Why I am intolerant…

You’ve seen these, right? They truly bother me . So much so that I sometime contemplate running cars with this bumper-sticker off of the road (I know, I know, I’m repenting and joking).  Why, you may ask? Because the bumper-sticker doesnt really mean what it says.

Let’s break it down. We’ll call each worldview by the letter it’s supposed to represent. So:

  • C = Islam
  • O = Pacifism/ Peace
  • E = “Gender equality”
  • X = Judaism
  • I = Wicca / Pagan / Bah’ai
  • S = Taoism / Confucianism
  • T = Christianity

And let’s use a very broad definition of “coexist”: living together without calling for the destruction of each other. Here are the problems with that:

  • C wants to kill E, X, T, and (by implication) O. If they achieved the world they wanted, I and S would also no longer exist.
  • O doesn’t allow for effective resistance or defeat of C.
  • E stands in direct opposition to C, X, and T, and accuses those who speak against them of hate speech. Also, they’re trying to edge X and T out of public arena in favor of their own agenda. (They’re afraid C will be offended, so they get less trouble. See the first point) E is actually very, very intolerant.
  • X’s existence is threatened not only by C but also by O, who invariably supports C over X.
  • I and S are statistically insignificant and are mainly on there to complete the bumper sticker.
  • T is who the bumper sticker is really arguing against, but poses no physical threat to any of the others.

Historically, T has brought about more tolerance (“coexistence” if you will) than any other movement.  A fair share of pain and suffering have been brought under that um But the kind of “coexistence” the people who make this sticker envision is one where at least X and T are completely marginalized.

Being an immature 30 yr old prideful, dogmatic reformed young man I wanted honk at people driving cars with this sticker while shaking my fist.  Just as suddenly as frustration wells up my heart that same heart also begins to break, not because I’m appalled at the driver for having the bumper sticker, but because the depravity of our culture tells us that the only way “peace”, and “hope” can be obtained is by conglomerating all apparent “truth” together.  Post-Modernism denotes the idea that truth is not objective but subjective. Truth does not identify things as they actually are, truth identifies what I want it to be. What’s true for me is true, and what’s true for you is true for you.  Having a culture that fully embraces this definition of truth presents complete opposition to the general message of the Bible.  While the depraved man cries out for “COEXISTENCE” Christ cries out for allegiance to him alone to the glory of His name forever. In this we find our “peace” and our “prosperity” that we long for so much.

What say you?

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About Jon Nelson

I am just a nobody trying to tell everybody about Somebody [Christ Jesus]!

Posted on March 8, 2010, in ...from Jon, Theology. Bookmark the permalink. 29 Comments.

  1. We’ve got one on my wife’s car, old friend! Although I agree that the religions are contrary to each other, the only way for humans to have a society that functions is to put aside religious differences and coexist. It’s either that, or Jihad/ genocide. WE coexist for the most part here in america every day. If we didn’t, there would be no america or human society at all. I don’t ask some one’s religion when I conduct business with them. I don’t care if they believe in Zeus or Mithra, if they are willing to exchange goods with me. I don’t boycott a gas station, because the owners are Hindi. I won’t tell a muslim person that I will not do electrical work for him because we have differing views on religion. I personally think that the less religion we have the better the world would be. The most successful countries (as far as economy, health, education, lowest crime rate, lowest poverty rate) are the most secular countries in the world. If people would view each other as fellow human beings rather than with the artificial dividing lines created by religion, the world would be a much better place to live. In my opinion, christianity, judaism, islam, etc, are all based on myths and would be best forgotten like the thousands of other religions that have been forgotten over the centuries. If you would honestly look at your own religion with the same critical thinking skills that you look at other’s beliefs I am confident that you will find that your religion is a recycled pagan myth. Before you think about running some one of the road for a difference of opinion, you might want to make sure that you are on the side of truth, and not just another brain washed fundamentalist (like a suicide bomber), regurgitating hate from a self righteous, fear induced, poorly misinformed and misguided point of view.
    PS- your website is well designed Jon, I like the portrait. I wish no ill will, but I have held my tongue long enough, and I could not be silent on such a hateful post. It clearly demonstrates the problem with your beliefs.

