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John Simkin

Legislation and the Bible

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It seems that the Bible is open to different interpretations...

John, I think you have missed the point with most of what you have said above. Sex is for procreation and, fortunately for us, also happens to be pleasurable. Part of the reason for homosexuality being regarded as sinful by Christians, therefore, is the inabilility (note: not the prevention) of the action being for the purposes God intended it.

This, again, is part of the reason why marriage is sacrosanct for Christians and casual sex so damaging. Birth control within marriage is different from casual sex in that, according to the Bible, the purpose of this relationship is procreation, whereas the latter is purely for pleasure. Birth control simply gives married couples more control over when to conceive. It cannot really be compared with birth control outside marriage.

:blink: Doug

What does the Bible tell us about married couples in the 21st century who choose not to have children? I guess following your logic they are not allowed to enjoy sex either?

This appears to me not so much a moral position as a recruitment drive.

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What does the Bible tell us about married couples in the 21st century who choose not to have children? I guess following your logic they are not allowed to enjoy sex either?

This appears to me not so much a moral position as a recruitment drive.

I think what you're trying to say, Andy, is that the 21st century is radically different from the times in which the Bible was written. And you're correct - at least in terms of technology and (natural) knowledge. It's just that the same isn't true of human nature: we're still pretty much in the same position...

Although it may sound controversial, Christian marriage is (God-willing) supposed to result in children.

:blink: Doug

PS I'm going to ignore your point about married couples 'not being allowed to enjoy sex' as it was childish. :P

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It seems that the Bible is open to different interpretations...

John, I think you have missed the point with most of what you have said above. Sex is for procreation and, fortunately for us, also happens to be pleasurable. Part of the reason for homosexuality being regarded as sinful by Christians, therefore, is the inabilility (note: not the prevention) of the action being for the purposes God intended it.

This, again, is part of the reason why marriage is sacrosanct for Christians and casual sex so damaging. Birth control within marriage is different from casual sex in that, according to the Bible, the purpose of this relationship is procreation, whereas the latter is purely for pleasure. Birth control simply gives married couples more control over when to conceive. It cannot really be compared with birth control outside marriage.

:blink: Doug

What does the Bible tell us about married couples in the 21st century who choose not to have children? I guess following your logic they are not allowed to enjoy sex either?

This appears to me not so much a moral position as a recruitment drive.

perhaps a pondering of this might help finding answers.

Instructions on 'right thinking' and 'right living' in the bible were presented to humanity at different stages throughout evolution. When we are born and as yet have not lost our senses we live in a union with our surroundings in the moment. A time comes when 'ego' or awareness of separation comes, as we now must leave the 'garden of eden' we learn new rules to protect ourselves and to promote healthy relations with other entities, our parents make strict rules that are clear and can perhaps be seen as 'gross' in the sense that we are not necessarily asked to understand them but to obey for our own protection with regards to things we don't understand, for example 'don't ever go across the road without holding my hand!' ;while beginning with more subtle instructions such as 'look, that way first (while explaining what left is)...etc etc.

In time our ultimate teacher, who no longer is our parents, will tell us 'Love one another', and offer guides to right living such as 'let he who has not sinned cast the first stone', as we come to the point of accepting our freedom, he helps us by forgiveness.

The bible is a lesson in evolution, of cause and effect. These good lessons can be understood and stated as well by atheists. If a government chooses to refer to the bible in forming legislation it must always consider context, otherwise it becomes dogmatic and anti god.

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It seems that the Bible is open to different interpretations...

John, I think you have missed the point with most of what you have said above. Sex is for procreation and, fortunately for us, also happens to be pleasurable. Part of the reason for homosexuality being regarded as sinful by Christians, therefore, is the inabilility (note: not the prevention) of the action being for the purposes God intended it.

This, again, is part of the reason why marriage is sacrosanct for Christians and casual sex so damaging. Birth control within marriage is different from casual sex in that, according to the Bible, the purpose of this relationship is procreation, whereas the latter is purely for pleasure. Birth control simply gives married couples more control over when to conceive. It cannot really be compared with birth control outside marriage.

Surely these disagreements is about different interpretations of the Bible. For example, some Christians (including the Pope) believe the Bible tells them that the use of all artificial birth-control is wrong. Others (including the Pope) believe that the Bible tells them that abortion is wrong whereas others think it is acceptable. Some devout Christians are openly homosexual. Obviously, they have found nothing in the Bible that tells them that God would be unhappy with this behaviour.

Clearly you Christians do interpret the Bible in different ways. This is not surprising considering it was written by a group of people rather than one individual. It also seems that much of the Bible is written in such a way that different interpretations are possible. Maybe that is its strength. Bit like the writings of Karl Marx.

If you are so convinced that people who have sex outside of marriage are so wrong, what do you think should happen to them? What should the role of government be in all this?

