Monday, July 10, 2006

proud to be a heathen

it never ceases to amaze me how people can believe in religion- particularly christianity- but i am an equal opportunity heathen. i can cut some slack to casual believers- but it is the hardliners that baffle me. you know the ones who for some reason unknown to me have no kind of judgment when it comes to human nature. like the ones who continued to support jim and tammy faye in the 80's after discovering that oh jim had affairs and the bakkers had solid gold fixtures in their bathrooms. or the ones who continue to support the likes of pat robertson and jim dobson- even though they really don't actually live by the christian tenets that they preach? (thanks to terrorism news). i guess i just look at christianity as one big racket. i mean it is a fairy tale- mythology at best and i just don't see what void that you could possibly have in your life that this can fill. people who believe say that it is a leap of faith- boy do they have that right. i think that there is a bit of naivete and guillibilty as well. seems like these christian folks in america are always being used- by the right, by the left and by their clergy. the countless stories of clergy- catholic and other- who are molesters, cheats, thieves, (thanks to diminishing returns) etc just keeps on growing. perhaps one day these folks will get tired of being on the giving end of the collection plate. david horton, as usual, says it best.

30 comments:

Sarah said...

I look forward to the day when civil matters are not mixed up with religious mumbo-jumbo. You'll notice all opponents of progress are ultra-religious. A good example is gay rights. All the opposition is based on "religion" and "tradition." I've yet to find a single secular argument against gay rights. Like I've always said - I believe in religious freedom but oppose fundamentalism of any kind. Fundamentalism has not done ONE positive thing to the contribution of mankind. But look at people like Dr. King and the Society of Friends - liberal Christians who fought slavery and battled for civil rights. These individuals, along with secularists, have brought light and education to mankind. Fundamentalism? Dark Ages, slavery, 9/11.... Should I go on?

If you don't believe me, look at the Middle East. It is an area dominated by Islam, save Israel. What exactly about their dominate religious culture should we have in America? No rights for women? Death for those who dissent? If the attack dogs of Christianity - the religious Right - ever get their way, America will die.

quakerdave said...

Please please please don't make the mistake of lumping all of the rest of us "believers" in with the likes of these phonies.

The modern-day Elmer Gantrys to whom you refer don't represent all, or even most, of us. They're a lot closer to the corporate hucksters they cozy up to, or to the "Islamo-fascists" they supposedly abhor, than they will ever be to Jesus or Buddha or any of those other folks.

Sarah said...

Dave, you'll note I didn't. I don't consider the "religious Right" Christian in any sense! It's all money, power, and politics to them. They use those who are not educated or looking to be led. These "Christians" are nothing but fakes and fools.

Time said...

I could not have said it better myself. Thanks for saying it. Watch out for the backlash. Don't you know your not supposed to attack God orr religion.

The people who I really question are the people who have been treated so badly by the church, but still defend the church.

If you want to believe in God, fine. How in the Hell could you support the crap these churches do and say.

thepoetryman said...

These people that use God as some whipping rod are the worst kind of people... Feeding on the delusional and sick and elderly and ignorant and those possessed by God.... If they want me to listen to them they should stop hitting me over the head with their bible!

betmo said...

i don't care if there is backlash or not. i don't think that there is a place for ancient mythology in the modern world. if you need to fill a void in your life with religion- that is your perogative. i just will never understand why people have to fill their lives with it. i can do everything good that christians can do- and because i want to do it. that- and i don't have to throw my money away on missionaries to convert more folks with a void to fill.

DivaJood said...

The Christian Right is neither.

Having said that, there are many reasons people have faith. I once studied Jewish mysticism with a deeply Orthodox man who was also a nuclear physicist who taught physics at the University of Illinois at Chicago. I asked him how he reconciled his belief in creation as outlined in Genisis with his belief in science. He told me that God's "day" was not measured in our concept of time. He went on to say that any religious person who doesn't believe in the truths shown by science is an idiot; and any scientist who does not stand in awe of God's plan is also an idiot.