    • Hey, everyone sorry for the delay in responding I’ve been in class. A few things
      1: Thanks for the comments, my hope is to keep them as critical (non snarky but constructive) & thoughtful as we can. So thank you so much.
      2: I would love to continue this conversation on the blog. Not everyone who reads it is on facebook & could probably beneifit from the forthcoming conversation. If you want (or with you permission) we should move these comments.
      3: I will respond (but) I do have to take my lil girl to the Dr for a checkup & then i’ll post my response.
      Let me know if you need anything else.
      SDG,
      Jon

    • Lance,
      First and foremost, it has been a long time man, wow! So much has changed since we have last spoken, the largest change being that we have essentially switched [faith] positions. I’m overjoyed that you read this blog and hope [and pray] that you keep doing so. Open and honest dialogue is what I’ve always been about and as long as it is constructive criticism I believe it is fair game. I also love that you (and other people who don’t believe what I do) read my blog, it truly is an honor to have you here.

      As for the post, I am saddened that you missed humor and sarcasm that was placed at the beginning of the post. Honestly, some of this is probably due to my writing style but it was meant for exaggeration and not as a stated fact, as we all do in life (mostly to create interest).

      A honest starting position is to state that our faiths are not mutually exclusive, both contain logical positions and both contain improvable foundations that create our intrinsic opposition, but we both have faith. I harbor no distain for anyone who believes differently than I but I do want to have an open an honest conversation about our differences and not straw man arguments that lead neither side into any greater truth. We both can throw a large amount each other’s way but it would neither productive nor sincere.

      I also recognize that this medium is not the best to interpret the other motive behind the words, and if you choose to continue this conversation I would ask that we both just look at the statements and question at face value and not as emotionally charged arguments. That being said I have a question for you. What did you mean by “make sure that you are on the side of truth”? Could you define and possibly expand on that phrase please?

      Rest assured that your compliments were not lost among the myriad of arguments I truly appreciated them. Thank you. I’m looking forward to your reply.

      SDG,
      Jon

  2. Marie 'Teetsel' Riley

    Hey Lance. I just wanted to say hi. We went to high school together. I was pretty good friends with your wife, Jenny. I did a little photo stalking and just had to tell you those pictures were unbelievable and your family is beautiful.

    Anyway…

    I liked the post Jon, and do agree that a lot of people who have that bumper sticker really mean “Christians suck” and maybe they should just use that as a bumper sticker instead.

  3. How can you say christianity promotes tolerance? Tolerance of what? Monotheism (Christianity, Islam, and Judaism) has been the cause of more death and torture than any other human idea in history. What are you talking about?

    I saw that sticker on a christian minister’s car. I think the point is “intolerance sucks,” “hate sucks” “war sucks”, and if your version christianity supports intolerance, hate, and war, then “yes” , it sucks too.

  4. You and I would probably be wasting our time, Jon. I would just be aware that not every one who reads your post believes the same way you do, and the fact that a bumper sticker offends you so much, and that you even have “kill” in your mind, proves my point. I realize that you would not kill a person for merely believing differently (even though that is what the old testament recommends to do). My wife is a pagan, should she be stoned to death? IF so, how can you say your religion is moral, if not, how can you say that the bible is wrong? Should slavery have been abolished? Paul says that slaves should serve their masters well. Is modern culture in regards to slavery wrong, or is the bible wrong? The bible says that believers can drink poison, or be bit by poisonous snakes (last chapter of Mark)? Are you immune to poison? Which poison was Jesus referring to? IF your kid swallowed poison or was bit by a serpent, would you just sit there and pray, trusting the red letters found in Mark, or would you compromise your faith and dial 911? Did Jesus lie, and are you willing to bet your kid’s life on it? You may think I’m a fool for not believing in your God or your bible ( although I was a very strong believer for years), but your religion does not stand up to reason. I left christianity because I couldn’t reconcile reality with the bible, and when I studied the history of scripture I realized that I had been taught a lie. Your “neo soul faith” sounds like good old fashioned religious superstition to me, my friend.

