Praying

(395 Posts)
technodad Thu 13-Jun-13 18:58:52

I know this has been discussed as part of other threads before, but the recent news articles discussing the fact that "everyone" is praying for Nelson Mandela has got me thinking about it again.

Why do people pray?

Clearly there are many people across the world who pray, from the rich Monarchy, to the African child dying from Malaria. Some people pray that they will get a parking space close to the supermarket, others that their daddy won't abuse them, and some that they will survive the night. Yet, sadly, children are still abused, and die, whilst fortunate people like me don't have to walk far to the shops.

So, since it is evident that if prayer does work, then it doesn't work in the way people think it should, then why do people do it. Is it:

a) Because people think it does work in a simple "ask and you shall get" sort of way, even though they see poor African children on TV breathing their last breath, which provides overwhelming evidence that it doesn't? (these people can't all be uneducated and stupid, so why think it?)

b) Because the act of praying and belief gives them an inner strength to continue with life despite it's hardships and they genuinely don't believe it will work (this seems a contradiction to me)?

c) Because people don't think about it in a conscious way and the un-thinking habit produces a reduction in stress (like clicking the end of a pen, or biting ones finger nails)?

d) I don't know what else… any other thoughts?

Also, what are people praying for with Mandela? Do they want him to survive for ever (they seem to)? Or are they praying that he will pass peacefully to "heaven" when he does finally pass? Since he is regarded as such a saviour, then surely he is guaranteed a pain free route and pride of place, so why does everyone need bother?

I would be interested in the views of any faith, or those of none equally.

Techno

I pray to join in my thoughts with God. Just like I talk to my husband or chat to my friends. I do believe God can act and sometimes if things change I feel a part of that change. I can't for a moment explain why God does not right all the wrongs of the world in a single sweep except to say we have free will.

These are my beliefs. I've had them a long time.

Praying gives me peace and makes me feel calmer about life, it is very rewarding, spending time with God is very good. Prayer is a bit like oxygen for the spiritual life (I think).

To look at your multi choice options:

a) I believe to some extent in "ask and you shall get" but that is about the kingdom of God, it's not about physical or material things. And like most people I am very cery sad and troubled by the suffering of the world. I don;t think believing in God means you care more or you care less, it just means you wrestle differently.

b) (IMHO) Prayer does 'work' it connects me to God but it doesn't work like a vending machine, put your £1 worth of prayer in here and get this from here.

c) It is a habit, but not necessarily just a habit, it is more, it is a kind of living part of a relationship.

d) Sometimes in this tough old world it seems like the only option (after you have spoken to the person you fell out with/lost someone dear/written protest letters/donated money) and you can't solve the issue on your own....)

It's a two way process too.

Annunziata Thu 13-Jun-13 21:13:56

I think a lot of people automatically say that they will pray and the meaning gets lost a little bit. A prayer is a conversation with God or with Mary or with your particular saint (for me, I am Catholic).

I know that it's not 'ask and you shall get', but it is a chance for me to reflect on my problems and the good parts of my life, to ask for advice and guidance and to hope that God will help. I am quite sure Our Lady is fed up of me at the moment grin but I do think that you can get a wonderful sense of peace from praying.

What are people praying for with Mandela? Do they want him to survive for ever (they seem to)? Or are they praying that he will pass peacefully to "heaven" when he does finally pass? Since he is regarded as such a saviour, then surely he is guaranteed a pain free route and pride of place, so why does everyone need bother?

When I hear of someone ill, I pray that their life and death is as peaceful as possible. We all want loved ones to stay longer, so sometimes we do ask for the miracle to happen and a little more time to come. I don't think someone is ever guaranteed a pain free route, bad things happen to good people all the time, but we can ask God to lessen their pain and also to help their families and friends.

zulubump Thu 13-Jun-13 21:19:49

I pray quite a lot in a kind of general chit-chat with God musing kind of way. My most fervent prayers are usually about my own situations, often about relationships with my dc and dh. For example if I'm feeling angry or resentful with the kids or dh about something and can't seem to let go of it, I've found having a good rant to God and asking for his help often shifts something in me so that I finish the prayer feeling different and lighter. So I can then go and be with the people I love and actually be loving rather than grumpy and unpleasant!

I don't often pray about situations that are far removed from me unless I happen to read something or hear something on the news that touches my heart for some reason. I then often find myself praying about it. I guess it is the only thing I can offer when I am powerless to do anything about a situation myself.

niminypiminy Thu 13-Jun-13 22:24:35

The primary purpose of praying is to be in relationship with God. Prayer is about him, not about us. It's about thanking him for what we have, and learning to love him in return for the way he loves us, and attuning ourselves to what he wants and not what we want. Prayer is for telling God about how things are with us, for opening our hearts to him -- sharing our joys and sorrows, our gratitude and anger, our despair, our regret, our happiness.

When we do the kind of prayer that is called intercession, where we pray for people or things, it's not that we are asking God to do particular things -- who are we to order God about? But we are telling God that we are concerned about something, and sharing with him the pain and sorrow of the world, our desire to change it and heal it.

God never accomplishes things on his own that he plans to accomplish through us. When we intercede for people, often the answer to our prayer is that we are more likely to look after the people we are praying for. God changes us when we pray for others. The question we always need to think of when we are praying for others is 'what does God want me to do in this situation?'.

I've prayed for Mandela. I pray that he will know the love of God in the care that he gets from doctors and nurses, and I pray that he would know that he is held in love, both human and divine. I pray that when death comes to him that it comes as a final healing. I thank God for his life, and for all that it has contained, and for his amazing spirit and courage.

I don't know what other people have prayed for him, but those have been my prayers.

technodad Thu 13-Jun-13 22:32:56

Do you imagine everyone who prays, is thanking god for what they have, or is that just something we do in a privileged western society?

I sort of get the 'having a conversation with god' part, but when people say "I'll pray for you" they say it as though that is likely to help. As though they were offering something to the person in need. People even say "Thank You" in those situations

But if the person offering just means "I know you are suffering so I'm going to have a chat with my god to make me feel better about it" that doesn't make sense does it. If people thought that was what 'praying for you' meant then they wouldn't be saying "Thank You" would they.

backonlybreifly there are different kinds of prayer.

Prayer between me and God - maybe like just a chummy chat is different from 'interceding' on behalf of person. When I say I will pray for you to someone I mean it to bring them comfort, I sometimes ask 'can I pray for you', and very often people are pleased or simply say thank you. If someone ever said don't pray for me I would have to think about that! I am not sure it has ever happened.

Of course I think it will help people or I would not bother doing it. Sometimes people come back to me and say, you know that thing you prayed about , well it is better etc etc.

Technodad I am pretty certain thanking God for what we have is in no way limited to our western society. I think from hearing from those in other places that people in the majority world who have a lot less than us in the west can be very thankful for what they have. People in the west sometimes seem to be less grateful!

EugenesAxe Fri 14-Jun-13 06:38:32

I think niminy has given an excellent answer and I feel the same.

I'm not always structured in pray but there's a mnemonic I have to help remind me when I am; ACTS. That's Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication. So asking for things is lowest in priority and the majority of prayer is about strengthening your relationship with God.

I often find that by giving my work to God or bringing a problem before him that I gain grace or understanding of the situation, and a drive or some direction with regards my work (in literal sense as only SAHM at the moment) to help me get through it.

EugenesAxe Fri 14-Jun-13 06:40:21

....structured in prayer

technodad Fri 14-Jun-13 07:21:29

Greyhound,

You say "of course people think it will help" and that sometimes people come back to you and say things have got better.

This infers that sometimes things have not got better for people you have prayed for when you thought it would work.

Has this never made you think - maybe life is all about pot luck (good and bad) and this whole praying thing doesn't make any difference (in a supernatural way) to anything?

I honestly can't imagine that a dying child who has had an overwhelmingly horrid life is lying in the dirt thinking "thank you god for all this". I find that idea pretty sick. Similarly if someone is being assaulted, that person will be praying "stop this, stop this", not "thanks oh lord".

niminypiminy Fri 14-Jun-13 07:35:46

Archbishop Desmond Tutu tells a story of an occasion on which he visited a family in one of the townships (during the time of apartheid) whose house had just been razed to the ground, and who had lost his home and all his possessions. Tutu was so shocked and distressed that he could find no words of prayer. But the man simply said, 'Heavenly father, we thank you that you love us.'

technodad Fri 14-Jun-13 07:41:34

Even though if god exists, then he clearly doesn't love them much, otherwise those people wouldn't have been put through that experience.

I am unsure how that example demonstrates the "power of prayer".

Tchnodad

You say *"This infers that sometimes things have not got better for people you have prayed for when you thought it would work.

Has this never made you think - maybe life is all about pot luck (good and bad) and this whole praying thing doesn't make any difference (in a supernatural way) to anything?

I honestly can't imagine that a dying child who has had an overwhelmingly horrid life is lying in the dirt thinking "thank you god for all this". I find that idea pretty sick. Similarly if someone is being assaulted, that person will be praying "stop this, stop this", not "thanks oh lord".*

I did not say I thought prayer would 'work' all the time, I clearly said earlier' I can't for a moment explain why God does not right all the wrongs of the world in a single sweep except to say we have free will.'

What I do know is that some people seem to like being prayed for and some people come back later and say things that imply 'my' prayer/their prayer/other people's prayers about a specific thing have been answered/the situation has got better on its own/however you want to put it. This is an encouragement often to me and to them.

No one has ever come back to me (to my memory) and said 'my' prayer did not 'work' but as I explained - to me prayer is not about asking for things and getting them. The supplication or intercession part of prayer, (which is as EugenesAxe says is the final bit of prayer - good way of remembering) is about asking and obviously hoping that things will change for the better, it is about also for me about feeling close to God and also to some extent feeling closer to the person or situation you pray for.

I think there is a lot of luck in life, good things and bad things happen angry in a random way. It challenges my view of God all the time. Yet I would rather live life with God in it than without. Much as I am very sad for the plight of so many in the world, and many Christians do work for change for good in NGOs and charities, I would rather have God in my life than not. So the random-ness, at times, of life does not stop me believing in God.

niminypiminy's story was not to explain how prayer works (IMHO - please correct me if wrong niminypiminy) it was to show that even amid suffering some people of faith. We can't always understand how they can. The Archbishop could not, but they had faith God loves them. Who are you to tell them he does not. confused Would you want to take away even that small thing they feel they have? I'm not telling you off, they are not reading this (I would imagine) but I am genuinly asking why you feel they would be better off without God?

What do you think about prayer Technodad? smile

it was to show that even amid suffering some people of faith can have faith in God, against massive odds - was that it niminypiminy?

niminypiminy Fri 14-Jun-13 12:28:21

To understand my example, Technodad, you first have to understand that the man in question was made homeless not by God but by human beings -- human beings who have free will. Free will is something that God will not intervene with (otherwise it would not be free will). He will not stop human beings doing dreadful things -- and, if you think about it, this must be the case, because otherwise there would be no morality at all. We would simply be part of a huge game of toy soldiers, all moved directly by God.

To do any kind of purposively good act, we must have free will, and to have free will, we must be free to act badly as well as rightly.

So, in the situation of the man made homeless, he is made homeless, that is a human action that God will not intervene in. What, then, are we to say about his prayer?

Well, one understanding of it is that against all the odds he has faith in (that is, trusts) God, as Italiangreyhound says. Another, and the one that I think is probably the case in this instance, is that we have the love of God, whatever happens to us, whatever we do. We can do nothing to lose it. If we have lost everything else, we still have that. Even if, in the eyes of the world, we are simply and object of pity (like the starving child in your example), only minimally human, simply a suffering body -- or worse, something less than human, as in my example -- to God, and thus for ourselves, we are an infinitely valuable, utterly beloved and unique person. Even if we have nothing else to thank him for, we can thank him for that. And if we don't have that, well, we really do have nothing.

technodad Fri 14-Jun-13 13:01:02

"What do I think?"

This probably sums up some of my thoughts: youtu.be/74SQ6w6LdU0

Prayer is something I struggle with. I know life isn't fair but it seems that it would be terribly unjust for God to fix situations for some people because they had lots of people to pray for them whereas some people have no one to pray for them.

I do believe in a God of some kind and I do pray. I'm on a cancer support thread on this site and I pray/send good wishes to my friends on there. It isn't because I believe it will magically make their situation better but because I hope that I will provide some comfort to them to know that I care and am wishing them well. I also pray for people I don't know and for everyone who is hurting in the world, for whatever reason, again I'm not expecting a magical solution, just hope that if there is a God he/it will bring them comfort.

I don't see God as an all powerful fixing force, more as a force of love, perhaps some kind of collective consciousness or something. Not such a traditional view I know. I just see prayer as a way of trying to direct that force to where I feel that it is needed. I also see it as a way of examining my own thoughts and beliefs, opening my heart and being honest with myself about how my own thoughts and actions may have been wrong and where I could improve, asking for forgiveness/giving myself permission to forgive myself and move on to try and do better.

I'm not sure that makes much sense! smile

Yes, agree Ninny - Another, and the one that I think is probably the case in this instance, is that we have the love of God, beuatifully put.

Tchnodad am busy working will watch the clip when I can. grin

Thank you Technodad I knew what was coming with dear old Tim Minchin. I think he is very funny. Although this one is not that funny. I wonder why he is so anti-God. Any ideas?

Is that exactly what you think Technodad or have you any other thoughts on this not from Tim.

technodad Fri 14-Jun-13 18:55:42

My thoughts are clear.

I deal with facts and evidence alone in my life, so I don't have any beliefs and Tim pretty much covers all bases for me. God either doesn't exist, or if he does, he is clearly a c***.

But I was interested in why people pray rather than entering into a debate about the existence of a god.

technodad Fri 14-Jun-13 19:53:35

Just to add to my last message.

If you think Tim is anti God, then I think you have missed the point.

Tim is anti God, in the same what that I am "anti Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles".

niminypiminy Fri 14-Jun-13 20:06:58

Technodad, it doesn't seem to me that you are really interested in why people pray. Otherwise you would engage with what people who are explaining what prayer means for them are saying.

technodad Fri 14-Jun-13 20:12:22

I was waiting for lots of comments, I was only responding to direct questions.

niminypiminy Fri 14-Jun-13 20:45:39

There are posts from Italiangreyhound, Goodbyerubytuesday, anunziata, zulubump and me. Is that not enough to be going on with?

technodad Fri 14-Jun-13 21:00:22

It is some opinion and I have read it. Thanks for replying.

Any other inputs?

niminypiminy Fri 14-Jun-13 21:10:06

So you are not actually going to engage with what has been posted.

technodad Fri 14-Jun-13 21:12:20

But my first post said I was interested in what others think. I am not sure what I am supposed to engage with. I just wanted to learn about others.

I think that the Christian attitude to prayer has been really well expressed here.

niminypiminy Fri 14-Jun-13 21:18:58

The thing is, Technodad, you ask a question, but you don't seem interested in talking about the answers. Are you really interested in what prayer is, why people do it, and what it accomplishes, or are you merely stirring the pot? It seems to me discourteous to ask people to answer you and then just to say what it is you have learned from their answers.

niminypiminy Fri 14-Jun-13 21:21:30

I mean 'then not to say what you have learned from the answers'.

If you have found that the answers have answered your question then it would be polite to say so.

Whoops cross posted.

I must admit I'm facinated by what you are hoping to learn technodad as you are so clear that God does not exist.

crescentmoon Fri 14-Jun-13 21:34:41

as always niminy iv really enjoyed reading your posts here on prayer explained.

technodad Fri 14-Jun-13 21:50:38

I don't see why it is such a problem to be athiest, but also be inquisitve as to what others think and why. Why am I not allowed to find out about other people's perspectives?

Are you saying that people who vote conservative should not be allowed to ask liberal people why they have their differing views?

To be honest, when people say "it is all about a relationship with god" things don't stack up in my mind (it just doesn't compute), which is why I didn't have much to say and have just read the responses and thought about it.

When directly asked my opinion, I have given it (in my normal opinionated way), but it doesn't mean that I haven't tried to understand the beliefs of others.

I genuinely find it all very puzzaling, and to be honest, the responses on this thread have not helped enlighten me a great deal. I think one of the problems is that the answers are very vague and deal in non-specific concepts rather than facts, which are an alien perspective to my brain.

To me, religion is like politics, in that it is opinion based and there are many people with the same politics, but when you ask them in detail you get as many different opinions as you get people. I find it really difficult to comprehend some of the language used, in a way where it translates to me.

For example:

- I don't see God as an all powerful fixing force, more as a force of love
- it is about also for me about feeling close to God
- prayer is about strengthening your relationship with God
- Prayer is about him, not about us

These phrases mean nothing to someone who has never had faith, and just sound like someone who has been smoking too much pot. I was hoping to get enough responses to get enough information to understand how people think it works.

With mathematics, 1+1=2. It doesn't matter who you ask, that is the right answer. With religion, everyone you ask gives a slightly different opinion. Mathematically, this means that at least "everyone-1" are wrong, but I can't learn about religion if I don't try to listed to "everyone".

yamsareyammy Fri 14-Jun-13 22:02:36

I personally didnt come into the thread earlier, as I may have come across you before when I was using a different name, and I thought you would struggle to come to terms with peoples' answers on this thread.

I have been a Christian for many years.
After a while, I realised that bascially Christianity isnt logical.
Once I started to accept that fact, that somethings that Christians do and say and think and pray and believe are um, I cant quite think f the word to use at this point, then it helps me to accept certain things. So it is no surprise to me at all that a current non Christian struggles to accept the things that are written on this thread.
hth

niminypiminy Fri 14-Jun-13 22:04:02

See, I think Technodad that your answer demonstrates a real lack of interest in understanding the posts. Loads of things in life don't operate like mathematics, yet that doesn't prevent us from trying to understand them. Ordinary language is adequate for talking about all sorts of abstract things such as justice, or beauty, or morality. To say that people just sound as if they've been smoking pot because they are making statements about God is simply a way of refusing to engage with what people are saying.

As I said before, if you were really interested in understanding how people think that prayer works, you would be discussing what people have said about it. What I suspect is that you were trying to provoke a bunfight about miraculous healing accomplished by prayer -- and since the posts have refused to take that particular bait, you are forced to take refuge in a rather weak defence that you simply cannot, as a rationalist, understand them.

yamsareyammy Fri 14-Jun-13 22:09:33

re my post. Perhaps it is getting late. But I cant remember if I meant to post "struggles to accept the things", or "struggles to understand the things". I think it may have been the latter.

technodad Fri 14-Jun-13 22:15:14

Since the discussion in the first post was relating to Mandela, I can't see how I would be steering the conversation towards miraculous healing. Prayer or no prayer, no-one has ever survived from the threat of old age and I can't imagine even the most religious person thinks that they can heal someone indefinitely. Niminy, you can think what you like about me for all I care.

yamsareyammy, I think your post makes the most sense to me so far (maybe because it talks in a specific language). Maybe the concept of religion not being logical is the key. For me it is the blinding light that proves me right, for you, it is the leap of faith that allows you to give your trust to a "concept" without question.

What is an anathoma to me, is the driving force for you.

niminypiminy Fri 14-Jun-13 22:30:17

I did tell you what I pray for for Mandela, but you ignored that, just as you have ignored most of what people have posted. Like Greenheart I'm still interested to know quite what you were hoping to learn about prayer since you start from a doctrinaire atheist standpoint.

technodad Fri 14-Jun-13 22:35:37

Sorry.

I didn't know this forum excluded attempts to learn, without a justification for the precise methodology for learning defined and approved by the mumsnet mafia.

Thanks anyway.

SantanaLopez Fri 14-Jun-13 23:01:31

That's completely unfair, technodad, you've had a fair few really thoughtful, detailed posts.

technodad Fri 14-Jun-13 23:11:37

I know. I didn't say they weren't.

Technodad it just seems that people who are very stongely atheistic also seem to be very angry with God, or is it just that they are angry with those of us who believe in him? I do get your point about mutant ninja turtles. I know what you mean.... and yet I don't.... does that make sense?

Is it just that by taunting God and calling him names (and by him I mean him and her but there is no word in English for that) they are trying to get at those of us who are theists?

technodad Sat 15-Jun-13 08:10:52

An athiest can't be angry with something that doesn't exist. I agree that some atheists can be angry with theists, but I wouldn't put myself in that category. I live side by side many different beliefs in real life and my closer thiest friends know my views and I know theirs (it doesn't mean we can't be friends).

I can, at times, get frustrated with some parts of our society, particularly groups that discriminate based upon faith.

I am strong of the opinion that all schools should be secular so that children of all faiths (and atheists) are mixed together so that they learn about each others culture. I also find it very frustrating that children of no faith are often forced to be taught Christianity as a fact in British schools because of the involvement of the church with our education system. People alway tell me that my children can be excused from these lessons, but that means highlighting them as "different", which is not fair on the children.

Other groups like the scouts, who have an anti athiest policy and mandate that people swear to god (any god) to join, are also not helpful.

But am I angry with god. No.

yamsareyammy Sat 15-Jun-13 11:08:17

People are not understanding you, are they technodad.
2 bible verses keep springing to mind.
1 is the first part of the parable of the sower.
[fprgptten what 2nd verses is for the minute]

Lukes version is probably more clear than Matthews
[actually I looked at Matthews first, and it said stuff in not quite the same way as Luke on this point, and helped me understand something in the bibe that has been puzzling me for years - so thank you very much indeed technodad for this thread]

I will just post here the relevant verse, and maybe post other verses, that are useful too, later.
Luke8 v 11 "Now the parable is this:the seed is the word of God. The ones on the path are those who have heard;then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved".

In other words, it is not his fault that he doesnt get it.

I get the impression, that you genuinely want to understand. That is great. And if it is all right with you, I will pray for you.

But even if I do, the timing of becoming a Christian is up to God.
It may not happen for a few years, never, or when you are nearing death.

EllieArroway Sat 15-Jun-13 11:12:03

Technodad

You were never going to get a sensible answer to this, because the whole thing makes no sense to begin with.

Christians pray because they believe that their thoughts are so supremely fascinating to an omnipotent creator that he'll make Mandela's antibiotics work just for them.

See - he was going to just let Mandela die. But oh, no....the Christians had a word, so he'll keep a very old man hanging on instead. While allowing a 6 month old African baby to starve to death, even though his/her mother has prayed and pleaded for help.

It's impossible to make sense of something that makes no sense to begin with. But, of course, being aware of that makes us "disrespectful" & too "rational" (ha!) to understand something so precious as a deep, meaningful relationship with the baby murdering Yahweh.

One day our species will grow up - but alas, it won't be soon.

yamsareyammy Sat 15-Jun-13 11:21:59

Ellie, I have been on a few threads with you before, but with a different MN name.
I said then and I say now that personally I dont have a problem with posters or people in rl who may indeed insult us. I understand that it is like double dutch to some people. To some people it will always remain that way, to others it will not.
I have no idea which is which, and who is who, so I have no problem with people asking away, and sometimes getting upset and angry with us.

Thistledew Sat 15-Jun-13 11:51:29

I find it interesting to hear how people actually feel about prayer, rather than what they think it does.

For example, if you pray about something trivial (not getting stuck in a traffic jam, having sunny weather for the church fete) and your prayer is 'answered' ie you get what you have asked for, how does that make you feel when you hear that someone has prayed desperately for the survival of their sick child has not has their prayer answered? Would you still feel happy about the outcome of your prayer? Is there any part of you that might re-assess whether you should pray for trivial things?

