Should Christians be hated?

(434 Posts)
plaingirly Fri 05-Apr-13 19:50:08

Random question! I opened my Bible on Matthew 10 and verse 22 says :

And all nations will hate you because you are my followers. But everyone who endures to the end will be saved.

I think there is another verse similar but can't remember it.

So if someone is really a follower of Jesus will people hate them and if people don't hate them are they not strong enough in their faith?

I don't really want to be hated! smile Also at work we have to get along with people so having them hate us wouldn't be ideal. Unless the verses are more specific or maybe aimed at the disciples.

PedroPonyLikesCrisps Fri 05-Apr-13 21:14:45

Christianity perhaps, but not Christians.

But this line is fairly typical of a regime which wants to recruit and retain because it tells you to keep loyal even though some outsiders will hate, ridicule and challenge your belief. It smacks of fear to be honest and it gives the organisation something to point to when believers start to to doubt themselves.

hiddenhome Fri 05-Apr-13 22:42:43

People hate being told the truth wink

headinhands Fri 05-Apr-13 22:43:37

What concerns me is that a Christian might be led to interpret abuse differently than your average Joe and may tolerate it in light of such verses sad.

Gingerandcocoa Fri 05-Apr-13 22:49:23

headinhands I think that if nothing else, Christians are less tolerant of abuse because they know the love of Christ, they feel loved and as a result are much more confident to stand up to it (as we know so many people who stay in abusive situations because they feel unworthy of love).

Jesus was a prime example of standing up to what was wrong, and the Bible tells us story after story of Jesus standing his ground and not accepting things for what they were.

Christians are, however, taught to endure persecution (and the value of such ensurance) because of their faith, and I guess you don't need to look very far for some examples of that (although we are greatly blessed to live in a part of the world where you should not in theory be persecuted for your faith)

LizzyDay Fri 05-Apr-13 23:21:10

"And all nations will hate you because you are my followers. But everyone who endures to the end will be saved."

If you heard a complete stranger say this to a group of people in a pub, say, what would you think?

headinhands Fri 05-Apr-13 23:27:57

How come millions of people bereft of the love of Christ have a fully developed and healthy sense of self worth? It would appear that it's not vital? Furthermore how come some who claim to know such a phenomenon tolerate abusive personal relationships that in turn expose their others to the effects?

MTSgroupie Fri 05-Apr-13 23:33:30

I don't hate Christians. I just find it irritating when they talk about Jesus. Don't take it personally. I feel the same way when people talk about being vegetarians or socialists.

Plaingirly, hi, IMHO I do not think all Christians will be personally hated, but clearly there will be some people who hate Christians. Many have been persecuted for their faith, along with people of other religions and no religion. The Bible calls the church Christ's body and says when one part of the body Suffers all suffer, e.g. I think it means we should care. Some people may like your faith, others may not, I think it is an encouragement to endure. If you are in the UK, like me, you are fortunate hopefully not to have problems with persecution. However, even here some who become Christians from other faith back grounds can experience problems. All the best.

Do you mean that if people don't hate you, you aren't trying enough at being Christian? The only Christians I can think of who might use that logic are the ones that picket the funerals of dead US soldiers en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Westboro_Baptist_Church. Otherwise, a more reasonable reading of it is "if people hate you for your Christanity then you should endure the hatred".

syl1985 Sat 06-Apr-13 03:07:12

In Gospels the life of Jesus is written down in them. Not all verses make a lot of sense. Some seem to be standing right against each other like:

John 13:34-34
new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another

Luke 14:26
If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple

I like to read the Gospels, but I don't read verse for verse I prefer to read a whole book:
Matthew, Luke, Mark or the one from John.

They make a bit more sense if you read the whole book.

My personal opinion:
The Lord has given us our own brain so we can think for our self. In some cases you might need to hate your family and move away from them.

Think for example about families that have been abusing their children from generation to generation until one child is born and grows up in this abusive family. Then makes the difficult decision to leave them and have no contact what so ever with them anymore. In such an extreme situation I can imagine that Luke 14:26 will be very useful and gives someone strength in such a situation.

Sylvia

PedroPonyLikesCrisps Sat 06-Apr-13 09:02:51

I think that if nothing else, Christians are less tolerant of abuse because they know the love of Christ, they feel loved and as a result are much more confident to stand up to it (as we know so many people who stay in abusive situations because they feel unworthy of love).

I disagree. It's often the religious who do stay in abusive relationships because they fear divorce or leaving a partner because the bible or other religious text suggests as such.

There's another thread in this forum running on exactly this topic. Whether the Christian is tolerant of the abuse is perhaps negotiable, but the endurance in the relationship is evident.

Of course I'm not saying all Christians do and I'm not saying all atheists don't, but religious beliefs most certainly make people stay when they shouldn't.

I'm going to partly agree with Pedro here. For my own reasons I would say because many Christians believe in a sacrificial self giving love ( I am nor saying we all achieve it and certainly not all the time) they may wish to stay in difficult situations. I expect people of many different religious backgrounds would all hold marriage and commitment in high regard. If the relationship or situation tips over from being hard to being abusive it can be hard for some to see they do not need to stay on that abusive situation or that they need to get help to end the abuse. I don't think the passage from the Bible is about this at all but I wanted yo mention this because it was spoken about.

I should add I am not against self giving love, of couse! But we should be wise and should not be door mats! Also we do not need to go out there and make people hate us as Christians, IMHO.

thermalsinapril Sat 06-Apr-13 21:02:40

I think it means that if Christianity is about love and peace, then people in the world who don't want those things are "hating" what Jesus taught.

headinhands Sun 07-Apr-13 10:41:49

But Jesus wasn't all about love and peace was he.
"Do not think that I have come to send peace on Earth. I did not come to send peace, but a sword. I am sent to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law" Matthew 10:34-35

thermalsinapril Sun 07-Apr-13 11:07:51

headinhands

The "sword" denotes a way of being, and the fight is good against evil not a literal fight. Being set against one's own family doesn't mean Christians are literally meant to fight their families, it just means that changing the world in a good way begins at home.

A good deal of what Jesus said was metaphorical, which the people of the day would understand. That's why he told so many parables, such as the Good Samaritan who wasn't a real person but took care of a fictional "outsider".

Jesus said himself that the most important thing was to love God and to love one another. Everything else should be viewed within this context.

headinhands Sun 07-Apr-13 11:15:25

So how do you decide what's metaphorical and what's literal? If you are able to decide one thing is metaphorical, what's to stop you deciding it's all metaphorical?

Personally, as a Christian, I try and interpret the Bible in the light of my belief of my loving God. For me my faith has to make sense too.

headinhands Sun 07-Apr-13 11:58:51

So you bring your own reasoning and intellect to bear when making your conclusions. That's great! So do I smile But suggests god assumed you would do so when he littered the bible with metaphors. Only, there are over 4000 different denominations of Christianity, and there are as many different ways of reading the bible as there are Christians, and they sometimes visit atrocities on one another over the different interpretations. So maybe it would have been better if god hadn't used metaphors and had been clear? Why would he allow his followers to come to diametrically opposed opinions seeing as they all claim to be in daily contact with him?

headinhands I agree things are very problematic. (Sad). I don't think it is my job to judge God for how he created or gave us the Bible nor is it my job to visit atrocities on anyone else at all. The atrocities in the world full me with sadness and horror. I personally think common sense alone, aside from any subject of compassion (which I would hope I live by), would male it clear that visit atrocities was wrong. I am sure many have their own agenda, down through history, such as land grab, power, control

Sorry, phone cutting me off!!! Basically I cannot explain any atrocities and am constantly saddened that the Bible us used to excuse/explain it permit any atrocities.

headinhands Sun 07-Apr-13 12:52:41

But how do those two beliefs sit side by side as in a, god needs me to use my skills of reasoning, common sense and judgement to interpret passages of the bible that seem unloving/violent and b, god does not want me to use those same skills on his character and his choices? Did he not think, being so clearly up for a bit of reasoning that many many people would reject his message via use of the skills he needs us to have?

I don't know why the bible isn't easier yo understand.

I guess for me the Bible is a big book of stories, poems, songs and dreams/ visions that tell the story of God interacting with people and people interacting with God. It is not highway His that tells you hoe to drive your car around the UK.

I mean it is not the highway code.

I guess for me an imperfect example might be when I say to my child - 'Brush your teeth or I won't let you go out to play' or when I say 'I love you to bits'.

headinhands Sun 07-Apr-13 13:25:53

Yes but you have decided its a supernatural book about a supernatural being that is supposedly in contact with the people who worship him, and yet he allows them to come to wildly different conclusion because the text is so open to misinterpretation. And I will use my reasoning to look at that and decide it suggests the whole thing is man made because the god who would be behind such a set up is, at best foolish and at worst, likes a family punch up.

What is the alternative for you headinhands I don't want to derail the thread so please feel free to pm me or reply elsewhere if you prefer. Apology for taking up so much thread time!

PedroPonyLikesCrisps Sun 07-Apr-13 17:00:51

The alternative is to understand that the Bible is not the word of God.

VAVAV00M Sun 07-Apr-13 17:15:35

I learned this in RE. Google the icthus (the fish) Christians used to draw one half and another Christian another to identify eachover as they were hated at the time. It represents Christian suffering which is no longer happening.

Catmint Sun 07-Apr-13 17:18:45

Good grief, any religion that preaches hatred is to be avoided!

thermalsinapril Sun 07-Apr-13 18:02:06

"So how do you decide what's metaphorical and what's literal?"

You have to decide what you think makes the most sense, in the context of what Jesus taught. As a liberal and not a fundamentalist, I see taking little tiny bits of the Bible out of context as less useful than the value of the overall message.

You're certainly not the first to ask the question. There are various considerations, such as how the original audience would have understood a story (for example they'd have known in some of the parables which current affairs were being referred to), or going to back to the original texts to check the grammar and translation, how it fits in with the rest of the Bible (if Jesus says something that makes no sense, like hating your family, he's making one of his provocative comments to make people think, as his other teaching wouldn't make sense if this were taken literally).

When is a question rhetorical?

headinhands Sun 07-Apr-13 19:19:59

So how come there are 4000+ denominations if it's that simple? Why would god rely so heavily on humans translating his message accurately seeing how fallen we are according to the same bible? You might well think you have stumbled across the definitive translation via prayer etc but what about the millions of others who have come to a different translation via the same method?

Great post thermalsinapril.

catmint I don't think Christianity preachers hatred but the word is mentioned in the Bible. Yes Pedro it I'd always an option to not believe the Bible is the word of God. I do believe it is. I just wondered what other ways there were of interpreting it. headinhands I just wondered what you thought.

vavavoom that is really interesting about Christians drawing half the fish each. I have never heard of that before. Sadly lots of Christians do still suffer for there faith in many places, like north Korea, where I am sure many other people of all faiths and none suffer terribly.

PedroPonyLikesCrisps Sun 07-Apr-13 21:46:36

I just wondered what other ways there were of interpreting it.

There are almost infinite ways of interpreting the bible depending on which bits you take as literal and which bits you take as metaphorical.

I think it's actually extremely arrogant to think that you are capable of deciding what God's message actually was through your interpretation of the text. What gives you the right to decide what is provocative comment and what is an instruction to follow.

The argument that Jesus' overall message was not consistent with the suggestion to take the sword to your family is to assume that the bible is consistent with itself, that it is the word of God and that it is historically accurate. It's quite clearly none of these things.

PedroPonyLikesCrisps Sun 07-Apr-13 21:49:17

like north Korea, where I am sure many other people of all faiths and none suffer terribly.

Dictatorial regimes like North Korea have significant parallels with religion. In fact, in NK they even have a worshiped leader who's dead. Personally, I see very little difference.

EllieArroway Sun 07-Apr-13 22:58:26

So how come there are 4000+ denominations if it's that simple?

You missed off an 0 - it's about 40,000 give or take wink

EllieArroway Sun 07-Apr-13 22:59:41

Most Christians completely ignore most of what Jesus taught. I don't blame them, I would too. The advice is largely rubbish.

PedroPonyLikesCrisps Mon 08-Apr-13 09:45:34

Agreed, Ellie. It's surprising how few bible verses are ever actually quoted when you look at them. I used to think that Christians just had an incredible aptitude for reciting chapters and verses, but turns out they only need a few different ones which support their view on their faith.

For the record, my favourite is Deuteronomy 23.

alemci Mon 08-Apr-13 10:02:26

it isn't preaching hatred, just implying that when you follow christ you tend to stand apart from the 'world' and may go against the flow of the crowd. sometimes people don't always 'get' you and you can't always fit in.

sieglinde Mon 08-Apr-13 11:44:20

VAVAVOOM, I'm afraid there's plenty of evidence that Christians are among the most persecuted religious groups in the world today. Perhaps 200 million Christians in China, India, Indonesia, and the Middle East daily suffer discrimination, abuse and sometimes outright government repression or even 'cleansing' (as in Syria). I can post some links if you'd like to look at the evidence for yourself.

Here on Mumsnet we have the same few tireless anti-Christian posters, who congregate around any Christina thread. They are voluble and they can seem more numerous than they are.

sieglinde Mon 08-Apr-13 11:44:41

CHRISTIAN thread. Sorry!

PedroPonyLikesCrisps Mon 08-Apr-13 11:56:00

What good is evidence of persecution in relation to the truth of the religion?

sieglinde Mon 08-Apr-13 12:13:54

Eh? I was responding to VAVOOM's over-optimistic remark.

Pedro there is plenty of historical evidence that the church has committed atrocities in the past and that individuals in His's name have done terrible things too. However, I cannot see how you can equate the modern Christian church with the regime in pyongyang. They may worship a dead leader but we worship a risen one and life for almost all in North Korea, of any faith or bone is incredibly hard. I have not been there but have read and learnt about the place. As always you are entitled to your opinion and I am in no way offended but I feel you have either a faulty vote of the church or of north Korea or of both. I am not saying this to be offensive, I guess I am just surprised at the strength of your feeling Pedro.

Sorrry I meant to way that I think the church is totally different to north Korea and that for both those of faith and those of none life is very hard in north Korea. You are right Pedro they do appear to worship their leader. The regime has created a closed, isolated, evil state where people are subjected to concentration camps if they step out of line. I have been in many churches and they have their faults bit none I know of are like this.

PedroPonyLikesCrisps Mon 08-Apr-13 15:01:52

North Korea is obviously different in many ways, but they have a leader who is decreed as all powerful and all knowing and the people are threatened with death or imprisonment if they defy the word of the leader. Now, the modern Christian Church in liberal western society is not quite the same any more, mostly because it has had to restrain itself in more recent centuries, but when it had the run of the world and could implement its own methods this was precisely how things were dealt with.

In any case, the people of North Korea are brainwashed to believe what they are told about the world because they have no contact outside of the country, so they follow this doctrine and never realise that everywhere (almost) else is different. There are many parallels you can draw with religion (not just Christianity).

In fact, you see the same kind of thing with Apple. They had the infallible leader Steve Jobs, Apple fans believe against the evidence that Apple are the best company in the world and will preach their doctrine to those who don't 'get it'.

I'm in no way saying that all of these examples are the same, but the similarities are striking.

Thank you Pedro for explaining more.

sieglinde Tue 09-Apr-13 10:10:41

Pedro, do you realise that these comparisons are really offensive?

I am a Catholic and I grew up in a free society. I am not brainwashed and I am not short of oppositional viewpoints or reading. I can make up my own mind, and I HAVE. I have three university degrees, all from top 100 world universities. Face it. Some well-educated, bright people DO NOT AGREE WITH YOU AND YOUR KIND. STOP CARICATURING people who disagree with you.

Actually, I don't think much of apple, either. grin

PedroPonyLikesCrisps Tue 09-Apr-13 13:53:31

I'm not talking about individual people, I'm talking about the organisations that run the religions and the parallels between them and other regimes.

sieglinde Tue 09-Apr-13 14:13:25

Religions are made up of individuals, Pedro. I find your description of my faith by extension a description of me.

You also imply that I'm 'brainwashed' by your comparison with N Korea - and actually your thinking about the people there may be simplistic too - maybe you should read a book called Nothing to Envy?.

tuffie Tue 09-Apr-13 22:57:20

sieglinde - Remember what Christ said "Blessed are you when people insult you.....because of me. Rejoice and be glad". I always remember this when faced with negative comments,ridicule, and even hostility at times. I also do the Rejoice and be glad bit, as I realise how much joy and peace my faith brings to my life.

PedroPonyLikesCrisps Tue 09-Apr-13 23:37:08

Religions are run by organisations sieglinde. If you are offended by the parallels I have drawn then perhaps you should be rethinking your organisation.

I did not suggest you have been brainwashed. But I would suggest that you take things on faith without evidence which is either because you are simply an irrational individual or you have been convinced by your organisation.

sieglinde Wed 10-Apr-13 08:25:11

Pedro, that's exactly what I find offensive. I disagree with you, and therefore I am irrational, you say, or 'convinced by an organisation', you say. What if I say YOU are convinced by a few books and articles by a few loud well-known figures? What if I question your credentials for opining about the history and factual basis of all religions?

Religions are not only run by organisations, but by the individuals in those organisations - I mean, there is no organisation that doesn't contain people. So in eagerly crucifying those people, you are attacking all individuals of faith - there isn't some separable structure you could attack instead.

Sorry, tuffie, you are doubtless much more holy than I am. smile I think some of the abuse meted out here is unacceptable. I'm mad as hell and I'm not taking it anymore grin

PedroPonyLikesCrisps Wed 10-Apr-13 08:54:48

Ok, I'll make it clearer then. Believing in stuff without evidence is irrational. Asserting this stuff without evidence is stupid. Believing what's in a book just because it the book itself tells you to believe it is idiotic.

Even if I did only had a few books by a few people (which I don't, I have countless scientific experiments to draw upon) it's still more than your one book which doesn't corroborate with anything else.

If you find that offensive then it's really your problem. There's no polite way to suggest to someone that they have dedicated their life to folly.

Maybe there should be a disclaimer at the top of this subsection of MN that says that atheists believe that all Christians are fools and stupid and then the rest of us can get on with the chat? It would be a huge time saver.

And for the life of a foolish man you really can't beat this one. He was hated to death.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dietrich_Bonhoeffer

sieglinde Wed 10-Apr-13 09:28:23

But Pedro, there IS evidence. You just don't accept it as evidence.

And there IS no scientific disproof of the existence of God, however many files you've downloaded. Perhaps you'd care to share an experiment you've performed yourself which resolves this vexed matter...?

There's no polite way to suggest you are talking ignorant bigoted nonsense.

alemci Wed 10-Apr-13 10:29:10

Pedro

You could argue that this man tried to stand up to the Nazi regime and perhaps he was wrong to be involved in the assination plot but he was brave. only quickly glanced at link so who hated him.

also why bother with this thread if you have such radical views?

seeker Wed 10-Apr-13 10:35:39

I don't hate Christians. I know lots of lovely ones.

What I do hate is the fact that Christians often seem to think that their faith gives them the right to special treatment, and means that they are above the law.

Christianity is like smoking- if you want to do it that's your business, and lots of people enjoy it, but don't do it in a way that forces other people to inhale your smoke if you don't want to.

PedroPonyLikesCrisps Wed 10-Apr-13 10:36:09

But Pedro, there IS evidence. You just don't accept it as evidence.

There no evidence that would be widely accepted by the scientific community it's not just me who doesn't accept it. The reason it's not accepted is because it's not evidence.

And I don't need to prove there is no god, the burden of proof is on the believer. I'm not saying there is no god, I don't personally believe there is, but like with anything, negative proof is impossible. But there simply is no compelling evidence for the existence of god which is what leads me to my position.

If there were compelling evidence for god, I would accept it. But there's not, so I don't.

seeker Wed 10-Apr-13 10:36:19

Sorry, if they don't want to, obviously.

sieglinde Wed 10-Apr-13 11:00:30

seeker, I don't think it's asking to be above the law for people to refrain form overt stereotyping and rudeness. I'm fine with disagreement, and for instance with Pedro's last post above. It's polite, though it's using a definition of evidence which itself begs any number of questions.

Pedro, I never said there was scientific evidence. But there is a lot of grey between 'NO evidence' and 'universally agreed scientific evidence'. In that grey zone you will find most of history and much of the rest of the humanities.

seeker Wed 10-Apr-13 11:05:48

Seiglinde- if you say there is evidence for there being a God, then you have to accept that you will be challenged.

If you say "I understand that there is no evidence, but I still believe" then that's fine- feel free. So long as, as I said earlier, you don't expect any sort of special treatment, or let your belief impact on my life.

sieglinde Wed 10-Apr-13 11:23:32

I expect no special treatment, seeker, though I do expect normal courtesy.

I accept that all evidence can be challenged, though I think more informed challenges than are the norm here would be especially welcome. The recent debate on the historical existence of Jesus was a well-informed debate. It isn't helpful that most atheist manifestos cited are exceptionally ignorant, embarrassingly so in the case of The God Delusion.

But I don't expect the challenge to take the form of simple-minded abuse. Too often, it does - it takes the form of a post saying, in effect, anyone with any faith is an idiot, or has 'given [their] life to folly'.

(Actually, I don't at all mind motley and the cap and bells... Sometimes fools are the only wise ones.) However, it's then that I think I should step up to defend my kind.

seeker Wed 10-Apr-13 11:29:29

Seiglinde, so are you opposed to faith schools, Christian worship in non church schools and bishops in the House of Lords? And do you think that Christians should adhere to the employment equality laws that bind the rest of us?

sieglinde Wed 10-Apr-13 12:01:32

Actually I've argued many times for the separation of church and state, seeker, in all these areas. The established C of E does nothing for me - literally.

As for your second question - yes, of course, providing they are genuinely relevant.

The comparison of (modern day/church)/church with modern day North Korea struck me as offensive for about 2 seconds before I began to unpack what I think Pedro might have been thinking of! (Cue Pedro jumping in to tell me I am wrong! wink)

The church has done some very bad things in the past, organised religion etc and bad people taking cover under something to throw out their evil actions and not get blamed for them personally!

North Korea is an appalling place, no I have not been but have read up on it a bit and I expect many are now aware of what life is like for the poor repressed of that regime. When this is looked at alongside the work of normal Christians these days, who often work for good in their community and in some cases put themselves in the most hurt and despairing places in the world, this comparison seems (IMHO) to be totally ridiculous. It is true that the Spanish inquisition was appalling and I am sure the church has done many things in the past but I don't think it is worth my being offended by this. (just my personal opinion, not trying to down play anyone else's feelings).

I also think that there may be a faulty view of what it means to be brainwashed. I don't think the church is full of brainwashed people, if it were would there be so many differing opinion son things, s many different views, so much infighting at times! And I don't think the poor people of North Korea are brainwashed, they are down trodden and controlled. angry.

Christians are free to leave the church, change church, do church at home, not do church, they have freedom; the people of North Korea do not. Also whatever the 'church; may do it does not always represent Christ and sadly is imperfect. Just as you would expect from it being a bunch of people.

I think if I want to get angry I want to get angry about what is happening in North Korea, not about what predro thinks about the church.

sieglinde Wed 10-Apr-13 12:24:10

I too am angry about North Korea. I would urge everyone to read Nothing to Envy. It's not an either/or.

I'm not offended by people saying that the church did terrible things in the past, italiangreyhound. Of course it did. Indeed, I'm always amazed that people of this mindset neglect what I'd say is the open goal of the kidnapping of Jewish children and their placement in Christian homes, as recently as the nineteenth century, and the very very dubious role of some Vatican officials in helping some of the very worst Holocaust perpetrators to escape to South America. And don't get me started on the first crusade's slaughter of the Jews of Jerusalem. or the medieval pogrom in Mainz, or the expelling of the Jews from England.

However, we should set that horrible list against the terrible things done by militant atheists last (20th) century- the Ukrainian famine, for example, and Stalin's purges. (I am deliberately eschewing a discussion of the Holocaust because it always derails things.) I will take atheists seriously when THEY fess up to the crimes of people of THEIR views.

Good point sieglinde, yes I agree it is not an either or.

I just sometimes wonder if atheists in general, not anyone necessarily on here, seem to like to stir up Christians and get us upset! It's easy to be upset, and to want to defend what we believe in. I felt very angry when I read those words at first. But I just feel personally I don't want to be upset about it and I also feel that the comparrison is so luidcrous. If we were all brainwahsed we would all think the same, and we clearly do not.

And the people of North Korea are not brainwashed either, I think they have no choice. We Christians clearly have choices.

seeker Wed 10-Apr-13 12:51:15

But you don't have to go back into the past to find awful things done by the church/condoned by the Church.

Individual Christians do all sorts of fantastic things- obviously. And often they are motivated by their faith.

But the Church- that is the hierarchy and establishment is much more problematic. When I get angry and criticise Cristianity it is that hierarchy I mean, not individuals. I admit that I find it difficult to understand how the thoughtful, wonderful Catholics I know can have anything at all to do with the catholic hierarchy, and why they continue to support it. I would have thought that the child abuse scandal would be enough for any thinking person to disassociate himself from it- and that is before you consider the damage done in other areas.

I do think it must be possible to criticise the Estqblishment without individuals feeling attacked.

Seeker I agree with you that it is possible to attach the establishment without the individuals feeling attached, in my case at least, I can't speak for all Christians of course. But I also think that alongside the attack on the church establishment often seems to come this assumption that Christians (I can't speak for any other religion as I don't know them well enough to do that) are unthinking, mindless, who have blind faith and when we offer any 'evidence' for our faith it is laughed at. That is fine as far as I am concerned but it does make debate harder.

Could the same argument not be made for any political group. If I were a firm supporter of the liberals or labour could events in recent past not have totally shaken my belief in the party! Yet if I believe that the party has a chance to make lives better would I not want to stick with it and help it to do so in the future in spite of past mistakes?

attack not attach!!! Can't blame phone any more as am now on pc!!

sieglinde Wed 10-Apr-13 15:22:38

I'm ok with ANY criticism of doctrine or indeed of individual acts - I was doing it myself a minute ago - but not with the kind of blanket all-Catholics-are-evil-idiots claims made above. If you want to duke it out over the theology of the body, fine. I have to begin by saying it's not as central to the view of the RC church from within as it is from without.

I also think that while child sex abuse by the clergy is HORRIBLE and the coverup WORSE, it is a. regrettably common in secular organisations as well, such as the BBC and Manchester Music School and the odd meditation expert recently accused, and those institutions also covered it up and denied it and b. therefore not the result of the church but something that happens with ANYONE who is in a position of trust c. something on which the RC church in England has taken very strong action indeed and more to come, I devoutly hope.

