt at 3:02 PM on November 13, 2003


So you're calling him a "vagina" as some kind of derogatory insult? Classy.
posted by rcade at 3:10 PM on November 13, 2003


Thus spake the Lord.
posted by Jimbob at 3:14 PM on November 13, 2003


So you're calling him a "vagina" as some kind of derogatory insult? Classy.

Ah, true. In terms of rapièr wit, it's certainly no "asshole".
posted by dhoyt at 3:23 PM on November 13, 2003


nice. poor persecuted skallas. yeah, right. he wants to get into these arguments.

I'm just waiting for someone to play the "I'm being persecuted for being an Atheist" card. oops, too late.
posted by whatnot at 3:40 PM on November 13, 2003


I know exactly what they are going to say and exactly how they are going to say it.

said MeFi's most unpredictable poster?
posted by matteo at 4:09 PM on November 13, 2003


poor persecuted skallas. yeah, right. he wants to get into these arguments.

It's fascinating to me how many people over these two threads assert their ability to read skallas' mind!
posted by rushmc at 4:21 PM on November 13, 2003


That was one of Skallas' better posts. The self-congratulatory nature of it took away from the humour value a bit, but I still enjoyed some of it. Someone easily offended could have skipped the thread, there was clear indication of what lay within.

Basically, you could have waited a week and picked a post or series of comments by Skallas that are of his typical religious yammerings that he thinks are differnt from other peoples' religious yammerings but aren't really, and raised the topic then, if it struck you.
posted by Space Coyote at 5:04 PM on November 13, 2003


i thought that bit where bobby comes out of the shower and pammy realises it's all been a dream was the worst .
posted by sgt.serenity at 5:56 PM on November 13, 2003


orange swan, I wouldn't sweat this too much. Your apology is certainly commendable, but I don't agree that you derailed anything.

In most cases, perhaps it was a derailing comment. But, in my opinion, all you did was get the thread going exactly where it was going to go anyway. I doubt very seriously that the thread in question would have maintained a simple [This is good] type flow.

The fact that skallas posted 8 more times after your comment is evidence enough for me, that he was crouched and at the ready. En garde...
posted by Witty at 6:51 PM on November 13, 2003


Oh, and this is good. Way to "state your case"... jackass.

If the post violates your extremely narrow world-view, then DON'T. READ. IT. Don't whine and mewl and expect the world to bend to your ridiculous beliefs.
posted by Witty at 6:54 PM on November 13, 2003


Christian zealots make me laugh. Except the ones running the American government. Those ones scare me.

skallas can ride any hobbyhorse he wants to. We all have them. If he (or anyone else) behaves poorly in doing so, it reflects badly on him (and them), and that's it. It may reduce our enjoyment of our common-content-creation briefly, but that's a limitless well, after all, so little harm is done.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:23 PM on November 13, 2003


skallas makes me want to go to church.
posted by euphorb at 9:10 PM on November 13, 2003


Whatever you do, don't call him a putz.
posted by Dagobert at 11:39 PM on November 13, 2003


I'm thinking the Pope ran over his puppy and raped his Mom or something.

pope raped his puppy while mom shot video.
posted by quonsar at 12:18 AM on November 14, 2003


Stavros, the point is that his hobby-horse has worn a great hole in the floor. We've heard it, we get it. Belief in anything beyond skallas' view just sucks. I don't know if any harm has been done, but it gets frickin' old, wouldn't you agree?

(I feel ignoble speaking out against Mike cosidering his efforts in catching a Mefi porn spammer, but jeebus crust, dude, let up a little.)

And quonsar, do you have a copy of the vid you can share?
posted by Wulfgar! at 1:29 AM on November 14, 2003


For the love of jeebus!!.
posted by johnnyboy at 3:18 AM on November 14, 2003


I'm a Pagan. Watch out, Zeus is coming for you, and he's bringing his orgiastic friend Dionysus. Awww, yeah, your solo God is so going down, and then he's getting a money shot!

We got lightning, bitches!
posted by The God Complex at 3:24 AM on November 14, 2003


The real question here is why this sort of material is considered a socially aceptable FPP in the first place. I disagree mightily with fundamentalists, but the linked page is a gross charicature of what fundies believe - it's a big, fat straw man based on a bigger, fatter sterotype, and golly, if this were about Muslims or Jews or Hindus, the link would very likely have been immediately seen for the hatemongering that it is.
I don't know skallas' motives or intentions, but it's clear that he finds at least one kind of bigotry funny.
Why is is socially acceptable to FPP links to sites promoting bigotry of any stripe?
posted by eustacescrubb at 4:25 AM on November 14, 2003


Top ten things we may never joke about.

1: Religion.
posted by dabitch at 4:34 AM on November 14, 2003


So Jesus walks into this bar....
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:53 AM on November 14, 2003


Why is is socially acceptable to FPP links to sites promoting bigotry of any stripe?

Sigh. You are badly abusing the term "bigotry." A site that pokes fun at Democrats based on some of their known characteristics and behavior is not "bigotry" against Democrats but an attempt to dispute and discredit their claims using humor. Exaggerating a stance to show its fundamental sillyness is an effective and long-standing technique.

Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blind-folded fear. --Thomas Jefferson
posted by rushmc at 5:23 AM on November 14, 2003


.... and the bartender says ...(take it away stav)
posted by dabitch at 5:35 AM on November 14, 2003


I'm quite frankly just gonna avoid skallas from here on out, since some people just can't get along. I hope he'll do me the same favor.
posted by jonmc at 6:29 AM on November 14, 2003


bartender: Hey, we don't serve their kind in here.

Jesus: Huh?

bartender: Your droids... they'll have to wait outside. We don't want them here!

Jesus to droids: Why don't you wait out by the speeder. We don't want any trouble.
posted by Witty at 7:01 AM on November 14, 2003


A drunk is sitting on the street curb in front of a bar. A stranger comes by and asks if he's O.K.

The drunk replies by asking "Do you know who I am?"

The stranger says "No. Who are you?"

The drunk proudly says "I'm Jesus Christ... and I can prove it! Come with me!"

They enter the bar and the bartender looks up and yells "Jesus Christ! Are you here again?"
posted by MiguelCardoso at 7:19 AM on November 14, 2003


orange swan:I'm disappointed to see this post from you, skallas. blah blah
Christ, thicken your skin if you're going to be reading and posting comments to mefi.
posted by skallas at 2:10 PM

Or you could just be more polite and reasonable, as I try to be when addressing you.
posted by orange swan at 2:20 PM

Yeah, when people didn't just bitch and moan in threads but made an effort to post in metatalk or email someone if they thought a post was inappropriate. Orange Swan is just trying to make sure Mefi posts are all to her liking and will be snippy about it if they aren't - in the thread itself because a derail is so satisfying to some people here as opposed to following the traditional rules of using metalk or email.
posted by skallas at 2:32 PM


skallas, if you were so concerned about the thread being derailed, why didn't you post it to metatalk right away, instead of continuing the derail in the thread? It seems to me that you were just as guilty, if not more so, than orange swan of derailment.

FWIW, I thought it was a good FPP.
posted by ashbury at 8:30 AM on November 14, 2003


I say it would be a far better and more peaceful world if more people mocked religion and religious peopel than were religious.
posted by xmutex at 8:41 AM on November 14, 2003


the linked page is a gross charicature of what fundies believe - it's a big, fat straw man based on a bigger, fatter sterotype

Um, no. No, it's not. Believe me, I grew up in a fundamentalist Christian church, and there is absolutely no exaggeration in the "how to be a Bible apologist" page. I know it's hard to accept that there really are people that fucked up in the world, that surely that must be a gross caracature and exaggerated stereotype, but it's all completely true. And if that's not scary enough, they are in your town.
posted by kindall at 9:06 AM on November 14, 2003


Yes, kindall, but not all Christians are fundies, and decent, well-meaning, compassionate Christian folk (who often dislike fundamentalists as much as atheists do)get caught up in the undertow is the problem. And I'm not even a Christian, per se.
posted by jonmc at 9:59 AM on November 14, 2003


God-botherers, that's what fundementalists - like the ones lampooned in the post - are called in my country.

Trouble is, they bother me quite a lot, too. Post on skallas. Religionists are able to post on too, so why not atheists?
I'm equal-opps on this one - my botheration sure ain't confined to Christian Fundies; the jewish, muslim and hindoo types scare me crapless too. But that's kinda only fair, as they're all peeing themselves over us gays, anyway...
posted by dash_slot- at 10:04 AM on November 14, 2003


Yes, kindall, but not all Christians are fundies, and decent, well-meaning, compassionate Christian folk (who often dislike fundamentalists as much as atheists do)get caught up in the undertow is the problem.

The statement was not that it was unfair to all Christians but that it was a gross caricature of what fundamentalist Christians believe. And it's not.

Furthermore, being decent and well-meaning doesn't excuse you for being, at the very least, willfully ignorant, as you have to be if you are to maintain a worldview that is thousands of years out of date in the face of reality. Willfull ignorance can be dangerous in itself -- if these people will believe Christianity on the basis of no real evidence whatsoever, they'll believe nearly anything, and some of those things might not be nearly so benign. So I just can't work myself up over people who complain that their state of willful ignorance just isn't blissful enough because some people dare to point out that they are in fact being willfully ignorant.

Yes, I know the right to be willfully ignorant is Constitutionally guaranteed, and most of the time I try to respect this and keep my trap shut around those of a religious bent, but I won't shed any tears for them when someone disturbs their reverie by pointing out the deep flaws in their way of thinking.
posted by kindall at 10:17 AM on November 14, 2003


If someone linked to an equally devestatingly accurate put-down of Islamic fundamentalist beliefs would that post be as vigorously defended as skallas's post is here? Even if the poster had a demonstrated enmity to Islamic fundamentalism?
posted by timeistight at 10:45 AM on November 14, 2003


I think Islam should be as roundly mocked as Christianity and I see it as unfortunate that it's not done so around here, so I volunteer whole heartedly to mock Islam at every opportunity.
posted by xmutex at 10:57 AM on November 14, 2003


As soon as I read the post I knew it was going to include fundy bashing in the comments. As a FPP it didn't bug me, and I consider myself a Christian. I just don't recognize any of my beliefs in such sites. Or in the comments. I get the whole "exaggeration as humor" bit - and fundies are so incredibly exaggerated in many ways, some even admit it themselves. I think some folk just don't like to remember that Christians themselves can't agree on many things - thus the plethora of denominations (and there's much disagreement within these groups as well). Personally I can't stand fundamentalists either. Specifically the evangelicals - meaning the people who MUST thrust their message down your throat or die trying.

"Being an atheist, I've never understood the instinct of other atheists to hunt down and stamp out any evidence of christian faith in everything and anyone."

I always think damn, this person had a bad experience with religion or someone rabidly religious (and actually I think most people have) - and had someone evangelizing them to death. Thing is, these folk will do it to other Christians just as rigorously as an atheist or a believer in another faith - everyone is fair game! Because you have to believe EXACTLY what they say in their denomination's interpretation of the big picture.

I know quite a few atheists. They feel no need to mock or ridicule me, even if they think my beliefs are silly. (Ok, I take a bit of teasing, but I can live with that - it's not an attack on me personally.) I respect their right to believe what they wish, they respect mine. None of us tries to evangelize the other. (I consider someone trying to push disbelief just as evangelical as those pushing people to believe.) Actually it surprises me that there aren't more tolerant atheists - who only seem to be asking to not have another belief system thrust upon them, and be allowed the freedom to think as they want and not be stereotyped by it.

Oh and I get my comedy on religion from Carlin and Hicks. The stuff online isn't as funny in comparison. And the comment festivals like this just make me roll my eyes and think "here we go again."

And don't even get me started on how religion and the current administration have wedded themselves - it scares the hell out of me.
posted by batgrlHG at 11:42 AM on November 14, 2003


The only Jesus joke I ever thought was cool was the one about how His disciples could never call in sick.

Look, lots of folks in many churches are basically beaten over the head about how they MUST "witness" or be bad Christians. Me, I figure if you've heard it once, then you've heard it period. But I think everyone should hear the Gospel once. Up to them what they do with it after that.

And if you don't want to hear it, I figure there's no sense in wasting my breath. There are plenty of people who would like to find God but aren't sure just how.

I hated being beaten over the head with it when I wasn't a Christian, so I know how it feels. When I was ready I sought out a Christian I knew and took it from there.

Skallas is an example of the sort of person who really does need to be left alone-talking to him about God is like trying to teach a pig to sing-you know, it doesn't work and just annoys the pig. (no I am not calling Skallas a pig, it's just a saying.)
posted by konolia at 12:15 PM on November 14, 2003


The only Jesus joke I ever thought was cool was the one about how His disciples could never call in sick.

How about this one: Did you hear about the new dairy plant that just opened up over by Bethlehem?

They're calling it Cheeses of Nazareth.
posted by COBRA! at 12:23 PM on November 14, 2003


Furthermore, being decent and well-meaning doesn't excuse you for being, at the very least, willfully ignorant

Thank you. (Or "amen," for those so inclined.)
posted by rushmc at 12:34 PM on November 14, 2003


Look, lots of folks in many churches are basically beaten over the head about how they MUST "witness" or be bad Christians.

...and this is one of the reasons I stopped going to church in the first place. Tripped off that whole religion-as-highly-evolved-meme train of thought which ended up in the wholescale rejection of organised religion.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 12:52 PM on November 14, 2003


Look, I think it's only reasonable to assume that we were created by an alien force for the purposes of entertainment. In fact, it's likely we're like television for them, which is shy I'm always singing scat in the shower and dancing the Charleston.

Skallas is an example of the sort of person who really does need to be left alone-talking to him about God is like trying to teach a pig to sing-you know, it doesn't work and just annoys the pig. (no I am not calling Skallas a pig, it's just a saying.)

Except for the part about how a pig can't sing so trying to teach it to sing would be wholly impossible, whereas talking to Skalls about God would result in no such inability. If you were talking to him about believing in god, your analogy would be better, but still be off the mark since it assumes that the pig is choosing not to sing as skallas is choosing not to believe in god. That's incorrect. The pig is physically incapable of "singing," and equally incapable of formulating the complex speech required to make such a choice.

I don't care much if people have a little faith--whatever does it for them is fine by me, as long as it stays out of the courts, and the government, and the schools. Oh, and as long as I don't hear the dreaded "everything happens for a reason" in conjunction with people who can't afford to feed themselves, as if that was God's challenge to them so we should leave them be. Those people can go Charles themselves for all I care.
posted by The God Complex at 1:09 PM on November 14, 2003


"...it's likely we're like television for them, which is shy I'm always singing scat in the shower..."

Whew. For a moment, that looked like flinging.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 1:53 PM on November 14, 2003


I just think it is impossible for someone to talk Skallas into believing. Now, God Himself could choose to reveal Himself to Skallas, but God could also give a pig a soprano voice if He wanted to. After all, He did give a donkey the power of speech once.
posted by konolia at 2:05 PM on November 14, 2003


I've got a brilliantly offensive Jesus joke. Fortunately, it's a visual gag so I can't step out of line by repeating it here.

Yes, Skallas is obsessed. But lots of people on here are obsessed. Lots of people continuously make FPPs with the sole aim of scoring a political / ideological touchdown, whether it's on the sins of public figure X or political ideology Y or evil corporation Z. Truth is, I often agree with the posters, but their method is pathetic. I just think they're kind of missing the point, and they should take some time out to really think about the reasons behind their posts. Why do they feel the need to shout from the highest mountain (ie. Metafilter) about their pet issue over and over again, when in truth they could get their own probably quite popular topic-themed blog and avoid being taken to task by us the whole time?
posted by Jimbob at 2:29 PM on November 14, 2003


Um, no. No, it's not. Believe me, I grew up in a fundamentalist Christian church

Um, yeah so did I. And it's a gross charicature.

You are badly abusing the term "bigotry." A site that pokes fun at Democrats based on some of their known characteristics and behavior is not "bigotry" against Democrats

No, I'm not. A site that pokes fun at black people because of their known charcteristics and behavior would be bigoted.
posted by eustacescrubb at 3:06 PM on November 14, 2003


A site that pokes fun at black people because of their known charcteristics and behavior would be bigoted.

Having a sense of humor—even a poor one—is not bigotry. The dictionary says:
The state of mind of a bigot; obstinate and unreasoning attachment of one's own belief and opinions, with narrow-minded intolerance of beliefs opposed to them.
It may be impolite or even offensive to poke fun of someone based on their "known characteristics and behavior," but it cannot be bigotry, because the truth is never prejudicial.
posted by rushmc at 3:19 PM on November 14, 2003


As Pilate once noted, "What is truth?"
posted by konolia at 3:33 PM on November 14, 2003


Feel free to substitute "demonstrable" if it makes you feel better.
posted by rushmc at 4:00 PM on November 14, 2003


God Himself could choose to reveal Himself to Skallas, but God could also give a pig a soprano voice if He wanted to.

No he couldn't, because he's not real.
posted by Hildago at 4:09 PM on November 14, 2003


Oh yes He is.
posted by konolia at 4:17 PM on November 14, 2003


So - we've descended into pantomime now?
posted by dash_slot- at 4:38 PM on November 14, 2003


wait - so now Skallas doesn't even exist? Well then who wrote all those comments and posts?

If I laugh at conspiracy theorists who think the government is controlling their brainwaves with magnetism, am I being bigoted? I don't think I am. If person A believes something and person B does not believe it and in fact thinks that person A is silly for holding those beliefs, then that isn't bigotry. And saying it isn't bigotry either. It's just expressing an opinion.

You choose to believe something or not believe something. You choose to affiliate yourself with various groups. The only time we need to worry is when you don't have a choice. For instance, I can't help that I'm a dog. For you to disparage me for being a dog would be wrong. However, I can help that I am an agnostic or a believer or a non-believer. That's a choice I made, and in choosing, I expose myself to the ridicule of others who have chosen differently.
posted by willnot at 4:46 PM on November 14, 2003


Um, yeah so did I. And it's a gross charicature.

No, it's not, because there's no such thing as a "charicature." ;)

It's exaggerated for comic effect, obviously. That's because it's intended to be funny. Right up and down the line, though, each step is something I've personally observed. A Christian fundamentalist wouldn't actually come out and say that they're comfortable with their own insanity, but I'd argue that many of them are nevertheless (a) quite insane and (b) comfortable with that.

There are of course grades of fundamentalism. The fundamentalists I knew were pretty hardcore. They believe that Catholics aren't Christians (since they pray to idols) and that it was wrong to use instruments of music in worship services. Naturally, anything fun was prohibited, and anything that was not prohibited was mandatory. There were many in the congregation who believed it was sinful to have a potluck in the church building, since eating was not a use of God's House explicitly authorized in Scripture. And, of course, they believed in the absolute literal truth of every word of the Bible.

Believe me, the piece skallas linked to is fairly mild as a caricature of the fundamentalist Christians I know. You might even call it gentle and affectionate.
posted by kindall at 4:52 PM on November 14, 2003


that it was wrong to use instruments of music in worship services.

That would be some branches of the Church of Christ denomination. The other stuff you name is also ridiculous. Sorry, I call it like I see it.

And yes, this is the kind of stuff that infuriates me. Infuriates me much more than anything skallas has ever said or could possibly say to me. It is such a gross representation of the Church that the Lord suffered and died for. And it is the sort of thing that rightly puts a bad taste in the mouth of anyone on the sideline-and then I and others who bear the name of Christian get painted with the same broad brush as these pharisaical nonsensical groups. And so many people are deceived into thinking that is what they have to be and do to please God. What nonsense!

If that is what I thought Christianity was I would barf.
posted by konolia at 5:05 PM on November 14, 2003


Konolia: so you see how it looks to the rest of us?

Your sect and the Church of Christ sect appear to agree on everything but a few theological issues. You both claim to be The One True Way (from what I gather) and you both claim that everyone else is going straight to Hell because they're going about the salvation thing in the wrong way (from what I gather). You'll pardon us if the non-Christians in the audience look askance on your claims of fundamental denominational differences.

Who's to say who's right? You're both attempting to apply a book that was written over the span of several centuries, halfway across the globe, and thousands of years ago to a very different type of society.
posted by bshort at 5:29 PM on November 14, 2003


Metafilter: Anything not prohibited is mandatory.

The other stuff you name is also ridiculous. Sorry, I call it like I see it.

Don't dish it out if you can't take it. Many of your stated beliefs are as ridiculous to some of us as you find those to be.

It is such a gross representation of the Church that the Lord suffered and died for.

According to whom?

(on preview, I see bshort got there first)
posted by rushmc at 5:42 PM on November 14, 2003


Once I went to the campus doctor at the health center - this was at a large private university in Dallas - to get some medication for a cold. When he found out I was working on a documentary on paleontology in West Texas with the geology dept he told me he thought the bones were planted in those layers of the earth as a joke/test by God. He was not joking.
I did not need to hear this from a man about to prescribe me medication.

I like to think I've remained a Christian as a stubborn holdout against the kooks, the fundamentalists, and the atheists who tell me I'm illogical to maintain such beliefs. Maybe I am, but I think I get the right to be left alone as long as I'm not pushing my beliefs on others. What's interesting is finding oneself the token Christian in a group and being asked to explain and defend things that mankind has been bickering about for centuries. When was I voted a representative?

Meanwhile, having lived in Kansas, Alabama, Texas, and Louisiana I have tons of fun over the top zealot stories...
Never did go see the snake handling though. Always meant to do so - just because I knew where people did that at one time - but in the end the people just scared me too much.

Church of Christ folk only think they're fundamentalists.
A Pentecostal would eat em alive.
posted by batgrlHG at 5:46 PM on November 14, 2003


Don't dish it out if you can't take it. Many of your stated beliefs are as ridiculous to some of us as you find those to be.

Look, pharaseeism has been around for a long time. Jesus addressed it in the strongest terms.

