Are Religious People Peaceful?

It’s a common belief that religion brings peace to a hateful world.  Without religion, how can men even be moral?  What will be their compass and guide?  Let’s just turn on our television sets and see how peaceful religious folks are.

First he goes on and on about how he’s a Christian and believes in forgiveness.  Then in the next sentence he’s talking about execution because of what Michael Vick did to some dogs.  Execution.

This is all very confusing to me.  Hmm.  Jesus Christ.  What sort of character was He? Luke Chapter 7, verses 36 through 50.

When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. 37 A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. 38 As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.

39 When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.”

40 Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.”

“Tell me, teacher,” he said.

41 “Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”

43 Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.”

“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.

44 Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. 47 Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”

48 Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”

49 The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?”

50 Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

– The Holy Bible, Luke Chapter 7, verses 36-50

Or maybe we can look into the Gospel of John 7:53 – 8:11?

53 Then they all went home,

1 but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.

2 At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. 3 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4 and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” 6 They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.

But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.

9 At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

11 “No one, sir,” she said.

“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

I can’t see Jesus executing Michael Vick.  Is it just me, or is it always the Christians wanting to execute everyone and entangle our nation in “holy” wars overseas.

Where in the Bible does Jesus say, “Go out and kill thy enemy?”  I can’t seem to find that in the Bible.  Oh wait, there’s the Old Testament Jehovah.  Right Right.  He’s the one always killing people He doesn’t like.  There’s only one true God.  Hmm, I suppose Jehovah was Jesus before  being put into a man’s body.  So who was God while Jesus was walking on Earth?  Well God is composed of three parts – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit you doofus!  So I guess the Father is Jehovah.  He’s the the one with anger issues, always calling down plagues and ordering the Hebrews to commit genocide.

But as for Jesus, He tells you to love your enemy.  (He’s working to convince the Father to have a change of heart, who still wants to throw practically everyone in hellfire)  He told you to never harm your enemy, and even if they attack you, you’re to be as passive and gentle as a dove, and if they kill you, they kill you.  You’re not supposed to worry about that because when you die, you’re taken to heaven to be with your savior for all eternity in a mansion and glory forever.  (And my grandfather tells me the Bible doesn’t contain a single contradictory idea or statement.  It was composed by 40 different authors over thousands of years!  When I read the Bible, it’s more akin Robert Louis Stevenson’s Strange Case Of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde)

Let’s take a look at Matthew Chapter 5.

7 Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.

….

38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ 39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. 40 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. 41 If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

– The Holy Bible, Matthew Chapter 5

When Jesus was about to be executed on the cross, a party came to take him away.  His disciple Peter drew his sword, trying to save him.  Jesus rebuked Peter and then told him,

52 “Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword.”

– The Holy Bible, Matthew 26:52

Peter was explicitly told not to resort to violence.  Jesus then healed the servant’s ear, and was then taken as a prisoner, and later executed.

As you watch this next video, ask yourself whether Ben Stein is a peacemaker.

When I watch videos like this, I just can’t get over how these “Christians” appear to be “spiritual” but then advocate and stand for everything that’s contrary to what Jesus taught.  (Though then again, maybe they’re servants of the Hebrew Jehovah?)

And did you all catch his statement that scientists are all murderers?  “It’s just my belief.”  “Good word, good word.”  I wonder how he reconciles that belief with Einstein, who was a pacifist.  I too am a pacifist, yet I believe in evolution.  I’m even a scientist too.  How can this be, when apparently the ideas of evolution and science inevitably leads a person to murder everyone they don’t like?  *Shrugs*  And remember, education is worthless.  There’s no value in anything taught in universities.

I know exactly what he means about military spending.  The United States barely spends any money on its military. I mean, look at this.  We definitely need to spend more.  There’s us on the right, and the REST OF THE WORLD on the left.   I think the title of this pie-chart says it all.

Execute Julian Assange?  No trial, no rule of law, and a complete rejection of the first amendment?  Execute members of the New York Times?  Even so, Mike Huckabee and Sarah Palin are top presidential contenders.

Oh, and remember, Wikileaks doesn’t contain anything that they haven’t already reported to you.  Don’t look into it for yourself.

Listen to this fear-mongering back in 2003, rallying evangelicals to support the war in Iraq.

“I believe God has raised George Bush up for this time in history to crush Sadaam Hussein.”