It's when people use religion to pound their skewed view of the world onto everyone else that we run into trouble. While most opponents of progress are ultr-religious, I know some who oppose progress who are absolutely without any religious belief. And I know ultra-religious people who are in favor of progress as well.

Civil matters should not be governed by religion. Unfortunately, the current president is a Theomaniac who believes he has a direct line to God, and that is bad for all of us.

Ellie said...

very well said, great post! I was brought up an Irish Catholic and constantly heard all the crap about how my ancestors died for religion and blah blah blah. But that was back then. religion hasn't advanced enough to control the people of today's world. some are fanatics, some are just believers, and some dont' believe at all. What I don't understand is why there is so much suffereing. I asked a priest that once and their answer to me was that I'd have to figure it out myself and that faith was something each person had to realize on their own. That was when I knew I was done with the Catholic Church. If my faith is my own why do they keep trying to tell me what to do? I believe gays have rights, so I'm going to hell? That just doesn't make sense to me. and if he's such a good and forgiving god, then why doesn't he think gays should have rights?

Obob said...

I believe there is one God, we chose to worship as we please. Some us choose a structured style, Catholicism, others not. But you have free will, betmo, that is your gift and noone will ever take it from you, that I can tell.

Alec said...

I think religion can be squared with modernity...by stripping it of its supernatural elements, regarding the ultimate truths (i.e., "creation") as a mystery without denying evolution or the Big Bang, by reading the texts as mythological (in the best sense of the word) and by facing the rationale for religion and realizing that, in many areas, science, reason and logic have provided the answers, and myths should provide the meaning.

I really do not think people by and large turn to religion after having made a deliberate, rational choice. Geography, upbringing and culture are the real determinants of one's religious beliefs. Born in the Middle East? High probability you are a Muslim. Born in Eastern Europe? Catholic or Orthodox. Born in the United States? Protestant or Catholic. Born in Southeast Asia? Buddhist or Muslim. India? Probably Hindu. Western Europe? Catholic, Protestant or secular. Etc.

That is why it is also incorrect to say that people choose to worship as they please. I mean, within our limited horizons, yes, we do. Were I born into a Buddhist household, I may not be an "atheist" today, largely because you do not really need a god or supernaturalism to make the religion work. But as it is, atheism fits nicely, in my Western, Protestant cultural context.

I think that people turn to religion when they are contemplating ultimate questions or major turning points in life. So marriages and funerals tend to evoke these feelings, as do births and AA meetings. There are others who are animated by their religious beliefs to support social justice, others still who are animated to impose their beliefs and practices on others. But in both instances the beliefs themselves rest on presuppositions that are not rational.

shawn (aka blogstud) said...

Excellent post, betmo. Sorry I have not been around. I was up in Ptown for the weekend, a wonderful progressive place.

As I sat watching all sorts of people stroll down Commercial Street, it really made it clear how wrong religion can be when it is used as a weapon. Many the comments before mine said this well enough, so I will not go into much detail there.

But what struck me was why can all kinds of people, gays, heterosxuals, straight couples with children, gay couples with children, singles, you get the picture...Why can all these people get along in Ptown but not in many other places, my home state of Texas being a good example?

I do not want to post a blog entry here (woops, too late) when I should be posting a comment, so I will save the rest for my blog.

But I have to say that religion can be a wonderful thing, and I think the peaceful Quakers are a good example, but religion is deadly and oppressive when used as a weapon.

G_in_AL said...

I, as a Christian, feel I've got to speak up here. Sarah, et al:

You'll also notice all those that are for “progress” of the type you are supporting are viciously anti-religion. Did you know that Christians, and Christianity were the original progressives? Did you know that Jesus was the original radical dissenter?