If the answer is that it is just up to god which prayers to answer and you shouldn't think about such consequences, does that not just build on a sense of connection to your private god, at the expense of your sense of connection to other human beings?

What about if someone who has no belief in god hopes fervently for an outcome and that hope is realised? Some people who don't believe in god have very happy and fortunate lives. Has god answered that person's prayer? If so, surely that completely does away with any need for any religion? Or is is just 'luck' that that person got the outcome they wanted. If so, is it the case that people who believe in god get their prayers answered and everyone else just has to make do with common luck? Do you think it makes any difference?

yamsareyammy Sat 15-Jun-13 12:03:30

Our lives and prayers lives with God are personal to us.
So whether God does or does not say yes to whatever, how ever trivial has no bearing on what He chooses to do with other peoples' prayers and lives.
He is infinite in the number of things He cand do, prayers answered etc.
just because there are now 7 billion people on the planet instead of 7, does not mean He cannot cope!
[thought He may have made a few more angels!]
Of course we realise that there are absolutely awful stuff going on.

And God gives us enough time to concentrate on othe people, besides Him.

Will answer the last part later.

headinhands Sat 15-Jun-13 12:05:32

Greyhound, you often suggest that atheists are somehow angry closet Christians. What would you say to a Muslim who said you didn't believe in Allah because you were angry with him. It would seem nonsensical wouldn't it. That's how it feels to an atheist when you use the same logic.

yamsareyammy Sat 15-Jun-13 12:16:32

hmm.
I came on here to tell Ellie that to me rational and logical mean different things.
But now headinhands has used the word logic in her post. So I will not read that post properly for now, and just say what I was going to say to Ellie.
To me, rational means, in your right mind.
You seemed to switch my post Ellie from me meaning and using the word logical[which to me means everything sort of earthly right, and earthly makes sense] to the word rational [which to me means things to do with peoples' minds, which is not what I meant] which is the word you used in your post.

Thistledew Sat 15-Jun-13 12:31:05

Yams- I think you have ducked the question a bit. How does it make you a better, kinder, happier person to know that god has chosen to bless you with good weather for your picnic, but not to save your neighbours child? If the answer is that it doesn't, does that mean that the 'reward' for your faith in prayer is just material?

Or if you think, "this nice weather means that I have had a chance to relax, so I can be happier and nicer to my family this week", does it not matter at all that the benefactor of your happy mood has allowed someone else to have misery and grief? To my view, believing that you have somehow been 'given' good fortune when others have not, only creates a sense of disconnection to your fellow human beings, and taken to its extreme (for example in Calvinist views of Christianity) is the idea that you got the good fortune because you are somehow more deserving than those who do not. It is my view that the current political and societal attacks on benefits claimants, the disabled and people born into developing countries is a resurgence of this sort of belief - that if you are unfortunate it is somehow your fault or you are intrinsically less deserving.

On the other hand, if you accept that everyone is subject to the same vagaries of luck, and that there is no reason at all why some people have better fortune than others, then it becomes much more of an equaliser. You can still be thankful (in the sense of "aren't I lucky" rather than thanking anyone in particular) for the fact it is sunny for your picnic, and perhaps even more so because you acknowledge that you stand just as high a chance as anyone else of getting rained on next time.

yamsareyammy Sat 15-Jun-13 12:44:05

When I was 16, I remember getting very very worried about something on the news. Possible nuclear war or something.

But I realised that me worrying, agonising etc when I was completely helpless, ie I was not in a position to talk to world leaders or anything, did no good at all to absolutely anyone.
In fact it did harm
Because, I was upset, my mum may have been a boit worried about me, my exam revision was suffering or whatever.
So, I realised I could pray, but apart from that zilch in that particular case.
And I learnt a valuable lesson.
That when things happen, if nothing at all can be done by a particular person, then it only makes the world that little bit worse, if we too ourselves get overwhelmed.

As I said before what God does is up to Him.

And what He wants me to do is up to Him.

My guess is, and I couls be wrong, is that Christians do a great deal of voluntary work around the world.
I think for instance, I am right in saying, that a lot of food banks in this country are staffed and run by Christian volunteers.

I have to go for the minute.
Will be back later.

EllieArroway Sat 15-Jun-13 12:45:15

I came on here to tell Ellie that to me rational and logical mean different things

Well, I have this odd tendency to prefer to use words with their proper meaning:

Rationality: Based on or in accordance with reason or logic

Prayer is neither rational nor logical - and it's entirely inconsistent with the idea of an omniscient god.

And, I recognise you now. Hi smile

technodad Sat 15-Jun-13 12:48:52

Yamsareyammy

You make it sound like I want to become Christian. I don't and hope I never will. I could not follow in a god that allows so much wrong in the world. So even if he jumped out of a cloud and shook my hand (thus proving the first piece of genuine evidence of his existence), I would tell him to get fecked and would never desire to follow or praise him (her/it).

You can pray for me if it makes you feel better. Since there is no evidence that prayer achieves anything other than making the person doing the praying feel better, you can pray for me what you want. wink

EllieArroway Sat 15-Jun-13 12:48:56

My guess is, and I couls be wrong, is that Christians do a great deal of voluntary work around the world

And so do atheists, Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists etc etc.

Believe it or not, Christianity does not have the monopoly on being a decent, caring person. A point that has to be made over and over on these threads.

My local food bank is run by someone I work with - and she's an atheist. There's no handing out of evangelising leaflets there, which I understand there often is when it's Christians running the show.

Thistledew Sat 15-Jun-13 12:54:18

Yams said -

"Christians do a great deal of voluntary work around the world"

They don't do that because they are Christian though, they do that because they are nice people who like to help others. Just as people of other faiths, agnostics and atheists also do voluntary work. I don't get the point you are making.

I don't know if your post that followed mine was meant to answer it, but I don't see that it does. Of course, I don't want to harangue you into answering if you don't want to, but if you are trying to, then I am afraid to say that I don't see how your answer meets my question. Sorry about that.

yamsareyammy Sat 15-Jun-13 13:19:47

Hi Ellie. Yes, you probably do recognise me. smile
I tend to come on about once every two months on this board.

Does rationality have to be based on logic? hmm
Dont know.

omniscient. I remember know that you and I had to give up or agree to disagree on the big words that I dont understand! It is all coming flooding back smile

"Prayer is neither rational nor logical"
I agree that it is not logical, if a person does not believe. As regards rational - probably not to a non believer, definitely yes I would have said to a believer.

yamsareyammy Sat 15-Jun-13 13:20:41

thanks technodad. Your post is fine by me smile

EllieArroway Sat 15-Jun-13 13:37:11

Does rationality have to be based on logic?

Well, if it's not, then it's not rational.

omniscient. I remember know that you and I had to give up or agree to disagree on the big words that I dont understand! It is all coming flooding back

Omniscient means "knows everything" (including our thoughts and who is in hospital fighting a lung infection).

technodad Sat 15-Jun-13 14:00:33

Let me know what you are going to pray for me, and give me a timescale, and I will report back to let you know if it worked or not.

Some of the confusion about prayer might be removed if those who believe that prayer has an effect on the person being prayed for and those who don't use different phrases.

Perhaps the former could say "I'll pray for you" and the latter "I'll pray about you"

For example:
#1 "I just found out I have cancer"
"Oh that's awful I will go and pray for you to to be healed"
"Oh thank you!"

#2 "I just found out I have cancer"
"Oh that's awful I will go and pray about you so that my relationship with god will be strengthened"
".. ok... sorry you couldn't stay and help"

BackOnlyBriefly I think it's a bit more complex than that. As someone who had actually been in the cancer diagnosis scenario I was grateful for anyone who offered me prayers. There was nothing practical I wanted or needed, I didn't ask their motivation for praying, but I did feel very loved knowing that my family and friends were praying for me and thinking of me. In that sense it didn't matter who they were praying to or what they were asking as I would probably have felt just as supported whether they were praying to a god or just wishing for me to feel better or thinking about me.

EllieArroway Sat 15-Jun-13 15:31:08

That's got nothing to do with Techno's question, though, Ruby. That you might feel better having people pray for you or cross their fingers for you etc is understandable. It's an expression that people care, and that's always good.

The question was aimed at the prayer - what are they hoping to achieve?

Clueing God up to the situation? He already knows.

Hoping he'll change his mind and not let that person die of cancer? If he's omnniscient then he would already know that he'll take these steps because the prayer (s) asked - so why give the cancer in the first place?

Strengthening a personal relationship with God? Selfish - and nothing to do with the prayee.

And I really, really struggle with the whole..."I see god as love" thing.

I don't see much love in child cancer, Ebola virus, genocide, a starving continent & tsunamis, I'm afraid.

If you want to thank god for the pretty butterflies, and for Aunty Dora getting over her lumbago, why aren't you thankful for all the appalling suffering in the world too? He's every bit as responsible for that as well.

EllieArroway Sat 15-Jun-13 15:35:34

Oh - and always worth a mention. The Templeton Foundation (a very rich, very religious organisation) carried out a scientific experiment to see whether prayer works. Being honest sorts, they had to conclude that it doesn't.

Not only that, the study showed that people who knew they were being prayed for did worse that those who either weren't being, or didn't know.

So - actually, the best response to, "I'll pray for you" ought to be, "I'd rather you didn't thanks".

HERE

technodad Sat 15-Jun-13 15:48:54

Backonlybriefly.

The need to split things into different opinions is part of my problem. In my world, I don't need to group people who think gravity goes "up" into one category, and those who think it goes "down" into another. We all know it goes down.

So if prayer works, why is there not a single explanation for how it manifest itself.

Before people say "yeah, but scientists don't agree on the Big Bang", then think again. There is evidence that something Big Bang like occurred and scientists have theories, which remain theories until there is sufficient evidence to call it fact. Scientists continue to gather and document evidence in an attempt to test and validate (or re-write) these theories. They have an open approach to challenge, because it is a fundamental of the scientific approach!

This process does not occur with prayer because it is faith based and the definition is faith is that you believe it without evidence (or even despite contrary evidence).

niminypiminy Sat 15-Jun-13 16:28:52

I see where this was all directed now -- towards a mechanistic model of intercessory prayer, in which praying for someone is supposed to achieve a particular, normally physical result.

Because none of the posters who actually answered your question believe in that simplistic and mechanistic model of prayer, you weren't interested. I can see that now you are discussing that old aunt Sally, 'whether prayer works'. People who actually pray can say till they're blue in the face what they think prayer might achieve, and what they think it is, and why they do it. But I can't see that there has been any listening going on.

How many times will people who actually pray have to say 'the primary purpose of prayer is to be in relationship with God', and 'God is not a slot machine, in which you put prayer in and get a result out', and 'intercession is not the most only or even the most important form of prayer', for some people to listen?

EllieArroway Sat 15-Jun-13 16:39:53

So, just because people aren't throwing up their hands and saying, "Ah - that makes perfect sense. Thanks so much", your own conclusion is that they are not listening?

Phrase it anyway you like, go blue and froth at the mouth - it still makes no sense.

niminypiminy Sat 15-Jun-13 16:50:41

The point is, Ellie, is that you and Technodad are discussing a form of prayer -- a mechanistic model of intercessory prayer -- that none of the people who actually pray that have posted have said they do. It's a straw man.

Contemplation and adoration may well make no send to you. Intercession as it is actually practised may make no sense to you. But they are not the same thing as you are discussing -- or, should I say, rubbishing.

And what is the point of asking people what they think if, when they tell you, you simply ignore it in favour of airing your own prejudices?

niminypiminy Sat 15-Jun-13 16:51:31

That should read 'no sense', blame the autocorrect.

Thistledew Sat 15-Jun-13 16:58:56

But a lot of Christians do say that they pray for a particular outcome to a situation, and that when you are in a difficult situation, they say "I will pray for you" in a way that insinuates that it will make a difference to the situation of the people being prayed for.

I get that there are other aspects of prayer also, but it appears to be a very common form, certainly of Christian prayer to 'pray for' something.

niminy - if you don't pray in that way, why not? A lot of Christians do believe in that form of prayer - why do you not agree with that aspect of Christian interpretation?

technodad Sat 15-Jun-13 17:03:00

So, is the African child dying from aids simply having a chit-chat with god to improve their relationship? Or begging to be saved? Niminy - what is your best guess on this one.

Since some people on this thread think prayer can generate physical results, and others think it is about strengthening a relationship with god, who is to say that begging to be saved isn't how it works? Who is right?

EllieArroway Sat 15-Jun-13 17:11:20

So when you said to me a few weeks ago, Niminy, "I'll pray for you" - you meant .... what? I'll have a chat with God about you? If you weren't expecting any particular outcome, why bother? God knows who I am - or would if he existed. Were you just planning on mentioning me in order to strengthen your relationship with him? Because you must see, that sounds a little strange.

I DO get that not all Christians take the ask-and-you-shall-receive view - but what else can "I have cancer" - "Oh no, I'll pray for you" mean if it doesn't mean, "I'll tell God and ask him to cure you?"

zulubump Sat 15-Jun-13 17:21:07

I am confused why you started this thread technodad. When I read your op you sounded genuinely interested in why people pray, which is why I took the time to answer. Several people took the time to give honest and personal reasons. Why bother to ask the question if you are so convinced it is all rubbish? It comes across as if your original question was bait to hook us in so you could then tell us why we are all so wrong. It would have been more honest to open the thread with "I think prayer is a load of rubbish and this is why..." People could then make a more informed choice as to whether they wanted to take part in that sort of a debate. If people's reasons for praying make you angry then that is fair enough, but at least be honest from the outset as to what you think.

niminypiminy Sat 15-Jun-13 17:28:42

I think, Ellie and Technodad, if you read my posts on this thread you will find out what I have to say about prayer.

Ellie, I have prayed that all will be well with you, and that you would find the answers you seek, and that the anger that was between us be healed.

niminypiminy Sat 15-Jun-13 17:29:15

And that God would bless you.

EllieArroway Sat 15-Jun-13 17:34:42

Well - if you wanted the anger between us healed, you should have just talked to me. I am not god's puppet, I make my own decisions. But you did talk to me & I accepted your prayers in the spirit you intended.

No need to have involved God at all!

And I have found my answers. That's why I'm an atheist wink

technodad Sat 15-Jun-13 17:59:41

Ellie, is sounds like Niminy doesn't think you have free will and that god can change how you can behave. But I thought we all had free will - very confusing.

I did start this thread with a genuine interest in people's views, but the aggression of a few people's accusations have completely changed the tone of the thread.

I said early on that I didn't want to debate, just to get some views, but that seemed to not be allowed.

zulubump Sat 15-Jun-13 18:31:51

I think people wanted to know if we had answered your question in any way and helped at all. That is why people were asking you for a response to all the posts you got at the beginning. You then came back with the Tim Minchin clip and the "Tim is anti-God in the way I am anti-mutant turtles" comment. This made it pretty clear you thought prayer is pointless and we are all deluded fools. In my opinion rude to start a thread like this if that is how you are going to come back to people when we've taken the trouble to answer you as best as we can. I think that is what changed the tone of the thread.

Thistledew Sat 15-Jun-13 18:33:33

No-one has answered my questions. Should I have asked them on my own thread?

zulubump Sat 15-Jun-13 18:38:15

Sorry, to clarify, I was addressing technodad in the post above.

EllieArroway Sat 15-Jun-13 18:40:11

Zulu People are allowed to whatever questions they like for whatever reasons they like.

I'm not going to put words in Techno's mouth, but I often ask Christians why they think xyz, because I genuinely want to know how it is that otherwise rational people can believe such a load of of twaddle.

And when I point out that their answer hasn't made much sense, they sometimes get in a strop with me too & I'm accused of being closed-minded and bigoted.

This is a public forum. You chose to answer a question - you don't get to decide what motivation that person should have had for asking the question in the first place, I'm afraid.

EllieArroway Sat 15-Jun-13 18:40:30

"allowed to ask"

technodad Sat 15-Jun-13 19:04:46

Ellie - you are spot on.

In fairness, when people asked my views, did they want me to lie and say "I am undecided". Why am I not allowed to be decided in my own opinion, but not allowed to be inquisitive?

Had I not need asked my opinion and the thread dried up, I would have replied "thanks for the insight", but sadly the thread didn't go that way and I was bullied to enter a debate.

yamsareyammy Sat 15-Jun-13 19:18:47

technodad. My praying for you will be ongoing.
My own dad, did not become a Christian until a few months before he died.
He lived in a household of Christians.

yamsareyammy Sat 15-Jun-13 19:21:07

Thistledew - I have lost sight of the question I have not answered.

And yes, millions do charity work as well as Christians.
Christians, especially the Christian women are specifically told to do good works. That was really my point.

technodad Sat 15-Jun-13 19:24:11

Yam

But what are you praying for? And when will it occur.

You infer you are praying for me to become Christian before die?

yamsareyammy Sat 15-Jun-13 19:24:12

Ellie, I for one dont agree that God already knows things before we pray.
I think He does as regards Christians.
But when we pray for non Christians or about non Christians, then no, I dont think He already knows.

EllieArroway Sat 15-Jun-13 19:26:38

Ellie, I for one dont agree that God already knows things before we pray

I thought God knew everything? Every sparrow, remember? I thought he knew the secrets of our hearts?

Do wish Christians would get their stories straight.

Thistledew Sat 15-Jun-13 19:40:11

Yams - I'm sure your dads conversion was a great comfort to you. Would it matter if that was the only reason he did it?

When you pray for an outcome, does the act of prayer actually make you stop and think about why you want it to happen - a bit like mindfulness meditation is designed to do?

My other questions are still up thread.

yamsareyammy Sat 15-Jun-13 19:54:29

Ellie. Christians do disagree with each other, as I am sure you have noticed.
That is part of the reason I go to church most sundays.
We will never stop learning till we die. And even then, we will only know a tiny part.

Discussions about the bible are literally endless.

technodad Sat 15-Jun-13 19:57:48

Yams

Could you answer my question asked at 19:24 please.

yamsareyammy Sat 15-Jun-13 20:18:33

technodad.
Personally, yes, I am and will pray for you to become a Christian before you die.
And anything else you specifically ask me to pray for is what I would have written. But thinking about it, that may be a daft thing for me to post!

technodad Sat 15-Jun-13 20:22:51

But don't I have free will. How can got change my faith when he/she/it can't stop a man beating his wife or George Bush invading Iraq.

I am confused! Do humans have free will or not?

technodad Sat 15-Jun-13 20:23:40

I mean "god" not "got"

yamsareyammy Sat 15-Jun-13 20:53:59

Yes you have free will.
But equally anything is possible for God.

So God can overule you if He wants. But I dont think that happens very often - not sure.

As regards a man beating his wife or George Bush invading Iraq.
Iraq - I am sure many prayed that that wouldnt happen but it did, so then it would have had to be Gods choice that that went ahead.That does not mean that George Bush was right.

man beating wife - I would hazard a guess that it was not very likely that anyone had prayed about that.

technodad Sat 15-Jun-13 21:00:46

You have free will, but god can overrule you, which surely means you don't have free will.

I don't think you are making much (any) sense.

EllieArroway Sat 15-Jun-13 21:03:26

But equally anything is possible for God

Except knowing what I am thinking because I am not a Christian.

And if God doesn't know what Techno is thinking (because he is not a Christian) then how does God know that Techno is not a Christian?

Ta dah!

EllieArroway Sat 15-Jun-13 21:04:24

Yam I do think you are a lovely, well meaning person (I have always thought that), but you really, really don't make a lot of sense.

EllieArroway Sat 15-Jun-13 21:05:43

You don't think there are women who have prayed to God to stop their husband beating them? shock

technodad Sat 15-Jun-13 21:10:13

When I said about praying with regards to a man beating his wife, I was meaning that the wife is praying that the husband would stop.

Since we have free will, then god can't stop the man from beating his wife. But you say that god can overrule free will.

Therefore god chooses to allow people to do bad things to each other by not intervening (murder, rape, robbery etc). Therefore god either doesn't exist (otherwise, why doesn't he intervene), or, as I said before, he is an utter fecking git and we should all hate his guts.

So, which is it?

zulubump Sat 15-Jun-13 21:22:06

OK, well going back to the original question I think I posted about how I had found that prayer helped me massively in my personal life. That's what I usually pray about - the things that confront me in my every day life. Having patience with my kids, trying not to take out my frustration with them on poor dh! I've always been sceptical of religion, but had an interest in why we are all here and what's it all about. I guess it wasn't until I had kids and spent a lot of time on my own at home with them that I found myself calling out to God when I felt a bit lost in what I was doing. There was no one else around to call out to! And then I just had some experiences that I really didn't expect where through praying my feelings of being lost or angry or whatever were transformed by this massive feeling of love.

That's when I started going to church and taking it more seriously. I've just found prayer so helpful, either praying for myself or when others have prayed for me that it felt foolish to turn away from it all. I've thought through all the kind of questions that you've asked technodad and ellie and can't really answer them. It doesn't seem fair or right or logical how it all works and I have spent a lot of time with those things going round in my head. But having felt this love from God that overflows in my life in to how I am with my family - more patient, loving kind and forgiving - I can't imagine rejecting it even if it doesn't make sense.

technodad Sat 15-Jun-13 21:24:32

Zula

So it sounds to you that it basically gives you an inner strength?

zulubump Sat 15-Jun-13 21:30:32

Well, yes that's what it feels like, though I'm pretty new to it all. I had a read through the mindfulness thread the other day. I guess if you find something in your life that you feel helps to make you a better person and you can see it is benefitting those around you as well as yourself, it seems crazy to reject it. I didn't really want to be a Christian (in one prayer session I even asked God if I could be an atheist as it seemed an easier option at the time! funnily enough didn't get that prayer answered). But now I've come to terms with it. It does feel like it was something that was missing from my life, sorry to sound clichéd.

zulubump Sat 15-Jun-13 21:32:42

What do you do in times of crisis technodad, what do you reach out to?

yamsareyammy Sat 15-Jun-13 21:36:35

free will. Not sure how to better explain it.

Is the wife that is praying, a Christian or a non Christian.
I am never sure if a non Christian prays, whether God hears or not.

If it is a Christian wife praying, then it is Gods will whether it stops or not.

And yes technodad, I can see why you and others may not be best pleased with God.

Maybe I am a bit more of a simple soul.
I accept God.
As I will have said on a thread a few months ago, I have got to the stage of gone through questioning God, and now just quietly accept.

Ellie, glad you like me smile

yamsareyammy Sat 15-Jun-13 21:40:16

Ellie post 21.03pm Ta dah indeed!
And that is part of the reason I keep going and learning with all this Christian stuff.
I am not thinking that clearly today.
I will have another go at that tomorrow.

technodad Sat 15-Jun-13 21:40:53

I try (although it is not easy) to not worry about things I can't control. Anything I can control I try to address. It helps to bound my stress.

At the moment I have little hardship in my life, except just the stress of a very challenging (yet enjoyable) job (which I am glad of, because not having the job would be much worse).

I tend to discuss my feelings with friends, which is very helpful (I am quite open about my problems when I have them). I also find humour a great tonic, especially dark humour that mocks my own woes.

It seems to work for me! That and the 50 units of alcohol per week (that is a joke - it is only 48 units).

technodad Sat 15-Jun-13 21:45:31

Yam

It isn't that I am not best pleased with god - because god doesn't exist. I am saying that if (by some... miracle) he did exist, then he would be worthy of hating.