– John Haggee, back in 2003

This is what you’ll see if you watch TBN and Fox News.  It’s so bizarre when Christians take these obscure Bible verses and try to interpret vague prophecies in light of current events.  If any other person was saying the same sort of thing, but not in a religious context, we’d say he or she was insane. But when he’s on TBN, he’s a holy prophet of the God of this universe.  And I love how there’s a dove down there at the bottom right as he’s talking about weapons of mass destruction and how we need to preemptively attack them before they attack us.  (Psstt.  Sarah.  Sarah Palin.  They call this idea the “Bush doctrine”)

These are just a few examples of how nasty religious folks can be.  Sadly, I don’t think these people are the exception.  There are a whole lot of evangelicals out there who hold beliefs like these.  And if all this shows one thing, it shows that religion by itself isn’t enough to make a person good.  History will definitely confirm that.  Holy books like the Bible are filled with so many strange, cryptic, and contradictory ideas, that the book can be interpreted in any way a person wants and justify practically anything.  There’s a lot more in there than “love your neighbor”.  Listen to all the bullshit Hagee is going on about.  The Bible is huge book, filled with all sorts of things.  I’ve read it cover to cover many times.

“I almost shudder at the thought of alluding to the most fatal example of the abuses of grief which the history of mankind has preserved — the Cross. Consider what calamities that engine of grief has produced!”

– John Adams, writing to Thomas Jefferson

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14 Responses to Are Religious People Peaceful?

  1. TJ says:

    Interesting post. I agree with most of it and I also believe in the Bible; I’m one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. You’re absolutely right that most of those calling themselves Christian do the very opposite of what Jesus taught, yet isn’t this what Jesus said would happen? In the very same Sermon on the Mount that you quoted from above, he said:

    “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'” (Matthew 7:21-23)

    The Bible speaks of a time when such hypocrisy will be judged. But there are real people out there actually living what Jesus taught, sometimes at a great cost. For example, you might find this account interesting.

  2. Hi TJ. If the Bible is true, I believe wholeheartedly that these sorts of “Christians” are going to hear Jesus tell them just that – he never knew them. Gandhi once said of Jesus, “The gentle figure of Christ, so patient, so kind, so loving, so full of forgiveness that he taught his followers not to retaliate when abused or struck, but to turn the other cheek, I thought it was a beautiful example of the perfect man…” When I read the Bible, that’s the Jesus I find, and I’m inspired. “Jesus occupies in my heart,” said Gandhi, “the place of one of the greatest teachers who have had a considerable influence on my life… Make this world the kingdom of God and his righteousness and everything will be added unto you. I tell you that if you will understand, appreciate, and act up to the spirit of this passage, you won’t need to know what place Jesus or any other teacher occupies in your heart.”

    Albert Einstein, a hero of mine, had this to say about Jesus, during an interview 1929:

    George Viereck: “You accept the historical existence of Jesus?”

    Einstein: “Unquestionably. No one can read the Gospels without feeling the actual presence of Jesus. His personality pulsates in every word. No myth is filled with such life. How different, for instance, is the impression which we receive from an account of legendary heroes of antiquity like Theseus. Theseus and other heroes of his type lack the authentic vitality of Jesus.”

    George Viereck: “Ludwig Lewisohn, in one of his recent books, claims that many of the sayings of Jesus paraphrase the sayings of other prophets.”

    Einstein: “No man,” Einstein replied, “can deny the fact that Jesus existed, nor that his sayings are beautiful. Even if some them have been said before, no one has expressed them so divinely as he.”

    I personally feel that Jesus existed, but I think the accounts of his life have been tampered with and mixed with all the religious ideas circulating at the time (such as blood sacrifice, etc).

  3. Oh, and I almost forgot. In the link you sent me, it spoke of the methods of resistance the Jehovah’s witnesses’ took to the Nazis. I feel their actions embodied Jesus’ teachings. “Attitude to the state: The Witnesses believe that no present human government is established by God. They view themselves as citizens of the Kingdom of God; hence, they maintain a strict position of political neutrality in relation to secular powers. In practical terms in Nazi Germany, this meant that they refused to give the Hitler salute, join the Nazi party, vote, take up military service, or participate in any war-related activities.”

    In America, it seems most Protestants feel Jesus was a Republican. I always find this puzzling considering that after his death, his disciples formed a communist society described in the book of Acts.