  5. Wow…Jon! Ok…just getting caught up to speed on this one. We had this discussion at work a few weeks ago on the bumper sticker. Now, my question to you is, how could I and S be “statistically insignificant”? Granted, I know very few Taoists, but they are out there. As far as Pagans or Wiccans; there are a lot more out there than most people know. There are organized places and times for ritual in very large groups, most are open to the public to further educate the general public. Not having numbers in front of me, at last count, Pagan religions were on the rise and closing in on the more traditional ones so much so that it had to be recognized. Just my 2 cents, I still like the bumper sticker as it is an idea, not a practice and practices all begin with an idea.

    • Suzanne!!!!! Hey lady how are you? (I work with Suzanne)
      Thank you for the question it’s an astute one. Actually , the conversation that we were having served as a great catalyst for this post (actually if you keep reading you’ll see a few more).
      I draw my conclusion from many studies on the non-religious and religious landscape of the US. One of the most accurate ones (by most estimates) is the “Religious Composition of the U.S.”. U.S. Religious Landscape Survey. Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life 2007.” Here are there findings
      (thopugh I don’t completely agree with there categories):
      • Christianity: (78.5%)
      o Protestantism (51.3%)
      o Roman Catholicism (23.9%)
      o Mormonism (1.7%)
      o Jehovah’s Witnesses (0.7%)
      o Orthodox Church (0.6%)
      o Other Christian (0.3%)
      • Unaffiliated, including atheist or agnostic (16.1%)
      • Judaism (1.7%)
      • Buddhist (0.7%)
      • Islam (0.6%)
      • Hinduism (0.4%)
      • Other (1.2%)
      On the other hand I would agree and the most recent studies show that the overall percentage of Americans identifying themselves as Christians is sliding.
      I’m sorry if the comment offended you but it was meant only in the context of statistics. Thank you for reading and responding!!
      SDG,
      Jon

  6. Jon – I know where you’re heading here and I don’t disagree with most of your points, but a couple things:

    1) I think you’re reaching with your generalizations about E. I understand the male/female symbol to mean just that, but you seem to be equating it with either extreme feminism or some other extremism related to gender equality. Taken at face value, I think the implication is that both male and female should “coexist” with everyone.

    2) I understand your frustration with the fact that the exclusive truth claims of these varied viewpoints make them incompatible. But I do believe that most people who put the bumper sticker on their car mean that they want everyone to get along and respect each other. Many may also feel that all these views say basically the same thing and lead to the same destination. That would be a naive view. But I don’t think that everyone who puts the bumper sticker up (or any bumper sticker for that matter) has put too much thought into it. And thus despite the logical inconsistencies, I don’t think it warrants anger – it’s just a conversation starter if you choose to make it so.

    • Matt,
      Thank you so much for the comment; I’ve always enjoyed your analysis (whether we agree or not). I do agree that I am overtly equating each system to there logical end or foundational premise and that may not represent each person who chooses to place this sticker on there car (as much as the Papacy represent you or I). Yet the overarching idea still stands that each of these worldviews are diametrically opposed to each other. This doesn’t presuppose that we could not work with others (as many have taken this post to mean) but honestly states that our fundamental worldviews and definitions of life itself are opposite thus creating a huge inconsistency in premise. Like I said in the post the makers of the sticker define “‘coexist’ [that we should] live together without calling for the destruction of each other.” I don’t fundamentally disagree with that statement, but I do want us to realize that many within each worldview they do not and will not “Coexist” until Christ returns (Isa. 11 and 65, Hosea 2).
      What do you think?
      SDG,
      Jon

      PS: see the comments above for the anger part (I was joking, not serious by any means)

  7. Hi Jon,

    This is an interesting analysis, but it misses one really, really big point. Your analysis of how each of the letters views the other letters is based solely on the intolerant aspects of each particular letter. The tolerant sects of each particular letter don’t follow that mind-set at all. If you did this analysis from the tolerant aspects of each letter, your whole theory would fall apart because the tolerant sects of each letter understand that the best parts of their particular letter are about love and treating your fellow man with respect.

    Ryan

  8. One more thing I just noticed – do you really believe that T is who the bumper sticker is arguing against? It isn’t arguing against T at all, it is arguing against the intolerance present in all the letters. The fact that you think that the bumper sticker revolves around our particular viewpoint really shows the arrogance that some Christians have (and I don’t mean that as an insult, but an observation). “We right, your wrong. Our book is right, yours is wrong. We going to heaven, you’re not. This bumper sticker is about us, not you,” etc., etc.

