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I happened to hear a "TV preacher" last night. Unlike many TV evangelists who do, in my opinion, preach a "false gospel" that Christianity means financial success, this gentleman was preaching (to a very large church) just the opposite. What he said was exactly what John had pointed out: that Jesus emphasized in all His ("his" to some of you) teachings that He came first for the weak, humble and oppressed. The man's name was Dr. David Jeremiah (what a name for a preacher!) and I had occasion to look briefly at his web-site.

From the organization's web-site:

How to Be Happy According to Jesus

The Beatitudes – Matthew 5:1-12

"Do money, possessions, success, great accomplishments, fame, and pleasure equal happiness? Jesus’ prescription for real joy is exactly the opposite of the world’s. Find out how you can escape Satan’s deception that happiness can be bought."

Here is the link to the web-site:

http://www.turningpointradio.org/about.html

So, John and others, there are in fact successful preachers who preach what Jesus actually taught. It is an error to judge Christendom merely because charlatans sometimes use its name to "feather their nest".

There are a lot of homeless people in Key West. It is easy to survive her living on the streets because of the moderate climate. Unfortunately it is often difficult for them to obtain government assistance for such basic needs as shelter and food. There are several churches in Key West who have very active programs to feed the homeless and care for the destitute. So if you really look you will find Christians who not only preach what Jesus actually taught but indeed go so far as to practice what they preach!

This is Easter. The message of Easter is that you may have the comfort of eternal life. (You can go to Heaven and even hear God's "theory" re who shot JFK--sorry, bad joke to insert here.) One of the "proofs" of Christianity--indeed, the most fundamental, is that Jesus was indeed raised from the dead after his crucifixion.

Can one not live a nobler life if one is convinced there is a life after death? If life is essentially meaningless, isn't it a rational choice to attempt to maximize your own personal pleasure (derived from whatever source) for as long as you can?

Edited by Tim Gratz
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It strikes me that there are really two issues here.

One is, is there a God who started the Universe, whatever His attributes may be. In other words, did a God start the Universe, establish the physical laws and constants that make life possible, and then (perhaps) step aside and choose not to intervene in that universe. I think this concept is called Deism. Or there could be a God the Creator who does take an interest in mankind.

The second issue we are debating here is whether Christianity is indeed the true religion.

There are different "proofs" for each issue. Since "proof" of Christianity will include proof that Jesus physically rose from the dead, it seems to me that proof of Christianity must necessarily also demonstrate proof of God the Creator. That statement is probanly redundant since it must be considered tautological.

I think I might concede that "proof" of the resurrection is not "beyond reasonable doubt" but, IMO, the greater weight of the evidence supports that there was indeed a real Easter.

I want to discuss these two issues separately. I will take some time to peruse some literature and then I will suggest at most three books the atheists and agnostics should read re why the Universe must have a Creator. I think there is very strong evidence indeed that the Universe must have had a Creator.

Then we can discuss the proofs of the resurrection.

The question whether Christianity is real (if it is not) is meaningless but if Christianity is indeed real it is the most important issue any one must consider in his or her life, since his or her eternal destiny may depend upon it!

Edited by Tim Gratz
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Perhaps there should be a separate "thread" for comments re the Schiavo case.

I recently read on the Internet that Ralph Nader opposes Schiavo's death.

So we have President Bush, the Congress and Ralph Nader on one side of the issue and Michael Schiavo on the other side. And who wins?

When do you suppose was the last time that Nader agreed with President Bush? Interesting!

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Perhaps there should be a separate "thread" for comments re the Schiavo case.

I have, you will find it here:

http://educationforum.ipbhost.com/index.php?showtopic=3543

I am not impressed with the fact that Nader and Bush agree on this issue. After all, was Nader not willing to accept bribes to take votes away from Kerry in the presidential election?

What about the death of the young boy in Texas? Have you any views on that?

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John, as you know now, (not when you posted the above) Jessie Jackson has now joined the defenders of Terri Schiavo.

The proposition that one should not end the life of a person without a determination that the person is in a persistent vegetative state based on the best available neurological tests does not seem like an ideological left-right issue.

With respect to the Schiavo case, even if she is determined to be in a persistent vegatative state, the question is whether her feeding tube should be pulled based solely on a hearsay statement by her husband, absent any written directives from her. Again, it is difficult to understand how this issue becomes a left-right issue.

Perhaps in the Schiavo thread you could comment on why a left-winger should be less concerned with these procedural safeguards to protect innocent life than a right-winger. I do not understand the dichotomy. In fact, conservative that I am, I acknowledge the fine tradition of the left in fighting for the liberties of minorities and the poor.

Re the poor little boy in Texas, if I understand the facts the case is easily distinguishable (to use the legalese). In that case a ventilator was required to sustain the boy's life. A ventilator is considered an extraordinary medical intervention while tube-feeding is not.