I believe in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins. You may not believe that, but at least I'm not gonna come up with stupid crap about makeup, pants on women, movies, etc. Christianity is supposed to be demonstrated by feeding the poor, reaching out to the lonely, visiting folks in prison, and other such acts of love and compassion. I think of one man I know who has ministered to AIDS patients for years-and once a year he takes a vacation to New York to help the homeless. I think of a lady I know who went into one of the worst housing projects in this city, starting up a "kids club" with snacks and games and Bible stories- this grew into a ministry that does things like oil changes for single moms, free fans (these apartments do not have air conditioning)...one project was putting peepholes into doors. Seems simple till you realize this is a protection against drug dealers bursting into their home and hiding out. (Used to happen a lot, and they were afraid of retribution if it got reported.)

I think of a couple who take toys and needed items to places like Honduras. Many of the kids in these poorer areas have NEVER EVER HAD A TOY.

I could go on and on. These people and others like them are the hands and feet of Jesus reaching out to a hurting world. Who gives a crap if they ever went to a movie or put some makeup on? Not the Lord!
posted by konolia at 6:10 PM on November 14, 2003


It may be impolite or even offensive to poke fun of someone based on their "known characteristics and behavior," but it cannot be bigotry, because the truth is never prejudicial.

In my culture, sir, the distinction is known as "picking fly shit out of pepper."

It's called tolerance. Accepting that people see things differently from you, and that as long as they're not harming you or forcing their beliefs down your throat, you should respect and be nice to them. And that goes both ways. Religionists, tolerate the athiests, and atheists tolerate the religionists. As someone told me recently, we're all right where we're supposed to be.
posted by jonmc at 6:25 PM on November 14, 2003


Konolia: so you see how it looks to the rest of us?

Here's how Christian faith generally looks to me: it's almost entirely based on the opinion of a single man who, in conflict with the people who actually had direct contact with the original disciples, went his own way and created a repressive religion.

That man, Paul, makes some horrifying statements in his writings. Just as scary, most of the New Testament (save the writings of Matthew, Mark, Luke) is based on this lunatics ideas.

This is the man who claims "The will of God chose Me to be the Great Apostle of Jesus Christ." Come on! Get real! "The Word of the Truth of the Gospel is come unto you through Me as it is in all the world." The madman thinks he's a replacement for Christ!

But that's the least of the issues. What really goads me is Pauls hatred for women. It runs through all his writings. I was going to take the time to look them up, but I've realized that the people who would most benefit by cluing into this deliberately won't bother to admit to the issue, so fuckit.

Actually, come to think of it, this is one of those pointless exercises in which the persistently and deliberately blind faithful will refuse to challenge themselves to read the bible closely and critically, and thus will remain ignorant of the great problems with their faith.

I'm not going to bother with this. It's not Christianity, it's Paulism, and it's based on some very wicked and unhealthy ideas that are plain to see if one but looks.

1 Timothy 5:3-16, f'rinstance, in which Paul decrees that virtually no widow shall ever receive financial assistance from his church. Or 1 Tim 2:11, telling women to just STFU and do what they're told, or suffer the consequences, damn it.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:31 PM on November 14, 2003


In short, Christianity would be just fine if it were Christian. The man had a great vision for creating a social utopia, in which the #2 commandment (after worshipping God) is to be nice to your neighbours.

But Paul got in there, turned it to his own purposes, introduced an awful hierarchical structure, subjugated women, hated sex, demanded money, actually made up his own commandments contrary to Christ's teachings, and told scary stories to get obedience. What a bastard.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:34 PM on November 14, 2003


Before you castigate Paul, check out how the rest of the society of his day treated women. He looks positively liberal in comparison.

While you are at it, check out the endings of some of his New Testament letters. They are chock full of commendations for and greetings to female fellow workers.
posted by konolia at 6:39 PM on November 14, 2003


Oh, and if Paul hated sex so much, I wonder why he would command husbands to give their wives what was due them and vice versa (in reference to the sexual act.) I would also like to point out specifically that women's needs as well as men's were addressed. Any talk of celibacy should be seen in the context of the heavy persecution that Christians were under at the time. Kinda hard to raise a family under the circumstances.
posted by konolia at 6:43 PM on November 14, 2003


Before you castigate Paul, check out how the rest of the society of his day treated women. He looks positively liberal in comparison.

So temporal relativism? I was under the impression that the Bible is a guide/instruction set for all times but your comment seems to indicate otherwise.
posted by billsaysthis at 7:18 PM on November 14, 2003


Kinda hard to raise a family under the circumstances.

Yeah, but that was then, this is now. Circumstances have changed, haven't they? In a secular society, laws that lose their usefulness over time are amended, deleted, or overruled.

I have a lot of respect for the Judeochristian ethic, and a lot of respect for the U.S. Constitution. I don't worship either one. I recognize flaws in both.
posted by PrinceValium at 7:22 PM on November 14, 2003


Who gives a crap if they ever went to a movie or put some makeup on? Not the Lord!

I understand that you may think that he has whispered this into your ear, but you see, those other folks say he tells them differently. How is an objective outsider to differentiate between the two claims when both are based on an irrational premise and both are unverifiable?

Of course, one doesn't need to believe either version to do good works, or even to commit one's life to such efforts, so I don't see the relevance of your examples. Even some of those who won't wear lipstick probably help others from time to time.
posted by rushmc at 7:34 PM on November 14, 2003


In my culture, sir, the distinction is known as "picking fly shit out of pepper."

Then I guess I have issues with your culture.

we're all right where we're supposed to be.

I think you need to tolerate my view that there is no "supposed to."
posted by rushmc at 7:37 PM on November 14, 2003


Before you castigate Paul, check out how the rest of the society of his day treated women. He looks positively liberal in comparison.

What? You, a moral relativist?? If he was speaking on behalf of God, then he shouldn't have based any of his policies or prescriptions on what other people were doing, or cared. He should have explained how God wanted it and told people to do it that way or else. Kind of like Jesus.
posted by rushmc at 7:40 PM on November 14, 2003


After all, He did give a donkey the power of speech once.

That's no way to talk about the Pope.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 7:48 PM on November 14, 2003


Before you fail to castigate Paul, read his works closely and critically.

Christ is the man who treated Mary as an equal, as a disciple equal among the men, who "loved her more than all of us [disciples]", and who called her his companion.

Christ is not a man who would have women subjugated to men.

Paul is no Christ, and his religion is not Christ-like.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:54 PM on November 14, 2003


I just think it is impossible for someone to talk Skallas into believing. Now, God Himself could choose to reveal Himself to Skallas, but God could also give a pig a soprano voice if He wanted to. After all, He did give a donkey the power of speech once.

Dude, Mr. Ed was a television show, and he was a horse, not a donkey. Sheesh.
posted by The God Complex at 9:13 PM on November 14, 2003


Also, what you see as the hands of god/jesus, I see as human decency and compassion, something that shouldn't require any rewards in the afterlife for people to follow. But, as I said, I don't people who have faith, although I can't for the life of me understand how anyone could think the world was 6,000 years old.
posted by The God Complex at 9:17 PM on November 14, 2003


That would be some branches of the Church of Christ denomination. The other stuff you name is also ridiculous. Sorry, I call it like I see it.

You do know your Christian fundamentalist sects. No need to apologize; I am no longer a member of that sect.

Of course the stuff I listed was ridiculous; that's why I listed it. It is, unfortunately, no more ridiculous, and no less supported by evidence, than many mainstream Christian doctrines endorsed by more liberal denominations.
posted by kindall at 10:34 PM on November 14, 2003


I think of one man I know who has ministered to AIDS patients for years-and once a year he takes a vacation to New York to help the homeless. I think of a lady I know who went into one of the worst housing projects in this city...

This is all great stuff, and I think that it would be a wonderful world if more people did these things for their fellow humans.

I just don't see what being nice has to do with some invisible superhero in the sky who threatens to torture you forever if you can't decode his secret message.

And yeah, what they said.
posted by majcher at 11:05 PM on November 14, 2003


Actually it surprises me that there aren't more tolerant atheists - who only seem to be asking to not have another belief system thrust upon them, and be allowed the freedom to think as they want and not be stereotyped by it.

There are LOTS of tolerant atheists, they just don't often get involved in discussions like this one, where nobody is going to convince anyone of anything and all that happens is people get defensive and their existing beliefs become more entrenched. I tend to agree with people like rushmc and skallas about a lot of things, but people don't often change their minds about this sort of thing because of someone telling them over and over again that there is/isn't a God, and the intellectual exercise of debating usually devolves into insults, so I don't see the point of getting involved most of the time.
posted by biscotti at 12:15 AM on November 15, 2003


For the record, I really don't hold any illusions about changing anyone's mind. Religionists are going to keep believing in whatever they believe in, atheists are going to keep not believing in whatever they don't believe in, and the poor saps caught in the middle are going to keep being bored and/or annoyed by the bickering. (Like I've said before, I'm glad that you have something to keep you from lying awake at night, terrified of the abyss that's barreling towards you. Just, you know, keep me out of it.) So why say anything at all? You got me. Maybe I just feel the need to "represent", as the kids say these days, for my soulless crew, just to make sure that the caterwauling is even on both sides or something.

Plus, you're all wrong! Wrong, I tell you!
posted by majcher at 12:34 AM on November 15, 2003


This is all sort of dancing around the central issue, which is that if you believe in god you're mistaken and should be ridiculed by a cohort of trained professionals and gifted amateurs.
posted by Hildago at 12:56 AM on November 15, 2003


I mean, let's get back on point.
posted by Hildago at 12:56 AM on November 15, 2003


Metafilter: Be ridiculed by a cohort of trained professionals and gifted amateurs.
posted by konolia at 6:05 AM on November 15, 2003


Best. Tagline. Ever.
posted by rushmc at 6:41 AM on November 15, 2003


Hildago, the conversation usually goes something like this:

MeFier A: People who believe in God shouldn't be ridiculed for it.

MeFier B: Why do you expect that your belief should be respected? Not all beliefs deserve that. Do you respect a Hitler or someone who believes in Santa Claus?

The discussion then devolves into whether God exists or doesn't and whether religion is pernicious or not, and the first issue gets lost.

I just think that each person deserves to be treated as an individual and respected (or not) according to their behaviour and according to the integrity of what they do vs. what they profess - with of course some reference to the rationality of their beliefs in reference to their social context.

The context consideration comes in when it comes the consideration of the rationality of the person's belief, NOT its ultimate rightness or wrongness, unless I can definitively prove it right or wrong. When I consider the context of religious belief, I just don't think it's fair or respectful to make the belief in God = belief in fairies equation. In our society fairies are an individual delusion. Not many people believe in them, and they are generally people who display other characteristics and behaviour that are not considered healthy or desirable, and many people who are fairy-believers probably could be judged mentally ill by our society's accepted definitions. By contrast the religious people in our society are often taught religious doctrines from birth. These beliefs are supported by a larger social context - church communities, familial teachings, religious literature, faith-based schools, etc. Were the Aztecs crazy for believing in the gods they did? No, because in light of their societal context it's just not reasonable to expect them to be Quakers or agnostics. Would it have been fair to go among them and tell them they are "morally bankrupt" and equate their beliefs to that of Santa Claus? No, and they'd probably have eaten alive anyone that tried such a thing - literally.

Of course our society differs from the Aztecs in that there are plenty of influences to counter any set of religious beliefs. Someone might think that his or hers is the only way to think and they might even be right, but I still think the convinced person is not justified in automatically treating an equally convinced person of opposing beliefs with contempt - and furthermore, the contemptuous convinced person also kills the possibility of meaningful, positive interaction with the other person. Take a careful look at the person first - are their beliefs reasonable given the societal context? Is this person a contributing member of this world or are they harming others or themselves by their acts or profession? Does this person have integrity? Are they reasonably consistent?

So, if I see a person of any religious faith who is honestly, intelligently and thoughtfully trying to do the right thing by his her own lights, who is a contributing member of the human race or at least does not harm anyone or try to compel others to live (or die) by his or her faith-based beliefs, and whose beliefs are reasonable given his or her social context, then yes, I do respect that person regardless of what his or her beliefs may be. I don't hold that person responsible for what others of the same faith may do.

That's why I get so angry when someone like konolia is called "morally bankrupt" and told she is "exactly the same as Ashcroft". She is not. It's no more fair to hold someone like her responsible for what some asshole Christian does than it is to blame a single U.S. citizen for Bush's lies. Yes, both tithe-paying konolia and the tax-paying U.S. citizen support a system that produces powerful people who do some really terrible things. But they don't have THAT much influence on such complex, enormous organizations, and both systems do great things too, so it's not as simple as "they should just wash their hands of the entire system; if they support it at all, they are part of the problem". Seems to me this viewpoint is perilously close to Bush's "you are with us or against us" viewpoint.

In the end, each person stands or falls on his or her own merits, and I wish we at MetaFilter could take a subjective, case-by-case, context-sensitive approach in according respect to each other. And, if I have considered all these things and don't feel someone is rational and has integrity or that they have anything to offer in the way of meaningful interaction, and if I've perhaps had made an effort to lay out my countering arguments and it has had no effect, then it would probably be best if I avoided that person altogether. Because there are plenty of others who are well worth the time I spend here, and from whom I can learn much, even though I may not always agree with them either.
posted by orange swan at 6:43 AM on November 15, 2003


As far as I'm concerned, people can believe whatever the hell they want to, as long as they don't push it on me. I don't care if your religion says you "must" try to convert me. Suppose MY religion said that I must give anyone who attempts to convert me five good wallops upside the head with a Louisville Slugger, and any attempts to charge me with assault and battery are nothing but religious persecution! I have no more right to go around taking a bat to people's heads than others have to harass me with their religion. Christians whine that no one complains about other religions. That's because Muslims do not ring my doorbell at 8 a.m. on a Saturday to talk to me about Allah. Jewish people do not try to tag-team pressure me into going to a Torah Study. Buddhists don't try to give me pamphlets about reaching Nirvana. Basically, lots of non-Christians don't like Christians because the most vocal ones are obnoxious jerks who want to force everyone to believe as they do. If people don't like the consequences of their actions-- tough.
posted by Shoeburyness at 7:00 AM on November 15, 2003


Buddhists don't try to give me pamphlets about reaching Nirvana.

I was coming down the steps of the Jefferson Memorial about thirty years ago when I got handed a book of hindu stuff and a carnation from some guy.

Something similar happened to me at the Chicago airport a few years later.

And how soon we forget the Moonies who used to be all over the place selling flowers.

Let us not forget Scientologists, Jehovah Witnesses, Mormons, and Amway distributors.
posted by konolia at 7:09 AM on November 15, 2003


Shoeburyness, wouldn't it be fairer to say you don't like some Christians for good reasons? Although I don't like evangelical, pushy religious people any more than you do, your post seems to indicate that you tar all Christians with the same brush.
posted by orange swan at 7:10 AM on November 15, 2003


That's why I get so angry when someone like konolia is called "morally bankrupt"

In the end, each person stands or falls on his or her own merits, and I wish we at MetaFilter could take a subjective, case-by-case, context-sensitive approach in according respect to each other.

I think you are making an unwarranted assumption in presuming that someone has not done the latter to arrive at the former conclusion.
posted by rushmc at 7:47 AM on November 15, 2003


Let us not forget Scientologists, Jehovah Witnesses, Mormons, and Amway distributors

If thy neighbor hath shat upon thee, go in the name of thy Lord and shit upon thy neighbor in even greater measure, for My law is that thou shalt do unto others as they have done unto thee.
posted by rushmc at 7:50 AM on November 15, 2003


And how soon we forget the Moonies who used to be all over the place selling flowers.

Let us not forget Scientologists, Jehovah Witnesses, Mormons, and Amway distributors.


All just as annoying as Christians, but less prevalent. Scientologists are damn well evil. Amway (and other barely legal pyramid schemes like Mary Kay, etc.) should be banned. But none of them are trying to take over our country and discard our Constitution like Dubya and his pushy, evangelical pals. Well, Co$ may be trying, but they have nowhere near the stranglehold that the Fundies do on our country.

Although I don't like evangelical, pushy religious people any more than you do, your post seems to indicate that you tar all Christians with the same brush.

I'm married to a Christian-- a Christian UU. Which means that he doesn't take the Bible literally, etc. Unlike a lot of Christians, he's actually read the Bible and made up his own mind about what it says, rather than being fed the party line by a minister or Bible Study group. Actually, we have an on-going disagreement because he self-identifies as Christian, but he is not Christian by my definition, which is someone who beleive that Jesus was actually a god of some sort. He merely beleives that Jesus was a man with good ideas. He's one of the few Christians I've met who actually seem to understand what "Christian" behavior should be, instead of spouting Bible verses they don't understand, hating those different than them, and manufacturing persecution to wail and moan about. Other Christians who allow the pushy, evangelical fundy Christians to go unchecked frankly deserve to be tarred with the same brush.
posted by Shoeburyness at 9:07 AM on November 15, 2003


Other Christians who allow the pushy, evangelical fundy Christians to go unchecked frankly deserve to be tarred with the same brush.
Shoe has a point here--I'd love to see more (or actually even just some) Christians publicly and vocally counteracting the extremists...By staying silent, or dismissing the media preachers, and people like that judge in Alabama, you give the appearance of agreement and acceptance of their intolerant views.
posted by amberglow at 9:59 AM on November 15, 2003


Shoe has a point here--I'd love to see more (or actually even just some) Christians publicly and vocally counteracting the extremists...By staying silent, or dismissing the media preachers, and people like that judge in Alabama, you give the appearance of agreement and acceptance of their intolerant views.

What are you talking about? God is so on board for this war on Iraq. Didn't you see the bumpersticker?
posted by The God Complex at 10:50 AM on November 15, 2003


If thy neighbor hath shat upon thee, go in the name of thy Lord and shit upon thy neighbor in even greater measure, for My law is that thou shalt do unto others as they have done unto thee.

I understand that Basic H does wonders in cleaning up those nasty messes.
posted by konolia at 10:57 AM on November 15, 2003


Orange, you're right. Utterly right: as long as their religion is helping the believer be a "better" person -- in terms of creating/sustaining a society that supports everyone to reach their full potential for happiness in a manner that does not infringe on others' happiness -- then religion is good.

It is a mistake, however, to mistake protest of some aspects of a religionists beliefs and/or actions as an attack on the entirety of that religionists beliefs and/or actions. A person can do both good and bad in this lifetime, and the one does not cancel out the other.

I am one person who has been thoroughly disgusted, and expressed that disgust in strong language, by one of Konolia's actions. I firmly and passionately believe that she has used her religious beliefs as a rationale for victimizing and punishing women who have made a personal life-decision that they felt would help them achieve greater happiness and did not infringe on others' happiness by any sensible definition of the term.

In most cases, yes, Konolia's religion appears to have helped her be a better person. Many of her actions are generous and help others achieve greater happiness. For those actions, she can be praised and her religion well-respected.

At the same time, she can be condemned for those actions that have hurt others.

It is not by the beliefs that a person should be judged, but by their actions. And while a person can be judged as "good" or "bad" overall through the sum of their actions, it is more useful yet to judged each action on its own.

Here endeth Fishes' epistle, praise be to humanity.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:17 AM on November 15, 2003


In other words, he is unhappy that I consider abortion to be murder.

My greatgrandmother was conceived out of wedlock. So was her first child. Her last child, conceived in her forties, was my grandmother. She was pregnant out of wedlock with my mom. Who had me about 6 months after her wedding.

In every single generation I just mentioned, fff could conclude that abortion would have been appropriate. I on the other hand am happy to be here. None of the above lives were ruined irreparably-not even my greatgreatgrandmother's.
posted by konolia at 11:35 AM on November 15, 2003


Maybe I just feel the need to "represent", as the kids say these days, for my soulless crew, just to make sure that the caterwauling is even on both sides or something.

I hear you, and am glad you do it. On rereading my comment, I realize that it came across as me saying that I wish atheists stayed quiet, and that's not what I really meant at all, it's more that people get so irate about this issue and people get to insulting each other so quickly that the intellectual exercise tends to fall by the wayside sometimes. I might agree with the "invisible superhero" kind of comments, I just don't know that this approach is any better than the comparable comments from the believers' side in terms of usefulness to the discussion.
posted by biscotti at 11:52 AM on November 15, 2003


In every single generation I just mentioned, fff could conclude that abortion would have been appropriate.
how about "...would, and should have been an option"?
posted by amberglow at 11:58 AM on November 15, 2003


Would it have been fair to go among them [Azteks] and tell them they are "morally bankrupt" and equate their beliefs to that of Santa Claus? No, and they'd probably have eaten alive anyone that tried such a thing - literally.

Isn't this essentially what the Spanish missionaries did, though, and while a few of the early missionaries did end up eaten, I see that Mexico and much of Latin America is today heavily Catholic.

None of the above lives were ruined irreparably-not even my greatgreatgrandmother's.

True although one might wonder how you can reconcile your stated beliefs--when those beliefs insist that your listed family members will spend eternity roasting like chestnuts--with their actions. If your relations had acted in accordance with this no sex outside of marriage rule, you would have been just as non-existent as if they had chosen to have abortions.
posted by billsaysthis at 12:07 PM on November 15, 2003


If your relations had acted in accordance with this no sex outside of marriage rule, you would have been just as non-existent as if they had chosen to have abortions.

Zing!
posted by rushmc at 12:31 PM on November 15, 2003


Being born out of wedlock is no argument for opposing abortion. I was born out of wedlock, too, and yet I still support the mother's right to choose to carry to term or to abort. I do not conclude for any other person whether abortion is appropriate: that conclusion is solely for the mother to make.

I'm not upset at all that you consider murder to be abortion, just as I'm not upset that PETA considers meat to be murder.

What does upset me are actions, not opinions. Your actions were "evil", in that they run counter to the ideal of acting in ways that support the achievement of happiness.

