Rejecting Moralism and Cynicism

“That will set the United States’ position in this part of the world back fifty years!” I can still hear … Continued

“That will set the United States’ position in this part of the world back fifty years!” I can still hear the despairing tone of an eminent scholar in the Athens Tennis Club as our conversation was interrupted by a waiter who announced that the American Marines had just stormed the beaches of Beirut. I agreed, but was wrong.

Forty-nine years later, it’s clear that our preemptive strike prevented civil war in Lebanon, splitting apart Christian president & Sunni prime minister. Conclusion: Give me 49 years and I’ll tell you whether any particular preemptive strike was a Good Idea. (Was our Army & Marine pull-out of Lebanon 25 years after our Marine invasion a Good Idea? I don’t know. It’s too soon to tell.)

On this week’s question, I’m so ignorant as not even to know whether our preemptive war in Iraq was a good idea—so how would I know whether our staying in, or getting out, would be a good idea? But the question is not about strategic foreign-affairs decisions made and to be made by persons democratically empowered to make them. It’s about the moral component in the decision-making process involving all our citizenry. The question is even narrower: Can we speak of “the moral position” on the “out of Iraq” question?

Cynics say we can’t, moralists say we must. When they stand toe to toe, there’s no space between them. The noise they make gets much media attention. But the on-the-ground reality is that the space between them is huge. It’s occupied by ignorant people like me and most of the American citizenry.

Now, lest any reader think me cravenly modest in calling myself ignorant, I remind you that Socrates claimed to be the most ignorant man in Athens. We open our mouths not only so words can come out but also so food can come in; and if our minds eat junk food, junk ideas will come out.

As a Christian, I can’t be cynical. Jesus, who didn’t stay dead, forbids me to live without hope. Daily I pray and hope the best for the Iraqis and our relations with them. Nor, as a Christian, can I be moralistic. By eating a God-forbidden apricot, Adam and Eve became moralists, authorities on what’s right and good and what’s wrong and bad.

I press my case. Not only do I reject cynicism and moralism, two forms of folly. I consider cynics and moralists enemies of the humility without which our human hearts are not open to receive the food of wisdom, so that what comes out of our mouths will not be folly.

Willis E. Elliott
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  • BGone

    Sorry DAV but Allah IS IT, the *ball of fire* God that Moses made the deal with. You need to have a look at When the big money stops going to the shepherds that lead the flocks to the place run by the being that lives in fire God may well have been discovered. In the mean time, “go to your churches, temples, synagogues and mosques and pray’ for we are at war, the process whereby man assumes the power of God, the God given right to decide who shall live and who shall die and the disposition of the souls of the dead.Jesus said, “sell all your earthly posession and give to the poor.” Jesus is without followers.

  • dav

    Bgone, please go tell a muslim that his Allah freed the Jews from captivity and see what he has to say. I’d say they, but women are not suppose to dabble in discussions.

  • dav

    Alright Jozevz On, put down the green cigarette. I was talking about the Egyptian slavery of the Jews. Of course you wouldn’t know that because you’re one of those who pull lines out when needed.The Koran was not is not and never will be the New Testament. As for your prayer, too dumb to generate an actual response.

  • dav

    Yo Yo, Now tell me, how would you know that it is fiction? How is it that you would know that God doesn’t exist when most of us are still wondering? We (the human race) have a book called the bible. It has eye witness accounts that would stand up in the court system today. You being a liberal should understand that.

  • BGone

    YO-YOThe difference in people called atheists and the others is not belief in more life after this life or even in the possible existence of one or more supernatural beings, gods/Gods. The difference is in belief in hell.Atheists don’t believe in hell. That’s the bottom line. When they bury their dead they send them on to the NEXT life. The religious threaten each other with hell. Hell is the heart and soul of ter-orism.So what gave someone the idea there was a place called hell? But of course, he wanted to KILL people and NOT have them WAITING for him in the next world. That’s a real NO BRAINER.Hell comes in many varieties and forms but solves the single problem of what to do with dead enemies. Without hell there is no *God given right* to the universally accepted, “By right of conquest.” There is the warning that one will face the dead they have killed in the next world.It’s a laugher!! Al Capone had 235 of the finest people who ever lived waiting for him on the far side of the nebol bridge. Hitler had millions. Will “W” have a few or is Iraq, “just cause” or “by right of conquest?”

  • Patrick

    BGONE,

  • dav

    Mr. Mark, Rev Elliot probably won’t answer your question, but I’ll address it.

  • yo-yo

    DAV

  • brendan

    “Jesus, who didn’t stay dead, forbids me to live without hope.”How do you know?So your premise that “Jesus, who didn’t stay dead, forbids me to live without hope”, is based on shaky foundations to begin with. Whereas with my own eyes, I can see plenty of reasons for cynicism.

