Catholics should ‘be not afraid’ in seeking truth

In the memoir Eat, Pray, Love, writer Elizabeth Gilbert gives up her entire way of life to spend a year … Continued

In the memoir Eat, Pray, Love, writer Elizabeth Gilbert gives up her entire way of life to spend a year traveling the world, finding spiritual enlightenment along the way. Julia Roberts, who plays Gilbert’s character in the movie version out this week, apparently found enlightenment of her own through the role, revealing that she has become a practicing Hindu.
 

As Joan Ball asks in a Guest Voices post, “Is it possible to live a life of deep, transformational faith without dropping everything and hitting the road?”
 
In your tradition, what is the aim of the spiritual journey?

There are those who would say: “We are all going up the same mountain; we’re just on different paths.” I don’t buy that. I’m more inclined to say that there is one true path, but we climb at different speeds and in different ways. Religious people should first struggle to find that true path before they immerse themselves in the journey.

Some people are called upon to devote their entire life to a spiritual journey. Many priests, ministers, rabbis, and nuns forsake other aspects of their lives to seek a higher truth. I admire the dedication of these people. They show a faith that few others have. They may also reach higher levels of understanding than the rest of us, but that is not certain.
Dedication is only part of the equation. It only works if the voyager is on the correct path or close to it. If the journey follows the wrong path, the lessons taught and learned will be wrong. Unfortunately, it is sometimes hard to recognize whether the path is the correct one. Moreover, I am afraid that total commitment often brings with it an undeserved level of respect.

The world today should teach us that total emersion in faith can result in very different outcomes. Both Osama bin Ladin and Billy Graham have devoted their lives to their faiths. They have “walked the walk,” but they are on very different paths. One man has contributed greatly to humanity by preaching a doctrine of peace. The other has spread terror and death. The path, not their dedication or determination, made the difference.
For most of us, the contrast between paths will not be this stark, but nevertheless it is clear that people of faith need to attach a good deal of significance to finding the best path. This is not a passive decision. Faith is a serious matter, and as Pope Benedict XVI has explained, it requires the application of reason. We are called upon to educate ourselves about matters of faith.

Pope John Paul II said “be not afraid.” Be not afraid of new ideas. Be not afraid of exploring foreign doctrines. Be not afraid of looking at other paths. But, be not afraid to defend the truth or to hold fast to your faith. Undue reliance must not be placed in others simply because they have taken a long spiritual journey. It is up to each of us to examine the path of our spiritual journey and to select our direction with great care.

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  • Navin1

    Catholics, and other christians, should be afraid that they carry the ideology of genocide that has been a constant companion and friend of their church. They should ask why the christians, muslims, and communists are so much the genocidal leaders of the world while most of the world’s religions are not. Then their spiritual journey will start.hariaum

  • Dr07

    HariaumI am Catholic, but I do not label a person because a “person” is unique. I presume you are Muslim. Quite honestly I respect and agree with your comment, “Catholics, and other christians, should be afraid that they carry the ideology of genocide that has been a constant companion and friend of their church”. I have no choice but to carry this baggage I inherited. The question on my journey through life is, “Do I participate?”In this Judeo Christian society I must say, “I have never been raped by a Muslim. I cannot say the same for the rest.” We all have a journey, to some extent I agree with the author, but I diverge in the following respect.I am human, but believe in god. While I respect that god knows what he is doing and what we all are doing, sometimes I question the effectiveness of my own acts and omissions, but because of my discernment I believe my motives are as close to what I believe god wants from me as can be.I believe a suicide bomber, because he/she believes that he/she gives his life for god, might actually go to heaven. But indiscriminate killing innocent women and children, I think a bit cowardly. But, I am not god, so I resign myself to a phrase in a Catholic prayer “thy [god’s] will be done.” While I might have this reservation for a suicide bomber, I cannot believe god would invite the leader that would send another into the street to do the leader’s job. If that were not cowardly enough, even worse the “leader” that would send a child to die, even worse a girl.Your writing sounds of an embittered spirit, rightfully or uninformed. You are looking for answers. I hope you and yours find peace before it is too late.

