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Re: [KC-Midtown-FreeThinkers] Dear Religion

From: Fred
Sent on: Thursday, August 16, 2012 10:55 PM
Don't have much use for Lee Strobel's apologetics and his "Case for" series myself.  At total sycophant to the annoying Intelligent Design Movement, for one thing.

On Thu, Aug 16, 2012 at 6:39 PM, Nina Gonzales <[address removed]> wrote:
Hi Fred,

I guess I'm going to have to agree with Zach on this...I feel like this conversation is pretty futile if you don't actually offer evidence and instead offer up Christian beliefs as facts. You can't prove the Bible with the Bible. I was a Christian for many many years and am very familiar with this belief system, the definition of sin, and the Genesis story. I don't need you to explain why Christians feel the way they do...I need you to explain why it's factual, logical, plausible by historical or scientific standards. I don't need you to paraphrase "The Case for Christ"...I've read it and it's a load of garbage.  

Im not trying to debate you out of your faith. It doesn't seem to be harmful to you or others in the way you conduct yourself from what you have said. 

Sent from my iPhone

On Aug 16, 2012, at 1:43 PM, Fred <[address removed]> wrote:

Hi Nina:

Guess I haven't met you yet, either.  Hope we get a chance to talk over some of this stuff after a meetup sometime.  But to your points (I'll interpose a few responses below):

On Wed, Aug 15, 2012 at 8:04 PM, Nina Gonzales <[address removed]> wrote:
Hi Fred!

I am not sure how one can believe that the Genesis story, Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve, etc. are mythological and yet still have a belief in Jesus Christ? The Bible says that Jesus came purely to eradicate the sin that happened in the garden of eden. If you believe this is mythological....then why the heck did Jesus get crucified? You really have to believe these things literally in order for the gospel to make sense. There has to be a "sin" story for Christianity to work.

You're right.  There has to be a sin story for it to work.  And there is.  Most scholars and most Jewish readers throughout history understood that the word Adam in Hebrew simply means "human."  And sometimes it's even translated that way.  But clearly, the character named "Human" here simply represents all of us (like "Everyman," particularly in the decisions we make that violate our conscience ... to "sin."  The word sin means "to miss the mark."  The story is one of God creating all living things, with special attention to humans at the end, who are intended to be his image-bearers.   They're supposed to reflect the divine and be like the King's ambassadors to the rest of the world, taking responsibility for all the forms of life just mentioned.  Now we know, in evolutionary terms, that selfishness pervades the living world for purposes of survival, but these new beings have the ability to transcend their natural instincts and listen to the voice of God.  They're no longer slaves to instinct, necessarily.  God has better plans for us.

The story of disobedience in Eden is a story of missing that mark, missing that potential God has for us, and each of our lives repeats that story, when we as individuals grow to an age where we too can start making choices, and we become accountable for the choices we make that violate that voice.  Remember, it's not a matter of being reprimanded for taking of the tree of knowledge, but of "the knowledge of good and evil."  This represents the ability, beyond the rest of the animals, to know the difference between good and evil, and then the story represents a decision to choose the evil in disobedience to God.   To me this story is a lot more relevant when I can't just blame a literal individual named Adam for my wrongdoing, but recognize myself and my own decisions, in that story.  

The rest of the Hebrew scriptures set up the coming redemption, based on God's character as one who rescues people who put their trust in him.

Beyond that, I don't really understand how a belief in talking snakes, whales being nice homes for a few days, a man living in the sky, people coming back from the dead, etc. are at all in line with science any more than a belief in Santa or zombies or vampires. In addition, historically, Abraham and Jesus did not exist. The Romans were meticulous paper-trailers, documented everyone they put to death, put in prison, etc. and yet there is no record of a Jesus or anyone like him being arrested or crucified. The whole story of Pontius Pilate allowing a religious group to condemn a man to death is totally is the Jews meeting to discuss something like that on such a holy evening. In addition, Josephus didn't write about Jesus during Jesus' life. It wasn't until over 40 years AFTER his crucifixion that Josephus wrote about the rumored Jesus man. And he didn't write much. Same goes for the gospels. Historically, they were not written by Jesus' buddies....they were written 40+years after Jesus' crucifixion and by strangers that we know very little about other than they did not know Jesus at all. How could this be considered historical proof? I was born 30 years ago. If I started writing about rumors I heard happened in the 70s well before my birth I doubt anyone would take them for historical fact....and rightfully not.

