Thursday, 2 August 2007

Christian style 'Taliban'

The major monotheism's seem to be peaking at this moment in history. But I just think it is a glitch in the trend. It is rather like a 'saw tooth' line on a graph. There are dips and peaks, but the overall trend is upward towards more secular societies. Much of Europe is largely secular and religion is a 'dying breed'.

In recent polls, Sweden was shown to be around 80% secular, even the UK was around the 40% mark ...These are not small numbers. Even in the UK, the majority of Christians are moderate to the point of not even attending Church. It has also been noted, that many of these so called UK Christians, are only Christian by name and simply haven't give it much thought and if they did, they would perhaps realise that they are not religious at all... at least not in the Biblical sense. So the figures for the UK may well be even higher than 40%.

If you visit America... It is not at all odd to be asked "are you a Christian" but in most of Europe such a question is rarely asked. Indeed, if someone does ask such a question; at a dinner party for example, it is liable to lead to chuckles of embarrassment. Religion in most of Europe; has partially secularized and is largely kept going through tradition and ceremony.

As a society advances it seems to naturally give up on mystical ideas, but some are harder to shake than others. We don't practice alchemy and phrenology anymore for example, although I'm sure their may be small minorities that do. But there are still plenty of subscribers for astrology and of course Christianity is still well subscribed, despite the overall trend away from religion, in much of Europe.

America seems to be a strange exception to the rule that religion is on the way out... Of course, I am talking specifically about the Christian religion, Islam is a different matter and seems to be expanding rather than shrinking. Although even here, there is evidence through authors such as Ibn Warraq, that Islam has many 'apostates' and the numbers are growing rapidly.

The point has been made by Professor Richard Dawkins, that the religious obsession within America, is perhaps because it is the only country, where religion has become 'big business and free enterprise' ...Indeed, just becoming a preacher in America can lead to generous perks; such as the huge tax breaks, that are offered to religious organizations, that apply for charity status. Many Secular societies have decided that these religious organizations have had it there own way far to long and such organizations are themselves, now applying for charity status.

Religious organizations, such of those of the late Jerry Falwell, the drug possessing Ted Haggard, the convicted 'jailbird' Kent Hovind and the megalomaniacal 'hate everyone', Fred Phelps ...These religious individuals and their organizations, often have huge power and political influence in America. Indeed, it has been noted that George W. Bush apparently has a direct phone line to Ted Haggard, or rather he did.

So, it seems on the one hand in most of Europe that religion has lost its grip and as noted by British born Physicist Paul Davies, when discussing religion, with reference to England and Australia (where Davies now resides)... He said "unlike America, these countries are essentially post religious societies... The 'corpse' may still be twitching, but nevertheless for most people, religion just plays a role that is largely ceremonial" ...So on the one hand, religion is losing its grip in Europe, but in America and much of the Middle East, religion seems to be burgeoning and it is a religion of the ugliest most fascist form... These religious fanatics will not be happy, till the 'infidels' convert or die. Now of course this applies specifically to Islam... Nevertheless, there is a form of Christian fascism growing in America that as Professor Richard Dawkins has noted, could very well be leading to a "Christian style Taliban".




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9 comments:

Guitanguran said...

"Much of Europe is largely secular and religion is a 'dying breed'."

That DOES explain alot about your circumstances there.

"If you visit America... It is not at all odd to be asked "are you a Christian""

Have you ever actually BEEN to this country?

"America seems to be a strange exception to the rule that religion is on the way out..."

Unrivaled economic, military and political power...cause and effect? Had to toss that one in.

"just becoming a preacher in America can lead to generous perks; such as the huge tax breaks"

Did you know that churches and the people that work in them pay payroll taxes, just like everybody else?

I would grant you that anytime you have human beings involved in any endeavor, religious or otherwise, there will be a some, and some that are high profile, that cross the line to out and out illegality or immorality. It makes my point about about 'goodness' being some we innately know and aspire to rather than something we innately have.

I certainly grant you the right to your own opinion, just make sure its an 'informed' opinion and not something unsubstantiated that you gleaned from the web, or merely the parroting of a Dawkins or a Hitchens without any critical thinking of your own. You'll be better served by it.

Craig Secularman said...

Well please explain to me how anyone can arrive at an informed opinion, without reference to knowledge from other individuals? ...That's exactly what an informed opinion means.