An instance of the kind of thing I object to is the criticism of the new pope before he'd even been invested for his alleged role in the Argentine political system - within less than a week one of the two key witnesses withdrew the allegation, but the press said far less about this than they did about the original claims.

LizzyDay Wed 10-Apr-13 18:52:15

The thing is that the Catholic church:

- wields a lot of power
- has a lot of money
- claims to set a moral example
- tells people how they should live their lives

That is why, when its hypocrisy and crimes are exposed, people get angry and can't understand why ANYONE would willingly support it.

LizzyDay Wed 10-Apr-13 18:53:01

Oh yes, and add 'unelected' to that list.

Viviennemary Wed 10-Apr-13 18:58:15

I always understood this was supposed to mean the sufferings of Christians in the early church.

seeker Wed 10-Apr-13 19:08:50

Exactly, lizzy. Yes, other organizations are corrupt. But in general, they do not set themselves up as the moral arbiters for billions of people. We have q right to expect higher standards from a church than from, say a media company.

HolofernesesHead Wed 10-Apr-13 20:36:35

I think Viviennemary is right wrt the Bible verse quoted at the start of the thread; the early Christians were hated, and killed. We Christians in the UK have such incredibly easy lives now, whatever Lord Carey says. Not so all over the world though, sadly.

sieglinde Thu 11-Apr-13 08:21:26

Oh, I don't know, seeker. All of what Lizzy says applies to the BBC.

- wields a lot of power
- has a lot of money
- claims to set a moral example
- tells people how they should live their lives
- unelected

Tick tick tick! and I was furious about Saville, just as I was/am about clerical abuse.

seeker Thu 11-Apr-13 08:37:34

Since when has one of the main purposes of the BBC been to be a moral arbiter?

And since when has the BBC been in a position to threaten people with eternal damnation if they don't do what it says?

PedroPonyLikesCrisps Thu 11-Apr-13 08:55:45

And since when has the BBC been in a position to threaten people with eternal damnation if they don't do what it says?

Well.... There's always the licence fee.... but not eternal damnation I suppose......

sieglinde Thu 11-Apr-13 09:31:49

I think the old Beeb under Reith did set itself up in very much these terms, seeker.

I don't think the RC church threatens anyone with eternal damnation anymore. I think this is part of your rather old-fashioned view of things, based for all I know on Joyce.

I've been RC for 52 years and have rarely heard anyone even mention hell. This is I think another example of my basic gripe... the straw church you guys make gives little incentive for further change because you lot kinda ignore the changes that have already been made.

seeker Thu 11-Apr-13 09:36:04

Sorry. Eternal damnation was a bit of an exaggeration. Although there are lots of reports of priest using such threats to keep children quiet.

seeker Thu 11-Apr-13 09:38:46

"the straw church you guys make gives little incentive for further change because you lot kinda ignore the changes that have already been made."

So itour fault that the changes don't seem to be happening very fast? hmm

sieglinde Thu 11-Apr-13 09:45:14

seeker, I hear this too. I can only say that these seem to me the older layer of the horrendous cases we see. They make me sick with anger, too.

The threat has only once been made to me, in relation to my mother who was C of E, and the local priest when consulted gave the nun in question a HUGE bollocking. This was in 1972.

I honestly never ever dread hell fire. What I dread is disloyalty to Christ, and to God - HURTING them. Just as one would dread that with any close friend. I mean, if you think, bloody hell, mass again, it's a bit like thinking, bloody hell, grandma again, or bloody hell, she's on about her love life again. It's that kind of bloody hell grin. Love makes you do what you wouldn't do ordinarily.

Actually the RC church is pretty much the ONLY Christian faith that promises a LIMITED period of purgation (the doctrine of Purgatory). Catholics do talk about this, a lot. The assumption is that the only people who remain there are those who CHOOSE to stay. This for us is the meaning of the doctrine of the redemption. Christ suffered INSTEAD of us. That's actually amazingly hard to live with.

sieglinde Thu 11-Apr-13 09:50:20

So itour fault that the changes don't seem to be happening very fast?

No of COURSE not. Just - do you want to help the RC church change, or to luxuriate in condemning it?

PedroPonyLikesCrisps Thu 11-Apr-13 09:52:00

sieglinde, so what happens if you've upset god when you turn up at the pearly gates? Do you still get in? <<genuine confusion>>

seeker Thu 11-Apr-13 09:58:33

"No of COURSE not. Just - do you want to help the RC church change, or to luxuriate in condemning it?"

Neither. It is not my responsibility to "help the RC church change". It is the responsibility of the hierarchy- and maybe the responsibility of the ordinary communicants- if they withdrew support at "pew level" things would happen faster.

And no, I don't "luxuriate" in condemning. I condemn. Because it is wicked, evil and inexcusable. And ongoing.

LizzyDay Thu 11-Apr-13 10:13:20

Actually Sieglinde there probably are a few parallels between the BBC and the RC church. Are you saying that's a good thing?

At least the BBC won't guilt you out if you switch channel by saying that you're disloyal because they died for you. I can see how hard that kind of love must be.

MandragoraWurzelstock Thu 11-Apr-13 10:14:51

my mother appears to take this seriously

she is a catholic and adheres to the rules on everything which basically means upsetting most people, while being really nice about it

So no one hates her but everyone hates what she does with it, she's losing people she loves just because they know she doesn't approve of them.

sieglinde Thu 11-Apr-13 10:30:59

1. Pedro asks.. sieglinde, so what happens if you've upset god when you turn up at the pearly gates? Do you still get in? <<genuine confusion>>

The short answer is, only God knows. The long answer is that God's mercy is infinite, and yes, if you are sorry he will be merciful, again a bit like a friend you've upset.

But the even longer answer is that I don't try not to upset God because of any anxiety about the next world, but because I love and respect him here and now. I never think about the pearly gates either. (What gates?)

2. seeker asks - 'there probably are a few parallels between the Beeb and the RC church - are you saying that's a good thing?

For whom? I'm just saying it's a thing. Are you puzzling over everyone who ponied over their license fee, supporting an organisation that covered up child abuse? I'm betting no. I'm betting that you would see it as disproportionate.

IMHO, the Beeb might actually be significantly less likely to change in any deep way than the RC church. We should have a nice talk about Foucault...

I don't see Christ as 'guilting me out'. It's not about guilt. It's about love and compassion. How can he MAKE me feel guilty? I just feel that way, just as I would if I upset a colleague and thought it was because I'd been thoughtless or insensitive.

3. Mandragora, that must be really hard for you (and maybe for her too). I see this and I see your point, but I also think she may not be typical - at any rate, the Catholics I know aren't like that, and nor was Jesus. The ones I know are genuinely the most loving, tolerant, generous people I know, and the most willing to put aside their own needs to help other people. But there's no denying that not all Catholics are saints grin

seeker Thu 11-Apr-13 10:48:35

" the Catholics I know aren't like that, and nor was Jesus. The ones I know are genuinely the most loving, tolerant, generous people I know, and the most willing to put aside their own needs to help other people"

Many of the ones I know are too. Which is why I just can't understand how they can possibly maintain loyalty and allegiance to the Catholic Church. I find it utterly, utterly baffling.

MandragoraWurzelstock Thu 11-Apr-13 10:58:41

Me too Seeker.

please don't misunderstand - she is basically a loving, very kind, generous and do-anything-for-you person and I love her dearly.

But people know that she doesn't approve of their actions and that can be very upsetting all round, for instance a family member is openly gay and maintains very scant contact with her now, basically because no one wants to be pitied, or for someone to be nice to them 'despite' their life choices.

She would never say outright, you're wrong, you're doing something terrible' but they know that's what she believes which is really hurtful to them. She knows this, and acknowledges how awful it must be for them to know she disapproves.

But God and his rules (personally I think they're manmade rules) has to come first.

I find it very hard to live with. I sometime come out with some terrible 'jokes' to try and maintain the lighter mood between us - in the manner of Borat. 'Not too much raping while I am gone, humans only'
and she does laugh while I think 'I can't believe I just said that'

It's not her fault, she has awful OCD and it's all about religion these days. So not a straightforward case of Catholicism gone ballistic.

It's just so sad that people avoid her at times because she's upholding the churchly principles, and she knows this, and doesn't care as God is the one in charge even if everyone did hate her.

sieglinde Thu 11-Apr-13 12:12:19

I too find it hard to understand, seeker and Mandragora. That is, I find it hard to understand how people can forget that the first rule is love. I find the RC church is about love - as in love for everyone, and tolerance. I can only repeat that it's regrettable that not everyone finds it so.

But I bet your mother is a lovely person, Mandragora, and it's good too that she doesn't have mean outbursts. Of course nobody wants to be pitied or looked down on, but maybe there has to be tolerance all round? Maybe the gay family member needs to tolerate her too? Tolerate doesn't mean 'accept entirely' - it derives from the Latin word 'bear'. Maybe each has to bear the other's disapproval and focus on the love.

sieglinde some very interesting comments from you, very good to read.

Mandragora I am very sorry for you Mum, I had some OCD like symptons a long time ago (not about religion about door locking and washing hands when I was a teenager) and it was horrible. I never really got any help for it and it was not really recognised as a problem at the time. But I would encourage your mum to get some help if she can.

seeker Thu 11-Apr-13 12:46:01

" I find the RC church is about love - as in love for everyone, and tolerance"

I'm really sorry, but no it isn't!

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Thu 11-Apr-13 12:48:10

Should we be loving Jimmy Saville and tolerating what he did?

MandragoraWurzelstock Thu 11-Apr-13 13:07:09

She's had some help, she is having some more now as she recognised she was ill again. Poor mum. It's very hard for her to differentiate between the demands of her faith and the demands of her illness.

sieglinde Thu 11-Apr-13 13:20:52

[Laughs] Pedro, clearly you meant that as a stumper.

Short answer - No, loving someone does NOT mean accepting their crimes along with them.

But why is the expulsive logic of shunning you apply to Saville -and me, actually - any better than what you condemn in the RC church? You sound like an imitation of your caricature of it.

Saville is dead, so there's really no opportunity to behave lovingly to him. If he were still alive and showed up at our church I wouldn't take him behind the bike shed and knock him about, no. (I'd bloody want to, but that's not an ok impulse).

But I would want justice to take its course. I would turn him over to the police. No priest would give him absolution unless he turned himself over to them and took whatever punishment was meted out.

Long answer...all of us do things that are terrible. God loves him. Jesus loves him.

All of us are horrible and terrible. Yet all of us can be loved.

What's the humanist answer? Would you tolerate him? Saville is a secular problem...

seeker, I know the RC church doesn't seem loving to everyone. Just it does to me. May I ask what your experience is? Obviously very different from mine...

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Thu 11-Apr-13 15:44:50

See this is where I'm confused. On the one hand you say that the RC church seems loving to everyone, but then on the other hand you are saying that it's god and Jesus who would love Jimmy and not the priests of the church or even yourself.

I think we're all clear that taking him out back and walloping him isn't an acceptable action, but if in your head you'd want to, that's not really showing him love.

So I think I'm with seeker here in that the church doesn't appear to love everyone. (and for the record, I'm just using Jimmy as an example, you can replace with anyone who's committed similar heinous crimes).

I'm also not saying that not loving everyone is wrong. I think it's absolutely the right stance. Some people really don't deserve it.

LizzyDay Thu 11-Apr-13 16:10:20

I'm confused too at where one (as a human) should draw the line of someone being TOO heinous to be included in the human circle of love. Murderer, abuser, man-slaughterer, GBH-er, drunk driver, fraudster, con-artist...?

Viviennemary Thu 11-Apr-13 16:50:16

I must say I have a great problem with this love your enemies business. Wicked people need standing up to not loved and forgiven.

madhairday Thu 11-Apr-13 18:30:07

Hmm, yes, I would agree they do need 'standing up to' and justice to be done. But this does not preclude love - it's what grace is all about. Imagine if the wicked person was your beloved child, seriously gone off the rails - would you not forgive them, if they were truly repentant? The whole point of grace is giving another chance - now you may think there are those who do not deserve this, and so may I. But God doesn't, while also being utterly just. And one day justice will be seen to be done, and forgiveness given to those who ask in sincerity (which means a change of action, not merely the words).

<brainwashed emoticon?> grin

sieglinde Thu 11-Apr-13 18:57:26

That's the thing, Lizzy (and Pedro). We humans can't easily love people like that. But Jesus could, and he did. he asked God to forgive the very people who were killing him. He consorted with people his own society saw as outcasts. Tax collectors, the racially no-go, and prostitutes. Did they deserve it? Do I? Do I really DESERVE love? In one sense nobody does and in another sense everyone does.

Madhairday is right too, and I think her answer is probably the best one. Justice does NOT preclude love. If Jimmy Saville was my son - um, gulp - I would still love him though I would also think he should be punished for his crimes.

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Thu 11-Apr-13 19:19:02

If is was my son and if he were truly sorry, then perhaps. But some people don't just commit one crime and regret it. Some commit over and over and over again and have no remorse. Also the vast majority of the world's population are not my son.

You seem to be in awe of Jesus being able to forgive people like that, but I don't see that as a virtue, I see that as foolish.

But either way, my main confusion was that you were saying that the church is loving to everyone, yet neither you as a church goer, nor the priests would love Sir Jimmy if he popped in for tea and biscuits. So which part of the church would love him?

sieglinde Thu 11-Apr-13 20:13:56

Pedro, I think your idea about love is different from ours. It's not a warm fuzzy feeling. It's actions.

If Jimmy arrived for tea and biscuits after mass I'd be polite. That's all. Nobody would say, oh look, there's a criminal, how darling.

Neither you nor I know if Saville felt any remorse. God knows, however.

Fascinating that you see Jesus' forgiveness as foolish. Why? Are we in Nietzsche Street? I hope you aren't going to confirm my longstanding tendency to think atheists are pretty goddamned hard and self-righteous. I hope you mean that forgiving some criminals is just turning them loose to kill again... though even then it's you who now sound like the Republican Right.

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Thu 11-Apr-13 20:25:14

I hope you mean that forgiving some criminals is just turning them loose to kill again...

Kind of.... That and forgiving, say, an abusive partner for them to hit you again.... Anything along those lines. Once, perhaps, but again and again as some people do is foolish and dangerous.

I think the main problem is the belief that God created us all and therefore we can all be loved by him (incidentally, I have no desire to be loved by a god, or by jesus). Whereas, in reality, some people are just raving psychopaths who have no remorse for their actions or simply believe that their highly immoral actions are within the realms of acceptable behaviour.

sieglinde Fri 12-Apr-13 08:08:24

Well, doh.

Forgiving someone doesn't mean going back to live with them and letting them hit you again and again. Forgiving someone doesn't mean helping them escape justice.

It means not seeking revenge on them. Not blasting them, or setting fire to a house with them inside, like many abusive partners seem to want to do. Not imposing condign petty punishments on them. Not arming yourself with a bunch of killing weapons to make sure you can do them in.

We aren't btw loved by God because he created us - that is, the belief that God loves us doesn't depend on the idiocy of creationism. We are loved by him because he is himself. Love is natural to him. It's what he is, what he does. And if you don't long for love and approval, then you are very unusual.

Raving psychopaths - yes, apparently one person in 20 is a sociopath. (It's more like one in 15 in Oxford.) I don't know how God sees them. I'm inclined to see them as disabled, handicapped, like cancer sufferers. The real problem is that often people look up to them (even in Auschwitz, apparently). What I admire about Jesus is that he didn't.

Human society (because of the world's miseries) requires law/justice/protection of the innocent, so loving actions might well involve shutting them away. We have to think like Kant and like Bentham.

But I think it's unlikely that the Jewish and Roman people who killed Jesus were all psychopaths. I don't think blasting everyone evil that he met would have made the world a better place. It would just have encouraged people to worship force and therefore to follow the vilent around.

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Fri 12-Apr-13 12:40:35

But love and forgiveness are not the same thing. And in fact the term love is fairly ambiguous, I think you would have to define love before discussing it, much like you have to define god before arguing his existence.

sieglinde Fri 12-Apr-13 13:42:24

No, they aren't. Indeed.

And forgiveness and letting somebody off the hook aren't the same thing either.

Love is basically putting someone else's needs on a par with your own. Doing unto others. What's your definition?

springyhappychick Sun 14-Apr-13 15:46:01

Forgiveness isn't a feeling imo. For me it's cutting someone/org/whatever loose - my feelings don't have to be involved. I may privately rant and rage about them to God, but at the end I'd cut them loose TO GOD. To do with what he deems appropriate. I am assiduous about this. Thankfully, I can trust him to do the right thing.

Which doesn't mean I wouldn't shop someone who was eg perpetrating criminal activity, and it doesn't mean I wouldn't support punishment for said crime/s. I have a social/legal responsibility as a citizen.

I pray for my enemies because 1. I was told to (and I believe this is FOR MY BENEFIT, to keep me healthy) and I trust that authority and 2. they wouldn't do the things they do if they were well.

The gentle Jesus meek and mild stuff is a class thing imo and doesn't relate to the type of person he was/is. his compassion is tough, if you like, not wet and wimpy. I got caught up with being wet and wimpy for a while and, thank goodness, I saw the light on that!

as for people hating you - i don't think you can be a christian for too long before it becomes apparent that christians are 'hated'. Or christianity, if you like.

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Sun 14-Apr-13 18:14:48

I pray for my enemies because 1. I was told to (and I believe this is FOR MY BENEFIT, to keep me healthy) and I trust that authority

Can I ask how this keeps you healthy?

springyhappychick Sun 14-Apr-13 18:28:35

It keeps me from hating them, or holding resentment towards them. If I pray that they will be blessed - with or without feeling, it is irrelevant - then it is an effective way of handing over the poison of resentment.

\someone once said that holding onto anger/resentment is akin to holding burning coals to your chest. Who'd want that? Not I. What the offender did was bad enough, don't want to allow the crime to eat into my soul for ever more.

That's not to say that I don't often sometimes, as I said, keep a running dialogue with God about my hatred/resentment towards whomever. I guess that is all part of 'handing over' said hatred/resentment, by talking to God about it. The conclusion is, as a discipline, to hand over the person/deed to God; for him to do with it as he sees fit.

It's a relief, actually. To not have to hold on to ills. I mean, what a weight!

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Sun 14-Apr-13 19:04:57

Sorry, I might have missed the point, but what does that have to do with your health?

springyhappychick Sun 14-Apr-13 19:22:33

erm.. chronic anger/resentment/hatred is bad for your health all round . Physical, emotional, psychological, spiritual health. Toxic. Cancer of the soul, some say.

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Sun 14-Apr-13 19:23:57

So what actual ailment would you get from that?

springyhappychick Sun 14-Apr-13 19:52:01

What do you think Pedro?

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Sun 14-Apr-13 19:57:04

I was asking you because I don't understand what you are saying so why are you asking me?

madhairday Sun 14-Apr-13 20:12:40

I think Springy has put it very clearly, Pedro. Unforgiveness and bitterness can eat into the soul and leave a person depressed, weighed down, bitter, angry. It may lead to more serious physical and mental ailments (unless you do not count mental health as a disability?) and will always lead to something lacking in someone's life. The relief to let it go is immense. I'll never forget taking the step of forgiving my bullies at school - I thought it may mean that I was condoning their actions, but in fact all it did was release me from the poison they spoke into my life. I was a changed person with new confidence, and I never once condoned, simply let go, giving my feelings over to God. I couldn't make up 'feelings' of forgiveness but the power in using the words is unimaginable.

madhairday Sun 14-Apr-13 20:13:35

That should say unless you do not count certain mental health conditions as disabilities

bumbleymummy Sun 14-Apr-13 20:14:34

sieglinde, I've really enjoyed reading your posts.

Pedro, not to answer for springy (I'm sure she's very capable of doing that herself!) but off the top of my head I would say that harbouring anger/resentment/hatred etc can cause stress/anxiety/depression just to name a few ailments.

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Sun 14-Apr-13 20:22:02

I think Springy has put it very clearly, Pedro.

Then we're clearly not readily g the same things. There was no clarity. However, it seems to have been cleared up now by others that it's a mental health issues. Would have been much clearer if that had been said in the first place rather than anger, resentment and hatred which are feelings not ailments.

springyhappychick Sun 14-Apr-13 20:29:57

Not just mental health issues but physical, too. I'm sure we've all experienced times when we are stressed and end up getting ill, the immune system is lowered. some say it's all linked ie the physical/emotional. Negative feelings can become ailments.

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Sun 14-Apr-13 20:33:30

Ok, but no one has mentioned any physical ailments.

I really don't see how praying can cure you though and I just don't find that I get ill through anger.

springyhappychick Sun 14-Apr-13 20:40:19

We can't 'prove' that anger/resentment can result in physical ailments etc ie prolonged, held, negative emotions. But we either know people or have experienced ourselves that chronic negative emotion has clearly led to illness, either physical or mental (or both).

Held anger is different to a passing squall of anger. Deep-seated anger - usually from feelings of powerlessness because the appropriate anger wasn't adequately expressed at the time (or at all) because of fear - can be disastrous for health, all health.

headinhands Sun 14-Apr-13 20:45:23

I'd cut them loose TO GOD. To do with what he deems appropriate

Just out of interest, would god not be able to do what he deemed appropriate unless you cut them loose? Also, how do you explain god taking the time to get involved in your personal disputes while ignoring people starving/dying etc?

springyhappychick Sun 14-Apr-13 20:50:04

He doesn't ignore people starving/dying. He's on the lookout for anyone at all to get to those areas to help/change government policy/aid etc. As you would be if it were your kids.

I do believe that that's how it works: that if I 'hold' a 'crime', I am blocking it in my person, harbouring it there and God can't get to it. If I let it go he is free to work with it. In whatever way he deems appropriate.

headinhands Sun 14-Apr-13 20:52:04

So god is able to work on the person directly but not able to do anything himself about those in desperate need?

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Sun 14-Apr-13 20:54:04

I'd cut them loose TO GOD. To do with what he deems appropriate

This is exactly how some religionists justify murder. Quite a disgusting position to hold.

springyhappychick Sun 14-Apr-13 21:03:55

What you give to him, he can work on. If you hold it, he can't. Free will and all that.

Deems appropriate. As he is love - and he loves all in the way we love our own kids (x million) - then I can trust that he will do the right thing. My kids behave badly at the mo, I wouldn't cut their arm off to punish them. I love them dearly and want them to be well.

ULtimately, I have no idea what God would do, because I'm not God. Just that it's not my job to hold things. I trust that what he can work with, what he will do, will be good, not bad.

headinhands Sun 14-Apr-13 21:16:01

What you give to him, he can work on. If you hold it, he can't. Free will and all that.

What about the free will of the person you've cut loose? Do they not have a say about god dealing with them?

springyhappychick Sun 14-Apr-13 21:20:08

No. But they can cooperate, or not.

headinhands Sun 14-Apr-13 21:31:14

Can you give an example of how god will try and steer them in a certain way without it affecting their free will?

springyhappychick Sun 14-Apr-13 21:33:09

YOu can love someone but not make them love you back.

headinhands Sun 14-Apr-13 22:10:52

How would god show love to that person?

springyhappychick Sun 14-Apr-13 22:30:19

By dying for them.

headinhands Sun 14-Apr-13 22:33:23

No, I'm referring to god dealing with the person you gave over to them. I asked how god might deal with them that doesn't interfere with their free will.

springyhappychick Sun 14-Apr-13 22:49:08

He can love them but not force them to love him back. that wouldn't be love.

EllieArroway Sun 14-Apr-13 23:02:59

By dying for them

Who died?

springyhappychick Mon 15-Apr-13 00:25:46

That would be Jesus. aka God.

headinhands Mon 15-Apr-13 05:58:54

Ah, when you said you would give them up to god for him to deal with it sounded like you thought god would actually be doing something

springyhappychick Mon 15-Apr-13 09:08:26

Yes I do expect him to do something. What that is I have no idea but I trust him to deal with whatever/whomever in whatever way is good.

headinhands Mon 15-Apr-13 09:26:37

I don't understand how he could do any of that without affecting their free will, and I don't see how you can justify the notion of god meddling in your comparatively simple problems while you know god isn't helping someone who is suffering.

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Mon 15-Apr-13 09:48:24

So god sends himself to earth, in order to die, so that man can be released from original sin, which god himself imposed on man.

And even if you subscribe to that, he was resurrected...... so it wasn't even really much of a sacrifice if you ask me.

Pedro I was under the impression you did not believe in Jesus, now you do and he was 'resuscitated'? You are, of course, welcome to believe whatever you want but the understanding is that he died, not he almost died. (The understanding of many Christians.)

The Roman soldiers had the job of ensuring he died, they would not be very good at their job if they had just let him swoon and that was it? His followers went from being a scared bunch of people to people willing to die for their faith, how was that achieved if it was all a trick?

I am not sure why you think God imposed original sin on us?

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Mon 15-Apr-13 19:01:49

If he wasn't resurrected, what's Easter all about?

Pedro sorry I should have been clearer. I believe he died and then he rose again after three days. I believe he was resurrected, (which means “to bring back to life; rise from the dead.”). I thought you were implying he was mealy resuscitated (which means "to restore consciousness, vigor, or life to/to regain consciousness").

The difference is (I believe) he did he die on the cross and come back to life. But I know some might claim did he merely ‘swooned’ and lost consciousness was lifted off the cross by soldiers whose job it was to kill people and then maybe he came round in the cool of a cave, shifted a massive boulder that was in the way of the door and went about his way without the guards stopping him. I clearly think (as a Christian) he died and was raised to life. I was just surprised that you seemed to be talking about what Jesus did or did not do and yet I thought you did not believe in him. Just checking really grin.

Sorry... typos.... might claim he merely ‘swooned’

springyhappychick Mon 15-Apr-13 22:46:00

he was resurrected...... so it wasn't even really much of a sacrifice if you ask me

yes, I've thought this. If you've lost someone then to get them back after 3 days would be unimaginably joyous. It's the finality of losing someone that is so difficult - you'd give anything to have them back, even for a minute. Sorry, going on a bit there.

Even if the 3 days thing sounds a bit peasy, I don't think being nailed by your hands and feet and left there until you die is particularly peasy. Especially if you were entirely innocent. I also wonder what happened when he went to 'hell'; and I can't help thinking that whatever happened there made the cross business look like a walk in the park.....

but of course we can't know any of that, anything about what really happened in those three days.

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Mon 15-Apr-13 23:51:41

italian I did wonder why you said resuscitated.... I assumed it was a typo!

