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Post-Christianity? (probably not the right title)


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This video by Sam Harris does a wonderful job of summarizing many of my views on why I find it unlikely that the Bible is anything beyond the creation of men. I have other reasons, but those will reveal themselves within the context of this dialog.

Sam Harris on religious belief.

Richard,

haven't had the chance to go thru the whole hour video, but it is interesting on what I have seen. And I tend to agree with a lot of what Sam Harris says, so far. Summed up, at this point, with me only having seen 1/2 of it, I think that belief suspends science inquiry. And I have to agree with that...However, the theory that our beliefs are what we want them to be, I have to question...Not in the thought that we approach the bible with preconcieved assumptions...because those who do come with preconcieved presumptions will be lead accordingly. But there are those who come to the bible with a willingness to learn from God...And those who do, come to suspend all preconcieved presumptions as far as they are able...to be lead by the Holy Spirit.

Those who come to the bible to learn of God, learn an experimental knowledge of God Himself. If one does this, then one tends to learn RELATIONSHIP principles, not doctrine...and has a more full understanding of God...and Who He is...and what He wants...and where to go....

Any other type of approach is dependant upon pharisical principles, aka "reward for good behavior" system. Which will get you in trouble with other powers that be...

Just my thoughts...

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Faith. That is the simple answer.

That is a simple answer... The truth is that life is not simple. These types of answers, by now, are cliches. It takes little more work than this.

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When I come to the end of my life I do not expect to regret loving my neighbor, observing the Sabbath rest, paying a faithful tithe to a church that feeds the hungry, counsels the depressed, nurses the sick and teaches love, hope and faith. If at the end of my life I discover there is no god and all religions are simply myths, I seriously doubt I will regret having followed the teachings of the Bible.

Other than the specific nature of a Sabbath rest, all of these don't require the Bible. The devil is in the details. And as long as you wax poetic on grand ethical themes you can make most things look pretty good.

Once you state that people need to be saved from the wrath of god, are sinners, and unless you repent you are going to hell, you have a whole different set of assumptions. These ideas have human consequences that historically have not been pleasant. These too are Biblical themes.

Generally when someone says they take the Bible literally I take that pretty seriously because the Bible literally says some pretty disturbing things. And historically until the age of enlightenment Christianity would look like something closer to and in many cases worse than radical Islam. This includes Protestants.

It was the age of reason that freed us from many of these Biblical principles of government. Christianity likes to take the credit, but this is a rather dishonest rewrite of history.

So, reason that is free from violence and coersion and is connected with the human capacity to love, has demonstrated itself to be a rather effective ethical guide when developed within a community of people.

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Was that your perception at the time?

My perception of god was clearly based on fear. This was for good reasons both based on what I read and what I heard being preached.

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Oh how sad! That was your understanding? But once again, where was the love? Sounds like a rather loveless, frightful obligation rather than relationship. I should add that such is not precisely my understanding of the teaching of Scripture. Unknown sins were and are covered by the daily. Only when and if a person became AWARE that s/he had sinned, did s/he need to take action. A person is not condemned for something s/he does not know about. That would be horribly unjust. But apart from that technicality, I seem to see a perception about what you think God is like. What is God like?

I have done a rather extensive exploration of the Bible and Ellen White and clearly the final basis of any relationship with this god is based in fear. There are certainly pictures of god that can be made by selecting certain texts and passages that are far more palatable, but if one is to take either or both of these sources authoritatively then in the final analysis god is a god of fear with some rather manipulative modes of double speak.

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He WANTS to save people, He will do everything He can to save people, He is faithful, He began the good work within each one, and He WILL bring it to completion, if only we will let Him! If there is something in the life that needs to be taken care of, a loving God will find a way to bring it to the attention of a person, and guide and assist him or her in dealing with it.

I have found absolutely no evidence for this. This type of dependency created a life of second guessing for me. I have no problem taking responsibility for things that need improving in my life, but they don't change by waiting for some god to change them.

They do change when I follow a process of rigorous honesty and openness. With these simple ideas there is often an understanding of cause and effect and when these are understood I have the ability to choose a different way. There is no wasted energy on determining if I am sinning or not or if some god is pleased or if I still have my salvation.