  • David

    Rev Elliott.As one who fails miserably but seeks nonetheless to follow Jesus, I don’t see how I can’t be a cynic of war and violence, which seem to fly in the face of the ethics and kingdom values that Jesus spoke of and acted out of. One can certainly be cynical and have hope that in time humanity will begin to see the folly in self-righteous murder done in the name of nationalism and religion. Certainly we can hope that good will come from wars, but all the same we can protest and pray and hope for a better way presented to us by those who followed the teachings of Jesus, such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Gandhi, who used nonviolent tactics to engage in conflict.

  • yo-yo

    BGONE You’re absolutely right.We all ask the big question “what’s it all about?”

  • Anonymous

    Bgone asks” Name a politician, king, emperor or dictator honest enough to declare himself immoral.”King David of the Old Testament declared himself as much many times over in the Psalms.On the contemporary side, — Pres. Clinton still has the opportunity to do so. Actually if we really want honesty, all of us could declare some kind of immorality that resides inside us.

  • Jim Carlson

    Belief or unbelief in a deity is less problematic for me than the fervency of that belief and how inerrant you believe yourself or your religion to be. If your faith isn’t tempered by the occasional doubt, or if your religion discourages critical thought, then maybe it’s time to shop elsewhere for life’s answers.Ask yourself this question and fill in the blanks: “Others who do not share my belief in _________ are _____________.” If the last blank contains a word or phrase such as ‘evil’ or ‘destined for hell’, then seek help.

  • JK

    Willis Elliot writes: “I’m so ignorant as not even to know whether our preemptive war in Iraq was a good idea—so how would I know whether our staying in, or getting out, would be a good idea?”So, if it takes 50 years to know whether anything works or does not, it’s best to go along with perpetual war and let God sort things out later. This is very Scriptural. Jesus was, of course, a prominent pro-war guy who mocked pacifists and bleeding hearts. The Sermon on the Mount was a veritable call to jihad: do unto others before they do unto you. And remember: throw ye the first stone, that ye may be judged purer than thy neighbor. Yes, take an eye, for an eye, for an eye…It is amazing how a professed Christian can totally blot out anything about the real tenets of his religion so that he can be an unblinking believer in our Decider in Chief. Ah, we must get along with our our flock, and it’s time for a game of tennis.

  • Anonymous

    Thou shalt not kill. Where is there room for war in this commandment?

  • ThiSISTheH8Generation

    I SO look for the day, yes when the Lord Jesus comes back and those who GOD SAYS are believers IN CHRIST no longer have to decide whats right or wrong and more importantly deal with those who do.

  • Mike

    Rev. Elliott,

  • L

    Christianity and other religions have, and continue to, rationalize their atrocities by using the very tenets of the religion to which they ascribe belief. It’s sort of pathetic that people continually fall for the same old stuff. I don’t care whether you’re Jewish, Christian, Moslem, or whatever your brand of tea might happen to be. Until you meet your maker, if in fact you do, none of us really has a true clue, we only have belief systems instilled in us in various ways. So argue on through the night, and try to determine who is right. It makes this whole sordid game all the more interesting. For my money Christian’s are the scariest bunch out there, though. They can rationalize anything and give it a pretty name…such as “manifest destiny”, or by papal bull(****).

  • Anonymous

    Bgone,(Davids womb, Davids seed)or what are you saying?”Having a pole shoved through the gut can make one feel real guilty, say all sorts of things no doubt.”

  • Robert

    To ThiSISTheH8Generation: your post really sums up the crux of the matter. Much of the fervancy of the religious is based on the deep-seated desire to have those who believe differently from you be divinely punished. “May God smite my enemies” is as old as religion itself and unfortunately persists today.

  • BGone

    Anonymous, it’s “thou shalt not kill. Thou shalt be killed.” A person or collection of persons, nation has the natural right of self defence,, even if they are wrong. So the rules of war are simple. Kill them here on earth and kill them again later in the next life, presuming killing them did not teach them the proverbial “lesson not soon forgotten.”The mighty king went to Delphi and inquired of the Oracle, “what will happen if I attack?” The Oracle replied, “A great nation will be defeated.” His intended victim nation was a great one. So he attacked and was himself defeated instead. Prophecy requires analysis before being followed is the moral of that historically correct story.An often violated commandment is number 11, “Thou shalt not believe thy own lies.”

  • CALIFORNIA CONDOR

    How is it possible that the Rev. Elliott can endure more than five years of Bush’s mendacity, deception, cant, pettifoggery and demagogy about Iraq, see the ruin, agony, blood, hate and devastation Bush has unleashed, and yet still claim to be “ignorant” about what’s going on. Unbelievable. The Rev. Elliott says he puts aside “cynicism and morality” in judging Bush’s actions. Maybe he should try legality. Bush invaded Iraq in clear violation of the law, the UN Charter and Article 51. His was and is the kind of inter-state aggression the Charter had been crafted to prevent. His “preventive war” was as transparently illegal as Hitler’s invasion of Poland or Saddam’s of Kuwait. How can a man of the cloth reject the centuries-old doctrine of “just war” which Bush also violated. Unbelievable that the Post would put its name on such blatant sophistry. What kind of Christian can’t recognize the propensity to evil that Bush and Cheney manifest? Let our man of the cloth tell us whom, indeed, would Jesus bomb and kill and lie like a hypocrite about?