Since every Christian on this thread has a slightly different answer) or completely different in some cases), which one of you is right? It can't be all of you!

yamsareyammy Sat 15-Jun-13 21:50:42

Sorry about the not best pleased bit. I forgot that you think He no more exists then the yeti.

I also agree that all Christians think slightly differently to each other.
That is Gods problem imo.
The bible is so huge and so complicated that no one realistically is going to think absolutely exactly to the next Christian.
Even my own relations, my guess is that we agree on 95% of it.

zulubump Sat 15-Jun-13 21:52:26

Well done technodad! My dh is not a Christian and does not seem to need anything spiritual in his life. I often think he is a much nicer person than me! But I like to think that I have been a nicer wife for him with God in my life than before. So hopefully it's working for him!

It's an eternal mystery to me why there are intelligent people that I respect both in the atheist and the theist camp. And some really annoying Christians! But the Christian thing is working for me and at some point you have to make a commitment to either go for it or reject and I chose to jump in.

technodad Sat 15-Jun-13 22:30:08

But the 5% you disagree on seems to be really important stuff, like whether free will exists, or how prayer works.

Surely if you could all agree on these issues, you would sound more convincing to outsiders.

yamsareyammy Sat 15-Jun-13 22:41:22

I am getting a bit personal on here about my own family. So I will be a but careful, as they are not keen users of the internet themselves.

I wouldnt say that we disagree on much of the big stuff. Certainly not about prayer. Yes, maybe on free will? Dont know. Doesnt really come up much in conversation.
There is 1 big issue in the bible that my mum and I disagree on, but I am not going to say what on here, out of respect for her.

technodad Sat 15-Jun-13 22:50:59

So is it one of you that is wrong. Both of you? Of all Christians.

You can't all be right.

yamsareyammy Sat 15-Jun-13 22:59:46

One of us is wrong. Yes.
Obviously she thinks it is me,and I think it is her.
No biggie though.
No one Christian 100% agrees with another, as far as I know.
None of us is perfect, none of us understands the bible perfectly.

That is why I bang on about people reading the bible for themselves, and having a personal relationship with God.

I often think about Christians up to about the 13th century who couldnt read.
And had to rely on the few people who could read the bible out loud to them.
I think I would have struggled greatly with that.

EllieArroway Sat 15-Jun-13 23:10:30

Why don't you ask God who is right?

Thistledew Sat 15-Jun-13 23:37:41

I think it is a fascinating question that I have never been able to persuade a Christian (or anyone of any other faith) to answer:

Which aspects of your belief do you think you are most likely to be wrong about?

Or if you can't answer that, which aspects do you think it matters if you are wrong, and which do you think don't matter?

After all, with all the variances in Christian belief - not to mention the differences between the different faiths that claim to worship the same god - the chances of one person being completely right about the nature and wishes of god are so slim as to be non-existant.

headinhands in what way do I ... often suggest that atheists are somehow angry closet Christians.

I do sense anger and I have mentioned it before, and maybe to some degree I do understand it. And I know others will say they are not angry at all, at God (who they don't believe in) or at theists, and I am sure some are angry and some are not. I can be quite angry myself at times. It is not a bad thing to have a righteous anger. I sense atheists are angry about the injustices in the world. And I am too. Can you tell me where I mention closet Christians.

What would you say to a Muslim who said you didn't believe in Allah because you were angry with him. It would seem nonsensical wouldn't it. That's how it feels to an atheist when you use the same logic.

I would say I was not. But then I do not write songs about someone I do not believe in and call them names, or link to those songs if someone else has written them.

I do totally get it, I do understand atheists don't believe in God so how can they be angry with God. But sometimes they sound angry. I really don't mean it as an insult. Only an observation.

Karl Marx said religion was 'the opiate of the people'. I know what that means in the context (I think) and I kind of feel at times it works the other way for some athiests. They feel God (non-existant) is somehow to blame for all the wrong in the world. Why are we agonising over whether God answers the prayer of someone late for a meeting or whose child is ill, rather than trying to address the balance of justice in the world? Does that make sense?

Thistledew may I answer your post of Sat 15-Jun-13 12:31:05?

I totally see where you are coming from and there are branches of Christianity that do seem to believe to some degree that if you fit and well it is God's blessing etc, this is sometimes called the 'prosperity gospel'. I totally don't agree with this and find it abhorent. Sadly, many people do suffer through no fault of their own. I will never understand why, and I know many good Christian people who are working hard to right wrongs, to help people and to be that loving contact so many people want. I am sure there are many atheists doing this too but I simply do not know them. Many of us do not judge others, or rather try not to, and do not in any way want to be or appear 'better' than others.

I am catching up with this thread! Sorry I am well behind. Ellie

www.thefreedictionary.com/rational

Rational logical aren't the same thing, one meaning of rational has the logical connection but it does also mean ability to reason and of sound mind.

1. Having or exercising the ability to reason.
2. Of sound mind; sane.
3. Consistent with or based on reason; logical: rational behavior. See Synonyms at logical.
4. Mathematics Capable of being expressed as a quotient of integers.

How are you doing Technodad? Is anything making sense? I love the idea that you are looking at a time scale for the prayer to 'work'.

Where's Pedro? I miss him.

BackOnlyBriefly there are different types of prayer. Of course if a person has cancer I would offer to pray for them, to be healed, to be well, to cope with the terrible chemo etc. Do I know it will 'work'? No. Do I expect it to 'work'? Sometimes. Do I hope it will 'work'? Always. Do I care about the person? Yes. Is this one small thing I can do that might in some way help? Yes I believe it is and I expect anyone who is ill might take that offer in the spirit that it was made in. At other times, unconnected to a friend with cancer, I might pray to God just to have a chat, to make me feel better. Does it 'work'? Yes. Can I explain any of this? No. But why would I chose to give up something that might work for others and does work for me? That's very simplistic, but I just wanted to explain in case you thought that Christians were running around offering to pray for cancer patients in order to make themselves feel better. We are not. I know a few people who have had cancer (as most of us do) and it is terrible, and when my friend got breast cancer she was very happy for the prayers of anyone, Christian, Muslim, whoever. She made a recovery, for which I am very grateful. I have no way of really understanding why she got better and others do not, but I am very grateful she did.

Ellie I don't belive God 'gives' people cancer. I am not a medical person but cancer is a mutation in the body, I think.

Thistle You asked When you pray for an outcome, does the act of prayer actually make you stop and think about why you want it to happen - a bit like mindfulness meditation is designed to do?

Occasionally yes. But most of the time if I pray for things they are so obviously things that I think would be right. Like my friend being healed when she had cancer.

To get back to Technos question I wonder if the desire for people to pray in South Africa for Mandela was actually more about drawing people together in their joint inhertiance of a new South Africa because Mandela is a kind of symbol of that and once he dies the country might want to pull together for the future. If that makes sense.

Ellie of course many women have prayed God will stop their husbands beating them. You are very right to mention that. There are so many times when there are cruel terrible things in life. No I can't explain it. I would certainly not want anyone to stay in an abusive relationship and of course anyone who was in one would indeed be begging for it to change. I can't explain why God does not always step in, except that we have free will and that includes people who do good as well as bad.

Zulu that is so lovely, what you wrote about finding God and praying to be an athiest! Lovely. grin

yamsareyammy of course God hears non-Christians prayers. If he did not how would he ever know when they started asking about being Christians. God is not shut off from non-Christians. The Bible is so full of stories of God reaching out to everyone, the least expected. It is (IMHO) wrong to assume anyone is cut off from God in this life.

Technodad which one of us is right? Me, of course wink !! (Joking) and yes I love humour too, and G and T, see we are not so different. And I think you have every right to ask questions and look for answers for whatever reason you want to find them.

Thistle said Which aspects of your belief do you think you are most likely to be wrong about? If I really thought I was wrong about them I would change my belief. And you said Or if you can't answer that, which aspects do you think it matters if you are wrong, and which do you think don't matter? I think a very big issue for the Church is how we should behave towards those of other faiths. That is an issue we need to grapple with. We have limped along with a good many issues and at times my own bit of the church (Evangelical) has managed to upset a lot of people. If that upset is right and justified then of course it is right but maybe we have turned people away from God and that would be bad. Just thinking off the top of my head, this is not a reasoned argument. I just did not want your question to unanswered.

zulubump Sun 16-Jun-13 07:24:30

Morning everyone. I really shouldn't go on these threads, I end up thinking about them all night! Happy fathers' day to any dads reading!

Re Christians disagreeing with each other, within my house group there are huge differences of opinion on things like whether women should be ministers, how free will works and creation! I've been amazed at how we can sit in a room together disagreeing on these things, yet being respectful of one another and wanting to remain together as a group and support each other. I think it's our love for God that keeps us together despite the differences and quite a refreshing experience. We've often prayed that our differences don't divide us.

Going back to prayer I read some really inspiring stuff about Martin Luther King Jnr and his prayers. If I have time I will look it up. I think it's amazing what he and others were able to bear - the violence, bitterness and hatred - without retaliating. Managing to love their enemies which is what they believed God called them to do. And I don't think they could have achieved that without prayer.

zulubump Sun 16-Jun-13 07:28:21

And I get what you are saying Italian about being rational. I seem to be able to make sensible decisions in most areas of my life and people generally seem to trust my opinion. So in the end I have to trust my judgement of what is good and right in my life, even if it's not logical!

technodad Sun 16-Jun-13 08:12:47

I think the quote about god being the opiate of the people is inferring that it is a drug that controls us. I.e. it is a product of society that the uneducated masses crave, and as long as they are given it, they behave like sheep and don't cause trouble. Take away the drug, and society is uncontrollable.

The thing that confused me is the following line of Christian "logic":

- god made the universe and is all powerful
- god made all life on earth
- we are gods children and he loves us like children
- god gave us free will to make our own mistakes
- this world god made is a horrid place and people often have shit short lives full of suffering
- we love god because... Erm, something about love, trust, erm, did I mention love...? Even though he brings us all these horrid things.
- we pray to god to thank him for this love, and to ask him to not do these bad things, which he is clearly doing to punish is for some reason (despite the fact that some rapists don't get caught, and some babies suffer and die, so he is clearly not very good at giving out equal punishment - maybe rape is a good thing then...?)
- we don't understand how god works, it is almost like he is not even there... Must pray harder to show him how I love and trust him.

Down here on the real world, when our living conditions are not acceptable to us (e.g. The miners during Thatcher's premiership), there were fights and riots by the people.

Somehow, even though god rules with so much more power to fix problems than Thatcher, we keep just saying "thank you" like a bunch of fucking idiots! Sure, some Christians might get angry with god, but they keep giving their money to the CofE to keep the Queen happy, and keep on being a good old sheep.

It makes no sense at all.

The thing that makes the least sense, is not the act of believing of god (since our desire to believe is genetically programmed through evolution - proven fact), but the fact that you all love the utter bastard.

yamsareyammy Sun 16-Jun-13 08:20:25

Ellie, I could ask God, but to me it is obvious, because I am right according to what I think is in the bible. So I dont think there is a point. But maybe there is.
Also, I dont consider it a big or really a little problem. God does not expect us to know or put together everything that is in there.
Indeed, a lot of Christians have a much more simple relationship woth God. And I dont think that is a problem at all.
I think, if I asked most of the people at my church what do they think about free will, the majority of them will not understand the question. And certainly not have put much thought to the subject.

yamsareyammy Sun 16-Jun-13 08:26:13

I think Italiangreyhound has explained the rational logic bit better than me.

zulubump Sun 16-Jun-13 08:30:31

I think you are right yams that most Christians haven't put much thought in things such as free will. I have at times, but end up tying myself up in knots and give up! In the end I just trust that God knows more than I do and has got it all sorted. I can't understand it all because I'm not God.

Techno, I don't think your line of thought above is how Christians think, otherwise we'd all give up. I think the world God made is a beautiful place and I am grateful for that. It does feel like God is here to me.

How can religion be a drug that makes the masses behave like sheep? What about Martin Luther King Jnr? What about Ghandi? What about Jesus curing lepers and helping prostitutes? God is there for the underdog. To help them find the strength to right wrongs in society. But he doesn't just come in and do it on his own. It's a partnership with us and if we sit idly by waiting for God to do it all for us then nothing will change.

yamsareyammy Sun 16-Jun-13 08:32:05

technodad.
The bit that is left out of all that is the devil and our own sin.

Our own sin. We are all born sinners.

the devil. Ah, here comes a big problrm. Even talking about the d is a bit dangerous somehow. Never been quite sure how.
I am praying as I post this so that God looks after me while I talk about it.
It is not talked about much in services. Partly it has gone out of fashion, and partly even angels are careful about talking about it.

He, the d, is messing up absolutely everything here on earth.

Yes, God overrules some of it, but the d together with our own sin, and together with our own free will[except the tiny bits where He overrules], means yes, the earth is a mess.

yamsareyammy Sun 16-Jun-13 08:35:21

zulu.Yes I think you are right. It is quite ok to God to not put too much thought into some of it.
I always think about that we are all different parts of the body.
Me myself, I am not the worlds greatest prayer by a long way.
And that used to bother me a lot. But eventually I realised that if God wanted me to be, He would make me. I dont think I have improved that much, so I assume I dont have to any more.

technodad Sun 16-Jun-13 08:38:40

So god kills the African baby with aids because he is a sinner?

But let's Ronnie Biggs run free because he was clearly the salt of the earth.

Nice!

You say the world is a great place worth saying thanks for, but (as I have asked many times before on this thread and had no response), do you think the African child with aids is thanking god?

MissAnnersley Sun 16-Jun-13 08:49:31

Interesting thread.

I pray for inner strength, I pray when I am in despair. I have daily prayers that I can't explain that feel like an inner dialogue with God which I don't really understand but always do.

I also pray when I'm angry with God.

I can't offer any rational explanation for any of it but have never thought to as it is personal and belongs only to me.

EllieArroway Sun 16-Jun-13 09:03:05

Italian

For a start, I think if atheists are angry, it's with some justification. Religion hurts people - lots of people. It might be the joy of your life, but it's also responsible for Nigerian children being tortured as witches by their own parents.

I'm tired of this "Why are atheists so angry" crap. Some things are worth being angry about - THIS blog explains it beautifully. I also hope I never again hear anyone hint that they think we're angry with God. For goodness sake - such a thing is an impossibility. The closest I can get to being angry with God is the vague discomfort I get that every Christian in the world tries to justify their worship of something that is presented as being so monstrous. Even if Yahweh existed, I wouldn't worship it.

Erm...your own definition shows that that rationality is the application of reason and logic. Rationality is where you get when you use these two things. Astonished that you would try and argue anything else hmm. I love how terrified you all are of the word "logic" though - and not surprised.

Ellie I don't belive God 'gives' people cancer. I am not a medical person but cancer is a mutation in the body, I think

No, Italian - I am well aware that you operate an odd thought process that exempts God from all the horrendous suffering in the world while praising him when anything good happens. There's a name for such nonsense CONFIRMATION BIAS.

Zulu

And I don't think they could have achieved that without prayer

Oh, really? What do you think the religion of the racists in the US was? They were Christians. The Klu Klux Klan were protestants, the slave owners who originally brought black people to the States used the Bible to justify their actions - unsurprisingly, since the Bible supports & condones slavery. Why don't you ascribe all of their actions to prayer? Hmmm? They would have told you God was on their side and they'd have quoted the Bible at you to prove it.

But no - you pluck out the good stuff that one Christian did, and ignore that the situation was caused by devout Christians in the first place.

What a shame that you cannot recognise the humanity of MLK - you have to put it down to your God, as if no human being can do anything decent all by themselves.

I should think that if your God was so anti-slavery that he got rid of it by using Martin Luther King as a puppet to do his work, why allow a "holy book" that's supposed to stand as a moral guideline for us all, to condone it so vigorously?

EllieArroway Sun 16-Jun-13 09:06:29

I think Italiangreyhound has explained the rational logic bit better than me

Well no - she gave a definition that proved my point.

But if you all want me to believe that you don't use logic - fine. I agree - Christians don't use logic. If they did, they wouldn't be Christians.

MissAnnersley Sun 16-Jun-13 09:11:32

I don't employ logic. It's my faith. I've never considered that it should be logical.

yamsareyammy Sun 16-Jun-13 09:21:26

Good answer MissAnnersley.
Wish I had always came from that particular viewpoint.

EllieArroway Sun 16-Jun-13 09:24:20

I don't employ logic. It's my faith. I've never considered that it should be logical

It astonishes me that so many people say this with a straight face.

And interestingly - when I point out that Christianity is unreasonable, illogical and defies all rationality, I get "No, no! We have thought about our faith, you know!"

If you abandon logic, you abandon your intelligence. And that's a shameful thing, most certainly not anything to be proud of.

yamsareyammy Sun 16-Jun-13 09:25:13

technodad
African baby with Aids. The baby will almpst definitely not have died because of what it had done up to that point.
But it may have died because of the things his parents may or may not have done. That is possible.
It may also have died because nobody prayed for it to live.

I realise these answers may be upsetting to you, and for you to be no nearer in believing in God.

yamsareyammy Sun 16-Jun-13 09:28:53

Ellie, You are still getting rational and logic confused.
Maybe not the dictionary definition.
But what we mean by it.
If I could think of different words to describe this I would.

If we abandon logic, we have not abandoned intelligence.

Trouble is, I am aware as I write this that we are in essence discussing the definition of words, rather than what the words mean.

MissAnnersley Sun 16-Jun-13 09:29:51

I didn't say say I was proud. I was just being honest and speaking for myself.
I don't associate my faith with logic or intelligence. It doesn't mean I am stupid.
I don't feel shame for having faith. It sustains me and helps me.

yamsareyammy Sun 16-Jun-13 09:32:14

Ronnie Biggs.
God knows what is in our hearts. I think all of our hearts, which includes the non Christians - not absolutely sure on that point.

So one possible answer to why Ronnie Biggs was allowed to live is that God may have known he had a chance of becoming a Christian.

I have said before on this board, about the parable of the weeds. That there are some people who will never become Christians.

Others do have the potential to be.

technodad Sun 16-Jun-13 09:48:25

Yam

Great numbers of these African parents who have sinned are Christian. Indeed, the fact they have aids is because of the fucking piece of shit pope telling them that they must not used condoms.

How is it that all these parents are sinners and deserve to see their children die, yet are already Christian, but masses of agnostic and athiest people in the UK are allowed to live because god thinks they will become Christian later in life.

Do you even read what you write before you click "post" to make sure it makes sense an is not an utterly horrible thing to say? Indeed, have you bothered to actually think what you believe beyond having been brain washed with "trust and love"?

I know I sound harsh, but I find your rationale utterly despicable! Am I the only one?

MissAnnersley Sun 16-Jun-13 09:54:07

I don't agree with yams perspective on this. Sorry yams. You are a lovely poster.

I agree that the Catholic church has a lot to answer for. But then, so do many other churches.

yamsareyammy Sun 16-Jun-13 09:57:50

I cant give you all answers btw, just most of the ones I have.

I dont agree with much of what the Catholic hierarchy says and does if that helps.
Some of it is rules added on to the bible which is a complete no no. A dangerous thing to do, God wise.

Are you saying that some of the African babies that die, that have aids , have Christian parents.
Well presumably they prayed, and presumably God still let that child die.
That is up to God.
It does happen occasionally that children of Chrisitians die.
It has not happened to me, so I am not the best person in the world to answer that question.
But as Christians, we have to hopefully cope and accept it.

yamsareyammy Sun 16-Jun-13 09:58:36

Thats ok MissAnnersley.

EllieArroway Sun 16-Jun-13 10:04:07

*Ellie, You are still getting rational an.d logic confused.
Maybe not the dictionary definition*

Yam Please! You do not get to make up your own definitions of words, I'm afraid, and then expect me to use them.

I use the English language - I know what rationality means. If you are unclear, look in the dictionary.

technodad Sun 16-Jun-13 10:08:14

"It happens occasionally"

That is a bit of an understatement, since this thread started, thousands have died!

Fundamentally, as nice as you are yam, your responses show that you have made up an "opinion" without engaging with many facts!

Immediately, another Christian had joined the thread with their own "opinion". Now you have a disagreement with your mother, and a mumsnetters. If we ask every Christian, will we ever find two that agree?

Like I have said before, you can't all be right, but you definitely can all be wrong!

EllieArroway Sun 16-Jun-13 10:13:46

It doesn't mean I am stupid

I doubt that, in any other area of your life, you are either stupid or unintelligent.

But your "faith" is stupid. You abandon common sense (an application of logic) in order to support it. I cannot think of anything more stupid, quite honestly.

Seems peculiar that any God capable of devising quantum mechanics and evolution would demand that people abandon their common sense in order to believe in him. Maybe he just prefers to be worshipped by the less bright amongst us. That's the only explanation I can think of.

I know I sound harsh, but I find your rationale utterly despicable! Am I the only one?

No, you're not.

God knows what is in our hearts. I think all of our hearts, which includes the non Christians - not absolutely sure on that point

Yam - Make up your mind. Yesterday you were telling us that God only knows what Christians are thinking.

I will never be a Christian. Never. Maybe, perhaps, I might come to believe that the universe has an intelligent thought process behind it (very unlikely, but science might find something that suggests that) - but I will never be a Christian because the whole idea of it is so manifestly ridiculous.

yamsareyammy Sun 16-Jun-13 10:15:50

ok Ellie.
Trouble was, I didnt understand the dictionary definition.
Perhaps I will leave the discussion of rational and logic.
I know what I mean, and I think others on here think the same as me, not sure.
But I will leave that particular discussion, as I only have words to use, and my words may not be yours or the dictionary words in this particular case.

yamsareyammy Sun 16-Jun-13 10:16:57

Ellie, yes at some point I need to look into detail about the ta da bit.
It will take some time.

MissAnnersley Sun 16-Jun-13 10:18:11

I have never found two people who agree with everything the other one says or believes.

I have attended the same church as my mother all my life and we disagree on many aspects of our faith because it doesn't belong to a church or a religion. Faith, to me is a conviction or a trust and by its very nature entirely personal.

yamsareyammy Sun 16-Jun-13 10:18:38

Ellie, can I ask for you, what is it that keeps driving you towards the whole subject?
You seem to want to very much understand how Christians think and perhaps behave?

Hi technodad - Happy father's day. If I may reply to your Sun 16-Jun-13 08:12:47 post. No, rape isn't a good thing. Lots of things in life are bad and tyhere is lots of suffering but there is beauty and goodness in the world and often in unexplected places. Lots of people in the majrity world where there is less material stuff have lives worth living (based on what I have seen and read) not everyone thinks life is shit though clearly some people's lives are terirble. My reference to the opiate of the peopel reference is that it seems for some people who do not believe in religion or God then blaming 'God' is an opiate! As Zulu points out religion or God has led or helped people to do amazing things in standing up to those in power (think Liberation theology in Latin America). But for some 'religion' is something that provides a way to both not believe in God and to blame God but ultimately I am asking what are we, the human race, doing about the ills of the world, solving them or contributing to them. I think you will agree, it is a mixed picture. You said "... but the fact that you all love the utter bastard." Do you see what I mean about it sounding a bit angry?

Also you said So god kills the African baby with aids because he is a sinner? No, I don't believe he does. We do, sad we the society that set up a very cruel unfair system that means the world's whealth is unevenly distributed angry. What are 'we'going to do about it (genuine question). smile

Africans with AIDS ar probably like most people, some have faith some do not. Aids is a terrible disease, like cancer and all the others. Disease is the result of a fallen world (not perfect) so I don't think God is striking down individual children.

yamsareyammy thanks.