I believe in the idea that with awareness there is choice. The goal of my life is no longer to be saved, but to explore this life with as much creativity, curiosity, joy, and love as possible and to participate in other's who have these same goals.

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But there are those who come to the bible with a willingness to learn from God...And those who do, come to suspend all preconcieved presumptions as far as they are able...to be lead by the Holy Spirit.

Those who come to the bible to learn of God, learn an experimental knowledge of God Himself. If one does this, then one tends to learn RELATIONSHIP principles, not doctrine...and has a more full understanding of God...and Who He is...and what He wants...and where to go....

I find it much easier to simply observe all of life without preconceived presumptions. When I compare this to looking at the Bible, the Bible is mostly a dark chronicle of an angry god. It has some bright spots when it comes to the philosophy of Jesus, but overall it really has a very poor view of humanity.

I am rather amazed by the ability of some humans to transform and grow in spite of what has happened to them. For the most part this growth in unconscious and proceeds in those who are open to it.

You can call it God if you want, but I find no god like this in the Bible.

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Hi Richard.

Like you I have seen the love of God in many people in life. Some of the most beautiful in the world are those who have walked through very deep waters.

What were your parents like in their faith?

Best wishes,

oG

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I think it's wonderful that you and everyone else here has chosen to be a member of CA. I wouldn't want anyone to leave. But after reading many of your posts, since you believe the Bible is not true and that there is no God, the question that comes to mind is why you want to spend your time on Clubadventist?

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Faith is substantiative to those that believe. However to the carnal minded, spiritual things, like faith, are foolishness. Jesus said to Nicodemus, "We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen" and the author of Hebrews defines faith as "the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."

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Once you state that people need to be saved from the wrath of god...

This sounds like something from Jonathan Edwards. Most certainly not from the Seventh-day Adventists. Adventists see the Bible teaches that God is a God of love that seeks to draws sinners to Him. When He does finally destroys the sinners it will be a strange work (Isa. 28:21) because God is the Creator and not a destroyer. God longs to save His creation, not destroy it.

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historically until the age of enlightenment Christianity would look like something closer to and in many cases worse than radical Islam. This includes Protestants.

God brought His church out of the Dark Ages step by step. Yes, in the beginning, Protestants practices many of the same persecutions as the papal church did. However it was not the enlightenment that changed this. It was religious liberty which started in Rhode Island and spread throughout North America and later into much of the world. The enlightenment started around the year 1800 and certainly had some positive effects on society. Roger Williams founded the colony of Rhode Island in 1626 - nearly two centuries before the enlightenment.

"Reason" is itself a god that man can choose to worship. I respect those that choose to make reason their god but I choose the God of the Bible because I don't trust my own ability to reason enough to let it guide my life or distinguish between truth and fable. Others decide to place their faith in an organization like a church. I have seen many AA members place their faith in AA itself in lieu of a god. I can respect that too but I don't trust the ability to reason of the humans in charge of any organization to do that myself. That is why I have chosen to use the Bible as my sole source of ultimate truth.

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Those who come to the bible to learn of God, learn an experimental knowledge of God Himself. If one does this, then one tends to learn RELATIONSHIP principles, not doctrine...and has a more full understanding of God...and Who He is...and what He wants...and where to go....

I find it much easier to simply observe all of life without preconceived presumptions.

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What were your parents like in their faith?

My parents have spent a lifetime of service to the SDA church and continue to do so in retirement. As far as the nature of their faith, you would have to ask them.

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cardw wrote:

I have done a rather extensive exploration of the Bible and Ellen White and clearly the final basis of any relationship with this god is based in fear. ....

'...any relationship...' - in my experience this is not true. Of course it depends on how one "defines" god. - to me god is indefinable and incomprehensible. (In order to avoid contamination with the fear you describe i have found it necessary to stay away from certain churches and congregations, at least until i developed enough confidence and spiritual strength to survive a brief encounter with the atmosphere in evangeligal, fundamentalist congregations.) I don't find god in church but in my own heart - And the hearts of other sensitive human-beings. And in 'scripture' only when the hearts of the authors are free of fear and fear-mongering.