Do you understand that Christianity is about changing minds and expanding thought, not crushing and suppressing it? I, for one, get very tired of those whom no nothing of the subject (aside from what they’ve read in sources like this one) assume to preach out the ”gospel” against it. It’s the same idea as warning how bad potatoes taste, yet never have actually tried one.

Now, before you campaign about the Pat Robertsons and Bakers of the world, before you tout the news stories about pedophiliac priests, before you condemn those close minded sheep from the “Bible Belt”… I ask that you consider the source.

Have you ever actually talked to a practicing Christian about these things? Have you ever actually asked someone that doesn’t just go to church, but instead supports their Church family, tries to live by the fundamental beliefs of Christianity and not by the doctrine of their particular denomination? Have you actually sat down with someone to ask them exactly what this Christianity thing is all about?

I would venture to say the answer to 90% of that is no. Instead, you’ve allowed a media that thrives on scandal and intrigue, gore and vulgarity, shock and disgust to grab ratings, views, subscribers, and readers. They need to show you how evil, ugly, and vulgar the world is, especially when they bring you an “exclusive” of something that is supposedly so upright.

My God accepts the flawed creations that we are, and like any creator, he only asks for our love in return for his own. Jesus was the bridge, the only possible bridge, given to us so that our flaws would not condemn us from having community with our creator. Jesus isn’t about being up on a cross, being beaten for us, or being punished for us like some kind of damn-it dog. Jesus was an example of all that we should aspire to be, and the price he paid wasn’t so that we could feel good, it was so that we could forgive ourselves, and have a conduit into the heart of God, allowing us back into heaven.

Haven isn’t some pearly gated paradise where you can eat whatever you want and fly around on wings. Hell isn’t some place where you’re going to suffer pain from the devil as your punishment. It isn’t some eternal principle’s office. Haven is being with the Glory of God for all eternity, shining in the light of his Grace, and being content with the fact that you are once again with your creator. Hell is the fact that you’ve condemned yourself to never again be with God. You will never again be in the presence of the Holy, the righteous, the light. You will never again bask in Grace, given freely out of love.

This paints a different picture than the “hardliners” you try to portray, but realize that term in-of itself is a misnomer. You cannot be a “moderate Christian” anymore than you can be a “hard-line Christian”.

You are simply a Christian, because if you believe, you strive, in everything you do, to be more like Christ. Now you’ll notice there are a slew of people that have gone astray. There are a slew of people that have begun to worship the doctrine and precepts of a Church institution rather than the Faith that was preached by our Lord. But know this, they are not just the enemy of your progressive causes, but the enemy of true Christianity as well.

Jesus warned us about false teaching before he left, and you see it’s malignant touch around the world. You’ve seen it since he left. Horrible things done in the name of God are the best examples of that false teaching, in fact, they are an ultimate blasphemy, which Jesus said was the ONE unforgivable sin.

However, the “progressive” cause you champion today is just as lacking in moral compass as those false taught crusaders. It has forgone all things that may hold it accountable to a standard in order to rationalize anything in it’s quest for “progress”. The entire movement has been lost into a sea of moral relativism where the “ends always justify the means”. This is wrong, it always has been, and always will be.

There MUST be a line in the sand. There MUST be things that are not ok. Our entire society is based on self held assumptions of what is right and wrong. Regardless of what you believe, these are Biblically based, and have never proven wrong to a successful society. If people never stole, never murdered, never lied, never committed adultery, never envied, and always loved each other… then the world would be a Utopia, and all would Love their God. But we’re not perfect, we cannot all do these things, and none of us can do all of them all the time.

That is why we were given Christ. Not to judge, but to save. So please, don’t judge that and those which do not attempt to judge you, for that is reserved for One and One only.

G_in_AL said...

and btw, sorry for mispeslling heaven, MS Word got me again... I have a real hate/love relationship with that program.

T.L. Stanley said...

This is really a hot topic. Thanks for allowing us an opportunity to discuss this issue.

Maybe we should look at Christianity and Doubting Thomas.