    • Sorry for all the typos, by the way – didn’t proof read.

    • Ryan,
      Thank you so much for the comment. Much like Matt I’ve always enjoyed your analysis (whether we agree or not) and I miss working with you. How is Law school?
      Well I’m going to try to address your concerns in one post and by the way… don’t worry about the typos, I have enough myself.
      1. I disagree that I “miss one really, really big point”, and I think that this is the point of the post. The sticker itself exposes our unawareness of the fundamentals of each other’s faiths. While we (or most people for that matter) are not fundamentally opposed there are substantial differences that don’t lend themselves to coexistence.
      2. I would say that

        most

      people that have this sticker are speaking to “T”. Why you may ask? Unfortunately, “T” is the overwhelming dominant worldview extant in the US (whether we actually follow it or not is something completely different). Because human nature tends to focus on the negative and lose the positive aspects that have been done under that same name and the bumper stick seems to back this up, but I am willing to admit that it may not just be targeted at “T”
      3. I’m seriously confused on how stating that intent of the sticker somehow jumps to ““We’re right, your wrong. Our book is right, yours is wrong. We going to heaven, you’re not. This bumper sticker is about us, not you,” etc., etc.” I’m not saying that I disagree with the statement but the connection was lost on me. Could you help? I will say this, each of the worldviews (and those not mentioned) all hold the aforementioned position thus further proving the point I was driving at. Each is opposed to the other.
      I love you man and miss you dearly.
      SDG,
      Jon

      • 1. The substantial differences that the fundamentalists of every religion exploit for the surpression of the masses and the power of the few are the entire problem with religion in general. Actually, I think that the only religions that need to be on the bumper sticker are Islam, Christianity, and Judism, and the reason for this is because history has shown us that they are the intolerant ones (fundamentally). The whole driving force of any monotheistic religion is that if one religion is right, the other, by definion, must be wrong. It is a zero sum game. And that is really too bad. If the tolerant aspects of the monotheistic relgions won out, then we all could coexist. If I could edit the Torah, the Bible, and the Koran, I would take out all the BS about how, “if you don’t join our way of thinking you will die and go to Hell (paraphrasing).” Maybe the religions had some truth to them in the past, but the minute that those in charge allowed that aspect of it to dominate, one would have to be naive, at best, not to acknowledge that the sole reason it is there is for conquest of all the others. God is love does not equal belive me or die, and no book that was assembled by men who throughout history have tried to conquer other men is going to convince me of that. I really just wish people would try and see that; it really is self-evident. Of course, then, according to them, they couldn’t believe anything written because it’s an all or nothing proposition. What is so absurd about that argument is the entire line of reasoning that leads them to that conclusion comes from the same written work that they should just reject – a vicious circle that has proven, time and again, that there will be no end to this line of reasoning. And further proof of my point is in the fact that the answer most frequently given for why people believe this absurdity….”The Bible/Koran/Torah tells me so.” Huh?

        2. I’m glad to see that you can admit that it is not directed at Christians but intolerant people in general, which leads right into my last point….

        3. A Christian see this and thinks it’s about Christianity, a Jew sees it and thinks its about Judism, etc., etc. What I was driving at was that of course you are going to think it is targeted at Christians because 1. You are Christian and see everything through that filter, 2. You feel the power of the other religions, including the religion of anti-Christianity trying to eradicate the fundamentalist and hateful aspects of yor religion and 3. You subconsciously belive and understand that, for better or worse (and maybe it is God’s plan – actually of course it is becaue the Bible says so and Christians are right), that Christians are the most intolerant people in America. Forgive me for not backing this up with hard statisitics, but if you ask any non-Christian in America and some Christians they will say that Christians are the most intolerant group. A reputation that is well earned, in my opinion. I think the phrase, “God hates fags,” about sums up my point.

        I miss our debates also. I’ll have to check out your blog more often. Law school sucks, but is going really well. I hope everything is going well for you also.

        Ryan

      • Ryan,
        Sorry to hear that Law school sucks but I’m so glad to hear it’s also going well. How much longer do you have? Which one are you at again?