Are you suggesting if I quote someone else then everything I say is merely parroting? ...I'm wondering what your definition of informed opinion is... Knowledge in a vacuum perhaps without reference to other peoples opinions.

In a previous post, you quoted Jesus and said... "Its not to say that children aren't capable of altruistic behaviours. In Matthew, Chapter 5 Jesus allowed that even tax collectors and pagans were capable of being kind. That is to say there is 'some' good in all of us. But innately good? You need to stick to Evolution, Mr. H."

Now would I use the argument that you are merely parroting the opinion of Jesus and not thinking for yourself... No, I wouldn't. The idea that if one references the opinion of someone else, one is parroting is absurd.

What your really seem to be saying is only speak if you do not reference someone else. You might as well say shut up and don't say anything. Think about most of what you know, it was learned direcltly from someone else or in a book or on TV et al , but you internalise it and make it your own. Now, just because I quote or reference someone I happen to agree with, that is not parroting and to say so is ridiculous and I certainly will not stop referencing others if I think it is relevant to what I have to say. If I was truly parroting I would just steal their quotes directly and not give credit... But I have not done that, I have either paraphrased or took a direct quote and given credit to the individual.

Guitanguran said...

"Well please explain to me how anyone can arrive at an informed opinion,..."

Here's how I got there:

"If you visit America... It is not at all odd to be asked "are you a Christian""


"just becoming a preacher in America can lead to generous perks; such as the huge tax breaks"

Both of those statements are flat out false, especially the latter.

I addressed both of those statements in terms of you not having spent much(if any)time here stateside, and taxation to which you failed to repond, btw.

If you're going to play loose and fast with that kind of information, I'll call you on it.

Now, I'll allow that I've not read anything that Hitchens or Dawkins has written. However I did listen to an extended discussion between Hitchens and Dr. Mark Roberts about "god is not great".

At one point, Mr. Hitchens declared the Four Gospels to contradict each other and I quote:"..on every important aspect of the life story."

Dr. Roberts proceeded to give a point by point rebuttal of Mr. Hitchens' claim to which Mr. Hitchens replied,"Well I don't mean at every point, but annoyingly, I'm just for once in a hotel that doesn't have a Gideon Bible."

If Mr. Hitchens is no more careful about his facts than that, and is willing to reverse his position on a point he just made, I'd be a bit more careful about referring to him.

Lyman Stone said...

Actually, preachers do get tax breaks in the US. I wouldn't say "huge" tax breaks, but they do get some. Mostly on homeowners related taxes. But, I assure you, clergy still pay taxes. And that's not just Christian clergy: that's for any religion, or for any worker in charitable services.

I think you'll find the "are you a Christian" question is somewhat more rare than you think. And the fact that you say, in Europe, such a question elicits chuckles is...well... sad, actually. Areyou so against diversity of opinion that you would mock faith?

Also, things like alchemy and phrenology didn't exactly have that devoted of defenders, and were patently and obviously false. They rarely returned any results. Religion sometimes does. You probably wouldn't accept testimonial evidence but, so long as there is a vast quantity of testimonial evidence for religion, it will remain strong. Religion (or search for deeper meaning)is ingrained in the psyche of mankind, for better or for worse. Perhaps Christianity is dying out. I don't think so, but maybe. But other religions will replace it. So long as there are thinking human beings, there will be faith.

Craig Secularman said...

"Also, things like alchemy and phrenology didn't exactly have that devoted of defenders, and were patently and obviously false."

Well, in what regard is the Christian or indeed any of the monotheistic gods not patently false. They are false for exactly the same reason that most other mystically held beliefs are. There is no more reason to believe in the God of the Bible than there is astrology or for that matter the tooth fairy.

The many disparate religious organisations in America do get huge tax breaks and it is false to say otherwise... They get them by simply applying for charity status, it's that simple.

I never mentioned the clergy not paying taxes, they do pay taxes, that is not what I said... But that is not the same as saying many of the religious organisations do get huge tax breaks.

I mock religion in the same way I would mock someone's political opinion... We do that all the time and nobody bats an eye-lid... What's so special about religion that it is above mockery? ...Sometimes the best way to deflate an egotistically held belief, particularly a belief, that often leads to bullying others, because they do not belief it, then the best remedy is mockery... at the end of the day, what is that mockery, it is just words, that's all. I would say the fundies who get so offended at mere words, need to lighten up.