I don't believe in Jesus as the sun of god. My point was that Christians assert a great deal of the basis of their faith to the fact that Jesus made this massive sacrifice and died for our sins. But then he came back to life.... So it wasn't really a sacrifice at all. Which makes the whole religion a little farcical. I just can't get my head around that.

springyhappychick Tue 16-Apr-13 09:41:02

Or if you/we/one looked at it another way, God 'lost' him for 33 years, not knowing if he'd be back?

springyhappychick Tue 16-Apr-13 09:41:53

if/when!

thermalsinapril Tue 16-Apr-13 10:19:54

"So it wasn't really a sacrifice at all"

Being falsely accused, tortured, mocked, whipped, and killed, and - most importantly - taking all the sins of the world on your shoulders? Sounds like a sacrifice to me.

EllieArroway Tue 16-Apr-13 11:05:54

Being falsely accused, tortured, mocked, whipped, and killed, and - most importantly - taking all the sins of the world on your shoulders? Sounds like a sacrifice to me

Well, given that

a) He'd planned in advance that all of these things would happen
b) Had set things up in such a way that they would
c) Had decided all by himself that he required a blood sacrifice of himself to himself to save us from himself
d) That instead of "taking the world's sins on his shoulders" (whatever that actually means) he could simply have said "I forgive you all" and had the same result with none of the stress
e) Managed to be up and walking within three days of his "death"
f) Is, as we speak, the "living Lord" up in Heaven

.....I fail to see not only what the sacrifice was supposed to be, but who exactly he was hoping to impress with this showboating nonsense.

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Tue 16-Apr-13 11:18:10

Or if you/we/one looked at it another way, God 'lost' him for 33 years, not knowing if he'd be back?

Are we taking about Jesus here? God lost himself? How careless.

springyhappychick Tue 16-Apr-13 18:29:50

grin

Pedro I apologise I thought you said resuscitated but I misread it. I know on another thread someone asked if English was not my first language! It is but I think I might be a bit dyslexic (genuinely) so I do get mixed up. My apologies.

Ellie .....I fail to see not only what the sacrifice was supposed to be, but who exactly he was hoping to impress with this showboating nonsense.

Me, Jesus impressed me with what he did.

Pedro I had to smile at your God losing himself joke. Jesus is part of the trinity, God in three persons, so one part can be away from another part. But before you ask me to prove it, I can't! The usual imagery is water/ice/steam or an orange with skin/flesh and juice.

Or the colours, take a look at this picture to show what I mean (I have not read all the web page just the first illustration).

blog.adw.org/2010/05/in-search-of-the-trinity/

springyhappychick Tue 16-Apr-13 22:25:30

I don't know if he saw it as 'showboating' (whatever that means?). He was very distressed the night before [his illegal 'trial' and sharpish crucifixion before it was even morning and before anyone had chance to protest] at the realisation of what probably lay ahead.

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Tue 16-Apr-13 22:32:18

So is Jesus the son of god or god himself? Never really got the whole trinity thing, doesn't make any sense...... And how is water/ice/steam relevant?

Well, water/ice/steam is just an illustration, it is three things but also one thing. It doesn't explain it, neither does the coloured light think I just linked to, it's just an attempt to explain it. God is three in one, three persons in one Godhead. I know it's hard to understand but that's what pretty much defines the Christian faith, belief in the trinity.

EllieArroway Wed 17-Apr-13 00:34:48

Showboating means showing off.

An analogy: Let's say my son is very ill with a kidney infection. The doctors tell me he can be cured with antibiotics. I say, "What if I gave him one of my infection free kidneys, would that cure him too?" "Well, yes, says the doctor, "but it's not necessary, antibiotics will work so there's no need to put yourself, or him, through that". "NO!" I say. "I want to give my kidney, thanks - in spite of the risk of death to myself. I see it as an opportunity to prove to my son that I truly love him".

I'd be a nutter, right? - but that's what God apparently did. This omnipotent being CHOSE to have himself murdered in the most horrible way (ignoring the fact that he'd already proclaimed murder as a sin, so we had to sin in order to be saved from our sins hmm) when all he actually had to do was say, "Right - I forgive you. Behave yourselves from now on, or you don't get to come into Heaven".

And the trial wasn't just illegal - it was impossible. No trials were held like that over Passover.....EVER. It didn't happen.

And what did he sacrifice again? His life? Er...hardly. He's eternal & immortal. It's impossible to sacrifice your life if you're immortal since you cannot die. That's what it means.

Makes no sense whatsoever.

Ellie hi.

Christians believe he became mortal and shared our humanity.

How do you know that when all he actually had to do was say... you don't believe in him so how can you possibly know what he needed to do to forgive sin?

EllieArroway Wed 17-Apr-13 02:01:55

Hi Italian smile

Do you think just because you believe in God this gives you some special insight into what he thinks or does that's not available to me then? That I don't believe is not relevant. I'm just using logic.

An omnipotent being is not constrained by "needs" - he can do whatever he likes. If he "needed" to go about things in a certain way, who or what is requiring that? If anything is, then he is not omnipotent.

And if he became mortal, it was only temporary since he can hardly be described as mortal now. There's no such thing as being temporarily mortal - you either are or you are not.

If you sacrifice something, you give it up either forever, or in the expectation of forever. You cannot sacrifice your life and then get up and walk around again three days later and still claim you've sacrificed it.

And you can't claim it came as any surprise to him because his omniscience means nothing ever does - he knows absolutely everything in advance.

piprabbit Wed 17-Apr-13 02:53:34

This thread is a really interesting read.

It seems that when trying to understand what it means for the Church to love everyone, the definition that keeps coming up is not the presence of a positive love, but the absence of hate.

Which sort of brings the discussion back to the OP, in which the Christian identity was being established in relation to how Christians are/were hated.

This thread is leading me to think that love isn't the emotion at the centre of Christian belief, but about tolerating (even welcoming) other people's hatred of yourself while forbearing to hate them in return.

It feel a bit like looking at the negative image of a photograph.

Ellie you are,of course, welcome to have any views or thoughts of God. smile

I do personally believe I have some insight into God since I believe I have a relationship with him. I talk to him and I think he talks to me, although I don't hear voices.

I do totally understand your logic. I also feel life is not always completely logical, as we humans would understand. Many things are true that are not strictly logical. Love is one of those things (for me).

You are correct that Jesus is no longer mortal, but he was (I believe) fully mortal when on earth and that did mean, I believe, that he did not know what exactly would happen. He did not know everything. So when he made that sacrifice I believe maybe he did not know exactly how it would all go. These are just my thoughts. He knew that he would be raised but I still think it was a sacrifice.

Why exactly did God need to allow Jesus to die, it is tough and I maybe will never fully understand it. God said that sin needed to be punished and I think we all make mistakes, so none of us are perfect, but the Christian teaching is that Christ himself paid that price (he was perfect and so he could pay that price). The old illustration is of a judge who must impose a fine and yet knowing the person in the dock cannot pay, pays the fine himself.

For most religions in the world it seems to be about working your way into a relationship with God on earth and in heaven by good deeds. Christianity is the one that says, God has done it all. I do sometimes wonder with regard to forgiveness if people needed it to be that clear. As clear as a death, a sacrifice, and that a simple 'I forgive you' would not have been enough to convince humankind that they were acceptable to God. But that is just my late night museings, not theology. Certainly, I have just heard that it had to be that way.

At times it seems very hard to understand. I guess I like to think of it as Jesus running into a burning building to save a person, he is doing it out of love. When I pray now I tend to pray to Jesus, because I think he did that for me.

piprabbit what an interesting thought about the negative of the photo. I feel very sad when I see how badly the church has behaved and still does behave. I also feel very sad when I hear of persecution of Christians, and of those of any faith. There are lots of bad things in the world. But I believe love really is at the centre of the Christian faith.

I do not think for many Christian faith is about fear or anything negative. I guess I can't speak for many, so I will just say for me, for me it is love.

It is the fact that in all this world, in all the fun and joy and in all the sorrow, absolutely nothing makes me feel like God does. It is not even that often mentioned 'peace', because I am sometimes so troubled by the troubles of the world. I think it is that I am not alone.

In proverbs it says there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. I think that is what that means to me, Jesus sticks close to me.

I must go to bed now, the ironing is all done and I have finished watching Obsessive Compulsive Hoarders! Good night wink

EllieArroway Wed 17-Apr-13 07:27:03

How was the retreat, Italian? Nice and restful?

Yes, I know our conclusions are very different but I do like that you're so willing to listen (read!) and consider. That's the most any of us can ask of each other, right?

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Wed 17-Apr-13 07:42:40

He knew that he would be raised but I still think it was a sacrifice.

It's just not a sacrifice if he came alive again. It's nothing to do with being hard to understand, it's just wrong. Christians always say "oh it's difficult to understand, but you just have to have faith and remember the love", well sorry, it's just stupid and illogical. And by illogical I don't mean hard to understand.

If he had run into a burning building to save a child, that would be commendable (although less impressive if he knew death was just a minor obstacle). But the whole sacrifice thing is farcical.

And the trinity is even more stupid. It allows the three gods to be separate when it suits or all the same when it suits. But of course we are supposed to just accept how this is so that the church can use it to explain as wide a range of issues as possible without deviating from the metaphorical messages in the bible.

Ellie thank you. The 6 days at Spring Harvest were lovely. Very moving and also very good fun. Too much food though! But that is Butlins for you, all you can eat!

Yes, listening to each other is important, I would probably say that is the least we can do for each other!

Pedro of course the Trinity is useful! The Trinity is God! Of course we will disagree, that is fine.

Pedro just asking do you think what Jesus did is nothing of importance, or do you think it just did not happen. People might say it nothing significant. But I don't think going through death is nothing, or that being separated from God is nothing? I don't think it is nothing. I think it is something. I would call that something 'sacrifice'. Personally, I would say it is hard to understand and maybe to some it seems illogical. Sacrifice is giving up.

say it is.... sorry, early!

EllieArroway Wed 17-Apr-13 08:43:48

Yes, listening to each other is important, I would probably say that is the least we can do for each other!

Ha grin - I think that's what I meant. Sorry, need more coffee!

thermalsinapril Wed 17-Apr-13 09:25:15

> It's just not a sacrifice if he came alive again.

It wasn't an ordinary death though. He took all of the world's sins upon himself.

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Wed 17-Apr-13 09:59:19

Pedro just asking do you think what Jesus did is nothing of importance, or do you think it just did not happen. People might say it nothing significant.

Both actually. I don't believe in God, so by extension I don't believe in the supernatural occurrences surrounding the resurrection stories. However, even if every word were true, I wouldn't consider it significant for the reasons Ellie has quoted above.

If Jesus was god in human form (which is contradictory to the 'son of god' label anyway), then firstly, what was the point of the whole display of setting up a crucifixion when all he had to do was forgive man (and he supposedly has the capacity to forgive everyone). Secondly, how are we supposed to know that he actually felt anything when he is supposedly capable of performing miracles at flick of the wrist. Finally, He took all of the world's sins upon himself .....what does that even mean? And what would it mean to an all powerful god? Not much really, since he created the darn world in the first place.

What I do agree with is that it wasn't an ordinary death because he didn't stay dead for long. This alone makes it a non sacrifice. If I wanted to be immortalised as a hero for the rest of eternity and I had the opportunity to make it look like I died for a massive cause, but could do that and then come back to life three days later and claim all the glory, I think I would probably take that.

thermalsinapril Wed 17-Apr-13 20:09:53

> If Jesus was god in human form (which is contradictory to the 'son of god' label anyway)

It makes sense to me. Jesus was a human being; like us except with the soul/character of God. God comes to humanity, instead of only humanity coming to God. This fulfils the prophecies in the Old Testament. However, while people were expecting God to come to earth with great pomp and circumstance, he came to us as a baby in a stable. A week before his crucifixion he rode on a donkey while his supporters waved palm leaves, rather than some regal procession.

> how are we supposed to know that he actually felt anything

The character of Jesus and his teachings demonstrate consistently that he was a scrupulously honest person. So everything he felt at the crucifixion was real.

"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?" Mat 27:46

> when he is supposedly capable of performing miracles at flick of the wrist

Many people taunted and mocked Jesus. A criminal who was being crucified alongside Jesus asked the same thing. "One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: 'Aren't you the Christ? Save yourself and us!'" A sarcastic notice was pinned above him "King of the Jews".

> what was the point of the whole display of setting up a crucifixion

It wasn't some kind of theatrical performance. It was how the most good, honest teacher that had ever lived was unfortunately treated by those who didn't want to lose their own power (high priests, Pharisees etc). He was seen as a troublemaker by the authorities.

> when all he had to do was forgive man (and he supposedly has the capacity to forgive everyone).

I think this is where free will comes in. It's necessary for us to choose to accept the free gift of forgiveness/salvation.

> He took all of the world's sins upon himself .....what does that even mean?

It means that he died in our place, the death that humanity had created for itself by its own sin. As a result, instead of sin and slavery, and separation from God, humans have the option of eternal life.

> And what would it mean to an all powerful god? Not much really, since he created the darn world in the first place.

God created humans to have a relationship with him. He chose to give us free will instead of making us puppets. Unfortunately we messed up due to misusing our free will.

The Christian view is that Jesus has acted as a "bridge" to allow people to choose to walk back to God again. The cross can be seen as sacrifice, victory, forgiveness and a moral example.

alemci Wed 17-Apr-13 20:31:35

good post April. You read about him asking God to take away this suffering when he was in the Garden of Gethsemane. Crucifixion was a horrific death and very painful.

Yes he could have come down from the cross or not been there in the first place but we simply can't understand God as humans.

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Wed 17-Apr-13 20:34:27

It makes sense to me. Jesus was a human being; like us except with the soul/character of God. God comes to humanity, instead of only humanity coming to God. This fulfils the prophecies in the Old Testament. However, while people were expecting God to come to earth with great pomp and circumstance, he came to us as a baby in a stable. A week before his crucifixion he rode on a donkey while his supporters waved palm leaves, rather than some regal procession.

No, hang on, he's either the son of
God or he is god (or neither), you can't have it both ways.

The character of Jesus and his teachings demonstrate consistently that he was a scrupulously honest person. So everything he felt at the crucifixion was real.

How do you know? For starters all you have to go on is a book which was written with Jesus as the 'hero' so chances of it being accurate in terms of his character are slim at best and secondly, if he's god, I would expect him to be able to put on a good show without letting on to anyone that he actually felt no pain. You can't possibly know this.

Many people taunted and mocked Jesus. A criminal who was being crucified alongside Jesus asked the same thing. "One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: 'Aren't you the Christ? Save yourself and us!'" A sarcastic notice was pinned above him "King of the Jews".

What does that have to do with miracles?

It wasn't some kind of theatrical performance.

How can you possibly know?

It was how the most good, honest teacher that had ever lived was unfortunately treated by those who didn't want to lose their own power (high priests, Pharisees etc). He was seen as a troublemaker by the authorities.

No, a god who created all those people who treated him like that and has infinite power to do whatever he wants. It's both illogical and weird.

I think this is where free will comes in. It's necessary for us to choose to accept the free gift of forgiveness/salvation.

What free gift? That doesn't even make sense.

It means that he died in our place, the death that humanity had created for itself by its own sin. As a result, instead of sin and slavery, and separation from God, humans have the option of eternal life.

So how does that make his death harder than anyone else's exactly?

God created humans to have a relationship with him. He chose to give us free will instead of making us puppets. Unfortunately we messed up due to misusing our free will.

He gave us free will.... right..... Can't you that this in itself is not free will? What if I don't want free will? Am I free to choose that?

The Christian view is that Jesus has acted as a "bridge" to allow people to choose to walk back to God again. The cross can be seen as sacrifice, victory, forgiveness and a moral example.

I don't get the bridge thing.... These are just words bundled together to sound good. It's meaningless.

thermalsinapril Wed 17-Apr-13 21:00:52

> What I do agree with is that it wasn't an ordinary death because he didn't stay dead for long. This alone makes it a non sacrifice.

OK, so why was the resurrection necessary?

The resurrection wasn't for Jesus' sake but for ours. It means death to sin, because just as Jesus was raised with new life, so we aim to end our old lives of sin, and begin a new life. (Obviously we're still human so get it wrong often!)

Romans 6:4, 11: “We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life"

Christ was “put to death for our trespasses and raised for our justification” (Rom 4:25)

Jesus humbled himself and died out of love and obedience to his Father. It certainly wan't anything to do with showiness, it was a humiliating, painful death.

The resurrection demonstrated that Jesus was indeed the son of God. The first person to see the risen Christ recognised him when he said her name "Mary". Others took more convincing, such as "doubting Thomas" who needed to actually touch Jesus' side to believe who he was. Paul says the resurrection attests to God's power (2 Cor 13:4).

Before his death, Jesus said he had to go away but he would be sending the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit descended on the Apostles at Pentecost.

"All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Counsellor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you."

alemci Wed 17-Apr-13 21:13:47

also Jesus is God in human form. It is the whole point of the Trinity. We can have it both ways as far as I am concerned.

Also christianity is built on trust and belief in God.

The bridge thing is God as a human in Jesus who reaches down to mankind. Jesus said 'I am the way, the truth and the life etc in Johns gospel - the whole crux of christianity.

thermalsinapril Wed 17-Apr-13 21:26:59

> No, hang on, he's either the son of God or he is god (or neither), you can't have it both ways.

He's God in human form, so that's both.

> all you have to go on is a book which was written with Jesus as the 'hero' so chances of it being accurate in terms of his character are slim at best

The Bible is a collection of writings where Jesus is clearly not a hero in everyone's mind. No-one has found any documents or writings which contradict any of the four gospels which were written by different people, in different places, at different times, during the lifetime of the very first disciples.

> if he's god, I would expect him to be able to put on a good show without letting on to anyone that he actually felt no pain.

Is that what you think God would be like? Someone who lied in order to "put on a good show"? That's not the God I recognise.

Many people taunted and mocked Jesus. A criminal who was being crucified alongside Jesus asked the same thing. "One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: 'Aren't you the Christ? Save yourself and us!'" A sarcastic notice was pinned above him "King of the Jews".

> What does that have to do with miracles?

I'm sure if some of us were in that situation it would be so tempting to perform a miracle to get out of it! Yes, Jesus/God could have saved himself from the cross, but he didn't as he knew what he had to go through was necessary.

Jesus refused to perform miracles if it wasn't in accordance with God's will, no matter how hard it was. In Matthew 4 for example, Jesus was tempted by the devil for 40 days in the desert: "If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread!" "If you are Son of God, throw yourself down!" (while Jesus was on the highest point of the temple). “All this I will give you" (showing Jesus all the kingdoms of the world) if you will bow down and worship me.”

> No, a god who created all those people who treated him like that and has infinite power to do whatever he wants. It's both illogical and weird.

Why? Do you think God should have created people without free will? Do you think he should have just left us to it seeing as people got it so wrong?

> What free gift? That doesn't even make sense.

"For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:23)

All we have to do is decide to receive the gift of salvation by faith, as Jesus has already paid the price for our sins. Unlike some other religions, with Christianity you're saved by grace, not by works.

"For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:23)

> So how does that make his death harder than anyone else's exactly?

Because he took the sin of humanity upon himself.

> What if I don't want free will? Am I free to choose that?

No, because if you didn't have free will you wouldn't be able to make any choices, not even that one.

> I don't get the bridge thing....

It's to do with humans being separated from God by our sin. Jesus bridges the gap between us and God. He provides the way back to God, so that we can once again have a good relationship with him and eternal life in him.

The final stage is responding to God's call. There's nothing complicated about it, it's just a case of repenting, asking for forgiveness, turning your life over to Jesus and accepting the gift of eternal life.

Very well said April.

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Thu 18-Apr-13 06:40:05

He's God in human form, so that's both.

So he's not 'the son of god' then. My son isn't me in small form, he's his own person, you cannot both be someone and their son. So he isn't both

The Bible is a collection of writings where Jesus is clearly not a hero in everyone's mind. No-one has found any documents or writings which contradict any of the four gospels which were written by different people, in different places, at different times, during the lifetime of the very first disciples.

Harry Potter is a collection of books where Harry is clearly not a hero in everyone's mind. No-one has found any documents or writings which contradict any of the Hogwarts teachers. This doesn't make the story true. But in your case, not only is the bible inconsistent with itself, the gospels can't even agree on certain things, so the chance of it being an accurate description of events is actually nil.

Is that what you think God would be like? Someone who lied in order to "put on a good show"? That's not the God I recognise.

Why not? How can you possibly know what god thinks? Do you really think you can say that life is not just all a big ego trip for god? You just cant know that.

I'm sure if some of us were in that situation it would be so tempting to perform a miracle to get out of it! Yes, Jesus/God could have saved himself from the cross, but he didn't as he knew what he had to go through was necessary.

Or maybe he couldn't perform miracles after all and that's why he didn't. Can you prove this?

Jesus refused to perform miracles if it wasn't in accordance with God's will, no matter how hard it was. In Matthew 4 for example, Jesus was tempted by the devil for 40 days in the desert: "If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread!" "If you are Son of God, throw yourself down!" (while Jesus was on the highest point of the temple). “All this I will give you" (showing Jesus all the kingdoms of the world) if you will bow down and worship me.”

Again, your evidence comes from a book which in all likelihood is fiction anyway. But again, maybe he simply wasn't able to perform miracles after all. Derren Brown can do some pretty neat tricks, but he couldn't get away from being nailed to a cross.

Do you think God should have created people without free will? Do you think he should have just left us to it seeing as people got it so wrong?

What did people get so wrong? And how would leaving it to us not constitute free will?

"For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:23)

Again, chapter and verse is not a convincing argument, but my free gift is eternal life??? That's weird, because we all die. So we all sinned? In which case, who gets eternal life and where are they now?

All we have to do is decide to receive the gift of salvation by faith, as Jesus has already paid the price for our sins. Unlike some other religions, with Christianity you're saved by grace, not by works.

Oh, so I can refuse the free gift then? How did Jesus die 2000 years ago for a sin I just committed yesterday?

*> So how does that make his death harder than anyone else's exactly?
Because he took the sin of humanity upon himself.*

Yeah, I've had that answer already, it doesn't mean anything. How exactly was it harder? Especially considering he came back to life again. Doesn't exactly make me feel like he was much of a martyr really.

*> What if I don't want free will? Am I free to choose that?
No, because if you didn't have free will you wouldn't be able to make any choices, not even that one.*

So if I'm not able to choose to not have free will, then it's not free will is it? And how can something be free will if you are told that you have it? It's nonsense and quite clearly cannot be true.

It's to do with humans being separated from God by our sin. Jesus bridges the gap between us and God. He provides the way back to God, so that we can once again have a good relationship with him and eternal life in him.

But you said he is god. So he's not bridging anything.

The final stage is responding to God's call. There's nothing complicated about it, it's just a case of repenting, asking for forgiveness, turning your life over to Jesus and accepting the gift of eternal life.

It is complicated because it's all so contradictory. Why would I turn my life over to Jesus when all he appears to be is a trickster? And I wouldn't want eternal life, how depressing would that be. Have you seen Highlander?

EllieArroway Thu 18-Apr-13 07:37:41

Very well said, Pedro.

Have you seen Highlander? grin grin

Yeah, I've had that answer already, it doesn't mean anything. How exactly was it harder? Especially considering he came back to life again. Doesn't exactly make me feel like he was much of a martyr really

Quite. And I'll add to that - surely "taking the world's sin on your shoulders" is only meaningful if you pay the price for that sin? If Jesus is not, in actuality, going to suffer the punishments that we would have had to if he didn't make this "great sacrifice" of his then it's nothing more than an empty gesture.

Depending on how literal you are, the punishment for me if I "sin" (whatever that is) is either the pits of hell or exclusion from Heaven.

Is Jesus in Hell - for eternity?

Or maybe he's just been excluded from Heaven?

I bet none of you believe that either of those things are true - so what price do you think he has paid on our behalf? And if he's not paid any price, then how is it anything but a great, big, utterly pointless empty gesture?

"He suffered the sins of the world" - isn't that how it usually goes? Well, committing a sin doesn't make you suffer (it's usually the opposite, which is why we commit them), it's the consequences that do. Jesus managed to bypass this bit. Nifty.

Hi Pedro you said So he's not 'the son of god' then. My son isn't me in small form, he's his own person, you cannot both be someone and their son. So he isn't both.

I think you were answering someone else and I don't want to jump in and spoil their point, so please excuse me replying, just with my own thoughts! That's where human language makes it very hard to speak about spiritual things. The term son of God refers to Jesus but not in the sense of a human son, who is distinct from their human parent.

This is easier to explain if I borrow someone else's wise words from a website, which I found on line just now! I really cannot vouch for this website, and of course it is Christian. So it is not one I want to say I agree with everything it says etc! Except to say that in this instance it explain things - I think - very well smile.

christianity.net.au/questions/how_can_jesus_be_both_god_and_gods_son

"So the Bible tells us that Jesus isn’t ‘God’s human son’, rather, that Jesus, who is co-eternal with God (that means that like God, he existed forever) became human. Jesus was like God - eternal and perfect - but he became human so that he could enter into our world and die for humans. The Bible treats this as something to marvel at: ... Jesus Christ ‘though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.’ (Philippians 2:6-8) The actual ‘mechanics’ of how God had a human son are not explained to us, but we are left in no doubt that Mary’s conception and pregnancy are miraculous - you could read chapter 1 of the gospel of Luke to see the angel tell Mary that she will fall pregnant. The gospel of John, which is written in very symbolic language at the beginning, speaks about ‘the word becoming flesh’. ‘The word’ is Jesus - who was with God in the beginning - and he became flesh - this is what ‘incarnate’ means - to be made flesh. This makes it clear that Jesus is the eternal God becoming human. So in answer to your second question, it isn’t so much that God had a human son, but that God’s son became human for our sake. "

and also ....

"* We see this distinction / unity when Jesus identifies himself with the Father, saying that he and the Father ‘are one’ (John 10:38, 17:11,21), and that he is in the Father and vice versa (John 14:11). Jesus does not say that he IS the Father, or that he and the Father are the SAME, but that they are ONE. So they are distinct, yet unified."

I hope this is helpful, yet my suspicion is that you will have more questions! Which I will be delighted to join others in answering as it is so nice to chat to you, and you come up with lots of great questions. grin

Ellie Yes, I saw Highlander too, and also AI, which was probably the most depressing film I have ever seen! Luckily, I think heaven is going to be way more exciting and fun and great than being Christoph Lambert (lovely and cute as he is wink) and i really hope a million times better than being stuck in a pod under the sea like David in AI sad. But I digress!

Ellie How did Jesus manage to by-pass anything?

Sacrifice is giving something up, in this case Jesus gave up his life. The fact that he was resurrected was great, death could not hold him, we might sing.

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Thu 18-Apr-13 21:54:26

Right, so perhaps someone can explain how God and Jesus can be both the same person and also different people?