  4. TJ says:

    Hey Jason,

    Thanks for that extra insight. One observation of Gandhi’s that I always appreciated sounds very similar to what you’ve been saying here: “I know of no one who has done more for humanity than Jesus. In fact, there is nothing wrong with Christianity . . . The trouble is with you Christians. You do not begin to live up to your own teachings.”

    I can understand your view of the gospel accounts; it’s not at all uncommon to find people who feel that way about them. I’m wondering though why you personally believe they have been tampered with; if you take out the religious ideas from Jesus’ teaching, what really do you have left?

    Thanks.

  5. “And I love how there’s a dove down there at the bottom right as he’s talking about weapons of mass destruction and how we need to preemptively attack them before they attack us.”

    I LOL’d so hard at that. It’s the ultimate irony.

  6. Timothy Fairman says:

    Hey, TJ. It’s interesting to see a Jehovah’s Wittiness, I rarely run into them. I really like the sermon on the mount passage. I hate a few people giving christianity a bad name. Jason I find it interesting in your belief in christ. Do you think it is from your youth even though you don’t believe he’s god? I can’t really know. What exactly do you think is tampered with the gospel? Just curious about your perspective.

  7. If Jesus existed, I think he was a popular philosopher and social reformer of his time, calling for us to love one another, remove class distinctions, and help the poor. However, I feel the evidence suggests that the story of Jesus as found in the Gospels has been lifted from all the mythologies and pagan religions floating around at the time. Constantine took all of these religious beliefs from all across the Roman empire and fused them together into the Gospel narratives. This was to act as a social cement to unify the diverse peoples. In the ancient world there were many other deities who died on the cross for the sins of the world, were dead for three days, rose again, had twelve disciples, performed miracles, and so on. These stories come from pagan astrology and represent the sun’s transition through the zodiac. For some details, watch the video in the link below, jumping to 7:45, where the discussion begins.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6pgRUpDDrb0

    People attempt to refute this video but the information it presents takes a deep scholarly inquiry – deeper than simple encyclopedia entries. You have to dig deep. You can read Joseph Campbell’s books if you want to dig deeper. He goes into great detail into all of this. Campbell spent his entire life studying comparative religion and mythology. His set ‘The Masks of God’ is a wealth of information.

    I find the “religious” aspects of religion to be nonsense. When Christians start talking about “original sin”, how we need forgiveness, how a blood sacrifice will forgive our sins, how sexual attraction to females is some sort of evil “lust”, how blind faith is a virtue, that women must live in subjection to men, how “sinners” will be sent to hell for all eternity, that we do good to others in order to get a reward in heaven, that’s it’s evil to be gay, that the world is only a few thousand years old, and so… I find that all to be ridiculous. But the teachings of Christ are powerful and some of the other stories and narratives, if not taken literally, can teach profound and important lessons.

  8. TJ says:

    Thanks for that Jason. I’ve been directed to similar videos in the past. While there certainly is truth to some pagan connections, I think others are much more contrived and probably the result of such researchers ‘reading Jesus’ into mythologies. I wish they’d give the actual sources for these connections. Perhaps you have some examples of sources that I could take a look at?

    The Gospel accounts themselves pre-date Constantine, and are about as well-attested to (if not moreso) as anything we have from the ancient world as being from the time and place they claim. It should be noted though, much of what passes as ‘biblical’ is not actually found in the Bible. For example, the Bible says nothing about the time of year Jesus was born; in fact the text, by describing shepherds living out in the fields, argues against the winter season. (Luke 2:8) Likewise the Bible itself says nothing of the number of ‘wise men’ or magi (who were really astrologers and as such have been sent by God) that came to see him. Many more examples like these could be cited. To me, these are evidence of later Christians fusing pagan mythologies with the Gospel accounts, not the Gospel accounts actually stemming from the pagan mythologies.

    What I find confusing about a view like yours is, how can you say that *anything* is right or wrong? What do you base that on exactly? I’m not sure how those terms can have any meaning at all if there is not some authority that sets the standard of right and wrong. This is really the whole theme of the Bible–God’s Sovereignty. Do we allow him to decide right and wrong for us, or do we choose it for ourselves?

  9. TJ says:

    A little correction: I said above, “Likewise the Bible itself says nothing of the number of ‘wise men’ or magi (who were really astrologers and as such have been sent by God) that came to see him.”