Ellie You said *It might be the joy of your life, but it's also responsible for Nigerian children being tortured as witches by their own parents. I agree wholelly with you that is utterly abhorent. I cannot explain when religious people along with nonreligiouos people (Mao for example) do terrible things or use religion for a cloak or claim religion as a reason. You must recognise that this is a small minority of people and not representative.

I am not terrified by the world logic, I used the docitonary on line to show that logic can be a part of reason.

OK Ellie if it offends you I will try not say that I think athiests are angry with God. I really do not want you to be offended or upset by words. I was responding to what I see in the words written about God. It feels heated and angry and upset but I know you don't believe in God so you can't be upset with God. I know that logically. See I am not afraid of logic. grin

Yes, Ellie the Bile has been used to condone slavert, yet Christians were at the forfront of the move to abolish slavery. It's a mixed up old world we live in.

I use logic for some things but not all things, some things aren't things that have a staright forward answer all the time. Like human love, it is not always logical but we love it!

Can I also again explain that all of us Christians here will be saying different things we believe so we don't all agree with each other and often may make suprised faces confused at what each other says! Just so we do not all get tarred with the same brush!

I can't read any more - only got up to 9.15 - I am off to church. Bye for now will read more later.

yamsareyammy Sun 16-Jun-13 10:23:06

technodad, I think I said that, no, I dont think you will ever get 2 Christians to totally agree.
I think I covered this point upthread.
Actually I think I may have wrote the post, and then decided not to post it.

No, I dont think there are 2 Christians that totally agree with wach other.
The bible is too big and too complicated for that.
God made it that way, so that is God's problem.

MissAnnersley Sun 16-Jun-13 10:26:08

Personally speaking yammy I actually think it's our problem.

EllieArroway Sun 16-Jun-13 10:33:18

Ellie, can I ask for you, what is it that keeps driving you towards the whole subject?

I think it's time for religion to pack it's bags and feck off. It's done enough damage to our species. We don't need it & it hurts people.

Some of us should be willing to enter these discussions because, believe it or not, some people do eventually come to their senses. And the more people that do that, the better.

yamsareyammy Sun 16-Jun-13 10:34:17

grin
Oh no, sometimes I put things firmly in Gods court!
I cant think that he can expect Christians to work it all out.
I consider you and I and other posters on here intelligent.
But I look around at other Christians in my area, and think no way are they going to be able to grasp everything in the bible. That is impossible. And because God does not set us all up to fail in that regard, the bible muct have been deliberately made that way.

yamsareyammy Sun 16-Jun-13 10:35:13

I can understand where you are coming from Ellie.

MissAnnersley Sun 16-Jun-13 10:41:08

I don't think I understand what you mean yammy.

zulubump Sun 16-Jun-13 10:41:53

The problem is that none of us really know what the African child dying of Aids is thinking. It's all too hypothetical. We can only look at our own lives and those of people we know and judge whether faith is a good influence or not. I can't make my decision on whether to trust God on what is happening to an African child whose circumstances I have no idea about. If you really want to know what Africans dying of Aids think of God you really need to ask them.

The minister at our church worked for a while in South Africa with people living in shanty towns in terrible poverty. He said they had an amazing sense of their freedom in Christ and were much more joyful in praising Him than we are in our western world of luxury! My mind boggles at how that works. But I believe it to be true.

EllieArroway Sun 16-Jun-13 10:44:05

Italian

I am not offended by anything you say - I don't get offended. But accusing atheists of being angry at a being they don't believe in is a stupid thing to say. I would think you wouldn't want to carry on saying stupid things would you?

Regarding slavery:

Christians were responsible (in the Western world in relatively recent history) for enslaving people. When challenged, they used the Bible as justification. Not just a few Christians - lots of them. Yahweh is perfectly fine with slavery he says as much, quite clearly.

Christians were also responsible for getting rid of it - this is true. But, prior to the enlightenment, Christians were responsible for everything since everyone was a Christian.....for much of British history, it was a crime not to be a Christian. So every charity, every hospital, every school was opened by Christians. Because EVERYONE was a Christian.

Guess what that also means? That every murder, every piece of injustice, every rape, every act of child abuse was carried out by......? You guessed it - CHRISTIANS!

So if you're all going to crow about the decent things done by Christians, then step up to the plate and accept responsibility for the shit things too.

Nothing, but nothing, about Christianity makes anyone a good person by default. Properly applied, it makes monsters of people. It's only when you ignore most of it's teachings that you start to become a half-decent person.

yamsareyammy Sun 16-Jun-13 10:45:23

Which bit dont you understand MissAnnersley?

zulubump Sun 16-Jun-13 10:50:15

I disagree Ellie. When I read the Bible it inspires me to live for what is true and right. And I think people like Ghandi and Martin Luther were inspired by the Bible to fight an incredible fight for justice, but remaining loving at the same time. That is a true example of what God wants for us. Many many Christians have got is wrong in the past and still do, but that is not reason enough for me to throw the whole thing out. When I look around at the people in my church and the good they do for each other and the community I think we would be much the worse off without it. I know this is not the case for all churches. But I'm not going abandon something good in my life because the other churches aren't perfect. It's like throwing marriage out altogether because in some cases it makes people miserable.

EllieArroway Sun 16-Jun-13 10:50:36

By the way - sticking the term "I believe...." at the beginning of a sentence does not suddenly a) give the sentence veracity or b) mean it automatically makes sense.

I believe the moon is made of Gorgonzola.

See? Doesn't work.

EllieArroway Sun 16-Jun-13 10:52:05

I very much doubt you've actually read the Bible all the way through, then Zulu.

I have.

And I think people like Ghandi and Martin Luther were inspired by the Bible to fight an incredible fight for justice, but remaining loving at the same time

Er...Ghandi was not inspired by the Bible. For goodness sake.

EllieArroway Sun 16-Jun-13 10:59:59

I am not terrified by the world logic, I used the docitonary on line to show that logic can be a part of reason

I never suggested that it wasn't. But reason is an application of logic - if something is illogical, then, by definition it is unreasonable.

God is illogical - certainly the way its defined by Christianity (with all the omnis) so it's unreasonable to believe such a being exists. Which is precisely why I don't.

yamsareyammy Sun 16-Jun-13 11:01:51

Ellie.
slavery. I know you have posted to Italian, so I hope you dont mind me answering too.
slavery. I think when I read the bible when I was younger, that is one of the things about it that shocked me the most.
I read it as, no it doesnt go against slavery, it acepts it. Which shocked me.
But it does say something along the lines of that slaves are supposed to obey their masters and be nice, and that masters are supposed to be nice to slaves[I am pretty sure that you know the bible better than nme on this point Ellie].

I think, and this is very much fwiw, that Jesus did not come onto this earth to be political. [which is why I get cross with religious leaders who enter the political debates]. I dont think many Christians are supposed to debate politics per se. Their time is suppoed to be taken up on the whole, sticking to peace, justice etc.
Obviously there is an overlap, but even for Jesus, that does not seem to have been his mission.

You are wrong about "everyone was a Christian"
Wrong by a country mile.
That will and never has been remotely true.

EllieArroway Sun 16-Jun-13 11:01:53

And it's Gandhi, by the way. I spelled it wrong too.

yamsareyammy Sun 16-Jun-13 11:03:24

Ellie, have you changed your word from rational to reason somewhere along the line?

MissAnnersley Sun 16-Jun-13 11:04:51

Certain parts of the bible inspired ghandi, particularly Christ's sermon on the mount. I have read he did not enjoy the old testament.

EllieArroway Sun 16-Jun-13 11:07:15

You are wrong about "everyone was a Christian
Wrong by a country mile
That will and never has been remotely true

In Britain? In the era we're talking about? It most definitely is. I have an MA in Medieval History, Yam - trust me, it's true.

There was the odd atheist around - but that was exceptionally rare.

Of course, it depends how far back you go - but Christianity was in charge (and not in a particularly nice way) for the last 14/15 hundred years.

technodad Sun 16-Jun-13 11:08:03

Zulu - The problem is that none of us really know what the African child dying of Aids is thinking. It's all too hypothetical. We can only look at our own lives and those of people we know and judge whether faith is a good influence or not. I can't make my decision on whether to trust God on what is happening to an African child whose circumstances I have no idea about. If you really want to know what Africans dying of Aids think of God you really need to ask them.

Oh come on, grow up! Are you really saying that you can't possibly have a reasoned guess at what a young child dying of aids might think. My guess is that he/she will be thinking "why me, what have I done, please, please please someone help me". Your response shows that you are not willing to let yourself think about it. Maybe because if you think about it long enough, you will realise that your faith will crumble. Best to just spout some crap you read in an old book written my humans and changed again and again.

Italian - Do you see what I mean about it sounding a bit angry?

I think you see this as being angry, because you don't understand what I am trying to say.

I am not angry with god, because god doesn't exist. When I call god a bastard, I do so to explain what any reasonable person who does believe in gods existance should think about him.

I ask myself why there are not massive "churches" of people who believe in god, but who gather together to all share their common hatred for all the bad things in the world, just like the unions did against Thatcher. The reality is, that once people get to the point of hating god, it is only a tiny little leap to get to the facts, that god doesn't exist. It is society and chaos theory which causes the problems.

you also say - Africans with AIDS ar probably like most people, some have faith some do not. Aids is a terrible disease, like cancer and all the others. Disease is the result of a fallen world (not perfect) so I don't think God is striking down individual children.

Maybe god is not striking individual children down, but god is choosing not to save them. God made the imperfect world (presumably on purpose). So if we are gods children whom he loves, then why does he create an imperfect world that can kill us, even if we, or our parents have not sinned, whilst saving those who have. As a parent, if I left knives around the house for my children to play with and one died, I would go to jail for man slaughter (rightly so). Why are no christians putting god on trial and holding him responsible for putting his children in danger and allowing them to die. Oh, I forgot, we love and trust him and don't question what he is doing, because we are unthinking and nieve.

yamsareyammy Sun 16-Jun-13 11:10:49

Ellie, post 10.33am
Are you saying you are trying to put people off Christianity?

MalenkyRusskyDrakonchik Sun 16-Jun-13 11:12:17

For me, prayer is a formalized way for me to think about what I'm worried about. I believe God is there, but I believe he already knows everything, so the communication is for me really. It's like when you get a small child to tell you things - you might well already know that this is a car and that is a dog (!grin), or that they did indeed break the vase, but you teach them to tell you and that way they learn to be more aware of themselves as people.

I think prayer does work, but not as a request system, as a mental discipline that keeps you aware of yourself.

EllieArroway Sun 16-Jun-13 11:16:09

Oh, I see - so even an Hindu is secretly inspired by Christianity hmm. We could all pick out the odd part of the Bible that sounds nice - so long as we pretend the disgusting bits (and I'm talking NT) don't exist.

Gandhi believed in bringing the religions together. Being nice about bits of the Bible was probably part of that.

Ellie, have you changed your word from rational to reason somewhere along the line?

Erm...they all amount to the same thing!

Rationality means having sound judgement. Sound judgement relies on reason. Reason relies on logic.

Seriously - the things you lot try to pick me up on!

You cannot be rational if you ignore logic.
Something cannot be reasonable if it ignores logic.

yamsareyammy Sun 16-Jun-13 11:16:48

I like your answer Malenky.

yamsareyammy Sun 16-Jun-13 11:19:10

Ellie, I am not personally trying to pick you up on it.
For me, I just wanted it clear that Christians are not of unsound mind.
Which to me is what I thought you might be trying to say.

I have got lost on all the rational/logic/reason sentences.

MalenkyRusskyDrakonchik Sun 16-Jun-13 11:19:53

Thanks yams. smile

EllieArroway Sun 16-Jun-13 11:20:46

Are you saying you are trying to put people off Christianity?

It's more complicated than that, Yam.

I don't care if dear old Mrs Smith who runs church jumble sales and makes cakes for the vicar believes in Jesus or not. If that's all religion represented, then I wouldn't care.

But "faith" - belief in something without evidence, is directly responsible for daily acts of terrorism all over the world. And it's the "faith" of Mrs Smith that provides cover for the "faith" of nutcases - because it implies that there's something good about faith. There isn't - and it is absolutely not a virtue.

yamsareyammy Sun 16-Jun-13 11:21:01

Ellie, if you are saying everyone in the uk is a Christian, what about you and technodad? I am confused again smile

EllieArroway Sun 16-Jun-13 11:22:43

For me, I just wanted it clear that Christians are not of unsound mind

I'm not trying to say you're all insane, Yam! Of course I don't think that.

But you were the ones divorcing yourselves from logic - I was trying to show that by doing that you're demonstrating that your faith is unreasonable.

And I agree with you wink

EllieArroway Sun 16-Jun-13 11:23:52

Ellie, if you are saying everyone in the uk is a Christian, what about you and technodad? I am confused again

I am on the verge of becoming annoyed with you!

NOT NOW! Historically.

yamsareyammy Sun 16-Jun-13 11:24:07

So are you trying to put off potential nutcases?

I would have thought that all the Mrs Smiths are just has horrifed, more so actually, in the daily acts of terrorism done under "Christianity" than you.

MalenkyRusskyDrakonchik Sun 16-Jun-13 11:24:33

Btw, don't really want to get into the medieval history debate but I agree with ellie, atheism was exceptionally rare - and I don't think people even had a concept of believing in nothing really. People who didn't believe in God in the 'right' way were all considered heretics - so Muslims and Jewish people and even Christians who didn't quite understand the doctrines properly, were all seen as heretics. The Church really wasn't very good on valuing difference!

I think England was particularly bad because England expelled or massacred its Jewish population early on, so there was really very, very little alternative to Christianity. sad

MissAnnersley Sun 16-Jun-13 11:24:59

Lol at the idea of Gandhi being nice about bits of the bible.

EllieArroway Sun 16-Jun-13 11:25:57

This country is not a Christian one anymore. It certainly used to be though - and when it was it was a hell hole.

I have to go and decorate my kitchen now.

As usual, you have been a lovely (but frustrating) person to talk to. Enjoy your Sunday thanks

EllieArroway Sun 16-Jun-13 11:27:05

Lol at the idea of Gandhi being nice about bits of the bible

LOL <vom> at a Hindu being inspired to greatness by the Bible.

EllieArroway Sun 16-Jun-13 11:28:22

I would have thought that all the Mrs Smiths are just has horrifed, more so actually, in the daily acts of terrorism done under "Christianity" than you

I wouldn't bet on that, actually.

But that's not the point.

niminypiminy As you see Italiangreyhound is one of the many who admits to sometimes praying for people to be healed. Instead of accusing the atheists here of making stuff up perhaps you could debate it with the other christians and sort out which of you is doing it wrong. Clearly only one of you has a relationship with god. All those being told different things by 'god' are actually imagining it (or having a relationship with the devil).

Italiangreyhound I don't doubt that you would really deeply wish the person to be healed, but if you actually think that is possible - that it has happened even once in the history of the world - then you open yourself up to all the questions that have been asked about why does it not happen every time. You could just about make a case for never interfering, but there can be no sensible explanation for god healing sometimes, but not others.

Still catching up with this thread. More later.

yamsareyammy Sun 16-Jun-13 11:37:20

Sorry Ellie, didnt mean to wind you up.

But it is not true historically either.
How could it ever be.
That is impossible.

To me, there is nothing new under the sun.
There is no utter way that they were all Christians.
Even if a lot called themselves Christians. And I presume that not all people that call themselves Christians are Christians.

people can call themselves anything.

There are verses in the bible about wolves in sheeps clothing.

wow, I can see how you and others can get confused by this.

Matthew 7 v 15 - 20

"Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles? In the same way, every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, not can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will know them by their fruits.

'Not everyone who says to me "Lord ,Lord" will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only one who does the will of my Father on heaven. On that day many will say to me "Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many deeds of power in your name?" Then I will declare to them, "I never knew you ; go away from me you evildoers".

yamsareyammy Sun 16-Jun-13 11:39:34

Thanks Ellie. Have a nice day.

zulubump you said When I read the Bible it inspires me to live for what is true and right.

Which bible was that? Did you perhaps just read half a dozen verses from the NT? If so you should read the rest. It's depraved and sick and praises murder and rape.

yamsareyammy Sun 16-Jun-13 12:26:31

www.gty.org.uk/Resources/Questions/QA160

The link lists lots of prayers that God does not answer, or even listen to on occasions.
Didnt realise there were so many reasons as that.
No wonder I was somewhat confused on the whole issue.

Italiangreyhound You said the Bible has been used to condone slavery, yet Christians were at the forefront of the move to abolish it

The bible certainly does condone slavery. It may have invented the idea of inferior races who are born slaves, but can you remind me of the basis for the last part? There may be one, but nothing springs to mind.

Of course many of those involved in abolishing slavery may have been christians, but that's not the same thing is it. If I were to say that many German soldiers in ww2 were Christian then posters would say "Yes, but they just happened to be Christians. They were not fighting for Christianity"

MissAnnersley Sun 16-Jun-13 12:40:51

I have not stated once nor do I believe that Gandhi was inspired to greatness by the bible. I simply stated that he had found a particular part of the new testament inspiring and that I had read somewhere that he had been less than impressed with the old testament.

EllieArroway Sun 16-Jun-13 13:00:23

Yeah, right. You were trying to contradict my response to a poster who WAS claiming that Gandhi was inspired to greatness by the Bible.

EllieArroway Sun 16-Jun-13 13:05:59

Back Oh, good point!

Which bit of the Bible did the slavery-abolishing Christians quote when making their stand?

They didn't.....there is no bit they could quote. Which suggests (pretty much proves) that it was their humanity NOT their Christianity that inspired them.

Really, really good point that. I have a brain crush on you, Back - you are always so completely right smile

technodad Sun 16-Jun-13 13:25:07

Zulu & Italian

Have you read my message at 11:08. Do you have a response?

MissAnnersley Sun 16-Jun-13 14:01:48

Not really Ellie. I read what you had posted and remembered something I had read. That's all.

technodad I am posting from my phone so aplogies if it does come out right! I believe god made the world I mean universe but usually say world so if o say worked later I mean universe! It was perfect. We were given free will and the world got spoilt a bit. It is fallen. Dies that answer you 11.08 question?

Ellie are you saying me and all Christians are monsters? Just looking for clarification. The idea that all the people in the Uk England Britain in the last were Christian is crazy. Bring s Christian is being a follower of Chris not being born in a certain country where you have no option of being anything other than Christian.

Back the references to slavery in the bible are in avert different cultural context to slavery as it happened in the 18th century and hoe it happens now. I think it talks about an utterly different time. I interpret the Bible not to be taken literally but more the story in the old testament of people's journey with God. I don't have a lot of evidence for this but O think that taking each other's land and peoples may have been the way people lived thousands of years ago. It is utterly wrong that the bible was used to justify slavery. I think you would be surprised to find lots of Christians. Myself included would share your abhorrce of the evils of this world.

EllieArroway Sun 16-Jun-13 14:29:17

Er, no...I thought what I said was very clear:

Properly applied, it makes monsters of people. It's only when you ignore most of it's teachings that you start to become a half-decent person

You ignore most of what the Bible teaches. You don't know that's what you do because you have not read the whole Bible & you rely entirely on the nice bits that the vicar reads out on Sundays.

If you lived the way the Bible wants you to, you'd be a monster. And if you took Jesus's advice to the letter, your life would be unbearable.

And I'm not quite sure why you get to judge who is/isn't a Christian. That's a No True Scotsman fallacy. You don't get to excuse Christianity from it's horrors by feebly pretending that anyone who behaved in a way you don't wasn't a real Christian. Sorry about that.

EllieArroway Sun 16-Jun-13 14:35:09

Oh - and "it talks about an utterly different time".

And? At what point in history do you think it's ever been acceptable for one human being to own another?

Do you think God didn't really condone it then? So it's yet another thing the Bible gets wrong - like it's attitude to rape, women, children, genocide, murder & sacrifice.

For something that's supposed to be so holy, it gets a lot of things wrong, doesn't it?

Who gets to decide who is Christian? You, Ellie?

EllieArroway Sun 16-Jun-13 14:38:12

Who gets to decide who is Christian? You, Ellie?

How about the individual person?

It is never right to own another person. It never has been. I can't explain the bible's references of slavery. I simply said it refers to a different time. Maybe in a diffeent time people acted differently. Jan't democracy built on the society of the ancient Greeks, they had slaves. Yet no one would noe suggest throwing out democracy because of it. I din't know what God thinks or why I trust that he is loving. That us something I personally believe I have experienced.

The individual person deciding. How does that work? I say it so it is do. Without fulfilling any criteria? How about I want to proclaim myself a member of all world religions and speak for them simultaneously ( I don't) is that ok, does that work? Now who is abandoning rationality?

EllieArroway Sun 16-Jun-13 14:54:13

It's not about how people acted - yes, clearly they acted differently then. You could say that about anything.

It's about exactly why your God not only thinks it's OK, but gives specific rules about how and under what circumstance you may brand and strike your slave.

If he wanted to say something about slavery, why not: "Please don't do that. Employ people as servants, but you may not own them".

I thought free will was a precious gift? Not for slaves apparently hmm

EllieArroway Sun 16-Jun-13 15:10:50

Now who is abandoning rationality?

Well, not me. At least I know what the word means.

How about I want to proclaim myself a member of all world religions and speak for them simultaneously ( I don't) is that ok, does that work?

I've no idea - but I expect you could. All religions are made up fairytales anyway, just make up another that incorporates all the current religions. It's no more stupid than the one you currently subscribe to.

OK - so lets look at your attempt at logic here.

The individual doesn't decide whether they are a Christian or not. Right? So, it's a judgement other people make based on their behaviour?

Well - let's take me:

I don't lie
I don't steal
I don't commit adultery
I don't murder or hurt people
I take care of my family
I give what I can to charity
I have volunteered over the years for a few charities (one in particular)
I've never broken a single one of the 10 Commandments (not even working on a Sunday, unless you count decorating)

Holy crap - I am a superb Christian!

Except I'm not - because I don't buy into a ridiculous and disgusting doctrine that demands I worship a bloody corpse.

You, however, do. So you are a Christian.

So it's not actually behaviour that marks someone out as a Christian - it's their beliefs. And who are you to tell someone what they do/don't believe?

MalenkyRusskyDrakonchik Sun 16-Jun-13 15:41:25

I don't know who in their right mind would take the Bible literally. It is not a very usual Christian concept to do so. Biblical literalists annoy me for the poor theology and bad historical knowledge, as much as anything else, but I think if you want to argue that Christians would be terrible people if they took the Bible literally, you should acknowledge that for most of Christian history no-one had the slightest intention of doing that anyway.

Are setting our your fb for what you think a Christian is aellie? I assume you know it is not about keeping rules.

Sorry CV Ellie

EllieArroway Sun 16-Jun-13 15:54:56

Erm, no. I would be willing to accept an argument that today most people don't take the Bible literally. But for most of it's history? No way.

At the risk of repeating myself - where do you think Christians got their justification for keeping slaves from? Their misogynistic practices? Their burning of people at the stake? Their preaching of hellfire and damnation? And, until Darwin, most Christians took Genesis literally.