  • Imran

    The Rev. Elliott says you eat junk food, junk ideas come out.I guess all the intelligent people on this earth eat pate de foie gras, caviar, filet mignon, and drink chardonnay. Truffles anyone?Rev. Elliott calls himself ignorant. How apt a self description for an _d_ot!How sad such stupid writing can make it online!

  • Anonymous

    Bgone, didnt the Pharisees press Pilate to make quick work of Christs crucifixion on account of the Passover celebration commencing that same evening?

  • dav

    Well, some interesting, however, simple responses since I last checked.

  • Imran

    I would love to hear the Rev. Elliott’s opinion on the civil war and on African Americans.I bet in his ignorant mind black people must still be slaves and the civil war was a morally upright war when viewed from the southern perspective!Sadly the North won!How reprehensible can that be!Maybe we can get his opinion on Hispanics and the immigration problem with so many of them illegals living in paradise.

  • Norrie Hoyt

    The last anonymous post was mine.

  • TOMSAIL

    SATAN LOVES HILLARY, OBAMA, AND EDWARDS!

  • TOMSAIL

    SATAN LOVES HILLARY, OBAMA, AND EDWARDS!

  • BGone

    Anonymous, you need to read the Dead Sea scrolls. There’s a tale in them about a person who attempted to convince the Romans the Jew God was so powerful they couldn’t possibly resist. He would do that with a phony crucifixion arranged by the high Rabbi. The two thieves were a part of the ruse and were selected for their strength.The plan: They were not nailed to the cross, only tied. The Jesus figure would be administered knock-out drops while hanging on the cross to make him appear dead. As a matter of routine the crucified were taken down off their crosses at sunset and held in a hole-in-the-wall cave that was sealed with a large stone. The limp body of Jesus along with the two big guys would normally be put there over night or even over passover. While in the holding cell Jesus would recover and the two big guys push the stone away so they could escape, (leads to the notion that the body of Jesus was stolen) implying a supernatural, Jesus had risen from the dead scenario intended to sacre the Romans.The plan failed: Jesus was given the KO drops in vinegar on a sponge and appeared to be dead. So far so good except a soldier made sure he was dead by lancing him. They looked at the two big guys and said they would escape so they broke both their legs.The story has two endings. The one above and the one in the Gospels. The writings are shown to be 100BC[E] vintage. Which one do you suppose is correct if either?Amenophis IV said a lot of things including calling upon her father in heaven, the sun to save her. Didn’t work of course. She also threatened the high priest claiming that she would rise from the dead, (at an inoportune time for him).The original Nicean creed said that Jesus “decended into hell.” The pole through the gut was a condemnation to hell, Egyptian style. That’s hell of the first type the condition of the dead body. The Egyptians presumed the pole would reappear in the next world, (on the nebol bridge) along with her regenerated body where the condemned would live another miserable 3 hours and on to the next world after that odd infinitum.Jesus said “fear him that can destroy both BODY and soul in hell.” Jesus wasn’t kidding.

  • BGone

    I believe that’s “fear him WHO can destroy…”Why does Jesus always refer to BODY going to hell and never spirit? Souls are records of one’s sins you know. Dr Rev Hagee will tell you that “if you die with a mortal sin on your soul you’re going straight to hell.” Jesus said Satan, the one who records sins on your soul is going to throw your soul straight in behind ya. You better watch out. You better not pout or Satan will get ya. Satan is God’s right hand man that sorts out the sinners and destroys them both BODY and soul in firey hell.The Bible needs a lot of editing to conform to dogma.

  • joseph

    Believers in a specific religion are not MORAL in any sense of the word. They are simply following orders, given in the Bible, the Koran, or other authoritative scripsts. If they do not kill, it is not a MORAL decision, but simply following the order “thou shalt not kill”. An atheist not killing (when the conditions permit escpating the law) makes a MORAL decision that it is MORALLY wrong to do so.

  • Willis Elliott

    Good comment, Norrie Hoyt. While you didn’t quite make it to my point, you came close–though my “attitude toward life” is far from the withdrawnness you assume. (“A passive bystander” is a laughably

  • Ant

    God may be real but religion is false always was and always will be. They demand total blind faith, that was something that Jesus did not allow for in his teachings. Verify is what he said do not twist the writings remeber how he dealt witht the religious leaders of his time.

  • George Robertson

    It sounds like Rev. Elliott has converted from Christianity to something like Buddhism, in which the power of individuals to better their own lives is surrendered to a meaningless quest for inner knowledge. Jesus, and his successor St. Paul, had no qualms about both recognizing evil and trying to do something about it. John Wesley and others like him then brought Christianity into the industrialized world, building on the foundations laid by Luther. If people like Elliott are unable to grapple with our problems today, I feel sorry for them, but please don’t purport that their opinions represent the opinions of either traditional or evangelical Christians.

  • dav

    The morality of the Iraq issue is simple, it’s divine punishment. We (the human race) were told about this by Jeremiah. This is not a religious issue, but the actual word of God. Call it how you see it but it is what it is.I do want to know what is modern morality? Is it completely open to interpertation as well as the bible?