What would make the afterlife less depressing than being Christopher Lambert?

Sacrifice is giving something up, in this case Jesus gave up his life. The fact that he was resurrected was great, death could not hold him, we might sing.

If I sacrificed my life and then came back to life, I would not consider that I had sacrificed my life, because I still have it. (and I wouldn't want anyone singing about it, I'd probably want to keep it quite quiet!)

And of course death couldn't hold him, he's god, or like god, or one with God, or god's son, or..... perhaps death just couldn't work out who he was and sent him back?

Pedro you do make me smile! smile

It's very irreverent - but I know you don't think so.

God in three persons, I can't explain it to make sense to you, that is not because it is impossible to explain, I am just not a wise enough, please forgive me. Maybe someone else will appear to give guidance. The key bit is that God is not a 'person' like we are people, but we use the term 'God in three persons' to try and explain the mystery of the trinity.

'Death could not hold him' is part of the lyrics of a song. We call Jesus the 'first fruits' because Christians believe that because of his resurrection when we die we too can go to heaven and be with him. But more than that it is part of a wonderful relationship with God.

I believe Jesus died as a man and it was a real death. I am not sure why you think because Jesus was raised it makes the sacrifice less valid.

You speak about you sacrificing your life. I know I have never met you but, with all respect, you are not God and so your comparison is not the same!

Jesus is perfect, which is why he was the only one who could make the sacrifice. In order to understand the concept of sacrifice you probably need to know about the Jewish religion and the sacrifice of animals etc to see the connection - but I suspect you know all about it as you seem to know a lot about religion (not sure, care to say more about that?). smile

EllieArroway Fri 19-Apr-13 02:14:15

Italian If he was up and walking three days later, then he didn't sacrifice his life. He got it back. At best, he sacrificed three days - which in itself is meaningless if he has eternal life.

Let's say I have £100 and two people I know need it. Person A will be able to pay it back in 3 days, Person B needs it equally but will never be able to pay it back.

If I give it to Person B, I've sacrificed that money. I know I'll never get it back. If I give it to Person A I just have to manage without it for 3 days, so it's not really a sacrifice, is it?

And, don't forget - Jesus/God supposedly existed in Heaven BEFORE incarnating himself on Earth and then went back there when he died. How important is this "life" of his on Earth anyway that the loss of it was a sacrifice of earth shattering importance? He just went home again.

Ellie You are right about the fact Jesus that existed in Heaven before he was incarnate on Earth and yes he went back there after he was raised. The bit we will need to disagree about is the 'just'. It is not to me something of little significance, it is of great significance.

Out of interest what do you think turned those hiding disciples into a fearless force who went out preaching etc after he was raised? They were locked away before that for fear of the Romans!

EllieArroway Fri 19-Apr-13 10:23:53

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

EllieArroway Fri 19-Apr-13 10:29:17

Gawd. Wrong thread blush. Reported myself. Sorry all.

EllieArroway Fri 19-Apr-13 10:39:56

Out of interest what do you think turned those hiding disciples into a fearless force who went out preaching etc after he was raised? They were locked away before that for fear of the Romans!

There's no evidence anyone went out preaching after he was "raised". We don't know a) that he was raised at all or b) what happened in the immediate aftermath. The first account we have was written 40 years (at least) later by a foreigner who didn't see any of the events he talks about or spoke to anyone that did.

And even if the above were not true (although it is) so what? How do you explain the followers of L. Ron Hubbard or Joseph Smith - they believe all sorts of nonsense that we know didn't actually happen, but it doesn't stop them telling anyone who'll listen about it. Does this fact alone prove they're telling the truth? Nope. So, it's illogical to assume that just because people were talking about Jesus and his equally unlikely miracles this some how gives it special status of truth that no other band of believers can claim.

Christianity is nowhere near as unique or special as Christians think it is.

smile

Christianity is totally unique and totally special but we will have to disagree! wink

I will have a think about L Ron and get back to you. Perhaps I will post my comments in the gardening section! smile

Christians should be loved or hated in the same way as socialists, Manchester United supporters, golfers, hairdressers, Lady Gaga fans and astrologers. IE: is the person nice, or is the person a dickhead? If the person is nice, then the person's preferences, superstitions etc are no big deal to other people who don't share them. If the person's a dickhead then the person would probably be a dickhead whether or not the person has a particular hobby or imaginary friend.

sieglinde Sat 20-Apr-13 15:25:47

SGB, exactly. Terrific, non-bigoted answer.

Ellie, interesting on how 'special' Christianity is... maybe Apollonius of Tyana is a more relevant example than L Ron Hubbard, because L Ron deliberately set up a religion and Jesus didn't... Apollonius of Tyana also claimed to heal and raise the dead... and our main source for him is on the late side, and might actually be influenced by stories about Jesus. But what makes Apollonius different is his moral teaching - he was a neopythagorean, pretty much in keeping with his predecessors; it was all fasting and abstinence to become pure nous. He didn't have Jesus' apparent moral originality, or the radicalism which so worried the emperors.

As well, there are many cults of dying and resurrected gods before Christ in the ancient world - Dionysos and Adonis, for instance. Gods in which various different aspects are both separate and the same are also not unusual. I'm RC and I don't find these figures a barrier to belief.

Obviously - doh - Christianity is not special if you have already rejected its claims to truth. grin

EllieArroway Sat 20-Apr-13 16:17:53

Jesus didn't set up a religion, true - his followers did some decades later. And we have to rely on them to know what Jesus actually did or didn't say. And that becomes very problematic. I'm not sure why you think Jesus worried "the emperors". The historical record doesn't reflect him being a worry to anyone - they don't seem to have heard of him.

Apollonius is interesting - I was reading about him the other day, actually. Although I can't really remember what I actually read now as I wasn't paying all that much attention. I shall review.

You're perfectly right, of course, about the mystery cults. I'm iffy about how much attention should be paid to them with regards to Jesus. It annoys me when atheists say "Oh, Mithras was identical to Jesus" blah de blah. No, he wasn't. But that parallels exist throughout the myths, legends and cults is without question.

I only reject claims to "truth" when no one can demonstrate to me that they're actually true. If I have to accept that they're true before I can truly understand how true they are (which is how religion seems to work) - I have a problem!

Anyway - most of this will emerge on the Jesus thread if the others come back, I expect.

Thought I might set up our Stalin/Marxism/Atheism thread tomorrow. Now that I've dealt with a certain YEC wink.

Ah - Mumsnet!

TenBitSailor Sat 20-Apr-13 16:30:08

"LizzyDay Fri 05-Apr-13 23:21:10

"And all nations will hate you because you are my followers. But everyone who endures to the end will be saved."

If you heard a complete stranger say this to a group of people in a pub, say, what would you think?"

Good question. It screams CULT!!! to me.

sieglinde Sat 20-Apr-13 16:45:37

Looking forward to that thread, Ellie.

And also agree about Mithras - no, indeed he wasn't the same, and nor were the other dying gods identical, but there are some similar motifs.

On Jesus, I know you say you aren't sure if he existed - but maybe we can agree that IF he did, he wasn't setting up a feather-his-own-nest cult like Ming Moon and L Ron... and if his early followers were trying to do that then they must have been miserably disappointed grin - 'Just hang on for another thousand years, lads, you'll be sitting pretty..'

The emperors - there's a lot of evidence of the persecution of Christians from Nero onwards... and I'm sure you know this...Anyone who doesn't could look at Robin Lane Fox, Pagans and Christians...

EllieArroway Sat 20-Apr-13 18:29:11

On Jesus, I know you say you aren't sure if he existed - but maybe we can agree that IF he did, he wasn't setting up a feather-his-own-nest cult like Ming Moon and L Ron... and if his early followers were trying to do that then they must have been miserably disappointed

IF Jesus did exist, then no - there's no suggestion that he was deliberately setting up some cult for nefarious purposes. IF he existed at all, and the gospels give us a flavour of who he was, then I think we can at least conclude that he was a decent man with moral backbone. So not analogous to Smith or Hubbard in that respect.

Yes - there's evidence that the Christians were being persecuted in early centuries, but most cults were. And there's no historical evidence that the fire Nero blamed on the Christians (which he supposedly set himself) actually happened - so it's not nearly so clear cut as it might seem. But this is Christians, not Jesus - who was long dead by then. And the simple existence of Christians does not, in and of itself, prove anything at all about Jesus the man - including whether or not he genuinely existed.

Every time I see this thread title I have to fight the urge to simply post YES smile

But I don't think that really. Religion yes and religious hierarchies perhaps - especially at the higher levels, but ordinary Christians will be a mix of good and bad. Misguided of course, but that's not a crime.

I must read more of the thread as it seems to have moved on. On the bits I just skimmed I'd say if you accept the stories about Jesus (a big IF) then he wasn't doing it for the power and wealth.

Can't agree Christianity is special/unique though. Regardless of the intentions and/or existence of Jesus the church is a sequel/spin off to the old testament religion. Jump starting the new church in a way that wouldn't be possible if you just invented one from scratch. The Mormons cleverly did the same thing to Christianity. By making theirs a sequel they can immediately claim to go back 1000s of years.

The first thing you do is say that you're here to introduce new rules and sweep away the old.

LizzyDay Sat 20-Apr-13 20:06:14

Agree that the stories don't seem to describe someone on a power / wealth trip. But that doesn't rule out mentally unbalanced. And since it's all second / third hand info, it's anyone's guess what the reality of it was of course.

But the dying-gods-reappearing trope (and you all forgot Osiris by the way) is your basic agricultural metaphor turned into a good story. That's why it shows up in a variety of cultures, it's simply the life cycle of plants: born, grow, appreciated, dead, reborn...

I always liked what C. S. Lewis said about Jesus being "Lunatic, Liar, or Lord" where he explains that if Jesus wasn't god then he was a lunatic or a liar. He was right as far as that goes, but he left out a few choices. One is that the stories about him are completely fictional and another is that they have been changed to suit the times and the teller. So maybe he never said he was god. Maybe he just said "hey, let's lighten up a bit and be excellent to each other".

While I'm not convinced that he even existed Christians can take some comfort from the lack of self serving statements. If inventing a religion from scratch there are things most people would put at the top of their list of rules.

#All your money comes from god so you should give most of it to the priests along with the best food - and later on first class hotels, air travel and expensive clothes.

#Priests should be able to have lots of wives/temple maidens/choir boys and should never have to do any actual work.

Of course some churches did add those things later when they realised they could.

backonbriefly says 'Every time I see this thread title I have to fight the urge to simply post YES'

That is incredibly sad. And actually it is true. I am a member of the clergy and I am very visible as a woman in clerical wear. The looks of hatred and disgust I can get when walking around the town I live in are hard to live with but are a reality in my life.

On occassions when I'm feeling a bit fragile, maybe after the funeral of a baby or toddler, or listening to people that no one else wants to listen to (mostly the homeless on my patch) then I take the clerical collar off to run to the shops because being hated is hard work emotionally.

So next time you see a woman in clericals in the queue at the supermarket please smile, say hello, laugh maybe because we function in the marginal places that most people don't want to go (had to wash my hair midweek to get the smell of death out of it) and we do it becuase we have faith and trust in the triune God.

OK vent over, been a tough week, back to the debate about the reasons why you hate me and my kind.

EllieArroway Sun 21-Apr-13 14:38:00

The looks of hatred and disgust I can get when walking around the town I live in are hard to live with but are a reality in my life

I don't believe that. We don't live in a society where people are generally hated for wearing a dog collar. If anything, they get more respect (for no particular reason) than the average person.

And this "I'm a Christian doing nice things that no one else wants to do" doesn't wash. Guess what - plenty of atheists do that too. It's just that when we do, we're not responding to commandments from on high, we're doing it because it's the right thing to do.

Christians shouldn't be hated just because they're Christians. Christianity, on the other hand, hasn't justified the respect that it seems to think it deserves, so I am quite entitled to hate it if I like. I don't find anything remotely respectable, or even moral, about the disgusting concept that my child was born a sinner and needed the blood sacrifice of a Palestinian man 2000 years ago to save him from "sins" he hasn't actually committed.

Don't behave like a martyr. That's disrespectful to the people in the world who actually ARE being persecuted and hated because of their religion.

niminypiminy Sun 21-Apr-13 14:54:51

Just popping in, to say:

I think if Greenheart says that she is hated for wearing a clerical collar we should -- regardless of our whether we are atheists or Christians -- believe her. We are not in her shoes, and we have not walked her walk.

As it happens, I find it all too easy to believe that someone in a clerical collar is hated, and the idea that a clerical collar earns you general automatic respect seems far-fetched. Perhaps that's because of the clergy I know.

As for 'Christians doing nice things that no-one else will do won't wash'. I hope it is true that there are lots of atheists doing good things. That would be a wonderful thing. But in my neck of the woods it's Christians who are looking out for the marginal, the unloved and unlovely, the lonely and poor and isolated -- most of all it's Christians who are prepared to give of themselves when there is nothing to get back, no feelgood factor, no praising articles in the local papers.

This is not to say that the position of Christians in this country is like that of Christians in the middle east, who are being viciously persecuted. It's just to say that it isn't always easy, either, and that the idea that the clergy have the general respect and approval of the population is simply not true.

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Sun 21-Apr-13 15:44:56

"hey, let's lighten up a bit and be excellent to each other".

That's it! Jesus was actually Bill and Ted!

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Sun 21-Apr-13 15:50:30

As it happens, I find it all too easy to believe that someone in a clerical collar is hated, and the idea that a clerical collar earns you general automatic respect seems far-fetched. Perhaps that's because of the clergy I know.

As it happens, I find it very difficult to believe that someone in a clerical collar is hated any more than any other demographic. Some people will give looks to people with different skin colour, language, gender, sexual orientation, disability. All of which are a bigger problem than that of the ordained.

The general, neutral public do afford undue respect to the clergy because society has dictated that they should (at least in this country) and despite how it seems, the vast majority of the population are actually quite average.

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Sun 21-Apr-13 15:54:00

But in my neck of the woods it's Christians who are looking out for the marginal, the unloved and unlovely, the lonely and poor and isolated -- most of all it's Christians who are prepared to give of themselves when there is nothing to get back, no feelgood factor, no praising articles in the local papers.

Quite the opposite where I am actually. I rarely seen religious groups involved in local charitable events. In fact, mostly all they do is turn up on a Sunday morning and park on the double yellow lines outside my local church for two hours (inhibiting my view turning out of my road) and then bugger off again. Not very helpful at all.

alemci Sun 21-Apr-13 16:11:48

Green do you think it may be because you are a women in a dog collar and people are not comfortable with that?

Niminy you make some valid points.

Pedro I agree that parking on double yellow lines is selfish and inconsiderate. Perhaps you should speak to the minister of the church and see if he could ask his congregation not to park there.

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Sun 21-Apr-13 16:52:10

I've actually recently spoken to my local councillor because there are a number of issues I have with poor parking as I also live next door to a school (for my sins!).

Please don't try and deny the reality of my experience as you have not walked in my shoes. It was a shock when I first got the look of disgust from a member of the public. At theological college you are warned about projection and transference (to give it the technical terms) and all members of the clergy will have experienced it at some level. It comes with the territory of being a professional religious person. I'm sure some it is is because I am very obviously a woman with long hair and dressing as fashionably as I can in clerical gear, but I am human and it is distressing. Mostly I can cope but there are times when I can't and I leave the gear at home.

I haven't yet been hit by a member of the public or spat at, but it is an occupational hazzard and I am as careful as I can be, but the nature of my work is that I'm often alone with people who are very stressed and I know to keep a clear line of sight between myself and the door.

I cannot compare my situation to that of Chrisitans around the world who are persecuted for their beliefs. I am no where near as brave as that.

It is easy to hate institutions but the institution is made up of lots and lots of people who are flawed, as we all are, but they give up their time to volunteer for all sorts of projects which in my town include foodbank, street pastors, learning disability cafe and homeless projects. You wouldn't know that these projects are run by churches because it isn't advertised but look at the governance and it becomes clear. Caring for the vulnerable is part of the outworking of faith for Christians.

What facinates me is that my experience is denied. Maybe it is just too uncomfortable. Who knows.

I'm backing out of the thread as I really do have a job to do and if I am to be of any use to the bereaved, vulnerable, searching and angry who are part of my day to day life I need to be strong and I probably shouldn't have posted here. Bad week, poor judgement on my part - it is easier to hate the sterotype than a real person and my bad for being real.

RevGreenHeart

thermalsinapril Sun 21-Apr-13 17:38:48

> I don't believe that. We don't live in a society where people are generally hated for wearing a dog collar.

I do believe it. There's a lot of resentment and sneering towards Christianity from a lot of people these days. I really hesitate in mentioning anything to do with my faith in RL, because I know what people's reactions can be like. They'll automatically assume I'm thick, or take the entire Bible literally, hate gay people, am responsible for the actions of "the church" etc. when none of these things are true. There's also an immediate judgement from some people about Christians being "square" and boring. Or as soon as you mention in passing that you went to a church-related event, people go off on a long rant about why they hate religion. So if someone says "what did you do at the weekend" I think very carefully before including "I went to church"!

thermalsinapril Sun 21-Apr-13 17:40:25

RevGreenHeart please do keep up the good work and don't let the so-and-sos get you down! smile

thermalsinapril Sun 21-Apr-13 17:46:52

> Well, committing a sin doesn't make you suffer (it's usually the opposite, which is why we commit them), it's the consequences that do. Jesus managed to bypass this bit. Nifty.

What about his death on the cross, carrying the spiritual and physical consequences of the world's sin? How is that "bypassing" anything?

HolofernesesHead Sun 21-Apr-13 18:07:22

Greenheart, sorry to hear you've had such a tough week. Pour yourself a glass of something enjoyable this evening and relax for a while. It sounds like you're a very strong person doing some amazing work.

Attacks on clergy do happen, sadly - I can't link from my phone but a report published in 2008 said that between 1997-1999, 12% of C of E clergy had been assaulted, and 70% 'abused or threatened.' It's true that in many areas, clergy are well regarded generally, but I can see how Greenheart's experience is actually quite typical in many parts of the UK. Hatred directed towards individual members of any faith community, whether leaders or not, is totally abhorrent IMO, and IME most moderate religious people of most religious traditions agree. The only religious people who think it's okay to hate others are fanatics and bigots.

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Sun 21-Apr-13 18:25:16

I think you really have to look at who is doing the abusing and threatening rather than who is receiving it. Chances are there's a common link between most abused groups in terms of who abuses them.

I'm a 30 year old, white, British, atheist male and I suffer at the hands of the unruly public from time to time. It's hardly isolated to Christians.

I could easily say it's because I show no sign of being a good religionist that these things happen, and point out that the top 9 charities and most of the top charitable donating individuals in the world are secular/atheist, but I don't, because I accept that some people are just arseholes and I get on with my life.

niminypiminy Sun 21-Apr-13 18:48:37

There's a difference between the frictions that might afflict anyone -- even a white, male, heterosexual atheist -- and the hatred and abuse, and threats to one's personal safety that you incur because you are doing your job. We have seen on these threads many times that people think it is ok to be rude to Christians. Sadly, that rudeness does not just happen in the safe anonymity of the online world. And because clergy are often the only visible Christian in a locality, they attract people's aggression. That's the fact of the matter -- and it is different from having someone yell at you because you've reminded them they're parking inconsiderately.

I've seen that thing about the top charities and charitable donors many times. But it's the stuff that doesn't happen in the headlines that I was meaning. In my area Christians are involved in: street Pastoring (that is, helping drunk, distressed people in the middle of the night, giving them shoes and hot drinks, and helping to sort out trouble, no conversations about Christianity are involved), running community lunches for people who are isolated and lonely, long term support of families with disabled children, visiting a hospice, shifting rubbish from people's gardens, doing DIY for people not physically able to do it themselves, running a homeless night shelter ... Clearly atheists could be doing all those things, and maybe some are. But it is Christians who are committed to keeping all these things (and more) going, and doing them not for reward, and not for money, and not to look good, but because that is where the need is.

thegreenheartofmanyroundabouts do you live outside the UK or if you do live in the UK is it possible that you live in a predominantly Muslim area?

Otherwise I can't see this disgust for the clergy either and I'm thinking it is because you are a woman. That might earn some disgust from Christians. We've seen recently the opposition from the church to equality. To an atheist like myself the gender of the priest makes no difference, but some devout Christians will see your collar as an insult to Jesus.

I don't see the average person caring enough about your dog collar to stare at you.

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Sun 21-Apr-13 19:26:37

We have seen on these threads many times that people think it is ok to be rude to Christians.

I've never suggested that abuse of Christians is acceptable. Abuse of anyone is unacceptable, but you can attract that same abuse just by wearing a football shirt.

Clearly atheists could be doing all those things, and maybe some are. But it is Christians who are committed to keeping all these things (and more) going, and doing them not for reward, and not for money, and not to look good, but because that is where the need is.

Are you seriously suggesting that it's only Christians who are committed to charity? If you are then you really need to look around a bit.

You also seem to be suggesting that atheists don't do charitable things without looking for any recognition.

In case you need some evidence, I'm organising and taking part in a 24 hour cycle relay next weekend in support of my local hospital's cancer ward and in memory of a good friend and colleague who recently passed away. It's been a huge amount of effort to organise on my own but I don't expect recognition for it, I simply want to raise money for a good cause.

niminypiminy Sun 21-Apr-13 19:28:11

Backonlybriefly, that is nonsense on so many levels.

I wonder why you atheists find it so hard to accept the truth of what Greenheart says? Is it because you can't bear to accept that a Christian might be right about something -- even if it is their own everyday experience?

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Sun 21-Apr-13 19:34:36

I'm just wondering why Christians seem to think they should get special treatment. I don't believe that Christians suffer any more abuse than any other demographic but because the religion is so sacred, it must surely be worse to abuse a christian than to abuse someone else? No, it's all wrong. But people end up on the receiving end of abuse every day for doing their job, not just the religious.

niminypiminy, Matthew 7:4-5

Personally I've never been rude to someone about their religion outside of a thread about it. Even then it's the religion I'm insulting by the mere fact of not believing it which upsets people. In a thread discussing religion people must expect to see people disagree.

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Sun 21-Apr-13 19:43:56

<<hastily picks plank from eye>>

EllieArroway Sun 21-Apr-13 20:36:07

I wonder why you atheists find it so hard to accept the truth of what Greenheart says?

Because we're socially aware and have never seen or heard of this "persecution" afflicting Christians all over the place.

Muslims? Yes. Black people? Yes. Gays? Yes. Christians - do me a favour.

No Christian in this country has the vaguest idea of what it's actually like to be persecuted or hated for their beliefs. So there are people who don't like your religion or anything it stands for (like me)? That's a shame - but I am mature enough to be able to dislike an ideology without expressing hatred for the people who hold it - unless they are behaving in ways that cause harm to others. Perhaps Christians should really just grow up a bit and stop being determined to feel offended all the time.

And, really, the whole...who does nicer stuff, Christians or atheists is simply fatuous. Clearly there are as many secular organisations and atheists being charitable as there are Christians. The difference is that we don't need the motivation of being "inspired" by our religion - we can see goodness for the sake of goodness. What a shame you Christians need God to tell you too?

backonlybriefly, you said The first thing you do is say that you're here to introduce new rules and sweep away the old.

Did you mean that was what Jesus did?

thegreenheartofmanyroundabouts I am so sorry to hear this, sad that people hate you in your dog collar. People hate others for all kinds of reasons. It is always sad when it happens.

Ellie I am genuinely surprised to hear you say you can’t believe that a woman in a dog collar might be hated in places! She might even be hated by Christians who don’t agree with women in ministry! I find it very easy (sadly) to think that all manner of people are hated in all manner of places for all manner of reasons. I also think Green did not say other people did not do kindly things, she was just talking about what she did.

If you look at the way the clergy are portrayed on telly they are shown as wimps, an old vicar eating a cucumber sandwich while exciting people eat spicy tacos etc! I don’t think the idea that clergy are always respected holds much water except in some places.

Of course, yes, pedro there are plenty of other people who are treated terribly for all kinds of reasons. And it is all totally unacceptable. No one said it was isolated to Christians. I don’t think anyone was suggesting that Christians get more abuse than anyone else.

backonlybriefly you asked re green, about her area do you live outside the UK or if you do live in the UK is it possible that you live in a predominantly Muslim area? I don't know where she works but I would just say that I think sometimes people of different faiths do respect each other. I am a Christian and recently visited a mosque on an organised visit. The people there were very pleasant and respectful of us, as we were of them. I do not know but I doubt that the looks of hatred are coming from Muslims. I have found that people who are religious may also be respectful of others religions, with the obvious exception of people who are fanatical, and this is not what I am talking about.

Pedro Good luck for your 24 hour cycle relay. smile

Ellie I said I would get back to you about L Ron Hubbard. I think someone else answered that one better than I could but just because I said I would reply .... you asked How do you explain the followers of L. Ron Hubbard or Joseph Smith - they believe all sorts of nonsense that we know didn't actually happen, but it doesn't stop them telling anyone who'll listen about it. Does this fact alone prove they're telling the truth? Nope.

I agree it does not prove they are telling the truth.

I believe the resurrection turned those scared disciples in an upper room into a fearless bunch.

I know you do not think that.

I don’t think anything about L Ron is similar to this.

However, of course there are those who are persecuted for all faiths (and none) so persecution does not prove faith is real or anything. I just find it amazing that the disciples were hiding and the resurrection made them willing to go to their deaths. I am sure others go to their deaths for their faiths, and that opens a bigger questions about other faiths and what it all means. I think I will wait for another thread and another time.

Sometimes it seems that these debates just get so angry and that seems very sad.

I also wonder if Greenheart lives in a particularly nasty area or something. I despise superstition; I think it's probably one of the most harmful influences/factors there is. All these organisations with imaginary friends blocking human progress and denying other people their rights; starting wars, condoning abuse, reinforcing misogyny, homophobia and racism... At the same time I know quite a few people who subscribe to one of the major myth brands and are basically nice people with a harmless quirk.

I certainly wouldn't be rude to a passing stranger just because s/he was displaying religious insignia of any kind. Greenheart, does your particular branch of Christianity involve active evangelising eg do you yourself knock on people's doors, hand out literature or stand in the middle of the high street yelling about your imaginary friend and plucking at people's sleeves as they pass? That might explain hostility (to the extent of nasty looks) from other people. It's also probable that some people might look on you with disapproval if they are misogynistic Christians and therefore angry that a mere subhuman woman is in a position of authority. Other explanations might include that you are of a different ethnic group or social class to the people you live and work among and that's what they dislike.

Or, for all I know, you just smell.