Finally, what should the government do about people like Andy Walker?

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If you are so convinced that people who have sex outside of marriage are so wrong, what do you think should happen to them? What should the role of government be in all this?

That's not for me - or the government - to judge!

Finally, what should the government do about people like Andy Walker?

Lock him up and throw away the key! :P

:plane Doug

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If you are so convinced that people who have sex outside of marriage are so wrong, what do you think should happen to them? What should the role of government be in all this?

That's not for me - or the government - to judge!

Finally, what should the government do about people like Andy Walker?

Lock him up and throw away the key! :P

:plane Doug

Nice to see young Douglas putting the fun back into fundamentalism so eloquently!

For the benefit of my students it would seem to be that Doug believes that all people should follow what he interprets as "God's Laws" in their personal behaviour.

Doug by way of his faith believes he has an understanding of what God means here. Students or any one else will therefore find it rather frustrating debating these matters with Doug. In fact I would go so far as to suggest that it would be pointless to try. People who have caught religion in this way are usually more interested in what they regard as "correct" expression than they are engaging in free expression.

The question of government action thus appears to Doug to be irrelevant as God will punish sinners like myself when the time comes.

Not a very sophisticated position, less still an enlightening one, but coherent in its own fashion and within its own ambits I suppose.

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Nice to see young Douglas putting the fun back into fundamentalism so eloquently!

Oh dear Andrew. You think that anyone with religious faith who disagrees with you is a fundamentalist?!

For the benefit of my students it would seem to be that Doug believes that all people should follow what he interprets as "God's Laws" in their personal behaviour.

I believe Jesus saves and that everyone should come into a relationship with him, yes. Religious people do tend to think they're correct, just as atheists do.

Doug by way of his faith believes he has an understanding of what God means here. Students or any one else will therefore find it rather frustrating debating these matters with Doug. In fact I would go so far as to suggest that it would be pointless to try. People who have caught religion in this way are usually more interested in what they regard as "correct" expression than they are engaging in free expression.

I am interested in debating matters seriously and openly. If you can prove to me that my 'religion' is erroneous then I will change my system of beliefs. Could you say the same, Andy? What would it take for you to alter your belief system?

The question of government action thus appears to Doug to be irrelevant as God will punish sinners like myself when the time comes.

Not a very sophisticated position, less still an enlightening one, but coherent in its own fashion and within its own ambits I suppose.

Thanks for simplifying what I said and patronising me, Andy. Government action is a very pertinent question for Christians, hence organizations which aim to have a Christian influence on legislation, etc. All I was saying was that governments, being secular, have no final say over morality. I believe others (non-Christians) have said this within this thread.

Please don't misrepresent me unfairly to your students, Andy - I wouldn't do the same to you. Disagreement and debate is healthy. Misrepresentation and patronising behaviour is not.

:plane Doug

Edited by Doug Belshaw

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Religion has always been an emotional topic and therefore I hope my view will not offend members. It is only my personal reflection (raised as a catholic) and I do accept people no matter what they believe as long as my freedom not to believe is not questioned.

I’ was born in a very small village in the mountains and my mother went to church every time the bells called them in. The priest was a respected man and my mother always looked up to him as she would to the doctor. Religion was a big part in family life and my mother told me a lot about the bible and I was fascinated by the genesis story. The whole thing collapsed when I was twelve and my father died. The funeral (especially the catholic ones) held in the church with the entire population of the village present, created a depressing atmosphere that was filled with melancholic songs and many were crying. Even it was a shock for me I was quite perplex about the situation because I believed that my dad went to heaven now as I was always told by my mother and I could not understand why everybody was so sad even it was clear for my family that it must have been a relief for my father to die (lung cancer), what I of course didn’t realise that very moment. After my fathers dead, my mother had a quite a difficult time for about two years were she also had to find work to get some food on the table. Her believe never seemed to lighten her up or giving her some relief. So the believe and what I was being told seemed only to work as long as your not personally involved and my naive conclusion that my dad must be happy now was not appreciated.

Today I believe that religion is one of the oldest if not the oldest form of ultimate power, designed to control people mostly by fear (past) and disguised by pretending to help and to care for the poor (today). Billions are spent every year to keep and preserve all the pomp and gorgeousness that was build over the centuries by oppressing the uneducated and the poor. Education was a long time withheld and science had to follow the rules of religion in order to prevent its power. By loosing more and more support every year, genesis, hell and paradise are not enough anymore to answer critical questions, to keep their business running the church is trying to get a modern touch by picking up once again one of their favourite issues, sexuality. (Marketing rule = sex sells).What a laugh and what a feigning farce after the perversion within the church that has been uncovered in the last years. So if they can’t handle sexuality why should we accept their rules or advices and why should they be entitled? Those who want us to believe that Maria became pregnant by the Holy Spirit ,run a campaign against books like The DaVinci Code and still are against equal rights. This standard of morality was not needed for thousands of years nevertheless our species became very successful (maybe too successful?).