  • Arby

    Dav, the Bible is full of failed prophecies and proven falsehoods, from historical to scientific. It isn’t “completely correct” just because you assert it is.

  • Paul

    Someone once asked Zhou En-lai what the most important result of the French Revolution was. He replied – it was too soon to say for sure….

  • Bob

    I would rather choose hope in the God of Love than the reality of utter human failure — ruining the planet and life on it. There is nothing in our history to indicate that we will ever eradicate violence, greed, hatred, and selfishness. We’re not that good. Get over yourselves.

  • yo-yo

    AntYou say God may be real,but religion is false,etc.

  • Kevin

    “and if our minds eat junk food, junk ideas will come out”Well put. Religious dogma is junk food. Dav’s comment about “divine punishment” is a good example. To suppose that god spoke to us through a character in the Bible and call the war in Iraq divine punishment is no different from justifying suicide bombing because god said in the Koran that I will be rewarded in the afterlife. If we have enough nuts on either side thinking this way, we get the intractable wars that we continue to see. Only when people stop using god, Jesus, Mohammed, the Koran, the Bible, etc. as excuses for their own prejudices will we have any moral leg to stand on. Morality is not the child of religion; it is certainly not the literal expression of the Bible or any other book written by people. We don’t derive our morality from two naked characters in Genesis anymore than we do from Whinnie the Pooh. Get. With. The. 21st. Century. Already.

  • Jim Hill

    A little humility goes a long way. Wouldn’t it be nice if our President and his friends had a little more?

  • BGone

    YO-YO, ANT, there may or may not be a God?Prove I’m not God and then continue the discussion. Notice that I am watching you. Who else is watching you may or may not be just like God, is or is not.I wonder if the reverand has noticed By the simplest of logic those who make war are Gods for they assume the power to condemn to hell. That logic says God is not a being but rather an office held by beings, men and ocassionally women. It’s the oldest political position, predates prostitution. War is therefore moral because God is moral by definition.Name a politician, king, emperor or dictator honest enough to declare himself immoral.

  • dav

    Again, it is what it is. Allah is a false God, sorry can’t put suicide bombers and Jeremaih in the same sentence. God of the bible exists, Allah, does not. They are not the same God as politically correct dummies want to explain it. God had a son, Allah doesn’t. Simple enough for most to understand.

  • Mark Stenroos

    Dear Dav -It’s hard to communicate with you because you don’t seem to comprehend simple ideas.I said that Josephus was not a contemporary of Jesus. I say that because Josephus was born in 37CE. Most scholars put the death of Jesus at somewhere between 30-36CE. Ergo, Jesus died BEFORE Josephus was born. Josephus’ FIRST writings (The Jewish War) appear in 75 CE, or roughly 40 years AFTER the death of Jesus. By definition, Josephus wasn’t a contemporary of Jesus, and he certainly wasn’t an eyewitness to anything about Jesus.You point out that Josephus LIVED in the first century. So what? That didn’t make him a contemporary of Jesus, anymore than a person born today would be considered a contemporary of JFK. A person born in 99CE also “lived in the first century.” Are you now going to suggest that such a person was an “eyewitness” to the life of Jesus?You also have the annoying habit of screaming “I’m providing evidence and none of you atheists can refute it,” when there are many posts in this thread doing just that, even providing links to debunk your myths.You’re not going to last long in this forum if you continue to offer “challenges” to people and then refuse to read their responses or even to acknowledge that they have responded. You seem intent on positing arguments from ignorance. Making statements like, “Ask any astro-physicist and he/she will tell you that they have absolutely no credible explanation for why the universe exists, short of a divine being, which most reject becuase it is too simple of an explanation,” is simplistic in it illogic as, 1) any astrophysicist will have at least a couple of credible explanations for HOW the universe exists. The question of WHY has nothing to do with natural processes of HOW. This is what we called a loaded question, and you’ve loaded it poorly. 2) Just because there’s no concrete explanation (yet) for the beginning of the universe doesn’t make “god” the only possible answer available, and 3) the existence of god to explain the beginnings of the universe is a SIMPLISTIC explanation, but it is far from a SIMPLE explanation. Indeed. positing the existence of a supernatural being as the creator of the universe is – on its face – a MUCH more complex explanation than is the Big Bang, because the Big Bang does not require an explanation that involves the supernatural whereas the hypothesis of a “created” universe goes beyond the realm of the natural for its basis and its explanation.As far as “eyewitness” accounts of Jesus, there are none, and you should know that. A well-versed Xian can make his arguments for his faith without resorting to believing in the lie of eyewitnesses. By insisting that there were eyewitnesses and that they wrote about Jesus, you weaken your argument. Try again.