As strong as your opinion on abortion is, it is not right to impose that opinion on others' decisions for their own personal happiness. In picketing abortion clinics, you overstepped the boundaries: you made use of fear and aggression and threat of violence to force others to behave according to your preference.

yes, fear and aggression and threat of violence: no matter how small and peaceful your group was, the fact that other pickets have been horrifically brutal is foremost in the minds of anyone approaching the picketed clinics, and none can safely assume that they will not be harassed, bullied, or beat up on the way in.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:35 PM on November 15, 2003


when those beliefs insist that your listed family members will spend eternity roasting like chestnuts--with their actions

Jesus died for those sins too. I wish some of you would go read the New Testament or something.

And I picketed before people started shooting people and blowing up things. Like four college students with two signs and two bibles were very scary.

See, if my ancestors had behaved themselves, you wouldn't have me to torment you on metafilter. Heh.
posted by konolia at 12:40 PM on November 15, 2003


what a bizarre turn of phrase "out of wedlock" is, no? have you ever heard anyone say "he's a fine strapping lad, born in wedlock, with ten fingers and ten toes all where they belong!"?

i know a guy who insists that a "full wedlock" is that move michael jackson made famous, the one where he turns his head and, um, coughs.

overheard at the discount muffler shop:
"ayuh, the stanchion flange on your axle support has gone completely out of wedlock, ma'am. i can't let you drive it like that."
posted by quonsar at 12:59 PM on November 15, 2003


Metafilter: full of bastards ; >
posted by amberglow at 1:01 PM on November 15, 2003


what a bizarre turn of phrase "out of wedlock" is, no?

"Wedlock" itself sounds like something only someone into BDSM could enjoy.
posted by rushmc at 1:24 PM on November 15, 2003


<reverb>"Apply the wedlock! Muhahahahahaha!"</reverb>
posted by quonsar at 2:04 PM on November 15, 2003


But seriously, even if you earnestly believe that your coffee table is out to get you because you stubbed your toe, and even if you don't bother anyone with your belief, you are still wrong and it would be better for you if you weren't wrong.
posted by Hildago at 2:04 PM on November 15, 2003


you have obviously never met my coffee table, sir.
posted by quonsar at 2:13 PM on November 15, 2003



I'm not going to deny Jesus.

There are a lot of Chinese Christians who are being arrested, tortured, and even killed because their government thinks they are deluded and need correcting. I have met a Chinese couple who personally are associated with these people and who are at risk of arrest most of the time. In fact the wife WAS arrested once already.

Hildago, is this really the road you and Skallas would like to go down?

For a lot of people this isn't a half-rancorous, half-humorous discussion. For a lot of people this is literally life and death.
posted by konolia at 2:25 PM on November 15, 2003


when those beliefs insist that your listed family members will spend eternity roasting like chestnuts--with their actions

Jesus died for those sins too. I wish some of you would go read the New Testament or something.


Exaggeration is a reasonable rhetorical tool. Still, you didn't address the meat, which is that you seem to feel okay with picking and choosing which rules are to be obeyed.
posted by billsaysthis at 2:35 PM on November 15, 2003


It isn't about the rules. It's about the Relationship.
posted by konolia at 2:49 PM on November 15, 2003


I'm not going to deny Jesus.

psht. my coffee table can kick jesus' ass 6 ways to sunday and back. for example: nobody has ever *dared* make a coffee table buttplug.
posted by quonsar at 2:52 PM on November 15, 2003


For a lot of people this isn't a half-rancorous, half-humorous discussion. For a lot of people this is literally life and death.

What do you mean by "this", konolia? Not really this thread, or this link, I am guessing. Perhaps Hildago's comment, "it would be better for you if you weren't wrong." If that is the "this", then I just have to point out that it is precisely the same feeling that you yourself have regarding non-Christians: "it would be better for you if you weren't wrong".

As you point out, for many people their religious beliefs do indeed lead to life and death consequences, but there's no "this" here. Hildago and skallas would no more like to follow that road than you would like to follow the road of government-decreed arrests and executions of non-believers.
posted by taz at 3:01 PM on November 15, 2003


But seriously, even if you earnestly believe that your coffee table is out to get you because you stubbed your toe, and even if you don't bother anyone with your belief, you are still wrong and it would be better for you if you weren't wrong.

And it is quite reasonable for someone to question your judgement in all areas because you persist in being irrational in one area.
posted by rushmc at 3:46 PM on November 15, 2003


billsaythis: you didn't address the meat, which is that you seem to feel okay with picking and choosing which rules are to be obeyed.

She answered the question by indicating that she believes that forgiveness of sins is found in faith in Jesus; she believes her ancestors sinned and were forgiven for their sins. This isn't picking and choosing.
posted by taz at 3:48 PM on November 15, 2003


And it is quite reasonable for someone to question your judgement in all areas because you persist in being irrational in one area.

And whatever areas are affected by your decisions in that one area, yes. That's not so uncommon, is it?

Especially if the irrationality in one area is a symptom of something more systematic. If someone believes in, let's say Creationism, it can only be because they're willfully ignorant. If someone is willfully ignorant, I can't say I trust them in other areas.

And if my salad has a dead bird in it, I make sure to check what's underneath my pork chop.
posted by Hildago at 4:14 PM on November 15, 2003


If my salad has a dead bird in it, it means I've ordered chicken salad and now I need a nice, slightly smoky Chardonnay.

Sorry. I've been up too long; I'm stopping.
posted by taz at 4:29 PM on November 15, 2003


In some countries a dead bird in your salad means you have to marry the chef.
posted by Hildago at 4:32 PM on November 15, 2003


It's true. This happened to me once. Also, a mint on the pillow means you have to go out to cheesy disco bars and drink three or more Singapore Slings.
posted by taz at 4:42 PM on November 15, 2003


"Like four college students with two signs and two bibles were very scary" indicates that you really don't appreciate how emotionally vulnerable the patients likely were. Still, I'm relieved to hear you quit picketing before things got ugly, Konolia. That speaks well of you.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:02 PM on November 15, 2003


For a lot of people this is literally life and death.

I'm just boggled that there are people who choose a religion that kills them. That's the ultimate antithesis of what a religion faith can do for a religionist.

I've known religious people who genuinely benefited by their faith, finding within themselves the moral character to live a good life that balances their personal happiness with the happiness of others. That's "good" religion, by my books.

Having a faith that results in torture and death is just plain anti-religious, IMO. Every bit as senseless as being tortured and killed for believing in the Tooth Fairy or the Flat Earth.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:10 PM on November 15, 2003


For a lot of people this is literally life and death.

Well, what else would you expect from a death cult like Christianity? I mean, really!
posted by rushmc at 5:19 PM on November 15, 2003


Hildago and skallas would no more like to follow that road than you would like to follow the road of government-decreed arrests and executions of non-believers.

True enough-but it's those very sentiments that can eventually lead to people getting tortured for their faith-and in all fairness to the other side, for their unbelief (Not that I think anyone doing that has God on their side, but I've read a little history too.)

The thing about finding God is that you actually have to be looking for Him first. If you don't believe in Him you will never see him. But like a coffee table in the dark, He is there.

If I were sitting in a coffee house with you all having this conversation, the first thing I would want to know is what your concept of God is-or would be if you believed in Him. I think that would be very telling.
posted by konolia at 6:08 PM on November 15, 2003


Metafilter: a death cult like Christianity....
posted by dash_slot- at 6:09 PM on November 15, 2003


I don't have a viable concept of God. That's like asking me whats my concept of Zeus, or Jupiter. Someone lese invented them and ascribed powers to them. Me, I think they entertained and scared a pre-industrial society and were discarded when they were seen to be useless.

Hmm...

I guess Saul may have found leprechauns, had he been an Irish tax-collector and fabulist....
posted by dash_slot- at 6:15 PM on November 15, 2003


I'm just boggled that there are people who choose a religion that kills them

"The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life."

"What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul?"

"I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in Me will never die."
posted by konolia at 6:18 PM on November 15, 2003


....for eternal life....lose his soul.....I am the resurrection....



- Prove it

- I can't

- OK then. Bye.
posted by dash_slot- at 6:33 PM on November 15, 2003


If you don't believe in Him you will never see him.

Whew, I'm safe, then! ::: relaxes :::
posted by rushmc at 6:36 PM on November 15, 2003


- Prove it

He did. It's called the Resurrection.
posted by konolia at 6:42 PM on November 15, 2003


but what has he done lately, konolia? : >
posted by amberglow at 6:45 PM on November 15, 2003


He did. It's called the Resurrection.

The new Tupac movie? Awwwww shizzel, nizzel.

Jesus died for those sins too. I wish some of you would go read the New Testament or something.


But, like, what if my neighbour's wife is really hot, and nobody is going to find out? Zero sum morality!

Seriously, though, "it's in the bible" just doesn't cut it for me, especially considering most of the morality tales in it were taken from older religions.
posted by The God Complex at 7:42 PM on November 15, 2003


[rolls eyes]

Konolia, that response was a non-response. It carries as much meaning as "furious green clouds scribbled across the albacore."

I can respect your statements regarding how your religious faith assists you in living a fulfilling life. I can appreciate that it helps you behave in a manner that is generally beneficial to your happiness and others' happiness.

Please respect the fact that I am a radical atheist. I am convinced there is no such thing as god. I find the very concept of god to be so ridiculously illogical and unnecessary that I'm completely boggled by the fact that there are people who nonetheless believe in a god. I "don't believe in god" the same way that I don't believe in the tooth fairy: it's not a matter of belief but a matter of knowing. There are no gods, period, full-stop.

So please recognize that your response was, for me, absolute nonsense. It is no explanation, nor is it any sort of justification.

I can only meet you half way: I can accept that for some people, religion can be beneficial. I can not accept that dying for religion is beneficial in any way, shape, or form. Dying for religion is, to put it plainly, abysmally stupid.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:47 PM on November 15, 2003


I find that I despise people in the plural, while loving many, if not most, of them in the singular. In other words, I loathe humanity, while loving individual humans. I have been wrestling with this contradiction for many years.

For what it's worth, I have much the same feelings about religious types, and particularly about Christians. As a group, I have little but contempt for them (although the group includes, like all other groups, worthy individuals) while there are many persons I care for, like or love to varying degrees (including konolia) who profess faith. The fact that those individuals self-identify with a tribe of which I am not a part, and that I tend to dislike collectively, does not for me enter into it.

That's all I have to say about that at the moment.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:22 PM on November 15, 2003


Well then, I'll just go back to saying that we'd all have been better off if Jesus hadn't gotten his friends book deals.
posted by Hildago at 11:08 PM on November 15, 2003


I loathe humanity, while loving individual humans. I have been wrestling with this contradiction for many years.

This is not necessarily a contradiction. A mere 0.1% margin of error in a survey of whether people suck would mean there could be as many as 6 million people who don't suck, while still allowing the statement "all people suck" to be statistically true. So if you find people who don't suck, it's probably within the margin of error. And when you consider how many people you will encounter over the course of your life, 0.1% seems about right to me...
posted by kindall at 11:09 PM on November 15, 2003


True enough-but it's those very sentiments that can eventually lead to people getting tortured for their faith-and in all fairness to the other side, for their unbelief

Aww, come on, pretty much anything can lead to torture.
posted by Hildago at 11:10 PM on November 15, 2003


Dying for religion is, to put it plainly, abysmally stupid


"For the message of the cross is foolishness to those that are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate." "

The passage I pulled that out of (first chapter of 1st Corinthians if anyone cares) has even more to say about how from a "worldly" standpoint, the message of Christianity sounds foolish.

So now you know why I am never offended when you all think I believe something idiotic.
posted by konolia at 3:46 AM on November 16, 2003


A mere 0.1% margin of error in a survey of whether people suck would mean there could be as many as 6 million people who don't suck, while still allowing the statement "all people suck" to be statistically true.

Excellent!

how from a "worldly" standpoint, the message of Christianity sounds foolish

Good, you've accepted that, so you're halfway there! Now you just need to get onboard with the fact that the "worldly" standpoint is all there is. Then do the math.
posted by rushmc at 4:35 AM on November 16, 2003


"I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate."

Now it all makes sense...

konolia, I could never respect any faith that looks down on wiseness and intelligence. Or were we supposed to get a different meaning out of that passage?
posted by PrinceValium at 5:08 AM on November 16, 2003


If I were sitting in a coffee house with you all having this conversation, the first thing I would want to know is what your concept of God is

If I were in a coffee house where this conversation was taking place, I would never go back to that coffee house again.
posted by rcade at 5:48 AM on November 16, 2003


Here's a thought... Let's elect a new god and let him/her serve say no more than two four year terms. I nominate George W since he really seems to want the job.

/ridiculous

Seriously though, of all the arguments here, this has got to be the worst. Believers are offended when others can't "see," but have no problem dissing some for whatever they might hold dear (politics, etc). No one's changing anyones mind here, especially if you believe you need to seek-to-see, and the only thing that gets accomplished are hurt feelings for the thin-skinned. I move we strike this argument and move on. Besides, everyone knows Lou Reed is god!

MetaFilter/Talk: Tolerant we are not.
posted by LouReedsSon at 5:56 AM on November 16, 2003


i sorta like the coptic view of a retard god run amok creating a flawed and insane universe.
posted by quonsar at 6:40 AM on November 16, 2003


So matthowie is the Demiurge?
posted by rushmc at 7:08 AM on November 16, 2003


i used to get a powerful demi urge. then the petrified portman trolls over at slashdot ruined everything, them with the hot grits down the pants and all.
posted by quonsar at 7:17 AM on November 16, 2003


I move we strike this argument and move on.

Second the motion.
posted by languagehat at 7:44 AM on November 16, 2003


I move we strike this argument and move on.

MetaFilter/Talk: Tolerant we are not.


Hmm.
posted by rushmc at 8:21 AM on November 16, 2003


They put hot grits down your pants, q? All I ever got was cold oatmeal.

And if we're gonna strike this arguement, wait a minute and I'll borrow some picket signs from the Albertson's down the street...
posted by wendell at 8:26 AM on November 16, 2003


Besides, everyone knows Lou Reed is god

which strangely makes sense if you consider the traditional view of God being an old, grouchy, smart Jewish guy

(I can't see the leather jacket, anyway)
posted by matteo at 9:10 AM on November 16, 2003


Stupid is as stupid does.

Quoting passage to a radical atheist, especially after said atheist has defined that atheism in clear terms, is just a deliberately obtuse action.

Dying for religion remains among the depths of stupidity.

Might as well die for the Tony the Tiger.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:45 AM on November 16, 2003


Hildago, rushmc, I still haven't seen an argument on why it would be better for her if konolia wasn't wrong.
posted by Snyder at 9:45 AM on November 16, 2003


Todd is Godd.
posted by kindall at 9:53 AM on November 16, 2003


Kindall, you are old enough to know that as far as rock stars go, Clapton is God.

billsaythis: you didn't address the meat, which is that you seem to feel okay with picking and choosing which rules are to be obeyed.

She answered the question by indicating that she believes that forgiveness of sins is found in faith in Jesus; she believes her ancestors sinned and were forgiven for their sins. This isn't picking and choosing.


So then abortion is okay, even if it is murder, because the woman who has the abortion can/will be forgiven. Therefore, konolia is personally appreciative that her maters had the children out of wedlock but the sin is forgiven. Good for her. And we can all go out and do any bad thing day after day, just as long as we repent before death and then we get to spend eternity in the wonderful place.

That makes so much sense to me. I wonder why I never figured this out before. Must be my problem with wisdom that she pointed out in the bible passage. But I think this whole ability to escape personal responsibility is a great thing.
posted by billsaysthis at 10:42 AM on November 16, 2003


But I think this whole ability to escape personal responsibility is a great thing.

So do most Christians.
posted by rushmc at 10:51 AM on November 16, 2003


billsaythis: you didn't address the meat

"how can you 'ave yer puddin' if you don't address the meat?"
posted by quonsar at 1:18 PM on November 16, 2003


And we can all go out and do any bad thing day after day, just as long as we repent before death and then we get to spend eternity in the wonderful place.

Hey, it worked for Ted Bundy.

That sinner Ghandi, though... man, that sucker's gonna burn, burn, burn.
posted by majcher at 1:21 PM on November 16, 2003


If you all would be so kind as to read the book of Romans, it would save me so much trouble.

I obey God because I love Him. Being a flawed human, I stumble. The Bible says we stumble in many ways. The Lord picks us up when we fall, washes us off, and helps us keep on keeping on.

But as the Bible clearly states, we are not to keep on deliberately sinning because we are under the law of Grace.

This is all way too involved for a metatalk thread filled with atheists and others who enjoy looking for ways to tweak Konolia. Besides, the only reason said tweaking makes me sad is that you really don't get it, and may never get it.

There is a God, and one day you will come before Him. I really would like that to be a happy wonderful day for you all instead of a day filled with bitter regret and the painful knowledge of what you could have had and what you could have been.

You are like blind men who not only will not ever see the beauty of a sunset, refuse to acknowlege there could even be one. Like deaf men who scoff at the idea that Beethoven's Ninth exists and is pleasurable to hear.

You really CAN"T see.

And speaking of Bundy, there is a sense in that the best of us is more depraved than we could ever know compared to the absolute holiness of God. The fact He would even lift a finger to help us amazes angels.
posted by konolia at 1:53 PM on November 16, 2003


Hildago, rushmc, I still haven't seen an argument on why it would be better for her if konolia wasn't wrong.

I didn't know you'd asked, or that one was necessary.
posted by Hildago at 2:05 PM on November 16, 2003


I don't understand how you can continue to spout scripture at us, Konolia. It's as inane as using Alien as an argument on the dangers of space travel.

You don't seem to be capable of comprehending atheism is. You don't understand that the bible is just a story. It's fiction. It has some good ideas in it, yes, but so do Aesop's fables.

You're the one who just doesn't get it.

It would be eversonice if you were to understand. If you'd only start thinking about and exploring things without bringing your religious agenda into the discussion, we might actually end up with some interesting conclusions.

It makes me sad that you live in such a tiny box.
posted by five fresh fish at 2:32 PM on November 16, 2003


You can't argue with faith.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 2:49 PM on November 16, 2003


Well, I'm sure we'll all let each other know what happens when we get there. Everything else is just speculation.
posted by PrinceValium at 2:53 PM on November 16, 2003


You are like blind men who not only will not ever see the beauty of a sunset, refuse to acknowlege there could even be one. Like deaf men who scoff at the idea that Beethoven's Ninth exists and is pleasurable to hear.

So you're saying that God did not give some of us the sense organs necessary to accept your belief in him? Sounds pretty mean to me, but then so do, say, blindness and deafness.
posted by billsaysthis at 3:31 PM on November 16, 2003


Like deaf men who scoff at the idea that Beethoven's Ninth exists and is pleasurable to hear.

Beethoven was of course functionally deaf when he wrote the Ninth. One does not need belief in any deity to appreciate the beauty and complexity of the universe.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 4:14 PM on November 16, 2003


There is a God, and one day you will come before Him. I really would like that to be a happy wonderful day for you all instead of a day filled with bitter regret and the painful knowledge of what you could have had and what you could have been.

If there's a god who's as wonderful as you say, I'm sure s/he'll judge us on how we lived our lives, and not on whether or not we went to church and went through the motions of belief. It strikes me as remarkably petty and selfish to place more importance on trappings, than actually living a good life. Many of the atheists I know are more "Christian" (in the sense of leading a life that the Biblical Christ would have approved of) than many self-professed Christians I know, a god who would reward the latter and punish the former isn't one I'd care to worship, even if I believed she/he/it existed.
posted by biscotti at 5:13 PM on November 16, 2003


I obey God because I love Him.

Obedience is a very misguided expression of love. I would hope that the people in your life don't try to coerce certain behaviors out of you by guilttripping you with "you would if you LOVED me"....

There is a God, and one day you will come before Him.

Should that happen, I will pity him.
posted by rushmc at 5:18 PM on November 16, 2003


Should that happen, I will pity him.

You know, it strikes me that it would probably be best if atheists didn't say things like that.

I know you mean it in the same way you mean "The Easter Bunny is leaving chocolates for me tonight."

But I think it's very likely that a religionist wouldn't understand that. I think they'd tend to interpret "should that happen" to mean that you're saying you really could meet God. Because how otherwise could it be interpreted? If you don't mean what you're saying, then you're lying!

In fact it's just like having a conversation with a pre-schooler about the Easter Bunny. If some child were to tell you "There is an Easter Bunny! He's coming tonight!" and you responded "I'm gonna barbeque the Easter Bunny!", that child would really believe you were going to murder the EB! There'd be no doubt in his mind that the EB is as real to you as it is to him.

Anyway, I think it's probably a Bad Thing for atheists to make-pretend with the religionists. It only ends up with them being very confused about what atheism is.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:28 PM on November 16, 2003


It makes me sad that you live in such a tiny box

Oh, not at all, not at all!

BTW I really think it is so silly of some of you to insist I need to clear my noggin and declare with the rest of you that there is no God. You might have actually had a chance of getting away with that nonsense several decades ago: but I have had 23 years of interaction with the Lord, so you aren't going to convince me He isn't real.

Don't you folks realise that reality is more than the three dimensional world? And that our natural senses can only go so far?

And you all think I'M in a box.
posted by konolia at 7:23 PM on November 16, 2003


If there's a god who's as wonderful as you say, I'm sure s/he'll judge us on how we lived our lives, and not on whether or not we went to church and went through the motions of belief. It strikes me as remarkably petty and selfish to place more importance on trappings, than actually living a good life.

You're halfway there.

But God has his own definition of holiness. He wants us to have His, and then goodness will happen naturally, like apples naturally grow on an apple tree. The Bible says our own righteousness is as filthy rags. (actually menstrual cloths in the original language.)

Before I became a Christian I really tried to be good. It was quite a strain. As much as I wanted to be loving and unselfish, and might even have looked that way on the outside, inside what I really was was something else entirely.
posted by konolia at 7:37 PM on November 16, 2003


You know, it strikes me that it would probably be best if atheists didn't say things like that.

You're probably right. But then, I'm an agnostic.

I have had 23 years of interaction with the Lord

Duration does not give a delusion greater authenticity.

