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The most abusive Christian phrase ...


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Try this:

Dress up and look like you are a poor, homeless man in desperate need of clothes, food, and money, and maybe a place to sleep for the night. Have a little vomit on your chin.

Then go to a little Christian church when they're having a prayer meeting and ask for help. See what happens.

Next go to a meeting of atheists, and do the same thing. See what happens.

What difference do you think there will be?

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When we look at nations today that tend to have the most non believers we find the quality of life to be much higher. There is less crime, better standard of living, they tend to be more generous, and more educated.

The USA is by far the most generous nation on earth, individually and corporately. Religion produces charity. There is no question about this.

Private philanthropy as a percentage of GDP (2006)

1. United States - 1.67%

2. United Kingdom - .73%

3. Canada - .72%

4. Australia - .69%

5. South Africa - .64%

6. Ireland - .47%

7. Netherlands - .45%

8. Singapore - .29%

9. New Zealand - .29%

10. Turkey - .23%

11. Germany - .22%

12. France - .14%

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Hmm, we've had a recent account here on this forum of one who came to a church and almost got punched out by a deacon... I suspect you'd get a range of responses from either kind of group...

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Try this:

Dress up and look like you are a poor, homeless man in desperate need of clothes, food, and money, and maybe a place to sleep for the night. Have a little vomit on your chin.

Then go to a little Christian church when they're having a prayer meeting and ask for help. See what happens.

Next go to a meeting of atheists, and do the same thing. See what happens.

What difference do you think there will be?

Based on my experience of spending time with various groups of Christians and various groups of atheists, I would say that you would definitely receive better treatment from the atheists.

AJ

(heading off to work to hang out with a bunch of atheists again)

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cardw: That's the problem with the Bible. You can't derive democracy from the Bible because the only two systems described there are Communism and Totalitarianism.

The truth is that American democracy came largely out of the influence of the Bible, together with British political philosophy. It is hard to see how it would have come out of Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Toaism, etc. That's not to deny the influence also of the French Revolution, which had its share of atheists.

But those early Americans believed that God wanted people to be free to choose and not be told how to worship, and they got this idea from the Bible. This of course became part of our Declaration of Independence.

I realize that there were many wrongs committed, and I realize that there was religious perecution by Christians, but I'm talking about people like Roger Williams and the Quakers and those who actually put our government together. They studied and knew the Bible, although many of them were deists. My point is that those men were motivated by Biblical and Christian ideals and ethical principles. Even many atheists are still influenced by the ideals from the Bible they reject.

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You are mixing up atheism with totalitarianism being expressed through Chinese Communism and Marxism. Atheism has no systems of belief or principles. The only thing that all atheists have in common is an agreement that there are no gods.

Your response dodges the point. The point is that these countries were overtly atheistic. And this is what happened. If you want to claim that atheism does not contribute to totalitarianism, you'll have to give me an example of a non-totalitarian atheist country. Then we can look to see whether everyone is trying move to this paradise due to the obvious benefits of atheism.

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Scandinavian countries are pretty close. An 'atheistic country' is kind of an oxymoron, since atheists tend not to be united by particular political views that put them in government in an organised way.

But the people and leaders of the Scandinavian countries are overwhelmingly atheist in life and practice (some still proclaim a token alliance to the state church), and the standard of living in those countries is very high.

The table of private philanthropy above only tells part of the story, since those countries tend to be more socialist so their giving tends to be more communal than individual. Looking at total aid funding (public+private) as a proportion of GDP gives a fairly different picture.

(btw, I am *not* defending atheism, and I'm not an atheist - as ever, I'm defending truth)

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We also seem to have gotten off the hard questions on Biblical interpretation and onto some easy name-calling about 'atheist murderers' (who, I agree with cardw, were first totalitarian and only a distant second atheist). While (of course) pulling the 'anyone who murders and claims to be Christian isn't really Christian' ploy.