  • Cayambe, Philo, CA-USA

    Rev. Elliot,I agree with you. Norrie Hoyt supplied the worthy comment of the collection….right, it was a singular event.You wrote, in response to Norrie:I think that he/she might wish that you would state your intentions instead of leaving it to he/she to read your mind. I must admit that I find your mind to opaque to be penetrated by me. If we take the question you pose to Norrie at the end of the paragraph above, once again you ask he/she to divine the mysterious workings of your mind. Why? Why don’t you just answer the hypothetical question you posed? Is there some better authority on the matter?The important questions are not whether getting in or getting out are “good” ideas. Good and bad in the usual senses of the terms depend upon future consequences as you have more elegantly pointed out. Still, ignorant or not, the citizenry must come to grips with such decisions as they present themselves so the “persons democratically empowered to make them” can know how to decide. Absent morality, absent cynicism, how would you have the citizenry decide such issues?

  • Mark Stenroos

    Dear Dav -Oops. I owe you an apology. It was Druvas who brought up the astrophysicists, not you. Mea culpa.Druvas – my comments are redirected toward you.Dav – you did write, “That too will evolve as science discredits itself again in the future.”Hmm. That’s a strange statement coming from a person who absolutely DEPENDS on science to get through his day, from the gasoline he puts in his car to the computer he uses to post at On Faith.Or, maybe your faith in science is such that you wake up every day fully expecting your computer to not work because the science behind your computer has once more “discredited itself,” and the science that worked yesterday has suddenly ceased to work today. Or, maybe your view of computer science is that every increase in computer processing speed is a case of science “discrediting itself,” rather than building on existing facts and theories.BTW – watch out for airplanes falling from the sky. The science behind manned flight may be discredited any day now.

  • BGone

    There were “eyewitnesses” to the person on whom the fictional hero of the Gospels, Jesus is based. They did a fair job of recording it too. Unfortunately there are few who can read it and many who seem to be unable to *read* a picture. Me thinks they have a *vested interest* in not seeing, a lot of money involved, peoples careers, respectability and more.Is the morality issue really an issue in Iraq or just more a case of the sited refusing to look? I take it that some faith *faith is evidence*.What did Josephus use for his information?

  • yo-yo

    MARK STENROOSI compliment you on your excellent post,which I totally agree with,and I hope more people read it.

  • Baruch

    Wow, all these abstractions.Is it moral to invade a country, kill hundreds of thousands of it’s inhabitants, seize it’s assets, destroy it’s infrastructure, and set up a foreign controlled government because it’s leader is a bad guy who “tried to kill my daddy”?No.

  • dav

    First, I stated right now, until science can prove not theorize it’s every evolving stance on creation, God had to (in my opinion) create it. The laws (that’s proven science) of physics were broken to make the universe. Make something out of nothing and I’ll go along with that. Until then, no sorry abiogenesis is next to impossible now. Sort of like proving that God does really exist. Now, Jocephus stated there must be something to Jesus as in a Messiah. He was writing for pagans in a paganistic style. Jew or not. He was there nonetheless to write for the history of the Roman Empire.

  • dav

    This post is directed at Mark.First, science has a use in the every day to day living situation, if you want to cite it as such. The are varying degrees of science though. Physics is a science like the computer field, however they are distant cousins. Thermodynamics is closer to physics, considering it’s a science dependent upon physics, still though, a long way from conducting electricity in its use today. However, aerodynamics is getting closer to the science of physics, still an infant in respect to the science that it would take to generate the big bang. Not like flying machines. Please note the above post for the abiogenesis science theroy. Remember, theroy is unproven law. I only ask that something is proved before I believe beyond a reasonable doubt. Otherwise, I will believe the most reasonable one. With the “all of a sudden” here it is, life forming on earth, God explains that. Where are the fossils beneath the fossils that we (humans) have already found. Yet, nothing below them? Too long to go into mutation and it’s bunk theroy as well. I will say this, a tadpole loses it’s tail. Cells die in order for this to happen. This process does not need to happen for the tadpole to survive. How is this mutation as explained by neo-evloutionists?

  • dav

    I would like to challenge all those who would like a one on one debate. Not with me, I did find a radio web site that on Fridays at 3 PM EDT has a free for all call in. Challenge this guy Bob at the eye witness account or physics and thermodynamics. Even your simple science statments if you’d like. Now, will you? Probably not, considering voices are different than typing. However, I will leave you with the web site and will be listening on Friday afternoon for you.This considering none of “us” are going one on one. Please remit any secular shows containing the same, and I’ll respond by doing the same.

  • Druvas

    DAV, Mark Stenroos;First, I want to add the caveat that I do believe that Jesus is the son of God and walked the Earth to take away Man’s sin. Second, I again state that I do not see any contradictions between Evolution and Creationism. The Bible does not go into expicit detail beyond the initial creation of the world and the initial beings put on it. I happen to not be a literalist when it comes to the Old Testament. As for my astrophysicist comments, according to most of them, the universe has constructed itself in just the right way to allow for life to exist. The probability for an inconcievable amount of elements, molecules, and particles to arrange themselves in just the right way for us to be here having this conversation is far more inconcievable than the said quantity of elements, which thus leads one to conclude (and not haphazzardly) that an intelligent creator is behind it all. One can argue on the points if that is a Christian God or something else, I just happen to believe that it is. In light of the fact that no theory that has yet been put forth by the scientific community is the least bit credible as to how and why the universe is here, I am left to conclude that, due to the enormity of the task of creating a universe, filling it with enough stuff to create trillions and trillions of stars (and several factors more in planets, as we are discovering), and causing all of that to explode outward in all directions from a point no larger than the grain of sand, that God MUST have done it. In saying that, I can even fathom and believe in the Big Bang, since we see observable evidence of such in the “red-shift” phenomenon. But the Big Bang theory is not the answer to the question of how or why.