Don't know who you've been reading, to tell you that no one named Abraham existed, or that Jesus did not exist and was not crucified under Pontius Pilate.  It would obviously take more space than anyone wants me to take here to convince you otherwise.  Let's just say that among scholars, yours would be a minority position.   (And it's the kind of thing that I think gives atheism a bad name, making atheists look like extremists, causing some to put them in the same camp as young earth creationists who are more about their agenda than about careful scholarship.) 

Beyond that, I guess my belief in a god is more shaken by the fact that he is "all loving, powerful, etc" but he allows infants to be raped, tortured, and starved to death. WHAT THE FUCK. I can kind of understand how you could say when an adult goes through a trial that "god was testing them" or "god was using that to teach them something" but an infant doesn't learn and an infant doesn't need a trial. They are helpless and innocent, and they are raped with weapons and killed in this world. I don't know a single "sinful" human in my life who would allow this to happen....yet "god" doesn't seem to mind it much and he is all powerful but just looks on.

I don't claim to have convincing answers on this.  Many Christian apologists do claim this, but these things bother me, too.  All answers (though a number of them could possibly be valid) come across as flippant in light of innocent suffering.



On Tue, Aug 14, 2012 at 4:42 PM, Fred <[address removed]> wrote:



When you say:  “…churches did often then decide to bury research they didn't like …,” this would be another example of committing the either/or fallacy, in this case, church attendees not getting the most they can out of both science and religion, opposite of what I’m advocating.  Thinking they needed to choose between science and religion, they chose religion (and bad religion, as Eugenie Scott would say).


More on your thoughtful points in answers to others below.



On Fri, Aug 10, 2012 at 10:53 AM, Adam <[address removed]> wrote:
Devil's advocate mode:

It is true that in days long gone, some churches did fund some significant research, provided for and supported schools, etc.  That is a common response Ive seen a number of times, and it is true.  It needs to be remembered though that those churches did often then decide to bury research they didn't like the results of (much as governments do these days) with varying levels of success.

It is also important to remember that scientific advancement is not a pure "good" thing either.  Much development goes in to improving the ways we have to kill each other (and to heal those harmed while trying to kill each other (which is a good thing, just not in why it is needed.))

On Fri, Aug 10, 2012 at 10:42 AM, Marlys Kummer Doerflinger <[address removed]> wrote:
Sorry that prior email got away from me. 
Some religious 
Ignore the reality of science in favor of what some old men who knew less about the world said in a book thousands of years ago.  And these people vote.  Religion has a history of 
trying to hold science back.  Just look at how the heliocentric solar system, birth control, and evolution have been resisted by the church. 

Marlys & Gene

Sent from my iPhone

On Aug 10, 2012, at 6:53 AM, Penelope Camel <[address removed]> wrote:

One doesn't need a belief in Jesus to have empathy and to love one's neighbor, etc.  I gave up my Jesus belief because my mind tells me there's no reason to believe in the guy or any religion.  I don't need a religious belief to believe in the "evil" of social injustice and how wrong it is for humans to be destroying their "nest." 
From what I see, the people who are pre-occupied with their religious beliefs are, indeed, part of the "problem."  Their religious beliefs prevent them from dealing with reality and in accepting the fact that it is up to us humans to solve the problems we face and the problems we solve. 
Believers all think that their beliefs are the "one, true answer" to everything.  This alone has divided us and kept us from getting along.  Believers are so intent on defending and spreading their take on things, while they should just accept that we are all the same species, let's accept our oneness, and focus efforts on loving one another in an environmentally sustainable way.  But, instead, everybody thinks they are right, everyone else is wrong, and this divisive, non-loving dynamic has us infighting and not loving each other.
The human condition, over the past few thousand years, has been improved because of rational thinking and science much more than to any religious belief, in my opinion. 
"Go forth and multiply" . . . . . that religious belief has certainly gotten us to where human population numbers, together with our thoughtless ways of living, could be the main cause of ours and earth's demise.  (Maybe that gospel message could be in error?!)
Science, rational thinking, and our empathy must supercede ignorance, superstition, and living primarily for a life in the hereafter.
Non-believers are just as capable of loving one another as believers.  Non-believers do it because it's the right thing to do and not to forego "eternal punishment."
Humans better get beyond the "religious belief age" and focus their efforts on surviving as a species, loving each other, and not destroying earth.