Have you guys given up on defending Biblical inspiration and the acts of God? Or is the Nixon Defense all you've got?

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2. Rich Nations Fail Aid Pledge to Poor

http://www.foodfirst.org/media/news/2003/failaidpledge.html

Thalif Deen

November 2003

Pages 243-44: "Although the world's 22 rich countries were mandated by the General Assembly to provide 0.7 percent of their gross national product (GNP) as ODA to developing nations, only five countries have met this target, according to a new U.N. report on FfD.

Three of them, Luxemburg, Norway and Sweden, have also pledged to reach the 1.0 percent target by 2005-2006. The other two, Denmark and the Netherlands, have not.

Of the countries that have not reached the U.N. target, Belgium and Finland have pledged to reach 0.7 percent by 2010, Ireland by 2007 and France by 2012. Britain, on the other hand, has pledged to meet only 0.4 percent, and that too by 2005-2006.

The other European Union (EU) countries -- Austria, Germany, Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain - have not made any promises on the 0.7 percent target.

The remaining six rich nations outside the EU -- Australia, Canada, Switzerland, the United States, New Zealand and Japan -- have provided no time-frames to reach the 0.7 percent target, and no goals for interim targets either."

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Try this:

Dress up and look like you are a poor, homeless man in desperate need of clothes, food, and money, and maybe a place to sleep for the night. Have a little vomit on your chin.

Then go to a little Christian church when they're having a prayer meeting and ask for help. See what happens.

Next go to a meeting of atheists, and do the same thing. See what happens.

What difference do you think there will be?

Well it depends on which group of Christians you come across and which group of atheists. Remember there are Universalist Churches that are essentially made up of agnostics and atheists who have a sole purpose of a social gospel related to helping the poor.

I am not generalizing this to all Christians.

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Even many atheists are still influenced by the ideals from the Bible they reject.

I openly embrace many of the ideals expressed in the Bible. It still doesn't mean the Bible is the word of god.

I am not an atheist anyway. I am agnostic. And both atheists and agnostics tend to be more interested in what is true based on reason. And to Bravus credit it appears that truth is his interest as well.

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To get back to the treatment of captives of war. There is the implication that they were treated without compassion, based on Numbers 31, where some people are even claiming that God ordered the rape of the virgins.

I went over that passage again, and it seems to be saying that God ordered the destruction of the Midianites, the Israelites couldn't stomach the killing of the non-combatants (women and children), so Moses came to a compromise: they should kill the males and widows, but keep the girls.

So, the question is, how were female war-captives treated in the ancient near east? Here are Moses more explicit instructions:

Deuteronomy 21:10-14 (New International Version) Marrying a Captive Woman

"When you go to war against your enemies and the LORD your God delivers them into your hands and you take captives, if you notice among the captives a beautiful woman and are attracted to her, you may take her as your wife. Bring her into your home and have her shave her head, trim her nails and put aside the clothes she was wearing when captured. After she has lived in your house and mourned her father and mother for a full month, then you may go to her and be her husband and she shall be your wife. If you are not pleased with her, let her go wherever she wishes. You must not sell her or treat her as a slave, since you have dishonored her."

This humane treatment is reflected in 2 Kings 5, but the status of the israelite girl captured by Naaman. She served his wife, and spoke up to help her captor, and was listened to.

The way Boaz dealt with a vulnerable migrant girl is also an indication that the assumption of brutality is not always justified.

We find the genocides in the OT abhorrent, and probably colour the rest of their behaviour in our minds with the same vile hue, but genocide has a divine purpose: to stop the spread of a destructive culture. Abuse of prisoners has no benefit.

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Good point and extra Scriptures to clarify, and as always I value your contribution.

And possibly I *am* in this instance applying modern values to ancient cultures (but the point remains that the relevant standards are God's, not man's, and God's are meant to transcend culture). But 'rape' does not necessarily mean brutal beatings. Its definition is 'sex without free and informed consent'. Do you think that after a month in the house of a soldier from the army that slaughtered her people, this woman is in any way able to give free and informed consent for sex?