  • David K

    Dav,What you have to say about science, evolution, and God reads so much like a Bible-thumpin’, big-tent churchin’, bible-belt livin’ stereotype that I have a hard time believeing that someone actually exists with as little intellectual curiosity about the world around you as your posts imply.You are so wrong about what the term “theory” connotes as to be laughable. “Theory” does not mean “unproven law.” The way science actually uses the term is to represent and explain a large body of related evidence/facts/observed phenomena. A theory is so well-established that it takes a real wallop to make it crumble. Individuals will argue the DETAILS of a theory (as they should), but no sane, rational person would or genuously could dismiss the theory outright. The way you use the word “theory” equates it’s meaning with that of a “hypothesis,” “guess,” or “hunch.” This word is so misused and wrongly defined through the years by creationists with their theocratic agenda that you don’t even know what the word really means anymore.Question: Have you ever read/heard/seen anything regarding evolution that did not come from a Christian-biased source? Have you read “Origin of Species?” Have you bothered to immerse yourself in today’s research regarding evolutionary theory before trying to dispute it? I suspect the answer is NO.What is this foolishness about science “discrediting” itself? Science is, by definition a SELF-CORRECTING mechanism. As time has passed since the advent of modern scientific thought, science has consistently taken pains to organize, categorize and explain the OBSERVABLE phenomena in the universe. Every now and then, something comes along that turns science on its head and forces it to correct itself. What ends up is a science that is stronger and more fortified by its own self-examination. This means that as time goes by, there will be less and less to “discredit” science (as you put it). Science gets stronger by constant, persistent questioning of the observed and refining of the explanations for the observed. Unlike religious BELIEF SYSTEMS, science attempts to explain what is actually observed as it makes more and more and more and more sense of what goes on around us. You and too many other Christians start with a book, and attempt to fit the workings of the world into it. Beacuse it’s comforting, no? Between science and Christianity, which of the two enterprises sounds more like folly?You say that what you want is PROOF in what science tells you before you believe in it, but apparently the mountains of evidence for the evolutionary process just won’t cut it, will it. The observed phenomena that points to a big bang doesn’t persuade you either, right? The test upon test upon test that end up upholding science’s understanding of the universe doesn’t seem to be enough, I suspect.You want PROOF, so where’s the PROOF that God exists, that Jesus was divine, that Christianity, out of all the world’s religions, is the one true religion? Where is the proof? So what if Jesus really existed. What makes him a messiah? The fact that a collection of books, put together by a HUMAN committee, long after Jesus died and was “mythologized”, says so? Is that your proof? You say yourself that you choose to BELIEVE that Goddidit because you don’t trust science being 99.99% certain about what it speaks on, that’s not enough for you. The only reason science never says it’s 100% certain on anything is because it isn’t as self-righteously arrogant as religions are to claim to know all the answers. What you choose to believe rests on FAR less “proof” than what any scientist has to say about the world around us, yet you choose to have an opinion that Goddidit. You base this on scant evidence of 2000 year-old writings (by HUMANS, fallible as ever), funneled through a religious institution that has it’s own agenda.Don’t even get me started on your false dichotomy. “Since science can’t explain it, Goddidit.” That’s essentially what you say. Read that sentence again, doesn’t it sound foolish?The time for old superstitions is passing. I suppose there are those who will fight this change to the end.

  • David K

    All, I apologize for the double post, I didn’t realize a delay existed. Now I know and can adjust accordingly (scientific thought at work, whattayaknow!)

  • Norrie Hoyt

    Druvas,In physics, the only “why” answers are “how” answers. If you don’t know how, you don’t know why.The advocates for the “anthropic universe”, which you promote, are logically confused. They say that because the physical constants of the universe are such that human life appeared, there must have been a divine intention to tune the constants so that human life resulted.WRONG! Human life did appear because the constants are the way they are. But that does not allow us to infer the existence of an intending creator.If the constants had been different, the universe would have been different, and might even have produced different forms of life or intelligence.If, as seems likely, there are an infinitude of universes, one of that number would necessarily have been our universe with its constants and life forms.So if you really want to find evidence for a creator, you’ll have to go back to the drawing board.For millenia, Buddhists (and me) have been perfectly content with the idea of an infinite number of infinitely existing uncreated universes.

  • David K

    Okay, so 4 posts. The site was moving so slowly, I would cancel the posting only to now see that it was posted anyway. Sorry all. I don’t mean to spam.