Before I became a Christian I really tried to be good. It was quite a strain.

I acknowledge your experience. I regret your "solution." But it is very presumptuous of you to assume that all of us must find it so and be equally overwhelmed.
posted by rushmc at 7:57 PM on November 16, 2003


There is a God, and one day you will come before Him. I really would like that to be a happy wonderful day for you all instead of a day filled with bitter regret and the painful knowledge of what you could have had and what you could have been.

You know, if there actually was a god, and he was a party to all this madness, and I met him after I died, I'd tell him to fuck himself and let me off at the first stop. Some test.

You are like blind men who not only will not ever see the beauty of a sunset, refuse to acknowlege there could even be one. Like deaf men who scoff at the idea that Beethoven's Ninth exists and is pleasurable to hear.


I didn't know there was a sixth, god-related sense, proven by science. I always thought you got it from the book that proved so useful to James and his ilk.
posted by The God Complex at 8:01 PM on November 16, 2003


I acknowledge your experience. I regret your "solution."

Rush, seriously, why do you regret my "solution"?

It isn't just that you don't believe in God; it seems to me that you and Skallas find the very idea of God abhorrent.

And don't tell me you hate to see me deluded. Why on earth does anything I have faith in affect you in any way, shape or form?

I look into the universe and see wonder and glory and magnificence-and ultimate Love.

Your view is of an ultimate abyss of nothingness and futility. I wish I could have you come look at what I see instead.
posted by konolia at 8:08 PM on November 16, 2003


I didn't know there was a sixth, god-related sense, proven by science.

do you work in administration ?
posted by sgt.serenity at 8:12 PM on November 16, 2003


What is this work of which you speak, and, generally speaking, how often do people do it?
posted by The God Complex at 8:15 PM on November 16, 2003


Your view is of an ultimate abyss of nothingness and futility. I wish I could have you come look at what I see instead.

thats ego talking konolia.
and i should know i have one too , im quite sure the lads see a lot of good in things around them and a lot of sad things too, why not try to see what they see instead of lecturing them ?
posted by sgt.serenity at 8:16 PM on November 16, 2003


Your view is of an ultimate abyss of nothingness and futility. I wish I could have you come look at what I see instead.

Look at all the pretty colours and excuses for suffering. Wheeeeeeeeeeee.

Read Nietzsche or some other existentialist thinker (I think he's the most colourful of them, stylistically). There's something very empowering about controlling your own destiny and choosing your own value set--I think it's more interesting and, ultimately, more fulfilling than being told what life is and what how to enjoy it.
posted by The God Complex at 8:19 PM on November 16, 2003


I look into the universe and see wonder and glory and magnificence

Belief in a deity is not required for this. Or else all those great NASA web photos wouldn't be linked so widely.

Before I became a Christian I really tried to be good. It was quite a strain

Not a strain for me. As rushmc pointed out, your sample size is far too small to generalize from.

Don't you folks realise that reality is more than the three dimensional world? And that our natural senses can only go so far?

There are 11 dimensions, as was pointed out when we discussed PBS' Elegant Universe the other day.

I really think it is so silly of some of you to insist I need to clear my noggin and declare with the rest of you that there is no God.

I'm hardly suggesting this, even if others are, but I am suggesting that your statements are simply not self-consistent.

One big issue I've always had with specific religious texts, such as the Bible, is that I only have someone else's word that it was given directly to the author by the deity. Science texts, OTOH and in comparison, are generally based on experimental results that I could duplicate with a little education and money.
posted by billsaysthis at 8:25 PM on November 16, 2003


what business of yours is it why your god doesn't want me to beleive in him?
posted by quonsar at 8:43 PM on November 16, 2003


konolia-like christians really give christianity a bad name. actually 99% of christians give christianity a bad name.

religions have been co-opted in what people want to believe. christians are really just worshipping their own set of ideals and rules.
posted by carfilhiot at 9:07 PM on November 16, 2003


Don't you folks realise that reality is more than the three dimensional world? And that our natural senses can only go so far?

On the contrary, an excellent definition for "reality" would be what you call "the three-dimensional world." (Others have pointed out already that it has more, but we know what you mean.) Our natural senses are, unfortunately, ALL WE HAVE. We can't know anything we can't perceive, and even our perceptions at times are none too reliable. I do not deny that there may be things that exist outside our senses' ability to perceive them, but the very fact that they are outside our senses means we cannot know anything about them -- even that they exist.

If I can't tell whether God exists or not, because He has no effect on things I can perceive, then his existince is completely irrelevant. Even if He does exist, He might as well not.
posted by kindall at 9:18 PM on November 16, 2003


Rush, seriously, why do you regret my "solution"?

Because, though some here may have their doubts, I have empathy for my fellow man and respect and admiration (mixed with other feelings) for my species. I don't like to see anyone choose to do something that is harmful to themselves or to others. And I believe your solution is a delusional crutch that you have turned to because it offered you a framework to cope with your life, which had gotten out of your control. Regaining control is a good thing, but turning your back on what is real in order to do so is a pyrrhic victory at best.

It isn't just that you don't believe in God; it seems to me that you and Skallas find the very idea of God abhorrent.

I speak only for myself of course, but you're right, I DO find the idea of God (as he is commonly envisioned by Christians and similar sects) abhorrent. I think many of the values espoused in the Bible are morally reprehensible, and I find the very idea of relinquishing control over and responsibility for one's life to some authoritative power—be it earthly or supernatural—appalling.

If there were a god that wanted me to believe in his existence but gave me no evidence of same and far more reason to doubt or dispute it, I would curse him for his gameplaying and his insincerity. If there were a god who demanded worship and adulation, I would find his neediness pathetic and suspect him of serious self-esteem issues. A god of sheep is only attractive to sheep. No one should feel the need to raise himself up through the erosion of the dignity of others; a god, even less so.

If there were an omnipotent god who balanced the world in favor of suffering and injustice, I would openly declare myself his enemy. So you are correct: I do not believe in the existence of God other than as man-created stories, but further, I find most of the motives for creating these particular types of tales both neurotic AND pathological.

And don't tell me you hate to see me deluded. Why on earth does anything I have faith in affect you in any way, shape or form?

But as I said, I DO hate to see it. Both for your sake, the sake of the children and other people that you will influence with your wrong-thinking, and the sake of the society in which I live, which is badly warped in countless ways by people who believe as you do. If the majority of your brethren did not both preach and practice intolerance, then it would be impossible for such things as the President of the United States to declare that atheists shouldn't be citizens to occur.

I look into the universe and see wonder and glory and magnificence-and ultimate Love.

But everything you see is filtered through a lie. And as was stated above, a similar view is attainable without compromising oneself.

Your view is of an ultimate abyss of nothingness and futility.

That is not at all an accurate representation of what I see. How could I see nothingness when there is so much out there—and the possibility of so much more to come? And futility is for those who have given up, which I think describes your position much more accurately than mine. Which of us denies our life in the hopes of some other to come? Which of us denies our responsibility for ourselves, choosing to be as a child and imagining an all-powerful daddy to take care of us and make everything come out all right in the end? Which of us chooses to accept what other people, many of whom we have never met and are long dead, tell us is right rather than thinking for ourselves and coming to our own conclusions? If anything is futile, it seems to me that it is the hopelessness of the Christian who denies life and dreams of a second chance that will never come.
posted by rushmc at 9:20 PM on November 16, 2003


Before I became a Christian I really tried to be good. It was quite a strain. As much as I wanted to be loving and unselfish, and might even have looked that way on the outside, inside what I really was was something else entirely

I'm glad your faith has helped you solve this problem, really, if your religion gives you the comfort and structure you need to be happy, then more power to you. I just don't find it a strain in my own life - I'm the only one who's responsible for my action or inaction, and I like it that way. I do the best I can to help and be good to people, or at very least not to cause pain, I don't need any reason to do that other than the fact that it's what's right for me. I'm not always loving and unselfish, and I don't think I've ever met someone who was, religious or not, it's part of the human condition to be selfish and mean sometimes.

Your view is of an ultimate abyss of nothingness and futility. I wish I could have you come look at what I see instead.

I can certainly see why you prefer your faith if for you not having faith shows you nothingness and futility, but please accept that this is not how it is for everyone. I see no shortage of wonder in the natural world and in the accomplishments of humanity, I see plenty of beauty and glory and magnificence with the physical senses I have, I don't need to imagine that there's anything more than what there is and what there is yet to discover (I say "imagine" because to me, that's what it would be, I understand that believers have conviction in their faith).
posted by biscotti at 9:39 PM on November 16, 2003


I am an atheist, but I'd rather have konolia for a neighbour than any one else in this thread.
posted by timeistight at 9:51 PM on November 16, 2003


including quonsar?
posted by PrinceValium at 9:53 PM on November 16, 2003


Okay, quonsar on the other side.
posted by timeistight at 10:06 PM on November 16, 2003


Okay, quonsar on the other side.

For shazzel, my nazzel. That's so kinky it's sick awful, dawg. I wonder what kind of bread Quonsar would be in this particular sexscapade. I bet rye.
posted by The God Complex at 10:08 PM on November 16, 2003


What RushMC said. He expressed it extremely well, if strongly.

The only difference in his and my views, in this regard, is as follows: "I don't like to see anyone choose to do something that is harmful to themselves or to others. And I believe your solution is a delusional crutch that you have turned to because it offered you a framework to cope with your life, which had gotten out of your control."

I don't think Konolia is as harmed by her religion as she would have been by the ruin of her previous way of living. Using a delusional crutch is better than stumbling into the gutter. A delusional crutch isn't preferable to a healthy reality, but it's a damn site better than a delusional bludgeon, or delusional herion, or delusional depostism.

But, yah, the rest of it is straight-on accurate. Certainly jives with how I see it.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:19 PM on November 16, 2003


I've learned something today...

...no, wait, no I haven't.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 12:02 AM on November 17, 2003


I bet rye.

my little english muffin.

*bats eyelashes*
posted by quonsar at 12:13 AM on November 17, 2003


Using a delusional crutch is better than stumbling into the gutter.

BLASPHEEEEEEMER! ABOMINATION!

*stumbles into gutter*
posted by quonsar at 12:17 AM on November 17, 2003


I don't need your pity for not seeing the light, konolia.

I respect your faith and have no quarrel with it. It's a personal thing. I don't see how proselytizing here in a such a wheedling manner does anything but elicit guffaws from a crowd that I'm sure you know is not exactly down with the king.
posted by attackthetaxi at 1:28 AM on November 17, 2003


There's something very empowering about controlling your own destiny

That, my dear friend, is an illusion. No one really controls their own destiny.
posted by konolia at 3:53 AM on November 17, 2003


That is your truth. It isn't mine, unless I'm feeling particularly bleak.

Freewill versus determinism is a continuing debate. I am glad you have solved it for yourself. However, I am guessing that most people do not organize their lives on the principle that God has a master plan for all of us. Even taking it on faith that there is a map of all intention and action hidden somewhere in the background radiation serves me little on a day-to-day basis. It might provide comfort when the day is done and I have time to reflect or whatnot, but making choices in the apparent world shouldn't even be an issue here. It is required, and since the material world is what I am seeing, more or less (?), I make these choices and try to take responsibility for them.

Whether or not it is illusory or utterly meaningless in the face of a higher reality hardly solves my problems. The debate is tedious, and though not a complete waste of time, can serve as a needless block on more pressing concerns. Seeking to reify realms that are beyond my ken is almost the essence of a futile activity for me.
posted by attackthetaxi at 5:18 AM on November 17, 2003


No one really controls their own destiny.

Well, taken quite literally this is true, of course. There are many variables in the world that bear upon one's life that one cannot control. But what one can and I think should control are one's own choices (even your god agrees with me to some degree or "sin" would be a non-issue). Many factors go into our choices (situational, unconscious, rational, even genetic), but at the end of the day, we still choose. Even choosing not to choose is a choice.

I guess it comes down to whether you'd rather steer the car (reacting to road and weather conditions as they arise) or ride in the back and let the chauffeur drive you about. It gets scary, though, when you realize that there IS no chauffeur in the front seat.
posted by rushmc at 6:05 AM on November 17, 2003


Good represents the reality of which God is the dream. —Iris Murdoch
posted by rushmc at 6:53 AM on November 17, 2003


I don't understand why you people are arguing about this. OK, Konolia believes in God and most of the rest of you don't. You believe she's delusional, she believes you are blind. Each of you is correct within your world view. Let it rest and let live.
posted by widdershins at 7:47 AM on November 17, 2003


posted by rushmc at 9:20 PM PST on November 16

That was a beautiful post.
posted by jsonic at 8:01 AM on November 17, 2003


I do not remember calling or thinking konolia 'delusional'. Do not put words in my mouth, widdershins. Blanket statements that, in error, seek to cover those who merely disagree with a few points are just sloppy. Please read all of the comments before you damn me with the 'you people' sigh of exhaustion. Thank you.
posted by attackthetaxi at 8:08 AM on November 17, 2003


Otay, sorry: make that "Many of you believe she's delusional, she believes many of you are blind."

Can't we all just get along?

*ducks*
posted by widdershins at 8:27 AM on November 17, 2003


I don't understand why you people are arguing about this.

It's a discussion, not an argument. If anyone doesn't want to discuss it anymore, I assume they're capable of just not posting or reading anymore. Why should everyone stop discussing something they clearly find interesting just because you can't understand why they'd want to talk about it?
posted by biscotti at 8:33 AM on November 17, 2003


Sorry widdershins, I overreacted. Again. I can't stop myself from ----ing up, it seems. But I will keep on 'til I get it right! :-)
posted by attackthetaxi at 8:38 AM on November 17, 2003


Can't we all just get along?



* ties metafilter members to stake , lights zippo *
posted by sgt.serenity at 8:49 AM on November 17, 2003


*stands up, applauds rushmc*
posted by majcher at 9:01 AM on November 17, 2003


No one really controls their own destiny.

Just out of curiosity, konolia, are you arguing against free will here? Because that just strikes me as kind of odd, for someone that believes that you have to choose for yourself whether to follow the Word Of God or not.
posted by majcher at 9:06 AM on November 17, 2003


And don't tell me you hate to see me deluded. Why on earth does anything I have faith in affect you in any way, shape or form?

Good question. It could also be asked of the person in this discussion who made this comment:
There is a God, and one day you will come before Him. I really would like that to be a happy wonderful day for you all instead of a day filled with bitter regret and the painful knowledge of what you could have had and what you could have been.

You are like blind men who not only will not ever see the beauty of a sunset, refuse to acknowlege there could even be one. Like deaf men who scoff at the idea that Beethoven's Ninth exists and is pleasurable to hear.

You really CAN"T see.
There are few things on Earth more aggravating than the condescension of a Jack Chick Christian who has cornered the market on spiritual truth. It's a wonder you people have any converts at all.
posted by rcade at 9:53 AM on November 17, 2003


Each of you is correct within your world view.

I don't want to get involved too deeply in this discussion, as the rest of my day would be wasted and I just don't have the time. However, this statement is just patently false. You've essentially said that god both exists and does not exist. That can't possibly be true. In fact, that's the whole point of this discussion.

The live and let live attitude might be a perfectly good model for getting along with each other, but it is not a good model for finding truth.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 10:08 AM on November 17, 2003


Just out of curiosity, konolia, are you arguing against free will here

Nope, not at all.

Lots of people plan their lives but then life gets in the way. I'm sure Christopher Reed had his life all planned out until he fell off that horse. I'm sure that Jessica Lynch had her life mapped out till that fateful day in Iraq.

No, I don't think God pushed Reeve off the horse. I believe that bad things happen to good and bad people simply because we live in a fallen world.

Just saying that there are forks in the road of life. Some are good, some are bad, some are just different. Sometimes God leads a person down a different path for a reason. Sometimes others' actions change lives. Drunk drivers are sure guilty of altering and ending lives...And God certainly didn't condone that.

Before we get into "Why did God let it happen" you need to understand he turned the world over to people. God respects people's boundaries, which is why inviting him into our lives is necessary if you indeed would like Him involved.

He has his hands off skallas and rcade because that is their wish, and He respects it. Unless someone is praying for them rather heavily and specifically, but even then He will not override their free will. God means for us to have free will, even if that means some choose to reject Him. He doesn't want robots or people who are coerced into serving him.

I'm not interested in strongarming them, for the same reason. They have the right to make the choice, as do I.
posted by konolia at 11:56 AM on November 17, 2003


Lots of people plan their lives but then life gets in the way. I'm sure Christopher Reed had his life all planned out until he fell off that horse. I'm sure that Jessica Lynch had her life mapped out till that fateful day in Iraq.

He chose to ride a horse, knowing full well that injury was a possibility. She joined the army, knowing full well that serious injury was a serious possibility. I'm not sure exactly what you're trying to say here. Fully mapping out your life isn't the be-all, end-all of free choice; in fact, it's more like a Dr. Phil goal-setting regiment.

When I spoke earlier about choosing your own "destiny" I meant it simply in the sense of values and a personal code of ethics, something that is surely effected by societal issues, but is still an interesting task to undertake.
posted by The God Complex at 12:12 PM on November 17, 2003


God means for us to have free will, even if that means some choose to reject Him.

"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."

- George Carlin
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 12:57 PM on November 17, 2003


update:

the man in the sky sent his son to earth to die a miserable death. the purpose of this was to teach mankind that he changed his mind, it's really ok to do the ten things, in fact, you can't NOT do the ten things because it is your nature to do the ten things, but it's all good now because he killed his son to make up for all the men doing the ten things all the time.
- quonsar t. magnificent
posted by quonsar at 1:09 PM on November 17, 2003


I believe that bad things happen to good and bad people simply because we live in a fallen world.

That's an interesting viewpoint. Thanks for the thougtful response.

God means for us to have free will, even if that means some choose to reject Him. He doesn't want robots or people who are coerced into serving him.

Maybe we have different definitions of "coercion", then. lf a madman approached me with a shotgun, and told me that he would either shoot me dead, or perform a list of strange and illogical actions, after which he will give me a million dollars, well, I guess I'd feel a little coerced into doing his little dance for the money.

The catch here, of course, is that I'm pretty sure that he's not good for the million, and I'd just be performing for his twisted amusement. And why does he have to pull a gun on me, just so he can offer me a suitcase full of cash? I'm pretty sure I'd just take it without the threat, just as sure as I'd gladly take the offer of an eternal life of pure bliss at the right hand of the Lord, without the promise of brimstone and hellfire if I misstep.

And as a bonus, why does an omnipotent, omnicient Diety want a bunch of puny, imperfect worms like us serving him anyway? Did he accidentally create that rock that's too big for him to move, and he needs a little help getting it out of his driveway?

I understand that nobody here is going to change the way you feel about these things, and it's unlikely that you're going to change the way anyone else feels, but I'm finding it very interesting to explore the thought process of a person with your conviction.
posted by majcher at 1:14 PM on November 17, 2003


I look into the universe and see wonder and glory and magnificence-and ultimate Love.

Your view is of an ultimate abyss of nothingness and futility. I wish I could have you come look at what I see instead.


Why does a rigid hierarchy necessitate wonder and magnificence to you, and a thriving nature with emergent properties bespeak emptiness and futility? Most of us with an atheistic worldview do not feel the world is any less incredible for its not being formed by a superman.

As for the atheistic proselytizing, I agree that we should generally keep it to a minimum, since it doesn't change anything, but I think the reason it's so tempting for so many atheists is that they're (we're) building our worldview specifically from what is shared by all human beings (qua human beings) - sensory impressions and the capacity to reason. Discussion about whether or not something is the case is usually based on evidence, either empirical or rational, and this is the basis of the atheist world view. Hence, it only seems to make sense that all humans, all rational animals, should be able to see the sense of the position. What we forget is that man is not only the animal with reason, she's also the animal with imagination. (Don't get me wrong, I love imagination: art & creativity are primary among my interests - but I still think they oughta be distinguished from reality.)
posted by mdn at 1:22 PM on November 17, 2003


That, my dear friend, is an illusion. No one really controls their own destiny.

We Buddhists believe that we can control how we respond to our destiny. It's immaterial whether it is predetermined by an outside force or just the randomness of billions of interacting events.

Random thought: if hell is the absence of God's love, but in Buddhist fashion I choose not to see it as "hellish" but be happy anyway, then a Christian God is going to be in a pickle when I die. That's why I think he probably just rolls his eyes and shrugs his shoulders and lets us in anyway.
posted by dness2 at 2:14 PM on November 17, 2003


Unless someone is praying for them rather heavily and specifically, but even then He will not override their free will. God means for us to have free will, even if that means some choose to reject Him.

So you're saying that if I prayed to god, he would reveal himself to me? And I don't mean as a, say, burning bush to use an alleged historical example but in the sense of, oh filling my heart with faith? Because when I was younger and more inclined to such things, I actually did just that. Yet here I am, no faith in my heart.

Konolia, your postings continue to be extremely tautological.
posted by billsaysthis at 2:31 PM on November 17, 2003


lf a madman approached me with a shotgun, and told me that he would either shoot me dead, or perform a list of strange and illogical actions, after which he will give me a million dollars, well, I guess I'd feel a little coerced into doing his little dance for the money.

I actually see how you would draw this conclusion, but here is why it is inaccurate.

God created the original humans totally innocent and sinless. Satan, in the form of a serpent, deceived Eve into sinning by eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Adam on the other hand did the same thing without being deceived. He actually rather unchivalrously let Eve be a guinea pig to see what would happen.

Now, you need to know that as soon as God had finished creating Adam and Eve, he gave them full dominion over the earth. They were in charge. They were the bosses. Basically like God handing over the title deed of the Earth.

So what Satan did enabled him to snatch control of the world himself. If God simply immediately forgave Adam and Eve (after all he is a God of mercy) Satan (who is quite the legalist) would immediately demand to be reinstated into heaven himself, along with the angels that fell with him. And since God is a God of justice as well as mercy and love, He would be violating His own character by doing so.

God already had a plan to take care of this, involving sending Jesus (who was sinless) to die in our place so that legally He could forgive us without giving Satan what he wanted.