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I've enjoyed this thread, but it seems to have gotten side-tracked.

I see a couple of issues that may prompt some more discussion:

How can a scientist make moral judgements? How can an atheist make moral judgements (there is a difference between a scientist and an atheist)? Is there absolute truth? If there isn't, how do we make law? If there is, how do we discover it? Is there such a thing as "one true religion"?

This Easter, my family had a long discussion about Christianity. What troubles us is its exclusionary bent. It excludes God to "somewhere out there". It excludes every other natural entity - only humans have souls. It excludes other humans who don't happen to believe in the divinity of one person. If there is such a thing as the one true religion, I doubt very much that it excludes so many things.

One of my daughter's friends had a beloved pet die not long ago. She asked her pastor if "Ally" was in heaven now. He said "Certainly not! Animals don't go to heaven!" There's a real comforting minister for you!

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I've enjoyed this thread, but it seems to have gotten side-tracked.

I see a couple of issues that may prompt some more discussion:

How can a scientist make moral judgements?  How can an atheist make moral judgements (there is a difference between a scientist and an atheist)? Is there absolute truth?  If there isn't, how do we make law?  If there is, how do we discover it?  Is there such a thing as "one true religion"?

I'll leave this to the atheists... :huh:

This Easter, my family had a long discussion about Christianity.  What troubles us is its exclusionary bent.  It excludes God to "somewhere out there".  It excludes every other natural entity - only humans have souls.

I would say that Christianity is the most exclusive 'club' going! The gospels make it clear that Jesus' salvation is for everyone - as Galatians 3:28 puts it: "For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus."

It excludes other humans who don't happen to believe in the divinity of one person.  If there is such a thing as the one true religion, I doubt very much that it excludes so many things.

To say that 2x2=4 one is implicitly saying that people who believe 2x2=5, etc. are false. So just because one believes something does not make one justified in that belief! There is one true religion and one true way to salvation - otherwise, what would have been the point in Jesus' death and resurrection?

One of my daughter's friends had a beloved pet die not long ago.  She asked her pastor if "Ally" was in heaven now.  He said "Certainly not! Animals don't go to heaven!"  There's a real comforting minister for you!

Harsh, yes, but straight to the point: we shouldn't pussyfoot around major issues. My family's dog is currently on the edge of needing to be put down. I will mourn his loss, but not in the way I would mourn a human - he has no soul.

:plane Doug

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My first brush with religion and science came in my second week of unversity when i was writing an essay about geological time - relative dating vs absolute. After a few hours of trawling through papers I rushed down to a colleagues room and announced "Plant Earth is 4.55 billion years old, and I am 18. What it the point of my life!?".

And no, I hadn't been drinking;-)

Science is so big it is awe inspiring and I do hope to maintain that sense of awe, but that doesn't mean that I should just hide under the bed, or take the easy option and say 'its all down to God', and frankly that would be much easier than worrying about why there life on planet earth, the odds of that happening and my importance in the grand scheme of things.

Geology is one of those subjects where religion and faith do battle on a daily basis. I find it particularly entertaining reading religious pseudo science websites which 'prove' that the world is only a couple of thousand years old. I do question why we should believe these writers who clearly have little or no scientific schooling, whose theories make little or no sence to the rational thinker (I presented one or two of the ideas to my 6th formers last year as 'fact' and even they could see the huge holes in the arguements) and why we should ignore the decades of research undertaken by people who are experts in ther scientific fields and who, interestingly, have to be open to the idea that they may not be right and may in fact prove themselves wrong.

Which brings me onto facts. In science there are no facts. There are things that we consider to be accurate at the time. We cannot prove anything, only disprove. Therfore we have the choice of either saying 'we don't know anything so lets not bother trying to figure anythng else out' or saying 'well, we think this is the case and so IF it is true then that means that this could also be true'.

In a way it is frustrating working in a field that is so open to change. Plate Tectonics came along in the 1970's and completely screwed up most of the theories of the people who lectured me at university, but they took this new theory and moved on (though of course there was some dissent at the time). and re-evaluated ther old ideas to see if they could be accommodated in the Plate Tectonics model. This did not question their faith, only their ability to be flexible and work with different models.

This contrasts with my grandmother (a woman of religion, but little spirituality and a retired primary school teacher). My mother told her a few years ago that human life originated in Africa (probably because my grandmother was being racist at the time) and she simply could not accept this because "this was not what she was taught at school"!

This sums up my problem with many religious people. They are just opting for religion because they are lazy. If you are religious you only have to read one book in your life time, be it the Qur'an or the Bible or whatever else, and then you can be superior in all discussions by quoting bits from your chosen book. You don;t need to understand, or think, just quote (whilst looking irritatingly serene;-)).