  • Bert

    Well, sir, as far as I can tell, and as far as I’m concerned, you’re a hapless shill, a twit, a tool, a parrot, a sock-puppet for faith-based foreign policy. Bush threw out a bunch of money to the churches, and most likely whatever institution you call ‘home’ sopped up some of that. So, you’re now part of, more or less, a state-sponsored religious institution. That’s right. You’re partially on government welfare.Let’s review:Thou shalt not kill.Any of this sound even vaguely familiar? These and other basic ‘fundamental’ principles and christian concepts can be found in a book called the Holy Bible, possibly the most widely referenced book in the entire world, certainly the longest in-print, and widely available. Pick up a copy today! LOLOL

  • Anonymous

    By Ahmed: from PostGlobol at Newsweek.Almost all acts of Muslim mob violence have their instigation in sermons by iamams during the Friday prayers in the mosques or in the fatwas such as the one issued by Khomeini.It is time that Muslim and non-Muslim governments bring these imams to trial and, if convicted, have them hanged or shot.A few executions of the imamas will put a permamnent stop to the root cause of Muslim violence.If the imams are residing in Muslim countries and if the Muslim governments do not act against these imams, then the imams should be extradited to western countries and then tried.June 26, 2007 6:25 AM

  • dav

    To all who think that the bible is full of lies and unfullfilled prophecy, please tell me one that hasn’t happened in the time that has been given yet. There are more to come also. It hasn’t all been fullfilled. Let’s go beyond the given.

  • Anonymous

    Ya Ya, D A V.

  • Dorothea E. Schweitzer

    The perspective of Christians has always been contrarian, counter-cultural…and continues to be. Truth is often distasteful. The eye-opener for me were the responses. Our culture is more deeply God-less than I thought. Thanks for the truth-telling. It’s essential, regardless of the response!

  • dav

    Of course Christians are counter-cultural. Christians work againist the world system which is run primarily by atheists, if it were not, we wouldn’t be taught such things as evolution as fact. In which case, evolution can’t happen the way the present it. Now, that is the truth, distasteful as it may be. If Christians were part of the world system, they would not be censured for their beliefs. When they present something from a sect other than Christ believing, they are hailed as progressive. However, when they hold to their principles, they are called holy rollers (like that’s a bad thing) or told to go away. More proof that if there is a God and a devil, they really exist.

  • Norrie Hoyt

    Dear Dr. Elliott,Thank you for your response to my post.When I wrote it I felt badly that I had undertaken to comment on your life and your pastorate, of which I knew nothing.I stepped over my self-imposed line of not commenting on others’ lives (as opposed to what they’ve written), and I’m sorry for that.You may legitimately respond: “You felt badly but not badly enough to delete your comment”. That’s certainly true.The reason I went ahead with the post, despite my qualms, was that your essay was somehow maddening to me. I can’t articulate why that was so, but it was. I’ve now reread your essay and I’m still baffled. I think I still haven’t gotten to your point – it was the seeming (to me) pointlessness of what you wrote that I found irritating.Of course we often can’t evaluate an action until long after it’s happened. But like someone whose house is burning, we have to call the fire department right now, rather than waiting for the definitive analysis two years later in “The Journal of Firefighting” to find out what happened to our dwelling.Best wishes.

  • Norrie Hoyt

    Cayambe, Philo, CA-USA,I appreciate your thoughtful comment and agree with it. Your second paragraph captures perfectly the reasons for my annoyance on first reading Dr. Elliott’s essay. I, too, find his writing opaque, though maybe it’s my fault that I don’t “get it”.Best wishes.P.S.: I’m a HE.

  • druvas

    I am not sure why you people are arguing back and forth regarding evolution and creationism. I don’t see how they are mutually exclusive. Ask any astro-physicist and he/she will tell you that they have absolutely no credible explanation for why the universe exists, short of a divine being, which most reject becuase it is too simple of an explanation (which of course violates Occams’ Razor – “All things being equal, the simplest solution tends to be the best one.” ). With that being said, Christianity does not preclude the evolutionary process that is going on in front of us every day. With a little light studying, we can see that species are changing constantly, for example, sharks that have never previously had virgin births are suddenly doing so. There are plenty of other examples to go by, but I think you get the point. Not that I am a Catholic, but Pope John Paul even stated the official position of the Catholic church to be in agreement with this. Darwin himself was a theologian by university training (and a minister as well, I think???)

  • dav

    Why I am citing things such as evolution and creationism? Why am I citing eye witness accounts to the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ?

  • BGgone

    What she ate is questionable. God threw her out of paradise anyhow so it must have given her a headache.That’s a true story. There were many reliable eyewitnesses, same ones that were there when God said, “let there be light.”Would religious leaders lie to you?

  • David

    Bob,I’m glad you have hope in a God of love, but if you’re talking about the same God who was personified in the person of Jesus, than your hope should lead you to follow his teachings and to love your brothers, sisters, and enemies as he did. If you yourself truly had hope in God than you wouldn’t give up on others, on the contrary, you would strive to make the Kingdom that Jesus spoke of, both a reality in your heart and a reality in the world around you. It’s irrelevant whether or not violence will be eradicated. It is still a goal to strive after. If you have no hope in others, than you have no love for others, which is also contrary to Christ, who saw the light in prostitutes and the least of these. If you truly had hope in a God of love, than you would begin to love all of humanity that is made in his image.But I agree we need to get over ourselves. All of us. And begin to care for others, not just use God as a trump card for our apathy or lack of empathy for I dunno, say the 600,000 or so who have died based on a decision which Mr. Elliott can not make a moral judgment about.