        As for the post, I would refer you to Laura’s comment below; I think she sums it up very well. The unfortunate fact of humanity is that we are all broken and sinful creatures and I think that difference between myself [and others like me] and those that created this sticker it our view of humankind. I see humanity as fundamentally broken and getting worse, while most people see humanity as intrinsically good and getting better. Unfortunately, many people that bear out my side of the argument claim that they hold the banner of Christ but end up further proving our depravity as humans. The problem is that we (Christians) [should] recognize our position in this world and thus lead through serving the other so that our Lord is glorified. The observation of outsiders is correct in that we have not done this properly. But like rs said below:
        “-let us agree that the nature of truth is such that it excludes…

        -let us aspire to walk the thin line of a love (for those of us to whom this is a common aspiration) that endures differences while uncompromisingly holding forth the treasure we possess…

        -and let men and women in this peculiar time abandon the comforts of the exaggerated fabrications of history, in which we find our comfortable rejection of that which we do not know…
        
-and finally I desire that all would find in the provision of God, the hero who demonstrated love and justice, Jesus Christ… He beckons me and all with soft, listening hearts to give up on and forsake our wise abilities and turn to Him… to drink thirstily… to come and buy and eat, though we have no money, to come and buy wine and milk though we’ve not a dime.
        you may disagree with me, but you now have an open invitation from this moment until you breathe your last… to possess the treasure for which some of us are being ruined.”

  9. Good stuff Jon!! I also get hacked off when I see that bumper sticker. And,…. I’ll leave it at that.

  10. What better way to reunite with old neighbors and schoolmates after years of walking our own roads. Greetings!

    Here we are, anthropomorphic ants scurrying around on a gorgeous planet trying to make sense out of vastness and complexity. Facing impermanence we seek to modify our environs, claim territories, create art – something – to hint at meaning beyond the ephemeral.

    Some venerate ancestors, a lineage suggesting duration, longevity beyond the fleeting moment. Others look to a book for advice (or commands) on right livelihood (the Bible, Qur’an, Torah). Still others have turned to the senses and perceptions of the natural world. All of these (including the positivist science of the modern era) have the potential of espousing a view that there is “ one right way”. While it is perhaps understandable that those who have found a moral compass want to share it, it is another thing entirely to force it upon others. Not only is it arrogant to assume that one has found the one way, but it is also extremely myopic. What has the conqueror’s version of Western history taught us, except the constancy of change, and the contradiction of linearity of history, time, faith. Even the seemingly solid monotheistic religions that have survived antiquity have undergone innumerable translations, omissions (including persecuting the mystic sects that encouraged direct connection with godhead while usurping the powerful role of the clergy) and revisions to serve the fashion of the time and the whim of the monarchy. And unfortunately, survival of a tradition doesn’t prove that it is right, rather that it is powerful enough to assert that it is right– a reinforcing and self-perpetuating cycle. In the end, it seems to be that lack of tolerance for co-existance boils down to fear of impermanence (even power lust boils down to fear).

    Generalizing anything beckons critique, but it seems not at all farfetched to link the wars of the ages, imperialism, colonialism and neo-liberalism to a fear of being wrong and of being mortal and impermanent. Conquering, enslaving, claiming distant lands with flags, bronzed statues of kings, IMF loans to postcolonial nations to keep them shackled in a modern form of slavery…..all speak to a method of proving ‘rightness’ and permanence by forcing everyone else whether through overt or covert forms of power, to help those who are fearfully powerful and powerfully fearful feel reassured. We come to this world naked and clothe ourselves in whatever ontologies/Weltanschauungen allow us to function and thrive. Should we all wear the same drab uniform, or can’t our world be colorful? And if “the one right way” is entwined with ‘power’ (which I argue it has always been), can it really be the pure essence that it’s made out to be?