  • areyousaying

    Catholics should take a spiritual “inner journey” to their hearts to denounce and reject a church that bashes gays on one hand and protects priests who molest little boys on the other.

  • RCofield

    Hi PETERHUFF, WALTER, CALICOJ, PSOLUSLooks like the other thread timed out.RCOFIELD: “Heads up guys. We need to clean up the language a bit here. There is a lady among us now. :-)”PH: Who’s the lady?RCO: CalicoJ, I presume, if I am not mis-reading her (?) posts.I will be absent for a day or two here but hope to be back in the fray shortly. In the meantime I would like to point out something that I noticed with WALTER & CALICOJ.Walter claims there is “no moral component” to evolution, and CalicoJ agrees. Yet Walter contends: WALTER: “pam, peter and i have spent many many a post talking about morals w/o god. the simple answer is that they’re not atheistic, but a *product of evolution.*” This seems contradictory to me. Also, as most of you know, Sam Harris is publishing a book in the fall of this year titled “Toward a Science of Morality.” Having heard him speak on this subject, I believe he will contend, with Walter, that morality is “a product of evolution.” What am I missing here, guys? It seems to me that many in the New Atheism movement are making this contention with increasing frequency, yet want to hold out that evolution is amoral. This seems internally contradictory to me, but I am open to a reasonable explanation on this. Can you guys discuss this?PS to WALTER: I never said Hitler was an atheist. You must be confusing me with someone else.CALICOJ, I haven’t forgotten about the epistemological discussion. I will try to post some on this over the weekend, time permitting. Also, I will try to respond to your questions to the scribal accuracy of the bible we have today. This is a field of study that has accumulated a massive body of work over the last 75 years or so.PSOLUS, I posted a response to CalicoJ on the questions about Leviticus a couple of weeks back. I will try to find and re-post it here.See you guys soon.Peace

  • peterhuff

    Hi Walter,I read your link on Hitler not being an atheist, nor a Christian. It is funny what the author of the article put down in his concluding paragraph:”In conclusion, I think that Hitler was not an atheist, but he was not a Christian either. While he was materialist and rationalist in a lot of things, he also talked a lot about “Providence”, or “Nature”, as a sort of mystical force of fate, and he saw himself as somehow destined for victory even when the war was going badly for him, simply because of the purity of his purpose, his strength of will, and his feeling of destiny. I have even read that he believed in reincarnation. To me, some of his quotes and writings make it sound like he worshipped the German national identity; some make it seem like instead of God he worshipped or idealised or divinised Providence / Nature / Fate, with his glorious destiny assured no matter what; and in some ways it seems to me like he worshipped himself.”These all seem like terms that very easily describe and fit atheism. “Materialist and rationalist”Does not the atheist deify nature? Does he not see some kind of providence out of it? Does he not see life in a materialistic fashion. Does he not explain his existence without the aid of an ultimate Being? Does he not elevate himself to the position of being his own god, deciding his own destiny, making his own rules and values? The Buddhist has no personal deity either, and whether or not Hitler was influenced by eastern mysticism and reincarnation (which it appears he was), it still has him without that ultimate Being, just a force.As the author pointed out, he rejected Christianity earlier on in his life. The Nuremberg Trials manuscripts shows some of the beliefs of the members of the Third Reich. These are people who pushed social Darwinism to its ultimate conclusion in what they did to others.Why do you think an atheist has any ‘better’ grounds on which to act from his own philosophical natural system of life? No, I think the ‘average/normal’ atheist debater lives contrary to what his system has its core values built on.And Hitler’s own ‘Mein Kampf’ (My Struggle) shows his allegiance to social Darwinism and macro-evolution, and as to why he was able to carry through in slaughtering 11 million people in his death camps and elsewhere in his attempt to rid the world of lesser races.

  • RCofield

    PETERHUFF,I just realized that my response to your question about how I became interested in presuppositional apologetics (PA) didn’t post on the other thread for some reason. Sorry about that.My first exposure to PA came via Dr. Francis Shaeffer. In reading his “How Shall We Then Live: The Rise and Decline of Western Thought and Culture,” I was galvanized by a single statement he made about the decline of reason in the thought and the moral decay of Western civilization. He contended that “Presuppositional apologetics would have stopped the decay.” Though I did not agree some of his teaching, the accuracy with which he predicted the ebb and flow of cultural tendencies on the basis of his study of the history of philosophy/theology was more than mildly intriguing. It is refreshing to have a like-minded brother on these threads.