Mind you, it's also possible that, if you are overworked, underappreciated, tired and stressed out, that you are percieving strangers' behaviour towards you as a sign that they hate you or hate what you stand for when they are actually thinking about stuff like what to have for tea or how cross they are with their DP for not putting the bins out, and have barely noticed that you are there at all. While I have heard from time to time about Muslim women being attacked in the street (either verbally or sometimes physically) for being Muslims eg for wearing hijab, most of the stories of 'persecuted Christians' that have taken place in the UK have turned out to be cases of whiny-self-obsessed Christian pests who consider being treated like everyone else to be some kind of 'persecution', and who are demanding privileges for themselves and their imaginary friend.

Did you mean that was what Jesus did?

Christians are always telling me that this is what Jesus did. Usually when I mention the harsh god of the old testament. There is much discussion about how he fulfilled the law and so on.

The Christian religion is not the same as Judaism is it even though it's supposed to be the same god.

As for me asking where Green lived it could make a big difference (she could have been posting from Saudi). She describes 'hatred and disgust' and those are unusually strong emotions to feel about a member of the clergy in the UK whom you've never met.

If she were a man then people might be thinking about the child abuse and that might explain it happening sometimes, but a woman wouldn't be associated with that in most people's minds.

On the other hand for some religious people the idea of a woman priest would be deeply offensive. That could include Christians and Muslims, but it seems to me that on average in the UK Muslims are more likely to take their strictures that seriously. Also a devout Muslim might have two reasons to be offended by a woman Christian priest.

Atheists on the other hand would have no reason at all for 'hatred and disgust' I am about as opposed to organised religion as it is possible to be, but I don't feel sickened by the sight of a Female Christian. That would be just weird.

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Sun 21-Apr-13 21:56:44

Did you mean that was what Jesus did?

Jesus didn't invent Christianity, that would be like blaming the Thetons for Scientology.

True, though I think it may be the official position that he did.

and lol @ thetons

backonlybriefly, yes it could make a difference where green lives. I did not mean to discount what you said, I am sorry if I gave that impression. I just meant that Muslims may well be respectful of Christians. I was just sharing my very limited experience. smile

I don't think Jesus swept away all the 'old stuff', he fulfilled it. It's a huge theological debate and I think there is enough on here with all the 'hate' discussions but just because I wanted to reply to you backonlybriefly. I don't think Jesus started a new religion in the strict 'let's start something new' sense, I think he came and fulfilled all the Old Testament.

EllieArroway Mon 22-Apr-13 05:47:47

I'm not willing to pick apart what Green said to try and decide what she actually meant - I took it as seen. She did not say that any hatred was because she was a woman wearing a dog collar - that would make a little more sense.

No - she said she was hated because she was a Christian, identifiable by a dog collar. I'm afraid I struggle to believe that - there's more to it than that.

Nobody, but nobody, should be hated just because of their beliefs. That's an ignorant and a shameful way to carry on. I stood behind a lady vicar in WH Smiths a week or so ago and we discussed the annoying habit they have in there of trying to flog you chocolate at the checkout. No "hatred" from me - why ever would there be? I also regularly pass the vicar (male) from the church up the road from me walking his dog. His dog is incredibly cute and I often stop to say hello to him (the dog) & have a quick chat about the weather with the vicar. Again, no hatred at all from me.

Anyway - the answer to the question raised by the OP, though, surely is "Yes". That IS what the Bible teaches, right? So, based on the Bible - should Christians be hated? Yes. Are they actually hated in this country? Generally - no. Thanks to our modern, secularist way of going about things as a society.

Italian Yes, I know that you "believe" Jesus was raised and that makes all the difference to you. I don't believe that, so I can't see any difference between Christians and their beliefs and any or all other groups of believers. If other people can base a belief on something that actually didn't happen, then why can't Christians?

I would also add that, personally, I think the very fact that Christianity survived at all is good evidence that Jesus never really existed as a man. Other Messiah claimants were around at that time with their groups of followers (loads and loads) and they tended to get disillusioned and give up when their leader died and didn't come back. Christians invariably take that to mean that, in their case, Jesus really did come back. That's one way to see it - but a more likely explanation (bearing in mind that the LEAST likely of all explanations is a miracle) is that he never actually existed in reality, so couldn't die and disappoint people. The myth just continued to grow and be added to by people as myths had a habit of doing.

EllieArroway Mon 22-Apr-13 06:57:20

And also, if I wanted to devote my life selflessly to the sick and bereaved - I'd be a nurse or something and you know actually help them, instead of sitting by their bedside reading out myths from an old book, promising them things that can't possibly be substantiated.

I find this whole "I'm doing this terrible stuff that other people won't" is frankly repellent given that our entire health service is devoted to just that. How disrespectful to medical professionals is that?

sieglinde Mon 22-Apr-13 10:13:58

I see things have moved on.

I understand both views on the 'Christians-are-hated' side. I am sometimes puzzled by the way that the fact that we FEEL hated isn't enough.

What would be? Legal/workplace discrimination? Well, anyone not C of E will have had that in respect of holy days (Moslems have to work through Ramadan, Catholics through Holy Week, Eastern orthodox through their Easter, and Jews through Yom Kippur, while C of Es get Easter weekend off, inclujding Easter Monday, bizarrely). So too anyone liable to wearing religious insignia -presumably Sikh turbans are ok with those of you who dislike the hijab and the crucifix and indeed the Jewish headcovering.

The 'it's ok as long as it stays in the sacristy/in secret' default setting is troubling, though so too is Jesus Army-style invasions of people's privacy, unsought, and I also dislike cold-calling Jehovahs and Mormons, especially since both think I'm in league with Satan as an RC. Where i think some dis-ease is justified is that the notion of where the sacristy door lies has now moved so that ANY public display of faith - including those not intended to proselytse -is now seen as invasive. That does present problems, including moral ones.

Siegelinde: some people have to work on bank holidays, religious or not - the emergency services, for instance. But most workplaces allow people to take holidays at a time of their own choosing so those whose important festivals are not state holidays in the UK can surely arrange their rotas and/or trade with colleagues so they get the time off they want. That's not persecution or hatred.

As to wearing symbols of superstition - again, either everyone should allowed to wear what they like or all symbols are banned. For instance, if a uniform-wearing rule is 'no jewellery' for practical/hygiene reasons then exceptions should be made on grounds of size/discretion not particular superstition ie if people are allowed to wear a small religious medallion on a chain around their necks then they should equally be allowed to wear any kind of small pendant or medallion that's important to them.

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Mon 22-Apr-13 10:32:48

I think UK public holidays are hardly workplace discrimination.

They are the days the UK has off. Yes, some of them fall on Christian holidays, but most don't, and they're not Christian holidays historically anyway, but there's a good reason for that. How would you have it? Every religious person gets their own holidays off work? Everyone gets all the religious holidays off? Both would be ludicrous options.

Would you expect to live in a Muslim country and get Christian holidays off work?

There's a lot more to UK public holidays than religion. I wouldn't expect any religion to be given favourable rules just because of the religion itself. If the rule is no headgear, then that's the rule for everyone. If the rule is no jewellery, that's the rule for everyone.

Italiangreyhound, Yeah fair enough. That would be a huge discussion on its own. As for Muslims being respectful of other religions I'm sure that is often true. I've said before that when some imam starts yelling about Sharia law a lot of ordinary Muslims must be horrified and embarrassed.The main thing on most people's minds if asked is not Allah or Jesus, but the mortgage payments.

Sieglinde, the funny thing is that as an atheist I don't really mind religious symbols providing as others have said they don't clash with rules meant to protect everyone. If anything it should be other religious people who find them upsetting.

We do have to draw lines though and it's tricky at times. I think the Sikh turban looks fine, but non-sikhs on a motorbike would be required by law to wear a helmet. We shouldn't be making some people exempt from laws. If they can't remove the turban then they should get a bus instead.

The face mask thing is another one. It may be a religious symbol, but it has more far reaching and practical effects and I'd ban that. Or rather I'd ban all methods of masking your face in public which would include that.

If you don't draw lines then what do you do when someone with an obscure religion says they have to work behind the bakery counter naked on special days or they are not allowed to wash their hands for the duration of their holy week.

The whole keep-it-for-church thing is the only practical way to handle it as it's the only way to be fair to all. Religious people don't have to keep it a secret they are religious. They just can't reasonably expect everyone else to work around their rules and it will be completely impossible to do so when one religious rule conflicts with that of another religion.

EllieArroway Mon 22-Apr-13 11:44:17

If you don't draw lines then what do you do when someone with an obscure religion says they have to work behind the bakery counter naked on special days....

I'd visit that bakery.

.....or they are not allowed to wash their hands for the duration of their holy week

Maybe not.

sieglinde Mon 22-Apr-13 13:14:18

Just to clarify - I didn't say holidays were hate crimes, but they do discriminate in favour of the C of E. Orthodox Jews use up virtually their entire holiday allowance on religious holidays. Protestants don't have to. That's all I mean - simple stuff. But it does maybe work to make people feel that their views don't matter.

The whole keep-it-for-church thing is the only practical way to handle it as it's the only way to be fair to all. Religious people don't have to keep it a secret they are religious.

The problem here is the established church. That rule doesn't apply to them.

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Mon 22-Apr-13 14:49:54

But it does maybe work to make people feel that their views don't matter.

And they'd be right when it comes to public holidays.

If we decided to move the Easter public holiday to a fixed date in early March and the Christmas and Boxing day holidays to late November then nobody would be getting their religious holidays. Perhaps that would be fairer.

On the subject of using up your holiday allowance for all your religious holidays, if you have that many religious holidays, then you really shouldn't be expecting to be given them all off for nothing. Otherwise I could wander in with my new religion which says I can't work on Fridays and take every Friday off.

If you choose to use your holiday allowance to satisfy your religion, that's entirely up to you.

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Mon 22-Apr-13 14:52:45

I didn't say holidays were hate crimes, but they do discriminate in favour of the C of E.

In this country, yes. But not everywhere. And only because Britain is a historically Christian country. That's just what you have to live with.

I wouldn't go to live in the States and complain that I didn't get May Day off.

The problem here is the established church. That rule doesn't apply to them.

We need to disestablish the church. All religions should be treated equally.

But that wouldn't change the holidays we have now. They are just the national holidays we are used to.

sieglinde Mon 22-Apr-13 18:38:52

Yes, backonly - that's exactly it. All religions should be treated equally. That's why I'm so keen on disestablishmentarianism.

Britain is NOT 'historically' a C of E country, by the way and RCs and Orthodox Christians are NOT included in C of E holiday dates/timings/events. The C of E is a lateish invention. You might reasonably say it was imposed by a tyrannical monarchy... smile

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Mon 22-Apr-13 18:59:28

There's two holidays in the UK related to Christian holidays. Easter and Christmas. These, as far as I can tell are common to all Christians.

Ellie the fact you don't hate vicars is not really evidence that vicars or indeed anyone anywhere is not hated by some. Yes, I get your point, about who belives things based on thing you did not think happened, I just ran out of stream to discuss it. I may well rally my steam but when things get a bit cross on hear it makes me so sad. I think we might find we all had a lot more in common if we were not trying to rattle each other's cages so much! wink

I would also add that, personally, I think the very fact that Christianity survived at all is good evidence that Jesus never really existed as a man. Other Messiah claimants were around at that time with their groups of followers (loads and loads) and they tended to get disillusioned and give up when their leader died and didn't come back. Christians invariably take that to mean that, in their case, Jesus really did come back. That's one way to see it - but a more likely explanation (bearing in mind that the LEAST likely of all explanations is a miracle) is that he never actually existed in reality, so couldn't die and disappoint people. The myth just continued to grow and be added to by people as myths had a habit of doing. that makes no sense at all to me. Maybe you are just trying to give me a taste of my own medicine! How can it not being true mean it is more likely to be around today!

I also think sick people get a lot of comfort from 'religion' and from people being near them and helping them and from the meaning of their religion in times of trouble. I heard one of the burns victims from the Kings Cross fire recounting how he recited the psalms in his terrible experience (the reunion on radio 4). Of course the medical profession (people of all faiths and none) do an amazing job and I don't think that many would be doubt that at all. But those who visit the sick are also very welcomed. I can only speak from my own experience of being one who has been visited when sick.

backonlybriefly I laughed out loud at the bakery where staff are naked! Now I would be able to keep to my gluten free diet if that were the case!

Pedro that is true that there are only really two Christian holidays (the eastern Orthadox church celebrate Easter at a different time because they use a different calendar).

I am not C of E (at the moment), I go to a free church, so I am not part of the 'state' religion but I don't have a problem with having the holidays we do.

Good Friday is a holiday (but not a bank holiday) and Christmas Day (Christmas day was just picked as a date to celebrate Christmas, it doesn't have a great deal of significance to some Christians, I mean if Christians celebrated Christ's birthday on another day I expect some would be fine with it).

As pedro says many of the holidays we have are not religious. Easter Sunday is a Sunday anyway (not a bank holiday) and Easter Monday has no religious significance. Christmas Eve is not a bank holiday and I have no idea what Boxing Day is about.

I am actually quite impressed by those Christians who say that we should not have a state religion, because although it is Anglican it is reasonably close to the other Christian deonominations (in my humble opinion).

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Mon 22-Apr-13 21:48:35

Good Friday is a holiday (but not a bank holiday)

I work for bank and can confirm that Good Friday most certainly is a bank holiday and a sterling currency holiday (no payments can be made where sterling is used as a reference rate and no payments in any currency where London is a required open business centre).

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Mon 22-Apr-13 21:55:32

Christmas day was just picked as a date to celebrate Christmas, it doesn't have a great deal of significance to some Christians

It shouldn't really have significance for any Christians given it's actually a pagan observance of the 'birth of the sun' based on proximity to the Winter Solstice. As far as I know there's no reference to it being the birthday of Jesus.

Pedro don't destroy my faith in .... Wikipedia!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bank_holiday

"The first official bank holidays were the four days named in the Bank Holidays Act 1871, but today the term is colloquially (albeit incorrectly) used for public holidays which are not officially bank holidays, for example Good Friday and Christmas Day"

Christmas day, well yes, Pedro it may have been chosen for all kinds of reasons but it has a certain significance now for me because it is the day we see family, and celebrate. I think for others too it may be the day people celebrated 'baby's first Christmas etc. So it kind of collected meaning!

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Mon 22-Apr-13 22:25:11

Christmas day, well yes, Pedro it may have been chosen for all kinds of reasons but it has a certain significance now for me because it is the day we see family, and celebrate. I think for others too it may be the day people celebrated 'baby's first Christmas etc. So it kind of collected meaning!

Absolutely! And it means something to me too for the same reason smile

I think perhaps we digress little from the point which was the perception that CofE get special treatment with respect to the public holidays. Clearly this is not the case after all!!

Yes, Pedro I thought you would also have special thoughts about the day - as a dad. My image of it is my daughter in a red Santa suit (asleep). Faith for me is not about that particular day.

I agree I don't think Anglicans get a lot of special treatment these days. They did in the past, and I agree it was wrong. My goodness Pedro so much agreement at the moment. I am off to bed before I say something and spoil it! grin

The majority of the UK public holidays are not actually Christian holidays. May Day is a political holiday, August bank holiday is, Actually I don't know, New Year's Day is a secular holiday, and I don't know what the late May one is though I think it may have some religious origins (ascension day or Whit Sunday or something) - but very, very few people keep ascension day as a holiday.

Another common factor in the type of Christians who whine about being 'persecuted' is that they are usually racists, and the substance of their whine is usually that they percieve those 'foreigners' as getting some sort of special treatment which should only be reserved for white Christians eg prayer breaks for muslims or special dispensation to wear a turban.

SGB bit of a huge generalisation there! IMHO. Another common factor in the type of Christians who whine about being 'persecuted' is that they are usually racists...

If Wikipedia is to be belived, Pedro made me doubt it, then May day is related to a pagan festival.

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Tue 23-Apr-13 02:06:41

I wouldn't want you to start doubting Wikipedia! Perhaps there's some truth in the original definition of bank holiday, but to all intents and purposes, the public holidays are all bank holidays.

Of course we still trade in other currencies on those days, so technically the bank still operates (and it's an American Bank anyway)..... Oh, why did I start this sentence!

EllieArroway Tue 23-Apr-13 06:07:03

Ellie the fact you don't hate vicars is not really evidence that vicars or indeed anyone anywhere is not hated by some. Yes, I get your point, about who belives things based on thing you did not think happened, I just ran out of stream to discuss it. I may well rally my steam but when things get a bit cross on hear it makes me so sad. I think we might find we all had a lot more in common if we were not trying to rattle each other's cages so much!

Everyone is hated by someone. But the idea that there's an undercurrent of hatred directed towards Christians in this country is a load of nonsense. The Daily Mail loves nothing more than a "poor, persecuted Christians" story, in case you hadn't noticed....and the best that they can come up with is BA stewardesses being expected to follow the rules about uniform at work and B&B owners prevented from being allowed to break the law and discriminate against gay couples.

This is hatred? Go and live in Iran and get a clue about how religious hatred works hmm.

I am about the start talking about Paul and whether he indicates that Jesus lived as a man on Earth on the Jesus thread, Italian. I'd rather leave that for there. Feel free to join. Just waiting for my fellow debatee Mad to start feeling up to it.

nooka Tue 23-Apr-13 07:15:37

I'm an atheist but my sister is ordained. A few years back someone set fire to their house (the vicarage). So I would have to agree that there are people who do hate vicars (it was suspected to be a local offender who would almost certainly have known that s/he was setting fire to the vicar's house). The motivation might have been the same as any act of violence toward an authority figure (vandalizing schools being particularly popular), an anti Christianity or anti CoE act or something more specifically related to her. Who knows really, but I understand that it's not particularly uncommon.

Ok pick a high street at random in the UK. let's say there are 100 people in sight. How many would you expect to have such hatred for a vicar that it was obvious from 50 feet away.

Not how many would be atheist or Muslim or Hindu and not how many are opposed to religion, but how many hate the sight of the collar so much that the hatred is visible and they can't hide it.

I mean seriously?

niminypiminy Tue 23-Apr-13 13:42:56

I wonder how much evidence it would take for people to take seriously the fact that clergy are the targets of aggression and violence?

Story from BBC News.

madhairday Tue 23-Apr-13 14:20:47

I grew up in a vicarage, and am married to a vicar now <I know, I know, should have run> grin

My dad/all of us:

Were threatened repeatedly, with knives, broken bottles and fists. Once a man with a knife got in to our house and held it to dad as if to stab him.

We had our caravan set on fire, on our driveway.

Bricks thrown through the window.

Doorbell ringing at 3am, with pizza, taxi, you name it. Campaign went on for months.

Garden fence set on fire.

Fireworks through door.

Threatened with rape (me), strangling (dad/all of us)

Vicar before my dad was burgled 4 times and someone left excrement all over the walls of the vicarage. Before we moved in someone put a hosepipe through the window, the kitchen ceiling collapsed and much worse.

And much more.

I'm being real here, because I wanted to support green - I am actually in agreement with SGB, Ellie et al that there is not 'persecution' as compared to places like China, Syria, Iran and NK - but there is hatred, and sometimes hatred centring on clergy. The area dad ministered in was a 'rough' area, but you could still not see that this was normal, and happened to everyone there - there was a hate campaign, that went on for around 2 years, and made our lives miseries. I was a young teenager and it was terrifying at times.

I am so glad we stayed there, because things changed incredibly and we saw huge transformations in lives and in the community - but there was hate, and there is hate now. dh doesn't get much directed at him - in fact in his curacy we were in a muslim area and got mainly respect and good conversations - but there is the odd comment and not the odd 'look'. Mostly he is rebellious and won't wear his collar grin

alemci Tue 23-Apr-13 16:03:31

I think you are right Solid Brass - Isn't the late May one associated with Whitsun which is ascension. I think christians have become marginalised in the 21st century in the UK but I agree that we are very fortunate in the UK compared to Iran or Pakistan if you want to uphold your faith.

In China it can be difficult as well unless you belong to the state church.

LizzyDay Tue 23-Apr-13 16:37:29

madhairday - that sounds awful sad

I wonder whether it's more to do with just generally being in the firing line (as in, associating with and therefore 'known to' people who are likely to be dangerous) than it being anything actually to do with religion itself?

I don't know, but I imagine that anyone who deals with dangerous / ill / antisocial people as part of their job will be more vulnerable to attack - eg social workers, health care workers / people who work in halfway houses etc?

madhairday Tue 23-Apr-13 16:56:01

I think there's something in that, Lizzy. Can't have helped that the vicarage was 'separate' from the estate, being on the church complex which was used as a gang hangout at first then we prayed and it stopped - there was definitely an element of being seen as in the firing line.

However, in at least some of these cases it was made clear that it was because he was a vicar.

Madhairday I am so sorry for all you have experienced, and your family.

Nooka I am so sorry about your sister.

Ellie I would agree that ... the idea that there's an undercurrent of hatred directed towards Christians in this country is a load of nonsense...

I don't think most Christians in Britain are at all persecuted. I think there might be a small number who are, and it could be for all kinds of reasons, such as the background they come from, if they have changed faith etc. As far as I was thinking this thread was not really about Christians in this country but more about a general thought about how Christians should be received.

Thank you Ellie for the invitation to the other thread. I am fearful that you are all much wiser than me but I may look in! smile

Also Ellie persecution can come in many forms, as Mad has shown. In lots of counteries Christians are pretty much utterly powerless, the marginalised and lower class in some places. They may live in poor areas and not be able to move. IN other places like the UK, Christians might be stuck in poorer places or they may choose to move into those places. They may be treated badly but choose to stay.

I am not in any way arguing that Christians in the UK are generally persecuted but I think it is clear that some are hated.

Mad, that sounds horrific and I am sorry you had to experience it. But I do think it was less to do with a hatred of Christians and Christianity in general and more to do with a hatred of 'authority' and perhaps some class hatred (the vicar seen as part of the boss class or the posh class...). People who are leaders or officials of any kind of group or movement are often targeted if they are visible and identifiable, eg a party political candidate might get some abuse but mostly the people who voted for that candidate or intend to vote for that candidate don't get so much.

EllieArroway Wed 24-Apr-13 07:26:44

That's exactly what I was going to say SGB. If teachers were required to walk around wearing gowns and mortars and live in houses clearly marked "The School House" or something, I expect they'd be targeted in a similar way by the same sorts of people.

I don't doubt the horrible experiences related here, and I'm sympathetic, but there simply isn't any persecution of Christians BECAUSE they are Christians going on. The kinds of people behaving in that fashion simply don't care enough about Christianity.

If wearing a dog collar in a rough area is going to bring you to the attention of the kinds of people who resent authority, or who show off to their equally ignorant mates with mouthfuls of abuse, then maybe don't wear it. There's nowhere in the Bible that requires it.

sieglinde Wed 24-Apr-13 08:41:40

mad, so sorry to hear about your horrible - indeed horrific - experiences, and I don't think it's sensible to be too quick to decide what it was all about. The persecution of people of faith is often ascribed to something else, because that's a less unpleasant idea. But it can also be a coverup. Under Elizabeth I, Catholics WERE persecuted, but the govt brilliant,y said it was because they were traitors, not because they were Catholics. However, since all Catholics were deemed traitors if they heard mass, it merely added insult to injury.

To ellie - if you are saying that wearing a dog-collar lays you open to persecution, however little the persecution has to do with any real knowledge of or interest in religion, erm, isn't that precisely the point?

RCs under Elizabeth (or in modern China) could/can also survive best by never ever practising their faith in case it triggers someone's hate...

niminypiminy Wed 24-Apr-13 08:49:34

I'm starting to think that some people will go to any lengths to deny the truth of other people's experience. Let's try some analogies to what the two previous posts have said:

You weren't beaten up because you are gay, it is because you have so much more disposable income than heterosexuals.

The reason you can't live here is not because you're black, it's because you wear such bright clothes and play loud music.

I do think there is a class thing going on, but the question I would ask is, why are clergy the particular focus of class hatred? After all, this kind of routine harassment and aggression is still, thankfully, relatively rare even for middle class people living in the middle of 'rough areas' (as I do myself).

I suggest that it has something to do with widespread anti-clerical feeling -- which both the previous posters have displayed at various times on these boards -- stoked up by wildly innaccurate ideas of the wealth of the church (despite the fact that the clergy are the poorest paid professionals, earning a mere £22,500 a year, that is, unless they are working for a half stipend or even for nothing) in a situation of obscene inequalities of wealth and power. Clergy are often the only middle class professionals both working and, crucially, living in these 'rough areas'. Social workers go home at night, but for clergy their homes are not only where they work, and are known, but their homes are often open. This is a situation of great vulnerability that clergy voluntarily put themselves into.

When you have people frothing all over the Internet, and to a certain extent in real life, that the church is rolling in unearned wealth, that the clergy are all child abusers, that taking children to church is tantamount to child abuse (and, for some, worse than neglect), and where many people's direct experience of the church is nil, then the way is open for those who are visible as Christians -- and clergy are often the only 'known' Christians in a particular area -- to be the target of some of the huge amount of aggression and resentment washing around our society.

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Wed 24-Apr-13 10:09:38

I think the point is that a lot of the physical attacks which take place every day are committed by people who just want to cause trouble or are influenced by peer pressure or drug abuse. Not because they have a specific problem with a specific group of people. Try going out on a Friday or Saturday night and not coming across a bunch of idiots who just want to have a fight.

If there's something which makes you stand out from the crowd, be it a dog collar, a funny hat or that you are unusually tall, perhaps, this will attract the focus of a crowd.

Not saying there aren't people who premeditate attacks on the clergy, but no more than there are against organisations linked to animal testing or the police or politicians, etc, etc.

The whole concept of hate crimes is an interesting - and sometimes tricky - thing to deal with. Yes, hate crimes occur and there are some nasty people who think it's not only OK but justifiable to attack others because they are 'different' in some way, whether that's to do with things they can't change about themselves (skin colour, height, disability) or choices they have made (clothing, political affiliation etc). However, being a member of a group that may attract attacks based on prejudice is not a free pass to make a knob of yourself, nor does it mean you should be given special privileges.
Being disagreed with is not a hate crime. Being called to account for things you have done is not a hate crime. Being asked to defend your support for an institution that has done bad things is not a hate crime.

sieglinde Wed 24-Apr-13 12:10:13

SGB said 'Being disagreed with is not a hate crime. Being called to account for things you have done is not a hate crime. Being asked to defend your support for an institution that has done bad things is not a hate crime.'

No, agreed - I'm always up for a reasoned debate - but niminy's point is that the extreme end of the negative rhetoric may not be THAT easy to divorce from the actual beatings and threats of violence to which some of us are truly subject. It seems really unlikely that these have NOTHING to do with one another.