    • Brye (or as I knew you Bryan),
      How are you man? How is Portland, OR? What do you do now? Man, it has been a while and how funny it is that we would meet here and discus (from opposite perspectives) what we’ve discussed before, so many years ago.
      To answer you questions
      1. Yes, we can and should be colorful in our ontologies/ Weltanschauung (worldview) yet unified in Truth. Just because someone is unified in the knowledge of who Christ is, for example, doesn’t mean that his or her unique shape is lost but progressively personified. Fortunately for us as humans we have experienced Truth enough to know that it is propositional, static, thus exclusive.
      2. Yes, “the one right way” is really “the pure essence that it’s made out to be”. Much as you wouldn’t want to be defamed for and convicted of a crime committed by someone else while where your clothes. It is no more right for you (or anyone else for that matter) to apply to God was man has wrongly done in His name.
      Even though many of your observations are perceptive, to just focus on monotheistic religious and their effect could also be seen as myopic. Atheistic and polytheistic cultures are just as depraved as the monotheistic civilizations are. I agree that to some effect the “lack of tolerance for co-existence boils down to fear of impermanence.” but ultimately it comes back to the intrinsic foundational principles of each of these worldviews, and that they each make mutually exclusive claims that cannot be rectified by simple Coexistence but though realizing that while we are each unique, utopia isn’t possible by our own power let alone a bumper-sticker.
      SDG,
      Jon

  11. wow… this has developed nicely! yet it makes for an intimidating white space… nevertheless, I’ll allow myself the privilege of not really responding to anyone specifically, as there have been too many brilliant comments and I’ve just burned half an hour catching up…

    I applaud the beauty of the coexistence that is taking place on this thread. By that I mean that there is some genuine appreciation in the midst of poignant, seemingly irreconcilable dispute. I think the appreciation is cordially applied bookending the text… but most fully expressed when we are willing to honestly examine the implications arising from the thoughts of the one to whom we’ve pledged our respect…

    the current phase in history allowing for a measure of religious liberty in this particular country ought not be taken lightly…
    -let us agree that the nature of truth is such that it excludes…
    -let us aspire to walk the thin line of a love (for those of us to whom this is a common aspiration) that endures differences while uncompromisingly holding forth the treasure we possess…
    -and let men and women in this peculiar time abandon the comforts of the exaggerated fabrications of history, in which we find our comfortable rejection of that which we do not know…
    -and finally I desire that all would find in the provision of God, the hero who demonstrated love and justice, Jesus Christ… He beckons me and all with soft, listening hearts to give up on and forsake our wise abilities and turn to Him… to drink thirstily… to come and buy and eat, though we have no money, to come and buy wine and milk though we’ve not a dime.

    you may disagree with me, but you now have an open invitation from this moment until you breathe your last… to possess the treasure for which some of us are being ruined

  12. I find it funny that the people who agree with Jon fullheartedly have not more than a sentence of a comment to share with others. I wonder if those people even took the time to read the other comments and actually took the time to process the opinions of others. And to comment on Ryan Charlson’s post…”God hates fags” does not sum it up. That is one absolutely retarded and mentally ill individual who attaches God and the Bible to his own hate and opinions about homosexuals. So please don’t say that Christians are the most intolerant based on “God hates fags.” That was a pretty ignorant comment. But you definitely made some good points in the rest of your comment. Here’s the thing that makes Christians or any other human intolerant….HUMANITY IS BROKEN. GOD IS NOT! So if we (Christians) actually lived as Christ lived then we wouldn’t have a problem. Unfortunately we are not able to represent Christ in the manner that He deserves to be represented.

  13. Okay first I’d like to give a shout out to Jon, I’ve been a long time reader-first time commenting on any post.

    I’ve looked over alot of the posts and just had to write what I percieved about this issue. And yes, I’ve seen the bumper sticker. Didn’t think about running the person off the road (yes I know you were joking Jon, anyone who knows you would know that). But my first thought, is that it will never happen.

    And I’m a Christ follower, so I’m in with the T’s. So, I might come off as bias.

    Here’s the thing, all of those groups represented by the letters, hold a belief.

    My personal belief is that God sent His son Christ to die for all our sins.

    Now since that is my belief, I am convicted to believe in it and what the Bible says. I believe also that the Bible is the inerrant breathed word of God. Which tells us to be transformed and to not be conformed to the world.

    Now saying that some of you might already be saying I am intolerant. However what you may or may not know, is that in the moment Christ took the sin of the world on his shoulders, God turned away from Christ. His own son. Because God cannot stand to look upon sin.

    I believe we are commanded to love people. The statement “God hates fags” is a very ignorant and shallow.