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The goal of my life is no longer to be saved, but to explore this life with as much creativity, curiosity, joy, and love as possible and to participate in other's who have these same goals.

That, to me, is the utmost and highest form of a truely spiritual, religious life. Afterall, living only in order to 'be saved' in a sometime-future that one has no way of knowing if it exists or not is a means of 'escaping from freedom' (Erich Fromm's phrase), and the opportunitiy to 'be saved' in the right-here and right-now.

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"Reason" is itself a god that man can choose to worship. I respect those that choose to make reason their god but I choose the God of the Bible because I don't trust my own ability to reason enough to let it guide my life or distinguish between truth and fable.

Reason is not something that I hold praise services for and pray to. The idea that reason is a god is a misrepresentation of its use. Reason is ONE tool that can be used in the search for truth. Community, accountability, self examination, honesty, intuition, and one's ability to empathize are all skills needed to guide one's life.

Now I admire your ability to hang in here, but (and this is not to be insulting, but in the spirit of AA an expression of truth) your ability to reason is poor. That doesn't mean that you are stupid, it just means that you haven't been educated in the principles of good reasoning. Any good philosophy course will teach you the rules of good reasoning.

They reveal systems of thought that don't make sense, and yet people commonly use. You can learn how to do this. These rules are independent of any belief system, but are essential to good communication. They will prevent you from falling into many logical pitfalls and help you defend your beliefs, no matter what they are, in a far more effective manner.

You obviously have a lot of heart and this can go a long way, but if you want to broaden your ability to express your message the ability to reason well, is an essential tool.

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However it was not the enlightenment that changed this. It was religious liberty which started in Rhode Island and spread throughout North America and later into much of the world. The enlightenment started around the year 1800 and certainly had some positive effects on society. Roger Williams founded the colony of Rhode Island in 1626 - nearly two centuries before the enlightenment.

This pretty much ignores the effect of the French Revolution and the philosophers that provided the foundation for democratic rule in the manner and style practiced in the United States. You will find that the Bible has hindered intellectual advancement at every stage of development, beginning with freedom of thought, science, slavery, women's rights, and even today is used to defend policies that are clearly harmful.

There is no question that moderate Christian belief is a major upgrade, but this denies the essential ignorance and violence of the Bible. The sources of tyranny are clearly supported by Biblical passages and are clearly supported by those who wrote many of the books.

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I find it much easier to simply observe all of life without preconceived presumptions.

I wonder if that is possible? or even prudent? My thought is that no matter where you are at in your life, you come with preconcieved ideas and prinicpals that you believe to be real and true. But is it true? As a youth, I know a water mirage on a hot pavement in the distance....but I still see water even in my maturity... Same with your observation of all life...are your preconcieved ideas real? You see them, but are they real?

Well you can simply add this same set of questions to the Bible? How do you know if your understanding of the Bible is not an illusion?

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Are you talking of your experience before one meet Jesus or after meeting Jesus? I have been refering to experiences post Jesus...My experience has been that if you are still dealing with an angry God, then you have need to move on to a Loving God seen in the bible...... and you can not do that without a personal experince with God Himself. I can assure you that God will want to undertake this task Himself if you ask Him....

Well Jesus is not completely free of some rather violent views of God. I find much of what Jesus has to say about ethics compelling, but Jesus reveals some rather violent punishments for those who don't agree with his take on things.

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I am rather amazed by the ability of some humans to transform and grow in spite of what has happened to them. For the most part this growth in unconscious and proceeds in those who are open to it.
And to thier asking God to grow them, and to His willingness to interact with them...

Well, in my experience this happens with or without any appeal to god. This just seems like magical thinking to me.

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You are right, I now find no god like this in the bible...I do find men who wrote the bible a little skewed...but not God..

In any other context we don't pay attention to what people who are skewed say. If after Katrina someone stated that the reason this is happening to us is because we haven't prayed enough to Poseidon, we would comply dismiss their ability to provide and accurate view of life. And yet we find it completely reasonable to state that God has something to do with Katrina because there are so many people who believe it to be true. And yet there is no rational evidence that any god had anything to do with Katrina.

It is simply not sustainable that crazy and violent people can have the best information about how to live life.

