(How did I get to be the Jesus Boy of Everything? All I want is to node about punk rock and Mexican wrestling. Oh well...)

The moJoe/Quizro cage match continues, with our departure point being Christians don't believe that "being good" gets anyone into heaven. Bear in mind that these questions have been debated for the past 2,000 years and Quizro is providing only one point of view on them. As always, moJoe will be in italics:

Obviously there is the entire "No proof" thing, we will skip that.

Well, that's not entirely true. I have some proof:

  • The Bible, a description of these events by men who by most accounts were pretty decent guys and who suffered poverty, homelessness, persecution and death for talking such craziness - yet insisted right to the end that their story was true. Or if it's the case that these accounts weren't written by them, scholars say that they were at least written by their students in order to preserve their master's teachings. Not enough, you say, but the only details we have about the ancient world come from documents just like it, vulnerable to the same charges of doubtful origin and questionable veracity. (Nobody tortured Julius Caesar in an attempt to get him to recant The Conquest of Gaul, we know that he could be a right bastard at times, and he had plenty of reasons to exaggerate his own role in those events, but we take it for granted that his version was on the up-and-up.)
  • The testimony of Christians over the last 2,000 years, a group that has at times included some of the most brilliant minds on the planet.
  • My own experience. While I'm willing to allow for the possibility that I was delusional, my mental state at the time I accepted Christ was happier and more well-adjusted than ever - I wasn't in the depths of despair and desperately looking for a lifeline. But on the other hand I realize that the plural of anecdote is not data.
A man whom has grown up deep in the jungles of the Phillippine islands and has never once in his life laid eyes on a white man. He has no idea Jesus even exists and yet still lives a decent life by anyones standards. I once asked a Christian fellow his take on it. He said, "Ignorance is no excuse, of course he will go to Hell". Uhh...

I would suggest that you don't become whatever kind of Christian that guy is. God hasn't told us what his plan is for people who haven't heard the gospel and have no chance of hearing it in their lifetimes. We just don't know. But I have to ask - what does this hypothetical tribesman's relationship with God have to do with you? He may never hear about Jesus, but you have. It seems the greater responsibility falls on you.

A person who lives a pious life but decides that Jesus isn't for them. Perhaps they were raised as a Hindu. They have faith. They have faith in what their loved ones taught them. They want to be good. Or Perhaps they just can't believe in something and have no faith at all.

I refer you back to Christians don't believe that "being good" gets anyone into heaven.

(Note 7/16/2000: Hmm...that's pretty flippant, isn't it? Let's just say that I personally am loath to tell people that they are going to Hell, since those decisions aren't mine to make. I do believe that those who have genuinely given their lives to Christ have an assurance of Heaven, and those who have not do not have an assurance of Heaven. You may say that this pointedly leaves out Jews, but since we preach that Christ and YHVH are one, I for one do not feel that this is true. Uber-orthodox Anglican C.S. Lewis hints that there's evidence that God looks kindly on those who follow the Natural Law as best they can, but I'm still in the dark about such things.)

Now how about a Christian. Donates to the plate, goes to study group, loves Jesus with all his heart. Problem is, he finds himself sexually attracted to other men. He not only commits this mortal sin, but feels no remorse for it. It says right in the bible that this is wrong. He is at peace with himself and just cannot see it as wrong. Does he go to H-E-double-hocky-sticks?

I don't have a particular position on homosexuality, but I do know this: through Christ, all our sins are forgiven. Theologians have had a hard time dealing with that ever since the beginning, because there are just so many things that they as human beings hate, they figure God must make all kinds of exceptions. But I believe the Bible points toward a radical grace - once saved, always and completely saved. Paul says "For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." And I do, too.

Everything is conditional and relative...

One of the few statements here I'd have to say that I totally, flat-out disagree with. Even when I was an agnostic I believed in good and evil as a reality. Me am no moral relativist. I'm not sure if you're presenting that as your own opinion, but looking at your other arguments I don't think so.

If you could feel see and hear the vibration of an atom 43 trillion light years away. If your existance dwarfed the very universe by way of trancending the mere physical, would you be THAT petty?