You're wrong. Sorry.

technodad Sun 16-Jun-13 16:00:37

Italian - I believe god made the world I mean universe but usually say world so if o say worked later I mean universe! It was perfect. We were given free will and the world got spoilt a bit. It is fallen. Dies that answer you 11.08 question?

It is AN answer, but not a very good one that would stack up to any analysis that might fool anyone over the age of 8 years old. You say that god made the universe (world) and that it was perfect. You go on to say that "free will" caused it to be spoilt, i.e. humans spoilt it.

Since Malaria (the virus spread by mosquitos), has been on this earth since before humans existed (indisputable fact), and used to infect our genetic predecessors (indisputable fact), please can you explain how human "free will" caused Malaria, malaria being the biggest killers of humans, period. The world was "fallen" before humans existed (indisputable fact).

This is the problem, you write like you are discussing facts, but you (or who ever has taught you this tripe) are just making it up as you go along. The sad thing is, you base your life on this crap.

There was another part of the post at 11:08 which you have not address which is re-writen below for ease of you locating it:

Italian said - *Do you see what I mean about it sounding a bit angry?*

I think you see this as being angry, because you don't understand what I am trying to say.

I am not angry with god, because god doesn't exist. When I call god a bastard, I do so to explain what any reasonable person who does believe in gods existance should think about him.

I ask myself why there are not massive "churches" of people who believe in god, but who gather together to all share their common hatred for all the bad things in the world, just like the unions did against Thatcher. The reality is, that once people get to the point of hating god, it is only a tiny little leap to get to the facts, that god doesn't exist. It is society and chaos theory which causes the problems.

EllieArroway Sun 16-Jun-13 16:09:53

Italian

There are 33,000 different denominations of Christianity. If you lot can't even make up your mind what a "real" Christian is meant to be, how am I supposed to know?

If someone tells me they are a Christian, that's good enough for me. One interpretation of a piece of fiction is as valid as any other.

Also - I might point out, that when Richard Dawkins sponsored a poll to find out what people who professed to being Christians on the census actually believed, it was discovered that very, very few of them believed that Jesus was their saviour etc. When he pointed out that this meant they probably weren't Christians in any meaningful way, he was told very loudly that it's up to individuals to decide whether they call themselves Christians or not. Christians got very cross with him.

But you've decided that it's irrational for individual people to make that decision for themselves. Well, perhaps you'd like to tell your fellow Christians that, eh?

Thistledew Sun 16-Jun-13 16:10:23

I agree with Ellie that the only definition of a Christian is someone who defines him/herself as such.

There are such variances in Christian belief, and not just with regards to which of the bible stories are metaphors and which are to be taken literally, but about the really basic stuff as well. Such as what/who is god, what/who was Jesus and what is heaven. Some people do literally believe god to be a male entity, some believe god to be genderless and not to be an entity that we would recognise, and that is before you get to considerations of whether the holy trinity is one, two or three separate entities. Likewise, there is fundamental disagreement over whether Jesus was a mortal or immortal being. Whether he was the son of god or whether he was god in mortal form. And with heaven, some people hold a firm belief that it is actually a place where you go after you die, and some people characterise it as just a metaphor for separation from god.

The reason for this is that there is no absolute truth. Everyone's view of Christianity is just that - their own personal interpretation. They may use this interpretation to found their own moral code, but it is not a moral code that carries any greater weight, or has any greater force behind it than the views of people of other faiths, or the views of people who have no belief in a divine being.

This, for me, is why many atheists at angry not at god, but at the idea of god. Because it holds up the beliefs of a group of people as being 'better' or more correct than people who do not share those beliefs, and because those beliefs are allowed to govern and intrude upon the lives of people who do not share them.

EllieArroway Sun 16-Jun-13 16:12:37

Since Malaria (the virus spread by mosquitos), has been on this earth since before humans existed (indisputable fact), and used to infect our genetic predecessors (indisputable fact), please can you explain how human "free will" caused Malaria, malaria being the biggest killers of humans, period. The world was "fallen" before humans existed (indisputable fact)

Ooooh. Good point! And I expect mammals were getting cancer too!

Have a brain crush on you now too, Techno wink

EllieArroway Sun 16-Jun-13 16:16:13

Thistle Well said.

Italian

I am getting crosser with you than I normally would. Usually you and I can discuss things without getting snarky. I'd like to go back to that. Today is my fault - I think it's PMT combined with guilt that I'm not decorating my kitchen as I should.

Everything I've said I stand by - but I could have been a bit nicer. Accept my apologies.

Will withdraw until I can engage as a nicer human being.

technodad Sun 16-Jun-13 16:18:08

And our ape descendants likely killed each other over food or a mate too.

The idea that "free will" caused all of the wrongs in the world is utter utter unsupportable bollox.

Actually Ellie we might have a lot in common aside from religion. (Smile)

technodad Sun 16-Jun-13 16:20:57

m.guardian.co.uk/science/2003/oct/23/dinosaurs.science

Look - dinosaurs got cancer millions and millions of years before humans even existed!

techno the angels fell first so before people. I think God intended the world to contain these bad things. Millions are Christians. Do we all have the intellect of 8 year olds. Christians would not form churches to be angry ay God. It is just too preposterous I am not sure what I can say to answer that.

Thistledew Sun 16-Jun-13 16:27:37

Which came first? Angels or dinosaurs? Please cite your sources in your answer.

technodad Sun 16-Jun-13 16:30:31

My big question for you Italian:

My last couple of posts have proven beyond any doubt that your "belief" with respect to why bad things happen in the world, is wrong and clearly baseless.

So, will you ignore these facts and continue with what you believed before, or adjust your theories (like any scientist would) with a new theory based upon real facts?

If you choose to keep your previous unfounded belief against the real evidence, how can you justify it (without using the words "trust" or "love" or any other non-specific blurb)?

yamsareyammy Sun 16-Jun-13 17:02:04

technodad. Post 16.18pm. I gave a short list this morning of not just free will that causes problems in the world.

Italian. I am afraid I cannot agree with your statement "I think Gid intended the world to comtain these bad things".
Right back at the beginning of Genesis, God wishes that certain things hadnt happened. Because the devil messed things up.

yamsareyammy Sun 16-Jun-13 17:07:31

Ellie and to a certain extent Thistledew.
My post of 11.37am this morning
[sorry I repeatly am unable to copy and post and highlight].

The last part re sheep in wolves clothing.
Anyone can go around saying they are a Christian.
Even Christians, and perhaps especially Christians are very much warned about this.
Just because someone says they are a Christian, does not automatically mean they are a Christian.

We are told to know them by their fruits.
So it is pretty safe to assume that those murdering and raping and blowing people up, who say they are Christians ARE NOT.

I dont tend to use capitals on MN. I dont think I have used them before.

Actually, that is something else I have learnt on this thread.
It never really entered my head, that non Christians would not know this. But of course they dont.

So now my eyes are opened even more to how non Christians view at least some Christians.

Thistledew Sun 16-Jun-13 17:17:37

Yams - but how can you be confident that you are a Christian then? To take the examples I gave earlier, what if you are completely mistaken about the nature of god, Jesus and heaven? If you think there is one truth, then there is a fair chance that it is not what you believe it to be.

If you take that passage to be a truth, it amazes me that there are very few Christians who have the slightest notion that they may not be Christians at all.

MalenkyRusskyDrakonchik Sun 16-Jun-13 17:19:59

ellie, forgive me, but that's the wrong way around. It's a relatively modern idea, to take the Bible literally. For most of Christian history it wasn't even thought of. Medieval people didn't, as you must know! And neither did the early Church. It is really only post-Reformation that people even began to think about it.

It's really not the be-all and end-all.

MalenkyRusskyDrakonchik Sun 16-Jun-13 17:21:22

I would point out that cherry-picking a single text (eg. re slavery) is a very different thing. But I'm not sure if that second bit of your post was a separate idea or not, so won't labour the point.

thistle how can it possibly be for people to self determine what makes a member of s group? How about if I chose to be a member of the group 'atheists' and you say do I believe in God and I say yes so you would say (rightly) I could not be an atheist.

techno maybe God knew (being omnipoint) that we would make out choice to do things wring so that is what cocked things up world-wise.

I know all this stuff (that I am spouting) is not new to atheists so why be surprised when I say it. Ellie sorry if so am coming across as 'snarky'. I am frustrated. You seem ti want (not just you but this is my feeling) to ask what we think, make fun of it, accuse us of lack of intelligence or reason, saddle our faith with all the ills in the world and then be surprised when we don't drop our faith. I love the fact there are lots of denominations and I am happy ti acknowledge other Christians as sister and brothers. But there things that identify Christians the Trinity. I will (maybe- shock you to say I agree with Richard Dorking that.maybe some in west identify themselves as Christian without really meaning or understanding it. There is a part of identity that is self determined but just growing up in the west does not make you s Christian

techno sorry TYPO I meant to say I do not thinkk God intended the world to contain these bad things.Ellie apologies accept. Now get back yo that kitchen!!!

yamsareyammy Sun 16-Jun-13 17:43:52

Italian. If you read Genesis 6 v 5-8, you will see that God was sorry that he had made humankind.

Thistle - a person should know themselves.
To be a Christian, you have to sorry to God for the things you have done wrong, and believe that Jesus was raised from the dead.
If you do not go back on these things, then you know you are a Christian. How good a one, is up to Jesus to decide when you die.
A person who is a false prophet would I would have thought, have no doubt whatsoever that they are a wolf in sheeps clothing.

yamsareyammy Sun 16-Jun-13 17:44:44

ah Italian, that is better!

yamsareyammy Sun 16-Jun-13 17:47:08

That is better re the typo.

I do think though that you are not really getting where Ellie is coming from.

Yes sorry yammy apologies that was a typo. God made the world and it was good. That is what I believe.

MalenkyRusskyDrakonchik Sun 16-Jun-13 17:50:53

yams - but I always think, with that sort of reference, that saying God regretted making humankind is simply putting something into terminology we can dimly understand. I don't believe God is a human-like entity who creates something and then thinks 'whoops, I feel bad about doing that now'. God is outside time, so the chronology could not apply.

But I think phrasing it as Genesis does helps us to understand, because we can relate to that emotion of regret and sadness.

I think for me it goes back to what praying is for - we're trying so hard to think about things that are beyond our comprehension, and sometimes we end up expressing ourselves in ways that are not perfect, because 'not perfect' is the best we can do. Prayer is a way to try to communicate, but it isn't perfect.

yamsareyammy Sun 16-Jun-13 17:53:02

But maybe you all have a back history on here?

Thistledew Sun 16-Jun-13 17:57:17

The trouble is with defining who or what is a Christian, is that there are no objective criteria against which one can make that assessment. There is no absolute truth.

There are many Christians who have a very strong faith, for whom worship and living their life according to the bible is probably stronger for them than many people in the UK. They have a passionate belief that they are good Christians and are following the word of god.

Yet they go around persecuting and literally physically attacking people for being gay.

You would say that they are not Christian, but for all you know, and on a reasonable reading of the bible, god is indeed a raving bigot who hates the gays.

MalenkyRusskyDrakonchik Sun 16-Jun-13 17:58:05

Sorry, I'm not getting where Ellie is coming from, or italian isn't? confused

I vaguely recognize her name but I just found this an interesting question in the OP. I didn't know it was part of a bigger discussion?

MalenkyRusskyDrakonchik Sun 16-Jun-13 17:58:57

thistle - but can we not just say they're raving bigots? If you don't believe in God, does it matter if you think he's a made-up entity who's a raving bigot or not?

Italiangreyhound I see that Ellie demolished the 'but people did things differently back then' response smile

But don't forget the other half of that question. I'd still like to hear about how it was Christians that were at the forefront of the move to abolish it.

I know (I think) exactly where Ellie and the atheists (sounds like a girl band) are coming from. 6 months ago I did not! They have educated me! Knowledge is power and all that. What I think they do not know is that I am one if the good guys. The rest is that is more 'flexible' Christians are providing cover for the radical fundamentals but the reality is that if all the more open of us went away I think
(IMHO) the world would would not turf all the fundamentals out, instead those who are exploring faith ( and I believe people will always be looking for God because that is the way we are.made) would only have the more fundamental option.

MalenkyRusskyDrakonchik Sun 16-Jun-13 18:05:34

I don't believe more 'flexible' (and I have issues with 'flexible' as a term) Christians are providing cover for the radical fundamentalists.

'Flexible' bothers me as a term, because I think often people imagine that fundamentalism is the oldest and most theologically accurate form of any religion. And it rarely is, to my knowledge. Christianity has written into its theology an awful lot of acceptance that you can and should use your brain to think about morality. I think people who use Christianity as a cover for bigotry are simply bigots - and bigots will always try to latch onto some vaguely acceptable ideology and pretend it justifies them. That's what they do.

Yes Malenky I agree with your thoughts on imperfect communication and regret. What does I'm not getting from where Ellie is coming from or Italian Jan'
t mean? thistle attacking gay people is an utterly abhorrent hate crime. Lots of people commit hate crimes and some may profess to be Christians nut I think the vast majority of those who commit hate crimes would be people who have no real understanding of faith.

MalenkyRusskyDrakonchik Sun 16-Jun-13 18:11:55

Well, I can understand why people get angry, when someone comes along saying 'I am Christian therefore I can tell you gays are evil'. I mean, I get angry! It's normal.

And I also can understand why people get angry at the idea of prayer, which seems to them a waste of time, when terrible things happen in the world. Again, I do think it's natural. I don't agree, but I can see why it's upsetting. The basic issue is that for those of us who are Christian, prayer (and faith in general) seems helpful to us. To others, it seems wilfully self-deceptive or empty, or even actively harmful if it takes us away from more practical help. But then we're talking about things that are always going to be upsetting - death, evil (whatever you mean by 'evil'). So there's no way the debate wouldn't get fraught, IMO.

yamsareyammy Sun 16-Jun-13 18:14:54

Malenky, I was talking about Italian.
Who are the flexible brothers?

Italian. I am confused about words again there!
Who do you mean by radical fundamentalists?

I think there is a value in a "holding things in the light" type of prayer. This is a Quaker expression and way of thinking about prayer which I like very much. I think either personally, with things going on in your own life, or alongside others in a community maybe praying about the bigger troubles of the world, it is a good thing to hold them in the light together. I find this brings a new and better perspective, as well as building a sense of community with others. I like that it's a fairly universal experience (though not completely so obviously), to call out to a heavenly parent, or to cry for the coming of God's kingdom on Earth - that we might all live in peace and goodwill, and that suffering might be lessened.

In fact I'm thinking about starting a "holding in the light" prayer group at our Meeting House to do just that with a group of Friends.

As it says on the "daily gratitudes" thread ....
(I find being thankful is such a bedrock of spirituality and daily living too - which I'd like to remember more often !)
... Namaste (Peace)

Thistledew Sun 16-Jun-13 18:18:47

Malenky - you can only dismiss them as raving bigots if you dismiss anyone who goes by the idea of an absolute Christian truth as raving as well (minus the bigotry). In giving credence to the idea of an absolute truth, you give credence to the idea that the truth might actually be as these bigots believe it to be.

Italian- I think you are very wrong in dismissing people who carry out attacks on gay people as having a poor understanding of the faith. In many cases they have a better knowledge of and spend far more time in study of the bible than most Church of England devotees, for example. And what they do is not a hate crime. It is not illegal in Uganda, for example, to attack someone who is gay. They do not see it as wrong, because the bible tells them it is ok.

This bit about who is a christian is getting messy now. I don't think you can quite compare atheism or vegetarianism with religion as they have reasonably well defined definitions. If you see a vegetarian eating meat then you know they are not vegetarian.

There doesn't seem to be a definition of christianity at all now. When this has come up before on here some Christians have claimed that there is a base set of beliefs that qualify. However if they are right then there are far fewer Christians then is claimed. In any case I'm not sure what authority they have for deciding.

Christians try have this both ways in my experience. When it's something positive then Christians will claim several billion fellow believers and say "they can't all be wrong", but when a particular belief is pointed out they tend to say"You can't assume that I believe that. We are not all the same".

In fact the number of people who share your set of beliefs is probably very small and may just include you.

Sorry Malarky I am using my phone and it makes it quite hard to post. My point about flexible was really don't like the term liberal ad I am not. I am evangelical but I am pro gay marriage, women in leadership.and tryingto work out my faith in a modern world. Ellie implied back thread that people in the church who appear 'harmless' are sort of providing 'cover' for the more radical or fundamental or maybe to use my own word hate-filled members of the church. My point is if we left the church would not collapse but I think IMHO the church would become more fundamental.

MalenkyRusskyDrakonchik Sun 16-Jun-13 18:20:00

I was assuming by 'flexible' she meant 'non-fundamentalists'.

I think 'flexible' is problematic as a term, because my theology isn't remotely flexible, but I don't interpret the Bible literally and I am quite willing to say that many Christians in the past (and present) have been wrong and done bad things. That doesn't make me 'flexible' in my religion; it means I truly believe this is the right way to be, as a Christian. But my impression is that people see this as 'flexible'. Lots of people seem to think Christians who pretend they are taking the Bible literally are less flexible than Christians who acknowledge it isn't possible to take the entirety of the Bible literally.

MalenkyRusskyDrakonchik Sun 16-Jun-13 18:23:24

Oops, huge cross post, sorry.

juggling - I like that too.

thistle: 'Malenky - you can only dismiss them as raving bigots if you dismiss anyone who goes by the idea of an absolute Christian truth as raving as well (minus the bigotry). In giving credence to the idea of an absolute truth, you give credence to the idea that the truth might actually be as these bigots believe it to be.'

I don't follow at all. confused I don't dismiss anyone who thinks there is an absolute Christian truth. There is no logical reason why I should. And it doesn't follow at all that absolute truth means these bigots are right. I don't give the slightest credence to them by believing in absolute truth.

If someone tells me it's axiomatic that two plus two is six, I think they are nuts. The fact I believe it's axiomatic that two plus two is four does not give their idea the slightest credence.

If someone tells me that they think it's absolutely true that homosexuality is wrong, it doesn't somehow give credence to their belief if I say I think it's absolutely right.

italian - thanks for clarifying.

thistle I am genuinely appalled at any violence to anyone. The Bible says very very little about gay people. I think people can use it to justify violence against gay people and that is utterly wrong. I can't be any clearer.

MalenkyRusskyDrakonchik Sun 16-Jun-13 18:27:20

Jesus spends a large amount of the NT rubbishing the Old Testament. It is pretty clear, IMO, that we are not entitled to keep on acting like sheep and pointing to outdated bigotries in the Bible as support for gay-bashing or anything else.

Thanks Malenky thanks

I think I'll have to go back and read more of the start of the thread, as I'd be interested to see the range of responses to the OP ...

*Italiangreyhound, you are right in my case that I think "'flexible' Christians are providing cover for the radical fundamentals" and your point about what would happen if you and others like you went away is a perfectly valid one. I'm glad you realise it's not that we want to string up people like you.

However, I think you are what about what would happen. The power of religion is in the millions of respectable and kind people who support it. If it were just Abu Qatada, the Pope and a few priests and Imans it wouldn't look so attractive. It's the kindly old uncles/aunties who have been christian/muslim for a lifetime that sell it.

oops! missing word there. "I think you are wrong about what would happen"

sunshine401 Sun 16-Jun-13 18:33:16

People should not be bothered about other's beliefs. Certainly should not insult them for it either. Praying means a lot of different things to a lot of different people so the op can not really be answered in depth as everyone has a different reason.

MalenkyRusskyDrakonchik Sun 16-Jun-13 18:33:42

But you're convinced that there is an inescapable link between the 'kindly old uncles' and the fundamentalists, that religion is a monolithic thing.

I'm fairly sure it's not.

Thistledew Sun 16-Jun-13 18:38:34

Malenky- your view that the correct interpretation of the bible is that homosexuality is perfectly fine, is no more or less valid than someone else's interpretation that the bible says it is an abhorrence.

Other people have just as valid claim to say that their interpretation of the bible is that 2+2=4 as you do.

And if you think the comments in the bible about homosexuality are too vague, what about the prohibition on menstruating women entering temples? That is pretty clear. What if the absolute truth is that this is actually prohibited?

yamsareyammy Sun 16-Jun-13 18:40:23

Back, yes there is definitely a definition for Christianity. I spoke about it in my post of 17.43pm.

EllieArroway Sun 16-Jun-13 18:46:29

ellie, forgive me, but that's the wrong way around. It's a relatively modern idea, to take the Bible literally. For most of Christian history it wasn't even thought of. Medieval people didn't, as you must know! And neither did the early Church. It is really only post-Reformation that people even began to think about it

No, I'm sorry, but I really don't agree. But then it depends on exactly what/who we're talking about. Allegory became a big thing - usually trying to explain the discrepancies between the OT & NT. So, you have a point that no one (or few people) were trying to take the completely lunatic bits seriously - but they were trying to weave them into a narrative.

It's also a mistake to assume that, because they regarded something as "allegorical", this didn't necessarily mean they didn't think it happened at all - just that some other meaning could be extracted from it. And they found these from all over the place - other forms of literature/nature and so on. You only have to look at their art to see that.

But, given that for most of it's history (in England, at least) the average person did not have personal access to the Bible for obvious reasons, they generally had no option but to believe what they were told. That they believed in a literal hell & the other things mentioned isn't really in doubt.

Also - Christianity (as with all religions) has historically been used as a system of control. This means that there have been rather a lot of people putting their own slant on things to suit their own brand of theology - so the question becomes not whether people believed the Bible was literally true (how could they make that judgement when they hadn't read it personally?) but whether they took what they were told literally. And they did.

Thistledew Sun 16-Jun-13 18:48:33

Yams - your definition:

"To be a Christian, you have to sorry to God for the things you have done wrong, and believe that Jesus was raised from the dead."

It doesn't define anything. What is god? Is it an entity in a recognisable male human form? Or genderless? Is god the trinity, or just part of the trinity?

Was Jesus a mortal human, or was he a divine being? Was god actually Jesus? If Jesus was god in mortal form, or if he was part of the divine, how could he be raised from the dead, as he couldn't actually die?

Must go and make dinner. I have enjoyed debate.

Thistledew Sun 16-Jun-13 19:01:25

Let me put my argument about the more benign forms of Christianity lending support for the bigoted forms a different way.

If you accept that your own views as to how people should lead their lives and how society should be organised are just that - your own personal views that do not have any higher force or divine truth behind them, then saying "I think gays are abhorrent" can be tackled with logic, with reason. They can be shown up to be nonsensical, and easily dismissed as such.

If you say that "my views are backed up by a higher force and a divine truth", then as has been shown in this thread, when they are challenged by logic and reason, when they are taken apart and analysed, then if they fall apart and don't make any sense, it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter because god is not really fathomable by human beings, but that's ok because he has our best interests at heart so we can accept what he says even if we don't really understand it.

The answer to "why do you think gays are abhorrent?" become "just because". And if everyone who is a Christian maintains the ideal that "just because" is a good enough reason for thinking and acting in a certain way, and that it should carry weight above mere mortal reasoning, analysis and logic, then it becomes very difficult to challenge any religious view that we find problematic.

Thistledew Sun 16-Jun-13 19:15:00

I would just like to add, that I would have no problem what so ever with people believing what they liked in the privacy of their own homes, or even joining together with other people to express those views in ceremonies that are openly and freely held.