The only catch in all this is we have to choose to take Him up on it. Now I know that you will all bring up the point of people who never heard of him but died already, but since I already know the character of God as good, I know he has taken care of that. I have some thoughts on the subject but as they are only theories I won't share them.

Right now the important thing is that there are some people who HAVE heard and have chosen not to take Him up on it. God is not the reason these people land in a place where there is eternal separation from Him.

As for all the evil in the world-well, what do you expect with satan wreaking havoc and people doing all sorts of cruel and evil things to one another?


Oh, and billsaythis, your life isn't over yet, and if you sincerely talked to God about that earlier in life, He remembers it and takes it seriously. I myself ran from God for many years, but He runs faster than I do ;-)
posted by konolia at 2:59 PM on November 17, 2003


Random thought: if hell is the absence of God's love, but in Buddhist fashion I choose not to see it as "hellish" but be happy anyway, then a Christian God is going to be in a pickle when I die

Unfortunately in order to do that you would need to be God yourself.

But since you mentioned Buddhism, isn't there a concept of a Buddhist hell? I visited Thailand about five years ago and remember seeing some murals depicting it, and also read a little about it while researching my trip.
posted by konolia at 3:02 PM on November 17, 2003


Why does a rigid hierarchy necessitate wonder and magnificence to you, and a thriving nature with emergent properties bespeak emptiness and futility?

Because there is nothing wonderful or magnificent about believing you are simply a piece of walking meat, that loses all meaning when it dies and rots.

If I had ever believed that, I would probably have either killed myself or been a walking drugged up zombie.
posted by konolia at 3:06 PM on November 17, 2003

In many discourses the Buddha describes hell as an actual place while in others he seems to suggest that it is only a name for the experience of extreme suffering. He says "When the average ignorant person says that hell is under the sea, he is saying something that is false and without basis, the word hell is a name for painful feeling". The Buddhist conception of hell differs considerably from those of some other religions. There is no divine judge to condemn one to hell, rather one's own evil Kamma gives rise to rebirth in this realm. Re-birth in hell is determined by one's actions not primarily by one's beliefs. Thus no good person no matter what their religion will be re-born in hell. Hell is not eternal and when one's lifespan there is finished one will be re-born in one of the other realms.
B.C. Law, Heaven and Hell in Buddhist Perspective. Varanasi, 1973 (describing the traditional Buddhist understanding of hell).
posted by monju_bosatsu at 3:14 PM on November 17, 2003


He has his hands off skallas and rcade because that is their wish, and He respects it.

Do you respect it?

Satan (who is quite the legalist) would immediately demand to be reinstated into heaven himself, along with the angels that fell with him. And since God is a God of justice as well as mercy and love, He would be violating His own character by doing so.

So God has limits to his forgiveness? Being cast from God's love for what surely must be one hella long time has not yet achieved the goal of justice? God is not allowed to violate his own character?

Because there is nothing wonderful or magnificent about believing you are simply a piece of walking meat, that loses all meaning when it dies and rots.

Au contraire. It's the most wonderful, magnificent thing going!

Like Bill says, these discussions with you are endlessly fascinating.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:30 PM on November 17, 2003


UPDATE:

if you stroke them, they will come.
posted by quonsar at 3:34 PM on November 17, 2003


there is nothing wonderful or magnificent about believing you are simply a piece of walking meat, that loses all meaning when it dies and rots.

That you hold that opinion would be a good indicator as to why you (and many others) feel the need to believe in some form of afterlife, and a good supporting explanation.

On the other hand, finding a good reason to carry on living, given that there is very probably, nothing else, could be seen as some sort of life-affirming challenge.

Personally I'm holding out for commercial space flight. I think I could probably die happy having seen the whole of the earth from space.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 4:00 PM on November 17, 2003


God means for us to have free will, even if that means some choose to reject Him. He doesn't want robots or people who are coerced into serving him.

Maybe and maybe not. First let me disclaim that I'm an agonistic who leans towards non-belief. Still, I have asked myself why if there is a god does it require blind belief as a condition of salvation. Certainly if god is love, it would not wish to see its creations suffer in separation from it for an eternity.

Certainly as envisioned by most christians, it is within god's power to reveal itself directly as opposed to obliquely. Even christ's own disciple needed to put his hands in the wounds. Why should it require more of us than those who intimately knew its physical manifestation?

It wasn't eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil that freaked god out. As I recall (and without referring back to specific text), it was the fear that humans might also eat of the tree of life and become gods like us.

I guess god must not have been all that powerful if the only difference between it and Adam was the ability to choose for itself and the ability to live forever. And, that makes sense. If god was all powerful as many christians seem to feel, why was Lucifer willing to risk rebellion. The angels had direct experience of god. They must have understood the extent of its power. If they risked rising up against it, they must have felt they weren't all that much less powerful than god.

So, god cast out a third of heaven, and probably looked with a bit of paranoia on the two thirds that remained. Who knows when they too will decide they can go it on their own? So, god creates humans and deliberately makes them weaker than angels or itself, and deliberately makes them without the ability to choose to do anything but worship blindly.

Along comes satan and gives them the ability to choose. Boy, that must have cheesed god off. After creating a set of minions to worship him, it now looks like he may have to fight for control of heaven again. Enter faith which is a test to make sure only those that accept blindly without question can enter into heaven. Perhaps it's just that god only wants to surround himself with yes men.

Again, I suspect it's probably just all stories and fairy tales, but that's the only reason for requiring blind faith that I could ever imagine. Either you need faith because you can't provide evidence of fantasy or because god doesn't want to allow free thinkers into its presence.
posted by willnot at 4:18 PM on November 17, 2003


Because there is nothing wonderful or magnificent about believing you are simply a piece of walking meat, that loses all meaning when it dies and rots.

I find it pretty damn wonderful and magnificent that meat thinks.
posted by kindall at 4:20 PM on November 17, 2003


And more to the point, really, whether it is wonderful or magnificent has bugger-all to do with whether it is true. I'd rather know the truth, depressing as it may be, than hide behind a myth.

But 99.44% of the time, people don't think about their existence or the nature of reality. They just get on with their lives. If you despair over the meaninglessness of life, you're not keeping yourself busy enough.
posted by kindall at 4:28 PM on November 17, 2003


But 99.44% of the time, people don't think about their existence or the nature of reality. They just get on with their lives. If you despair over the meaninglessness of life, you're not keeping yourself busy enough.

I disagree. I think it's an important aspect of life, that awareness. It's what keeps us in touch with the precarious reality of life.

Because there is nothing wonderful or magnificent about believing you are simply a piece of walking meat, that loses all meaning when it dies and rots.

I missed this quote. I think it's fucking rad that a piece of walking meat is capable of contemplating its own position in the universe.
posted by The God Complex at 4:47 PM on November 17, 2003


Certainly as envisioned by most christians, it is within god's power to reveal itself directly as opposed to obliquely

If you saw God Almighty Himself in all his power and splendor, you'd be SCARED into worshiping him, assuming your body was able to handle the stress of the experience.

As for Thomas, he'd already settled the question of who Jesus was; His resurrection would most likely been seen by him as too good to be true until the Lord showed up for a personal visit. Remember, the other disciples had already seen Him.

Finally, God is not as oblique as you'd think. He has revealed Himself in His creation, and placed eternity in mens' hearts. If you look for Him, you will find Him.
posted by konolia at 4:56 PM on November 17, 2003


There is no divine judge to condemn one to hell, rather one's own evil Kamma gives rise to rebirth in this realm. Re-birth in hell is determined by one's actions not primarily by one's beliefs

So who would the cosmic bookkeeper be in this belief system? Who or what would keep track-and if there is no God but only an impersonal system, how would it know what to do with an individual soul? How would there even be a definition of good or evil? This would seem to me to be like library books reshelving themselves with no help from a librarian.
posted by konolia at 4:59 PM on November 17, 2003


there is nothing wonderful or magnificent about believing you are simply a piece of walking meat

Anyone who says this has obviously never tried to make a piece of meat walk around, never mind the talking and thinking.
posted by majcher at 5:06 PM on November 17, 2003


Being cast from God's love for what surely must be one hella long time has not yet achieved the goal of justice

Satan was once Lucifer-and he used to exist right at God's throne. He lived in a sinless environment (no devil to tempt HIM) and he made a deliberate choice to rebel against God -a God he knew very well was loving, kind, wonderful, magnificent-satan wanted to be worshiped AS God. And before you start having sympathy for the devil, remember he is the one that came up with evils like child sexual abuse, torture and murder, slavery, all kinds of cruelty-he would make Hitler look like a piker.

I don't want THAT in heaven. And neither did God.
posted by konolia at 5:06 PM on November 17, 2003


Anyone who says this has obviously never tried to make a piece of meat walk around, never mind the talking and thinking.

And skallas would like me to believe that occured all by itself with no outside help. I don't think so.
posted by konolia at 5:08 PM on November 17, 2003


And skallas would like me to believe that occured all by itself with no outside help. I don't think so.

And I do.

Oh, hey! I guess this right here is kind of a stupid pointless argument, then.

Why does being amazed about the wonderfulness of the universe necessarily require the presence of a god? Exactly?
posted by cortex at 5:16 PM on November 17, 2003


So who would the cosmic bookkeeper be in this belief system?

The cosmic bookkeeper is Karma (or Kamma, same thing) itself. I have no problem with thinking of this metaphorically as "God", since I've been brought up in the West and steeped in God metaphors, but technically you're right, it's an accounting system without an accountant.

if there is no God but only an impersonal system, how would it know what to do with an individual soul?

It's like it's imprinted on the soul itself, I think. Like everything you do that's bad makes your soul blacker and blacker and everything you do that's good makes your soul lighter. The blacker your soul, the harder it is to be happy in the face of suffering. So in a Buddhist world, we are constantly dealing with the repercussions of our actions, not just after we are dead. In fact, then we just get to start all over again.

In many discourses the Buddha describes hell as an actual place while in others he seems to suggest that it is only a name for the experience of extreme suffering

Being reborn in hell means being reborn in a life that experiences a lot of suffering. I don't know what that would be to me, being a child slave in Africa? a circus elephant? a non-Foster farm chicken?
posted by dness2 at 5:20 PM on November 17, 2003


Also, with all the "Lucifer" flying around in here, consider the following.
posted by cortex at 5:23 PM on November 17, 2003


The live and let live attitude might be a perfectly good model for getting along with each other, but it is not a good model for finding truth.

Aha! Now we're getting somewhere!
posted by rushmc at 5:23 PM on November 17, 2003


As for the atheistic proselytizing, I agree that we should generally keep it to a minimum, since it doesn't change anything

I disagree, because in practice that forfeits the game. If the religious types are proselytizing, missioning, witnessing, preaching, and hiding Bibles in motels, and the nonbelievers keep quiet, all conversions are in one direction. It would be like anyone with any knowledge of biology and evolution keeping it to themselves while creationists aggressively marketed their program. Better to put all the information out there and have the discussion with whomever is interested. Those who aren't can certainly opt out, elsewhere in life as in this thread.
posted by rushmc at 5:30 PM on November 17, 2003


Satan, in the form of a serpent, deceived Eve into sinning by eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

He lived in a sinless environment (no devil to tempt HIM) and he made a deliberate choice to rebel against God -a God he knew very well was loving, kind, wonderful, magnificent-satan wanted to be worshiped AS God.


Have you ever heard the expression "the winners write the history books?" Seems to me you are accepting one version of events very uncritically. Philip Pullman (among others) has an interesting take on this.

he is the one that came up with evils like child sexual abuse, torture and murder, slavery, all kinds of cruelty

Seems healthier and more straightforward to me to just suck it up and admit that humans invented all those unfortunate occupations.

If you saw God Almighty Himself in all his power and splendor, you'd be SCARED into worshiping him

If you were a coward, sure. On the other hand some people don't waver in their convictions even when a madman has a gun pointed at their forehead, ready to pull the trigger.
posted by rushmc at 5:38 PM on November 17, 2003


Seems healthier and more straightforward to me to just suck it up and admit that humans invented all those unfortunate occupations.

Nah, animals have been doing these things for bloody ages.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 6:40 PM on November 17, 2003


Philip Pullman (among others) has an interesting take on this.

As does Jeremy Leven.
posted by biscotti at 6:44 PM on November 17, 2003


Seems awkward to try to argue someone out of their faith. Like telling a lunatic that there aren't really spiders crawling all over him. Konolia, et al., I hope you haven't felt I've been trying to get you to stop believing, when all I ever wanted to do was ridicule the believers and express contempt for the beliefs. Change or do not as you like.
posted by Hildago at 6:54 PM on November 17, 2003


And skallas would like me to believe that occured all by itself with no outside help. I don't think so.

So, I take it, you are no fan of evolution, or science. I see.

[Lucifer] made a deliberate choice to rebel against God ... before you start having sympathy for the devil, remember he is the one that came up with evils...

Did God not create Lucifer and all his little devils? To what extent was the choice to rebel and devise Evil their own free will, and how much of it was God's Plan? Is this whole good/evil, heaven/hell, saving and damning souls thing just some sick game that He came up with because he was bored?

As someone (rushmc?) said above, if one is to believe this particular religious mythology, the only real conclusion that one can come to is that God is a bored child at best, and a sadistic bastard at worst, and we are but his playthings. If I were by chance to meet Him some day, I would do two things: 1) ask him what in holy hell he was thinking when he cooked up this plan, and 2) punch him right in the nose, for being such a turd.
posted by majcher at 7:12 PM on November 17, 2003


Hildago is a funny cat, but he sheds a lot.
posted by The God Complex at 7:18 PM on November 17, 2003


Because there is nothing wonderful or magnificent about believing you are simply a piece of walking meat, that loses all meaning when it dies and rots.

it can be difficult to accept that you as an individual are not central to nature. But you're a part of it: you're not separate from the active, emergent, unity of it all. Yes, your particular individual person will die, but nature, the beauty itself, the intelligence - I mean that in the sense of emergence, complexity, activity - continues. That's what's so goddamned amazing. You're a part of it that is conscious of itself! It's fucking incredible. Nature, philosophy, life, the world - I love it. Existence is the coolest thing ever. I accept that my part in it is limited, but that doesn't alter my appreciation and awe for it.

I disagree, because in practice that forfeits the game. If the religious types are proselytizing, missioning, witnessing, preaching, and hiding Bibles in motels, and the nonbelievers keep quiet, all conversions are in one direction.

I agree that philosophy and thinking about beingness should be a primary aim of all thinking entities. I even agree that discussions, like this one, are useful and important. I only meant that a strict "you should believe this" attitude is a little silly. But obviously I enjoy these kinds of debates... Something about moderation, I guess, and allowing those who can't deal with reality to ritualize or imagine fables not based in fact - I dunno, I think I've said before, if life breaks your legs, there's no shame in using a crutch. I couldn't conjure one up myself, but for those who can, I don't feel it's necessary to try to destroy it. Although, I do advocate the teaching of critical thinking and reasoning, which ultimately leads to atheism, and the destruction of such fantasies. So. No need to proselytize, per se, but talking reasonably about stuff is generally good. If it's making them depressed and upset, ease up a bit. Sort of common sense, I guess.
posted by mdn at 8:12 PM on November 17, 2003


I think it's an important aspect of life, that awareness. It's what keeps us in touch with the precarious reality of life.

Yes, but not to the point of despair. That's not real healthy.

skallas would like me to believe that occured all by itself with no outside help. I don't think so.

Nobody alive today was there when meat first became sentient, so it is certainly possible that meat had some help. (Given what we know about evolution, I think it's extremely unlikely, but it's possible.) However, even granting creation for the sake of argument, it's a huge leap from "we were created" to "the creator is the deity described in the Bible." Maybe we were created by Lucifer. Maybe we were created by Zeus. Maybe we were created by Xenu. Maybe we were created by some entity we have never imagined and have no name for. Maybe the creator is watching us and cares what we do, maybe not.

Accepting a religion is equivalent to granting a whole lot of such propositions for the sake of argument -- except without the argument.
posted by kindall at 8:34 PM on November 17, 2003


If I were by chance to meet Him some day, I would do two things: 1) ask him what in holy hell he was thinking when he cooked up this plan, and 2) punch him right in the nose, for being such a turd.

I've heard a variation of that from several sources, not all here at Mefi either.

Trust me. You wouldn't be doing either.

Those are really loose words. Said only by someone who thinks the scenario could never happen-because if they thought it ever would they would have sense enough to know they'd be peeing their drawers in the presence of Someone so powerful, so mighty, so awesome-a totally mindblowing experience.

Honestly. What puny "gods" these atheists imagine. If you aren't going to believe in Him, at least be clear in Who you don't believe in.
posted by konolia at 8:35 PM on November 17, 2003


And skallas would like me to believe that occured all by itself with no outside help. I don't think so.

Girl, you need to read some books by Richard Dawkins and Stephan Jay Gould. You simply could not be more wrong about sentient meat, and the only reason you can possibly say such outrageous things is your lack of knowledge of evolutionary process.

Trust me.

Say what? That's like telling me to trust the word of Linus about the powers of the Great Pumpkin, or the word of L. Ron Hubbard about the evil Xenu, or the word of Sun Myung Moon.

Once again, konolia, you are showing a stunning lack of understanding. It's not a matter of believing or not believing. I don't "not believe" in Xenu, I don't "not believe" in leprechauns, and I don't "not believe" in god. Those things simply do not exist. There's nothing there to not believe in.

Trust me, konolia: read Dawkin's The Blind Watchmaker.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:58 PM on November 17, 2003


Fff, you can tell me God doesn't exist till you, skallas, and rcade are blue in the face. That doesn't change the fact that He does exist. If it comforts you to think of me as stupid and obtuse, doesn't bother me a bit. Really. Your faith in "not God" is rather stunning, though.


As for evolutionary process, the more I think of it the funnier it gets.
posted by konolia at 9:17 PM on November 17, 2003


Oh, I don't believe in Erich von Daniken's theories either. Just sayin'.
posted by konolia at 9:18 PM on November 17, 2003


Your faith in "not God" is rather stunning, though.

Cough?
posted by The God Complex at 9:27 PM on November 17, 2003


As for evolutionary process, the more I think of it the funnier it gets.

*Coughs up lung*
posted by The God Complex at 9:27 PM on November 17, 2003


*paws furtively at the air, bleating*
posted by The God Complex at 9:28 PM on November 17, 2003


*turns on the radio. sheds.*
posted by Hildago at 9:47 PM on November 17, 2003


Konolia, you can tell me God exists till you are blue in the face. That doesn't change the fact that there is no such thing as god. If it comforts you to think of me as stupid and obtuse, doesn't bother me a bit. Really. Your faith in "God" is rather stunning, though.

And go read Dawkins. It'll do you good. At the very least, you'll at least know what you're arguing against.

That is, really, your biggest fault: you make argument without knowing anything at all about what you're arguing against.

I can at least state that I've read the bible, made some amount of study of it, have watched various programs on its history, authenticity, and sources. I have at least a modicum of religious knowledge.

You, on the other hand, appear to have no scientific knowledge whatsoever.

So pick up that Dawkins book. The guy comes across as an arrogant ass a few times, but the science, facts, logic, and conclusions are very sound indeed.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:13 PM on November 17, 2003


By the way, it's not "faith in Not God." That's as stupid as saying "faith in Not Leprechauns." Get it through your head already: faith has nothing to do with it.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:15 PM on November 17, 2003


That doesn't change the fact that He does exist.

I'll make you a bet on that. If it turns out you're right, and God not only exists but is the precise God described in the Bible, I will let God damn my immortal soul to Hell. If I'm right, and there is no God and no afterlife, then you'll let yourself just end.
posted by kindall at 10:20 PM on November 17, 2003


Here's an honest question about something that's always confused me, konolia - why is it that your god is the "real" one? Are those who believe in other gods just plain wrong? How do you know? What about those who believe in the same god, but with different mythology and without the divinity of Christ?

I've said it before, but I'm of the opinion that if there is a god, it will turn out that all believers have just been describing different parts of the same elephant, like the blind men.
posted by biscotti at 11:14 PM on November 17, 2003


Uh-huh. And why should we bet on the existence of a biblical god, instead of one of the myriad other god-myths?

And for that matter, who said anything about afterlife? Besides, one doesn't need a god to believe in an afterlife. Perhaps I'll come back as a ghost and haunt the hallowed halls of MetaFilter forevermore.

What's to say that the biblical hell is the worst there is? If the stakes here are Something Atrociously Bad, then maybe we'd all best consider converting to worship of Cthulu. I understand that his hell makes the Christian hell look like a day at the ice cream parlour.

Opps. I read that as kindall betting me. Well, whatever. Pascal's Wager is still stupid.

Don't read this.Especially if you're a Christian religionist.You will take offense. .gnuh-llew s'ti, tsirhC ekiL. sinep ym pihsrow ll'I kniht I
posted by five fresh fish at 11:29 PM on November 17, 2003


There's always Alabama.
posted by The God Complex at 11:44 PM on November 17, 2003


"That doesn't change the fact that He does exist."

I'm not telling you what to do, konolia, but it seems to me that the religious folk I respect most (I'm agnostic, myself) will grant that God may not exist. They choose to believe anyway. If you don't admit the possibility of non-existence, then your faith has no value.

(as a matter of fact, I *was* taught by Jesuits, why do you ask?)

I hate to quote Jefferson and sound like a pretentious coffee-shop poet (and I just got back from a bar with a haiku deathmatch, complete with inter-round paeans to Jefferson, Nietzsche, and Burroughs), but here's a statement that led me down an interesting philosophical path: "Question with boldness the very existence of a God, for if there be one, would He not be more honored by the pursuit of knowledge than that of blindfolded fear?"