The rest of us have to keep reading every new paper that gets published to keep up to date with things and even then we know that nothing is certain and that the prevailing theory may change and change again and so when we talk about the origins of life we can't just sit there serenely quoting genisis (knowing that the good book isn't going to be re-written any time soon) we actually try to back up our thoughts with evidence, which may be replaced with new evidence any day.

Its a far more precarious way of viewing the world, but I'd say it was a more mature one, based on open mindedness and acceptance of new ideas and not an obsession with trying to prove right the contents of a book which was written by men, for men, to try to explain the world as they saw it, and to maintain the status quo (don't get me onto religion and feminism!). The bible/Qur'an/etc isn't a fax from God and should be treated as an early historical document and not absolute truth.

Whilst living in Africa I taught very religious people. When your life is so very precarious that a car crash will most likely result in death, as will Malaria, dehydration or having sex with one person unprotected, its not surprising that people turn to religon for support. Frankly life in this world is so unrewarding all they can hope for is that life in the next will be better. Interesting, then that in this very religious society all that praying (and they do pray day and night) brings so little devine intervention.

One of the side effects of religion of course was apathy. Why study? You will pass your exams if God wills it. Why use condoms? You will stay HIV free if God wills it. I would work my fingers to the bone trying to help them to get through their exams and into university where maybe they could get a better life, because I cared and wanted to help, and they would wander over to my house and try to convert me to Seventh Day Adventism, Islam or pentacostalism to save me from going to hell. They were very concerned for my soul and yet being such good religious people this did not stop them lieing, cheating and stealing. The hypocrisy of Africans and religion was the final nail in the coffin for me.

I intend to keep plugging on the way I am, doing my best to help people, being caring and kind, and yet not believing in God, because if there is a God surely they are wise enough to understand that I am more deserving of a place in heaven than most of religious people I have met, and if they are a cruel God then I will take my chances in Hell, where I'm sure I will be in good company,

Rowena

Edited by Rowena Hopkins
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I intend to keep plugging on the way I am, doing my best to help people, being caring and kind, and yet not believing in God, because if there is a God surely they are wise enough to understand that I am more deserving of a place in heaven than most of religious people I have met, and if they are a cruel God then I will take my chances in Hell, where I'm sure I will be in good company,

I agree entirely. I don't expect to see you in Hell.

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This sums up my problem with many religious people. They are just opting for religion because they are lazy. If you are religious you only have to read one book in your life time, be it the Qur'an or the Bible or whatever else, and then you can be superior in all discussions by quoting bits from your chosen book. You don;t need to understand, or think, just quote (whilst looking irritatingly serene;-)).

An unjustified assertion, if ever there was one! I assume you are referring to intellectual laziness, rather than the physical variety. Either way, I would say that Christians, in my experience, cannot be condemned for being either. I have found, upon questioning, Christians to be able to back up what they believe in. Atheists I have often found wanting. :plane

The rest of us have to keep reading every new paper that gets published to keep up to date with things and even then we know that nothing is certain and that the prevailing theory may change and change again and so when we talk about the origins of life we can't just sit there serenely quoting genisis (knowing that the good book isn't going to be re-written any time soon)  we actually try to back up our thoughts with evidence, which may be replaced with new evidence any day.

Its a far more precarious way of viewing the world, but I'd say it was a more mature one, based on open mindedness and acceptance of new ideas and not an obsession with trying to prove the contents of a book which was written by men, for men, to try to explain the world as they saw it, and to maintain the status quo (don't get me onto religion and feminism!). The bible/Qur'an/etc isn't a fax from God and should be treated as an early historical document and not absolute truth.

Rowena, you're judging Christianity (and other religions) from an atheistic-scientific worldview. This says that, as you quite rightly pointed out, that there are no such things as hard facts and that we view the world through the prevailing scientific paradigm. Theories about the world are backed up by evidence from scientific experiements. Christianity, on the other hand, agrees that we can find out about the world, but says that the ultimate piece of evidence comes from God's revealed Word, a.k.a. the Bible. There are differing scientific theories, etc. to which Christians can adhere, but the final test is whether they are in accordance with what the Bible tells us. Christians believe in objective Truth.

I intend to keep plugging on the way I am, doing my best to help people, being caring and kind, and yet not believing in God, because if there is a God surely they are wise enough to understand that I am more deserving of a place in heaven than most of religious people I have met, and if they are a cruel God then I will take my chances in Hell, where I'm sure I will be in good company

If you read one of my posts above, I point out that this is most atheists' view of the world. That by doing one's best, being caring, kind, etc. one is good enough to enter heaven. Christians, of course, believe that one's faith must have a purpose on Earth as well as in Heaven, but that salvation is entirely the work of the Lord, not of the individual human. That is why both Mother Teresa (for example) and a serial killer could both end up in Heaven. One can never be good enough to live a perfect life - only Jesus could do that - which is why we need His death and resurrection to save us from our sin. Where would you draw the line on a graph at what constitutes a 'good life'?