  • BGone

    I inadvertently posted on Rev Anderson’s thread and ask for your version of who or what perhaps Satan is. Could you favor us please? Where does Satan come from?Thank you

  • Willis Elliott

    NORRIE HOYT: Thank you for apologizing for your personal attack. How refreshing! How rare is repentance on a blog-trajectory!As to why you found my panelist-reply “maddening” & “pointless,” these may be CLUES:1 You seem not to have noticed that my point is in the periodic position, namely, the final paragraph. The week’s question was not focused on Iraq but on morality, & I addressed a moral virtue–namely,HUMILITY–essential to the wisdom of addressing all moral issues, not just in/out of Iraq. I identified two enemies of this wisdom, namely, cynicism and moralism. Most of the 90-to-date comments to my reply were written by this category of enemies of wisdom.2 My answer was counter-intuitive, UNEXPECTED. Readers expected panelists to answer (as I said) the strategic question, namely, in/out of Iraq. I addressed a prior question. I surprised you, irritated you, didn’t satisfy you.3 With your Buddhist leaning (which you mention in your 4:52pm post today), you’re probably absolutely against preemptive military strikes. In my first paragraph, I confessed that I was wrong to have been against the U.S.Marines 1958 invasion of Lebanon. Didn’t that irritate you? But don’t you agree that I was wrong?4 Another suggested clue as to why you found my reply “maddening”: you weren’t ready for meditation (such as my reply called for) but for action: as you said, the “house is burning”!5 I’ve saved this until last: I think my (Christian) religion irritates you. In your 4:56pm post, you say “Human life did appear because the constants are the way they are. But that does not allow us to infer the existence of an intending creator” (the “anthropic universe”). What, then, does it “allow” us to “infer”? You come up with an even more shocking leap of imagination–more shocking than my biblical belief in creation: “an infinite number of infinitely existing uncreated universes.” Ya got me there: Your belief is more naive than mine.

  • dav

    First, I never said I was all knowing. The only statement I made is that the evidence shows that evolution is not probable. Thus, there leaves the conclusion there must have been a creator. I believe that this is the Judeo-Christian God. So far this is the only one I have come up with in my readings and teachings that makes sense. I went to a very secular university. Now, to re-direct to the original post, if the Iraq war is moral or not, I (me) believe that this is written in Jeremaih. (To call me a bible thumpin’ person when you don’t know me is very arrogant. I do not attend church every week. So therefore I read and make my own conclusions from my own reasearch.) So I don’t believe that the war is immoral, however divine punishment. Now, with my posts before these, written only to affirm and factualize my reasons for belief of that theroy (unproven, however an explanation.) I can also use the ever-changing use of theroy also.

  • dav

    David K., Interesting post. However, the evidence does not show that evolution is the “best guess”. Therefore, theroy. There are more and more changes in the evolutionary system than the English language. How many best guesses should one have to listen and rate before one comes to the conclusion that intelligent design made the universe? This I believe is and was God as Christians know it. The big bang as it was described to me at the University of Michigan (a very liberal and secular school I might add) is so much improbable, it’s utterly impossibe. If the way the described it, we are in a closed system. This system is billions of years old, yet shows all signs of a young universe. This is not being close minded, however critical thinking is needed here. With that being said, think about the tadpole trait. That is not an evoultionistic trait. Neither are a lot of things observed in nature and science. Again, critical thinking. I accept all points of view, so how can I be close minded?

  • Jodeho

    My arm itches; I scratch it: From this I know more about reality than all your abstract arguments, none of which are ever proven. But the scratch is proof of the itch.

  • bepatient

    Don’t put God in a box. In other words, don’t confine God to the reality that you can fully understand him with your simple minds. God is a Spirit. The Bible compares our thinking with cattle as compared to that of the Almighty God. It’s even worse than that in reality. Consider the Lord has the hairs on your head numbered, not only you but everyone in the world. I know what you doubters are thinking, that’s impossible right(common responce anyways). That’s because you can’t understand how God does it and you won’t believe in anything you can’t understand. God is too great to understand and his ways are mysterious. We only know what God reveals to us about himself and that’s why science has never brought us into a closer relationship with God. The Bible says God is invisible and undetectable. It also says that God is capable of hiding himself from whoever he wants and they will never find him. However the Bible says seek and ye shall find. Knock and the door shall be opened unto you. Wouldn’t God be the single most important discovery of a persons life? I think yes God would be. How much effort have you spent on that endeavor. You can’t bring yourself to spend that much effort on something you believe is a worthless cause. You’ll be fortunate, lucky and blessed if God reveals himself to you anyways. Even then you’re not able to fully grasp how great God is. Jesus is Lord.