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I wonder if that is possible? or even prudent? My thought is that no matter where you are at in your life, you come with preconcieved ideas and prinicpals that you believe to be real and true. But is it true? As a youth, I know a water mirage on a hot pavement in the distance....but I still see water even in my maturity... Same with your observation of all life...are your preconcieved ideas real? You see them, but are they real?

Good Comment and Insight Neil. I appreciate this.

It is interesting here to hear people say ... "The Bible says ..." OR ... "I believe what the Bible says " They do a lot of judgment that what YOU believe which is contrary to what they believe is "NOT what the Bible says".

But we know that we all come with pre-conceived ideas and experiences even from Childhood that clouds "What the Bible says". Many learned scholars disagree with what "The Bible says".

We have to be sincere. But we will not really know "what the Bible says" until we get to Heaven.

IN my humble opinion. ... We should not neglect the Bible and we should study to show thyself approved unto God. But we have to be tolerant of those who see things differently than us. For all will see things differently.

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I don't find god in church but in my own heart - And the hearts of other sensitive human-beings. And in 'scripture' only when the hearts of the authors are free of fear and fear-mongering.

This appears to work because you provide an outside standard to reading the Bible. I have no problem with that because I essentially bring an outside standard to determine what I accept in regards to Jesus.

I find the principle of "fear based" to be a deciding factor and this comes from my life experience, not from the Bible.

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That, to me, is the utmost and highest form of a truely spiritual, religious life. Afterall, living only in order to 'be saved' in a sometime-future that one has no way of knowing if it exists or not is a means of 'escaping from freedom' (Erich Fromm's phrase), and the opportunitiy to 'be saved' in the right-here and right-now.

This is a wonderful meta narrative that I don't believe is intentional within the Bible, but certainly can be seen in many myths. I won't make a determination that you are wrong or right since that type of analysis is really outside what you are expressing here.

As far as this being God, you are certainly free to identify it with such a name, but for me that designation doesn't resonate with that particular name.

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I find it much easier to simply observe all of life without preconceived presumptions.

I wonder if that is possible? or even prudent? My thought is that no matter where you are at in your life, you come with preconcieved ideas and prinicpals that you believe to be real and true. But is it true? As a youth, I know a water mirage on a hot pavement in the distance....but I still see water even in my maturity... Same with your observation of all life...are your preconcieved ideas real? You see them, but are they real?

Well you can simply add this same set of questions to the Bible? How do you know if your understanding of the Bible is not an illusion?

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Reason is not something that I hold praise services for and pray to.

Reason can take the place of God. When the First Commandment states, "Thou shalt have no other gods before Me." it is not talking about worship services. It is talking about placing more value on things other than God. The word translated "heart" in Jeremiah 17:9 can also be translated as "the mind". "The heart is deceitful above all things, and it is exceedingly corrupt: who can know it?" The word "science" in 1 Timothy 6:20 is better translated as "knowledge." "keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called" So the Bible warns us against allowing our intellect to become our god.

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Any good philosophy course will teach you the rules of good reasoning.

I am currently studying to get a second degree in history and philosophy. I would study philosophy alone but I plan to teach after I retire from the business world and there are more opportunities if I have the double major with history.

Clifford Goldstien is an Adventist philosopher that was educated by secular professors and that is kind of the route I am taking.

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This pretty much ignores the effect of the French Revolution and the philosophers that provided the foundation for democratic rule in the manner and style practiced in the United States.

The French Revolution started in 1789, which was after the US Constitution was ratified and was the first year of the Washington Administration. The enlightenment started about ten years later. Roger Williams founded the colony of Rhode Island nearly two centuries before either of the two events.

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You will find that the Bible has hindered intellectual advancement

One would have to define "intellectual advancement" in order to support such a statement. Apostate Christianity has certainly hindered scientific advancement. However Biblical Christianity, such as found within the Seventh-day Adventist church, is not guilty of such.

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There is no question that moderate Christian belief is a major upgrade

From what I have seen, extremes are almost always bad. So-called "moderate" Christianity is what appears to me to be the closest to Biblical Christianity. In many aspects the Adventist church is a moderate sect and I believe it holds the most truth in regard to the Bible.