  • RCofield

    WALTER,Part 2 of 2WALT: “re herod/jesus: there is a big difference between references to jesus and references to herod. no one claims anything “magical” about herod – or if they do…no one believes it. for hereod, it’s not just eyewitness evidence, which is notoriously unreliable. herod built temples and palaces. his likeness appears on coins. he began a succession of “herodian” rulers. we’ve found his grave (but there was no body…). maybe he was resurrected too? Hahaha”RCO: This is an attempt (whether intentional or unwitting I do not know) to shift the parameters of the discussion. In the discussion with Peterhuff in which you offered your “standard of evidence” (to which you are unwilling to subject your position), Peter was not offering evidence of miracles but evidence of the existence of Christ. Despite your fancy footwork here you are still left in the dubious position of holding a double standard—just as you are in your attempt to hold atheism/evolution above scrutiny as a worldview.RCO stated: “Walter claims there is “no moral component” to evolution, and CalicoJ agrees. Yet Walter contends:WALTER: “pam, peter and i have spent many many a post talking about morals w/o god. the simple answer is that they’re not atheistic, but a *product of evolution.*”RCO stated: “This seems contradictory to me….What am I missing here, guys?”RCO: The “ought” vs. “is” argument is fallacious on the face of it. This is yet another ploy that is used to exempt evolution and the atheistic worldview from the scrutiny that you so happily apply to Christianity. Clear evidence of this is found in your own argumentation. When you fault God for taking the lives of the “innocent children” in the Flood you are unmistakably making an “ought” statement. This holds true for every moral position held with any conviction by atheist/evolution proponents. That dog won’t hunt.On a separate note, though you dismissed my offerings on the “religious” nature of Richard Dawkin’s approach to atheism, you seem to be using many of the exact arguments and tactics he has made popular. Hmm…..

  • RCofield

    WALTER,Part 1 of 2WALT: “i, like twmathews, am “pro-choice” (not pro-abortion…). i presume you are “anti-choice”…?”RCO: I posed that question to determine whether your concern for the loss of the lives of “innocent children” in the Flood was genuine or mere posturing to support your atheistic views. I think the answer is self-evident. I will develop this further as we proceed with our dialogue, though I will here point out that the “pro-choice-not-pro-abortion” argument is merely a cheap rhetorical device that seeks to place a “fig leaf” over the horrors of abortion for both the unborn child and the mother. As a certified counselor who has counseled women who have had abortions, I know that of which I speak.WALT: IF that’s your view, then i would hope you favor easy access to accurate forthright sex education and teen-age birth control (to reduce unplanned pregnancy), federal funding to support fetuses’ mothers during pregnancy, federally funded orphanages, and laws to encourage adoption of unplanned babies.RCO: You presume correctly that I am anti-abortion. And yes, I favor accurate, forthright sex education and teen-age birth control—in the form of godly, involved fathers and mothers. There exists no more effective form of teen-age birth control than a praying, loving, caring, patient, disciplining, involved father. And as for your offering of “federal funding” to support mothers, orphanages, adoption, etc., I am constantly amazed that so many still think the government can solve all our problems. They can’t even balance a flipping budget, for heaven’s sake.

  • RCofield

    CALICOJ,Let me know when you find this thread. If you are still interested in a discussion about epistemology I think the best way to begin would be to use a series of short Q & A type posts in order to establish a foundatiion from which to work. I am, of course, open to any suggestions you may have as well.Peace

  • RCofield

    test

  • RCofield

    Guys,If you are having problems posting, enter a post, submit, and when it goes to the page “Submission sent to owner of this blog” try the “sign in” option. Enter your “username” rather than your email address and then enter your password. This has worked for me several times.

  • Peter Huff

    Hi CalicoJ,I’m disappointed that you have not replied to RCofield concerning the epistemological thread, but I’m hoping it is for the same reasons I had, difficulty logging into the Washington Post On Faith Forums. I wanted to see how you explain your epistemological foundation and what RCofield’s arguments are before I threw in my two cents. I agreed with your sentiments that this is of primary importantance in discovering how each of us, as individuals, can justify what it is that we know as being true.