A Doubting Thomas is a person who just does not believe. The term is based on the Biblical account of Thomas the Apostle, who doubted the resurrection of Jesus and demanded to feel Jesus' wounds before being convinced (John 20:24-29). After seeing Jesus alive and receiving the opportunity to touch his wounds according to the author of the Gospel of John Thomas professed his faith in Jesus; on this account he is also called Thomas the Believer.

I was a Doubting Thomas at one time. In my college class titled Philosophy of Religion, I heard most of the arguments that are discussed in today's doubting world. This philosophy class was taught by an atheist professor. This was an odd teaching style that was hostile to any suggestion that there was a God.

This class and my discussions with an atheist coworker convinced me to do research on my own. I went to the library and took all the books I could carry. I studied ancient Greek, Roman, and Jewish scholars and historians to find out about a man named Jesus Christ. Without debating the entire field of atheism and Christianity, my studies led me to a faith journey grounded in Christianity.

I disagree with the critics of Christianity on many fronts. However, individuals and groups of Christians have gone astray. Christians, in living their lives, have made mistakes. This has discouraged others from considering Christianity.

On the other hand, politicians in our American democracy make mistakes. They embarrass us and make us ashamed of them often. But, most clear thinking Americans do not advocate voiding our democracy and installing a dictator. Most clear thinking Americans understand that our human condition is flawed. And, we are in a constant journey for self improvement. Progress is founded on trial and error. Needless to say, Christians and atheists also make mistakes about all types of stuff including their religious and non-religious beliefs.

I am a Christian and I thank God that the Founding Fathers had the wisdom to including the First amendments to our Bill Rights. It states, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."

I am concerned that this amendment is being distorted. Even though our courts have used this amendment to purge Christianity from the public square, this amendment still protects churches from being torn down outright by the government. However, there may be a push by local and federal governments to take Christian churches through eminent domain. This is already happening and is a strategy that comes around the back door to tear down churches.

I think that our courts will use this amendment to outlaw evangelism in the near future. In addition, our government may try to eliminate the tax-exempt status of Christian churches. I don't think the Founding Fathers intended to created a constitution and bill of rights that allows our government the legal right to tear down our churches.

From my college days, I assure you that most public colleges are on a rampage to purge all references to Christianity from colleges. They will even assign a hostile atheist Doubting Thomas professor to teach a college class titled "Philosophy of Religion".

betmo said...

g- yes, as a matter of fact- i grew up baptist. i am extremely familiar with christianity in many of it's forms because we tried on a number of churches when we move north. as i have said before- it is indoctrination- pure and simple. you can believe what you want and about who you want- i don't particularly care as long as you aren't trying to shove it down my throat. i was alive in the 80's when the bakers, et. al. were on television. how do i know what happened? i watched it because we were a 'good christian family.' luckily we were dirt poor so we couldn't afford to send anything to the churches or give in the collection plate every sunday. my mother always made sure we had a quarter for sunday school though. i am not a 'progressive' i am a common senser. i don't have an agenda per se but if i want to go and raise money for hurrican victims i don't have to be affiliated with a 'faith based' organization to do so. what gets my panties in a bunch are these so-called christians who commit all of these crimes- and i am not talking false allegations- but ones proven in a court or law(where media doesn't get the say on justice). these folks are supposed to hold to a higher standard and yet use their religion in order to have access to commit these crimes. my biggest point is- worship god if you want(although as i have stated i think it is mythology at best)but keep it to yourself. be a christian all you want- just keep your eyes open and don't automatically trust everyone. have some common sense.

betmo said...

oh- i do lump all religious folks together. that doesn't mean that i don't know some really nice religious folks. same as i know some nice republican folks(and it often goes hand in hand). i don't lump the obviously criminal in with the religious folks necessarily but the change needs to come from within. whether you be muslim, christian, jewish, etc. if religious folks are tired of hearing bad stuff about religion- then fix it. it is precisely what is being said about moderate muslims- they need to stand up to those hardliners and suicide fanatics. what about here? where are the moderates? who else is going to put the brakes on? christianity is no more inocuous than islam. they are two sides of the same coin. the hardline christians and the casual churchgoer all bear the same responsibility.