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Well you can simply add this same set of questions to the Bible? How do you know if your understanding of the Bible is not an illusion?
Because the bible is a guide to an interaction with a Person.

I hope not. This is one example of how one deals with this Person.

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Numbers 15:32-36 While the Israelites were in the desert, a man was found gathering wood on the Sabbath day. Those who found him gathering wood brought him to Moses and Aaron and the whole assembly, and they kept him in custody, because it was not clear what should be done to him. Then the LORD said to Moses, "The man must die. The whole assembly must stone him outside the camp." So the assembly took him outside the camp and stoned him to death, as the LORD commanded Moses.

Does this seem like something a loving intelligent god would order? I can't even believe I have to ask this question. Or if you happen to get on the wrong side of god this is how god throws a tantrum...

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Deuteronomy 32:21-26 They have provoked Me to jealousy by what is not God;

They have moved Me to anger by their foolish idols.

But I will provoke them to jealousy by those who are not a nation;

I will move them to anger by a foolish nation.

For a fire is kindled in My anger,

And shall burn to the lowest hell;

It shall consume the earth with her increase,

And set on fire the foundations of the mountains.

‘I will heap disasters on them;

I will spend My arrows on them.

They shall be wasted with hunger,

Devoured by pestilence and bitter destruction;

I will also send against them the teeth of beasts,

With the poison of serpents of the dust.

The sword shall destroy outside;

There shall be terror within

For the young man and virgin,

The nursing child with the man of gray hairs.

I would have said, “I will dash them in pieces,

I will make the memory of them to cease from among men,”

Young man, virgin, old man, and nursing child. I guess god is no respecter of persons when it comes to his wrath. And we consider that a virtue? The Bible allows god to have behavior that could be equated with our most evil war lords. It is simply horrifying to suggest that this behavior can be excused because god is not a "tame Lion."

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EGW says that there is no evidence like the evidence of a changed life....Magical? maybe...supernatural...possibly....Devine...OOOoooh, there is divine change going one all around you....You need to observe them...

It is one thing to admit that there is great mystery around us. Its quite another to claim that some divine person is responsible for this great mystery and it is a greater leap to say that this divine person is the one described in the Bible. As I have said before, the devil is in the details and when we look at the details, it becomes apparent, rather quickly, that these ideas are not sustainable.

I think this is illustrated by the following exchange...

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I read about an Eskimo hunter who asked the local missionary priest, 'If I did not know about God and sin, would I go to hell?' 'No,' said the priest, 'not if you did not know.' 'Then why,' asked the Eskimo earnestly, 'did you tell me?' " -- Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, 1974
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Well you can simply add this same set of questions to the Bible? How do you know if your understanding of the Bible is not an illusion?
Because the bible is a guide to an interaction with a Person.

I hope not. This is one example of how one deals with this Person.

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Numbers 15:32-36 While the Israelites were in the desert, a man was found gathering wood on the Sabbath day. Those who found him gathering wood brought him to Moses and Aaron and the whole assembly, and they kept him in custody, because it was not clear what should be done to him. Then the LORD said to Moses, "The man must die. The whole assembly must stone him outside the camp." So the assembly took him outside the camp and stoned him to death, as the LORD commanded Moses.

Does this seem like something a loving intelligent god would order? I can't even believe I have to ask this question. Or if you happen to get on the wrong side of god this is how god throws a tantrum...

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God doesn't save anyone without their asking Him to save them. No one will be in His Kingdom who doesn't want to be there.

"Without faith [trust, confidence] it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He exists and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him" (Hebrews 11:6).

"You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart." Jeremiah 29: 13.

"We preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God." 1 Cor. 1: 23, 24.

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What you are seeing is ONE characteristic of God. I am sure you are familiar with family discipline. Surely you can understand other characteristics of a Holy God from Exodus 33

When one characteristic of god is the ordered stoning of a man gathering sticks that's pretty much a deal killer no matter how nice that god is otherwise. I think that goes way beyond family discipline since that has three effects. One it destroys any chance the man gathering sticks has of reform since HE's DEAD and two it creates fear in everyone else and three it has everyone participate in violence which all pretty much destroys any chance of dialog for the purpose of having a relationship.