Mankind had sex for thousands of years without the blessing and the sacraments of marriage because it is our natural instinct as mammals and always will be. Even if church now tries to fight evolution and some schools (in the USA) have banned Darwin, instincts can not be erased by some vague morality praised by some unworldly theologians.

That’s why IMO a government should not support something that is completely based on fiction and belief and not on facts or evidence and therefore force a society to obey rules that are against modern and scientific attainments. Otherwise astrology could or must be considered as well.

George

Edited by George Bollschweiler

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I am interested in debating matters seriously and openly. If you can prove to me that my 'religion' is erroneous then I will change my system of beliefs. Could you say the same, Andy? What would it take for you to alter your belief system?

The problem here is that you believe some universal truth has been revealed to you. You are not therefore really interested in open discussion with people who reject the very notion of revealed universal truth. Why should you be? What you are instead really interested in is proselytizing. This is why I believe your position to be a fundamentalist one.

I am sorry you have chosen to feel that this is a patronizing and simplified version of your position. I will of course let my students make up their own minds and they are free to post their views here.

Note to students - in unit 2 we will be looking at the Enlightenment. This discussion may well achieve more immediate relevance at this point

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.......

If a government chooses to refer to the bible in forming legislation it must always consider context, .....

There is a drift off topic here perhaps but as its led by the moderators I'll follow.

There was a man who was born into a very powerful family.

Traditionally, the highest aspiration for someone of the upper classes was to either become a good powerful warrior leader or to become a revered and followed spiritual elder. One other alternative was regarded, apart from a failure in the above, as being a 'snake' or perhaps 'super criminal'.

His father wanted him to take over the family business so he wanted the first of these for him.

In spite of a youth nurtured for this purpose, he came through circumstances to understand that the life of those he was expected to lead differed so much from that he was groomed for that when he was old enough to choose for himself, Siddharta 'ran away from home'.

He roamed across the north of India studying under many teachers, learning the highest known wisdoms. The bible, or scripture, that had been passed down through the ages talked of a tantalising freedom, or goal, worthy of striving for. He found that the highest teaching of his age left one short of this goal, so he left these teachings behind and continued to investigate on his own.

Indulgence and denial tended to be the two paths taught and he exhausted these until he suddenly had an insight that came to be called 'the middle path' of moderation, essential were an appreciation of morality, awareness and wisdom born of experience. He developed and refined a meditation technique that is very simple amnd scientific. Many people since then have benefitted.

The nature of these things is that RELIGIONS grow up around these important teachings, and ritual and misinterpretation abound. Today Buddhism is regarded as a religion. Buddhas meditation technique is NOT a religion. Following his moral code while practicing this technique benefits the practitioner. That's all.

500 years later his ambassadors that set out walking from northern India had reached the outskirts of what has become known as Europe.

Christ, as is correctly noted by atheist and christian alike, was a revolutionary leader of men. He advocated a life style that is beneficial for all. The freedom that goes hand in hand with believing in god is one that the christian can use as a good guide in human relations. One important circumstance that people often have found themselves in is for example in a line of people herded, children and old, towards gas chambers and other means of human disposal, usually herded there by other people carrying machine guns. It is natural here for a human to be overcome with despair, and terror. The little ones, and the week ones here need strong guidance in order to make their journey through this horror as bearable as possible. The courage and clarity that one can attain by following these teachers of old can help the adult to be with these children, and in cases it has happened that the courage and love shines sufficiently as a beacon to affect some of the persecutors, thus when other weapons are not available, fractures in the ranks of the persecutors can be effected.

It is important in discussing Christ to recognise the difference between religion and truth. Knowledge without action cannot become wisdom. God proves himself through belief not words, which is another reason that for a believer and a non believer talking about god is like shouting across an unbridgeable gulf. God is not a pixie or santa claus, he is an experience available to all who CHOOSE to avail theirselves of him. It gets mixed up by people trying to turn a material world into a spiritual reality.

Futile, hence the endless discussions that lead nowhere.

Edited by John Dolva

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There's truth in all of the last few posts. I do think that you were less than respectful in the way you presented Doug's beliefs, Andy. It is always tempting to dismiss everyone who holds any sort of religious belief as a "fundamentalist". From what I've read of what Doug has written here and in "the other place" he possesses a level of tolerance I have yet to encounter in a fundamentalist. Doug has firmly held religious veiws, some of which I share. I also believe that men should follow God's laws. So would a moslem, or a jew or any other believer. But surely people who don't believe in any sort of God may also believe that people "should" behave in one way or another. George Bush "shouldn't" invade other people's countries. Tony Blair "shouldn't" privatize the NHS. Governments "should" protect the individual rights of citizens. What's the problem with any of this unless I move from feeling you "should" behave in a certain way towards "obliging" you to behave in that way?