Hate speech is in any case a crime, and it ought to be. Surely it's possible to call people to account on matters of doctrine without adding that they are all deluded unscientific idiots who have been brainwashed by a sky fairy and live to persecute women and gay men? These generalities are - like all generalities - wrong in many, maybe even most cases. Yet they are zealously recycled.

deluded - yes (by definition). Deceived might be a better and fairer word. Like being the victim of an April Fool joke. No one is immune from that if people go to enough trouble to trick you. Believers are also the victims of a self perpetuating system. It's not that all believers are all evil and after us perfect non-believers.

unscientific - yes (by definition) see the Young Earth Creationist thread for a recent example.

idiots - No. Because humans are supposed to believe what they are told as children and within limits as adults. That's a perfectly normal part of development and puts a responsibility on the parent/teacher/priest not to take advantage.

brainwashed - Frequently. See above.

by a sky fairy no, by parents/teachers/priests, but if sky fairy is considered an expression of contempt by Christians then doesn't that imply that Christians feel that those who do believe in fairies are somehow contemptible?

That is why I use it. Because the only way it can be offensive is if you feel about someone else's belief the way I feel about yours.

and live to persecute women and gay men? No not all, but fellow church members are in effect supporting those who do. If you say god is real and you say god speaks the truth and you say the bible is the word of god then it must be ok to stone gay people, and that's good enough for the lunatic fringe.

Of course there is some hate and some people who make it personal and nasty. I can well believe that people can be assaulted when representing the church. Just not that a large proportion of the population is actively involved - not in the UK.

backonlybriefly being a Christian does not mean that one hates women or gay people, thinks anyone should be stoned, takes all of the Bible literally or is responsible for any terrible things done in the name of religion in the past or supporting those who do....*persecute women and gay men*.

Do you really think that it does?

That seems to be what your post implies. Please tell me if I have read it wrong.

If it were the case I would totally understand if Christians were hated.

The reality is, of course, that it is not true, but I am just curious to see if you really feel Christians are responsible for all the bad things assocciated with religion and also to ask if you really think that if those of us who are tolerant and loving etc (I would hope to include myself in that category) left the church, the result would be that religion would be 'better'? I'm not offering to leave any church, of course, just trying to work out what you mean. smile.

If someone is (for instance) a Conservative and you (hypothetical you) are a Socialist, then you would not be unreasonable to call the Conservative to account for the awful things the Government is doing, and ask him/her how s/he can remain loyal to an organisation that is doing XYZ. It's the same if the person is a member of a religious organisation with a dodgy track record. By remaining a member of it, you are condoning its crimes.

A faith group is not a political party. A faith group is more like a family that you join by adoption. This is a picture image not to be taken literally. wink It is not an individual's fault if members of their family do wrong things. (and which of us do not do wrong things at times.). You could, of course, disown all members of your family or you could work for peace and harmony within your family.

There are lots of people outside the church who are hateful of women and gay people, and others who are hateful of all manner of other people. And there are many loving and kind people in the church. It's not as simple as all of the people in the church being bad!

The implication seems to be if some people in a church or organisation behave in a way that you (or I) do not approve of, therefore everyone is tainted with the same brush. There may well be times when this could be true. In the case of the church I do not think that this is one of those times. The church is huge, multifacited, does a lot of good and does some bad.

Would the church be a better place if all the tolerant voices left? Genuine question.

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Wed 24-Apr-13 14:55:45

I have to admit, I agree with SGB on this one.

Individual Christians (or indeed members of any religion) are, in the most part, not directly responsible for crimes against humanity. But Christianity (and other religions) has been and still is in some cases responsible for atrocious acts against women, children, 'non believers', etc.

That is certainly not an organisation I'd want to be a part of. You can still maintain your beliefs in god and jesus and the bible without subscribing to the institutions which have such a poor track record of human rights violations.

niminypiminy Wed 24-Apr-13 15:24:46

Ooh, I think I know where this is going!

"You, as Christians are responsible for all bad things done by Christians, even if you condemn them, because you are a Christian and must therefore sign up to the programme of things I say Christians think and do."

"I, as an atheist, cannot in anyway be responsible for any bad things done by atheists, because atheism is not a belief system and we are simply individuals who don't believe in God (although we all say exactly the same things as each other)."

Otherwise known as 'Having your cake and eating it'.

Do I get the prize?

sieglinde Wed 24-Apr-13 15:42:48

Sorry, Pedro - you can't be Catholic without being, well, Catholic - to be RC is to be a part of a community - so all you've accomplished is the replacement of discrimination against Christians with discrimination against specific kinds of Christians. Well done! That really helps confused

SGB, what does it matter what percentage of the population is involved? If enough of them are involved to perpetrate hate crimes, it doesn't really matter if they are a vicious minority or a slim majority.

backonly, it was almost cute the way you simply recycled the insults without any apparent thought. Let's go back over the list:

deluded - yes (by definition). Deceived might be a better and fairer word. Like being the victim of an April Fool joke. No one is immune from that if people go to enough trouble to trick you. Believers are also the victims of a self perpetuating system. It's not that all believers are all evil and after us perfect non-believers.

Fair cop, but only if you are right and I am wrong. How would it sound to you if I said you are the one who has been tricked by the mere reiteration of positions you probably haven't investigated personally?

unscientific - yes (by definition) see the Young Earth Creationist thread for a recent example.

FFS. I'm not a creationist and I don't know any believers who are. I have a degree in zoology. FFFFS. So clearly NOT by definition.

idiots - No. Because humans are supposed to believe what they are told as children and within limits as adults. That's a perfectly normal part of development and puts a responsibility on the parent/teacher/priest not to take advantage.

brainwashed - Frequently. See above.

You do know there's NO SUCH THING as brainwashing, don't you? It's an old idea which has BEEN SCIENTIFICALLY DISPROVED. (I will stop yelling, I promise, but I've said all this before...)

by a sky fairy no, by parents/teachers/priests, but if sky fairy is considered an expression of contempt by Christians then doesn't that imply that Christians feel that those who do believe in fairies are somehow contemptible?

You do see that a fairy - whether extant or not - is absolutely nothing like the God of the religions of the book, don't you? You do know that fairies and belief in them is associated with childhood, don't you?

That is why I use it. Because the only way it can be offensive is if you feel about someone else's belief the way I feel about yours.

Which is why this isn't true. what I dislike is the way you conflate my God with someone else's fairy. I should think fairy believers might not like it much either grin

and live to persecute women and gay men? No not all, but fellow church members are in effect supporting those who do. If you say god is real and you say god speaks the truth and you say the bible is the word of god then it must be ok to stone gay people, and that's good enough for the lunatic fringe.

I'm not bothered about wearing the hide of a pig either, or about eating rock badger... or about planting two crops in the same field... in other words I am not a fundamentalist.

It's good that you know there is a lunatic fringe. A fringe - by definition - is not the mainstream. And since I support and have campaigned for gay rights and respect, I am not on that fringe. Why do you assume I am? Oh- because I haven't stalked out of the RC church... but I don't stay in it passively. If everyone like me left then it really would be close to what you think it is.

EllieArroway Wed 24-Apr-13 15:52:09

For what, Niminy? Misunderstanding absolutely everything that's been said? Certainly.

Why did you ignore this: Individual Christians (or indeed members of any religion) are, in the most part, not directly responsible for crimes against humanity

Why do you always, always ignore us when we point this out, then follow it up with the claim that we're blaming all Christians - when we've quite clearly and concisely explained over and over that we don't?

Where does this need to take offence come from? If we're talking about people who misuse the Bible to hurt others, rape children then involve the church hierarchy in order to cover it up or lie to Africans about AIDS and YOU are not one of those people responsible for that - then guess who we are not talking about? YOU.

"Oh, but I am my religion", right? No, you're not - as you prove when you distance yourself (rightly) from the horror that some members of your religion perpetrate against others. If we cannot talk about these things that ARE HURTING PEOPLE because we're worried about hurting poor Niminy's feelings, or Sieglindes, then you're telling us we can't talk about them at all. And on behalf of the raped children & babies with AIDS in Africa, I thank you for that.

I am so tired of having words put in my mouth by people who can't actually be bothered to listen to what I (and my fellow atheists) say.

There is no Christian persecution in this country. What there are is rather a lot of is ignorant oiks who'll pick on anyone standing out from the crowd. Including those with dog collars.

You know, there are parts of the world where Christians really ARE being persecuted & I should think they'd dearly love to come and live in our largely secular society where most of us believe equally in freedom OF and freedom FROM religion.

angry

Italiangreyhound, Firstly I didn't say that Christians must be like that. Surely you can't be unaware that right now huge numbers of Christians (at one time all of them) believe the bible to be the word of god? and that god says he wants those who follow him to kill gay people. (not just gay people. He's quite keen on people being killed. Apparently because we are the descendants of someone he once tricked into eating an apple)

I can take you to a christian right now who will tell you god has the right to do (or order) the worst things you can imagine to anyone - even children and that it will be moral because god says so.

You must have noticed the opposition to gay people having human rights even in this green and pleasant land? based on the bible?

If you were defending some auntie who puts flowers in the church and bakes cakes then I completely understand your puzzlement.

Christians are not directly responsible for what other Christians do, but if you go around saying that Christianity is a good thing then you are aiding those others.

Fair cop, but only if you are right and I am wrong. How would it sound to you if I said you are the one who has been tricked by the mere reiteration of positions you probably haven't investigated personally?
I think you just did and I support your right to say and think it. Why do christians want to ban my opinion?

FFS. I'm not a creationist and I don't know any believers who are. I have a degree in zoology. FFFFS. So clearly NOT by definition.
You misunderstand. The creationist thread is a recent example of unscientific thinking by the religous in support of faith. All religion is unscientific - not just creationism. By definition because as Christians tell me all the time the whole point is to have faith.

You do see that a fairy - whether extant or not - is absolutely nothing like the God of the religions of the book, don't you? You do know that fairies and belief in them is associated with childhood, don't you?

And if any fairy believer doesn't like it than tough right? cos yours is a 'proper' religion. Religions deserve respect, but only 'proper' ones.

Childhood?

Your holy book has a talking snake tricking a woman into eating an apple.
A talking donkey berating a man for his treatment and ingratitude.
God saying "blow your horn" and the walls of Jerico falling down.

They should have built it out of brick cos then the wolf could huff and puff.. oh wait. wrong fairytale.

Ellie just to clarify, I am not angry, or insulted at all. I fully support the right of all people to talk about the atrocities and hurts inflicted by all and any group. I was asking backonlybriefly if they thought religion/the church would be better if those of us who are more tolerant left, because what backonlybriefly seemed to be implying was that by way of being part of a church (any church? Mine is free church) then we were some how part of the problem.

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Wed 24-Apr-13 17:57:00

If all the tolerant people left the church you'd be left with an extremist sect which would instantly lose its privileges because it wouldn't have any reasonable people fighting for its rights to be treated specially.

We're not saying that by being part of the institution you are part of the problem. We are saying that by being part of the institution you create a 'moderate', majority body of members which give the minority of more extreme and less tolerant members a safe platform to operate from.

sieglinde Wed 24-Apr-13 18:03:40

The interlineations are getting to be a bit tricky..

Back,

I completely support your right to say what you like provided it isn't bigoted or hate speech. I am not against atheism, only against the crimes of prejudice. Disagree with what I say, but don't do personal broad-brush general attacks, and we will get along fine.

If religion condemns us all to be 'unscientific', how do you square that with my science degree? It is clearly not inevitable that people of faith will reject science, since I don't, and nor do many others.

And if any fairy believer doesn't like it than tough right? cos yours is a 'proper' religion. Religions deserve respect, but only proper ones

I didn't say this, I don't think it, and you are making it up. I didn't say tough. I really mean it - if I were a fairy believer I would probably be a neopagan - which is a perfectly proper religion, whatever the f that means - and I would definitely resent the assumption that calling gods fairies is the same as calling them nonexistent. Nor would I like the equation of the God of the OT with fairies. Stop trying to push me in to your stereotyped view of RCs.

I have seen the argument that staying means you can influence the church to be better. It's a valid point of view. I have to wonder how much difference you can make though unless you are a bishop/cardinal. From where I'm sitting it looks like those in charge ignore you (maybe not true for every denomination)

What worries me is that when the really good people stay they make the church look good/safe when it may not be.

Every time some fundamentalist Christian/Muslim stands up and rants they say they represent many thousands/millions of Christians/Muslims who agree with them. If those millions don't stand up and say "Hey! you're not speaking for me!" then it's just as if they did have millions of supporters.

While you may (must be) scientific about your work, the actual faith in god can't be scientific. Most Christians I've spoken don't see that as a bad thing of course, but would say it was a thing of the heart/soul/spirit.

The thing about using fairies as am example is not so much that they are non-existent, but that one can be fairly sure the listener will dismiss them as 'obviously not real'. Often quite forcefully along the lines of "How dare you compare MY god with...."

Then it's possible to make the point that if they don't respect fairy believers there are no grounds to expect others to respect theirs.

I know you know all this. I'm just trying to lay it out as clearly as I can. The point about my list of words further back was that they sound awful, but when you step through them they are valid opinions/positions. I don't expect you to agree with any of them, but they are not simply insults

sieglinde Wed 24-Apr-13 18:40:38

Yes, I see all that, backonly. It's just that it happens that little of it applies to me. The assumption that it will apply to most - as when you write 'one can be fairly sure the listener will...' - is what I find insulting. I accept that you intended no insult, though.

I agree of course that faith itself is not science, but it shouldn't and doesn't PREVENT reason in other areas. Looking at the fossil record should call on reason, not faith. It does for me. One of my closest friends, also RC, is a professor of oncology and I doubt she 'uses' faith for diagnoses, but she is sustained in her very stressful career by it.

I'm not in the business of dismissing fairies. I am agnostic about them. But I also think it's just a plain category mistake to compare them with the God of the OT, and one that would rightly offend both sets of believers just as a mistake, maybe a failure to listen.

For what it's worth, I agree that no one individual is likely effortlessly to overturn a big organisation in a lifetime, but I DO think and I have seen that individuals working together CAN and DO make all kinds of small differences. I have often disagreed with priests' sermons and I've done it pretty openly, though usually not in church itself but immediately afterwards. Just look at the changes in the RC church just in my lifetime. Not enough, not yet - but they show what's possible.

One reason I nag on here on Mumsnet is to do just what you say - to say well, fundamentalists are not speaking for me. I do it in other forums too.

EllieArroway Wed 24-Apr-13 19:27:12

Ellie just to clarify, I am not angry, or insulted at all

It's OK, I know that Italian. As I've said before, I am grateful for your willingness to discuss difficult things with me. It doesn't go unappreciated.

Sieglinde We could have done with you on the YEC thread. He assumed the only people who accept evolution MUST be atheists - and that any Christians who accept it must not truly understand it!!

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Wed 24-Apr-13 20:28:28

Without meaning to hijack, do we want a YEC2 thread to finish off the discussion? HQ have offered to link to it to the first one if we do.

backonlybriefly just realised what your name is, I kept thinking of you as bacon only briefly in my head!! Not that I am thinking of you all the time. grin.

Every time some fundamentalist Christian/Muslim stands up and rants they say they represent many thousands/millions of Christians/Muslims who agree with them. If those millions don't stand up and say "Hey! you're not speaking for me!" then it's just as if they did have millions of supporters. Yes, good point, I think, we do need to ensure we do not condone evil done in God's name. Don't inadvertently throw our weight behind those who are preaching evil.

I also agree Christians are not directly responsible for what other Christians do.

However, I would not agree that ..but if you go around saying that Christianity is a good thing then you are aiding those others.

The reason is, to explain, I don't go around saying Christianity is a good thing exactly, I go around (well some of the time) saying Jesus is good and I think that therein lies the difficulty, my main aim is to promote a relationship with God, not with the church, yet of course to become a Christian does often mean people join a church or worshipping community. Also, I believe that it is totally right for those who become Christians to do that (join a church).

The 'church', or Christians in general, do a lot of good things and it seems a shame that they/we are totally tarnished in some people's minds by some actions or some words which are wrong.

We are talking about a huge number of individual people, and of course with any great big bunch of people there will be good and bad, BUT I do understand where you are coming from backonlybriefly (honestly I do get it) and I do agree you have some valid points and I am learning a lot here.

As a bunch of Christians we have this very important book that was written 100s, or even 1000s, of years ago and generally we do not agree with it all being taken literally. I do not know any people at all who think you should stone people or commit any of the horrible atrocities written in the old testament.

Maybe you (or someone) then ask/s, why are they there? Well, for me maybe they are a lesson, in what happened, maybe in what did not happen. Why did God appear to say or do this or that... to be honest I don't always (often!) know. But there is a lot of tender stuff in the Bible too and you know it was written (old testament) at a time when behaviour was much more violent (read some of the old Greek classics stuff and you will see it is very violent). So in those tough and violent times things happened in a certain way or were recorded in a certain way, and the Old Testament was written in its time, as was the new.

So when we read and use it, we (I mean me I can only really speak for me) must try and discern what I can learn from it in my time and my context.

I honestly do not know anyone who wants to kill gay people or kill anyone.

I do know people who don't agree gay should not be able to get married. I disagree with that opinion; I would (will) welcome equal marriage.

And I can imagine within the population as a whole there are plenty of people who also agree and disagree with equal marriage. So these issues are not just for us in the church or us in religious groups to grapple with.

I am part of what may be called a Bible-believing church, yet I do not know a single person who takes the whole bible literally, in fact I have never heard of anyone. They all pick and choose based on whatever guiding principle is used.

I am saying this to explain where I am coming from.

I really am learning a lot here. If I were not learning from you guys I would not be coming on here day after day. Any thoughts of converting you are long gone!!! wink.

EllieArroway Wed 24-Apr-13 20:59:34

Do you think Best will come back? He says on his FB page he wanted to carry on - but he's scared of us now. We could try.

OliviaMMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 24-Apr-13 21:13:42

Evening all
Just a reminder of our talk guidelines
Peace and love to all, Christians or not.

It's ok Olivia. No one is burning anyone at the stake smile

Reading quick cos I have to rush off, but yeah I guess Italiangreyhound & sieglinde that we're on the same page. Maybe sometimes I lay it on a bit thick, but it seems like the only way to make the point. I'm not accustomed to people who actually listen to what I'm saying.

Yes a YEC2 thread could be interesting. With or without Best.

And /note to self to put capital letters in name. 'I' see it as bacon now. smile

Someone night be burning a steak, oh no it was shepherd's pie!

sunshine401 Wed 24-Apr-13 22:23:41

Should all Muslims be hated??
Should everyone religious or not be hated??

Hating someone because of their religion is not very good is it.

Some people believe some people don't. It should not change how we act with those people.

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Wed 24-Apr-13 22:38:27

Some people believe some people don't. It should not change how we act with those people.

Agreed. Unless someone's beliefs start interfering with my life (whether these are religious beliefs or other).

Pedro I know I am gonna regret asking this wink but are anyone's beliefs interfering with your life? [ducks and runs for cover] grin.

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Thu 25-Apr-13 07:42:01

That depends..... Not directly person to person (not right this minute anyway), but given the influence of the church over British politics and the measures we take in this country to protect ourselves from Muslim terrorists (as two broad examples), religious beliefs most certainly have a profound effect on the way we live in the 21st century.

sieglinde Thu 25-Apr-13 08:17:04

Sieglinde We could have done with you on the YEC thread. He assumed the only people who accept evolution MUST be atheists - and that any Christians who accept it must not truly understand it!!

Well, if you do go for YEC 2: The Battle for All, count me in. This viewpoint - above - is just plain wrong factually. One thing to be said for RCs is that NONE OF US are fundamentalists. (Sorry, gang - I've just been so ridiculously busy lately...)

Pedro, do you see our Muslim terrorist issues as simply the outcome of religion? I don't. I think there are lots of other factors woven in - most Muslims are not terrorists and don't hate the West, but those that do usually have un/nonreligious issues about territory and pride and national boundaries.

sieglinde Thu 25-Apr-13 08:19:06

Reading quick cos I have to rush off, but yeah I guess Italiangreyhound & sieglinde that we're on the same page. Maybe sometimes I lay it on a bit thick, but it seems like the only way to make the point. I'm not accustomed to people who actually listen to what I'm saying.

Good to know, back. Or bacon ;)

All I'd add is that sometimes laying it on thick makes it harder and not easier for people to hear what you are saying.

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Thu 25-Apr-13 11:22:31

YEC 2 is off and running. Although whether we get our favourite creationist back on remains to be seen.

Pedro, do you see our Muslim terrorist issues as simply the outcome of religion? I don't. I think there are lots of other factors woven in - most Muslims are not terrorists and don't hate the West, but those that do usually have un/nonreligious issues about territory and pride and national boundaries.

I completely agree that most Muslims are not terrorists. I would never suggest for a moment that they were. But to suggest that terrorism carried out by people who happen to be Muslims is not religiously motivated would be wrong. For starters, a lot of the territory issues are precisely because of religious claims to land. And those extremists who attack the west (I'm sure I don't need to provide a list of high profile examples) do their work in the name of their god to rid the world of infidels and to sacrifice themselves as martyrs in order to enjoy their 72 virgins in the afterlife. I'm really not sure how these acts could be any more religiously motivated.

So back to the point, yes the world I live in is influenced by religious people asserting their beliefs in various ways.

LizzyDay Thu 25-Apr-13 11:57:23

Just popping on (I'm supposed to be working...) to say that religious discrimination in English state schools is a biggie for me.

Many people have a vastly reduced choice of local schools due to this outrageous practice, especially in areas where school places are very squeezed already.

sieglinde Thu 25-Apr-13 13:40:30

Yes, Pedro - it's a bit like Stalin and atheism, in a way grin. Few motives are unmixed. What's hard is deciding when religion is the main factor, or only one of many factors. My sense is that fundamentalist Islam is a necessary but NOT a sufficient condition for Muslim terrorism.

Without unnecessary strife, what's your source for the motivation of terrorists re: virgins?

sieglinde Thu 25-Apr-13 13:42:27

Can't find YEC 2 in my seconds of remaining lunchbreak - links?

LizzyDay Thu 25-Apr-13 13:49:32
sieglinde Thu 25-Apr-13 15:10:29

Thanks.

As is doing the rounds on Facebook at the moment: equating all Muslims with the suicide-bomber scumbags is like equating all Christians with the Westboro Baptists Church.

The fact that religion is a crock of shit doesn't stop some religious people being perfectly nice human beings with some rather silly opinions.

Oh and regarding the fairies - I am still waiting for someone to make a decent attempt at arguing why, if your imaginary friend is to be respected, other people's imaginary friends such as fairies and pixies and ghosts and aliens, are not worth of exactly the same amount of respect (ie fuck all, in my case, but I think that's fair).

SGB are there any people who actively believe in fairies?

LizzyDay Thu 25-Apr-13 19:43:50

Well my DD does - and I'm sure you wouldn't have to look to hard to find an Elvish cult somewhere.

I know some grown ups who believe in angels - is that much different?

sieglinde Thu 25-Apr-13 20:25:21

Italian, yes, there are lots of neopagans who do. Some sweet old ladies as well.

No, angels are not really very much like fairies.

Belief in fairies/ghosts/pixies/magic is still fairly widespread, though less so than it used to be. Every culture has its supernatural beings, nasty and nice. In terms of timespan and amount of stories, there is no real difference between fairies, ghosts, monsters and gods, it's just that some mythologies are supposed to be taken seriously and others not so. It'll be down to social control and profit, of course, as that's what all organised religions are for, but it seems to me that a pantheistic cult would probably work just as effectively as a monotheistic one.

LizzyDay Thu 25-Apr-13 20:50:29

No, angels are not really very much like fairies.

I suppose it depends who you ask?

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Thu 25-Apr-13 21:36:15

Fairies are exactly like angels just smaller.

People with wings basically.

The only difference I can ascertain is that fairies have more insect-like wings and angels are more bird-like.

Pedro you sound like an expert have you seen any? wink

My DD believes in the tooth fairy. The difference, of course, is that I know where those pound coins come from.... and it's not Tinkerbell!

SGB, really? In terms of timespan and amount of stories, there is no real difference between fairies, ghosts, monsters and gods, it's just that some mythologies are supposed to be taken seriously and others not so. Do you mean there are just as many stories about God as there are about fairies?

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Fri 26-Apr-13 06:24:17

Pedro you sound like an expert have you seen any?

Yes, they mostly turn up at fancy dress parties!

headinhands Fri 26-Apr-13 08:08:51

Wether it was meant to be 'taken seriously' or not is no indicator of veracity. What about the Viking/Greek gods. They were taken seriously by most of the population, but I assume you have no problem dismissing those deities? furthermore, as sgb points out the reason they are meant to be taken seriously are for deeply subversive intentions i.e.. social control etc.

Italiangreyhound: if you went through all the well-known stories of all the cultures in the world, you would probably find as many, if not more, that deal with 'magic' creatures such as fairies/pixies/djinn as those that deal with gods. Up until fairly recently, in the UK, people believed in fairies and elves alongside Jesus and the saints. It just turned out that the people with power, who wanted to retain power or acquire more, settled (in the UK at least) on a monotheistic myth system as the more effective variety. Perhaps it's easier to control the masses when they have to attend the local superstition house once a week and be given their orders, rather than allowing them to negotiate on a freelance basis with a whole population of imaginary friends and enemies.

headinhands was that comment for me? If so, I am not sure what you are asking. smile

SGB I am not sure what you are saying, are you saying there are just as many stories about magic and fairies as there are God/'gods' or are you saying there are more about God and this is just to control people?

My point was that stories about fairies etc are not meant to be taken seriously generally (apologies to anyone who does). My dd believes in fairies and Santa Claus but I am sure she will not when she is older.

Churches and government don't always agree on stuff, in fact some churches are very revoluntionary, what about liberation theology in Latin America, that is not about controlling the masses?

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Sat 27-Apr-13 06:49:55

My point was that stories about fairies etc are not meant to be taken seriously generally

Tell that to the Celtic folk religions, or the Faerie Wicca.

Just because more recently there are children's tales about fairies doesn't mean no one ever took them seriously. Maybe in a couple of centuries we'll have fairy tales about monotheists and their gingerbread churches, who knows.

EllieArroway Sat 27-Apr-13 10:12:20

Regarding fairies and people believing in them:

This had a lot of people fooled for quite a long time....including Conan Doyle. A superb example of the gullibility of people and their willingness to believe precisely what they want to, in the complete absence of common sense or reason.

I said 'My point was that stories about fairies etc are not meant to be taken seriously generally.'

