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betsy

What is a Christian?

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So since we are quoting Pinker, we should quote me while we are at it when I say a Christian is someone:

1-who puts mayonnaise instead of mustard on sandwitches that call for mustard;

20-finds Steven Harper sexy;

1 - I know someone that puts ketchup on roast beef. Is it acceptable to burn him at the stake?

20 - Everyone finds Lego hair hot!

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Personally I see this place as being pretty much dead. Only the forum junkies come here for the most part to repeat the same old tired arguments again and again. What's the point?

I have also been in and out of this forum...sometimes because I've got tired of repeating myself, and come back when I feel like I have something new to say; and sometimes I've just been too busy to keep track of discussions and find myself too far behind to catch up.

Be that as it may, I find this to be one of the few open forums where it is even possible to have a discussion with conservatives and rightwingers, because of the general tendency of the right to want to control, shout down and ridicule all opposition....those are the kinds of forums I abandon and never return to! Some of the U.S. ones began with an attempt to maintain a neutral balance, but over a period of months or years, more and more rightwingers come in/more and more liberals (there are few real leftists) leave...especially female members...and then they just end up as rightwing playpens with a few presumably middleaged, white, christian, male forum hogs running wild in the place! So, let's just say, I find this place to be much better than what I usually find out there.

But, the reason why I am responding to your post this time is your last point about "this place being pretty much dead...and a place for forum junkies and tired arguments." So, why are you here?

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That's my point! The clear set of core principles you outline here are being violated by so many; take the Republican types in the US for example. Palin even criticizes the Pope for his adherence to some of them. Though even he, the worldly conduit for God's messages, espouses violence if his religion or mother is criticized.

And my point is that at least they have principles they may have been taught in Sunday school which may be nagging at them in later adult life if they find themselves falling into the typical selfish motivations that guide the majority of people these days.

If they are regular churchgoers in their adult life...even if it's one of those damn prosperity gospel, dominionist right wing churches....it's still a place, and may be the only place during the week, where they have to consider the needs of others...at best a universalist appreciation for the global community (whom we are told by standard Christian dogma are all equal and important to the creator), but still the opportunity to think of others instead of their own selfish concerns...including their immediate family. That's a role that doesn't get filled by secular culture in a capitalist society.

That's my other point. He used it as a joke, but he doesn't believe it. Claiming Christians are humble, peace loving folk because that's what their literature says would be like saying Hamas is a charitable organization because that's what they advertise.

I had to scroll back to remind myself that this is about Bill Maher....someone who shoots off his mouth in a slightly more informed way than every f***ing idiot you hear at work making comments about big issues in the news.

What you are attempting to do here is have it both ways:

a. the Bible is a monstrous book that makes adherents act worse than they would otherwise

b. Christians don't follow the book

So, which is it? I think that the Catholic Church's new pope - Francis is an example of how the Church as an organization could succesfully ignore the Christian social gospel through two popes...who used the right wing excuse of fighting communism for allowing right wing dictators to murder and persecute Catholic priests who pushed back against right wing military dictators backed by the U.S... but the message which priests and bishops like Oscar Romero in El Salvador felt called to follow - directly confronting violent ruthless dictators, still served as an indictment of the establishment priesthood that had become comfortable with influence with the powerful, as well as accumulating earthly riches. JPII and Ratzinger, could run away and obfuscate that message, and spend decades promoting fascist and even nazi-sympathizer priests/while persecuting the revolutionary theology of the priests and many Jesuit theologians they considered too close to communism.

But, the proposed elevation of Oscar Romero to sainthood (I know it means diddlysquat in reality) provides the opportunity to focus on a man who the CIA-backed military and landowners in El Salvador wanted promoted to bishop because they thought he was safely on their side...since he was trained by Opus Dei, and appeared to be a typical conservative Catholic priest. But, Romero apparently read his bible a time or two, and knew what Christian principles were/and what they were not! So, he felt compelled to bite the hand that was feeding him....and the rest is history, because they had to have him killed to get him out of the way and replaced with a suitably compliant priest.

But, the takeaway for me is that the beatitudes and the bible verses and the traditions were always there to serve as an indictment against those who ignored or obfuscated the meaning of a tradition that calls on the church hierarchy to promote peace and universal wellbeing....regardless of whether or not they are following it! A naturalist/ or humanist equivalent, would be using our presumed supremely rational decision-making abilities to appreciate the failures of the political and economic systems we have lived under since the enlightenment, and do a real, honest assessment of what they have provided that is of value/and what ways of thinking - irrational faith in future technology developments and progress, capitalist economics, and see just how rational most of the people claiming to be rationalists and following the most reasoned courses of action, actually are!

I

haven't read anything by Pinker so I can't comment, though I will make a point to check it out. I can't definitely say you're wrong here without doing some research, but your comment goes against everything I've read. It seems pretty clear that humanity has had a steady decline in violence and religiosity. However, I can't say the trend will continue for violence. A finite planet, with finite resources and a ballooning population mostly controlled by greedy, short sighted, conservative a--holes leads me to believe that widespread violent revolts are unavoidable, for reasons that have nothing to do with fairy tales.