This has been an incredible (and incredibly civil) discussion to read. As I said before, I'm a fence-sitter, who are occasionally mocked for supposed timidity from both sides. I for one find Pascal's wager to be empty, devoid of any real faith. I've read a good part of the Bible, and it isn't all that much different from its contemporary works except for its monotheism (for the most part). When I rejected Catholicism (no jokes please) for let's just call them administrative reasons, I decided to discover a set of maxims that I could call my own, independent of a catechism. "An it harm none,...", "Do unto others...", and the Categorical Imperative are all the same side of the same coin, and can be accepted in and of itself.

If your faith works for you, great, I accept that. By the same token, I think that a lot of folks would appreciate if the religionists, secure in their own faith, would let them (non-religious) live without the proselytization and casual dismissal. For my part, I find that when I just accept that different people need different things that I accept my own non-faith that much more calmly. Forgive my perhaps sounding pedantic, but you (specifically, konolia) may find peace easier in accepting that some of us do not and *cannot* -despite all your work- believe as you do.

As for Lucifer seeming to have been created specifically for to make the choice *against* God, that seems like a particularly shitty thing for a supposedly loving god to do to one of his creations. For some levity, a story arc from sinfest explores the devil-as-mere-pawn theme.
posted by notsnot at 12:16 AM on November 18, 2003


What he said, only I would have used bad jokes.
posted by The God Complex at 12:33 AM on November 18, 2003


You, on the other hand, appear to have no scientific knowledge whatsoever

Actually, you'd be surprised at some of the stuff I've read. And for years I used to believe in evolution. Until I started really thinking about it.
I do need to tell you I am not one of those lockstep Christians that believes things just because all the other Christians say so. I still do ponder the Creation thing. In fact, just the other night I had the realization that God took seven days to do what He could have done all at one time with just a word. So there is some sort of process implied. But having said that, I still believe He created Adam out of the dust of the ground. There is some significance to why He did it that way versus how He just spoke everything else into existence.

Here's an honest question about something that's always confused me, konolia - why is it that your god is the "real" one?

Why don't you ask Him yourself?

One thing I have noticed in a historical sense...most religions I have heard of seem to state that there is more than one path to God. Christianity on the other hand states that there is only one way to God and that is through Jesus. Only fair, since He was the only one who was willing to die for us. Mohammed didn't do that. Buddha didn't do that. Zeus sure as heck didn't do that...
posted by konolia at 4:15 AM on November 18, 2003


As for Lucifer seeming to have been created specifically for to make the choice *against* God, that seems like a particularly shitty thing for a supposedly loving god to do to one of his creations.

Lucifer had free will. The fact that he was incredibly stupid with it is beside the point.
posted by konolia at 4:17 AM on November 18, 2003


I didn't know there was a sixth, god-related sense, proven by science.

Epistemologically speaking, there is equal evidence for both the five physical senses and for the 6th moral sense. Go figure.
posted by gd779 at 5:22 AM on November 18, 2003


The fact that he was incredibly stupid with it is beside the point.
It seems like he was really smart and successful with it, to me. He has more people in Hell to rule than God does in heaven if it's true we're all sinners, no? and he has power over many many religious folks who are good because they're more afraid of him and his place, than excited and looking forward to being with God in heaven, no? Lucifer seems to be the most empowered and powerful one in the whole story you talked about, and not God.
posted by amberglow at 5:41 AM on November 18, 2003


If you aren't going to believe in Him, at least be clear in Who you don't believe in.

Well, that's part of the problem, isn't it?
posted by monju_bosatsu at 6:44 AM on November 18, 2003


And for years I used to believe in evolution. Until I started really thinking about it.

Usually the process is the opposite, ie you believe in Creationism until you actually start to do some thinking, but whatever. I guess Carbon 14 is Satan's work
sorry to repeat a much-beloved quote, but, hopefully, repetita juvant:

You believe the world's 12 thousand years old?
"That's right."
Okay I got one word to ask you, a one word question, ready?
"uh huh."
Dinosaurs.

You know the world's 12 thousand years old and dinosaurs existed, they existed in that time, you'd think it would have been mentioned in the fucking Bible at some point.
"And lo Jesus and the disciples walked to Nazareth. But the trail was blocked by a giant brontosaurus... with a splinter in his paw. And O the disciples did run a shriekin': 'What a big fucking lizard, Lord!'
But Jesus was unafraid and he took the splinter from the brontosaurus's paw and the big lizard became his friend.
And Jesus sent him to Scotland where he lived in a loch for O so many years inviting thousands of American tourists to bring their fat fucking families and their fat dollar bills.
And oh Scotland did praise the Lord. Thank you Lord, thank you Lord. Thank you Lord."


Zeus sure as heck didn't do that...

just don't start a "2003 AD North Carolina" vs "450 BC Athens" pissing match -- you're gonna hurt your argument real bad

Only fair, since He was the only one who was willing to die for us. Mohammed didn't do that. Buddha didn't do that

MY God Has Got More Of A Death Wish Than Your God,
nyanyanyanya

I didn't know it was about God being a bad-ass. and anyway if dying for one's faith is OK, well, you're going down a slippery slope
posted by matteo at 6:51 AM on November 18, 2003


When I rejected Catholicism (no jokes please) for let's just call them administrative reasons, I decided to discover a set of maxims that I could call my own, independent of a catechism.

That's assuming, though, that religion is for giving yourself a moral compass. As others have noted in the thread, Christianity as written isn't very good at that since one of its points is that you can do whatever you want with the, uh, really long-term consequences taken away. You get the cookie irrespective of your conduct.

Christianity on the other hand states that there is only one way to God and that is through Jesus.

You know full well that what Christianity says is more complex than that. If you're taking the books seriously, you have to deal with the pre-Christian people who are clearly described as righteous and/or saved and/or who ascended bodily into heaven. Noah, Abraham, Elijah, etc. may have done all sorts of things, but it boggles the mind to think that they were Christian, that they somehow had a secret faith in someone who hadn't been incarnated yet. Whoever their faith was in, I don't think you can say that it was in Christ in the way that modern evangelicals would insist is necessary.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:56 AM on November 18, 2003


Konolia: There's a point you're missing in this discussion, and I think it's central to the issue of why the God squad receives so much angry disrespect from some people.

You expect your beliefs to be treated with respect, but you don't give the same respect to others.

I can't imagine you would welcome a Church of Christ member declaring that your support for musical instruments in church breaks the rule that the church must be silent where the Bible is silent, which naturally means you'll roast in Hell forever and are deserving of pity unless you wise up and change teams.

In fact, when someone offered a judgment on your spiritual beliefs, you took sharp offense, asking, "why on earth does anything I have faith in affect you in any way, shape or form?"

In spite of that, you've declared that some of us are condemned to damnation and spoken several times on behalf of God -- once to declare definitively that I'm untouched by God. You've also called me an atheist, based on nothing more than my objection to your conduct in this discussion.

If you and Orange Swan want to know why people like Skallas make "chronic attacks on religion," a big part of the reason is people like you.
posted by rcade at 6:56 AM on November 18, 2003


"And for years I used to believe in evolution. Until I started really thinking about it."
Like Matteo said, what *of* the fossil record? did your loving god put a bunch of fossils in the ground, and give us the ability to discover them and think about them, just to play a colossal fucking joke on humanity? Sound kinda jerk-y to me. Or was it to test our faith- the whole "jealous god" thing? Sounds like a self-confidence issue to me.
posted by notsnot at 7:03 AM on November 18, 2003


I'll make you a bet on that. If it turns out you're right, and God not only exists but is the precise God described in the Bible, I will let God damn my immortal soul to Hell. If I'm right, and there is no God and no afterlife, then you'll let yourself just end.

ROTFL (The joke, for those who may have missed it, is that that's the bet we ALL make.)

here's a statement that led me down an interesting philosophical path

It is good enough to repeat, notsnot. :)

Question for konolia: Do you believe that the theory of evolution claims that man descended from apes?
posted by rushmc at 7:19 AM on November 18, 2003


since He was the only one who was willing to die for us.

Kind of an empty gesture, really, wasn't it?
posted by rushmc at 7:20 AM on November 18, 2003


The Plan of Christian Salvation (originally from iidb.org, an excellent site for arguing these matters).
posted by jsonic at 7:41 AM on November 18, 2003



Kind of an empty gesture, really, wasn't it?
I told the priest, Don't count on any second coming
God got his ass kicked the first time he came down here slumming!
He had the balls to come, the gall to die and then forgive us!
No, I don't wonder why, I wonder what he thought it would get us.
Tomorrow, Wendy
posted by willnot at 7:50 AM on November 18, 2003


He has more people in Hell to rule He won't be ruling anyone when he gets tossed into the Lake of Fire.

You know full well that what Christianity says is more complex than that. If you're taking the books seriously, you have to deal with the pre-Christian people who are clearly described as righteous and/or saved and/or who ascended bodily into heaven. Noah, Abraham, Elijah, etc. may have done all sorts of things, but it boggles the mind to think that they were Christian, that they somehow had a secret faith in someone who hadn't been incarnated yet. Whoever their faith was in, I don't think you can say that it was in Christ in the way that modern evangelicals would insist is necessary.

They had faith in the God that they knew. Actually the righteous Old Testament dead resided in a different, yet pleasant place until Jesus' crucifixion-whereopon, they were moved to a higher location, so to speak.

Did you know that when Jesus was resurrected that some of the righteous dead actually resurrected as well and were seen walking around?

As others have noted in the thread, Christianity as written isn't very good at that since one of its points is that you can do whatever you want with the, uh, really long-term consequences taken away. You get the cookie irrespective of your conduct.

Not so-but in all fairness that is a common misconception even among a lot of Christians. Some people never were really born again (just repeating a sinner's prayer doesn't necessarily mean anything.) Others who are genuinely saved but are sinning lose their fellowship with God here and now until they repent. (Yes, God is a person you can spend time with and have conversations with. ) And God does correct His children when they need it. Yes, I have been on the receiving end of that too.

Repentance is the true test here-not remorse-repentance is turning away from sin whereas remorse just means you regret it. Without true repentance I don't believe a person enters salvation.

I can't imagine you would welcome a Church of Christ member declaring that your support for musical instruments in church

Sure I would. They are my brother and sister in Christ, even if I think that particular belief isn't really scriptural. No biggie. Minor differences in unessential things are to be expected.

By the way, rcade, I might have confused you with another poster with a similar name. Unfortunately I do have problems with names sometimes. I apologise for saying you were atheist; the other person is definitely one and has let me know it many times.

"why on earth does anything I have faith in affect you in any way, shape or form?"

I wasn't offended there; just amazed that some people were so intent in letting me know I needed to be like them instead. Just curiosity why they even cared.

As to fossil record, I personally wonder if the Great Flood had anything to do with that. (of course most of you know that many people groups have stories passed down thru the generations about a Great Flood.)

Do you believe that the theory of evolution claims that man descended from apes?

No, I don't. As to animals, etc. I have a hard time believing in macroevolution but I personally believe there was some microevolution happening. Many creationists might disagree with me on that point.

*whew*
posted by konolia at 10:09 AM on November 18, 2003


As to animals, etc. I have a hard time believing in macroevolution but I personally believe there was some microevolution happening. Many creationists might disagree with me on that point.

Finally, something that Creationists and Biologists can agree on.
posted by Hildago at 10:19 AM on November 18, 2003


*whew*

OK, but what about dinosaurs in the Bible, 12-thousand-year-old Earth and Carbon 14?
posted by matteo at 10:36 AM on November 18, 2003


Read Dawkin's and Gould's books, Konolia. You can not consider yourself an informed creationist/anti-evolutionist until you have some idea of what it is you're disagreeing with.


Anyway, maybe we should bring this all 'round back to the original thread: "When they wont stop proselytizing then its a social problem"

Like rcade said, "You expect your beliefs to be treated with respect, but you don't give the same respect to others."

Evangelists are almost impossible to hold discussion with because of their lack of respect. It goes beyond the childish name-calling of the "you're going to hell" genre, which most of us can brush off as egomanical ravings of the self-deceived.

In particular, it goes to this apparently complete inability to comprehend that an atheist doesn't "believe" there is no god. Time and again the evangelist response is to quote some part of the bible or make some statement about how god is going to this or that. Those types of responses are meaningless.

It seems to me that most atheists and agnostics will go to some lengths to "assume the (contrary) position" in order to talk with a religionist. We're able to shift perspective and pretend that we believe in something that is false, just to reach some semblence of common ground in order to aide conversation.

That is respect for your antagonist: to actively work with his worldview in order to hold a discussion that might lead to some useful conclusion. And that is one thing missing in any conversation with a religionist: respect for the atheist worldview.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:44 AM on November 18, 2003


Yes, God is a person you can spend time with and have conversations with.

Honestly. What puny "gods" these christians imagine.
posted by majcher at 11:00 AM on November 18, 2003


Christianity on the other hand states that there is only one way to God and that is through Jesus. Only fair, since He was the only one who was willing to die for us.

This is something I never really understood. What difference does death make to a being like Jesus, who is suppossed divine and gets resurrected? I can understand the horror of the pain he is said to have endured at the hands of the Romans, but his death wouldn't seem to be any more of an incovenience than when the immortals in the Highlander movies die and come back. The only person I've yet heard make a good case for this was Kazanzakis, who imagined that Jesus having given up the chance for a happy human life with Mary Magdalene (if I remember correctly). But it still wasn't what many of us think death is (oblivion).
posted by homunculus at 11:02 AM on November 18, 2003


300!
posted by homunculus at 11:04 AM on November 18, 2003


I can't really speak from the viewpoint of atheism, if that is what you mean.

I know I cannot "prove" anything to an agnostic or atheist-you may be surprised to know that I am not trying. Most of the time I am trying to clarify what I actually believe, as lots of people have misconceptions in that area.

As to creationism/ evolution, if I run across those books I will certainly read them, but honestly, the subject is rather boring. I have read articles and such on the topic, but since it isn't all that interesting to me, I don't think about it much. When I was homeschooling I was a bit more into it but even then I was more interested in teaching English, math and suchlike.

Don't laugh, but I honestly couldn't figure out for the life of me how something like sex could evolve. Or eyeballs, for that matter.

Oh, and I don't remember saying outright to anyone here that they were hellbound. Now I do agree with the Bible on the topic of eternal life and how one attains it, but I'm a Christian-why wouldn't I? And I like everybody on this thread and certainly don't have any desire to be rude.

I just am what I am. And apparently right now a lot of folks are in a mood to discuss it.
posted by konolia at 11:10 AM on November 18, 2003


Oh, my previous post was directed at five fresh fish. I forgot how active this thread was.
posted by konolia at 11:11 AM on November 18, 2003


This is something I never really understood. What difference does death make to a being like Jesus, who is suppossed divine and gets resurrected?

Well, He was fully man as well as being fully God. As to His death satisfying the legal requirement of penalty for sin-remember, sin came into the world thru ONE man-Adam. Only another PERFECT sinless man could die in order to take our place. And that is why Jesus was the only one who could do it. All the rest of us were sinners and didn't qualify. Not that I imagine anyone would be standing in line to volunteer if they did.
posted by konolia at 11:15 AM on November 18, 2003


If there is a God, this thread will get to 400.

And if there's not... the sky's the limit!
posted by languagehat at 11:27 AM on November 18, 2003


konolia, you said earlier that lacking god meant believing we were walking meat who just end, which you regarded as unbearably depressing. Is that your primary reason for faith, to avoid that conclusion? If humans were basically immortal - say, in a few thousand years we had the technology to download and extend consciousness indefinitely - would you still turn to god? Do you really see a reason, a rational basis, for believing in christianity, or is it more of a motive, an answer that makes you happy?

And as I've said elsewhere, how does the answer actually make you happy - how would it be "righteous" for you to be happy all doped up on god in heaven, while millions of decent, loving people endure overwhelming pain for not catching on to god's "sacrifice" of himself (for a day & a half) to himself? Probably even people you love would be sent to hell by your beliefs; how will you experience bliss knowing that?
posted by mdn at 11:29 AM on November 18, 2003


Don't laugh, but I honestly couldn't figure out for the life of me how something like sex could evolve. Or eyeballs, for that matter.

wonder no more (eyes that is, sex seems pretty easy to explain, and I'm sure you could find an answer if you were open to it and actually went in search of answers).
posted by willnot at 11:37 AM on November 18, 2003


I have a hard time believing in macroevolution but I personally believe there was some microevolution happening.

konolia, you really do need to do some reading. There is no scientific distinction between "micro" and "macro" evolution. It's all one mechanism, or set of mechanisms, working over different time periods. The distinction was created by Creationists who needed some way to argue away evidence of evolution.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 11:41 AM on November 18, 2003


This has actually turned out to be a pretty good thread - in relation to its origins. Thanks all for redeeming my misguided vendetta of a MeTa post.
posted by orange swan at 11:54 AM on November 18, 2003


He was fully man as well as being fully God.

I've always regarded this answer as a terrible cop-out. Are not all men tainted with sin, which must be washed away with blood? How could Jesus have been fully man if he was without sin? Was there ever any question that Jesus was not of God, and that he would return to his Father's side in Heaven once his work on earth was done? I don't understand how this was a sacrifice at all - seems like more of a vacation, to me.
posted by majcher at 12:03 PM on November 18, 2003


Well, to be fair, most of us don't typically get nailed to trees when we go on vacation.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 12:19 PM on November 18, 2003


I have a hard time believing in macroevolution but I personally believe there was some microevolution happening.

First genetic evidence of macroevolution found.

"The achievement is a landmark in evolutionary biology, not only because it shows how new animal body plans could arise from a simple genetic mutation, but because it effectively answers a major criticism creationists had long leveled against evolution—the absence of a genetic mechanism that could permit animals to introduce radical new body designs."
posted by homunculus at 12:21 PM on November 18, 2003


Do you believe that the theory of evolution claims that man descended from apes?

No, I don't.


I'm not sure you're answering my question, so would you please clarify? I'm not asking if YOU believe in evolution.

As to His death satisfying the legal requirement of penalty for sin-remember, sin came into the world thru ONE man-Adam. Only another PERFECT sinless man could die in order to take our place. And that is why Jesus was the only one who could do it.

Then when he died of old age (you said he was "fully man"), we would all have been "saved" in any case, so why obsess so ghoulishly on his execution?

And why is "death" an acceptable (or even a relevant) cure for "sin?" That's a questionable assumption when you're talking about the sinner himself, much less a stand-in.
posted by rushmc at 12:43 PM on November 18, 2003


There is a lot more detail that could be gone into reference the reason for the crucifixion, etc.

Interestingly enough, I am not a seminary graduate, and I simply do the best I can. I don't know the answers to everything. But I will say that almost all if not all of the questions posed in this thread are good questions.

Rushmc, I dug out my bible doctrines book from bible college (haven't looked thru that for years) to try to find the answer to your question. It was not directly addressed, but since Christ's death was a sacrifice, it had to be a blood sacrifice. And since he was sinless, he wouldn't drop dead anyway. (Adam would have lived forever if he hadn't sinned.) There is a lot more to the crucifixion than redemption from the sin nature, but honestly I am not qualified to discuss it intelligently.

To me all that counts is I have a relationship with God, and it will never end.

I have to say I am throughly shocked at how long this thread is.
posted by konolia at 1:10 PM on November 18, 2003


thanks for answering our questions about this stuff (or trying to anyway), konolia : >
posted by amberglow at 1:14 PM on November 18, 2003


Adam would have lived forever if he hadn't sinned.

Where in the bible does it say that?

Was he only protected against the ravages of aging, or was he protected against all harm? For instance, if he fell off a really tall mountain would he have died or lived on in agony with all of his bones broken and no way to move, or would his bones have magically healed themselves? I know god could have done it, but what if god was busy planting trees with fruit Adam wasn't supposed to eat or arguing over bizarre legal points with the morning star? Would nailing Adam to a tree have killed him too? Is it like a stake through the heart for vampires where the only way to kill the sinless is to nail them to a couple of sticks?

Mary was supposed to be born free of sin too (immaculate conception -- unless that's just a catholic thing and even still...). Could she have been sacrificed and saved god the trouble of planting his seed in the girl? In fact, if she was free of sin, why did she have to give birth at all. Wasn't the pain of childbirth a punishment for the original sin (of which her soul was presumably clean).

Presumably Christ aged a little over time. At what point would his sinlessness have stopped the aging process -- or would he have kept on aging getting older and older, more wrinkled and gray haired until the end of time or until he was introduced to some nails and a couple of sticks?

At this point, are you just making stuff up to suit your whim and concept of Christianity (you've mentioned in a few places that you don't believe everything that many other Christians might and suggest that is OK)? The things you believe seem to be at least a little malleable when confronted with challenges. That's fine, it demonstrates you are open to learning and growth, but it doesn't speak well of a world view based on ancient doctrine that is perfect and unchangeable. Either you believe what the book says or you don't. If you want to just pick and choose according to your whim or the prevailing attitudes, then that isn't truth, that's make-believe whether god exists or not.
posted by willnot at 1:52 PM on November 18, 2003


This has actually turned out to be a pretty good thread - in relation to its origins.

A lot of this discussion might have more properly taken place in the original thread if it hadn't immediately turned into a pointless skallas-bash-fest (no, not pointing the finger at you alone, orange swan). Another argument, I should think, in favor of keeping one's perceptions of personalities out of what should be substantive discussions.
posted by rushmc at 2:04 PM on November 18, 2003


Does no one else have an issue with the sexual assault subtext of the Mary/Leda/et al story? I won't try to draw a link between this veneration of patriarchal abuse by authority and the pattern of sexual abuse among Catholic priests, but one probably could.
posted by rushmc at 2:10 PM on November 18, 2003


I probably have a problem with that. Who is Leda?
posted by willnot at 2:13 PM on November 18, 2003


Leda and the swan Leda?
posted by amberglow at 2:33 PM on November 18, 2003


Yep.
posted by rushmc at 3:45 PM on November 18, 2003


Check this for a Christian perspective on the comparison between Mary and Leda.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 4:14 PM on November 18, 2003


> And since he was sinless, he wouldn't drop dead anyway.
> (Adam would have lived forever if he hadn't sinned.)