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cardw: That's the problem with the Bible. You can't derive democracy from the Bible because the only two systems described there are Communism and Totalitarianism.

The truth is that American democracy came largely out of the influence of the Bible, together with British political philosophy. It is hard to see how it would have come out of Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Toaism, etc. That's not to deny the influence also of the French Revolution, which had its share of atheists.

I don't think so. The earliest foundations for Democracy came from the Greeks, particularly Plato who emphasized natural philosophy which did not appeal to any gods. He was a student and defender of Socrates, who was not a believer in gods and essentially an atheist.

American democracy comes from both Greek Platonic ideals and the French revolution and government based on reason. The British were still steeped in Royal rule. Most of the founding fathers were Deist which is functionally agnostic. Deism does not consider the bible as inspired at all. This focused American democracy on a determination to root the American experiment in the principle of natural freedom and equality. This is why the phrase "We hold these truths to be SELF evident" rather than given by god was used.

Democracy is almost entirely a secular idea. The claim that the Bible has any major role with the development of self governing is simply without basis.

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Most of the founding fathers were Deist which is functionally agnostic. Deism does not consider the bible as inspired at all. This focused American democracy on a determination to root the American experiment in the principle of natural freedom and equality. This is why the phrase "We hold these truths to be SELF evident" rather than given by god was used.

Democracy is almost entirely a secular idea. The claim that the Bible has any major role with the development of self governing is simply without basis.

This is an interesting twist, Rich. Certainly not a view shared by most historians of this country. Certainly not a view shared by the founders themselves.

The reason the founders held those truths to be self-evident was that the average man did not need any proof to believe them. They most definitely believed in the God of the Bible. "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights..."

The First Continental Congress called the Bible "the great political textbook of the patriots" and appropriated funds to import 20,000 Bibles for the people. The Continental Congress began its sessions with prayer, a practice that is followed by both houses of congress even today.

God was referred to in the constitutions and legal documents of the colonies and later the thirteen states as: "One God" in South Carolina and Connecticut; "Almighty" in North Carolina, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Vermont; in Massachusetts, He was called, the "Supreme Being", the "Creator", "Good", and the "Great Legislator of the Universe"; He was called the "Governor of the Universe" in Pennsylvania, and Vermont; and the "Inspirer of the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments" in South Carolina and Pennsylvania. "His Divine Providence" was recognized in New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts. In Connecticut he was called "Savior and Lord".

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(btw, I am *not* defending atheism, and I'm not an atheist - as ever, I'm defending truth)

Hmmm. I'll have to go back through and see what I can find. The "feel" of your contributions to this thread I cannot describe as impartial to atheism.

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This is an interesting twist, Rich. Certainly not a view shared by most historians of this country. Certainly not a view shared by the founders themselves.

I guess you haven't read the founding Fathers.

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The reason the founders held those truths to be self-evident was that the average man did not need any proof to believe them. They most definitely believed in the God of the Bible. "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights..."

Deism considers a creator to be the source of life, but this is not the creator described in the Bible. "Deism is a religious and philosophical belief that a supreme being created the universe, and that this (and religious truth in general) can be determined using reason and observation of the natural world alone, without the need for either faith or organized religion." Here is a link on Deism

Wikipedia on Deism

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The First Continental Congress called the Bible "the great political textbook of the patriots" and appropriated funds to import 20,000 Bibles for the people. The Continental Congress began its sessions with prayer, a practice that is followed by both houses of congress even today.

You've been listening to too much Christian Right propaganda. Have you ever heard of the separation of Church and State?

Here are some quotes from some major founding fathers...

Quote:
"I believe in one God, Creator of the universe.... That the most acceptable service we can render Him is doing good to His other children.... As to Jesus ... I have ... some doubts as to his divinity; though it is a question I do not dogmatize upon, having never studied it, and think it needless to busy myself with it now, when I expect soon an opportunity of knowing the truth with less trouble."- Benjamin Franklin (Alice J. Hall, "Philosopher of Dissent: Benj. Franklin," National Geographic, Vol. 148, No. 1, July, 1975, p. 94.)