I reserve the right to think that they are a little bit bonkers, but as long as those views helped you to be a better, kinder and happier person, I would see no reason not to even be good friends with someone who holds those beliefs

What I do have a huge problem with is that religious views are allowed to dominate our society, even for people who do not hold those views. That they are given significant weight in creating the laws of our land, that heads of the religions are given a say in the way the country is run, for no reason other than that, that our children have these views thrust upon them without question when they attend school, that it is allowed to affect the availability of local school places, that it governs the way people can or cannot get married, to name but a few problems.

EllieArroway Sun 16-Jun-13 19:42:54

To add to what Thistle has said - I also think the idea of "faith" being an automatic virtue should be challenged - and it never really is in our society. Faith might give everyone on this thread "hope", but it also flies planes into buildings, lies to Africans about condoms and mutilates the genitals of little girls.

And no, I don't blame every Christian & Muslim for this. I blame the concept of "faith".

yamsareyammy Sun 16-Jun-13 19:44:08

Jesus and God are who are in the bible. I realise that that is not a good enough answer for you.
I believe what is written on the bible.
again, I know you will not be happy with that answer.

I dont think anyone on this thread has said gays are abhorent, or anything like it, have they?

yamsareyammy Sun 16-Jun-13 19:47:43

It is people being taught wrongly about what is in the bible, it is peoples' inherent sin, it is the devil messing things up and whatever else I put in the post at roughtly 11am this morning, it is those people who have added or taken away words from the bible.

yamsareyammy Sun 16-Jun-13 19:48:29

19.44 post to Thistle
19.47 post to Ellie

technodad Sun 16-Jun-13 19:52:45

I agree with you Thistledew.

I still have a massive issue with Italian's answer earlier (sorry for disappearing for a while, I had to sacrifice a goat in the garden to make the rains come).

Italian - You stick by your view that god made the world and he made it perfect, but you can't give any explanation for how it went wrong, other than some vague comments about angels and an idea that maybe god knew we were going to mess it up).

Sadly, this is typical confirmation bias. Rather than looking at the evidence and coming up with a theory that fits, you start with the conclusion that you want, and then try to shoe horn some guesses and pseudo facts to justify your conclusion. Perhaps this is why sometimes Christians feel that atheists patronise them?!

If the result of this is only that you and your family have a personal belief, then no harm done. but when children across the country are taught this stuff as fact by a part church funded schooling system, or when laws are based upon these beliefs, it becomes very problematic and demands strong challenge.

Christians are fed up with what they call 'aggressive atheism', but aggressively cling to their privileges within society. I am willing to bet, that once the state and church is separated, you will find that there is no more anger from atheists, as they will have nothing to be angry about (in the UK). It won't stop us being angry about African babies dying of aids because of the popes banning of condoms though I suppose, but we atheists do tend to over react to trivial things like the needless death of hundreds of thousands of people - silly us!

Techno I have given a lot of time today to answer your questions and because I can't afford much more time to provide all the info you would like you are rather dismissive of me. Thank you for that. It makes me feel less guilty about not getting back to you. I have a cat litter tray to clean out and I was putting it off but I must not do so any longer. The cat needs me, I feel you do not. I will get back to this thread when I have more time maybe. I am sorry my 8 year old intellect is not much help to you, maybe someone else will be of use.

And please do not lump us all together I don't want to see any Africa babies dying or condomes not being used, that has nothing to do with the church and state in this country.

technodad Sun 16-Jun-13 20:19:56

It is easier to make an excuse as to why you don't have time to respond, than it is to think of a good argument.

All the best.

EllieArroway Sun 16-Jun-13 20:24:33

Jesus spends a large amount of the NT rubbishing the Old Testament. It is pretty clear, IMO, that we are not entitled to keep on acting like sheep and pointing to outdated bigotries in the Bible as support for gay-bashing or anything else

Does he? When? Can you provide some verses where he does this. All I'm aware of is him saying that (far from "rubbishing" the OT) he'd come to fulfil it's laws.

It is also easier not to bother engaging with these threads but I do so because of a genuine desire to connect with people. If you can come over and keep out the cat tray I can answer your questions! wink.

Clean out not keep!!

technodad Sun 16-Jun-13 20:40:22

I would make the cat do it!

technodad Sun 16-Jun-13 20:41:28

By the way, how did you know I find it hard to keep out of cat litter trays?

Techno wink I will be back soon for you to pour scorn on my deepest beliefs!

Cat also pooped in dining room it's all a bit crazy here chez Italian!

technodad Sun 16-Jun-13 21:18:30

Well at least there is less to clean in the litter tray!

sunshine401 Sun 16-Jun-13 21:52:18

definition for Christianity
Is there one ??
Being a Christian is being part of a faith/religion. Believing in God, believing that he made the world, sent his "son" Jesus down to earth to die on a cross to enable the population to be forgiven for their sins. Knowing that everybody Sins and knowing it is okay to Sin as it is human nature to do so and knowing that if we seek forgiveness that we can have it.
Therefore Christians pray to seek forgiveness, help , strength from God/Jesus.

Judaism- Follow the Torah Bresheit (Genesis), Shemot (Exodus), Vayicra (Leviticus), Bamidbar (Numbers), and Devarim (Deuteronomy). Or "The old Testament"
They believe in God and believe that the Torah lists the way in which all Jews should live. They have some writings in the scriptures about Jesus but do not see him as the "son of God".

Sorry to kind of rant but there seems to be a lot of wrongly directed remarks on here about the christian faith when actually it is from the Jewish faith confused

Back I hope you do not think I am ignoring you, This is what you said back at Sun 16-Jun-13 12:34:26 ... you quoted me ... Italiangreyhound You said the Bible has been used to condone slavery, yet Christians were at the forefront of the move to abolish it and then said The bible certainly does condone slavery. It may have invented the idea of inferior races who are born slaves, but can you remind me of the basis for the last part? There may be one, but nothing springs to mind.

A quick google produced this, it may answer your question, I am not agreeing with any of it of course at all and have not looked at dept into why slavery was condoned. I have however voluntered in a capacity with an organisation based in a charity to do with slavery and have a long standing hatred of all forms of enslavement. I have don't think any right thinking Christian today would ever want to condone it!

Slavery has not ended it is sadly alive and well and all over the world. The fight goes on. The slavery which Wilberforce faught was part of history and you know the story.

I think it was significant that Wilberforce was a Christian, just my opinion feel free to disagree with me. "William Wilberforce ... he began his political career in 1780, eventually becoming the independent Member of Parliament for Yorkshire (1784–1812). In 1785, he underwent a conversion experience and became an evangelical Christian, which resulted in major changes to his lifestyle and a lifelong concern for reform. In 1787, he came into contact with Thomas Clarkson and a group of anti-slave-trade activists, including Granville Sharp, Hannah More and Charles Middleton. They persuaded Wilberforce to take on the cause of abolition, and he soon became one of the leading English abolitionists. He headed the parliamentary campaign against the British slave trade for twenty-six years until the passage of the Slave Trade Act of 1807."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Wilberforce (I love Wickipedia, just ask Pedro). Where is dear Pedro?

Ellie not sure what they quoted but they could have quoted Galatians 3:28. New International Version (©2011) "There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus."

Sorry Back I missed out the link!!

www.religioustolerance.org/chr_slav1.htm

OK, Techno I have time to answer but just for the record I won't be badgered (or cat-herded!) into answering anything, if you ask I am under no obligatin to give an answer and if I chose not to that's my business.

Here goes....

You said technodad Sun 16-Jun-13 16:20:57

m.guardian.co.uk/science/2003/oct/23/dinosaurs.science

Look - dinosaurs got cancer millions and millions of years before humans even existed!

I belive in dinosaurs, I believe they died out. It's no huge shock to know how or why or what killed them. Personally I like this one better...

Two dinosaurs watching as the ark sails away and one says to the other 'Oh Crap, was that today!".

And

Techno you said ... I still have a massive issue with Italian's answer earlier (sorry for disappearing for a while, I had to sacrifice a goat in the garden to make the rains come). so that was you Techno it could have been a bit earlier so I did not have to water the plants! And more importantly Italian - You stick by your view that god made the world and he made it perfect, but you can't give any explanation for how it went wrong, other than some vague comments about angels and an idea that maybe god knew we were going to mess it up).

It's not new to me that diosaurs died out and it doesn't shake my world. No I can't explain it all, I have no evidene or proof but my faith is that the world was made good and it was because of free will it was not possible for it to be completely lovely all the time. For exmpale if I kept my daughter (aged 8, same age as my mentality apparently wink) were to stay indoors all the time and never venture out, she would be safe but not free. Same for the cat for that matter! He can't go out yet because he has not had his second flu shot. I am worried about him going out, getting into fights with other cats etc, but I want him to have his freedom. Now before you jump up and down and poke holes in my argument, I think the world was created good by God, I can't prove it, but you can't prove it was not.

Thistledew - Sun 16-Jun-13 16:27:37 - you said Which came first? Angels or dinosaurs? Please cite your sources in your answer.

Angels first, of course, A comes before D! No really, well angels. 2 Peter 2:4 (The message) 'God didn’t let the rebel angels off the hook, but jailed them in hell till Judgment Day.' The rebellion of the angels was before God created the earth. The fallen agnel the devil was talked about in the garden of Edan. Now before it gets all Creatonist, I am not a creationist. But I do believe that the way things are talked about in the Bible are really things that have meaning but did not necessarily happen in the way the Bible describes. Hence as I have said many times I am an evangelical but do not take the Bible literally.

I hope that will satisfy you, Thistledew, but secretlty know it will not! So if not let's just say.... Dinosaurs, after angels but before humans (because h comes after d in the alphabet!)

techno dad on Sun 16-Jun-13 16:30:31 you said *My big question for you Italian: My last couple of posts have proven beyond any doubt that your "belief" with respect to why bad things happen in the world, is wrong and clearly baseless. So, will you ignore these facts and continue with what you believed before, or adjust your theories (like any scientist would) with a new theory based upon real facts?
If you choose to keep your previous unfounded belief against the real evidence, how can you justify it (without using the words "trust" or "love" or any other non-specific blurb)?*

I have already said that free will is part of the world/universe when that choice and freedom came in in relation to other things I can't say, I was not there. I have never claimed to be a scientist so am under no obligation to ...adjust your theories (like any scientist would).... Also you seem to assume the things you are saying are new to me that I have never thought or grappled with these issues before? I have. I was not brainwashed by anyone ever. I have been a Christian 30 years and came to faith as an adult. I will never understand it all but then I don't really understand human love, or any kind of love really, it often doesn't make sense! So yes, you are totally right that it boils down to love and trust. But it does involve thought.

yamsareyammy my interpretation of 'radical fundamentalists' would be people who take the Bible literally (and I think out of context - although no one I've ever heard of really takes everything literally) and would be very unloving towards people who do not agree with them. I use the term 'flexible' to try and mean 'accepting' or 'inclusive' as the opposite of 'radical fundamentalists'.

I love the idea JugglingFromHereToThere of holding things in the light.

back very glad you don't want to string us up! You said The power of religion is in the millions of respectable and kind people who support it. Not so IMHO. Who ever goes to follow a religion for that reason? Jesus started with 12! Whatever you believe about the truth of Christianity I really don't think that the masses are the reason people join and become religious or radical. If kindly old aunties sell it why have you not joined? Because they don't!

Thistle if you want to do something positive to stop the evil in Uganda you could sign this petition.... It's very out of date but I kind of feel it can't do any harm to sign.

https://www.allout.org/en/actions/uganda-now

And Ellie if you are worried (as I am) about FGM you can visit this site...

28toomany.org/

I expect you have seen this documentary, it is very distressing. I watched it a while ago, I had to watch bits of it with the sound down. It is so terrible. I don't want to bring a downer on to this lovely thread but you are right, there are real issues behind these themes, and it is not that I only want to protect my corner. If I stopped believing in God would all this change, no, but maybe my ability to fight for what is right would change.

www.channel4.com/programmes/the-day-i-will-never-forget/4od

I don't mean this at all a patronising way, I just mean that I too worry about these things and believe in acting for good if I can.

As I said before I think you would find we have more in common than you think! grin

Bless you all, you know what I mean! wink

EllieArroway Mon 17-Jun-13 00:02:02

Italian

That verse does not condemn slavery, any more than it condemns being a Gentile or female. It acknowledges that slaves exist, but reassures them that, never mind, Jesus loves you".

There are no passages condemning slavery in the Bible that I have ever heard - and I think it's the kind of thing Christians would quote ad nauseum.

Yes - I'm aware of Wilberforce and I am aware that he was a Christian. If you think it's "significant" that he's a Christian, then I think it's equally significant that the slave owners who vehemently opposed this were also Christian.

If Christianity is such a marvellous thing, fighting the cause of the "underdog" - I wonder why it took 1800 odd years to bother doing anything about one of the worst atrocities known to man?

Since our country was almost exclusively made up of Christians, it becomes all but irrelevant when once Christian does a good thing. All the good things were done by Christians as indeed were all the bad things!

Sunshine I don't think anyone on here is struggling with the difference between Christianity & Judaism. I find your comment a bit odd. Jesus was Jewish, a follower of Jewish law, his coming was supposedly prophesied in the OT - which is why the OT forms part of the Bible. I suspect many Christians wish it didn't as it's something of an embarrassment. But that's their problem, not ours.

Malenky

I've been eating my dinner puzzling over why anyone would suggest that for much of it's history, the Bible would not be taken literally. I think I know where you're coming from now - although I still think you're wrong.

When I said that the Bible was taken literally, I meant that people (generally) did believe in Adam & Eve, Original Sin, Abraham, Moses....and so on. Genesis was (again, generally) believed to have been a historical explanation of how God made the world.

But all of this was not seen JUST literally. Depending on their theological stance, certain groups took their interpretations of the Bible & ran away with them, inventing doctrines and so forth.

In the Middle Ages, allegory began to play a massive part in pretty much everything. As I said before, this didn't mean they didn't think that things like the Adam & Eve story weren't historically true, but that it merely represented one layer of meaning.

People have always, always interpreted things their way - which is how you ended up with Purgatory/Indulgences and so on.

The reformation saw a rejection of this kind of thing on the basis that they weren't actually supported by anything in the Bible. I suspect your point is that it hasn't been taken literally on a "this is a historical record, nothing more" basis - and I would totally agree. But it HAS been taken literally in so far as what it says happened, really did.

You only need to look at what happened with Copernicus, Galileo & even Darwin to see that people took Biblical "history" very seriously.

Ellie off to bed now, hope you got the kitchen done, please pop over ad do mine when finished. It's a mess and DH is doing it under his trade name 'snail inc'. wink

I no more think that everyone in Britain all through history as Christian than I think everyone in any country follows or really believes the national religion. They had no choice but to be regarded as 'Christian' and that was wrong. But anyway, maybe we will never agree on much! all the best.

MalenkyRusskyDrakonchik Mon 17-Jun-13 00:34:20

ellie - sorry to be slow responding, and it perhaps doesn't matter much.

Allegory is the tip of the iceberg. Honestly, the idea of believing the Bible literally is very modern. It's not a matter of you 'agreeing' with me - if you read the Bible, you will see it contradicts itself. And then if you read almost any theology, you will see it acknowledges that and concludes that a literal interpretation is only going to be of limited use. This is absolutely standard from the early Church through the medieval period onwards. It is really pretty much impossible to claim interpreting the Bible literally was ever a widespread idea, and people these days who claim to do it are more or less lying.

As to access to the Bible - yes, this is true, but Churchmen didn't typically use the Bible as the sole source of doctrine. That's the point. You are using a very modern assumption here, that the Bible would be the natural primary source of all knowledge. It really wasn't.

I'm never sure about a literal hell (not that hell is a hugely big issue in the Bible really). I think some people probably figured out that different accounts were all ways of imagining things. I mean, Dante patently knew he was not being factual! It is very, very difficult to assess what the average person believed, because belief is internal and takes conventional forms of expression when we explain it.

MalenkyRusskyDrakonchik Mon 17-Jun-13 00:43:41

thistle - you said 'Malenky- your view that the correct interpretation of the bible is that homosexuality is perfectly fine, is no more or less valid than someone else's interpretation that the bible says it is an abhorrence.'

Yes - this is exactly the point I was making. smile That's why I did not follow why you felt my point of view (or anyone else's) that absolute truth exists, should lend 'credence' to an opposing point of view. How could it?

MalenkyRusskyDrakonchik Mon 17-Jun-13 00:48:26

ellie - sorry, I know I'm triple posting, I'm just too thick to manage otherwise.

'Does he? When? Can you provide some verses where he does this. All I'm aware of is him saying that (far from "rubbishing" the OT) he'd come to fulfil it's laws.'

I'm not going to google the verse, but 'this is the new covenant' would be the bit I mean, plus the bits with the pharasees, plus the bits where the New Testament contradicts the old (sending people out from their families to preach and convert instead of focusing on the tribe, not treating dead bodies/menstruating women as pollution, etc.). There are lots of bits.

If you read the Bible, you find that it often contradicts other bits of the Bible, and this is why literal interpretations were a non-starter.

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Mon 17-Jun-13 07:51:57

Been away for a while, but just came to this this thread under recommendation!

Immediately I have to pick Italian up in this one: I do believe that the way things are talked about in the Bible are really things that have meaning but did not necessarily happen in the way the Bible describes.

So what's the point in the bible if it isn't accurate? Why should so many people put their faith in its text if it doesn't truly describe what happened and how can one possibly know which bits to take seriously?

Like everything else in life Pedro I believe you have to use some judgement or discernment.

Am liking where you're coming from Malenky, I think we have some thoughts in common, regarding a liberal interpretation of the Bible - including that being the normal way to interpret it throughout most of the church's history, and due to inconsistency, as well as story and allegory, the only sensible approach.

Also like Italian's point as quoted by Pedro above ...
"I do believe that the way things are talked about in the Bible are really things that have meaning but did not necessarily happen in the way the Bible describes"

yamsareyammy Mon 17-Jun-13 09:42:51

I do believe that the bible is accurate.
I try to follow it
I believe it.
I try not to water it down
I do believe in hell
I do believe in the 7 days of creation

MalenkyRusskyDrakonchik Mon 17-Jun-13 09:46:21

pedro - the point is, it's meaninful. Why did you think it's meant to be 'accurate'? It was written by a shedload of different people over a very long period of time, then compiled in a haphazard way centuries later. The idea of going to it for accurate, literal, paint-by-numbers facts is naive, surely?

I don't have an issue with things that are meaningful but neither precise nor easy to interpret, though.

juggling - thank you. I'm not being terribly coherent but I think it's a really interesting debate.

I do find it fascinating what different things people make of prayer.

MalenkyRusskyDrakonchik Mon 17-Jun-13 09:46:44

(Sometimes, it's even meaningful grin)

EllieArroway Mon 17-Jun-13 11:54:02

Malensky

You can't compare the modern literalists/creationists with anyone in the past. Modern creationists are fighting against something (evolution/bb theory) before modern science, no one was doing this. And when science began to conflict with what the Bible said, people started getting locked up for heresy.

Yes, the Bible is contradictory - but people found explanations for that, as they do today. To suggest that there was a wholesale rejection of taking it literally is historically and theologically wrong.

There is a reason, you know, why Darwin left his book locked in a drawer for 20 something years!

So I really can't agree with you at all, I'm afraid.

You also said that Jesus spent "a lot of time" rubbishing the OT. This is not true - and the whole "new covenant" is a myth that Christians tell themselves to explain why they eat prawns and wear clothes of mixed fibre.

Jesus was a Jewish preacher - he said, quite clearly, that the OT laws must stay in place while the heavens and earth are still here.

EllieArroway Mon 17-Jun-13 11:57:21

Am liking where you're coming from Malenky, I think we have some thoughts in common, regarding a liberal interpretation of the Bible - including that being the normal way to interpret it throughout most of the church's history, and due to inconsistency, as well as story and allegory, the only sensible approach

And what you're both failing to understand is that the Bible was interpreted on many layers - the first being literally.

To try and suggest this means it wasn't taken literally at all is a bit ignorant.

MalenkyRusskyDrakonchik Mon 17-Jun-13 12:09:40

ellie - I didn't compare them. confused

Of course the Bible is interpreted in many layers - and I don't know why you imagine I don't understand that. Literal intepretation isn't 'first' in the sense you seem to mean - it doesn't mean that everything in the Bible has a literal interpretation as well as the other three, it means that literal interpretation is the first mode you try.

You need to look at theological history in quite a lot of depth. But even once you start looking quite superficially, you will find people explaining that the 'literal' meaning is not what the Bible is primarily about, and you will find people bringing in far more systems of teaching than the Bible. The idea that 'sola Scriptura' matters is, relatively, recent.

You're not actually refuting my explanations here by saying they are 'not true' - I have already cited which bits of the NT I meant, and they are still right there where they always were. You can't pretend Jesus somehow didn't say them just because you would like to believe that everyone reads the Bible as you do - it doesn't work that way.

yamsareyammy Mon 17-Jun-13 12:10:19

As regards food, Jesus came and changed the rules on that. Now all foods are deemed "clean".

MalenkyRusskyDrakonchik Mon 17-Jun-13 12:14:35

If you would like to understand why the 'new covenant' bit relates to changing dietary laws, you will need to look beyond the Bible itself - as most Christians did for centuries until this modern idea that the Bible is to be the only source of information about how to live.

If you look at basic texts, you will find people had a whole system (Holy Tradition in the Orthodox and early Church, which evolved into the Catholic systems of canon law and decrees). These things supplemented and contradicted the Bible, and that was understood to be the normal way to use the Bible. It was only much later that people thought it might be possible to do away with such complementary teachings, and even then, when you look at how they used the Bible, they were not really reading it literally, but bringing in moral systems of their own.

That is what I would do as a Christian today, and it's perfectly valid theologically. I see no point in pretending that it's ok to hate homosexuals 'because the Bible says so', when such a method of interpreting the Bible has little historical or theological precedent.

MalenkyRusskyDrakonchik Mon 17-Jun-13 12:39:33

I am trying to think what might be useful to read - but Augustine on the Song of Songs is pretty easy to get hold of, and you will see from that how foreign the notion of taking the Bible literally was.

I don't know where you got this idea that people mostly did take the Bible literally - most people, for most of Christian history, haven't even read the Bible! In medieval times, people were taught that the Psalter was the Bible in microcosm, so all a layperson needed to know was that. If you look at the Psalter, you can see that it cannot possibly be the Bible in microcosm unless your idea of what the Bible is for is radically different from literal interpretation.

yamsareyammy Mon 17-Jun-13 12:42:13

Malenky.
The bible is inspired by God.
All other books written, are not necessarily so.

yamsareyammy Mon 17-Jun-13 12:44:02

What denomination are you?

MalenkyRusskyDrakonchik Mon 17-Jun-13 12:51:39

Yes, I'd agree with that, the Bible is inspired by God. But some denominations also believe Holy Tradition is equally inspired by God. That's why it's interesting that the Bible has become the be-all and end-all.

(I'm Church of England, and relatively high church, FWIW. And I am talking to ellie about historical beliefs, so not necessarily my own, simply what the history was. I'm not saying it's positive that people didn't generally have access to the Bible, but it is simply a fact that they didn't, and could not possibly have been basing their religion on a literal interpretation of the whole thing, when they believed that the Psalter provided it in microcosm. It's important to acknowledge, IMO, because it helps us work out why we differ from Christians in the past - helps us stand up and say 'not in my name' to atrocities committed in the name of Christianity. We have a responsibility to do that IMO.)

pedro, my dear, I did not invite you for you to disagree with me! wink

Actually not makes a lot of sense for it have meaning but for it not to be taken literally. Like a play or any story that illudes to anything. For example someone might say to their wife/husband.significant other your eyes are as blue as the sea, your hair like golden corn fields, we know what it means and yet it is not to be taken literal.

yamsareyammy Mon 17-Jun-13 12:54:53

And do you believe that Jesus was raised from the dead?
Feel the need to check, just in case.