    Our place is not to condemn. But at the same time, we are convicted to not be tolerant of something God hated so much so He cast His eyes away from His own son.

    Okay I’m done, thought that might give some insight into the struggles we face. Love the post/comments, awesome discussion!

  14. Wow Jon;
    I enjoyed reading this post. I never gave the bumper sticker that much thought. Interesting. I did find the humor and sarcasm in the post. I too am one of those who agree and only have one line of comment I suppose. I enjoyed reading Lance’s comments as well, though not agree. I am surprised at Lance’s comment

    “I am confident that you will find that your religion is a recycled pagan myth.”

    Even non-Christan scholars agree that there is more independent historical evidence to support Jesus Christ and the early church than Socrates, Aristotle or Plato. A great book or resource is Lee Strobel, the case for Christ, written from an athiest point of view, a reporter.

    While I appreciate Lance’s comment I am intrigued about his falling from the faith.

    I’ve learned a long time ago that I can’t argue anybody to accept and love Jesus. I think back to years ago reading Billy Grahams column in the newspaper (not a Christian at the time). I don’t remember the question that was asked but the answer has been forever burned into my mind. His response was simple.

    “If you truly want to know God, truly seek him.”

    That statement has stayed with me for over 30 years I think. I have found it to be true for me.

    Great discussion. I know I strayed somewhat off topic, but sometimes end up down a different road than we started on.

    I really appreciated all the comments.

  15. I’ve read “Case for Christ” and “Evidence that Demands a Verdict”, but did not find either book to be convincing when read skeptically. From what i remember, Mcdowell and Strobel’s argument is basically “christianity is true because”:

    1) There are lots of old copies of the new testament
    2) Jesus had to have raised from the dead, because why else would people believed he had been raised from the dead
    3) Lots of people are christians and have testimonies
    4) The old testament has been passed down for generations meticulously
    5) The chance that so many prophecies from the old testament were fulfilled in Jesus proves his divinity

    None of these argument though stand up against critical analysis.

    1) It does not matter how many copies there are, the gospels are too contradictive for me to believe. Just compare the birth and resurrection story in the gospels. Seriously, I challenge any christian to try to tell me who was at jesus’ tomb, and what happened when they got there.
    2) Just because there were first century christians, (which is the only thing that early historians mention) does not prove anything. Groups of people believe all kinds of things, especially the first century. It would be like me saying, because there were mormons in the late 1800’s Joseph Smith must have been a true prophet.
    3) Personal testimony provides no true evidence at all. Every religion has testimonies. It does not prove anything, except that people sometimes need the belief that God is helping them so that they can really help themselves.
    4) The old testament has been passed down for centuries, but many of the original authors are unknown, and just like the new testament it full of contradictions.
    5) The gospel writers and Paul, in varying degrees go out of their way to try to place Jesus into the “prophecies”. T. It proves nothing except that the writers had agendas to convince the reader of jesus’ identity as the jewish messiah.

    Have you ever wondered why God has so many names in the old testament? Archeologist have found tablets naming Yahweh as part of the Babylonian pantheon of gods, with El, the supreme god as the father. Baal and Asherah were siblings of Yahweh. The early Jews went back and forth between the two deities (Yahweh and El), until they were eventually considered the same god. Yahweh was a god of war in which the israelites called upon as they massacred thousands of people (men, women, children, babies and even animals!)

    Not only is Judaism based on older pagan mythology, christianity also borrows many of it’s ideas from similar myths about human/ god hybrids. There is no evidence for the virgin birth, the miracles, or the resurrection of Jesus at all. You must except these ideas on Faith. And Jon, to call what I have “faith” is like saying that “not stamp collecting” is a hobby. You have “faith” that jesus was god, I have reason to think that the sun will appear tomorrow in the sky. See the difference. I attempt to build an understanding of reality based on logic, reason, evidence, and experience. My experience in the world tells me that virgins do not give birth, donkeys can’t talk, and people don’t raise from the dead. For me to “believe” these things, I would have to ignore to my understanding of how the universe works. That is a good definition of faith- believing in things that you have no logical reason to believe. I have no such “faith”.

