Here is an email I received in response to one of my essays on religion.
I could equally well ask where is your faith in Allah? Where is your faith in the Buddha? It might shock you to discover they offer far more convincing arguments than the Christians for the truth of their religions. You have never even heard them. How do you know Christianity has the best pitch?
You probably don’t remember me, but I’m the foolish young Christian guy who wants to refute your refuting. :) I’m up answering all the old e-mails that I’ve mulled over for too long now, so here goes… :)
And as for the fundamentalists, why shouldn’t the Bible be the literal Word of God? Because it is foolish and full of error. God would not that incompetent.
I agree. The God that I know, love and worship would not write or inspire a Word from Him that is full of errors and foolishness. Either that Word would not be His, or He would not be God.
If you want to call it a great mysterious metaphor for something fine. But that is not what my enemies are doing. They are taking parts of it as literal justification to murder my fellow gays.
For the record I will state that I have a big problem with people who use the Bible or Christianity as justification for doing harm to people. I don’t care if they’re Protestant, Catholic, Jew, Gentile, Black, White, Asian, Hispanic, Gay, Straight, Male, Female, Human or otherwise. Nowhere in the New Testament is there any command or reference to a command (that I know of) to kill or harm one’s enemies. Now I need to qualify that statement; in the Old Testament there are references to killing people for doing things like being witches or dishonoring their parents. But please, please bear in mind that the laws of the Old Testament, especially in the first 5 books, or the Pentateuch, were written for Jews. These were God’s commands to the Jews that He would later fulfill in Christ. Anyway, there’s another thing I have a problem with. People who take parts of the Bible (in other words, out of context) and twist them to mean something that they weren’t intended to mean.
I don’t see how that gets you off the hook. Your supposed God has been behaving like an ass.
Again for the record, I want you to know that I don’t advocate the murdering of gays. All people were created by God. It’s what they do in their lives that makes them closer or further away from God. I can’t believe some people would have the hubris to overturn an act of God (creating a person) by deciding that they no longer need to live.
Jesse earlier said : for example, when four men from different cultures, different points of view, and with different personalities (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) all write that Jesus walked on earth, died on the cross, and rose again, I believe it is literal, not symbolic. How else could all the information be accurate?
But that is not what my enemies claim. They want me to believe these four merely took 100% accurate dictation for God. Again, this seems highly unlikely or the stories would be more consistent. It seems much more likely they are accounts written by four mortal men.
Why would we need four stories if God had dictated them audibly? Wouldn’t one suffice? I think God used real people, in real life situations, who thought enough of Christ’s life and death and life to write about it. I believe (and I admit I do have some opposition with the more conservative Christians) that the words comprising the first four books were not necessarily God’s words but those of the authors. I mean, I find it difficult to believe that God actually spoke to these men or took a pen and wrote for them or whatever. There is no account of that happening. But I do believe that God worked through these four authors and their experiences to each write an account of Christ’s story that spoke to its readers in its own unique way.
I see no evidence whatsoever that God had anything to do with this authorship. The gospels sound like a fairly straightforward account, unfortunately not written down until many years later. The describe some quite remarkable events, but they are not remarkable in themselves.
So follow my logic: If I disagree with your enemies on this claim, am I your enemy?
If you are willing to leave me in peace, to let me have the same civil rights an any other citizen, then you are not my enemy. I may think you are deluded, but you are not my enemy.
Jesse earlier said, let me tell you that not all Christians follow everything that fundamentalists say. It is an intellectual rule of thumb not to attribute such allness to any group of people. By saying that all Christians subscribe to the theory that the Bible is fully literal is like saying that all Blacks are good at basketball or all Asians are hard-working.
My argument primarily is with the fundamentalists who want to use the Bible to justify mistreatment of gays, blacks and women, a purpose I think highly likely the historic Jesus would not be wildly keen on. Jesus himself seemed both familiar with and somewhat disrespectful of the Old Testament.
Then your argument is obviously not with me, for I don’t consider myself a fundamentalist. But your argument is against the God and the Bible that I hold faith in, so I am obligated to defend them.
I don’t see how anyone can use the Bible to justify the mistreatment of anyone, especially those who would be considered outcasts by certain societies in certain time periods. Especially when you see Jesus eating with the sinners, and speaking to women, Samaritans, and even a Samaritan woman. So I agree with you. It seems to me so far that your beef isn’t really with the Bible or God but with the way that it is twisted and misused against people that you support.
I have great respect for true Christians, people who behave as Christ suggested was the correct way to behave. However, those people are almost never identify themselves as Christians. I have two crusades:
I think we are aligned on the first, but disagree strongly on the second.
Jesse earlier said the whole Bible has no signs of divine origin? I guess you can believe what you want to believe, but you have to give some proof. And I will give you your proof, in time.
Modern day Christians routinely perform miraculous healings. We know that most of this is bogus. I have gone to see how the fakery is done. If people can be fooled in this day and age, surely peasants of a bygone era who were much more gullible could too.
The people who have been fooled obviously do not know God’s reason for suffering. It is a point often overlooked for the second best alternative. This is all I will say for now. It is an argument for another day.
If God had any sense of fair play, he would not require us to believe the doubtful records of others. We should be able to see for ourselves. Even the shroud of Turin was charlatanry!
Oh, come on. Where’s your faith? Don’t you realize that if God revealed everything to all of us, there would be no reason for faith? The only reason the records are doubtful is because you have no faith!