I was perfectly happy to leave religion alone... and even to say the religion in America is really none of my business. But this American fundamentalism is now been imported from America to Britain... and the one thing I will never apologize for is mocking it. I mocked the ridiculous burgeoning of politically correctness that sprang up in the UK in the 1980's and by the way, is now springing up again directly related to religion... "you are not supposed to criticize it". ...If religion was simply "warm and fluffy" and individuals kept their religion to themselves then I would have no interest in it and I certainly would not waste my time writing about it... But religious fundies are not happy unless there poking there nose into other peoples business, whether it is questions on gay marriage, abortion, stem cell research, condom use... in fact a long list of apparent "crimes" in which the religious fundies think they have a right to interfere... not based on reason but based on religion.

Craig Secularman said...

As for the comment on the Bible and contradictions... Well, the Bible is full of contradictions, that is just a plain fact, now I don't claim to be an expert on the gospels... But a simple internet search quickly brings up general contradictions from the Bible, here are just a few:

Taken from:
http://www.infidels.org/
library/modern/jim_meritt/bible-contradictions.html

Does every man sin?

KI1 8:46 If they sin against thee, (for there is no man that sinneth not,) and thou be angry with them, and deliver them to the enemy, so that they carry them away captives unto the land of the enemy, far or near;

CH2 6:36 If they sin against thee, (for there is no man which sinneth not,) and thou be angry with them, and deliver them over before their enemies, and they carry them away captives unto a land far off or near;

PRO 20:9 Who can say, I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin?

ECC 7:20 For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not.

JO1 1:8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
JO1 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
JO1 1:10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

JO1 3:9 Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.

Who bears guilt?

GAL 6:2 Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.

GAL 6:5 For every man shall bear his own burden.


How long was Jesus in the tomb?

Depends where you look...

Matthew 12:40 gives Jesus prophesying that he will spend "three days and three nights in the heart of the earth," and Mark 10:34 has "after three days (meta treis emeras) he will rise again." As far as I can see from a quick look, the prophecies have "after three days," but the post-Resurrection narratives have "on the third day."

Who killed Saul

SA1 31:4 Then said Saul unto his armourbearer, Draw thy sword, and thrust me through therewith; lest these uncircumcised come and thrust me through, and abuse me. But his armourbearer would not; for he was sore afraid. Therefore Saul took a sword, and fell upon it.
SA1 31:5 And when his armourbearer saw that Saul was dead, he fell likewise upon his sword, and died with him.
SA1 31:6 So Saul died, and his three sons, and his armourbearer, and all his men, that same day together.
SA2 1:15 And David called one of the young men, and said, Go near, and fall upon him. And he smote him that he died.

Jesus' last words

Matt.27:46,50: "And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, "Eli, eli, lama sabachthani?" that is to say, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" ...Jesus, when he cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost."

Luke23:46: "And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, "Father, unto thy hands I commend my spirit:" and having said thus, he gave up the ghost."

John19:30: "When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, "It is finished:" and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost."

Guitanguran said...

"I never mentioned the clergy not paying taxes, they do pay taxes, that is not what I said... But that is not the same as saying many of the religious organisations do get huge tax breaks."

But, that's not what you said...

"just becoming a preacher in America can lead to generous perks; such as the huge tax breaks"

"...now I don't claim to be an expert on the gospels..."

So, what do you do?

"But a simple internet search quickly brings up general contradictions from the Bible, here are just a few:"

This goes back to my point of taking anything posted on the internet as 'gospel' without considering the source. Generally speaking, just about any website that brings up contradictions in the Bible has an anti-Christian agenda, and an axe to grind. Can we reasonably expect them to be objective and solely interested in getting to the truth?

Nope.

Have you even bothered to look further to and see the other side of those arguments?

Not likely.

Let's just take the last three, without benefit of anything but logic. No google searches, no reaching for my research library, just me, thinking critically.

Matt.27:46,50: "And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, "Eli, eli, lama sabachthani?" that is to say, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" ...Jesus, when he cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost."

Luke23:46: "And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, "Father, unto thy hands I commend my spirit:" and having said thus, he gave up the ghost."

John19:30: "When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, "It is finished:" and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost."

On the surface, one could say, "Well see, Jesus said three different things according to three different accounts of his death".

Could he have said all three things?