    For those of you who do not know me, let me give you a bit of background as to my experiences with christianity. I was raised Southern Baptist for the most part. I have several pastors and missionaries in my family. I became a christian at the age of 5, was baptized around 7. I read late great planet earth in second grade. I brought many of my friends to church with me and tried to please God. I fell away as a teenager and then rededicated my life to christ right after high school. I quit fornicating and smoking weed. I toured the country for three months doing christian theater and music, and toured in a youth worship band for a couple weeks at a time also. I have given my christian testimony in front of literal thousands of people. When I returned after the tour I started dating the women who is now my wife, and we were married after about a year of dating. We have been married now for 10 years now. My wife and I first lived in a church parsonage and in exchange for rent we cleaned the church, mowed the lawn and led the youth group. I led worship occasionally and served on the board as a deacon also. At that time we were also attending a ministry that wanted to “ordain” us as “evangelists”. I did not have peace about it, so we declined the offer. We ended up going to another church and we helped with worship and led the youth group for a while. The pastor and I had small differences of opinions, but it was apparent that I could not serve beneath him. I just wanted to lead small groups in our home like we had for years, but he did not like the idea. Around this time we started going to a vineyard church plant. I really liked the pastor and we shared similar views about ministry. We started helping lead worship and served in a variety of ways. We really helped to build the church from the pastor’s family and us, to a small congregation of about 150 people. I either played on the worship team, or lead the worship team every sunday for years. I served on the board and helped write the constitution. On a few occasions I filled in for the pastor when he was gone or sick. I really loved jesus. I was considering becoming a full time worship leader. I started thinking that if I wanted to become a full time minister I should make sure that my theology was sound and based on God’s word. I also was considering starting a small group to invite skeptics and atheist. I knew that if I was to go head to head with these types of people that I needed to be able to draw on a good understanding of the history of scripture and theology. I wanted to make sure for myself too, that I did not miss the truth. I was not trying to leave christianity, but as I studied I soon discovered that I could no longer consider scripture to be infallible, and that my theology was the result of hundreds of years of one group of christians arguing with another group. I was fascinated with some of the first and second century christian beliefs. There were several schools of early christian thought that considered hell to be temporary and that god would purify every one with fire, but after a time all God’s children would be reconciled. I started reading the evidence against christianity to be prepared to confront skeptics and atheist and in the process became a skeptic and basically an atheist. It was a gradual process. It was a liberating and heart wrenching at the same time. I would not go back though for anything. Being free to think and to question ideas has brought me joy and a sense of liberation. I used to weep over my lost family and friends. I called out to God, saying “please god, please save them” . I did not go to college because I thought that Jesus was going to return soon. I gave thousands of dollars and even a nice van to ministries. I listened pretty much just to worship music and jazz for a decade. I read the bible most of the way through (I’ve read the new testament through several times, and most of the old testament). I read “My Utmost for His Highest” three years daily. My old bible looks like a rainbow there are so many highlighter marks in it. I led hundreds of youth groups and small groups over the years. I witnesses to hundreds of people over the years. I prayed with people in hospitals and even in Walmart. I struggled to keep my mind in a constant state of worship and prayer. I believed with all my heart and mind that Jesus was God, I tried very hard to please him with my life. But like I said, after honestly examining the evidence, I could no longer be a christian. It was difficult at first, but as I continued to wrestle with reality it became more natural. I do not claim to know the whole truth, but I am confident in the process by which to determine truth from falsehood. I was a very passionate christian and now I am a very passionate non-christian. As I look around and see many of the problems that face the modern world, I think that religions does more to compound the problems then solve them. I think that humanity would be better off without a belief in god, or any religion at all. If you look at studies rating countries in areas like health, education, crime rate, poverty rate, and life expectancy the most secular countries in the world rank the highest. Even christians would have to agree that the world would be a more peaceful place if the middle east had secular governments like our own. If you are reading this, I challenge to apply the same critical thinking skills that you use daily and examine your own beliefs. Examine your own beliefs with the same scrutiny that you look at other’s beliefs with. You may be surprised what you discover. For me it was like being Dorthy in the Wizard of OZ, thinking that I needed the wizard to get home, only to find out that the wizard is just a big scam, and that I had the power to change my life all along.

  16. Sorry for the typos. It is hard to proof read the font in this comment entry box.

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