  • Peter Huff

    Hi RCofield,I recognized your presuppositional approach the minute I read your first post a month or so ago, and as such I am in agreement with you in your comment,RCO: “It is refreshing to have a like-minded brother on these threads.”RCO: “My first exposure to PA came via Dr. Francis Shaeffer. In reading his “How Shall We Then Live: The Rise and Decline of Western Thought and Culture,” I was galvanized by a single statement he made about the decline of reason in the thought and the moral decay of Western civilization. He contended that “Presuppositional apologetics would have stopped the decay.” Though I did not agree some of his teaching, the accuracy with which he predicted the ebb and flow of cultural tendencies on the basis of his study of the history of philosophy/theology was more than mildly intriguing.Amen! A great reading list.It wasn’t until I started reading Reformed theology that the Bible came together for me. The Holy Spirit brought me to this point through various stages of growth in Scripture that started with a long two year dialog with a Word of Faith believer in which he told me it was possible to lose my salvation. One night God’s word came alive in that He revealed through Scripture that it was totally Him who was doing the saving.I’m still trying to get a complete framework on eschatology but I do favor a partial preterist position as the most biblical explanation to date. As I have said to Pam, I have not looked into the Amillennial position to the point that I understand its explanation on all matters concerning the end times, but as for pretrib dispensationalism – I fear a fade of the times.Hopefully we can feed off each other and learn more for two are better than one and in many respects you are more articulate and gentler than I am in getting the inconsistencies of unbelief across on many points. (2 Corinthians 10:3-5 and Colossians 2:3)

  • Peter Huff

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  • Peter Huff

    Good tip RCofield. I have been trying to contact the Washington Post for four or five days now.

  • Peter Huff

    PART 4PAM: “No one – I repeat – no one knows who the gospel writers actually were, or when, exactly, they were written. We do know that they were written in very well-educated Greek, and used idioms and vernacular that a non-native Greek speaker would not have been likely to use.”Here again, Craig L. Bloomberg writes in ‘Jesus and the Gospels’ p. 152 concerning Luke’s Gospel is,“Early church tradition is much more helpful here. The unanimous witness of the Fathers is that the writer named Luke was the Gentile disciple, Paul’s “beloved physician,” mentioned in Colossians 4:14, and Paul’s companion for several of his missionary journeys. Proponents of this claim include the Muratorian canon, the Anti-Marcionite Prologue, Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, and Tertullian.”The question is what historical evidence do you find Pam, from the early Christian literature or other sources to dispute this tradition? Please list them.The same applies to the other gospels, of which I could again quote of the early church fathers that support what Christians believe today. For instance, concerning Mark, Craig says,“All of the traditions already cited, indeed all that have been preserved from antiquity, support John Mark, companion of Peter and Paul, as author (see Acts 12:12, 25; 13:5, 13; 15:37; Col. 4:10; 2 Tim. 4:11; Phm. 24; 1 Peter 5:13). ….Those who held to Mark as author included Irenaeus, Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Jerome, and the Muratonian canon. These sources also consistently associated the information in Mark’s Gospel with Peter’s preaching.” P123.Again, you need to come up with early sources that refute these claims and then we can look at their reliability factor.