Yes.

And,they way you've got them laid out, probably in that order.

You take any three or four witnesses to any event, and they all can be 100% truthful in what they saw, but their focus on what they saw can be different, what stuck in their mind the most.

After all, if you're investigating a car accident, do you take down the info from one witness standing across the street, or do you also take info from the person in the car just behind the wreck? They both saw the same thing. And if they don't say exactly the same thing, are they lying?

No.

What's important here is that thru the combination of the 4 Gospels, we get a more complete picture.

Its just like I said. You generally find what you're looking for. If you're looking for contradictions in the Bible, you'll certainly find them, at least at first blush. If you're looking for understanding of why there's four accounts rather than one, you'll find that too.

Are there things in Scripture I don't have a handle on?

Yes. To say otherwise would be, uh...intellectually dishonest.

But, its much easier to google something with no idea of its accuracy or the motivations of the person posting it rather than think for yourself. Its much easier to stick with authors and websites that mirror your own prejudices than get out there and measure for yourself what the truth of the matter actually is.

If you're content to leave your truths unchallenged and play it safe, OK.

For my part, no matter where I've started, the truth has always wound up at the feet of the God of the Bible, Jesus, Holy Spirit, and all. Even so, I continue my path anew, every day. I'm hopeful that I can get other people like you to at least start walking, and thinking...

Otherwise,why in heck do you think I surf sites like this? :-)

So have asked Him yet?

Joe Francis said...

I just want to ask one question... This may not have anything to do with your blog, but it is important. Why are you an atheist?

Oh wait.. I know you know everything. Well then if you know everything, what are you trying to do by arguing that God is not real? You obviously won't be rewarded for it in any way. The only reward you will get is from the satisfaction of being right. And for what? To only satisfy your sinful desire to be apart from God.

You talk in this blog like some of the main stream preachers are worse than yourself. Maybe they are, but once again you are not proving anything that is not obvious. You have a false understanding of what it means to be a christian.

I am a Christian because Jesus Christ died for my sins, it is a free gift. I am not an angel so I will fall and stumble in this life, but it is ok because I am forgiven. You on the other hand are following your own flesh. You know the bible i'm sure, or you would be ignorant of all, which you know because of the fact that there is no God...

www.thefireofnewdesire.com

Craig Secularman said...

Well, there are actually a few questions in there... Firstly, Why am I an atheist? ...Well that is simple: I'm an atheist because I don't believe in God... OK that answer is a little trite. Let me be more specific. I have already commented in previous posts that I am an atheist with respect to any and all of the monotheistic gods and From whatsoever religion you may choose.

There is not one answer to why I do not believe in God... There are many. Indeed, it is this multitude of reasons that leads to me not only NOT believing in God, but making such a position impossible to my mind. Here are just a few of those reasons:

1) I do not believe in God for the same reason that I do not accept any arbitrary speculation. I don't believe in the tooth fairy either.

2) The fact that an individual believes in one God over another, almost always relies on demographics and location tends to influence ones belief. There is no good reason to come to the conviction that one god is any 'truer' than any other. Indeed, as Richard Dawkins and others have put it: "Nobody believes in Thor, Zeus and Wotan" anymore... But these gods were held up with the same conviction as the monotheistic gods of today.

3) The burden of proof is yours... I am not making a positive claim for an arbitrary speculation that has no direct or indeed, indirect evidence. Those with the conviction are making that claim. I am merely stating a negative... "There is no evidence for God". I am not attempting to disprove God... One cannot prove or disprove a negative. It is the monotheists who are forwarding a positive speculation and thus, the burden of proof is theirs not mine.

4) The God concept is believed on supernatural terms... Supernatural simply means above nature. There is no evidence for anything above nature. Indeed, to know God one would have to defy the laws of physics and step out of the natural and into the supernatural realm to know God... Quite clearly absurd and impossible.

5) Those that claim they know the mind of God can never produce any evidence for such a God. They can only put forward meaningless anecdotes such as... "He answered my Prayers" ...This is not evidence of anything.

Need I go on?

As for your statement that I have a false understanding of what it means to be a Christian... Well, maybe I do. But whether I do or not, has no bearing on whether it is true or not. There is not one scrap of evidence for the God concept and there never will be. That is because as I have already stated it is an arbitrary and supernatural speculation. No such speculations deserve to be taken seriously.