    I meant to say that astrologers would NOT have been sent by God. (Compare Deut. 18:10-12) The Bible ties such practices to demons. The account records that the star that led the magi brought them first to King Herod, informing Jesus’ enemy of his birth, and led directly to the infanticide that took place in Bethlehem.

    Just another question, have you ever studied the Messianic prophecies in the Old Testament?

  10. Timothy Fairman says:

    Thanks Jason. I like a lot of what you have to say. Being brought up in the church I’ve been walking a line between fundamentalism and accepting Christ as a teacher as you said.

  11. TJ,

    The information presented in the Zeitgeist film was gathered from books written by Acharya Sanning. Here’s a video of her talking about her sources:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F_9ZyddjaM4

    She also has a website dedicated to her research which can be found here:
    http://www.truthbeknown.com/

    As for the things she says, I’ve heard Joseph Campbell holding similar opinions, and considering both Campbell and Sanning have spent their entire lives dedicated to studying mythology and comparative religion, researching all the ancient manuscripts, stories, and histories, I take their words for it.

    But really, I didn’t lose faith in Christianity because of the things in that video. I studied science and after years of research, the sort of things stated in the Bible just weren’t lining up with the facts. You ask me for detailed sources and whether I’ve studied Messianic prophecies in the Old Testament. I have studied a great deal of theology in the past, but I no longer have any interest in any of it any longer, other than say, understanding history better. I suggest you study Joseph Campbell if you want detailed research into the matter. It’d take too long to gather all the sources, and I frankly don’t care about it that much.

    You asked me how I determine right from wrong. I use science and reason. I think in terms of happiness and alleviation of suffering. I don’t look to an old book to tell me right from wrong. I base everything on the evidence to support the claim. If someone is to tell me it’s “wrong” for a man and a woman to live together when they’re not married, I ask for detailed psychological studies proving that such a thing is harmful. I don’t care what an old book says. Books say all sorts of things, and I read them all the time. I care about the evidence. Everything is about the evidence. If Christians wish to claim their moral rules true, and the best rules for us to live by, psychological studies should prove them.

    I find your position arrogant. How do you know the Bible was inspired by God? You believe that by faith. I personally feel if God exists, It has greater things on Its (notice I didn’t say His mind… Why is God a male father figure?) mind than what clothes a woman wears, “lust”, and our personal problems. To think of God as such a petty being seems demeaning. And to think it would hold such contradictory positions on what It does with our souls in the afterlife – none of it makes any sense.

    The other day I was with my grandparents and we were eating dinner. The conversation was directed to assisted suicide. It was bizarre to me that they found it evil. Someone is on their deathbed, suffering, yet they feel it’s evil for a physician to pull the plug on the machine, even though keeping them alive serves no purpose whatsoever. That makes no sense to me. That’s torture to a living being. The only reasons they had is the Bible says so. They quote a scripture and say, “That’s how God told us to live.” But I don’t believe the Bible has anything to do with “God”. To me, it’s an old book written by goat herders and nomads, and I’m not going to base my life on its morality.

    People like to say, “God told me this is true”, but I think if “God” tells someone something, it should always be true, and it should be capable of being proven by science. Since that’s the case, our views on morality should never conflict. But if detailed studies suggest your holy book is wrong, maybe you should rethink whether God is author of your religion.

  12. TJ says:

    Hi Jason, thanks for your detailed response. It’s evident you’ve thought on these matters for awhile. 🙂

    “…considering both Campbell and Sanning have spent their entire lives dedicated to studying mythology and comparative religion, researching all the ancient manuscripts, stories, and histories, I take their words for it.” Later, your wrote, “I base everything on the evidence to support the claim.”

    Aren’t those positions somewhat contradictory then? I get that to some extent we all have to trust certain authorities, but I think you have to be careful about some of these parallels that are being listed. ‘Beware the sound of one hand clapping.’ I’ve taken the time to look up some of them. For example, Horus is alleged to have had twelve disciples. The only evidence I could find that gave any semblance to a likeness of this was from an old Egyptian document that mentioned twelve ‘gods’ (representing each hour of the night) pulling ‘Afu-Ra’ (I guess this is supposed to be Horus) in a boat through the night. But I just as easily found him associated with other specific numbers of ‘gods’ in other contexts/situations by a simple search of the book. If Jesus had had nine disciples, for example, the very same evidence could have been used, stating just as plainly, ‘Horus had nine disciples.’ This is what I was talking about reading Jesus into mythology. Many of the claims I couldn’t find any sources for at all, but I’ll look into those links you provided.