That is the answer of a con man, or a man who has been conned. If you study quantum physics, you discover that whoever designed the universe was incredibly subtle, but he did not cheat. Whoever designed Quantum Physics was many orders of magnitude greater intelligence than whoever wrote the Bible. This suggests to me that the creator of the universe had very little input into the creation of the Bible. Whoever designed Quantum Mechanics did not require faith. He was quite willing to reliably and fairly reveal how it all works. It seems far more likely that the creator of the universe created Quantum Mechanics than that he created the Bible. There is a plenty of evidence that ordinary bungling humans created the Bible. There is none of that incompetence in Quantum Mechanics.
Jesse earlier said, so how can you totally ditch Christianity just because some people in history have taken the Bible out of context and used God’s words to serve their own purposes? It seems like you’re putting your eternal destiny in the hands of people who are dead and gone.
That is quite a different question. Whether Christianity is a sensible life philosophy can be true or false whether or not God authored the Bible or people did. It can be true or false independently even whether or not there is a God. I am not claiming there is no God. I am not claiming Christianity is a bad philosophy. I am not claiming all the Bible’s teachings are totally foolish. I am claiming the Bible contains great amounts of foolishness, contradiction and error, thus is most probably the work of man rather than the divine.
And therefore I am claiming that the foolishness, contradiction and error that you see are actually the sum total of your doubt, lack of study, and taking things out of context.
The Bible is 95% gibberish. You can prove that to yourself by opening a page at random and reading. It is mostly irrelevant blather. It has its gold, such as the Sermon on the Mount, and Paul’s ode to love, but most of it is just plain irrelevant. It is not even an interesting story. To claim otherwise demonstrates you have not actually read it in totality, only read about it. I’m not the only one who has said the emperor has no clothes. Thomas Jefferson collected the gold and discarded the dross.
What bothers me most, and what put me up to writing you in the first place, is your website. Now, I don’t want you to think that you can’t put these things up, obviously you have free speech, especially on the web, God forgive us. But I want you to know that what you say on your website is offensive to me as a Christian, and one who has been brought up knowing that there are no contradictions in the Bible. Looking at your site where you say there are all these contradictions, I can tell just from reading the Bible that you have either taken something out of context, or even proven your own incorrectness by not studying the Scriptures carefully.
And I claim you then have not examined these contradictions for yourself. You have simply taken the assurances of your teachers that there is no problem.
Jesse earlier said, I look on it this way. Let’s say you die and get to talk to Jesus. (That’s who you really would talk to--He’s the guy who makes the decisions, not St. Peter.) Try to explain why you rejected God’s gift--salvation through Jesus’ death--because there were too many hypocrites.
Easy. I’d say you told me to look at the fruits to judge the tree. Clearly the Church was bringing forth corrupt fruit. The more fundamentalist, the more rotten the fruit.
That’s right. But Jesus used this parable in this way: if a person has his life controlled by Christ, in other words if he is a Christian, you will see the fruits. If not, the fruits will show that he is not a Christian. It seems that you have taken the original parable here and used it differently. Jesus uses the parable on an individual basis, you on the other hand use it corporately against the entire church. An example of a correct use of the parable would be to say: That faith healer is just in it for the money. He’s not a Christian. Or, "That guy in that Christian band cusses, and drinks, and smokes just as much as a guy in a secular band. He doesn’t have Jesus in his life. Here’s an example of an incorrect use of the parable: That televangelist is holding another million dollar telethon. Christianity is hypocritical. Or That pastor just came out of a XXX Video store. All Christians are hypocrites." In the last two examples, please notice that the blame is incorrectly placed on all of the Church rather than that one person.
I probably live a live more in accordance with Christ’s teachings than 90% of Christians. That to me is what counts, not what silly fairy tales you believe. Gullibility is not a virtue. You are being lead astray by fundamentalists who have proven time and time again they have absolutely no interest is living as Christ commanded.
Getting back to your original statement, I personally know several people who bear wonderful fruit as a result of Jesus being the tree of their life. I’m sorry that you think fundamentalists basically ruin it for the rest of us Christians.
This business about blood and sacrifice sounded like something dredged up from an old pagan Aztec ritual. It was disgusting. It made no logical sense. If you wanted me to believe it, why could you not make it as least as clear as your creation of Quantum Mechanics. If you wanted me to believe the Bible, why did you contaminate it with so much error, foolishness and inconsistency? Why all the false clues that it was bogus?
Please, Roedy, please remember that references to sacrifice are made so that the Jew, who used to have to make those sacrifices in order to atone for their sins, would no longer have to because God had sacrificed his only Son in order to atone for the sins of the entire world.
I reject the entire concept of sacrifice, including Jesus on the cross. Suffering for the sake of suffering is psychotic.
On these issues, people always argue for whatever it was their mother told them when they were two years old. I am no different. I was raised atheist. It nothing to do with the inherent merit of the arguments. So I forgive you for being so superstitious, and for holding onto those superstitions without any evidence they are true. It would be almost impossible for you to be any other way.
In your huge email you offered not one scintilla of evidence for your claims. You simply chastised me for not believing you without evidence. You get anywhere convincing me that way.
In contrast, I have given you hundreds of reasons why your beliefs are probably erroneous. Yet you continue to hold onto them. You have no evidence for them, and a ton against. What is the matter with you? Why you persist in your delusion?
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