I believe Jesus was raised from the dead (I know you weren't asking me but wanted to say that!

I don't believe in a 7 day creation but I do believe God created. Hell is a terribly tricky subject. I do believe in hell. Exactly what it means other than separation from God, I don't know. But in order to give us the free will not to be with him God must give us another option. I think we call that hell, having lived 30 years with God and finding it so great I would not want to not be going to heaven but it is through no great deeds or wonderfulness on my part. It is purely through Jesus that I know I can get to heaven because of his death on the cross. (My 8 eight year old know it too Techno!)

Just wanted to explain where I am coming from as an evangelical!

Pedro it is great to see you back.

EllieArroway Mon 17-Jun-13 14:35:53

Malensky

You said Jesus spent a lot of time rubbishing the OT. There was ONE verse, something about it's what comes out of your mouth, not what goes in, that matters. One verse does not " a lot of time" make. He also clearly condoned the OT laws & expressly said he'd come to fulfil them. That is, as far as I can see, is the extent of it. Hardly "a large chunk of time", as you said.

Literal intepretation isn't 'first' in the sense you seem to mean - it doesn't mean that everything in the Bible has a literal interpretation as well as the other three, it means that literal interpretation is the first mode you try

No.

Not everything in the OT can be interpreted literally, for a start - a massive amount of it is poetry, song, metaphor and so on.

In those places where it purports or seems to be giving an account of events - Adam & Eve, original sin, the Exodus, Noah, tribes of Israel and so on....these are the things that are taken to be literal truths, by and large. But not only literal truths, they contain higher meanings too. It's "literal" explanation is first in as much as it is the most basic. An historical account has to come first, otherwise could be no "higher" meaning, could there?

The earliest church fathers debated the origin account, for example - most were united in so far as Adam and Eve were the first humans. The time scale involved, whether there was a talking snake, what and so on were matters of theological debate. If they were intelligent enough to realise that snakes can't talk, then that part of the story must be there for some other reason. God not only wanted people to know how he created the world, but to understand why - and how it was the sin came to exist.

Dismissing all of these as mere allegory makes a total nonsense of Jesus's teachings about being saved through him. Saved from what if there was no such thing as original sin, no "fall" as represented by someone eating fruit?

Magic & Mystery in Medieval England is an area I do know something about - and the root of it all lies with the Bible, or at least what people were being told about the Bible. If you went back in time to 1300 and asked the man in the street how god created the world, you'd get a version of Genesis.

Trying to pretend that "Oh, well - no one ever took it literally anyway" is an excuse to try and explain away Christianity's obsession with what amounts to a very silly series of books written by primitive people in the Bronze Age.

The literal interpretation may well have been the least of it, but to pretend it wasn't there at all (which is what you did say) is nonsensical and simply untrue. You only have to read the works of someone as influential as Aquinas to see that even he was a literalist, although in quite a broad way.

Anyway - here endeth my contribution as I'm off on my holidays tonight.

Happy debating.

EllieArroway Mon 17-Jun-13 14:37:42

Bloody hell - sorry for all the grammatical errors. Hurrying.

zulubump Mon 17-Jun-13 14:45:18

Hi again and well done to Italian and yams and others that have the stamina to stick with this discussion. I decided to avoid yesterday and instead enjoy the sunshine with my family!

I've been thinking, though, that each person's reasons for having faith and committing to it are often very personal and hence hard to explain. The situations I have prayed about involve my dc and dh and the results of my praying have often surprised me and I have come away feeling very different about things. Always more able to love, forgive, be patient etc. So it has benefitted those around me, not just me. Which is good.

And my experience of church is good. The services and the housegroup I go to are constant reminders of the behaviour God wants from us - again love, forgiveness, compassion, reconciling differences. I see people supporting each other through bad times, shedding tears together, running food banks, soup runs for the homeless, encouraging each other and building one another up. I am lucky enough to already have good friends and family, but this was something different.

I spent several years experiencing this great side of things, but struggling to reconcile with all the things discussed on here such as the Bible being used to condone all sorts of terrible things. I spent a lot of time reading up on the scary things like Hell, the horrible bits of the OT and NT. Agonising over whether I could trust in God when there is so much we can point to in Christianity and say this is wrong.

If I had walked away I would have lost out on all the great things it brings to my life, but it wouldn't take away the bad things done by Christians (similar to what I think Italian was saying earlier on in the thread I think). I have to trust the evidence I see in my own life, and the lives of other people I know, that God is good. To deny myself God because of what others have done in his name is of no benefit that I can see. And I believe Jesus was raised from the dead!

EllieArroway Mon 17-Jun-13 14:51:38

I don't know where you got this idea that people mostly did take the Bible literally - most people, for most of Christian history, haven't even read the Bible!

Sorry - just seen this.

Absolutely! A point I made initially.

We are talking about those select few who did & who passed on their teachings. So we're interested in what those people who were reading, debating & writing on the subject thought because that's how you get to the crux of what was being taken as literal.

Song of songs, I'm pretty certain, is clearly a parable and I don't think anyone has ever seen it as anything else. Most writing WAS allegory, bear in mind - I would argue (not now!) that Matthew in the NT was purely allegorical and never, ever intended to be seen as a biography of a real, existing person.

I think you've assumed I've meant that each and every word of the OT was taken literally. No. The OT is a collection of different types of writing - history, songs, parables and so forth, so wouldn't/couldn't have been taken literally, and was never intended to be.

The issue is the history bit.

Has Christianity historically regarded Moses coming down the mountain with tablets as an actual event?

Yep. And I think you'd struggle to make the case that it was ever generally regarded as anything else.

MalenkyRusskyDrakonchik Mon 17-Jun-13 15:27:40

ellie, I referred to rather more than one verse! You seem to be saying 'Christians always interpret the Bible literally! How dare you interpret the Bible non-literally!' I'm sorry, but why on earth does it matter to you? confused

Not everything in the OT can be interpreted literally, for a start - a massive amount of it is poetry, song, metaphor and so on.

Yes ... that is what I said several posts ago ...

Magic & Mystery in Medieval England is an area I do know something about - and the root of it all lies with the Bible, or at least what people were being told about the Bible. If you went back in time to 1300 and asked the man in the street how god created the world, you'd get a version of Genesis.

No, I'm sorry. I'm sure you believe you know the truth here, but I am afraid you are wrong. In 1300, you're looking (roughly) at things like Cursor Mundi, maybe some wall paintings, that sort of thing. The very best it would be, would be a very loose, non-literal paraphrase.

Indeed, if you read any small number of medieval penitential handbooks, you will very soon discover that many clerics (let alone laypeople) did not know or understand enough to know the Genesis story very well. In fact this was a great concern of the thirteenth and early fourteenth century Church, hence the large number of books produced to try to explain these things.

It is true that people still disagree over how much of the Bible's content is historical (and by 'people' I don't mean religious believers, I mean simply people who use it as another possible historical source). I most certainly believe that at times people wouldn't have known any better than that God made the world in seven days, or Noah's flood literally happened (lots of good flood stories in all sorts of religious literature across the world). However, this is not the same thing as saying the entire Bible can be interpreted literally. It can't, and few people have ever thought it was a good idea.

Dismissing all of these as mere allegory makes a total nonsense of Jesus's teachings about being saved through him. Saved from what if there was no such thing as original sin, no "fall" as represented by someone eating fruit?

Do you know what allegory means? confused You get that the fruit might represent something other than a golden delicious, right? And that original sin might not be a black cloud hanging over you?

The number of ways people have understood these stories, and this imagery, is immense. Truly it is.

Incidentally, it is quite common in medieval literature to interpret things like Moses' tablets according to their numerological significance. This is a nice medieval way of suggesting that there is a pattern behind the whole world. There are lots of patterns of repeating tens and fives, sevens and threes. This is where you start to see how much more people were interested in than just the Bible, and always have been. People were quite good at holding two different ideas - or two or three different levels of meaning - in their heads. So they were quite able to see all sorts of suggestive parallels that we struggle with, because we expect 'historical truth' to be something quite different.

If you study how medieval history is written, you will find out that medieval ideas about 'truth' and historical fact differ from our own in quite interesting ways, so I'm afraid you can't assume they saw it the same way just because the word 'history' crops up in medieval texts.

MalenkyRusskyDrakonchik Mon 17-Jun-13 15:30:55

I will also say, while I am talking about it, that magic and mystery actually gets us back to 'prayer' (thank goodness), because I find it fascinating how different a prayer in a language you can understand, and a prayer in a language you can't, affect you.

My DH prays in a language he has mostly learned by rote (as of course do a lot of Muslims). I get the impression it is very much a meditative exercise. I find it really interesting that when people pray by extemporising, to me it is far less easy to concentrate.

Do most people on this thread (the religious ones I mean) pray set prayers, or do you know what you want to say and find your own words? I'm just curious about the differences between the two.

yamsareyammy Mon 17-Jun-13 15:35:05

Malenky, do you believe that Jesus was raised fron the dead?

yamsareyammy Mon 17-Jun-13 15:35:42

brill post zulu.
Have a nice time on holiday Ellie.

MalenkyRusskyDrakonchik Mon 17-Jun-13 15:41:43

yams - yes, I do.

I will say, though, a quotation from the West Wing has been running through my head today. It's when someone asks Toby if he believes the Bible is literally true. He says, 'Yes, sir, but I don't think either of us is smart enough to understand it'.

I know that's a joke but I think there is a lot of truth in it. I know historians disagree over the historical truth of Jesus' life, and some would say perhaps the story is a sort of composite of what various Jewish zealots did. But I think it has a deeper truth, which is about the way we need to get in touch with some kind of humanity that is loving and selfless and brings out the best in us. You know, the idea that Christ became human because we couldn't properly understand these things in the abstract, as divinity.

zulubump Mon 17-Jun-13 15:45:15

Thanks yams. To answer Malenky, I usually find my own words. If I'm really stuck I might say the Lord's prayer, but that is the only set prayer I know! I usually just muddle through my own thoughts, trying to find the words as I go along. Interested to know what others do too. Do you have set times of day to pray and do you pray alone or with others?

Italiangreyhound thanks for the link - didn't have time to get back before. I agree of course that many individual christians are anti slavery - including yourself. I just think that the idea that the church went all out to end it is unsupported and of course Christianity was used to excuse it too.

Oh and I'm glad you kept your sense of humor after yesterday's CATastrophe.

You quoted me saying that "The power of religion is in the millions of respectable and kind people who support it" and you said "Not so IMHO. Who ever goes to follow a religion for that reason? Jesus started with 12! Whatever you believe about the truth of Christianity I really don't think that the masses are the reason people join and become religious or radical. If kindly old aunties sell it why have you not joined?"

But I did join! My family were not very religious, but I was told by the people around me about Jesus being born in a manger, that God made the world in 7 days, about Noah's Ark and so on. I was told that being Christian made you a good person and the kindly aunts, uncles and such made this seem self evidently true. I had no reason to question it at the time as children assume adults are honest. I accepted all those as being literally true btw for the benefit of those saying no one ever did.

I think the main reason my sister and I were sent to Sunday School was to get us out of the house, but my parents wouldn't have done that if the church had consisted of fundamentalists. Nor would most schools do nativity plays and invite priests to talk if they were all like Abu Qutada, It was an elderly woman (neighbour) who suggested we go to Sunday School. You couldn't have picked a better advert for the church.

If I hadn't read the bible I'd be a christian now and by my example recruiting others - to be misled and used by those not so kindly christians.

yamsareyammy Mon 17-Jun-13 15:52:09

zulu. I tend to pray three set times a time, because that is what Daniel did!
And anytime in between ad hoc.
Rarely pray with others.

On the subject of taking the bible literally if you assume it's not written by god what information do you have about what god wants/expects and what he is like?

The only other source of information you have would be the feelings you get in your head and you know those are unreliable because other people get feelings too. Their feelings often tell them that your ideas about god are nonsense and that only their way is right. They sincerely believe god is putting those ideas in their head just as you do.

Without a starting place how do you know that god doesn't want you all to collect stamps to earn a place in heaven and why would you even think that heaven exists or that god wants anything from you? If the bible isn't your instruction manual then you just don't have one and everything you say is purely a guess - like picking random scrabble pieces and making a message out of them.

MalenkyRusskyDrakonchik Mon 17-Jun-13 15:59:53

zulu - thanks for replying. smile Sorry, it occurred to me after I maybe should have started my own thread, but I'm a bit of a newbie in this section.

Personally, I often use the lord's prayer - I find it comes into my mouth when I'm really scared! grin - but I also use others, mostly simple ones ('Lord Jesus Christ, son of the living God, have mercy on me, a sinner'). Rather pretentiously, I know the miserere in Latin, and I have occasionally tried to say that as an experiment. I do think it makes a difference to focus on a language you don't wholly understand. And increasingly, the language of the Book of Common Prayer is beginning to be sufficiently distant from our own that it has that formality.

I pray alone except during services, but when my MIL is here we pray together - no-one prays as much as an Orthodox mother! - and sometimes my husband and I will say 'god bless you' to each other. But that's as much as it gets.

back - no, there's Holy Tradition (or whatever the denomination in question calls it). You're perhaps thinking of literate societies, yes? But a lot of people in Christian history have valued tradition (even when it was written down and codified, eg. in papal decrees), because they were not so reliant on books as we are in the modern day.

Re. 'scrabble pieces' - I don't know much about this, but I believe there is a Jewish practice where you combine texts from the Torah almost in that way.

Do you think it's necessarily a problem that feelings are unreliable?

Back you said ...*Italiangreyhound thanks for the link - didn't have time to get back before. I agree of course that many individual christians are anti slavery - including yourself. I just think that the idea that the church went all out to end it is unsupported and of course Christianity was used to excuse it too.*

I never said the church went all out to end it. Slavery is a very shameful part of the church's checkered past. Individual people, who are all themselves a part of the church (of course) did play a part, along with (I am sure) non-Christians or those of other faiths.

Back I am sorry your experience of church was negative. You said If I hadn't read the bible I'd be a christian now and by my example recruiting others - to be misled and used by those not so kindly christians. so you are talking about people 'used' by the church in some way, what do you mean? Did you simply decide it was not true? Can really say you were a member by choice if you made the choice to leave a.s.a.p? Anyway, I am sorry you feel so negative about church.

Back you said... The only other source of information you have would be the feelings you get in your head and you know those are unreliable because other people get feelings too. Their feelings often tell them that your ideas about god are nonsense and that only their way is right. They sincerely believe god is putting those ideas in their head just as you do. Isn't important to distinguish between feelings? I mean I might feel that I am being told to do something evil, or I might feel I love someone, they are both feelings. The Bible says you will be known by your fruits, and I think that is true.

I do not believe the Bible is an instruction manual, although I have often heard it reffered to as such. I think it is the story of people trying to reach God and of God reaching out to people. Without it I am sure God could communicate with people, but fortunately he does not need to as we have it!

However, we do also interprit to some degree in the light of church history and of course it was the early church who decided which books would go in it, so of course we must think the church as a body of Christians has some value (I mean those of us who are Christians must think that).

Sorry Back Isn'tIt important to distinguish between feelings?

My experience of church wasn't negative in itself. I was a child so I liked the hymns etc. It was just that I liked reading too. So when I was given a bible I read all of it and not just the selected passages most people find sufficient.

I didn't just read it and say "I don't like it". I read the whole thing, thought about it, got a notebook and read it through again making notes and highlighting passages. Then I read it through again with different color highlighters. Then I started reading selected passages and comparing. (ok so I probably wasn't a lot of fun as a child smile, but I could work at something that interested me)

It was like walking behind the scenes on a movie set. Clearly invented, not even close to being internally consistent and where was the loving god I'd been told about? The 'god' depicted in the bible I had in my hand was some kind of a psychopath. Or at least he would be if he existed, but there was no reason in this hodgepodge of stories to imagine that he did.

It took a lot longer than that sounds, but I learned that A) god didn't exist (or rather there was no evidence that he did) and B) it is socially acceptable to lie to children to recruit them into your church.

My opposition to religion (all of them) is a combination of factors.

The abuse (physical, sexual and psychological) inflicted on children and vulnerable adults. The violence that religion often causes and the constant battle to retain my freedom when religious groups try to impose their rules on my life.

The physical and/or sexual abuse is enabled by the blind trust and exemption from scrutiny in people 'appointed by god', even where it is not itself a part of the religion. And like it or not genital mutilation for girls and boys is a part of religion. Not to mention torture to drive out devils.

The root problem though is 'faith'. The idea that what comes into your head is put there by god and should not be questioned. That logic and rational examination should take a back seat to obeying either what you imagine god wants, or what someone else tells you god wants.

Many religious people do examine those 'feelings' and reject them - especially in this country. They won't kill or abuse people for their god because they know better. However they will still encourage others in this blind faith and even teach it in schools. They will teach the 'inspiring' story of Abraham's willingness to murder his son to show his faith in god and see nothing wrong in that.

Faith is dangerous and makes no sense. The faith of Muslims and Jews tells them that your Jesus was not god. That alone should blow faith out of the water.

EllieArroway Tue 18-Jun-13 14:22:27

No, I'm sorry. I'm sure you believe you know the truth here, but I am afraid you are wrong. In 1300, you're looking (roughly) at things like Cursor Mundi, maybe some wall paintings, that sort of thing. The very best it would be, would be a very loose, non-literal paraphrase

What a load of absolute nonsense.

Have you read the Cursor Mundi? I suggest you do - then come back and tell me that you don't think people were taking events in the Bible literally.

Hint: The Cursor Mundi is probably the worst example you could pick to support your claim hmm

And no - it wasn't just down to poems and wall art! Blimey. Mystery plays, for a start? Ever heard of them? They were a pretty big deal for the ordinary man.

Also, do a bit of research on how magic was Christianized, the role of religious relics, the idea of angels, demons, miracles, spirits, witches. Find out about the way dreadful diseases like plague were justified or understood (hint: it has something to do with Noah).

Regarding allegory - yes, I know what it means. I suspect that YOU don't know it's purpose. I suspect that YOU don't know how Medieval people did not regard themselves as occupying a different time (which is why everyone was in Medieval dress in art, no matter how ancient the subject) and so used allegory to bring everything into a nice, neat continuous narrative. But just because they did this DOES NOT MEAN they weren't also taking parts of it very literally indeed. They just weren't ONLY taking it literally.

Incidentally, it is quite common in medieval literature to interpret things like Moses' tablets according to their numerological significance

YES. But why can't you understand that this does not mean that they didn't think that Moses really existed and really did bring the tablets down the mountain? They merely sought to show that this event could be shown as significant to them too in a variety of ways. They didn't regard "history" in the same light as us, they didn't understand it the way we do, they didn't have our tools or methodology so they used what they did have.

I might add that Jesus himself referenced Adam, Noah and Moses. I suppose he didn't take any of that literally, either?

You seem to be saying 'Christians always interpret the Bible literally! How dare you interpret the Bible non-literally!' I'm sorry, but why on earth does it matter to you?

Why it "matters to me" is my business, thanks.

And I should think any idiot would realise what I was talking about. You seem to be saying (actually ARE saying) that no one ever took ANY of the Bible literally, until the reformation! A ludicrous thing to say - and an indication that perhaps you're not sure what the reformation was actually all about and what it was seeking to get rid of.

Throughout history, Christians have believed nonsense (and not much has changed) - deal with it.

Oh - and I will reiterate your amazing statement that Jesus spent a huge chunk of time in the NT "rubbishing" the OT. Presumably you haven't read the NT? There is ONE verse where he appears, in a very gentle way, to contradict one of it's laws - in another he actively condones it. The rest of the time, he's quoting from it.

Quite how this translates into "a large chunk of time is spent rubbishing it" is beyond me.

I should not be here, really - but will read any response you might have when I have time. But I might STRONGLY suggest that you do some actual bloody research before you start telling people that they don't know what they are talking about.

The Cursor Mundi shock

MalenkyRusskyDrakonchik Tue 18-Jun-13 14:30:19

ellie, I've read the Cursor Mundi. hmm

Your knowledge of medieval England isn't very good. You are getting confused about what allegory is (which is quite clear from your posts). You seem to feel you don't need to produce any evidence for your statements, so it's not terribly convincing, is it?

I suggest you go and follow up my suggestions. Read up properly on this subject.

You obviously don't know what you are talking about.

MalenkyRusskyDrakonchik Tue 18-Jun-13 14:32:06

Btw, I never said 'no-one ever took any of the Bible literally until the reformation'. hmm

Re-read my posts calmly, instead of wittering on about how you've misunderstood medieval literature, and you will see that.

I'm sorry, I know I am getting rude now, but your tone throughout this thread has been to keep repeating 'you're wrong ... you're wrong ... you're wrong' to everyone, without the slightest proof, and advancing very contradictory and confused ideas about what is in the Bible and how it has been read.

MalenkyRusskyDrakonchik Tue 18-Jun-13 14:36:31

It really annoys me, actually, that you can't even be bothered to read my posts before you start making up things I never said. I suggested several types of text, visual and verbal, that people would have known. And you jump in to say 'no, it wasn't just those'. Well, no shit. Yes, of course there were many other things too, but I have given several examples, not suggested they were all there was.

I seriously think that you may be incapable of understanding this debate simply because you are not able to follow a complex sentence.

I will try to put if very simply:

Ellie says 'Christians take the Bible literally! That's what they always did'. Then Ellie says 'Christians believe nonsense! They don't read the Bible literally! How dare they?'

Everyone else with a brain says: 'hmm, maybe, just maybe, this is what we call a non-literal reading'.

Good lord.

Thistledew Tue 18-Jun-13 14:59:44

I agree with Ellie, but don't claim her level of understanding of Medieval thought.

The whole movement of Natural Theology is premised on the bible being the truth about god, from which humans must try to understand his nature. St Augustine, who is one of the most influential Natural Theologians is famously quoted for saying that if men cannot understand the truth of god from the bible, it is the fault of reasoning of man, and is not due to any ambiguity or multiplicity of interpretation in the bible.

This contrasts distinctly with theological philosophies based on revelation, which say that a relationship with god helps man understand the bible.

MalenkyRusskyDrakonchik Tue 18-Jun-13 15:05:08

But medieval ideas of 'truth' are not modern ones. The idea that 'truth' is to be identified with 'fact' or 'literal sense' is not medieval at all.

I have taught undergraduates who struggle with this, even very good ones. I knew people during my master's who did. I am not blaming ellie for that. What I struggle with is that she is insistent that merely stating 'you're wrong' and bringing out inaccurate and confused arguments is enough. It isn't, and it's unnecessary.

I have already made the point you make, that the truth of the Bible may well not be something men are capable of understanding (though I prefer my West Wing quotation to Augustine). But it is also in the Bible itself: 'we see through a glass darkly'. This quotation could mean - literally - that we're looking at a cloudy mirror. That's one sense. But there is a huge weight of tradition that interprets it as a way of thinking about truth. That weight of tradition is really important.

If you insist on looking at Biblical interpretation anachronistically, and assuming medieval people (or people at any time other than our own) thought the same way we did, you will end up struggling.