Petty? I don't believe in a god who's petty, but I do believe in a God who has rather strong opinions about right vs. wrong, one who "loves love and hates hatred", and who embodies both justice and mercy. His cosmically divine viewpoint doesn't erase those distinctions but instead makes them clearer than we can ever perceive. If he were mercilessly just and punished all wrongdoing, we'd all be in hell because we've all done wrong at some point. On the other hand if he failed to judge and just automatically forgave everyone indiscriminately with no repentance or sacrifice involved, good and evil would be meaningless and therefore you couldn't even call God good.

So this God we're imagining here, who embodies both justice and mercy, subjected himself to one of the cruelest, most painful, most humiliating and agonizing deaths our race has ever devised in order that we may be forgiven. And that forgiveness comes our way simply by believing that it's ours and asking for it. That seems fairly generous to me.

I have no idea what the state of Fred Phelps' immortal soul is - that's between him and his creator. But if a Christian's mission is both to see Christ in others and show others the light of Christ in him, I'd say he's doing an astonishingly bad job.

I shall slip on my satin mask only for a moment here. As I have whined before, I am doing this in lynx with no way to check my spelling or grammar. I just wrote an incredibly "scattered" rebuttal (if you could even call it that) to your compadre, knifegirl. It's hard to be morally indignant when you’re spelling sucks. At any rate... ;)

As I pointed out in my write up in the Catholic view on the hypothetical tribesman, my main problem (as far as I am concerned) is my faith in man. I once read a fantastic fictional novel called "Requiem" by Graham Joyce. He asserted (fictionally?) that the Catholic Church is sitting upon the vast majority of the Dead Sea scrolls. He also asserts that perhaps we only have a portion of the "instruction manual". I cannot believe in man. I do not have faith in the original Catholic Church or even the Church a thousand years later. Jesus did not tell me all of these things. I got the version that the church either completely made up, or if Jesus truly walked this earth, the version they felt was right. It sounds like the gist of what you are saying is that my soul is between “God” and me. But I propose that due to the incompetence and greed of man, I know nothing of my creator. I cannot trust them to tell me. When it comes right to it, to have faith in the Jesus you "know", is to have faith in the Jesus that you were fed. For me that’s still not too difficult since, when all is said and done, he really was a good guy. My problem isn't with you believing, or anyone else for that matter. You seem like a nice guy too. If being a Christian makes you a better man, why would anyone want to talk you out of it? But for me at least, its not just to believe in god. You are told of God. God is in a book. If no one told you of God, you would live never "knowing" God. He asks us to believe in him, and that seems simple, except that I cannot believe in man that way. And it's not God that I am buying, it's what they tell me god is. I hate to sound pessimistic, but really, history is pretty scary. People were born to be fooled. We, as a generic glob of humanity, have been duped! We have been conned into EVERYTHING. Hitler conned millions of people into commit atrocities that I can hardly fathom. Supposing that "God" is our true reality, that would mean that every person that ever believed anything else was duped too. Every denomination that isn't the "true" church...all duped. America! We practically invented fooling people. You think we are bad now? We have phones, radios and TV. We have the Internet, we are globally informed! We are duped day in and day out. We buy what they are selling. Now I am supposed to believe because of a book written out of oral tradition. A book that was first censored by a church that not only later fragmented into a million and one denominations, but that when it did everything but rule the entire planet, used its power to do awful things? Now that would be a leap of faith. It would be no feat what so ever to believe in a god I have seen. The not seeing him isn't the problem. Even the fact that NO one has seen him doesn't bother me. It’s that all we "know" of God comes from a distant and uncertain past.

About things being relative, its not good and bad being relative, its what constitutes being good and bad that is relative. For example, I have sex with my girlfriend. A lot. We like it. It’s fun. We love each other. Ok, so that is great and fine, but we are not married. That’s pre-marital sex. Pre-marital sex, from my perspective at least, is not evil. Sex is never evil in my opinion. What can be evil are the circumstances and actions surrounding sex. Sex under false pretenses is bad. To lie to get sex is bad. Sexual assault is bad. But two grown folks who know what sex is, and know the repercussions that can come from sex, making a decision to have it together... bad? Some people believe that sex is just to make babies. That’s fine. I have no reason to buy that at all. I like sex. Nothing evil comes out of what I do with my girlfriend whom I love. If anything it brings us closer together. I don't believe in getting married just so I can get laid, and as crass as that sounds I am sure it had been done many a time before we as a society allotted ourselves more personal freedom.