I don't think most people take them seriously now, and I would imagine that most people didn't take them seriously before (in the past). I am sure some people have taken them seriously and as I say my daughter definitely believes in them now.

I am not sure exactly what point we are debating here.

I think (please correct me if I am wrong SGB wink) that there is an assumption that fairies are just as important as God/gods, just as believed in, or just as written about.

Assuming SGB is an atheist (please correct me if I am wrong) this means that none of them are true.

So rather than writing to 'defend' any kind of mythical creatures, the aim is to put them all on the same level, God and fairies! I totally get it, I just don't agree with it. The argument was expanded to include magic of any kind.

I don't think that it is true now or ever has ever been true that fairies and the like have had as much influence on the world as religion but I understand that there are some areas where these cross over - in the sense that there are some belief systems that include magic etc.

However, taking SGB point that It just turned out that the people with power, who wanted to retain power or acquire more, settled (in the UK at least) on a monotheistic myth system as the more effective variety. Perhaps it's easier to control the masses when they have to attend the local superstition house once a week and be given their orders, rather than allowing them to negotiate on a freelance basis with a whole population of imaginary friends and enemies. So, if it were true that fairies and magic were as influential as God, I could ask why (if all the 'authorities' wanted to do was control people) didn't they encourage belief in fairies and magic instead of God?

Yes, Ellie, I love the story of Cottingley Fairies. Indeed people do often believe what they want to believe. To me the idea that we are totally alone in the universe as 'higher' beings (humans) and that there is no spiritual realm at all is just as totally implausable as the idea of fairies. So for the record I don't believe in fairies, it's me who puts the £1 under my daughter's pillow, and I wonder if she already suspects but is keeping quiet until all her baby teeth are gone! grin

I understand that to people who do not believe in God or anything spiritual at all, the idea of God is on the same level as fairies, magic, aliens and all the rest of that type of stuff, but to be honest that is way too simplistic. Of course, I say this with respect as I know several of you think this.

Don't you ever wonder if there is something you are missing out on?

Be gentle with me! If you choose to answer!

OK, SGB, apologies, I missed that point where you said Perhaps it's easier to control the masses when they have to attend the local superstition house once a week and be given their orders, rather than allowing them to negotiate on a freelance basis with a whole population of imaginary friends and enemies, even though I repeated it! blush.

So you mean that belief in fairies etc was just as widespread as belief in God but the authorities chose God because it was easier to use that to control people? I think that God was believed in by people because they felt it was true and also for society it contained a useful moral code etc which did make society better. But sorry I did miss your original point and I acknowledge it, even though I don't agree with it. smile

sieglinde Sat 27-Apr-13 10:53:40

Oh dear. Now we are in New World Order land. I bloody hate NWO land. Who are 'the authorities', SGB? (There are no 'authorities' - central government was incredibly weak, though sometimes vicious, in the late Empire to the late Middle Ages... the time when Christianity was strongest. If you mean the Emperor Constantine, his decree only worked because there were already so many believers - and you can tell because Julian the Apostate tried to turn the Empire back to paganism to NO avail - oddly, I can't help loving Julian... who dies saying, 'you have conquered, Galilean.')

And actually people DID once take stories about fairies very seriously. They weren't always stories about cute tiny critters, but stories about vampire-like dead people - try a few Child ballads.

Conversely, people told stories about Jesus and the apostles that they KNEW were made up, but funny. There's an incredibly series of them in Calvino's Italian folktales. Mocking St Peter as a big stupid oaf.. smile

Finally, SGB, lots of neopagans do believe in the ancient Greek and Norse gods. Please stop generalising.

Siegelinde: Superstition was just one of the means used by each local king/baron/whatever to keep the populace in line. It's not that important which superstitions were favoured: sometimes fighting over the brand of superstition was used as a way of one power-hungry bully replacing another.

And it's not me claiming that stories of supernatural beings other than officially-sanctioned gods were never taken seriously - the fact that similar themes show up in every culture shows quite the opposite. And the roots of belief in fairies and ghosts are no different to the roots of belief in gods - concern with what happens when you die, a wish to be able to influence events that you actually have no power over, searching for patterns and rules and explanations of random events, etc. OK some of these stories are about teaching and enforcing rules so perhaps the individual tales were never believed nor presented as true, but the concepts were accepted.

EllieArroway Sat 27-Apr-13 12:23:37

For me, it's very simple.....

Evidence for fairies/leprechauns/Santa/Nessie = 0

Evidence for God = 0

In this respect, they are comparable.

The evidence we all use to justify our lack of belief in fairies is the identical evidence I use to justify my lack of belief in any god.

sieglinde Sat 27-Apr-13 12:33:43

Ellie, just to be clear, a. I am agnostic about fairies, as this seems to me a rational response to the lack of evidence in my experience and the testimonials offered by others b. I agree that fairies and the deities of established religions can readily be compared on an evidential basis. c. Comparison is not the same as conflation, and the term 'sky fairy' implies conflation.

SGB, using terms such as 'superstition', 'populace' and 'power-hungry' begs questions (in the true sense of assuming the answer is known) rather than addressing them. I think it would help if you gave an example of what you mean from the early to high middle ages. A real, concrete example.

EllieArroway Sat 27-Apr-13 12:47:04

On that basis, I am agnostic about God. And aliens in the universe. And whether Nessie exists. I don't agree that it implies conflation, which would have us assuming we're talking about distinct entities. They are not distinct to me. But that's me...I know they are for you. And I get what you're saying.

SGB who is claiming fairy stories were never taken seriously? I am just saying they are not comparable with religion (to me and I would hazard a guess to most people).

Ellie are you agnostic now? wink

niminypiminy Sat 27-Apr-13 17:30:57

SolidGoldBrass, while it might be true to say that in some respects, in some places and some times religion has been used as a means of social control, that has not been its only function. A mere glance at medieval literature, or at the culture of black rebellion in the states, or at the history of choral music would show that Christianity (to give an example of only one faith) has had many different functions for its adherents, and that social control by the ruling elite has been only one of them -- a relatively minor one at that.

Italiangreyhound - what do you think is the difference between 'fairy story' and 'religion'? You are a Christian so you think that the Christian myths are true - what about the myths of Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs etc - are they 'religions' or 'fairy stories' in your opinion (given that as a Christian you don't believe in Allah, Rama, Ganesh etc).

EllieArroway Sat 27-Apr-13 18:42:31

Agnosticism and atheism are answers to different questions, Italian.

Agnosticism refers to knowledge, atheism to belief. I have never claimed knowledge, but I (really, really, really) don't believe.

I am as agnostic towards God as I am towards Santa....who I don't "know" doesn't exist either.

SGB IMHO Religions are ways to get to God, to relate to God or, in the case of some religions, gods. Fairy stories are told to entertain, perhaps to educate. Maybe in the past they would have had more 'power' or meaning.

Other religions are other religions, they are way in which people try to relate to God, and fairy stories are still, in my mind, what I just said.

Are you asking if I believe other religions? I believe them in as much as they agree with what I believe, and I expect a lot of of other people who are 'religious' might say something similar.

DioneTheDiabolist Sat 27-Apr-13 21:52:09

Ellie, does that mean that you really, really, really believe that there is no god?

sieglinde Sun 28-Apr-13 10:42:08

Italian, I agree - that is, anyone of any faith can hardly discard other religions. Surely no believing RC can dismiss Judaism?

Santa used to be a saint, btw. Santa actually means saint. St Nicholas has a history. He in all likelihood really existed. Once. grin

EllieArroway Sun 28-Apr-13 11:22:44

Yes, Dione.

My evidence that there is no god?

The lack of evidence demonstrating that there is one. The same evidence that leads me to conclude that leprechauns don't exist.

Shall I continue and save you the time? "Absence of evidence isn't evidence of absence"?

Rubbish. The absence of evidence that we might reasonably expect to see is evidence of absence.

Person A: I have an African elephant living in my front room.
Person B: Goodness me. Let me check this out.

Person B finds a) no elephant, b) no elephant dung, c) no elephant footprints, d) no half eaten buns and e) a neat, undisturbed living room.

Person B concludes, on the absence of evidence, that there is no elephant residing in that living room.

Oh - and personal revelation is not "evidence", unless you can reliably demonstrate it to another person.

sieglinde Sun 28-Apr-13 12:36:27

But what of the man in 1600 who says 'there is no other living thing in the room', when the room is absolutely full of microorganisms? Much of what we know depends on what we can see.

JoTheHot Sun 28-Apr-13 13:13:48

Are you suggesting you can literally see god? If not, I'm not sure what your point is.

sieglinde Sun 28-Apr-13 16:12:03

I'm pointing out the limits of empiricism at any particular time or place.

That said, people HAVE claimed to see/hear God ((and gods).

JoTheHot Sun 28-Apr-13 16:25:08

So you think that in the future, with the development of better techniques, we may find cartesian evidence for the existence of god? I didn't think this was consistent with christian beliefs. That said I'm stronger on empiricism than theology.

dogsandcats Sun 28-Apr-13 16:46:35

1 Corinthians 1 v 18
"For the message abut the cross is foolishness to those that are perishing, but to those that are being saved it is the power of God".

A difficult verse to read and post.

I am not sure that anyone should write themselves off Christian wise, but it does explain how some people will never be able to understand.

JoTheHot Sun 28-Apr-13 16:49:22

I didn't realise John Prescott wrote part of the bible.

niminypiminy Sun 28-Apr-13 17:00:15

IIRC, Decartes' problem was that there is no evidence for any entities or objects outside his own reasoning mind. For Decartes, of course, God is the only guarantor of the existence of the external world. But the implication of Decartes' thought, and the problem of empiricism more generally, is that it leads to a kind of solipsism, where the external world is simply the by-product of neurone activity. From that point of view I have no proof that anyone else exists at all -- for all I know you might all be hallucinations caused by irregular brain activity.

ISTM that Sieglinde is saying something rather different, which is that what we are able to imagine is historically determined: a person in 1600 (before the invention of the microscope) would not have regarded it as at all likely that the the room he was standing in was filled with microscopic life forms, because none such had ever been seen. But that did not, of course, mean that none were there. What we regard to be unalterable truths regarding the nature of the cosmos, the way matter behaves, and so on, may well be similarly subject to entire revision. The truths of science, such as they are, are always provisional and contingent.

Thing is, once microscopes were invented and it became possible to see microorganisms, then there was evidence of their existence. There's no evidence of the existence of gods - or fairies, or genies, or fox spirits or the mythical being of your choice/culture.
Actual evidence of the existence of some kind of supernatural Higher Power, if someone found some, well I'd certainly take a look at it. But it wouldn't be the god of any of the existing myth systems, because there's no evidence of anything behaving in the way that these particular imaginary beings are supposed to behave ie being egotistical meddlers prone to throwing tantrums and intervening capriciously in human lives.

sieglinde Mon 29-Apr-13 10:02:49

Niminy wrote, much more cogently than me ISTM that Sieglinde is saying something rather different, which is that what we are able to imagine is historically determined: a person in 1600 (before the invention of the microscope) would not have regarded it as at all likely that the the room he was standing in was filled with microscopic life forms, because none such had ever been seen. But that did not, of course, mean that none were there. What we regard to be unalterable truths regarding the nature of the cosmos, the way matter behaves, and so on, may well be similarly subject to entire revision. The truths of science, such as they are, are always provisional and contingent.

Yes, that's my point exactly. Thank you.

SGB, your next point is - well, pointless. I KNOW there's no evidence for God now, just as in 1600 there was no evidence for micro-organisms. But one day our very idea of what constitutes evidence WILL change - it will because science is not static, but always in a process of re-evaluation. This I also take to be the basis for Higgs's criticism of Dawkins - that he - Dawkins - is worryingly fundamentalist about the nature of things. I'm not sure there will be evidence in future, but it seems premature ot be sure that there won't be.

LizzyDay Mon 29-Apr-13 10:22:14

Of course science learns new things every day.

But the scientific process will always require information and evidence to support hypotheses - I can't see how that will change.

What seems impossible is that evidence will ever emerge to support the idea of 'God' as he appears in the Bible - or any other god from any other religious tradition. Since no two people seem able to experience 'God' in the same way, it seems to me there will be an awful lot of disappointed people if he ever reveals himself to BE something observable and measurable.

niminypiminy Mon 29-Apr-13 11:29:04

But isn't that the point? Just because you cannot envisage it, doesn't mean that it will not happen.

LizzyDay Mon 29-Apr-13 11:44:24

Cannot envisage what - that science will always need to be able to observe and measure things in order to draw any conclusions about them?

Yes the boundaries of what can be observed and measured will change, almost certainly, but scientists aren't going to suddenly start 'believing' that things are true for the sake of it.

niminypiminy Mon 29-Apr-13 11:57:53

Badly worded: what I meant was that your inability to imagine that there will ever be evidence to support the existence of God doesn't mean that there will never be evidence to support the existence of God. (Or rather, evidence of a kind you would consider admissible within the protocols of scientific method.)

It's not simply that scientists discover new things; they also discover that what they previously thought to be the case was wrong. The history of science is the history of error.

LizzyDay Mon 29-Apr-13 12:10:10

Well yes - that's the point of science. To find out which parts of our knowledge are flawed and improve on them.

But isn't the Christian god supposed to be ineffable (as in indescribable / indefinable)?

niminypiminy Mon 29-Apr-13 14:00:32

Isn't it the case that often the errors are only visible retrospectively?

Anyway, yes, God is ineffable. But he is also personal. He is both unknowable and knowable. He is indescribable and familiar. He is divine and he is human.

As a Christian I am happy with that: the desire to make God measurable and observable seems to me to be, at root, the desire to cut God down to size, to make him into something we can fully comprehend. And that seems to me to be both a foolish and an ultimately doomed enterprise.

LizzyDay Mon 29-Apr-13 14:06:52

"Isn't it the case that often the errors are only visible retrospectively?"

Yes confused

And of course 'proving' that a god exists is doomed to failure - especially when there's no consensus on what 'god' is supposed to be, except that he/she/it is generally (and handily) 'unprovable'.

That's why you can't expect people to take it seriously. Obviously some people do choose to take it seriously and that's their business, as long as it doesn't impinge on my life.

niminypiminy Mon 29-Apr-13 14:30:44

But proving (with or without the inverted commas) that anything exists is doomed to failure. Positive proof is an empirical impossibility.

LizzyDay Mon 29-Apr-13 14:38:42

"Positive proof is an empirical impossibility."

Yes it is of course (hence the inverted commas).

But a fundamental problem for gathering evidence for the existence of god is that you first need a hypothesis and something to examine / measure. As no one seems to agree on what god actually is, or what the Bible actually says / doesn't say - where does anyone even start?

As opposed to say, studying the effects of electricity. You can't see it but it does have measurable, testable, consistent effects, leading to robust theories as to how it works.

DioneTheDiabolist Tue 30-Apr-13 10:26:14

Ellie, I certainly would not ask you for evidence regarding your belief. I simply wished to establish whether your views were based on belief (as I suspected), or absence of belief.

LizzyDay Tue 30-Apr-13 11:42:33

Dione - regarding atheist 'belief' - speaking for myself, I would say it's absence of belief. In the same way as I have an absence of belief for Father Christmas, for example.

'Belief' and 'believe' are rather difficult words anyway, as they have subtle shades of meaning.
eg
'I believe I'll go down the shops later'
'I can't believe it!'
'I have no evidence, but I still have belief'

Hi all. Not really back yet, hopefully in a few days. I'd like to just throw in one thought.

A man in 1400 who claimed he knew the room was full of other living things would be mistaken or lying depending on his sincerity/state of mind..

The fact that technically it would be full of microorganisms doesn't make him right. HE couldn't know that so whatever he was imagining was there wouldn't be the microorganisms that we later discover. It just sounds related.

Anyone who took his claim seriously wouldn't be be reasonable even though much later on microorganisms would be discovered. The later discovery doesn't retroactively make their belief sensible.

The correct response to the man from 1400 would not be "No I know for a fact that there can't possibly be living things we can't see"

It would be "Do you have anything at all to indicate there ARE living things in here?... No? Ok, then what's for tea?"

headinhands Tue 30-Apr-13 16:35:22

dogsandcats wrote ^1 Corinthians 1 v 18
"For the message abut the cross is foolishness to those that are perishing, but to those that are being saved it is the power of God".

A difficult verse to read and post.^

What abut people who used to believe? And more to the point the bible would say that wouldn't it? It's not just Christianity that doesn't make sense, it's all religions/supernatural beliefs.

dogsandcats Tue 30-Apr-13 16:56:32

"What about people who used to believe".
I dont quite get your point. It is possible to be saved but later on reject it all.

For the rest of your last paragraph, see your first paragraph as regards Christianity.

headinhands Tue 30-Apr-13 18:33:47

Okay, put it this way. All religions seem foolish to me, but you say Christianity is the real deal. There is as much reason for me to think Christianity is the truth as there is Islam etc. How do you know you've got the right religion?

dogsandcats Tue 30-Apr-13 20:17:42

Christianity works for me.
I am a "if it aint broke, dont fix it", type of person.

BackOnlyBriefly surely your argument about what the man knew or did not know in relation to the room is trying to put the emphasis back on the man. The real emphasis is on what is true. It was true (that there were microorganisms) but he did not know it, it is true now, and we know it. The real issue is - it being true.

Being able to prove it is true or not does not make it true. I totally get where you are coming from but I think as humans we worry a lot about what we can prove when really the most important things in life are things we can't really always prove or not prove, just experience.

headinhands that's a very good question, how do we know it is the real deal. For me the fact that God took the initiative. He came down to earth to seek us out. Yes, before we get back into the old proof was Jesus real and all that circle, can I just say it how I see it and you can question as much as you like? smile

Because I know everything I say as a Christian will be contentious or will be in tension for an atheist or agnostic so I value your even being interested in it.

For me it is the fact God looks on the heart, and is concerned for the poor, the broken hearted etc (it says it in the Bible but I also feel it in my spirit). The church is full of ritual and I think people like ritual and maybe that is why God allows a lot of it in there but at his heart (and I say his meaning his or hers rather than its) I believe God just wants to know us and love us, and to be known and loved by us. Which is why the imagery of the Bible is of a father and a mother. There are also images of a king, Prince of Peace etc and these are all facets of God. God is matchless, someone beyond our comprehension, and yet also knowable! How weird and wonderful is that!

I am petty and angry at times and if I had made God in my own image I would have made him like me, yet he is not like me, he is utterly bigger and better - yet he draws me in and makes me part of what he is doing in the world.

I believe God puts things on my heart and that is why I know he has a compassion for the poor. I could go on and on but I won’t now. So for me The Lord (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) is the real deal. Thank you for asking, headinhands.

StackOverflow Tue 30-Apr-13 22:22:52

Being able to prove it is true or not does not make it true. I totally get where you are coming from but I think as humans we worry a lot about what we can prove when really the most important things in life are things we can't really always prove or not prove, just experience.

I suppose what you're trying to say is that the objective truth value of a claim isn't necessarily contingent on us being able to prove or empirically support it. This is arguably the case - the inverse is not: if you cannot conclusively disprove a claim, it is not therefore true or even plausible by default.

BackOnlyBriefly's argument actually makes a lot of sense: given that there is no such thing as an infallible objective-truth-o-meter our best shot at establishing what is in fact true is to take into consideration the best evidence available to us. Obviously imperfect evidence (e.g. the lack of microscopes) may lead to incorrect or incomplete conclusions. That doesn't make any old conjecture just as valid a view as what you can actually demonstrate.

Yes, the claim "lots of living things exist in this room" may have been factually correct even in 1400. However, if you're arguing that this would have been a sensible claim to make at the time because it turned out to be true, you're also implying that claims about crystal therapy being effective, masturbation leading to cancer, aliens mutilating American cows and the CIA being after my schizophrenic uncle are sensible claims to make. There's no reason to believe any of that is true - but we cannot conclusively demonstrate that it isn't either. All of this might - however unlikely - still turn out to be true. Chances are it won't.

TL;DR: Even a broken clock is right twice a day - that doesn't therefore mean that having a working one isn't still a lot more likely to tell you what time it is, ...

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Tue 30-Apr-13 22:47:34

I am petty and angry at times and if I had made God in my own image I would have made him like me, yet he is not like me, he is utterly bigger and better - yet he draws me in and makes me part of what he is doing in the world.

If you have fallacies, why would you create a god in your image? Wouldn't you make him perfect? Or at least try?

I think you're referring to the argument that man made god, not the other way around, but it's not that man made god in his image, it's more that the nature of god as portrayed in the bible is exactly what you'd expect from one created by man as a myth or legend.

Incidentally, I've always been confused by god creating man in his own image because humans are so imperfect (due to evolution) we have so many bit which aren't required or don't work properly or are routed bizarrely around the body. Seems that if we are in God's image, god is pretty flawed.

Yes, Pedro I agree we are flawed but IMHO that is because we are fallen, not because we were created flawed. I was indeed referring to the idea/accusation that man 'made God in his own image'.

Yes, Stackoverflow (what an interesting name grin, That doesn't make any old conjecture just as valid a view as what you can actually demonstrate. Just because we can't prove it doesn't make it true either. We are back to taking things on faith, and of course this is where Christians make up their own minds about what they believe based on the 'evidence' or the 'experience' of God they have. The examples you have given of prefixed with you're also implying that... (* claims about crystal therapy being effective, masturbation leading to cancer, aliens mutilating American cows and the CIA being after my schizophrenic uncle are sensible claims to make*), are all individual things that may or may not be true, in this case I would assume are not true (I don't know your uncle) and I was not implying these things were true. I was not implying that any old thing we cannot prove is true. I was saying that I believe Jesus lived and died and rose again, to redeem the world. That I can't offer evidence for this this that will provide proof to satisfy some but I believe it, just as I cannot prove evidence for the love I have for my family and them for me, yet I also believe it based on experience.

Can I pose a question which I don't know the answer to, please? In our lives where do we draw the line between evidence and experience, and is there a line, and what difference do we see in the way we view things in this way?

(A very simple example might be if there were a washing powder that was tested safe to use, and yet brought us out in rash when we washed our clothes with it. How would we view it?)

headinhands Wed 01-May-13 08:12:52

Re: the washing machine analogy, I'd probably do a test with clothes washed in new powder and old powder to check it wasn't a coincidence. Or just go back to using the old seeing as it's not a big issue.

headinhands Wed 01-May-13 08:19:04

As for love, I have good reason to believe my family love me and I love them from the way we behave towards each other. I can't see it no, although you probably can see stuff going on in the brain in specific areas when I am hugging them. How does this relate to god though? You can't see him and there's no evidence of his love towards you or anyone beyond your feelings, and as other religions claim the same about their god, suggests it stems from the brain.

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Wed 01-May-13 16:08:31

There is no line to draw because evidence and experience are not mutually exclusive.

However, evidence for love is most certainly possible to produce. First though, you must define what you mean by love because it's one of those things which, like god, can be interpreted many different ways. For example, trying to demonstrate evidence for god when you define god as a force which created nature is very different to trying to demonstrate evidence for god when you you define god as an entity who watches over everyone and answers prayers.

Washing powder being safe to use based on clinical trials would have evidence to back it up. So you might be allergic to the powder (which doesn't necessarily make it not safe, but we'll assume for argument's sake that it would be seriously detrimental to your health). It would be an experience which you have when coming out in a rash (or whatever the symptoms might be), but that would also be evidence. However, this evidence would need to be demonstrable and repeatable to hold any weight. If you used the powder again and had no rash, the evidence that it caused the rash loses weight.

DioneTheDiabolist Wed 01-May-13 19:02:51

Italian this is my take on evidence and experience.
Two people take a helicopter ride over Niagra Falls.
The evidence is their receipt, the helicopter flight plan and onboard recording equipment.
The experience, one person talks of the majesty and awe. The other person talks of motion sickness and a waste of time and money.

The evidence provides proof but the experience is entirely subjective and can vary enormously from person to person.

I don't know if this is the sort of thing you were looking for.

Headinhands you said I can't see it no, although you probably can see stuff going on in the brain in specific areas when I am hugging them. How does this relate to god though? You can't see him and there's no evidence of his love towards you or anyone beyond your feelings, and as other religions claim the same about their god, suggests it stems from the brain. Are you saying things going on in the brain is proof of love or isn't proof of love?

Dione Thanks for the helicopter example. Supposing the two people lost their receipt, helicopter flight plan is blown away in a massive gust of wind and the on board flight recording went haywire. Is there still any evidence of the people's flight left in their experience?

Only curious.

Pedro you said However, evidence for love is most certainly possible to produce. Do you mean human love, spiritual love, love of animals?

Also I would see God as both the things you describe. ... created nature and watches over everyone and answers prayers. Do you recognise any evidence for either version of God?

Forget the washing powder Pedro* I like Dione's helicopter ride more. grin

Sorry Pedro I meant animals loving human owners, as in pets!

DioneTheDiabolist Wed 01-May-13 23:33:34

Credit card statement?wink

However it is possible for all the evidence to get lost. In that case they would have no evidence for their flight.

headinhands Thu 02-May-13 06:27:14

Sorry Italian I thought earlier on you used the example of love for family as an example of something being real but there being no evidence didn't you?

headinhands Thu 02-May-13 06:32:09

I don't see any evidence for either concept of god, do you?

headinhands Thu 02-May-13 06:40:27

As for the helicopter flight. There would be others who had gone on the flight, the company probably still offering flights, adverts and so on. It wouldn't be difficult to believe them without hard evidence as you could do it yourself and see photos and so on.

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Thu 02-May-13 07:12:26

Pedro you said However, evidence for love is most certainly possible to produce. Do you mean human love, spiritual love, love of animals?

You'd have to define love first before I could offer evidence for it.

Also I would see God as both the things you describe. ... created nature and watches over everyone and answers prayers. Do you recognise any evidence for either version of God?

It's not that I don't recognise evidence. It's that I don't think that there is any, although a force which created nature is more plausible. But everything I see in the evidence suggests there's no need to include a god in the equation. Of course if you consider that God is "whatever caused the big bang", for example, then you perhaps wrap the concept of a god around the science and gain yourself some 'evidence' of sorts.

Dione would the experience of their flight be evidence of it?

headinhands you said ...*Sorry Italian I thought earlier on you used the example of love for family as an example of something being real but there being no evidence didn't you?* Yes I did. I meant that I would not be able to prove empirically, that my family love me or that I love them. There is no scientific test I can prove. My argument is that the very most important things in life are things we cannot produce proof for in a kind of scientific research way. Yet we believe them to be true. And in the same way (*for me*) I love God and believe God loves me and is real even though I cannot prove it. My experience of it is a kind of evidence although not proof. You mentioned seeing things in the brain when ....

I can't see it no, although you probably can see stuff going on in the brain in specific areas when I am hugging them.