    “I studied science and after years of research, the sort of things stated in the Bible just weren’t lining up with the facts.”

    I would genuinely be interested in an example of this to better understand your reasoning.

    “I suggest you study Joseph Campbell if you want detailed research into the matter.”

    I’ll look into his studies. I’d likewise recommend a couple of satirical, though important for this field, works to you that I’ll be keeping in mind as I do: here and here.

    “I find your position arrogant. How do you know the Bible was inspired by God?”

    I certainly don’t mean to be arrogant, but I do have a firm belief just as you seem to have and it’s not based simply on the “God-told-me-this-is-true” emotion that you mentioned (which is true of many). Of course it’s popular today in the intellectual realm to view the Bible as ‘just another’ old book, not particularly special in any way other than how many view it. The Bible’s relatively outstanding manuscript evidence for its authenticity and reliability are usually de-emphasized and any evidence to promote doubt in it is overemphasized, in my view. Whether you feel it’s justified or not, the same critical (or even cynical) approach brought to the Bible far exceeds virtually any other ancient writing. For example, you’ll find many scholars doubting Jesus ever existed, yet how many doubt Socrates’ existence, based on what is really less impressive evidence? So I see goal posts being moved.

    There are several factors in the text itself that inspire my confidence in it. For one, it’s historically accurate. Time and again archeologists, historians, etc., have doubted certain specifics in the Bible, only to later discover corroborating evidence that confirms the detail. The Bible itself differs considerably from other ancient texts in its candid and straightforward portrayal of events. What other nation had as their history book (much less its sacred book) one that constantly spoke of their errors and bad ways? While other individuals and nations whitewashed their history with what was really propaganda, the Bible spoke of the Israelites, as individuals and as a group, in an almost shockingly honest manner, the good and especially the bad. This is likely a big reason why so many can relate to it even today.

    Then there’s the internal harmony. The Bible wasn’t written merely by goat herders and nomads. It was written over a period of 1600 years by some 40 men, from fishermen to farmers to doctors to kings; men from all walks of life. Yet the over-arching theme of the Bible is present throughout: the vindication of God’s Sovereignty. These books agree with each other and compliment each other. And while the Bible isn’t a science textbook, it does accurately portray scientific truths, especially when you read it with its audience’s background in mind.

    Finally, there’s the fulfilled prophecies. If you really take a look at the Messianic prophecies, not only speaking of what he would do, etc., but also the distinct timeline given for his arrival in Israel (compare Daniel 9:25), it’s really quite impressive. There’s of course many others, even ones relating to today. For example, imagine someone telling you New York or some other ‘world city’ will eventually disappear and be uninhabited. That’s exactly what Isaiah foretold of booming Babylon, which did happen centuries later. (Isaiah 13:19-20)

    “You believe that by faith.”

    Well we all display faith in some things, don’t we? Above you showed that you had faith in the two authors you referenced, not based necessarily on your own, personal ability to prove everything they wrote. I believe there is good reason to trust the Bible when it’s approached with a fair mind. While it’s common to hear the question, ‘Where is God?’ or ‘Why doesn’t he show himself?’, the Bible gives quite compelling and satisfying answers that even self-proclaimed believers usually aren’t aware of. These are the types of topics I usually discuss with people when I knock on their doors and bother them. 🙂

    You asked me how I determine right from wrong. I use science and reason. I think in terms of happiness and alleviation of suffering.

    While those are certainly worthy goals, it’s still based, obviously, from a relative point of view that relies on short-sighted human reasoning. It could be (and has been) argued that Hitler believed that he was promoting the general welfare and happiness of his ‘race’ and easing their suffering, using quite a bit of the science of his day as a basis; would that make what he did ‘right’? Don’t misunderstand me, my point is not to prove ‘Godwin’s Law’, but just to show that our respective ideas of happiness and alleviation of suffering are limited; what may seem right (at least to some) may turn out to be very wrong. The Bible argues that “it does not belong to man who is walking even to direct his step.” (Jeremiah 10:23) I tend to agree with that. I think that when we do start thinking we have that ability, that is when real arrogance fosters. “Pride is before a crash.” (Prov. 16:18)

    “It was bizarre to me that they found it evil. . . . To me, it’s an old book written by goat herders and nomads, and I’m not going to base my life on its morality.”