:huh: Doug

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I intend to keep plugging on the way I am, doing my best to help people, being caring and kind, and yet not believing in God, because if there is a God surely they are wise enough to understand that I am more deserving of a place in heaven than most of religious people I have met, and if they are a cruel God then I will take my chances in Hell, where I'm sure I will be in good company,

I agree entirely. I don't expect to see you in Hell.

I'm with you Rowena :D

Moreover there can be little more tiresome or irritating or pointless than trying to have an intelligent discussion with someone who has 'got religion' in a big way. Such is their belief that they have found something special and true that they reject anything that may challenge or question their core beliefs. Good luck to them if it floats their boat :plane .

I remain however committed to the view that in a modern and complex world it is bad luck to be superstitious ... I can face the world without some medieval psychological scaffold to prop me up and I wonder why others find it so apparently hard to do likewise....................... in this I believe I am a typical Capricorn :huh:

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I'm with you Rowena :D

Moreover there can be little more tiresome or irritating or pointless than trying to have an intelligent discussion with someone who has 'got religion' in a big way. Such is their belief that they have found something special and true that they reject anything that may challenge or question their core beliefs. Good luck to them if it floats their boat :plane .

Everyone rejects something which challenges their core beliefs: if someone told you the sun goes round the earth, you'd reject that! Please give me something which I have to flatly reject. It would be interesting to see what you come up with! :D

I remain however committed to the view that in a modern and complex world it is bad luck to be superstitious ... I can face the world without some medieval psychological scaffold to prop me up and I wonder why others find it so apparently hard to do likewise....................... in this I believe I am a typical Capricorn :D

I appreciate that your tongue is somewhat embedded in your cheek, Andy, but I feel sorry for you if you think Christianity is a 'medieval psychological scaffold'. Yes, many come to believe in God during rough patches in their life, but I'd say that this was because they are times when they are most receptive to new ideas. They haven't got their normal barriers up - akin to what you mention above r.e. people challenging and questioning core beliefs!

:huh: Doug

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Please give me something which I have to flatly reject. It would be interesting to see what you come up with!  :D

.............. but I feel sorry for you if you think Christianity is a 'medieval psychological scaffold'.

:plane Doug

Don't you think that would be a little pointless :huh:

Please don't feel sorry for me Doug. It would be an entirely inappropriate response.

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Yep, that was the other thing that really got my goat in Rwanda. The pity of my students that I had not 'found' God. It never ceased to amaze them that I could be a happy atheist who loved nature and people and life but didn't need religion as an emotional prop to stop myself going off the rails.

I found it somewhat ironic that a bunch of children considered themselves to be more wise and knowing than their teacher who had experienced far more of life than they had and also read more than one book!

Some even offered to pray for me - I politely asked them not to and asked them to do some work instead. This would clearly benefit them and would have made me leap around joyously and perhaps believe that I had found heaven on earth.

I simply couldn't imagine being so condescending as to go up to someone I respected (and apparently they did respect me ;-)) and tell them that they are somewhat lacking, that I pity them in their sad state and that they were going to go to hell unless I (their subordinate) saved them. How smug and how proud.

And if heaven is full of religious serial killers I surely don't want to go there;-)

Rowena

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Yep, that was the other thing that really got my goat in Rwanda. The pity of my students that I had not 'found' God. It never ceased to amaze them that I could be a happy atheist who loved nature and people and life but didn't need religion as an emotional prop to stop myself going off the rails.

I found it somewhat ironic that a bunch of children considered themselves to be more wise and knowing than their teacher who had experienced far more of life than they had and also read more than one book!

Some even offered to pray for me - I politely asked them not to and asked them to do some work instead. This would clearly benefit them and would have made me leap around joyously and perhaps believe that I had found heaven on earth.

I simply couldn't imagine being so condescending as to go up to someone I respected (and apparently they did respect me ;-)) and tell them that they are somewhat lacking, that I pity them in their sad state and that they were going to go to hell unless I (their subordinate) saved them. How smug and how proud.

And if heaven is full of religious serial killers I surely don't want to go there;-)

Rowena

So it's OK for you to be condescending towards 'religious people' - those who need an 'emotional prop' to 'stop their life going off the rails', but it would seem you've never considered that those people may actually be right. What objective standard or measure have you got which gives you such certainty?

Apart from basically saying 'I'm an atheist and I think religious people are silly', just what have you brought to this discussion so far? I thought this forum was about reasoned debate, not attacking people...

:plane Doug

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