The Future Was Yesterday said...

Hey Betmo: Johnny comne lately here.:)

First, commenter "g" is simply full of you know what, as well as nothing more than an apologist for all the Jesus Freaks. Every Jesus Freak I've ever seen confronted with these sad sacks says "oh, we have nothing to do with them!" but there's 25 million of the bastards that put Bush in office!. So somebody must have a LOT to do with them! It's the old "We didn't do that" when caught in the headlights.

All organized religion preys on mentally ill, emotionally unstable, not too bright, persons. No one well adjusted will ever join organized religion simply because it is such a farce on the face of it. *Excellent* post, and stand your ground! You are RIGHT!

Obob said...

I will not make excuses for Christianity, I can't, I didn't do any of them. So I can't heal any wounds out there.

betmo said...

obob- you can't make excuses and you can't make reparations for the past(the slave reparations are for another post). the only thing that you can do is the best you can in your own community. again, if you are a true believer fine- i don't hate you. i don't understand you but i don't hate you. live and let live is my motto but if you start infringing on my right to not believe- whether through proselytizing or legislating- then i get my panties in a bunch. there has been talk about no christian stuff in schools. there shouldn't be- other than teaching the history behind it. same goes with any religion though. has no place other than facts in school. there shouldn't be religious holidays per se. you need the day off- fine- take it. just get your work ahead of time. i understand the practicality of taking say christmas off- because most people take it and it isn't a productive work/school environment that day. however, there are plenty of folks who don't celebrated christmas. at least 2/3 of the population in america i would say. my point is- religion and faith should be a personal thing and has no place in mainstream. now, i realize that your religion is as much a part of you as my non-religion is a part of me- and that does influence the world as a whole. just because a significant number of people in this country claim to be christian does not mean that you can impose your will on the others. the constitution says so- whether you like it or not. doesn't really matter whether the founding fathers were or weren't christians- the constitution says- no state religion. period.

glenda said...

yes, it's a free world, to live and let live, on both sides.

sappho said...

Sarah:
Your intelligence has spoken volumes & I was about to comment, but realized you said it best, & beautifully!

Great post, Betmo!

G_in_AL said...

future:

I already commented on your blog, about your post at length... so we'll let the sleeping dog lay there.

Betmo:
yes, as a matter of fact- i grew up Baptist That explains a lot! hahah... just kidding, had to get my wise-ass crack in for the day.

But seriously, I know a lot of Baptists too, they've come over to the Church I currently attend. Almost 99% of them say they were driven away from the judgmental "hellfire and brimstone" nature of the church and its rigid adherence to doctrine or you're damned.

I cannot blame you for feeling the way you do, in fact, I blame a lot of organized religion for the face of Christianity today (makes you wonder who's driving the direction of organized religion huh?).

I fully understand the idea of doubting God, Christ, or the existence there of. See, you and I are very different. I wasn’t raised Christian at all... maybe that's why I can see it through un-jaded eyes?

But, I think we've already beat this thing to death. I would ask that you consider what I said, even if privately, to an extent. See if the feelings you have are because the inaction, or bad actions of men, not because of what God did or didn't do.

Alec said...

Sorry, G, your eyes are not open simply because you were raised in a different tradition and converted. I was raised pretty much secular until I turned 9, when my parents converted to Christianity and joined the United Methodist church. By 12 I was an atheist.

No change in discourse is going to save Christianity from joining the other religions of the world that made absurd assumptions about the nature of the universe. The God of the gaps has been in full retreat since the Enlightenment, and it will continue to run away in the foreseeable future.