How do you have a relationship with a god who kills you for gathering sticks and at the same time orders you to kill every man, woman, and child in a village except for any virgin which you are free to rape and take for your wife?

Somehow you are able to worship a god who behaves in this way. If any human ruler behaved this way god would send a prophet telling him how evil he was. We don't respect human hypocrites, why should we worship one?

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You remind me of the joke that I have told before....a man, on the roof of his house, rain coming down,floods coming up, declares to a passing boat that has come to pick him up, "I have faith. God will save me." The boat moves on....Water rises, and is up to the roof line. Another boat comes by. "I have faith. God will save me." and the boat moves on to save others...the water rises, the man is clinging on to the chiminey of the house, a helicopter comes by, swinging a rope to the man. He waves it off, declaring "I have faith. God will save me." The man drowns...He reaches the throne of God and says, "I had faith in you. and you let me down. You did not save me." God replys, "What do you want? I sent 2 boats and a helicopter!" Details, you say? What about the outcome? Is it of God or not?

I don't know how this applies to me since I'm not waiting for god to save me. I would have easily seen the first boat as a way out. Its the people who are waiting for god to save them that have the problem. That really illustrates my point I think...:)

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The word "science" in 1 Timothy 6:20 is better translated as "knowledge." "keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called" So the Bible warns us against allowing our intellect to become our god.

This is a misrepresentation of science. Science is a method. I think I have heard far more vain babblings in the name of religion than science. Science changes and self corrects. When religion has it wrong it stays wrong for thousands of years.

Some of your other views are so convoluted that it really goes beyond this particular dialog. I think you need to read some other authors besides Clifford Goldstein. The 700 club, Focus on the Family, and other sources you tend to quote have very narrow views and if you research their sources you will find a lot of exaggeration and selective emphasis.

I'm glad that you are getting further education.

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When one characteristic of god is the ordered stoning of a man gathering sticks...

The day that Adam and Eve ate the fruit, they died. Ever since that day, man has been born dead. Biblically speaking, death is a separation from God. Thus, putting someone to death physically that is already dead in sin is only speeding up the inevitable. Of course, to the secular mind, that makes no sense. But that is why God could send the children of Israel in to cities and order them to kill men, women and children.

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If any human ruler behaved this way god would send a prophet telling him how evil he was.

As humans, we can't read the heart. God knows who is guilty, who will repent, etc. We do not.

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I did state, "The word 'science' in 1 Timothy 6:20 is better translated as "knowledge." Just in case anyone else missed that. I quoted the passage the context of us making our intellect or "knowledge" a god. I was not addressing "science" which has been defined differently during different periods of history.

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The day that Adam and Eve ate the fruit, they died. Ever since that day, man has been born dead. Biblically speaking, death is a separation from God. Thus, putting someone to death physically that is already dead in sin is only speeding up the inevitable. Of course, to the secular mind, that makes no sense. But that is why God could send the children of Israel in to cities and order them to kill men, women and children.

I hope this never makes sense to me. That is why such violence is done in the name of god. This is ethically bankrupt. Violence to children never has justification. This is why religion needs to go as soon as possible.

This is simply dangerous and to give any credence to these types of religious rationales is to perpetuate the most dangerous type of ignorance. This holds the seeds of violence that once secular restraints are removed release the gods of religious war that have killed millions.

When you makes statements like this there is no room for politeness. This is what I would call evil. I have no tolerance for anything that justifies violence to the innocent. This illustrates the dangers of holding this book we call the Bible as infallible.

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It's interesting that this thread is here because I was going to post one about the subject of biblical interpretation. It's very confusing, especially in these days, when people are reading the bible for themselves and coming to different understandings of what scripture is teaching. It can be frustrating for some of us. I often ask myself "if the holy spirit really teaches people the truth as found in God's word, then why are there so many interpretations of that same word?" It never made any sense to me that there were denominational splits over hundreds of years based on differences in scripture interpretation. How can the holy spirit be speaking to everyone yet they come to a different understanding on the very same verses in the bible??? Something is wrong. What I believe is that most people aren't receiving inspiration from the Holy Spirit. They are interpreting scripture based on their own level of reading comprehension, or what's been taught to them by their church. At some point God will have to intervene and clear this mess up.

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