"Whenever we read the obscene stories, the voluptuous debaucheries, the cruel and torturous executions, the unrelenting vindictiveness, with which more than half the Bible is filled, it would be more consistent that we called it the word of a demon, than the word of God. It is a history of wickedness, that has served to corrupt and brutalize mankind." - Thomas Paine (The Age of Reason, 1794-1795.)

Every man "ought to be protected in worshipping the Deity according to the dictates of his own conscience." - George Washington (Letter to the United Baptist Churches in Virginia in May, 1789)

"Question with boldness even the existence of a god." - Thomas Jefferson (letter to Peter Carr, 10 August 1787)

"When a Religion is good, I conceive it will support itself; and when it does not support itself, and God does not take care to support it so that its Professors are obliged to call for help of the Civil Power, it is a sign, I apprehend, of its being a bad one." - Benjamin Franklin (from a letter to Richard Price, October 9, 1780;)

I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish church, by the Roman church, by the Greek church, by the Turkish church, by the Protestant church, nor by any church that I know of... Each of those churches accuse the other of unbelief; and for my own part, I disbelieve them all."- Thomas Paine (The Age of Reason, 1794-1795.)

"Is uniformity attainable? Millions of innocent men, women, and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one half the world fools and the other half hypocrites. To support roguery and error

all over the earth." - Thomas Jefferson (Notes on Virginia, 1782; from George Seldes, ed., The Great Quotations, Secaucus, New Jersey: Citadel Press, 1983, p. 363.)

"During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What have been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the Clergy, ignorance and servility in the laity; in both, superstition, bigotry and persecution." - James Madison (Memorial and Remonstrance against Religious Assessments, 1785.)

"Where do we find a precept in the Bible for Creeds, Confessions, Doctrines and Oaths, and whole carloads of other trumpery that we find religion encumbered with in these days?" - John Adams

"The civil rights of none shall be abridged on account of religious belief or worship, nor shall any national religion be established, nor shall the full and equal rights of conscience be in any manner, or on any pretence, infringed.'' - James Madison (Original wording of the First Amendment; Annals of Congress 434 (June 8, 1789).)

"As the Government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Musselmen; and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries." - (Treaty of Tripoli, 1797 - signed by President John Adams.)

And from George Washington we can read of his approach as a Deist...

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Washington had the inestimable faculty of being able to say nothing. He said nothing about religion -- nothing very definite -- and as a deist was willing to let people think whatever they pleased. As he never discussed religion at all, and went to church only occasionally, he was considered by most people to be a quietly religious man. It was somewhat of a shock, therefore, to the people of Philadelphia, when the reverend Dr. Abercrombie, Washington's pastor, criticised him from the pulpit. He told him that as President, he should not belong to a church unless he could set a good example to others. He reminded Washington that he never took communion, and in short, that his example was bad.

Washington listened to these reproaches in silence, and never went to that church again. His only comment was that he did not wish to annoy Dr. Abercrombie by his presence.

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You realise, Neil, that this idea of 'reading the Bible in the light of the cultures that wrote it (or 'in which it was written')' is considered deeply heretical by most conservative/literalist Christians? Particularly when it comes to looking at things like creation and homosexuality. In those instances it's all about the plain meaning of the plain (English) text.
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If I didn't know we don't agree on everything, this thread would have got the job done (but I did so it didn't). Clear? bwink

What I was more interested in is your disagreement with most of the other Christians represented here, who tend to run to the literal end of the spectrum.