    Now, you realize from my earlier posts that I certainly don’t believe everyone who claims to live by the Bible does. Many name-drop it merely to give credence to what is really their own personal opinions or they misunderstand what it is saying. The Bible points out that some will be “tossed about as by waves and carried hither and thither by every wind of teaching by means of the trickery of men.” (Eph. 4:14) A firm basis on the Bible’s teachings provides a stable foundation of principle that guides us and keeps us from whatever philosophies of men that happen to be in vogue in our particular time and culture. I believe the Bible gives us a timeless standard that transcends other reasonings on morality.

    if detailed studies suggest your holy book is wrong, maybe you should rethink whether God is author of your religion.”

    I have no problem with that. But of course I’d want to investigate the method and soundness of said study. As you are aware, studies on anything can be very subjective, even among scholars specializing in the same field. In my experience, those that are quick to try to disprove the Bible tend to have a real problem with religion in general, for whatever reason. The ironic part is that I too have a real problem with religion, which strengthens my faith in the Bible. Religion in general is full of conflicting ideas and hypocrites. I believe that there is real truth to be found, that not every conflicting belief can be ‘correct’ (in the p.c. kind of way) and I find that the Bible teaches this and that false religion will be done away with by Jehovah God himself.

  13. TJ,

    I will only discuss Joseph Campbell briefly. When you’re reading through his books, he’s always referencing the manuscripts, time periods, and origins of the stories. I suppose I take him at face value simply because I don’t care enough about it to look into it further. I don’t see any reason for him to lie to me. He’s not trying to save my soul. He’s not claiming that any of his works are of divine origin. He’s simply elaborating on the common life lessons contained within mythology and religion. Since that’s the case, I have no reason to dive in further.

    All of the issues you bring up are incredibly complex, but I suppose I’ll talk a little about science and how it’s incompatible with what religion teaches. I grew up in a religious environment. My parents are pastors of a protestant church. I’ve been crammed with the Bible since I was a child. I know it inside and out. When I was growing up, the world made no sense at all, and the Bible shed very little light on the world.

    Everything was random to me. If God was pure love, why create this universe? Because we ate from a fruit tree and were tempted from a giant serpent in the garden of eve? That may be an adequate explanation for simple minded people, but I can’t believe something like that.

    The main story of the Bible is that God created the universe, the Earth, and then mankind. We disobeyed God, and then were infected with “sin”, and we need Jesus to save us from this original sin. Through a blood sacrifice Jesus died for our sins and those who will call on him to save their soul will be saved. Evil exists because we didn’t obey God. Sickness and disease exist because we disobeyed God. The world around us cruel and hard because we disobeyed God. All of our problems are because we won’t follow God’s plan. It’s an anthropomorphic worldview that puts humanity at the center of everything, and our obedience to those laws the forefront of everything.

    It doesn’t explain earthquakes or tornadoes. It doesn’t explain parasites and why they exist. It doesn’t explain cancer and other terrible illnesses. The only explanation the Bible gives us is, “You guys ate from that tree and God is PISSED. You better beg for forgiveness before things get even worse for you because he’s going to throw you in a pit of fire!” Yet this God is supposedly pure love? What a cruel tyrant. He makes the dictator of North Korea look like a saint. You mentioned Hitler. Not even Hitler was that evil. I don’t see how anyone could serve such an evil being. Not willingly – then again, He doesn’t give the human race much choice.

    That view doesn’t make sense in light of modern science and discoveries. The Earth formed at the same time our sun formed. The rotation of the planets, the fact that our center is a molten iron core, radiometric dating of the rocks, etc., all point to that. Later, all species evolved starting from simple cellular life moving down over time to more complex life forms. Evolution and natural selection are very complex, but that’s the general gist of it. I can study genetics and cellular biology and it’s all there. You can see the same building blocks behind all life. The same DNA. You can use various statistical methods and based on how related the genes are you can build a tree of life, showing that we have evolved in that manner.

    Why do I need to be saved, but my cat does not? What’s fundamentally different between us? There is no core difference between us. I study our brains and they operate under the same principles. Religion separates us from all the other life on this planet. It’s beautiful to be connected with all life around me.