MalenkyRusskyDrakonchik Tue 18-Jun-13 15:12:19

I think this is really problematic, btw, because if you take this anachronistic attitude - ie., you pick up an idea from a theologian, but you don't properly translate all the terms he's using so you assume he means the same thing by 'truth' that you do - you will get confused.

Ellie is talking a lot about how some Christian interpretations of the Bible are 'nonsense', and she has failed to realize that when I referred to several passages of the NT (not just one!), she needs to go and look at these instead of believing incorrectly that they are 'myths'. I do not really see how an interpretation of the Bible that's regularly advanced by Christians can be a 'myth'. That's not what 'myth' means.

I think she is trying, in her way, to suggest that she doesn't like these interpretations of the Bible, so confusedly feels it must be possible to say they are categorically wrong. And I am explaining to her that this isn't really how it works, and it makes her own argument about literally interpretation internally inconsistent.

Thistledew Tue 18-Jun-13 15:17:04

That may be so, and I don't know enough about the era to challenge what you say, but the overriding philosophy from Natural Theology is 'the bible is not open to differences of interpretation'. That if differences arose, it was due to a deficiency of understanding, not due to the individual's relationship with god. It is the lack of room for quibbling, or for personal understanding that equates to our modern notion of 'truth'.

MalenkyRusskyDrakonchik Tue 18-Jun-13 15:22:10

Well, it's a hugely long era, so it is complex and that's fair enough.

But yes, I've said this upthread.

But you could also see it in the Divine Comedy - it's rather like a blinding light, that erases all personal differences. But we're not equipped to see that light, it blinds us.

It's ultimately related to the idea of Platonic ideals - there is an ideal form, but the forms we come across in life are shadowy reflections of that ideal.

I think it's a mistake to imagine this relates to literal understanding. The modern idea that the Bible is literally true is a different kind of thing. For medieval interpreters, it wasn't possible for any human to grasp the literal truth of the Bible in any consistent way, but all sorts of supplementary teachings could modify how people understood the Bible. Therefore the Bible wasn't the be-all and end-all of religious texts, which it is for modern Biblical literalists.

It's really important to understand these traditions, because they explain why people always used their own moral and ideological standards to interpret what readings of the Bible they took on board and which they dismissed.

MalenkyRusskyDrakonchik Tue 18-Jun-13 15:24:51

Btw, I think purgatory might be the helpful example here. It's not a Biblical doctrine (unless you want to play with some very oblique ideas), but to medieval people, that didn't matter. It was a doctrine the Church had worked out for itself. To us, yes, it seems horribly controlling and restrictive - and upsetting. But to them, it was a way of making sense of death in a world where death was deeply unpredictable.

Thistledew Tue 18-Jun-13 16:13:19

"For medieval interpreters, it wasn't possible for any human to grasp the literal truth of the Bible in any consistent way, but all sorts of supplementary teachings could modify how people understood the Bible. Therefore the Bible wasn't the be-all and end-all of religious texts, which it is for modern Biblical literalists."

Malenky - I have to disagree with you on this. The whole point of Natural Theology was to determine the nature and truth of god without reference to any sacred texts other than the bible. This idea was wholly distinct from the idea of "revealed theology", which did rely on interpretation, and ideas from other religious and philosophical teachings.

Natural theologians made a distinction between those 'truths' from the bible that they were able to comprehend through their god-given reason, and those 'truths' which were beyond human cognition. Both were accepted as being 'true' and were equally accepted even if they were not understood.

Where I think this discussion came from is the idea that you cannot be a 'proper Christian' if you hold (what we see to be) distasteful views such as homosexuality being abhorrent and a sin. It was suggested that anyone holding these sorts of views clearly did not have a good and personal relationship with god, else they would not hold them.

The contrary argument, which I have been supporting, is that this idea of having a personal relationship with god which allows you to interpret the bible in any way that suits you (or which you think is right) is a Christian philosophy in it's own right and is one that that is not espoused by the whole of Christian teaching. Again, it is a view of Christianity that is no more wrong or right than those who believe in a literal interpretation of the bible.

There is no higher truth. It is all a matter of, and a justification of one's own beliefs.

MalenkyRusskyDrakonchik Tue 18-Jun-13 16:25:51

But plenty of medieval theologians aren't interested in Natural Theology, are they? I am saying that Augustine et al are not all about the literal sense. And much medieval theology (or indeed early Church theology) is not all about the Bible.

There is far more to the ways in which people have interpreted the Christianity in the past, that this narrow idea of the Bible as the only reference book, whose meaning is literal.

For me, what this discussion of Biblical literalism highlights is that some people get very upset when they see others purporting to be Christian, and interpreting the Bible in a way they think isn't literal. They have a very fixed idea of what is 'nonsense' or a 'myth', and won't accept that perhaps these are merely ways in which some of us Christians are happy to understand our faith.

For me, it's historically and theologically valid to interpret the Bible in a non-literal way, and to bring in other useful ideas from extra-Biblical sources. I fully respect that not everyone wants to do this, but I find it very hard to respect people who insist on labelling non-literal interpretations of the Bible as 'myths'.

I also respect your right to believe there's no higher truth. But I would say - why should it matter that others do believe this? If they are merely justifying their own beliefs, surely, from a purely altruistic point of view, it is better that they do this by reading the Bible in the light of modern morality?

We came into this debate with discussion of slavery and homosexuality being respectively condoned and condemned in the Bible, and there seems to be a feeling that Christians who declare they don't read the Bible in that way are somehow 'cheating'. confused

If you believe it's all nonsense anyway, why wouldn't you prefer people to 'cheat' and believe something that is socially and morally acceptable?

It is, I am pretty certain, exactly what theologians have done for centuries if not millenia. I really don't think it is possible to make out that medieval people went entirely against their moral instincts every time they were faced with a tricky Biblical verse. No: they simply read the Bible and understood it to be saying what they felt was morally right.

MalenkyRusskyDrakonchik Tue 18-Jun-13 16:27:10

Btw, honestly, there is no way I'm not right about the medieval Catholic Church making reference to tradition as well as the Bible. Seriously, this is really, really, really basic.

Thistledew Tue 18-Jun-13 16:51:10

I don't disagree that revealed theology existed alongside natural theology. I also do not disagree that even the natural theologists were influenced by other philosophies and doctrines, even if they specifically stated that they were putting aside such ideas to pursue their 'pure' and 'natural' theology. That is kind of my point when I say that there is no higher truth and that it is all a matter of personal interpretation. It is just that by supporting the idea of there being a 'higher truth', you support those people who claim they act solely in accordance with it, rather than admitting that their own philosophy is, just like everyone else, simply a mixture of the cultural and educational experiences they have been exposed to.

I would also pick you up on what you said that "some people get very upset when they see others purporting to be Christian, and interpreting the Bible in a way they think isn't literal": and I would reply that there are as many, if not more people who get very upset when they see Christians interpreting the bible in what they perceive to be a literal way.

It matters to me that people believe there to be a higher truth when those people (or representatives of those people) get to have a say in things that affect the day-to-day lives of people who do not share those beliefs. And that the only reason that they get this say is because they are able to perpetuate the idea of this 'higher truth', rather than taking full ownership of their ideas and beliefs.

It matters, because many of those people and representatives use that power to do things that actively harm other people.

MalenkyRusskyDrakonchik Tue 18-Jun-13 16:55:49

No, I don't support those people - you've no reason to assume I do. I support people I think are right, just the same as anyone else.

I'm aware there are people who get upset when they see Christians interpreting the Bible in what they perceive to be a literal way. As you've probably gathered by now (!), I am one of those people.

I find it wearying when people hide behind anti-religious waffle in order to object to what is plainly indefensible. You surely can construct a decent argument against things that actively harm other people. If you can't, why do you think anti-religious generalizations about a 'higher truth' are going to convince anyone that they're doing something harmful? I can't see any evidence this approach ever helps.

It is much better, IMO, simply to object to what people do, not what you believe they might possibly believe, or what you believe they might not believe but you may as well pretend they do for the sake of bashing religion.

Thistledew Tue 18-Jun-13 17:32:17

Of course you don't directly support people with such views, but by supporting the idea of there being a higher truth, you support the value system in which such ideas and such people can thrive.

As I said up thread, I see no problem in people believing what they want so long as they accept that their beliefs are personal to them. I do have a problem with people holding that some beliefs are 'better' or 'more correct' than other beliefs because they are founded on a higher truth than mere mortal reasoning. At the moment, (I believe it to be the case that) all Christian denominations hold on to the idea of there being a higher truth, which means that the beliefs of Christians are better than those of non-Christians. So anyone calling the self a Christian is promoting that idea.

MalenkyRusskyDrakonchik Tue 18-Jun-13 17:36:33

No, I don't agree. I see why you're saying it, though, and I do think it's worth thinking about.

I certainly agree that it's really important not to assume some beliefs are 'better' than others. For me, I'd extend that to saying that it's important to acknowledge that belief and scientific understanding are qualitatively different, and it is very dangerous to promote the idea that belief can ever stand in for science.

I don't think you are right that anyone calling themself a Christian promotes the idea that the beliefs of Christians are better than those of non-Christians, though. That would only be tenable if you were the sort of Christian who believes that there is a higher truth to which Christians have more access than non-Christians.

I believe there are many things we don't understand. Prayer helps me feel better about those, but I have no quarrel with someone else feeling it's useless - if it doesn't work for them, fine. It's not some kind of magic thread linking you to 'absolute truth', IMO.

madhairday Tue 18-Jun-13 22:12:46

Interesting thread, and I am late to it, but will have a ponder.

yamsareyammy Thu 20-Jun-13 23:57:00

I couldnt make out from your next to last post,MRD, whether you believe the bible literally, or not. Only, am I right in thinking that you are bisexual.

MalenkyRusskyDrakonchik Fri 21-Jun-13 00:05:10

I assume the Bible to be true (it cannot possibly be literally true), but I don't think anyone human is able to understand all of it completely.

I don't habitually use my sexuality to interpret the Bible but it's an interesting idea. grin

yamsareyammy Fri 21-Jun-13 09:37:02

What is the difference to you in the words "true" and "literally true".

MalenkyRusskyDrakonchik Fri 21-Jun-13 09:47:09

Well, that gets to the heart of what we were saying before, I suppose.

A text could be literally nonsense, or literally make sense but be fanciful, eg., by talking about unicorns or something we know doesn't exist. But it could be 'true' on another level, for example if the unicorn represents something else.

This is what I was trying to explain to ellie when she was asking how the bit with the apple and original sin works - the apple in Genesis is (in my view) a component in a story. I don't believe there was a real apple!

Where it gets complicated for me is the next bit. Lots of people would accept that the apple isn't 'literally true', but would say: ah, but it communicates a real truth about humanity, that we are all sinful and women especially so.

I don't think that is it either. I am quite happy to look at that story as the product of a misogynistic culture, and a culture that didn't have a better sense of how to explain evil. So, I think the level of that story being about a woman being tempted and tempting her husband, is also not the full truth. I think what's fundamentally true about it, however, is that we do constantly try to understand how evil happens, and we do feel estranged from God, and we do search inside ourselves and try to motivate ourselves to struggle on, even when our illusions that it's all going to be lovely have been shattered.

That to be is the truth of that particular story.

There are bits of the Bible where I don't feel I know what the ultimate truth being communicated is, and bits where I think the ultimate truth is a whole lot simpler than that one, but I hope it's a good example to use.

yamsareyammy Fri 21-Jun-13 10:50:33

So you dont believe all the miracles?
Or things like the sea being parted?

MalenkyRusskyDrakonchik Fri 21-Jun-13 10:55:06

I don't think you followed my post.

You seem to think 'belief' can only mean 'accepting the literal sense of a text'. To me, it doesn't.

yamsareyammy Fri 21-Jun-13 12:04:07

Yes, I think I said about my belief further up thread.
I realise that some others, like yourself dont.
So you try to interpret it.
That is not the way for me.
I try to obey it.
Far easier to try and obey that way smile

MalenkyRusskyDrakonchik Fri 21-Jun-13 12:06:57

Gosh, I don't think it'd be easier! But yes, people do it differently.

I'd fall at the first bit that contradicts itself.

Interesting thread. I haven't read all of it, but it made me think... People who pray for a sick person to be healed - why on earth would god decide to let that person be healed or die on the basis of whether people had prayed for them or not? ('Oh, Mrs Bloggs has prayed for little Peter, so I think I'll let him live. But Bob down the road can die - nobody's prayed for him!')
Whereas if god does not respond to this type of prayer in this way, what is the point of asking him for things? Someone said upthread that of course they 'hoped' intercessory prayers would 'work'. My Peter and Bob example sounds crass and ridiculous, but surely if you are hoping for god to grant this kind of prayer, and thinking that your prayers can 'work', then that kind of 'Peter/Bob scenario is unavoidably part of the process?

Malenky - you give a very good explanation of how you see the mixture of truth and parable in the bible. But what I don't get is - given that you admit that it's hard to tell what is supposed to be truth from what is essentially fiction- why anyone actually would trust that ANY of it is really literally true.

MalenkyRusskyDrakonchik Fri 21-Jun-13 13:19:42

Do you mean, why would anyone (eg., someone in the past), or why would I?

I'd trust some of it is literally true because some of it you can just judge. Eg., yep, I think it's true it's wrong to kill. That's hardly unique to the Bible.

Other bits I trust are true, but couldn't justify it. I believe Christ died and was risen, but I couldn't justify it.

As to why anyone would believe bits of it are true - some bits sound to be about things that, historically, happened. Like the census.

Other things it wouldn't have been unreasonable for people to believe were true, going off what they knew then: eg., a flood could seem fairly reasonable as an explanation for why you find shell fossils inland, if you don't know another explanation. This doesn't mean people were incapable of subtle thought, or that if they believed one bit was true they believed all of it was literally true, it's just that people can sometimes develop what seems to be a good theory and find it's wrong.

Yes, but I suppose what I mean is why would one adopt the whole shebang as one's chosen religion if only some of it makes sense (e.g. the 'don't kill people' bit - which, let's face it, is hardly exclusive to Christianity) given that some of the least believably factual bits are some of the most important central tenets of the faith - e.g. Jesus actually being the son of god, the virgin birth, the resurrection. Surely those bits aren't meant to be just parables?

MalenkyRusskyDrakonchik Fri 21-Jun-13 14:42:48

I don't think it is a 'whole shebang'. I think that's Biblical literalist, which, as I said, I think is a kinda bizarre modern interpretation TBH.

'Whole shebang' implies it's all part of a package, and you were always intended to take on all of it. That's not how it works, IMO.

I mean, would you take on everything (for example) that your parents taught you as a child? Or that your state feels is right? Or even that the wisest person you know thinks? I would imagine that, even if you did, you'd be aware you were interpreting things in your own personal way. That's what humans do.

MalenkyRusskyDrakonchik Fri 21-Jun-13 14:44:13

(Btw, sorry, when I said 'hardly unique to the Bible, what I was getting at was what you said, that this is encoded in pretty much every religion I know of, and in secular societies ... I guess I mean it's the sort of thing I expect that we all agree on, so it's not difficult to believe it's true.)

I see what you mean... I guess when someone says they are, for example, a Christian, I assume that means they have a certain set of beliefs (allowing for a bit of variation between different branches of Christianity) which mean that they consider themselves to fit into the description of Christian. That's what I meant by the whole shebang, rather than that every single word of the bible was considered to be literal truth.
I always have a bit of trouble with the idea of religions being a kind of 'pick what you like' buffet of beliefs. To me it seems to negate much of the point of belonging to a faith in the first place, as well as diminishing the credibility of that religion.

MalenkyRusskyDrakonchik Fri 21-Jun-13 19:16:42

Yes, I have a problem with the 'pick what you like' thing too. smile

I thought you were asking about the Bible, rather than that.

I'd go by the Creed, which is the normal statement of beliefs for C of E Christians.

yamsareyammy Fri 21-Jun-13 19:23:15

But I presume the creed is just the beginning of your faith?
That there is much more to it than that?
Or perhaps you havent been a Christian for very long?

MalenkyRusskyDrakonchik Fri 21-Jun-13 19:50:39

It's not my experience faith becomes more lengthy in its tenets the longer you leave it - IME people start out complicated and pare down to simple.

But 28 years, anyway.

yamsareyammy Fri 21-Jun-13 20:08:53

Malenjy, you are older than I realised grin
I thought you were only about 28!

Noooooo. Cant agree with that at all.
All the Christians I know, without exception, learn more, the older they get.

MalenkyRusskyDrakonchik Fri 21-Jun-13 20:13:22

That was the point. wink

I agree Christians learn more. I think everyone does.

But in my experience, faith is very simple. Tenets of faith and statements of faith might be very complicated, and theology can be very complicated. But faith itself isn't an intellectual challenge, nor is it something you can sit down and learn, and then say 'yes, great, now I have a degree in 'faith' so I'm a better Christian than you'.

Have you come across the concept of the 'Holy Fool' or 'Fool for Christ'? The Orthodox Church is particularly good on this, IME. Also on kenosis. I find these useful ways to think about whether or not faith is complicated or simple.

yamsareyammy Fri 21-Jun-13 21:08:56

I agree that faith isnt remotely complicated.
People with special needs often have a great deal of faith.

MalenkyRusskyDrakonchik Fri 21-Jun-13 21:23:11

Not entirely what I was getting at!

In all fairness I don't think people always practise 'pick what you like' they may feel drawn to 'pick what you feel is right.'

MalenkyRusskyDrakonchik Fri 21-Jun-13 21:26:08

True.

MrsRickyMartin Fri 21-Jun-13 21:53:37

I did not pray for Mandela, but when I pray I do it because it makes me feel better and when I pray for other people I usually don't tell them. But you do not ask for people getting better like other posters said, I usually thank God for the good things in my life and ask for strength for the other things that are not so good.

Techno did you agree with my comment that praying for Mandela might be a way to draw the country together, and what is the atheist equivalent to that?

Thanks

madhairday Sun 23-Jun-13 14:12:42

Prayer's a funny old thing isn't it.

It's certainly not all about asking and expecting God to do your bidding. It's a whole load more. It's about conversation, about relationship and listening. It's like your relationship with your OH - if you ignore him/her, and don't speak, you quickly lose touch and things slide downhill, you forget how to be together and how to love each other. Communication is the key - and the same in prayer, I think.

There is an asking aspect. Jesus told us to ask. It is incredibly difficult to get our head round what this actually means. Stripped down to the basic, it's 'give us this day our daily bread', 'deliver us from evil'. Most Christians pray and expect 'answers', but I think that 'answers' aren't always what we would expect. It's a whole paradox, I think God does work in response to prayer, and think that God doesn't always give what is asked. We could go in to a whole discussion on predestination and free will, but in the end we're still left with that gaping question: Why? Why does God seem to answer some prayers and not others? Why some healed and not others, why some children starving and others provided for? Why?

I don't know.

But I do know God is good. There's a way of looking at it that has always resonated with me - that of 'the now and the not yet.' Some things happen that reflect the not yet in the now - that are a precursor almost of what life looks like in God's kingdom, in the world as it should be - when my friend was healed of deafness in one ear this is the way I looked at it - that in the way things should be, he was whole. And yet, I have never been healed of my lung condition, never experienced the not yet in the now of this. I do not think that God loves me less because of this, or that I don't have enough faith, or have sinned or similar crap that is spouted by certain sectors representing my faith. I think that sometimes God breaks in, and I think sometimes God doesn't.

This doesn't answer any questions, or give any reasons why I shouldn't agree that if there was a God then God is not good. It would be lovely if it could be wrapped up nicely, wouldn't it. All I can say is that my experience bears out a loving God who gives fulness of life, a life filled with hope and richness and meaning. I pray because I am loved by God and I love God, and beyond that is almost secondary.

Here endeth the waffle.

headinhands Sun 23-Jun-13 21:07:06

* It's like your relationship with your OH - if you ignore him/her, and don't speak, you quickly lose touch and things slide downhill, you forget how to be together and how to love each other. Communication is the key - and the same in prayer, I think.*

That sounds all lovely but this supposed 'OH' is also married to millions of other people and he doesn't tell them all the same stuff does he. He tells some of his spouses? the opposite of what he tells his other spouses. How do you explain that beyond the well worn 'we have to trust/feel, all religions lead to god etc'?

technodad Mon 24-Jun-13 07:29:42

Italian said Techno did you agree with my comment that praying for Mandela might be a way to draw the country together, and what is the atheist equivalent to that?

Sorry for the delay in replying Italian, I had a day when I didn't get a chance to read the thread and it grew so big I couldn't catch up with it.

You may be right, it might be a way of bringing people together, but it assumes that everyone is religious (and potentially of the same religion). The reality is, that not everyone is religious.

Many years ago, before mass travel and better education, when people lived in big clusters of the same religion, this would likely have the desired effect. However, nowadays, with the mix of culture, and the fact that far fewer people are actually religious, I suspect it might have the opposite effect.

If the british government kept telling us all to pray for Prince Philip when he goes into hospital, I suspect they would have lots of people telling them to get stuffed! It would not draw the country together.

What do athiests have that is equivalent to prayer - well, honesty and integrity is a good start.

technodad Mon 24-Jun-13 08:21:02

Further more, on the news this morning they quoted Zuma as saying the he wanted the world to pray for Mandela to have a strength to continue living. So he seems to think that prayer can heal!

madhairday Mon 24-Jun-13 11:49:34

Hello hih smile

Hmm. I don't think all religions lead to God, I think that devalues faith and puts it in some kind of wishy washy relativistic melting pot. It's more complex and more difficult at the same time. I don't think that merely relying on 'trust/feelings' is a healthy way either. I do believe, as a Christian, in central tenets of faith and the bible as God's <not literal> word. I think that if people do things in the name of any given faith, ascribe it to God and yet their faith/book cannot support it, then they are being at best disingenuous and at worst toxic and deluded. <yes, middle-ages-church, I'm looking at you>

As for how God can be speaking to billions at once, well, there's a thing. I can see it sounds utterly daft, but then again, so does Jesus raised from the dead and the idea of God in general. Might as well go the whole hog, as it were grin I suppose it's like we feel about our dc, though. When we have our PFB it's hard to imagine how we could love another the same, how we could have any more love than this overwhelming love we feel. No2 comes along, and we find that we have this overwhelming love for him too, without losing any of the power of the PFB love. And No3, No4, and so on and so forth. Love is not finite, God is not finite. In the way that God has never ending love for each of us, God is able to be in relationship with each of us.

Just don't ask me how, hey? grin

headinhands Mon 24-Jun-13 14:12:09

Hi madhair smile

I don't think you understand what I was getting at. Take the vote on women bishops for example. Some who voted felt strongly that it was not what god wanted. I assume these individuals would have prayed about it and would feel that having 'bought the matter before god' how they felt about the issue was god working on them and letting them know his wishes? And then you have those who felt it was very much what god wanted and they also would have 'seeked god' about it. Doesn't that just illustrate how, at the end of the day, what we say we think god thinks is actually what we think, otherwise how else can people from the same denomination claim opposing opinions. How would you explain that? Why does god lead them to think different things? Why not tell them all the same thing?

headinhands Mon 24-Jun-13 14:13:49

Sorry Madhair, have forgotten what religion you are, if you're not Chrisitan there will no doubt be similar examples of a divided opinion amongst your own believers.

honesty and integrity are a good start indeed. I hope I have them too! wink