But even within your scheme (which is not as simple as you claim):

So, God *did* literally create the sun on the 4th day, although that creates questions of what the earth was doing in space for the first few days until it arrived (and yes, you can say ad hoc that God was making it go around in an orbit via a continual miracle if you like), even though (and here's the rub), culturally and scientifically the writers of the Genesis account had no clue of the size and nature of the sun, no notion of orbits and gravity, no notion of a solar system or a universe beyond the solar system, and so on.

And yet the Israelites did *not* literally take the virgins 'for themselves', although the text plainly says so, and the other text Mark Aurelius brought shows that this was common practice.

It is you who is stretching the limits of interpretation of the plain text, my friend. It says what it says, and there are no compelling textual or other reasons to believe it means other than what it says.

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I think a lot has been overlooked by Rich in the development of his thinking on the ideas of religion in the US Founders. The Founders were were not anti-God.

This Thomas Paine quote especially should be considered:

"The evil that has resulted from the error of the schools, in teaching natural philosophy as an accomplishment only, has been that of generating in the pupils a species of atheism. Instead of looking through the works of creation to the Creator himself, they stop short, and employ the knowledge they acquire to create doubts of his existence." “The Existence of God--1810”

And Thomas Jefferson must have grown into a Christian:

Thomas Jefferson:

"The doctrines of Jesus are simple, and tend to all the happiness of man."

"Of all the systems of morality, ancient or modern which have come under my observation, none appears to me so pure as that of Jesus."

"I am a real Christian, that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus."

Patrick Henry - Orator of the Revolution:

"This is all the inheritance I can give my dear family. The religion of Christ can give them one which will make them rich indeed."

—The Last Will and Testament of Patrick Henry

"It cannot be emphasized too clearly and too often that this nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religion, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ. For this very reason, peoples of other faiths have been afforded asylum, prosperity, and freedom of worship here." [May 1765 Speech to the House of Burgesses]

John Adams and John Hancock:

"We Recognize No Sovereign but God, and no King but Jesus!" [April 18, 1775]

John Adams:

"The general principles upon which the Fathers achieved independence were the general principals of Christianity."

"I have examined all religions... the Bible is the best Book in the world. It contains more philosophy than all the libraries I have seen." December 25, 1813 letter to Thomas Jefferson

Samuel Adams:

"He who made all men hath made the truths necessary to human happiness obvious to all… Our forefathers opened the Bible to all." [ "American Independence," August 1, 1776. Speech delivered at the State House in Philadelphia]

John Quincy Adams:

"Why is it that, next to the birthday of the Savior of the world, your most joyous and most venerated festival returns on this day [the Fourth of July]? Is it not that, in the chain of human events, the birthday of the nation is indissolubly linked with the birthday of the Savior? ...That it laid the cornerstone of human government upon the first precepts of Christianity"?

--1837, at the age of 69, when he delivered a Fourth of July speech at Newburyport, Massachusetts.

"The Law given from Sinai [The Ten Commandments] was a civil and municipal as well as a moral and religious code."

John Quincy Adams. Letters to his son. p. 61

Charles Carroll - signer of the Declaration of Independence

"Without morals a republic cannot subsist any length of time; they therefore who are decrying the Christian religion, whose morality is so sublime and pure...are undermining the solid foundation of morals, the best security for the duration of free governments." [source: To James McHenry on November 4, 1800.]

Benjamin Franklin:

"We have been assured in the Sacred Writings that except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it. I firmly believe this. I also believe that, without His concurring aid, we shall succeed in this political building no better than the builders of Babel" –Constitutional Convention of 1787 | original manuscript of this speech

In Benjamin Franklin's 1749 plan of education for public schools in Pennsylvania, he insisted that schools teach "the excellency of the Christian religion above all others, ancient or modern."

In 1787 when Franklin helped found Benjamin Franklin University, it was dedicated as "a nursery of religion and learning, built on Christ, the Cornerstone."

Alexander Hamilton:

Hamilton began work with the Rev. James Bayard to form the Christian Constitutional Society to help spread over the world the two things which Hamilton said made America great:

(1) Christianity

(2) a Constitution formed under Christianity.