You are no different than any other evangelical, from what I can see from your post. "We must draw a line" blah blah blah. Progressives are hardly advocating adultery, murder, envy, theft, etc. I note that you did not mention certain *other* areas where we disagree with the evangelical movement, such as gay rights, sex education, evolution, etc. Social progressives have "drawn lines" as well.

What you have said about Christianity is no defense; evangelical apologists have been saying the same for at least the last thirty years. They even use that supposedly non-combative style you're attempting (except you lose it when you say "viciously anti-religion," let your guard down there). Your argument boils down to an assumption that is simply not supported by any empirical evidence, based on a book containing numerous flaws compiled over thousands of years and telling wildly absurd tales.

You may not identify with the hellfire ravings of Baptists, but in the end your theology is the same as their own. You are simply emphasizing different parts of the same doctrine. So what? It is the doctrine that most of us find grotesque, not the nuanced differences in sermon language.

Dizzy Dezzi said...

Great post, betmo! I couldn't have said it better myself.

Having stumbled in and out of different religions for years: started out as a roman catholic and finally wrestled with paganism before I found my way out of religion completely (almost got tricked into Scientology, too! phew...missed my chance to meet the cruiser!). But, what I have found, you nailed correctly, that all the times in my life I ever got swept into a church I was at a point in my life where I was desperate for love or friendship and thought that "this" church had the answers that I was seeking. I usually ended up leaving the churches when I realized that either my financial and marital status (dirt poor single mother) or my skin color (black) were a detriment to anybody treating me as an equal in their churches. I finally would leave when I got tired of feeling like I was being beat up on for not being "good enough" despite following all tenets "religiously" without exception and seeing that others with more money or better status were treated far better.

My experience in paganism was not quite that traumatic, but seeing so many people rely on spells and magick for everything in much the same way that many Christians relied on the bible and prayers in order to get through their day to day opened my eyes when I realized that my life was actually stunted because I seemed to spend so much time waiting for answers (or signs) rather than just doing what my instincts told me I should do. I finally decided to let it all go.

I haven't regretted one minute of turning my back on all religion and just living my life for the betterment of myself, my family, and the world around me.

I still have plenty of friends and family who are very religious. I respect that and I respect that they have a right to believe whatever it is they believe (some are pagans, some consider themselves Christian). I just choose to abstain from their religious activities. I keep my distance from the zealots.

And, like you, I have no problem with any of them so long as they keep their religion out of our legislature.

shawn (aka blogstud) said...

I thought this post might generate some controversy so I came back to look. I was going to to do a post using this article and I may still do that, but I think it is appropriate here. I was raised Christian, and I believe in God. But I also believe that the Bible is more allegory than fact. It was also written (and re-written) by humans and very seldom are our creations perfect.

I wanted to post this article because of the previous comments about "drawing the lines in the sand." I hope this article encourages people to consider how subjective a concept that is. When you talk about some things just being unacceptable, but some are not, who is determining where the line will be drawn? How can some Christians say certain things like homosexuality are wrong BECAUSE the Bible says so while they ignore other Biblical prohibitions? I "choose" to believe in the positive messages from the Bible, and let other things like the misogynistic and homophobic things (among others) go.

Those are my beliefs, and I do not expect other people to adhere to my beliefs. But just like betmo, I do not want other people's beliefs or religious interpretations used against me in any way. The crusade to write anti-gay discrimination into our Constitution is one example of this. This will make sense after you read the article below, but how many of the people who want to pass a Constitutional amendment to discriminate against me have eaten pork or worked on the Sabbath? When I took a human sexuality class in college that was partly over religion, I was shocked at how misogynistic some parts of the Bible are. Where do we draw the line? A good question indeed.

Here is the article and sorry for the long post, betmo. I think you will like this article, though. It has come in handy for me several times over the years.

Article:
Some believe in selective principles

By John Tally
This article appeared recently in the Austin American Statesman.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

With publicity over gay marriages, the debate over homosexuality and the Bible once again fills the radio talk-show airwaves.