Presumably Christ aged a little over time. At what point would his sinlessness have stopped the aging process -- or would he have kept on aging getting older and older, more wrinkled and gray haired until the end of time or until he was introduced to some nails and a couple of sticks?


If Christ were still alive today, I wonder where he'd be living? Or Adam, for that matter. Or any of the millions upon billions of people that would be on Earth right now were it not for death. Did God plan on all of us being sinless and ancient and sharing the planet, or did he plan to kill us from the beginning, using sin as the excuse? Or would people have bodily gone to heaven every now and then to make room for new ones?

Lots of nutty stuff from you, konolia, but you keep your chin up, don't you? Gotta grant you that.
posted by azimuth at 4:18 PM on November 18, 2003



one has to admire the balls konolia is showing in this thread, taking on a not-always-totally-polite (and I'm the first to be guilty) gangbang of strangers cross-examining her about her most deeply held beliefs.
chapeau, connie

posted by matteo at 4:29 PM on November 18, 2003


Braver than most of the other christian MetaTalkers, who seem to be keeping their heads down....
posted by dash_slot- at 4:34 PM on November 18, 2003


"...we teach love by needing it." I like that--thanks, monju
posted by amberglow at 4:38 PM on November 18, 2003


Not being a Catholic, I don't believe Mary was sinless. As to the conception of Jesus, a simple matter of Mary's genetic material being tweaked so it didn't need a human male. Nothing titillating here.

In short, Mary was Jesus' mom, and that was it. She gets no more status than any of the rest of God's children, but fortunately we ALL are very dearly beloved by the Lord.

Oh, and thanks for all the kind words up there. Much appreciated.
posted by konolia at 5:01 PM on November 18, 2003


Oh, and death of any sort did not enter the world until sin did.
posted by konolia at 5:04 PM on November 18, 2003


"Much appreciated".

don't even mention it. you've weaselled out of the dinosaur thing, OK, but you're being very cool here anyway
posted by matteo at 5:06 PM on November 18, 2003


Don't laugh, but I honestly couldn't figure out for the life of me how something like sex could evolve. Or eyeballs, for that matter.

That's wonderful! Get Dawkin's The Blind Watchmaker -- he addresses those things specifically and in detail!

And now I'll quit harping on that book. :-)

Willnot has asked some questions that may look superficial, but actually strike deep. The challenge one to think about the assumptions, illogic, and well, weirdness that underlie so many people's unquestioning, facile faith.

Here's another one: for many religionists, a "creator god" is required to explain the complexity of life and the universe. Yet the "creator god" itself must necessarily be more complex than that which it created. One is left with the quandry, then, of explaining how the yet-more-complex creator came to be. From there it's turtles all the way down.

The facile answer is always along the line of "well, there's always been a god" or "god doesn't need a creator." Yet that answer is wholly inadequate: if there is no need for a complex god to have a creator, then there is no need for a less-complex universe to have a creator. One might as well accept "well, there's always been a universe" or "the universe doesn't need a creator": such an explanation at least doesn't contradict itself.

This contradictory nature of religion is ultimately one of its largest problems.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:09 PM on November 18, 2003


Oh, and Konolia: thanks.

You're doing well here, even if you don't quite understand that atheists don't believe, they know. I'd really like to see some response to some of the more difficult questions here, though. The thing about dinosaurs, about aging, about complexity, etcetera. (On the other hand, these may be more deep and difficult than it's worth your time to challenge.)
posted by five fresh fish at 5:13 PM on November 18, 2003


Shit, it's turned into a love fest. It's become like that fight in The Quiet Man, that went so long that they ended as friends. Fuck that, I'm still up for ridiculing the ridiculous.
posted by Hildago at 5:24 PM on November 18, 2003


As to the conception of Jesus, a simple matter of Mary's genetic material being tweaked so it didn't need a human male. Nothing titillating here.

And the little issue of consent?
posted by rushmc at 5:27 PM on November 18, 2003


And the little issue of consent?

Here you go:

Luke 1:38:"I am the Lord's servant," Mary answered. May it be to me as you have said." NIV version.

The whole story is in the first chapter of Luke.
posted by konolia at 5:35 PM on November 18, 2003


I've got $20 on her not being a virgin.
posted by The God Complex at 5:38 PM on November 18, 2003


I'd really like to see some response to some of the more difficult questions here, though. Let me get back to you on that. I'd like to do a little research myself.
posted by konolia at 5:38 PM on November 18, 2003


While you're researching, go ahead and solve the problem of evil. That's been quite a stickler for me.
posted by Hildago at 5:40 PM on November 18, 2003


Fivefreshfish, God is separate from His creation, and exists outside of space and time. Yeah, it twists my head into a pretzel too, but so would the alternative.
posted by konolia at 5:41 PM on November 18, 2003


Check this for a Christian perspective on the comparison between Mary and Leda.

Interesting link, but he basically dodges the issue of the abrogation of autonomy and free will.
posted by rushmc at 5:42 PM on November 18, 2003


The whole story is in the first chapter of Luke.

I'm unconvinced. "Consent" acquired through intimidation (and you yourself have said that the first reaction to God must be fear) is hardly true consent. Not to mention that it was after the fact. If I'm a dentist and I secretly inseminate women while they are unconscious, am I blameless, even if they later say they don't mind?
posted by rushmc at 5:46 PM on November 18, 2003


That doesn't suffice as any sort of answer, konolia. Of course a creator would be separate from its creation: you certainly don't find a Mr. William Clay Ford inside every Focus.

The argument for a creator is that the universe is simply too fantastically complex and works too well to have just "happened": it must have been created purposefully.

The creator, though, must necessarily be more complex than its creation -- especially so when said creator is to be fully knowledgable (omniscient) of what it has created.

So if the universe is too complex to not have been created, then the creator itself must be too complex to not have been completed.

Which means something must have created the creator. Something which is, indeed, more complex than the creator... an uber-god, if you will. And that uber-god must also have been created, and so on.

The argument for a creator is ultimately absurd: it becomes more complex than that which it explains!

If there's anything to cause one's head to pretzel, it is surely the creator-creator-creator-ad-infinitum explanation. In comparison, the scientific theories are simple, sensible, and comfortable.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:01 PM on November 18, 2003


Did you know that when Jesus was resurrected that some of the righteous dead actually resurrected as well and were seen walking around?

Seen by who? Which righteous dead? I may be showing some New Testament ignorance here but I have to admit to never having seen this assertion before. Seems almost more ridiculous than the bit about Adam never dying except for sin.

On a (hopefully) deeper level, though, you seem to emphasize the relationship with god as the key aspect of your version of Christianity. But, as others here have pointed out, the Bible is so complex, filled with seeming contradictions (the angels dancing on the head of a pin metaphor came out of this, after all), and other parts that seem so temporal and human (slaveholding, women as second class citizens, for instance). Why wouldn't your god have provided a text that was simpler to understand yet still had room for free will?

Fivefreshfish, God is separate from His creation, and exists outside of space and time. Yeah, it twists my head into a pretzel too, but so would the alternative.

As an alternative to consider for removing the pretzeltwistingness, how about accepting that humanity has yet to develop the level of knowledge and insight to explain the universe? To insist otherwise, when we don't even understand our own bodies very well, reeks of arrogance. And isn't arrogance one of the seven deadly sins?
posted by billsaysthis at 6:05 PM on November 18, 2003


rushmc - god has no problem killing most people on earth, commanding its servants to kill their own children (well, OK just nick their willies when push comes to shove, but still), heaping misery and misfortune on its most faithful servant because of some bizzare wager with an angel it kicked out of its kingdom for being a total tool.

Why choose to get worked up over a little date rape? I mean god must be the only creature in the universe that might presume to say that no really meant yes. Besides, weren't women pretty much just chattle back then anyway? If the king wants to bed you, well then you are going to be bedded.
posted by willnot at 6:10 PM on November 18, 2003


oh. ohgod. OH GOD OH OH OH OH GOD GOOD GOD ALMIGHTY YES YES YES!!!

Sorry, couldn't help it.
posted by dness2 at 6:31 PM on November 18, 2003


Why choose to get worked up over a little date rape?

Just one of scores of biblical issues one could choose to examine. It's an extremely problematic document.

Besides, weren't women pretty much just chattle back then anyway? If the king wants to bed you, well then you are going to be bedded.

Ah, that was the human condition, but are you suggesting that God's morality also evolves over time (admittedly, it would certainly appear to, comparing the Old Testament to the New)? I'm not sure how that jibes with omniscience.
posted by rushmc at 6:46 PM on November 18, 2003


Since when are angels, including Lucifer, accorded free will?
posted by NortonDC at 7:14 PM on November 18, 2003


fff: faith has nothing to do with it.

On the contrary, it has everything to do with it. Points of faith are the sticking point in this discussion that you cannot move past. Faith is stronger than reason.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 7:16 PM on November 18, 2003


Since when are angels, including Lucifer, accorded free will?

Which flavor? Seraphim, cherubim, ophanim, dominions, malakim, powers, principalities, archangels, or regular angels? And do they all dance on pins together, or segregated?
posted by rushmc at 7:19 PM on November 18, 2003


Faith is stronger than reason.

So is insanity.
posted by rushmc at 7:20 PM on November 18, 2003


When I was growing up, we never discussed religion at the dinner table (unless somebody really screwed up saying grace).
posted by wendell at 7:29 PM on November 18, 2003


What are you on about, impHiltr8r? There is no faith involved with atheism. The very idea of faith-based atheism is absurd. "I have faith in the non-existence of god" is a meaningless statement.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:30 PM on November 18, 2003


inpHilltr8r: Faith is stronger than reason.

rushmc: So is insanity.

What's your point, rushmc?
posted by BlueTrain at 7:34 PM on November 18, 2003


So is insanity.

Insanity is only in the eyes of the sane. An insane person thinks everyone else is living in crazyworld.
posted by dness2 at 7:40 PM on November 18, 2003


Faith is stronger than reason.

but what is faith? Reason is an honest attempt to understand what actually is. Faith is a decision to believe whatever you wish were true. It involves no actual search or uncovering; it is pure projection. It's stronger only in that it isn't a relationship with the world or other consciousnesses. It's whatever you want, and if you're capable of ignoring actual data input, it's unbreakable. But reason is based on interaction, on accepting information through your senses and your capacity to make sense of things. Reason is infinitely stronger in its ability to predict, determine, and understand the world. Faith is nothing but empty claims and desperate hopes. It's stronger only the way ignorance is stronger than knowledge, in that knowledge can be limited and small, while ignorance is completely unaware of its insufficiency.
posted by mdn at 7:51 PM on November 18, 2003


"I have faith in the non-existence of god" is a meaningless statement.

Well you certainly don't have proof, so what do you have?
posted by inpHilltr8r at 8:04 PM on November 18, 2003


Faith is stronger than reason.

So is insanity.


So is whiskey. Mmmm, whiskey.

There is no faith involved with atheism.

Maybe not faith as such, but there is a reliance on certain axioms that one could misconstrue as faith, or call faith if they were being intentionally abrasive. I generally trust what I observe with my senses, unless I have reason to believe that they are faulty in some way. I believe that non-random processes are repeatable when performed in a controlled manner. I believe in certain logical progressions, that one thing follows from another. I believe that, given a hypothetical proposition, a reasonable outcome can be predicted, and perhaps tested. I... think that's about it. (Did I leave something out?) Beyond that, it's all just working stuff out, and managing levels of trust in what others report. I wouldn't call that faith, but some might. I have "faith" that the sun will rise in the morning, but this is something entirely separate from the "faith" that leads one to believe in something that there is little or no evidence or reason for.

And again, props to konolia for standing up to all the wind coming out of us. Now, about those angels with the free will...
posted by majcher at 8:05 PM on November 18, 2003


Ah, that was the human condition, but are you suggesting that God's morality also evolves over time

That's one possibility. The Christian god as I think most people envision it definitely seems fickle enough to allow for that answer.

A more likely possibility is that it isn't god's morality that has evolved to keep pace with society, but rather society that has evolved out of favor with god's morality. Perhaps god wants women to be treated as objects, and our insistence on seeing them as equals is counter to god's will.

The most likely possibility is that god as wish fulfillment naturally takes on the attributes that the society of the time projects into it.
posted by willnot at 8:46 PM on November 18, 2003


On the question of faith with respect to the nonexistence of god, I suspect most atheists would say that absent any evidence of the existence of god, it isn't worth even considering as a proposition. In much the same way I wouldn't consider the possibility that gravity might reverse itself as I'm typing this. It's not that I actively must choose to believe that won't happen. It's that the likelihood that it might happen given all evidence to date is so remote that it isn't worth worrying about.
posted by willnot at 8:53 PM on November 18, 2003


Only through the loosest possible definitions of "faith" can a statement like "I have faith in the non-existence of god" be considered anything but nonsense.

If it were not nonsense the word "faith" would be diluted of all meaning. It would be through "faith" that one also rejects the existence of fairies, little green men from mars, Superman, and an antimatter impH8ltr living on an antimatter earth circling opposite our orbit.

Indeed, there is an infinite set of non-existent non-entities which I believe I can safely assert all of us know do not exist, and would not normally consider this knowledge to be "faith"-based knowledge.

To reiterate: "I have faith in the non-existence of god" is a meaningless statement.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:44 PM on November 18, 2003


rushmc: So is insanity.

What's your point, rushmc?


That "stronger" doesn't necessarily mean better. Reason is preferable by any meaningful criteria to insanity and yet is often subverted by it. Willful delusion derives its strength through denial, which is a perversion of the natural affinity for fact (an appreciation of which is necessary for survival, at a fundamental level) and truth (which adds a moral dimension). Mental illness can diminish or destroy the capacity for reason, which could lead one to judge it "stronger" (reason is less successful at overturning mental illness), and yet it is not the preferable or more functional or advantageous condition. "Faith" can be seen in similar terms, as a distorted adaptation to ignorance and uncertainty that is capable of replacing reason yet inferior to it.
posted by rushmc at 9:45 PM on November 18, 2003


But, five fresh fish - a religionist could as easily turn that around and say that only through the loosest possible definitions of "faith" can a statement like "I have faith in the existence of god" be considered anything but nonsense.

If it were not nonsense the word "faith" would be diluted of all meaning. It would be through "faith" that one also accepts the existence of flowers, carbon, the plumber, and the couch on which I am sitting.

Indeed, there is an infinite set of existent entities which I believe I can safely assert all of us know do exist, and would not normally consider this knowledge to be "faith"-based knowledge.

A religionist claims to experience god as really and specifically as those other things which we all would accept as undoubtedly genuine. As you describe it, your absence of faith is a distinction without a distinction.
posted by willnot at 10:09 PM on November 18, 2003


natural affinity for fact (an appreciation of which is necessary for survival, at a fundamental level) and truth

Patently false. Which philosopher has suggested that? Specifically, I am questioning your use of the term "natural". Humanity may have an affinity for truth, however, I would argue that this "affinity" is based on societal norms, not biological evolution.

"Faith" can be seen in similar terms, as a distorted adaptation to ignorance and uncertainty

Your analogy is based on bad faith (please excuse the pun). You have made a slight jab at "faith" by comparing it to "insanity" and now are attempting to hide your contempt of "faith" through rhetoric. Faith does not always, or usually, lead to "distortions" nor "ignorance".

Faith and reason are equal components is determining one's reality. We must have "faith" in "reason". Reason, like any other human ability, only grows and evolves through faith in its success. And to many (note the word: many, not all, not the majority, not just a couple) religious folk, faith in reason and faith in God are equal. You seem to suggest that a faith in reason supercedes a faith in God, which is false.
posted by BlueTrain at 10:09 PM on November 18, 2003


Humanity may have an affinity for truth, however, I would argue that this "affinity" is based on societal norms, not biological evolution.

Poppycock. Animals need to seek out the truth in order to survive. "The Truth" includes all sorts of interesting stuff, like things that can kill you, what is good to eat, and hey, I think she'll sleep with me. All of which seem pretty essential, both individually, and on the scale of natural selection. Humans tend to take things a bit further, of course, but you can easily see how the drive for knowledge was developed.

Faith and reason are equal components is determining one's reality. We must have "faith" in "reason".

Fiddle-faddle. See my post above - "faith" in "reason" is not what most people mean by faith. It is a fundamental method of dealing with the crazy world around us. Yes, it is a basic axiom upon which we build, and it seems to work pretty darn well, all things considered. It requires exactly as much Faith, however, as does the statement "parallel lines never cross" or "the shortest distance between two points is a straight line". Both of which, it turns out, are true in a Euclidean geometric system, but not in our own universe. And hey, science and reason adapted. Faith does not adapt. This is the core difference that many people seem to miss, or ignore.
posted by majcher at 10:59 PM on November 18, 2003


Damn. Macjher didn't have enough rebuttal to break out the Crunch 'n' Munch.
posted by kindall at 11:03 PM on November 18, 2003


I mean Majcher. I was distracted by thoughts of sweet, delicious toffee-coated popcorn-and-nut snacks.
posted by kindall at 11:05 PM on November 18, 2003


Animals need to seek out the truth in order to survive.

Actually, no, they don't. And that was my point. You've completely bypassed the philosophical term "truth" and replaced it with our instinct to survive. Truth is not biological.

It is a fundamental method of dealing with the crazy world around us.

Exactly. And some, like you, believe that science and reason are fundamental to understanding the world. Others use science, reason, and faith in God to understand the world. You can have God and/or reason and science, among other variables like instinct, to perceive the world.

Faith does not adapt.

I know plenty of scientists who believe in evolution but also believe in God. That wasn't possible two hundred years ago. "Faith", in your terms, adapted to allow for science. There are so many "Gods" in the world that suggesting that "Faith does not adapt" is extremely short-sighted. Perhaps Catholicism does not adapt. But "faith" does.
posted by BlueTrain at 5:55 AM on November 19, 2003


Patently false.

I think not. See majcher's reply for an explanation.

Reason, like any other human ability, only grows and evolves through faith in its success.

Noting correlation and using it for predictive purposes (that the sun will come up every morning, for example) is not the same thought process as believing that something will occur simply because you want it to (that tomorrow morning Daedalus will come give you wings to fly through the dawn) or confusing coincidence with causation (there was an eclipse the day of my birth, therefore I am a chosen son of my community's gods and deserving of special privilege and power). Reason is trying to figure out what's out there, so accuracy is important (and there are consequences for inaccuracy); faith is wishing what is was otherwise (and one can imagine and pretend anything, however unrealistic or preposterous).
posted by rushmc at 6:09 AM on November 19, 2003


Others use science, reason, and faith in God to understand the world.

Faith cannot help you understand the world, because it has only an indirect relation to the world (i.e., one can learn something about people through the stories they tell). All fantasy is metaphorical, and to take it literally is to miss the point entirely. I could as easily have "faith" in the existence of hobbits as of angels. Religious faith is synonymous with self-delusion. Now we all delude ourselves sometimes, to some degree, about some things, but that doesn't mean we should embrace it as a way of life and a path to truth.
posted by rushmc at 6:15 AM on November 19, 2003


There are so many "Gods" in the world

So are you suggesting that all these gods literally exist? Or acknowledging that the delusion varies from individual to individual?
posted by rushmc at 6:17 AM on November 19, 2003


Religious faith is synonymous with self-delusion.

Thank you for that bigoted analysis, which is precisely why I think that your rationale for why faith is inferior to reason is false. And you still haven't shown me the philosopher who has EVER said that humans have a "natural affinity" for truth.

but that doesn't mean we should embrace it as a way of life and a path to truth.

Who suggested that? Not me. I simply suggested that a faith in God can be as real and strong as reason and science.

Or acknowledging that the delusion varies from individual to individual?

How can you possibly think of yourself as a good voice for reason over faith when you constantly suggest that those who believe in a God are deluded?
posted by BlueTrain at 6:24 AM on November 19, 2003


Thank you for that bigoted analysis, which is precisely why I think that your rationale for why faith is inferior to reason is false.

Bigotry requires making a judgment prior to having relevant information, based on incidental traits. The judgment that faith is self-delusion is not based on incidental particulars. Faith is the projection of one's hopes and wishes about the structure of the universe. What is self-delusion?

I think the two are simply different words, with different connotations, for very similar behavior. It's called faith so long as it's not causing harm and discord to the individual; if the person's faith brings them to a point where they join a cult or something, people might approach the issue differently.

Reason is the acceptance of sensory input and the organization thereof by reliable methods that are open to change.

And you still haven't shown me the philosopher who has EVER said that humans have a "natural affinity" for truth.

"All men by nature desire understanding" is the first line of Aristotle's Metaphysics...

and I don't think it's a widely contended point. Humans are curious. We want to know what's going on. The problem is, we get frightened of our lack of knowledge, and so in the past have made up answers to alleviate that fear (the existence of which should show that humans do desire information).

And apparently some people are also afraid of the truth, of the way things are - death, finitude, imperfection, injustice in nature - and so project a scheme that would fix all that (or would fix it by their standards) if only it existed (rather than working to fix things in the real world). So then they have to concentrate on believing it exists, despite there being no evidence and no explanation for its existence, and plenty for its fabrication. That concentration of believing it exists for no reason except one's own wish that it did is called faith, and could as easily be called self-delusion. It's merely the connotations of those words that differ.
posted by mdn at 7:16 AM on November 19, 2003


How can you possibly think of yourself as a good voice for reason over faith when you constantly suggest that those who believe in a God are deluded?

BlueTrain, I am God. If my friends have 'faith' that my claim is true, can you honestly say that they are not delusional?

If you do think they are deluded, then please ponder the fact that there is just as much verifiable evidence supporting my claim as there is supporting the incredible claims of Christianity. Both are unsupported assertions.

If you don't think they are deluded, then I have a few commandments I'd like you to start following.
posted by jsonic at 7:20 AM on November 19, 2003


Thank you for that bigoted analysis

So now anything you disagree with qualifies as "bigoted?" It's not an analysis so much as a simple observation. The dictionary defines "delusion" as "a false belief or opinion" and faith as "belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence." To me, those are describing the same thing. Noting that has nothing to do with my opinion of people who believe these things, but merely recognizes the logical relationship between the two.