  • Peter Huff

    PART 3PAM: “Remember that the first NT writer, Paul, did not claim miracles for him. Mark, the first gospel writer, claimed some healings, and in Matthew, the miracles really take off – water into wine, loaves and fishes, walking on water, etc. This is just the way that legends grow. Each writer tries to top the last. By the time we get to John, who may not have written until after the turn of the century, Jesus has become God himself.”To draw a conclusion like this, in my mind, is reading your opinions into the texts and grabbing at any straw you can to oppose the message of the NT. The scope of each of the gospel accounts and Paul’s epistles were focused on different aspects of the life of Jesus. Paul tackles the life of Jesus more from a theological perspective and focuses much of his energy on the cross and the resurrection; the resurrection being one of his central themes as to giving Jesus’ life and death significance, for by the resurrection it was shown that Jesus’ offering was acceptable to God the Father and that He conquered death. It is the miracle that gives the Christian faith one of its greatest validities, for as he says, “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins…But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.” (1 Corinthians 15:17, 20)It is believed and suggested by many that each of the synoptic gospels also drew from a commonly shared source material, and yet focused on different proofs. For instance Matthew is primarily focused on the Jews for from it we see over and over “It is written” to show the fulfillment of OT Scripture, whereas Mark on the Gentiles and Luke in a structured, chronological, orderly account. John focuses on the deity of Jesus and as such relates His life from this perspective. As I have said before, many see the evidence as strong that every canonized book of the NT was written before AD 70. It was believed, through historical sources, that Paul was executed by the hands of Nero [i.e. Nero’s commanded it]. That is before AD 70. Something that is seldom discussed (yes, you and I Pam have had a lengthy discussion on it, but most evangelicals today are pretrib dispensationalists}, but is revealed in the NT is the destruction of the Temple and city as near and future events, and will be consummated in the generation that Jesus spoke of – this generation. Do you not find it strange that there is no mention of such a significant event as the destruction of the Temple as already having taken place in any of these writings? I mean it spelled the end of the OT system of worship and atonement.

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    TEST

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    hey, wow! it’s fixed. jesus, that took a long time. RCofield, i did not get that same message you got, so i couldn’t try your trick. i got one that said something like “comment submission error – your comment could not be posted for the following reasons: please register”. needless to say I AM registered. when i tried to register….blah blah blah….whatever.anyway, i’ll try to respond as soon as possible, and as soon as i can reconstruct my thoughts…

  • peterhuff

    Hi Walter, Welcome back! Nothing can stop the ‘Post!’ It was strange to say the least.

  • peterhuff

    Hi Walter,When you get time please consider my five part rebuttal starting August 18, 2010 12:46 PM, and ending August 18, 2010 12:52 PM. Take your time for I’m working this weekend (again).

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    hi peter,

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    RCofield,gee, very clever. i know it’s nuanced, but i think there’s a difference between a weeks-old in utero embryo/fetus and a born baby. but, i really don’t want to have an abortion discussion, and probably shouldn’t have even answered your question. you’re male right? perhaps we could get a woman to weigh in on this?btw, as a counselor, do you try to “cure” people of being gay? i know it’s clearly in “the book”, but that’s a very sad aspect of what i see up at our generally friendly caring church up the road here. i know some of the kids (and adults, i suppose, but it’s the kids i feel for) there are gay, and are being taught to loathe themselves… homophobia is an unfortunate, i would say immoral, aspect of judeochrislam.

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    RCofield,RCO: shift the parameters? double standard? hardly. for peter, and i suspect you, w/o the miracles there is no jesus! i mean, w/o the miracles jesus is just a liar or a lunatic, right? the miracles are EVERYTHING to believers. when pam, or whoever it was, talked about the “made-up” jesus, s/he was talking about the miraclus aspects/claims of jesus.if rational people are to believe the miracle claims about jesus, we’ll need better than 20 – 60 years after-the-“fact” “he-said/she-said” “evidence”. we’ve got EXACTLY that same kind of evidence for many many religious miracle claims. the koran supposedly was written even sooner after muhammad’s death than that. why don’t you grant the same credibility to that book. heck, it claims to be true, and even mentions real towns and customs and “peoples”…the book of mormon was supposedly written even closer to the “facts” it purports to describe. and they have eyewitnesses too:now, they’ve got