Many of the hosts support gay marriages, but biblical arguments favoring the Christian fundamentalist cause go unchallenged. The debate usually goes something like this.

HOST: So what's wrong with two loving, committed men or women being legally married?

CALLER: The Bible says homosexuality is a sin.

HOST: So you believe everything in the Bible is literally true?

CALLER: Yes.

HOST: Then you believe it's a sin to eat pork or shellfish, or for a man to shave his beard, and that those who work on the Sabbath should be put to death?

CALLER: No, the coming of Jesus brought a New Covenant which freed us from those rules of the Old Testament.
Score one for the fundamentalist.

But with a few hours of Bible reading, the host could unmask the ever-popular New Covenant argument for what it really is: a justification for selective prejudice.

HOST: But even under Christ's New Covenant, the New Testament is still the literal word of God isn't it?

CALLER: Certainly.

HOST: So you believe anyone who marries after divorce commits adultery (Mark 10:11); that women must remain silent, not teach, and have no authority over men (1Tim 2:11); and that slaves must obey their masters at all times (Col. 3:22).

CALLER: Well . . .

HOST: And if the New Covenant freed us from the regulations of the Old Testament, doesn't that do away with all three of its anti-gay passages ?

CALLER: Um . . . no . . . the New Covenant primarily did away with the strict dietary and health rules, not the moral laws, of the Old Testament.

HOST: So when Leviticus prescribes death for all adulterers and for all who curse their parents just before it prescribes the same penalty for any man who lies with another man, each of those moral laws applies to us today?

CALLER: Well . . . I didn't say that . . .

HOST: And when Deuteronomy prescribes death for nonvirgin brides shortly before it claims no homosexual shall be a son of Israel, you agree with both those moral laws?

CALLER: Well, of course not . . .

HOST: So you DO pick and choose which parts of the Bible to believe.
Since fundamentalists are rarely confronted with these and other troubling Biblical passages, most sincerely think they believe every word of the Bible.

When has Jerry Falwell called for the stoning for Ronald and Nancy Reagan, Pete and Gayle Wilson, and everyone else who has remarried after divorce?

When has the Christian Coalition ever organized to ban women from teaching positions and from elected office?

No, it's selective prejudice and old-fashioned fear of the unknown that motivates fundamentalists to target gays and lesbians. Biblical principle has nothing to do with it. Take away the phony claim to a literal view of the Bible, and the religious argument against homosexuality falls like a house of cards.



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

John Tally is a San Francisco attorney.

This column was first published in the San Francisco Examiner.

T.L. Stanley said...

betmo, congratulation. You created a hot discussion about religion and Christianity. Your ideas provoked many to share their displeasure and outright contempt for Christianity.

I disagree with your ideas on this subject. On the other hand, I have heard these arguments before at college and within my family and in discussions with friends.

I could make a good agrument for a faith journey. However, we will just have to agree to disagree.

May your life journey be filled with happiness.

Take care.

G_in_AL said...

alec:

I didnt try to prescribe that my eyes were more open than anyone eles', but instead I was trying to give some insight as to who I am, as so many will quickly classify me as something simply because of my staunch defense of my Faith.

Next, you'd be surprised then as to my feelings on many of the issues you thought I'd ignore.

We're largly going into a different debate at this point, but "gay marrige" I've previously posted about, and I'd dare say you'd agree with me from both a spiritual and academic standpoint.

There are a whole slew of things that are the current Christian standard talking points that I whole-heartedly disagree with.

However, my Faith is not soley based on " a book containing numerous flaws compiled over thousands of years and telling wildly absurd tales."

It's based to truths that are self-evident to me.

Now, realize this is only a comparison, and I understand the difference. But you are essentially saying that I should discount the Bible for two reasons:

1.) it is written by man, therefore could be just made up blather

2.) There is no proof of a thing in it, and without proof, it's all just myth and fairy tale.