Then you said * How does this relate to god though? You can't see him and there's no evidence of his love towards you or anyone beyond your feelings, and as other religions claim the same about their god, suggests it stems from the brain.*

So the 'evidence' of love within families might be seen in the brain and you also think love of God stems from the brain, are these kinds of love not similar? That was my point, not proof but at least evidence?

headinhands you said ... As for the helicopter flight. There would be others who had gone on the flight, the company probably still offering flights, adverts and so on. It wouldn't be difficult to believe them without hard evidence as you could do it yourself and see photos and so on.

Is other people saying they have been on the helicopter flight evidence of it? If so then there are lots of other people who believe in God.

Pedro why do I need to define 'love' you said there was evidence for it first! grin

My point is that if there is evidence for human love between two or more people, and their is evidence our pets love us (well some do) and we love them, is there not equal weight of spiritual love. People love God and people would say (some people) that they feel/know/believe that God loves them. That was my point. So is there evidence for any of those kinds of love?

Also, if you have time can you look at the theory you put the other way round?

But everything I see in the evidence suggests there's no need to include a god in the equation. Of course if you consider that God is "whatever caused the big bang", for example, then you perhaps wrap the concept of a god around the science and gain yourself some 'evidence' of sorts.

How about telling me how the whole big bang happened without God, where did it all start off if there was not God in the 'creation' evaution. I am most certainly not arguing about creationism verses evolution etc. I am asking if God did not start the whole ball rolling then what did, what created whatever whatever made the first bits of the universe?

The 'proving love' thing is little different to the "but you can't prove the wind is there".

If Fred defines love as 'putting someone else's welfare before your own" then he can say that Wilma loves him if he has evidence that she puts his welfare before her own.

In fact she might not love him, but have a mental disorder that emulates the expected symptoms of loving someone or have a secret plan to get his money. So strictly speaking we can never be 100% sure, but still we are going by as much evidence as we can accumulate. It's not the same as a wild guess.

Some young people will imagine that someone loves them - even a pop star whom they have never met - without enough evidence. They tend to be upset when they realize the truth. Even they start with the evidence that the celebrity exists though and perhaps a little knowledge of his/her preferences.

In order to imagine being loved by Jesus you must first assume he exists without evidence, then assume without evidence that he knows you and then assume that he loves you, also without evidence.

The evidence for him existing seems in many cases to be "because I feel loved by him" which is neat and poetic, but not very useful.

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Thu 02-May-13 12:31:04

Pedro why do I need to define 'love' you said there was evidence for it first!

Because love is an ambiguous term. There are specific elements which combine to give you what most people consider to be love. There are activities in specific parts of the brain which indicate an individual's response to seeing or interacting with someone they 'love' which would trigger a response to that person or drive how they treat them. But I have different definitions for different people. I love my wife in a different way to how I love my son or my parents or my in laws or my friends. You could use a different word to describe those different loves if such words existed. You would likely have a different definition for how you love God and would almost certainly have different neurological responses for each of those.

You would also be hard pushed to demonstrate how God loved you given you can't demonstrate god exists. Receipt of love could only be evidenced by studying the loving entity.

You need to have a specific, defined, measurable hypothesis before you begin to test the evidence.

How about telling me how the whole big bang happened without God, where did it all start off if there was not God in the 'creation' evaution. I am most certainly not arguing about creationism verses evolution etc. I am asking if God did not start the whole ball rolling then what did, what created whatever whatever made the first bits of the universe?

There's no answer to that yet, but there's also nothing to suggest that God did it. The absence of information doesn't just mean you can full the gaps with God because that doesn't mean anything.

Perhaps if I use another analogy. Before we understood the germ theory of disease, people got ill and no one knew why. At the time you could have just said "god makes you ill", but that doesn't answer the question why and to suggest that it did would stop you trying to find out the real reason. Same with the origin of the universe, perhaps god did create it, but there's no evidence of that and I'd rather follow scientific development to answer that question rather than stopping with God.

BackOnlyBriefly there is no doubt in my mind that Jesus did live on the earth.

Before dear Pedro shoots down my faith in Wickepidia....

"Virtually all modern scholars of antiquity agree that Jesus existed..."

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historicity_of_Jesus

The full quote is "Virtually all modern scholars of antiquity agree that Jesus existed,[1][2][3][4] and although there is little agreement on the historicity of gospel narratives and their theological assertions of his divinity,[5][6][7][8] biblical scholars and classical historians regard theories of his non-existence as effectively refuted.[9][10][11] Most scholars agree that Jesus was a Galilean Jew who was born between 7 and 2 BC and died 30–36 AD.[12][13][14] Most scholars hold that Jesus lived in Galilee and Judea, did not preach or study elsewhere[15][16][17] and that he spoke Aramaic and may have also spoken Hebrew and possibly Greek.[18][19][20] Although scholars differ on the reconstruction of the specific episodes of the life of Jesus, the two events whose historicity is subject to "almost universal assent" are that he was baptized by John the Baptist and shortly afterwards was crucified by the order of the Roman Prefect Pontius Pilate.[21][22][23][24]"

This is not to say that this is proof or evidence of Jesus being God, we have established I cannot give you proof of that. But I would agree with 'virtually all modern scholars of antiquity' in that Jesus existed. It is not my experience' of Jesus that makes me think he existed it is my experience of Jesus that makes me believe he is God and he loves me. I would like to make that distinction.

Pedro I don't need to test the evidence. I am just trying to explain things in a way you might connect with. I don't think the things that are very important to us, perhaps the most important to us, we can offer proof for. Whether we are talking about God or people I don't think there is absolute proof of love. I do totally understand where you are coming from. But we keep going back to the bit were you say I can't prove God exists and I agree, I can't prove it!

Pedro... as ever very interesting answers from you, thank you. You said Same with the origin of the universe, perhaps god did create it, but there's no evidence of that and I'd rather follow scientific development to answer that question rather than stopping with God.

I am not the sort of Christian who disagrees with science or exploration, my husband is a scientist and I have a lot of respect for all those who want to understand our world and make amazing discoveries. For me there is no 'stopping with God', in the sense that we still want to explore the world and universe and understand more of it, I don't think 'religion' conflicts with that (for me). But for me God creating the universe makes a lot of sense!

Italiangreyhound There's no point in me asking for evidence that Jesus existed because we did all that in the other thread. I imagine that many of those claiming he probably existed are basing it on the "why else does everyone talk about him" argument. Which also proves that Scientologist's lizards must really exist. smile You know if Scientology is still around in 2000 years they will be insufferable.

But it doesn't matter really. Let's suppose for the moment that Joshua Ben David was born in Judea and preached a bit about being nice to people. If one day that were proved I wouldn't be in the least unhappy about it. Imagine finding his diary or something. It would be really interesting.

But what you really need is proof that The Son Of God was born in Judea and you have none really. So I still say "you must first assume that he exists, that he knows you and that he loves you, all without evidence." It's quite different to loving a neighbor or partner.

thermalsinapril Thu 02-May-13 17:29:42

Presumably if any non-Christians here are really wanting to get the in-depth evidence, they'll be prepared to go and view, and read, the original texts and all other historical documents as part of making up their own mind. There's no point expecting others to do it for you, if they've already made their minds up on less evidence than you're wanting for yourself. It doesn't mean the evidence isn't there, it means you have do the legwork if you genuinely want that much information. But I suspect some people just enjoy goading Christians as it's easier than going on a fact-hunt themselves grin

thermalsinapril an awful lot of people were brought up believing that of course there was plenty of evidence of Jesus existing. I was taught that the Romans had his birth records and his criminal record/death sentence. I was amazed and shocked when I realized I'd been deceived. To be fair the people who told me with such sincerity were probably themselves deceived.

if you take a look at the recent thread you will see that in fact there is no conclusive evidence for the existence of Joshua Ben David. No birth certificate, no entry in those census records that were the supposed purpose of his parents being in Bethlehem (there was no census apparently)

What you will find if you research the subject boils down to people saying "well there must have been something to it or Christianity wouldn't have lasted so long.

Which is why I said in my last post that in 2000 years the Scientologist are going to be insufferable. Because they will be able to use the same arguments and we will have to respect their lizards.

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Thu 02-May-13 19:06:23

italian

But for me God creating the universe makes a lot of sense!

Sense, perhaps, for the believer. But what if (speaking hypothetically of course!) it was demonstrated that there was a natural cause for the big bang. How would that sit with your beliefs?

I can absolutely understand where you're coming from. But without any reason to believe that a god kicked everything off, I simply can't bring myself to consider it when everything else which we have discovered to date has proven to be absent of a deity.

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Thu 02-May-13 19:12:38

You know if Scientology is still around in 2000 years they will be insufferable.

They're not already?! confused

Of course the difference will be that Scientologists will have stuff written down to go by...... oh wait......

BackOnlyBriefly the angels are singing that you want to read Jesus' diary! wink.

It's quite different to loving a neighbor or partner.

Of course it is all different, he is God, how could it just be run of the mill! I can't prove it, I'm trying to talk about it in a way that makes sense.

Pedro a natural cause for the big bang would still need it's own natural cause so round we go in a circle, what started it? grin How would it all sit with my faith? Well my faith is fairly open in that I want to experience God and let God draw the best out of me, I try to live my life in a good way and my belief in the Bible as an evangelical is quite important to me but I also take it in context so when there are bits that I find hard to understand I don't have a faith that crumbles like a crunchie under foot. So new scientific evidence makes me think God is bigger. Thanks to some atheists I think I am now able to see God as bigger than I would have before. because relying too much on very set agenda actually limites God. Not sure if that makes sense. But basically new scientific evidence would not sit badly.

What would shake my faith? Oh just about everything, I am a very doubting believer!

Pedro does you faith or lack or faith make you happy?

Thanks for talking grin you make so much sense but then to me I do too!

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Thu 02-May-13 21:57:58

Pedro does you faith or lack or faith make you happy?

I don't think my lack of faith has any bearing whatsoever on my happiness. The things which make me happy are my family around me and partaking in activities I enjoy.

My faith is a source of great joy to me. But I also agree with you Pedro on the importance of family and doing things we enjoy.

smile I guess I think a positive faith does add something good to life.

EllieArroway Fri 03-May-13 10:17:23

the angels are singing that you want to read Jesus' diary! I don't know if I've missed the joke, or something, but there's no such thing, Italian. Hope you haven't fallen for some con.

The "scholarship community" (most of whom are theologians with literature degrees in the NT) do generally feel that Jesus existed as a historical person, that's true. But this is NOT because of evidence - it's based on inference. An actual historian will tell you that it's impossible to know for certain at this stage because there's simply not enough evidence.

And regarding the Big Bang (which you and I have talked about before) if you're going to listen to science as you claim, then please listen to why science is not assigning the "cause" of the BB to some loving being as you are doing. It's impossible to know whether there a) was a cause b) if that's even a valid question and c) what that "cause" might be. If you've decided that any "cause" is not just a god, but YOUR god in particular, then you are doing so because you want to, and not because the evidence supports it. If you're ignoring the input of evidence altogether, then why bother with science at all?

We've also talked about the "evidence for love" issue too. I thought we'd reached an understanding about how we defined love and that it could and is demonstrated with evidence, so it's not remotely analogous to your faith in God.

thermalsinapril Some of us have done the legwork, and found not the tiniest shred of evidence that Jesus existed. Unlike the vast, vast majority of Christians who haven't investigated the matter at all and simply believe what they are told by vicars and pastors..."Of course Jesus existed! It's historical fact". No, it isn't. That's a lie, pure and simple. There's literally NO evidence that Jesus existed.

Why is pointing out facts "goading" Christians. This just suggests that they can't cope with facts. I'd have to agree, sadly.

Ellie hi, smile

We've also talked about the "evidence for love" issue too. I thought we'd reached an understanding about how we defined love and that it could and is demonstrated with evidence, so it's not remotely analogous to your faith in God. I don't remember reaching any understand about that? are you talking about this thread or another. Or on here, I am just pontificating on stuff, I have said a lot of times I have no proof but I feel for me that the experience of people is a kind of evidence but I totally get that lots of others won't see it that way. I don't think there is much we have reached any agreement on. I am just enjoying hearing the views of pedro et al. It is interesting to know what you guys think. I know I won't change your mind/s or anything but I want to understand you.

the angels are singing that you want to read Jesus' diary!

yes, it was a joke, just making light of the fact that BackOnlyBriefly might want to read Jesus' diary! I hope Back doesn't mind, it was just a quip!

I don't want to get into a big debate here for the evidence for Jesus, I think you have a whole nother thread for that. I mean of course I don't mind what you want to talk about but I don't want to go into all that. You can discuss things from whatever direction you like and that is fine of course but I don't want to get into a big debate on whether Jesus was a real person or not. I think he was.

I don't remember talking about the big bang much either.

Regarding the big bang, if that is how it all started (and I am not a scientist and I have no proof for the big bag either), then I do thin ksomething started it and the something I think started it was God and yes, of course I think it was my belief of God that started it or I would not believe in my God as a creator.

I'm off tonight for bank holiday so just in case anyone replies and I don't get back to you straight away I am not locked in a pit of emotional despair that anyone has disproved my God wink, I am on holiday!

Hope the bank holiday is sunny and happy for you all. grinthanks

the angels are singing that you want to read Jesus' diary! I liked that, Italiangreyhound smile Have a good bank holiday.

For those who missed it I said further back that if it turned out that Jesus did exist after all and kept a diary then I'd be interested to read it.

There's a sort of serious point there. Even though I've looked for evidence that Jesus existed and found none, that's not the same as hoping he didn't. I don't mind at all if he existed. I wouldn't assume he was god of course, but even if he became a preacher cos he was crap at carpentry it would still be a good read.

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Fri 03-May-13 23:03:07

It's entirely possible he was handing around some mind bending drugs. Might account for the crazy stories......

I can just imagine Joesph shouting up at Jesus in the morning.

"...and when are you getting up? Sunday is not a day of rest you know!"

"...and hanging around with those weird friends of yours all day. I dread to think what you get up to - you know that John is wanted by the authorities don't you?"

"At your age I was learning my father's trade. You can't even hammer a nail without sticking it through your hand."

"I can hardly believe that you're my son the way you act"

EllieArroway Sat 04-May-13 17:03:33

Even though I've looked for evidence that Jesus existed and found none, that's not the same as hoping he didn't. I don't mind at all if he existed

Ne neither. I'd be fascinated to find out that he did. I think most Christians assume I'm desperate to believe he didn't. Not so - I find the alternative (that he was a myth evolved from older myths) a bit boring and unsatisfying. If I want to be generous, I could almost imagine him as a kind of Martin Luther King figure - not divine, but interesting enough to have an impact that's reverberated down the centuries. Unfortunately, I don't think even that since no one seemed to be remotely interested in him during his lifetime.

I think he might have existed, died in a strange enough way (perhaps his body was stolen from the tomb?) that a bunch of hysterical women started claiming resurrection. People believed it (because they believed just about anything back then) and Christianity was born.

Ellie why do you think people 'back then' believed just about anything?

If he had made comments about being resurrected don't you think his tomb would have been guarded?

Don't you think the gospel accounts have anything to say historically?

Just curious.

Thanks BackOnlyBriefly I had a great bank holiday, just sorry to be back to normal life again!

EllieArroway Tue 07-May-13 14:26:21

Ellie why do you think people 'back then' believed just about anything?

Because they did. It was a monumentally superstitious time. Even sensible histories written by people like Seutonius are infested with talk of omens and portents. That some people believed in a resurrected Jesus does not indicate, even minimally, that it actually happened. Unless you're prepared to believe that because some people believed that their god was born of a rock (Mithras) that that actually happened too. Are you?

If he had made comments about being resurrected don't you think his tomb would have been guarded?

So what if it had been? Would that have stopped Jesus resurrecting? Why?

And if he actually had resurrected, don't you think there'd have been a rush to see the place where it supposedly happened? There wasn't.

Bottom line, Italian - if ANY of these remarkable things had really happened, we'd see it reflected in the vast historical record of the time. We can't find even the merest whisper. If you don't see that as a problem, I can't imagine why.

Don't you think the gospel accounts have anything to say historically?

No.

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Tue 07-May-13 19:44:16

why do you think people 'back then' believed just about anything?

Because people now will believe just about anything too. Given the right information. Whilst individuals can be smart, 'people' on the whole are pretty stupid.

Think about the MMR scare. The vaccination levels dropped substantially because someone falsified research and published as fact. The media got hold of it and suddenly the bad science is truth and all our children are getting autism because of an injection. This is exactly what the 'scientist' wanted because he had a vested interest in a single Measles jab.

It's not hard to imagine that individuals 'back in the day' were just as savvy when it came to convincing people of truths to get what they wanted.

Ellie Do I think god was born form a rock (Mithras), no.

So what if it had been? Would that have stopped Jesus resurrecting? Why? No it would not have stopped him resurrecting. But it might have meant that when the disciples claimed to have seen him, then the authorities would produce the body.

Not the merest whisper, what about all the references in the Bible? Don't worry skip that part I know what you will say.

The fact we are still celebrating it all seems to be significant but not proof, I understand that.

Pedro The measels MMR scandle was a terrible awful attrocity. I am not going to compare that to my faith.

Always a pleasure to talk to you. smile

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Tue 07-May-13 22:40:55

Pedro The measels MMR scandle was a terrible awful attrocity. I am not going to compare that to my faith.

No, and I wouldn't expect you to, that wasn't my point. I was merely pointing out that it's actually not that difficult to make a huge group of people believe something which is not true if you deliver it in the right way. There are still people now who think MMR is linked to autism (often they are parents of autistic children, I know a few, who should really know better).

In the modern world, using 'science speak' is quite convincing for those who don't understand science. Back in the day, it would have been a similar thing, except the 'science' was explaining, say, why we have thunder. Those who were considered intelligent could easily convince those who weren't.

It's not always malicious, sometimes it's a genuine mistake, but often the information is distributed for someone's gain.... Homeopathy anyone?

Pedro thank you.

I am just a bit confused, it seemed Ellie was saying people were guillible back then and you are saying they are still. I think there were always gullible people and there probably always will be. I will never really understand why the MMR thing took off the way it did. I think people will always be a bit gullible but then I guess you think I am so I am proving my own argument! Blessings Pedro.

EllieArroway Wed 08-May-13 14:31:49

It's not about "gullibility", Italian. They lived in a very, very different time to us and simply did not see the world in anything like the same way that we do. The average 5 year old today has more knowledge than the smartest person back then. Not because they were stupid - they were just as smart as us - but because they knew literally nothing. There was no science to speak of so they were left trying to make sense of a confusing world in the best way they could. This tended to be gods, demons, omens & so on.

Plus - the Jews had not really been having a happy time of things, and they were basically waiting for the Messiah to show up and make things better for them. That's why there were so many Messiah claimants around - and they all had their followers because people WANTED to believe. And, in a world, where almost nobody has the slightest doubt that gods were in charge of everything & could perform wondrous feats, then it's not hard to see how they could easily become convinced that someone really had resurrected.

Ellie I don't know what kind of smart five year olds you hang around with but I am pretty sure those I know are no where near as intelligent (nor do they need to be) than adults 2,000 years ago. Knowing stuff is a bit confusing, I mean you can know a lot without really understanding it. I am not sure your average person understands a lot more about the world these days, but they sure know a lot!

they were basically waiting for the Messiah to show up

Not a bad thing to be - they were basically waiting for the Messiah to show up! But maybe they did not expect the Messiah to be exactly what he was, maybe they expected something different.

I think to some extend I am with Pedro on this, ...Because people now will believe just about anything too. Given the right information.

I don't believe just about anything, of course! wink

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Wed 08-May-13 20:13:33

I think there's a good point here. People now will tend to believe things presented to them as science because science is generally accepted as the path to knowledge. If someone presents sciency dialogue explaining how wearing magnets increases your blood flow because blood contains iron which sticks to magnets, if you don't understand the science, you can easily be drawn in by it.

When you live in a society where religious scholars are considered to be the most intelligent, if they present a religiousy dialogue explaining how the Messiah will come to earth and save us all, if you don't understand the religion you could easily be drawn in.

In both cases, one could step in and take advantage of the ignorance of the crowd to make a bit of cash or find some other personal gain.

Good point Pedro I am always wary of people wanting my cash! At my church we do pass the collection bag around but actually all we do and offer is free. We have coffees, meals, socials and all that is free. When there are things that need to be paid for I totally understand but any religion or group who is just looking to line their own pockets would not be one I would want to be associate with. The problem can come when organised religion gets big! The C of E has money I am sure but it also had people who work and serve for little cash reward and it offers things to people for free too (I am not C of E). I am always most moved by those who are serving so much and I am sure that would contain members of the science community too.

Pedro!!! Scary we are almost agreeing!! wink

Now Pedro you need to disagree with me and say we are agreeing!

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Wed 08-May-13 23:14:28

Ok, I'll see what I can do.

It's not just about making money at a local level. I'll take the RC church as an example, simply because it makes the point more easily. So you have individual RC members popping along to their local church every Sunday (or perhaps just once in a while) and let's say they don't ever contribute to the collection tin, they just go along for free services and the odd coffee morning. But even though they don't fund anything, simply by being a member of the church they help to propagate the organisation. An organisation which contains many millions of people who do invest an awful lot of money to the cause.

The Pope has a status of extreme power, but that has only been achieved because of the pure numbers of Roman Catholics. If all those mild Christians didn't bother with their coffee mornings, the flock would be smaller and the organisation far less powerful.

So yes, I agree with you. But, (I'm sure there'll always be a but!) there's always someone who is benefiting. And in this case it happens to be an elderly Argentinian man who now has a big house in Rome, an army to protect him and a billion people who hang on his every word.

Pedro good point. It's not my job to defend the Catholic Church. So I won't try. I don't think God needs our money. I think he wants us, he loves us, he created us (sorry I know how that sounds, and I imagine it grates) but I guess for me God is just drawing us closer to release us outwards, to give us freedom and life. This is what my faith has been for me. Does God get my money. Yes, a small bit of my hard earned dosh. Does my minister live in a big house in Rome, no, does he have an army to guard him, no, does he have a million people hanging on his every word, no, try 80 people or maybe 79, I might be asleep on chair on Sunday! For every bit of the church you see as greedy and corrupted I think I can also find an old faithful nun or pastor or member of a church or not even member of a church who loves God and is doing beautiful things for God. Can the church be corrupted, yes, but so can families, businesses and political parties. As soon as we get together in groups we can go the wrong way. But if we stay alone we might say I have not gone the wrong way but I actually don't know where I am going. I know where I am going. It makes sense for me. Actually you may find many of your thoughts and gripes are mine too! yet I am thinking and griping from within the body of Christ.

Don't know if any of that makes sense but thank you for challenging me and making me think.

There is so very much evil in the world, the church is not prefect I know, but the world is also very tainted too, when I find an oasis of light I want to stand in it.

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Thu 09-May-13 07:33:22

So what's happened is that the organisation has become so big that there are tons of 'followers' who actually believe the stories which were propagated to gain benefit for a small few. Repeat a story enough times to enough people and it becomes 'truth' which the majority just accept. Then when outsiders challenge your stories, your tribal instincts come into play, you want to protect your tribe (group, community, church) and so seek answers to the challenges. The 'answers' are then themselves propagated around the tribe to improve the tribe's chances of survival against attack. This coming together to protect each other builds strength in the tribe and amongst its members.

This is a form of meme evolution (development of ideas, concepts and methods) whereby survival of the fittest works not only through genetic development but also through every aspect of social interaction.

Eventually, the original beneficiaries of the stories die off, but they are replaced by those who continue to benefit. It may even happen that you end up with an entire tribe where every single member wholeheartedly believes the stories and nothing is done maliciously (although I see this as the nirvana state of a religion which is unlikely to actually happen).

I genuinely wonder if the Pope really believes in God and in everything he preaches. Possibly he does, but it's also conceivable that he's just riding the wave.

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Thu 09-May-13 07:44:19

Does God get my money. Yes, a small bit of my hard earned dosh.

I might have misunderstood.... You pay god?

Does my minister live in a big house in Rome, no, does he have an army to guard him, no, does he have a million people hanging on his every word, no, try 80 people or maybe 79, I might be asleep on chair on Sunday! For every bit of the church you see as greedy and corrupted I think I can also find an old faithful nun or pastor or member of a church or not even member of a church who loves God and is doing beautiful things for God.

And that's exactly the point. The vast majority of a large religion is going to consist of individuals who believe the religion's message is truth and are genuinely good people trying to do good things or seeking some kind of understanding, or both.

But this is where I don't have a problem with the people themselves simply for being religious. I personally feel that those who actually believe the stories without challenging them are doing themselves a misservice and they either don't want to discover that their god is a myth or are incapable of doing so.

Those who have challenged their faith and still believe I have more respect for (although I still think they're wrong wink ).

But the real problem I have is with the organisation as a whole. When you have that many people already believing your message, it's very easy to disseminate a new message within that. Whether it be views on contraception or gay marriage or female priests. Not everyone in the flock will agree, of course, but the juggernaut will steer in a direction with the agreement of just a few senior officers regardless of what the rest of the crew want.

AS I try to remove the image of the pope surfing (riding the wave) I must say again I can't really speak up for the Roman Catholic church as I am not one and have never been one. But Pedro what if it is all true? My faith and what I believe. Then the pack protecting what we believe becomes more important. How are you so sure it is not true? Are you an ex-'religious' for want of a better word. By giving God my money I mean the church so if it makes more sense to you I will say my church gets some of my hard-earned cash, wink

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Thu 09-May-13 12:37:19

No I'm not ex-religious. And I'm using RC purely as an example.

The 'pack mentality' in itself gives no support to whether something is true or not and I have made my conclusions to the truth of individual belief systems independently of this through other means.

You can observe the protection of a group in many areas from pack animal protection of their group (let's take the example of elephant herds watching out for the calves in the group) through to departments in a company protecting themselves from an error by passing the blame to another team. It's a natural instinct of groups to support their members.

pedro not saying the 'pack' examples proves it is true, just wondering if you ever wondered if it were true! grin

Can you use an example of a different denomination next time, just to give me a fighting chance of one I might know more about? Please? wink No I don't expect you to make it easy for me!

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Thu 09-May-13 13:23:40

I think anyone considering truths would have look at religions because they hold so much weight in human thinking historically. But with so much evidence to the contrary, I've dismissed the methods which religion uses to exert truths.

I don't have to use a religious denomination at all to to prove my point. The pack mentality exists in all walks of life. I'll happily apply it to the area of your choosing smile

No I mean criticism of a denomination. I am with you on the meaning of pack, there is (--for once--) no disagreement! wink

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