I just presumed you were influenced or quoting Pinker's latest mainstream book - Our Better Angels, because he has received the widest audience of those who follow this line of thinking. My recent discovery that he has some of the wealthiest men in the world (Bill Gates, Steve Zuckerberg) are no doubt, a big part of the reason why his views are getting so much exposure and being parroted across all media...and not just at TED talks.

But, the core debate: whether we are vile creatures perfecting ourselves through increased knowledge and affluence/ or creatures that were formerly well-adapted to an earlier way of life, and struggling to adjust to civilization, goes back as far as Jean Jacques Rousseau and a few other enlightenment philosophers, who were greatly interested and fascinated with some of the early explorers' reports of often encountering happy, peaceful, harmless savages, as they roamed about the New World.

Until the age of enlightenment, most philosophers considered the course of history to be circular, or something close to circular, and that life in the future wouldn't change much from the past. This way of thinking encouraged a general fear of change and even the advanced civilizations of their day - Rome and Ancient Greece, were cautious about adopting new inventions until they had time to test them out and get accustomed to them. Similarly, there was a fear of digging into the earth and exploiting its mineral wealth...but that was largely because prior to the time of Descarte's doctine of dualism, the earth was not inert and lifeless, but full of spirits that might get angry and need to be appeased whenever men were digging underground for gold, gems, and essential metals - lead, copper, iron, tin etc..

So, even early on in the enlightenment, there are a few philosophers like Rousseau, asking pointed questions about how the new thinking about history, exploiting nature, and invention will pan out in the future. The prevailing opinion has gone with the opposite premise of Rousseau: rather than man being in a state of grace, he's a violent, killer ape, who attempts to conquer and exploit his environment, as well as battle with all potential competitors. This is the prevailing theme still today, even though it requires carefully misrepresenting the data from the past regarding how warlike we really were/ and how peaceful we actually are today! It's a popular myth, because it tells a story that a lot of people want to believe in....especially those wealthy, liberal capitalists like Gates, Buffet and Zuckerberg - who want to believe that their personal pathways to accumulating vast amounts of wealth have been a benefit for humanity. But, even lesser creatures than the billionaires among us, want to believe in a Star Trek-like future, and want a pleasing tome that will tell them that there's just a few bumps along the road, but we're on the right track, so don't worry, it will all turn out okay in the end. The opposite message, which I strongly believe is much, much closer to the truth, is that we are already in a calamitous situation that there already may be no escape from, because of the technologies and the political/economic structures we have built to run this world. A utopian vision that living within the limits of the natural environment and promoting equality over competition, is not a very hopeful message in these times. But, it is closer to the truth even though it points the way towards a frighteningly dystopian future for the human race.

Sure it's possible. The holy books are not helpful on the topic of progressing human well-being though. Also, every study shows greater respect for scientific evidence among both non-believers (and Jews) than the general religious populations. Thus, I doubt atheists will be prone to ideologies not based in evidence.

Parents who raise their kids without religion are doing just fine, studies say, possibly even better. Overall, not believing in God seems to make people and their offspring more tolerant. Less racist. Less sexist. Enviro-friendly. And their kids care less about what's cool, which—say it with me—only makes them cooler.

http://jezebel.com/godless-parents-are-doing-a-better-job-1682844001

The basic problem with comparing atheists with Christians with Muslims with Hindus with Buddhists etc. etc., is that, at best, all these stats can do is show correlations on one or two issues, without providing supporting evidence for causation, because we would have to know what sort of lives atheists are living in comparison with the religious communities. My first suspicion is that most atheists tend to be comfortable middle class liberals, and that has a lot of bearing on how good/or not good a job they are doing in the social indicators.

On the general topic of how happy or unhappy family life is, it is often mentioned that marriage and divorce rates show a sharp distinction between atheists and religious believers, with divorce being much, much higher among self-described evangelicals than atheists.

But, the success and health of marriage is going to depend on a lot of other issues besides religious beliefs. The evangelicals may be harmed somewhat by belonging to churches that are almost phobic in their attitudes towards sex...especially regarding girls having sex! So, they are encouraged to remain abstinent and plunge into a marriage at a younger age than they would otherwise...before they have had time to pursue their full educations and really determine whether their prospective mate is really suitable over the long haul.

But, there are many other extenuating factors...especially income levels. It is far more likely that someone with a higher income is going to be living in a situation facing less anxiety and stress than someone on the economic margins, struggling to get by! And, that stress and anxiety over financial issues...including the powerful incentive to work longer and longer hours, will play a large role in determining the health of their marriages.

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And my point is that at least they have principles they may have been taught in Sunday school which may be nagging at them in later adult life if they find themselves falling into the typical selfish motivations that guide the majority of people these days.

If they are regular churchgoers in their adult life...even if it's one of those damn prosperity gospel, dominionist right wing churches....it's still a place, and may be the only place during the week, where they have to consider the needs of others...at best a universalist appreciation for the global community (whom we are told by standard Christian dogma are all equal and important to the creator), but still the opportunity to think of others instead of their own selfish concerns...including their immediate family. That's a role that doesn't get filled by secular culture in a capitalist society.