    Studying the nature of the brain is enlightening as well. It’s proven through neuroscience that my memories, personality, and other aspects of “Jason” all exist within the neural network of my brain. When I die, that brain rots. That’s the end of Jason. How do you propose I live on in the next life? There’s no evidence to suggest that I’ll go on to the afterlife in a similar state of existence as I’m in now. (Remember, I don’t want scripture. I want EVIDENCE. What is this afterlife? How do you know it exists? How do you propose I survive death?)

    Sickness is not the result of demons, it’s the result of viruses and bacterial infections. And why are there bacteria? Why are there viruses? Because that’s the simple cellular life! Even our insides are filled with bacteria of all sorts. We’re a huge colony of micro-organisms. Based on complex brain activity we become conscious. That’s what we are. Why would God create us so weak and frail like this? It’s because we weren’t created. We evolved. I can look at my cells under a microscope and I can see those cells working. I can see all the parts and everything I read about in genetics and biology is confirmed. We can also use that understanding to cure diseases and create medications.

    You say that archeology proves the Bible. What about the fossils? The Bible says that all the species were created but the fossil record shows a progression of species over time, from simple to more complex. Sure, I’ll give you that the Hebrews as a people really did exist. There’s pottery and remains from their cities. No doubt. But that doesn’t prove that they’re a chosen people from God, or that any of those miraculous events claimed ever happened. Do you literally believe that Moses parted the Red Sea? Do you literally believe that Noah loaded up the animals on an ark and God flooded planet Earth? What about the dinosaurs? Where were they in all of this? How could Noah load all of the dinosaurs into an ark. And, why can we use carbon dating to date those bones to millions of years ago?

    We can look out of our telescopes and see stars forming just like our own star being formed. As a physicist I can work out equations and show you the nuclear reactions which take place in stars and how they give off their light. This stuff isn’t guess work. It’s not all “relative”. We can build nuclear reactors and nuclear weapons. Obviously we understand it.

    You say that science is based on a relative point of view, but it’s the complete opposite – YOUR religion (and others) is what’s relative. I’m the one demanding evidence for my claims, YOU’RE the one who proposes we should believe in things just because the Bible says so. Sure what it says COULD be true, and maybe a lot of it is, but the problem is you believe in it by faith, assuming it’s true. The scientific mindset is designed to remove relative thinking and replace it with objective observations and data. Human beings aren’t perfect, but when I look at religion, and read history, I see that religion and its reliance on uncritical thinking is what’s wrong with this world. There’s all these different religions out there, claiming this and that, and all are tell us to believe various propositions by faith. It makes it impossible for people to come together. If groups’ religions disagree, there is no way to reconcile them. With science we can demand evidence and proof, bringing us all to a common ground. I’m sure you feel your religion is different, but to me, it has the same ring to it – believe in this holy book, it’s true!

  14. TJ says:

    Hello Jason, thank you for your reply. I think I understand your background a little better now.

    Since you gave your view of the Bible, I want to explain some areas where I disagree. First, the Bible does NOT teach that the earth was created several thousand years ago in just under a week. The term ‘day’ would often refer to an era of time. You said, “When I die, that brain rots. That’s the end of Jason.” Let’s compare that with what God told Adam after his sin, “For dust you are and to dust you will return.” (Gen. 3:19) That looks like a match to me. In other words he came from nothingness and he will return to nothingness at death.

    The Bible teaches that dead means dead, not life in some ‘afterlife’. “As for the dead, they are conscious of nothing at all.” (Eccl. 9:5) God does not torture anyone forever in hell. Death is the punishment for sin. (Rom. 6:23) The entire hope of a resurrection from the dead is based on this fundamental concept, i.e. that death is the absence of life in any form. What’s the point of bringing someone to life whose still alive somewhere anyways?

    Furthermore, the account in Eden had issues of far greater importance than eating from a tree they weren’t supposed to. As I said, the entire theme of the Bible centers on God’s Sovereignty. The reason I brought up the issue of where we should derive the proper view of morality is because it’s directly tied to that primary theme. The tree was called ‘the tree of knowledge of good and bad’ for a reason. If Adam was indeed created both perfect and with free will, that would be evidence of a loving God, wouldn’t it be?