From: Fred <[address removed]>
To: [address removed]
Sent: Fri, August 10,[masked]:36:24 AM
Subject: Re: [KC-Midtown-FreeThinkers] Dear Religion

Thanks for a reasoned response, Adam.  Not rude at all.  I gotta get to bed, but I'll look at that video soon and respond.  In the meantime, I'll agree that many religious people, especially wrongly educated Christians, are trained to use their religion to justify harm or ignorance.  I'm among their victims.

I'll also say there's a bunch of us Christians who don't debate what kind of chicken sandwich to eat.  But most importantly to begin to answer your question:  I've dedicated much of my life to understanding and communicating that body of knowledge we call science.  Science and technology give us the means to do some of the things that can solve the greatest needs of our time:  cure diseases, find better ways of food distribution, bring clean water, educate, maybe even eliminate poverty.  All these things are now within our grasp, and accumulated knowledge about the physical world has brought us to this place where we could now eliminate hunger and 95 percent of the third world's problems with disease, poverty, crime, etc.  So why haven't we done it?  Why aren't we doing it?  

We, as a species, lack the motivation.  Science gives us the technological solutions.  Jesus, who told me to love my neighbor as myself and even to love my enemies, gives me the motivation to implement them.


On Thu, Aug 9, 2012 at 11:02 PM, Adam <[address removed]> wrote:
At the risk of being rude...
So... churches accomplish things advancing society like the things science does?  Eliminating Polio, exploring the universe, explaining why the air around purified radium is electrically charged, devising algorithms that are fundamental to programing computers long before such devices are even conceived?

I ask very seriously, aside from warm and comforting feelings, which I do know religion/faith provides, I don't see what a person gets out of them.  But I have seen from talking with you that you do get something I don't understand out of your beliefs (even though I grew up religious, there is something not registering) so... perhaps that is what you get that I am missing.

Now I do agree that in a historical context, religion served man.  When most of the world was unknown, it helped bridge the space between villages, and spread similar thought patterns.  But I personally don't see it as useful in that context any more, and it had a VERY high price even then. In truth I see it as detrimental to furthering the cause of "universal understanding" between modern cultures, as I say so very often though: "that is a whole other discussion."  (But that is also using "religion" as something a little synonymous with closed mindedness, as is brilliantly discussed by Neil deGrasse Tyson in his "naming rights" discussion, though I don't think many religious people agree with people who think religion looks that way from the outside.)

Anyway, I really only object to religion when it is used to justify harm or ignorance.  Shoot, I'm ok with voodoo, but ask "so... are you going to eat that chicken?"  But I would like to see specifics of claims.  (That is what science does, I know many who say "its not up to religion to be testable." *shrug*)

My two bits (and then some) I hope I don't appear to be jumping all over you, I just don't agree that modern humanity gets anything from religion.

On Thu, Aug 9, 2012 at 5:16 PM, Fred <[address removed]> wrote:
All right, get ready to jump all over me:

Dear Atheist,
While you were bogged down in the either-or fallacy, I was getting the most I could out of both science and religion.
Your Pal Christian


On Thu, Aug 9, 2012 at 3:11 PM, Marlys Kummer Doerflinger <[address removed]> wrote:

I agree.   This is perfect for a Facebook post.


From: [address removed] [mailto:[address removed]] On Behalf Of Joe Thomas

Sent: Thursday, August 09,[masked]:53 AM
To: [address removed]
Subject: Re: [KC-Midtown-FreeThinkers] Dear Religion


That is EPIC!! Beautiful 

On Aug 7, 2012, at 8:51 PM, cole morgan <[address removed]> wrote:


----- Forwarded Message -----
From: GREG GLADISH <[address removed]>
Sent: Tuesday, August 7,[masked]:49 PM
Subject: Dear Religion



Greg G






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Don't part with your illusions.

When they are gone you may still exist, but you have ceased to live.

-- Mark Twain

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Set my mailing list to email me As they are sent | In one daily email | Don't send me mailing list messages

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