Well, on this same note: Do you belive that there are atoms that make up everything? WHY? You've only read a book, written by men.

Have you ever done the research yourself? Have you actually seen an atom? Have you actually built your own electron microscope and then observed the actions of atoms as the fundemental building blocks?

No. You've take our current day (not so current any more) scientists word for it, because they've based their claim from a scientific theory (that was developed by a very devoute man named Newton btw).

Yet, you've no proof that they didnt must flat out make it all up. NONE, zilch, nada.

Now, again, I realize this is a crude comparison, and we are talking apples and potatoes, but none the less: you're wanting people to discount a book that was written thousands of years ago because we cannot sit down and apply scientific theory to it today and use proof models to authenticate it.

That is weak minded in my opinion: to need EVERYTHING in life proven to you beyond the shadow of doubt.

I think it takes much more mental strenth to accept that which is not provable, but must be taken on Faith. Our mind doesnt readily accept these concepts, therefore it takes diciplin and contemplation to decide to accept a notion that is entirely unplausable.

Alec said...

You are right about one thing: the comparison is crude, and it is apples and oranges.

I do not take what the scientific community says about atoms "on faith" any more than I take the advice of an attorney "on faith." In the case of the former, we are dealing with conclusions that, in theory, can be proven false as new information comes to light. Karl Popper has written volumes on this, but that is what separates Einstein and Darwin from, say, the pseudoscience of Freud or the religious experiences of Buddha and others.

That you are not a typical evangelical when it comes to public policy changes absolutely nothing about your religious beliefs or decision to assume the role of apologist. The fact of the matter is that those of us who dislike conservative Christianity dislike it because we find it to be internally inconsistent, supernatural and immoral. My judgment of Christianity is based on reason and experience.

Self-evident truths are nice rhetoric, but nothing about Christianity is "self-evident." That would be beside the point, because it is a God of history and not of nature that you worship; it must reveal itself to you. Especially in the case of Christianity, with its reliance on a messianic figure. Your faith is "self-evident" only to the extent that you have presupposed the reliability of the biblical texts included in your tradition's canon.

This is the difference between atoms and gods: the effects of atoms have been recorded, observed and in theory their existence may be falsified. You cannot falsify a god, because for every attempt made at falsification the "faith" argument comes into play. As is the case with all mythology. Just try falsifying Zeus, or Ares, or any number of abandoned pagan gods.

I would also add, by their fruits ye shall know them. If prayer produced the effects of the atomic bomb, I think the atheist population would probably be significantly smaller. Technology has also done much to kill the gods, by achieving feats never even dreamed of in ancient religious texts.

I am not saying that mythology does not have its place. We live by myths. But we should understand that they are myths, part of a cultural framework, and not true insight into the physical nature of the universe.

And btw, I did have labs in chemistry and biology in undergrad. So have I seen atoms? Well no, not in the strictest sense, but at one time I had something of an idea as to their effects. The existence of the atom, btw, much like a gene, is not even the point: it is part of a larger model used to predict natural patterns. Like prophecy, but it works.

quakerdave said...

"You'll also notice all those* that are for 'progress' of the type you are supporting are viciously anti-religion?"

A-hem. You (G) may want to actually have a conversation with a progressive Christian before you buy into conservative fundamentalist stereotypes (*) like the one you repeated here.

G_in_AL said...

quakerdave:

visit thefurtureisnow's website... you'll find what I'm talking about. I understand the progressive Christian movement. The type of progressive I was speaking of was not a general sense of "progressive". I was trying to single out the select individuals that identify themselves as progressive, yet are not actually trying to "progress" towards anything, but are intent on acting only against things that have become traditional or customary.

alec:

the apples and potatoes comment was to signify how very different they are... I understand the common phrase is oranges.

But the theory still holds that we take a great deal of things in life on "faith", even those things we commonly concider fact. The difference is really over what we trust can be proven, and what is within man's direct control.