And you still haven't shown me the philosopher who has EVER said that humans have a "natural affinity" for truth.

You should really try to free yourself from this reliance upon appeals to authority. That's a very religious mindset, wanting others to do your thinking for you.

I simply suggested that a faith in God can be as real and strong as reason and science.

Real in what sense? That it exists in the world? No one is disputing that. That it is valid? That's a claim that no one has proven.

How can you possibly think of yourself as a good voice for reason over faith when you constantly suggest that those who believe in a God are deluded?

Um, because they are? I don't know if I'm a "good voice" or not, or even if I care to be, but I don't see how acknowledging the basic facts of the matter disqualifies me. If someone chooses to deny what is real (e.g., evolution) or to believe what is unprovable (e.g., the existence of God) or disproven (e.g., a 6,000-yr-old earth), then they forfeit the right to have hurt feelings when someone notes this choice and its consequences.
posted by rushmc at 7:20 AM on November 19, 2003


It's called faith so long as it's not causing harm and discord to the individual

Some would argue that belief in and commitment to that which is untrue—or denial of what is true—is inherently harmful to an individual, at the very least in a moral sense and often in a practical sense as well.
posted by rushmc at 7:23 AM on November 19, 2003


My previous post discussed Christianity specifically, but it equally applies to any faith based religion.
posted by jsonic at 7:32 AM on November 19, 2003


We had sincere people discussing their sincere worldviews.

Now we've got wanna-be pedants playing silly buggers.

willnot: one resorts to faith in the absence of logic. A logical statement is one which is provable. The existence of carbon, flowers, the plumber, and your couch are all provable. Faith comes into play when logic can not be applied. The religionists can not use the argument you presented.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:38 AM on November 19, 2003


willnot: "wanna-be pedants playing silly buggers" wasn't addressed to you.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:39 AM on November 19, 2003


How can you possibly think of yourself as a good voice for reason over faith when you constantly suggest that those who believe in a God are deluded?

How could someone possibly think of themselves as a voice of reason over faith without believing that?

Faith is objectively indistinguishable from delusion, just as inspiration is objectively indistinguishable from hallucination. We used to say that schizophrenics were "touched by God" or "possessed by demons," depending on what form their mutterings took. Today we understand mental illness a little better, and now even most Christians realize that neither God nor Satan directly causes such things. Similarly, delusion is a case of faulty intuition, a subconscious leap of inductive reasoning gone horribly wrong. A delusion makes you absolutely positively sure of something that's simply not true. Of course, the faithful will argue until they're blue in the face that their faith actually is true regardless of arguments or evidence to the contrary -- which is another marker identical to delusion.

Extraordinary claims demand extraordinary proof. "Faith is not a delusion" strikes me as an extraordinary claim, considering all the evidence against it. Which is more reasonable: that faith has all the markers of delusion yet somehow is not delusion because it happens to be about God (although clearly it would be a delusion if it were about a different god) -- or that faith is in fact the same mental process as delusion?

Of course nobody wants to be told they're deluded. Of course people will lash out at anyone who tells them so with words like "bigot." But the guy who believes he was probed by aliens reacts much the same way to doubters as do the religious faithful. That's just a fact.
posted by kindall at 9:11 AM on November 19, 2003


five fresh fish - a man comes to you and says he saw a woman behind a door. When you go to look, you find no woman, no evidence for the woman, and can't see any way that the woman could have gotten past you without your seeing.

The man truly believes he saw the woman. He may have invented the woman. He may be delusional, but he experienced the woman as truly as he experienced the door the woman was standing behind.

You may have missed some evidence. Maybe you didn't see the trap door through which she escaped. Maybe you didn't smell the perfume hanging on the air. Or maybe the woman didn't exist at all. All you have is the testimony of one eye witness, and eye witness testimony is fundamentally flawed.

So, you tell me. Which is more a statement of faith:

1. There was a woman behind that door. I saw her with my own eyes.

2. There is no evidence to suggest a woman was ever there. There is no woman.

Can I get the title of "wanna-be pedant playing silly buggers" now? Please?
posted by willnot at 9:17 AM on November 19, 2003


Certainly you can. Enjoy.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:11 AM on November 19, 2003


How can you possibly think of yourself as a good voice for reason over faith when you constantly suggest that those who believe in a God are deluded?

mdn and kindall both answered this better than I did. Re-read their responses.
posted by rushmc at 10:53 AM on November 19, 2003


When I was in grade school, some of my friends were "atheists". I put the word in scare quotes because, as you would expect of someone in grade school, these friends of mine didn't know nearly enough about the world around them to have rationally sufficient grounds for atheism. Their "arguments" were unsophisticated and they were totally ignorant of theology (not to mention real reason and epistemology). You see, they weren't really atheists at all - they were contrarians. They didn't arrive at their beliefs through cool, dispassionate reason, but rather out of a desire to rebel mixed with a little grade school hubris.

I'm currently something very close to agnostic. But I came to this belief only recently, and only after extensive thought - thought which I haven't yet finished. Anyway, like most people I know in my position, I feel a great deal of goodwill towards people with religious faith. You know what else? These friends of mine in grade school, they were always militantly atheistic.

"It is a general error", says Edmund Burke, "to suppose the loudest complainers for the public to be the most anxious for its welfare."
posted by gd779 at 12:09 PM on November 19, 2003


Religion is fundamentally opposed to everything I hold in veneration—courage, clear thinking, honesty, fairness, and, above all, love of the truth. —H. L. Mencken
posted by rushmc at 2:09 PM on November 19, 2003


as you would expect of someone in grade school, these friends of mine didn't know nearly enough about the world around them to have rationally sufficient grounds for atheism

And yet the others (and presumably you, yourself) knew enough about the world to have "rationally sufficient grounds for" religious belief?
posted by rushmc at 2:11 PM on November 19, 2003


And yet the others (and presumably you, yourself) knew enough about the world to have "rationally sufficient grounds for" religious belief?

Welcome to the wonderful world of tolerant agnosticism. When you don't have sufficient rational grounds to form a belief one way or the other, it's okay to say so.

But the larger point goes to motive. Militant atheists drape themselves in the cloak of reason but actually seem to be driven mainly by hate and other negative emotions. This deprives of credibility their claim that atheism is a choice made out of dispassionate reason, and that all others are deluded fools grasping at emotional straws to find fulfillment.

More fundamentally, I think that when you're a child in grade school, accepting mainstream beliefs is probably the most rational choice you can make. Your access to information, not to mention your ability to reason properly, isn't very great, and it's reasonable to assume that the great bulk of the society around you is pretty much right.
posted by gd779 at 4:47 PM on November 19, 2003


So if all of your family and those around you are racists, then it is right to avoid the little black kid down the corner who only wants to be your friend. In fact, if he's talking to your sister, then it's right to punch him until he bleeds lest he get the wrong kind of ideas.

I distinctly remember being in second or third grade reading a lot of Greek and Roman mythology and asking the librarian why the bibles were in the same section of the Dewey decimal system since I'd approached one as fiction and one as not fiction.

That was a revelation that set in motion my own questioning of conventional wisdom. I never really had faith before that, but that certainly made it easier for me to doubt the status quo. Those kids may have known and understood more than you suppose. Suggesting by implication that anybody that vehemently questions or denies is the same as a petulant grade school child with no foundation for their questioning seems like a bit of a cheap rhetorical trick to me.
posted by willnot at 5:01 PM on November 19, 2003


Welcome to the wonderful world of tolerant agnosticism. When you don't have sufficient rational grounds to form a belief one way or the other, it's okay to say so.

Plus you get to feel superior to pretty much everyone!

No, I jest, but at least I can talk about religion with my mother again...
posted by inpHilltr8r at 6:16 PM on November 19, 2003


Indeed, no one would arrive at the dogmas and ceremonies of the church through pure reason, nor does a heavenly being reveal them to you. You have to be taught them. It's like the alphabet; if everyone forgot all about the church today, it would cease to exist for ever tomorrow. It is not a thing in itself, with inherent value, it's just a tradition that many people happen to inherit from their ancestors.
posted by Hildago at 6:41 PM on November 19, 2003


Agnostics need to bite the bullet, I says. "Oh, but we can't know for certain!" Well, thank you, doctor.
posted by Hildago at 6:46 PM on November 19, 2003


So how many of you atheists ponder spirituality?

I am, at this time, fairly comfortable with the idea that our individual consciousness is meaningless: that it is a side-effect of the complexity of our nervous system. That isn't to say I'm ungrateful for it, just that it doesn't need a spiritual explanation.

There are other times when I consider the roiling interface of energy and matter, at the quantum mechanics level, in which the basic particles that compose all our universe flit in and out of existence randomly, almost like the foam of the sea upon the shore, and wonder whether our consciousness is a manisfestation of the energy component of the universe. To wit, that spirit is energy.

Then I realize that that sounds like eversomuch mumbojumbo mysticism, and go back to sleep.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:47 PM on November 19, 2003


More fundamentally, I think that when you're a child in grade school, accepting mainstream beliefs is probably the most rational choice you can make. Your access to information, not to mention your ability to reason properly, isn't very great, and it's reasonable to assume that the great bulk of the society around you is pretty much right.

I think that's absolutely wrong. Using reason to explore and understand your environment isn't something you suddenly wake up and start doing on your 25th birthday. Just as children can be inculcated with religious dogma, they can also be shown how to use the tools of rational inquiry. Sure, they'll get better at it with age and practice, but that's no excuse to deny it to them at a younger age. We'd have a lot less irrational adults in our society if we encouraged rational thinking more in children. Children are ravenously curious about the world around them and eager to understand why things are the way they are and how things work ("Why is the sky blue?"). On the other hand, if you train children to "accept mainstream beliefs" because they're ill-equipped to think for themselves, you'll end up more often than not with a bunch of muddle-headed sheep.
posted by rushmc at 7:00 PM on November 19, 2003


As I see the comment count on this thread keep going up and up, I am reminded of Arthur C. Clarke's short story "The Nine Billion Names of God". (note: link goes to a major copyright violation, but if you've never read the story...) I can just imagine what would happen if this thread hits 1000.

"Overhead, without any fuss, MetaFilter was going out."
posted by wendell at 7:22 PM on November 19, 2003


Here's a story I invite you all to comment upon:

When my friend S. was in high school, a bunch of kids decided to get together and have an all night prayer vigil for the "salvation" of their - and S's - friend K. K did not know about this prayer vigil until several days after the fact. But the night of the vigil, K. had the most horrible, tortured night. She couldn't sleep, and she felt like something was hanging over her, and trying to take something very precious away from her. She'd never had any experience remotely like this before. A few days later K. saw one of the people who had had this vigil on her behalf, and he told her about the vigil. She never spoke to him or any of the other "vigilants" again - I would have done the same thing.

Now, I know we will get into credibility problems here. I believe this story because I heard it from a trusted friend who had heard it directly from the person it had happened to. However, you are all hearing it from a stranger on the Web, so I don't expect you all to give it the same credence. But I think about that story a lot. It doesn't contain a single shred of proof or evidence as to the existence of God - if anything, to me it indicates the contrary. It may only prove that people can be JERKS. But to me it indicates that there is something in prayer, even if it only means that the human mind has more power than we've yet charted.

Anyway, as I've said, I invite your comments. Sure, many of you will likely dismiss that it ever happened and I don't blame you. But if any of you are willing to accept it at face value, I'd like to hear your thoughts about it.
posted by orange swan at 8:43 PM on November 19, 2003


Sure, many of you will likely dismiss

dude, like i talked to elvis tuesday in a service station rest room. he appeared before me in the form of a flaming urinal and thanked me very much. why would i dismiss this story of yours when i'm standing here with fried pubes???
posted by quonsar at 8:59 PM on November 19, 2003


speaking of fried pubes, did he tell you how he sucks less than Bush?
posted by trondant at 9:19 PM on November 19, 2003


Today's top story: Internet message board fails to resolve 2000-year-old debate. Film at 11.
posted by Johnny Assay at 9:20 PM on November 19, 2003


It's interesting, orange swan, but I think it's far more likely K had stuff on her mind (maybe the same stuff that motivated people to pray for her or maybe not, and had a bad night bec. of that--K didn't know that prayer was happening on her behalf, and millions of people pray for members of their family and strangers and peace each and every day (and even pray for bad things to happen to people they consider bad). I also think tho, that it's horrible to contemplate that the prayers of the people directly caused her a painful, sleepless night and mental anguish, but that's just me (I don't believe they wanted to cause her pain). I would need to see them do it again, and hear from K about that night, to directly link the two. We are affected in strange ways at night by things that we experience during the day, or that are on our minds, etc that we sometimes don't even consciously register. I for instance, am delaying going to sleep because michael jackson's face scares me, and seeing it over and over again on tv tonight has been too much.
posted by amberglow at 10:04 PM on November 19, 2003


...if you train children to "accept mainstream beliefs" ...you'll end up more often than not with a bunch of muddle-headed sheep..

Yes, but then we also wouldn't be leveraging their naive trust in adults, and would thus be denied the endless amusement of their lust for Santa Claus.

Re: prayer. There have been some truly scientific studies of the effects of prayer on the ill. I don't recall whether the latest results showed improvement in their health or not.

If mass-consciousness aka prayer has an effect, positive or negative, it would constitute some amount of proof of a connection -- call it psychic, call it spiritual, call it quantum entanglement, call it energy -- between our neural networks. That would be seriously cool.

It would not, however, constitute proof of god. That probably sounds obstreperous to the religionists, but it truly is not. The religionist god is described as something far, far more than interconnectedness between conscious minds.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:54 PM on November 19, 2003


It would not, however, constitute proof of god. That probably sounds obstreperous to the religionists, but it truly is not. The religionist god is described as something far, far more than interconnectedness between conscious minds.

It would actually suggest a state of being more like Taoism and Buddhism, which do not rely on a God to keep their metaphysics coherent.
posted by homunculus at 12:14 AM on November 20, 2003


Hey, we're almost there...
posted by homunculus at 12:17 AM on November 20, 2003


400!
posted by homunculus at 12:19 AM on November 20, 2003


One of the fundamental tenets of christianity is that Jesus would be dead for three whole days and three whole nights and then he'd rise from the dead, right? He said he'd do it, didn't he?

As far as I can tell from reading the New Testament, Jesus wasn't in that tomb for more that thirty hours. He died late Friday, was taken to his tomb, and was missing when Mary Magdalene showed up very early on Sunday morning. That's not three days, or three nights. That's just a little over one day.

I'd like to hear someone explain this. Did Jesus lie?
posted by interrobang at 2:46 AM on November 20, 2003


But the night of the vigil, K. had the most horrible, tortured night. She couldn't sleep

Indigestion.
posted by rushmc at 5:20 AM on November 20, 2003


Thanks for your thoughts. I can't quite reconcile the "just had stuff on her mind" with the story as it was told to me, amberglow. When I have stuff on my mind I think specifically about that stuff. The experience of feeling "something hanging over her" and trying to take away something precious seemed to be different. Also she had never had a night like this. Of course you may be right, and it might just be a coincidence, and if it were two or more incidents of the same thing happening, that would prove more.

And five fresh fish, I really like your theory about mass consciousness. I used to regularly attend a Quaker meeting. It was an unprogammed meeting, which means that everyone sits in silence unless someone feels moved to pop up and say something. I don't go anymore, but when I did go I was amazed at how often someone would get up and say something that was very close to what I had been thinking.

I would need much more proof that there is a connection between our neural networks, but I am definitely leaning towards the belief that there is one.
posted by orange swan at 6:30 AM on November 20, 2003


Coincidence.

But it's now clear to me that there is a god.
posted by languagehat at 7:31 AM on November 20, 2003


A ColdFusion error is God?
posted by attackthetaxi at 7:34 AM on November 20, 2003


I don't know, as recommended on that error page, I searched the knowledge base for a solution to my problem. It sounds like maybe there isn't a god
posted by willnot at 7:51 AM on November 20, 2003


Regarding the three day thing-the Jewish way of counting days was different then-any portion of a day was counted as a day.
posted by konolia at 8:16 AM on November 20, 2003


Adolf Hitler came to town
Riding on a pony
Wore a pancake on his head
And called it macaroni


Can we end all this now-have mercy on Matt's bandwidth.
(it isn't like this subject won't come back up again eventually.)
posted by konolia at 8:21 AM on November 20, 2003


Surrendering then, konolia? ;)
posted by rushmc at 12:22 PM on November 20, 2003


Unable to let go then, rushmc?
posted by languagehat at 12:39 PM on November 20, 2003


The thread is about to fall off the front page. It's also taking forever and a day to load.

Thanks for the conversation, everyone. It was interesting, insightful, enjoyable, and mainly civil. Yer all good eggs in my book! :-)
posted by five fresh fish at 12:49 PM on November 20, 2003


Slave to your urge to snark then, languagehat?

But more to the serious point, no one is stopping konolia from curbing her participation in the thread and moving on; why does she feel the need to try to compell others to stop with her? I'm sure we're all capable of determining when we feel the horse is sufficiently battered.
posted by rushmc at 12:49 PM on November 20, 2003


why does she feel the need to try to compell others to stop with her?

One could ask you the same question, rushmc...Why do you constantly feel the need to point out others' "flaws"?

Glass houses. You've never claimed to be sinless, so why criticize, or publicize, others' faults? Why not just ignore the poster entirely?
posted by BlueTrain at 1:00 PM on November 20, 2003


Surrendering then, konolia? ;)

heh.
actually, she ignored the dinosaur thing


either that, or she thinks that The Flintstones is a documentary

posted by matteo at 1:21 PM on November 20, 2003


Okay, it's time for me to get out my striped shirt, whistle and little yellow flag...
TWEEEET!!! Fifteen-yard penalty... Piling on!
wait a minute... is the shirt supposed to be horizontal or vertical stripes? and is orange and green OK?
posted by wendell at 2:07 PM on November 20, 2003


she ignored the dinosaur thing

She never answered my monkey-father-of-man follow-up either, alas. But she was a good sport and gets points for that.

Why do you constantly feel the need to point out others' "flaws"?

What are you blithering about now, BlueTrain? Following me around from thread to thread with petty sniping again like in the bad old days? Just let the grudge thing gooooo....
posted by rushmc at 2:46 PM on November 20, 2003


What's the matter, rushmc? Can't answer the questions, so refer to the "too haughty to be bothered" approach?

Grudges go both ways, friend. I seem to remember a time when you followed me from thread to thread denouncing my poor language and personal attacks. Pendulum swings both ways, I guess.
posted by BlueTrain at 3:25 PM on November 20, 2003


choo-choo!
posted by quonsar at 3:32 PM on November 20, 2003


I always denounce personal attacks. I don't care whose they are, and I never did.

How did we go from talking about God to talking about you, anyway? :::scratches head:::
posted by rushmc at 4:33 PM on November 20, 2003


In previous discussions I've noticed that Konolia is very selective about what she will and will not repond to.

My interpretation has been that she doesn't like to probe very deep into those areas where she knows there is a lot of scientific proof that her beliefs are flawed.

From that, I conclude that Konolia is not particularly interested in challenging her beliefs, but prefers instead to remain comfortably set in her ways. I suspect a good portion of her religion affliation is based on a need to be told what to believe.

Which is a perfectly fine thing, should one be choosing that as a form of religion. It certainly makes things easier, and if I were going to become religious, I think I'd make the same decision. It's far too easy to start asking questions that lead to an unravelling of one's faith.

I say all this with a caveat: I could be entirely misinterpreting the situation and be completely out to lunch about "what makes Konolia tick." If I am and if it's a big deal to her, I know she'll correct me. That's one of the things I admire about Konolia: she deliberately chooses to respond.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:42 PM on November 20, 2003


FFF, you are about half right.

In my case I don't worry about the science because it doesn't really affect my faith all that much. My relationship with Jesus is based on faith, not science. I do believe that ultimately science will prove the Bible correct, but I hope I am humble enough to concede I am an expert on either subject. I know what Jesus has done for me, I know the prayers he has answered and the miracles he has done for me, and I know how he has sustained me thru what could be described as some hellish years.

I really do need to do some digging on these subjects-I used to own a copy of Darwin's Black Box till a borrower absconded with it. But I really haven't made it a priority-I don't think I would change any minds here anyway.

I see faith as supernatural-as in way beyond natural. I am confident that reality has many many layers, and that we are only mainly cognizant of one.

Excuse me for not going deeper into this but I am running a fever and feel like crap. Ugh.
posted by konolia at 6:18 PM on November 20, 2003


I meant I am NOT an expert *correction up there*
posted by konolia at 6:20 PM on November 20, 2003


well, we're off the front page, but I just wanted to say to orange swan, the subconscious is complicated thing; I have definitely had nights where I just couldn't fall asleep, tossing and turning without being concerned with any particular thing. Sometimes I later figured out what was probably keeping me awake, even though at the time I really thought there was nothing in particular that could have been bothering me. Other times I wrote it off to plain old insomnia/ indigestion :) / randomness.

I think it's a good point that if people felt a need to pray for her, she very likely did have issues in her life that might have kept her up, whether or not she was consciously grappling with them. I don't think our neural networks do connect with each other in definitive ways (except that in that's exactly what language and interaction are - ) because we've tried to show that in various studies, and never succeeded. It seems to me that if it were something dependable and measurable, we wouldn't even have questions about it. We accept things if they're consistent, even when they're completely amazing - we forget how amazing everyday things are because they're so consistent. We take sight and sound and nature and the world / things in the world for granted.

So that's my religion - remember how amazing the world is, how amazing your experience is. Just because it happens all the time doesn't mean it's not brilliant. There's no need to posit "supernature" when we've got nature right here in front of us.
posted by mdn at 8:27 PM on November 20, 2003


Or as Douglas Adams said, Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?

I don't think our neural networks do connect with each other in definitive ways...

Which is a shame, because this would be way cool.
posted by rushmc at 7:06 AM on November 21, 2003


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