Far too many services mix in ample amounts of hate and discrimination. Thankfully, less than 20% of the US population actually attends a service, with even fewer in Canada and far less in Western Europe. That bodes well for the future. Society is far more peaceful and civilized than ever before, despite over 80% of North Americans finding their humanity in friends, family, groups, teams, causes and our collective culture. As always it is better to hold as many truths and as few falsehoods as possible.

What you are attempting to do here is have it both ways:

a. the Bible is a monstrous book that makes adherents act worse than they would otherwise

b. Christians don't follow the book

So, which is it?

Both. Most who wear the Christian label don't follow the book. Those that do, follow so many different cherry picked messages the label is fragmented and has little meaning.

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Far too many services mix in ample amounts of hate and discrimination. Thankfully, less than 20% of the US population actually attends a service, with even fewer in Canada and far less in Western Europe. That bodes well for the future. Society is far more peaceful and civilized than ever before, despite over 80% of North Americans finding their humanity in friends, family, groups, teams, causes and our collective culture. As always it is better to hold as many truths and as few falsehoods as possible.

I think the trends on declines and growths of religions show us that organized religions came in to fill a gap or a series of gaps that would otherwise be left hanging. In most of the developed world, there has been a trend towards secularization, but it hasn't been the linear story of progress that those who think history moves towards progress and modernity would like to believe! History is more correctly interpreted by the old standard as being cyclical...and we are likely heading back into another dark...very dark age again sooner than we think!

In the secular/fundamentalism battle, there was a "Golden Age of Freethought" over a century ago, and then it was followed by a return to fundamentalism during WWI. Just goes to show that the forces of fear and deprivation are going to beat back every trend towards atheism and secularism as soon as people get scared and worried about the future!

Same thing happened in Muslim nations also...which I have been trying to point out several times in a futile effort to get people to consider history. The reasons for declines in secularism and nationalism in the Arab World are many, but there are common factors: the Saud/Wahabb Alliance in Arabia, U.S. interference and support for local despots, OIL, the trend away from narrow and dogmatic interpretations of Islam and subjugation of women would have continued in the Arabian Peninsula, but instead they have funded the reactionary counter-attack through their madrassahs and clerics...all under the watchful eye of a series of U.S. administrations!

Both. Most who wear the Christian label don't follow the book. Those that do, follow so many different cherry picked messages the label is fragmented and has little meaning.

So, you would rather throw out the book, and leave nothing but a load of competing and confusing drivel from the collection of atheist-humanist writers today?

If Christians were "following the book" they would act much better than they do today. Perhaps the secular forces of hedonism, materialism and self-interest are too strong for most serious Christians to remain true to Christian ethics! Still, I would rather see a revival of Christian ethics than the continued trend towards bastardizing Christian tradition by the new teachings of Prosperity Gospel, Christian nations or Christian libertarianism!

It should be obvious by now, that what is/or is not in the books, matters little to leaders and the majority of a religion's adherents! If a Christian or a Muslim wants to go to war, they'll find some scriptural reasons, if they want to acquire great wealth, they'll find justification for that too, and if they want to dump their wives for their new girlfriends, they'll go hiking on the Appalachian Trail and come back with a useful alibi after "talking" to God. So, the only thing we can hope for is that religious adherents use their faith for good rather than for doing evil. But when it comes to secular atheism, it's a blank slate....as was proven a week ago when that clown in North Carolina proved that an atheistic ideology can be used to diminish the humanity of outsiders...and make it easier to kill them!

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Since there is no widely agreed-upon definition of Christian, though, you almost have to allow people to define themselves as Christians or not. Someone who believes part of the books of Christian teachings could consider themselves a 'Christian'.

I agree. Christians are all kinds of things. Their beliefs wildly vary. Personally: I dont define myself as any particular religion because there are too many stereotypes and expectations attached to each one. I believe what I believe. Christianity, as with many religions, can be very different from Church to Church, region to region, and country to country.

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I only know one Christian, but there are no doubt others....

His name is Christian Lavergne.

He is most positively a Christian.

I met Jesus in a bar in Florida. He was a gardener.

:)

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But why?

I said so above: " It's a philosophy upon which a set of religions is based." Lutheranism, Catholicism are religions - Christianity is a set of religions, or - for me - a set of teachings that are the basis of religions.

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I said so above: " It's a philosophy upon which a set of religions is based." Lutheranism, Catholicism are religions - Christianity is a set of religions, or - for me - a set of teachings that are the basis of religions.

Christianity is a religion.

Lutheranism, Catholicism, are denominations. They are groups united under a common faith: Jesus Christ.

Christianity is the religion that's based on the teachings of Jesus Christ.

Edited by betsy

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Christianity is a religion.

Lutheranism, Catholicism, are denominations. They are groups united under a common faith: Jesus Christ.

Christianity is the religion that's based on the teachings of Jesus Christ.

Your definition is too narrow. It is, in reality, much broader than that.

http://www.religioustolerance.org/rel_defn1.htm

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