I don't know, even if I saw the church try to evolve with the times it would be a nice gesture, but it doesn't, it is dragged kicking and screaming into the future. I would say a lot of the changes it makes are simply to keep attendance up. Bahh, ok lynx is making me nuts. Its hard to remain objective when you can only see about 5% of what you have written at any one time. :P

I will come back and put links in after I spellcheck it (and probably re-write half of it) tomorrow. Ok all spellchecked. :P

I realize it's been nine years since someone has added to this node, but I just came across it, and it ticks me off enough to add something at this late date, given other people also come here long after the node "ended" (the original "Christians don't believe" node has been closed, but I'm pleased to see this one is still accepting new writeups).

I could say all kinds of things, as an agnostic, in reaction to Quizro's original writeup, which is an accurate summary of Christianity, but I'll summarize my feelings instead (leaving the defense of many of my other nitpicks in the capable hands of the other people posting here with similar attitudes as mine):

What Quizro accurately describes is not something kind, or truthful, though a Christian thinks it so. Instead, it's a sick, occult, bizarre, carefully interlocking system of beliefs, which was carefully constructed over hundreds or thousands of years to put the fear of this supposed God into gullible people, and to force onto people who aren't gullible, with the threat of eternal damnation, or just killing them, both in order to foster a ruling class, and to feed the egos of lower-level would-be rulers (all the way down to your nosy, righteous neighbor). The article makes all the proper flat-out statements about what Christianity basically believes God to think, backed up, of course, by the Bible. My vitriol is pumped by the well-written conciseness of the article, which summarizes in a nutshell (or a bombshell) how nutty the Christian religion is, with one of the most annoying positions being to tell people that they have to be perfect to "get into heaven". I'm prepared to counter with what may sound like a child's argument, but it's still valid, illustrating that the first ideas that children have, in questioning Christianity (or any religion, for that matter), are often the most accurate: prove all this stuff to me. Prove the existence of heaven, original sin, God's thinking, requirement for perfection, etc., without relying on the circular argument that the Bible proves it, or your personal experience (usually based on "it makes me feel good") proves it, or that faith alone is what's required--a corruptible child's faith. Bleah.

Here's my take on reality in a nutshell:

• Humans aren't perfect (same as Christianity's take), but we're not imbued with some Original Sin;

• Most humans, given the proper upbringing and support, and without any form of religion (including the forms that posit that humans are God, or gods), can be so good as to put Christians to shame;

• Goodness is not mediated or defined by any mystical character, but by intelligence and sensitivity to human need and reality;

• Goodness as described in the Bible is a pastiche of sensible ideas, observations, and laws discovered by humans interacting with each other over millenia, but tainted by humans trying to use that knowledge to control others, and by ancient primitive notions of goodness (I won't belabor the ones Judaism originally held, like blood sacrifices, since Christianity dropped that requirement after Jesus was deemed the last blood sacrifice--but you get the idea; instead, it now all boils down to requiring a belief in and honor towards a God or else you're bad);

• Heaven is a metaphor for the future of humanity on earth, made good by the good acts performed by each of us, to help those who will come after us. Our acts live both now, but also in the future, and that's the only way we'll live forever, because we can't physically. We need to be good for ourselves and those around us now, and for those who will carry on in the future.

• Being good doesn't "break down" over time, unless you have some sociopathic, or even psychotic (or just "happily delusional") nuts trying to misdirect and control you, with religion being one of the weapons they use.

There. Guess I did say all kinds of things, but I could have said more, so it's a summary to me. You can call it something like secular humanism if you'd like, minus the unfortunate next mental leap that some people make (ubermenschists, occultists, some New Agers, etc.) that we're all God, or at least supermen, or on the way there. Nope, we live in a universe whose laws and beings we have to learn, and feel damn good about being alive.

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