I think it's also unfair to suggest that Christians are unwilling to engage in "free expression". Surely neither Doug nor I would be participating in this if we weren't prepared to accept the free expression of dissenting views.

Again, I would be very surprised if Doug or any Christian claimed to "understand what God means". To a Christian, one's whole life is a journey of discovery through which one constantly uncovers new aspects of "what God means".

Finally, to suggest that in some way Christians dismiss the importance of government as a result of their beliefs simply isn't good history. If this were the case, then it would be difficult to account for the constant efforts of churches and other religious institutions to influence or even control the instruments of state power. On the other hand, I think most Christians and many non-believers would reject the idea that it is the role of the state to "enforce" a moral code. Most Christians believe in the concept of free will -- God has allowed us to choose between good and evil. If the only alternative presented to us is to behave in a "good" way, then we have been deprived of the free will.

On the other hand, John D is right as well. Basically, arguments between believers and non-believers about the existence of God, etc are, to an extent pointless because both start from mutually incompatible premises. Christians believe they have a personal relationship with their God -- call it divine revelation if you wish -- which allows them to "know" without the need for scientifically measurable evidence. When Job said "I know that my redeemer liveth", he didn't mean he had a color photo of an old man with a long white beard. He knew within himself. To a non-believer, this is nonsensical, but it makes perfect sense to a believer...

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......... Enlightenment. ..............

mmmmmmmmmmmmm....yum ...the eight fold noble path leading to nibbana...(the ultimate truth)

Sheeit, Adam, your students are so fortunate!

Of course what they need to bear in mind is the way the pali^ language is structured. No doubt there will be repetition of a misconception that Buddha said that god doesn't exist. He actually had nothing to say on the matter except to say that there is (or exists) 'no-god'. Or another way of understanding a language that forms concepts differently from how english does : The thought or concept of a 'no-god' exists. The life of Antony De'Mello, a christian who practised Ana-apana* and Vipassana* in Poona~ is worth looking at here. Similarly Ghandi, whom many may be surprised to learn, practised this technique.

^the unwritten language the Buddha spoke. Scholars could read sanskrit but the vast majority spoke, and had no writing, Pali. Teachings were passed from teacher to pupil as long recitations usually best memorised as a singsong chant. The best of these chanters could memorise and chant the entire tipitaka.(in time mystical qualities were imagined to be attached to these chants)

~(where another controversial teacher Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh taught Zen based techniques)

*(the fundamental meditation techniques that Buddha taught as a way of exploring truth)Ana apana : awareness of the in and out breathing, Vipassana : wisdom through self knowledge, the equanimous study of reality or truth as it is. Thes are techniques that Muslim, Atheist, Christian, Jew..etc all may benefit from.

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......... Enlightenment. ..............

When asked "What is the Enlightenment?" Inmanuel Kant replied

"Enlightenment is man's emergence from his self incurred immaturity. Immaturity is the inability to use one's own understanding without direction from another. This immaturity is self incurred if its cause is not lack of understanding, but lack of resolve and courage to use it without another's guidance. Sapere aude! That is the motto of the Enlightenment"

Sadly it does not apparently yet to have appeared to have influenced either the United States of America or certain areas of Yorkshire :plane

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Any adult who still believes in the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy or a God should be given 20 years hard labour. See how their praying will get them out of that one.

Just as I would like to see you get out of explaining yourself on Judgement Day...

Let's assume there is a god.... Will that entity be concerned about keeping to laws (which ultimately are human in origin in that they are articulated in certain language constructs) or in 'doing good'.

I'd argue that, unless god (whichever 'flavour' might be right) is enormously petty actions, to help others (cf Good Samaritan, Prodigal Son, with apologies for my lack of sufficient knowledge of the culture of non-christian faiths, for which I blame my christian-dominated background) is far more important than strict observance of religious 'niceties'.

In which case an atheist who has 'done good' might find it easier on Judgement Day than many believers.

Okay, you should now return to your earlier assumptions regarding faith... :D

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......... Enlightenment. ..............

When asked "What is the Enlightenment?" Inmanuel Kant replied

"Enlightenment is man's emergence from his self incurred immaturity. Immaturity is the inability to use one's own understanding without direction from another. This immaturity is self incurred if its cause is not lack of understanding, but lack of resolve and courage to use it without another's guidance. Sapere aude! That is the motto of the Enlightenment"

Sadly it does not apparently yet to have appeared to have influenced either the United States of America or certain areas of Yorkshire :lol:

Andy, I'm quite happy to continue this debate privately or on a separate thread. However, for the sake of your students, hadn't we better stick to the topic?

:D Doug

PS Know much about Mr Kant, do you? :P

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