On July 12, 1804 at his death, Hamilton said, “I have a tender reliance on the mercy of the Almighty, through the merits of the Lord Jesus Christ. I am a sinner. I look to Him for mercy; pray for me.”

"I have carefully examined the evidences of the Christian religion, and if I was sitting as a juror upon its authenticity I would unhesitatingly give my verdict in its favor. I can prove its truth as clearly as any proposition ever submitted to the mind of man."

John Hancock:

"In circumstances as dark as these, it becomes us, as Men and Christians, to reflect... that God rules in the armies of Heaven, and without His whole blessing, the best human counsels are but foolishness."

John Jay:

"Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty, as well as the privilege and interest of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers." Source: October 12, 1816. The Correspondence and Public Papers of John Jay, Henry P. Johnston, ed., (New York: Burt Franklin, 1970), Vol. IV, p. 393.

Samuel Johnston:

• “It is apprehended that Jews, Mahometans (Muslims), pagans, etc., may be elected to high offices under the government of the United States. Those who are Mahometans, or any others who are not professors of the Christian religion, can never be elected to the office of President or other high office, [unless] first the people of America lay aside the Christian religion altogether, it may happen. Should this unfortunately take place, the people will choose such men as think as they do themselves.

[Elliot’s Debates, Vol. IV, pp 198-199, Governor Samuel Johnston, July 30, 1788 at the North Carolina Ratifying Convention]

James Madison

“ We’ve staked our future on our ability to follow the Ten Commandments with all of our heart.”

“We have staked the whole future of American civilization, not upon the power of government, far from it. We’ve staked the future of all our political institutions upon our capacity…to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God.” [1778 to the General Assembly of the State of Virginia]

"It is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian forbearance, love, and charity toward each other."

At the Constitutional Convention of 1787, James Madison proposed the plan to divide the central government into three branches. He discovered this model of government from the Perfect Governor, as he read Isaiah 33:22;

"For the LORD is our judge, the LORD is our lawgiver,

the LORD is our king;

He will save us."

James McHenry – Signer of the Constitution

"Public utility pleads most forcibly for the general distribution of the Holy Scriptures. The doctrine they preach, the obligations they impose, the punishment they threaten, the rewards they promise, the stamp and image of divinity they bear, which produces a conviction of their truths, can alone secure to society, order and peace, and to our courts of justice and constitutions of government, purity, stability and usefulness. In vain, without the Bible, we increase penal laws and draw entrenchments around our institutions. Bibles are strong entrenchments. Where they abound, men cannot pursue wicked courses, and at the same time enjoy quiet conscience."

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Just looking for something clear, concrete, fair and open in terms of approach. God is represented as a God of order and reason, and specifically not a God of confusion.

That is the way God represents Himself, whether or not one chooses to accept the Holy Scriptures as His instruction to man.

"For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints. "

1 Corinthians 14:33 NKJV

The confusion lies in man's failures, not God's.

"Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand."Matthew 13:13 NKJV

Regards! peace

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When we look at nations today that tend to have the most non believers we find the quality of life to be much higher. There is less crime, better standard of living, they tend to be more generous, and more educated.

I'm wondering where you have found so protected a place that the

world turmoil has escaped your notice. There is, of course, a biblical precedent.

"Now the mixed multitude who were among them yielded to intense craving; so the children of Israel also wept again and said: “Who will give us meat to eat? We remember the fish which we ate freely in Egypt, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic; but now our whole being is dried up; there is nothing at all except this manna before our eyes!” "Numbers 11:4-6 NKJV

Regards!! peace

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as ever, I'm defending truth

That is somewhat different than Pilate's response.

"Therefore Pilate said to Him, "So You are a king?" Jesus answered, "You say correctly that I am a king For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice."

Pilate said to Him, "What is truth?"" John 18:37,39

NKJV

"Jesus saith unto him, I am the....truth..."John 14:6 KJV

Regards!! peace

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