    The tree, then, was a simple test to determine whether or not Adam would respect Jehovah God’s rulership, his authority to decide right and wrong for man, or if he would rebel against that authority and decide that for himself; the very same question is put before each of us. By following the fallen angel Satan into rebellion, Adam in effect made the claim that he’d be better off living independent of God. Rather than destroy the rebels and leave the question hanging unanswered, which would likely lead to further rebellion in the future, God allowed Satan time to make his case and settle the matter. Satan, not God, is “the ruler of this world.” (John 12:31) Many people blame God when bad things happen in this world, when they really should be blaming Satan. He is the one that is worse than any human dictator.

    This is the point of God’s Kingdom, it is the very opposite of all these governments on earth that are under Satan’s influence. That Kingdom represents God’s Sovereignty, his rulership; the others are really independent of it. Humans have been given time to test every form of independent government imaginable, and not one of them has been able to solve the problems we face. Jesus’ short ministry was meant to show what types of things he, as king of God’s Kingdom, would accomplish after that Kingdom ‘crushes and puts an end to all these [earthly] kingdoms.’ (Dan. 2:44) He could heal any sickness, bring people back from death, and even calm the weather. This is why God’s rulership is superior.

    This is what the Bible teaches. Jehovah has stepped in and executed his will and purpose in this world a select few times, but most of the time, we’ve been on our own for the purpose of answering fully Satan’s challenge. The ‘day of Jehovah’ where he finally intervenes in human affairs and carries out true justice will mean the end of rulership independent of God.

    “You say that science is based on a relative point of view.”

    I didn’t say that; it’s the interpretation of scientific data that is certainly subjective, and at times is influenced by a worldview. One can collect all kinds of data and then form a conclusion off of it that is just wrong. It happens all the time. A simple example might be a study that finds people who drink fruit juice have a lower occurrence of heart disease than those who don’t. Headlines are then released (much to the joy of fruit juice producers) that say: ‘Fruit juice lowers the risk of heart disease.’ Of course, this is an interpretation of the data that could be wrong. It’s simple cause-and-effect. It could be that that those who make healthier choices in general tend to choose fruit juice over soda. In other words, rather than being the cause, fruit juice is actually the effect.

    I’m the one demanding evidence for my claims, YOU’RE the one who proposes we should believe in things just because the Bible says so. Sure what it says COULD be true, and maybe a lot of it is, but the problem is you believe in it by faith, assuming it’s true.

    Jason, to be as objective as possible you have to have a keen awareness of your own biases and beliefs. Even scientists have them; all humans do. You have a worldview. I have a worldview. Each of these worldviews affect the way we interpret scientific evidence. You take evolution by faith as much as I take things the Bible says by faith. By that I mean you haven’t witnessed one species mutate into another. No one has. You may feel that you’ve seen evidence that confirms it, but this is really an interpretation of the data.

    There are other ways to interpret the data that may be even better fits. You mentioned the fossils. If life steadily evolved from less complex to more complex, then why does the geological record reveal the so-called ‘cambrian explosion’? I feel such evidence better fits the argument that species were all created around the same time. Further, studies of DNA show that information is lost, not generated, through mutations, yet this was supposed to be the means wherein one species becomes another. The natural question then, if that’s the case, is where does all that new information originate?

    And if we’re really involved in nothing more than a struggle of survival of the fittest, with none of the issues from the Bible that I outlined above, where does your view of morality fit into that? Why is it, from an evolutionary perspective, that you are concerned about alleviating suffering? Could it be that there’s more to this equation?

    “I see that religion and its reliance on uncritical thinking is what’s wrong with this world.”

    I tend to agree with that in general, and again, I believe the Bible teaches that religion will be destroyed. But don’t make the mistake of labeling poor reasoning as something that encompasses all the religious and is mutually exclusive to the non-religious. Some of the best critical thinkers, legends of science, where very religious. Isaac Newton wrote more about the Bible than he did science, which he viewed as another way to understand God. Conversely, there are many in the scientific community that display all the traits of a zealot, persecuting any ‘heretic’ that defies the consensus, with all the vigor that the Catholic Church went after Copernicus.

    “I’m sure you feel your religion is different, but to me, it has the same ring to it – believe in this holy book, it’s true! “

    Really though, that’s just an oversimplification that ignores all of the reasons that I put forth for manifesting belief in the Bible’s claim. And as to my religion being different, I prefer to allow our actions to speak louder than our words. By those actions, yes, it is very different.

    I appreciate your patience with me!

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