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    RCofield,well, sorry (not really) you find the ought/is distinction fallacious. i gosh-darn guarantee you if you ask any atheist if killing theists just on the basis of their religious beliefs (a la joshua, noah or muhammad atta) is “ok”, s/he’ll say “no!” but if you ask a biblical literalist if it was “ok” for god to kill everyone (including fetuses…) in the world except noah et. al. for their religious beliefs, s/he is forced to say “yes.” well, that god my point is that most atheists in the world DO behave pretty well, DO want to cooperate, and DO NOT murder etc., so the idea that w/o god it’s “anything goes” is fallacious – and illegal: proscribed by secular laws. are you really telling me you need the bible to tell you it’s wrong to murder? more to the point, humans, more than any other animal, learn all kinds of things from our parents and society. again, i imagine you’d prefer “black and white”, but it’s nuanced: while these evolved “good” characteristics i’m talking about are there, they are operated on by humans’ complex institutions: families, social groups, churches, local governments and so forth. this is how people can be trained/indoctrinated to do horrible things like the nazis, the crusaders, etc…AND how children learn the accumulated wisdom of 1000s and 1000s of years of communal living. now, evolution doesn’t “weed out” all non-cooperative individuals, but enough that the majorities in every known society – whether they’ve heard of yahweh/jesus/allah or not – have laws against murder and stealing. of course they may have exceptions like, “you may kill people of other religions” and so forth, but the concept that “murder is bad” is there.

  • RCofield

    WALTER,WALT: “btw, as a counselor, do you try to “cure” people of being gay? i know it’s clearly in “the book”, but that’s a very sad aspect of what i see up at our generally friendly caring church up the road here. i know some of the kids (and adults, i suppose, but it’s the kids i feel for) there are gay, and are being taught to loathe themselves… homophobia is an unfortunate, i would say immoral, aspect of judeochrislam.”Genuine Christianity is not homophobic. This is a very worn and misdirected argument. The fact that there are homosexuals who attend the church to which you refer is itself evidence of this fact.

  • RCofield

    WALTER,WALT: “shift the parameters? double standard? hardly. for peter, and i suspect you, w/o the miracles there is no jesus! i mean, w/o the miracles jesus is just a liar or a lunatic, right? the miracles are EVERYTHING to believers. when pam, or whoever it was, talked about the “made-up” jesus, s/he was talking about the miraclus aspects/claims of jesus.”If you will go back and look at the post in which you rejected Peter’s offering of Tacitus and Josephus you will find that you rejected his offerings (which spoke only to the existence of Jesus, not his miracles) with the standard that they were “60-80 years removed” from the lifetime of Jesus. When I hold you to the same standard (your “historians” were 2000 years removed from the events in question) you object with great incredulity. I’m just a simple country boy, but where I come from that is a double standard.Additionally, you reject out-of-hand the eyewitness accounts of Matthew’s gospel and John’s gospel. Further, you reject the record of Mark and Luke’s gospels, though they were written from the accounts of individuals who were eyewitnesses, and even the well-qualified and attested writings of Paul. Given that massive bodies of scholarly work have shown these documents are likely the most accurately copied/preserved writings from all antiquity (with the possible exception of the Old Testament) your double standard becomes even more absurd.Why this double standard? Because honest evaluation of the evidence threatens your atheism. Walter, the evidence is there. Putting your hands over your eyes and claiming to not be able to “see it” lacks credibility. I would like to ask a very direct question here: Can you honestly say that you are 100%, absolutely, irrevocably convinced that God does not exist? I don’t need the obligatory “I’m open to whatever the evidence proves, but” response here. I’ve heard it all before. Just…are you absolutely sure?Ah well. Getting late. I’ll have to respond to your last post later this weekend. Big one. Big one.Peace

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    RCofield, yhou said,yikes! you couldn’t have made my point any better for me. equating gay people with addicts…nice. i appreciate your candor, though.you said,of course there are doctrinal differences, but only your closeness to the situation renders you unable to see how similar they are. and surely you acknowledge their common (abrahamic) heritage, and basic plot: the one-and-only jealous (but simultaneously perfect…) god creates world, communicates with us, judges us, rewards or punishes us (eternally) based on our thoughts about him.also, all three rank men above women, persecute gay people, have scripture they think was “revealed” to certain special people by an all-powerful omniscient god who “listens to” and “is watching” us and “cares about” us. all three claim their specific “revelations” are the ONLY right ones.the worst thing about all three sects is the “you may have no other gods before me” obsession. surely this idea has caused more conflict than any other religious idea, ever – because all jews/christian/muslims “hate” the other two sects for being so close, but getting it wrong. one need only read martin luther’s thoughts about jews, and the palestinian “board of education” curriculum to see the hatred. they’re like three brothers who hate each other.

  • RCofield

    WALTER,WALT: “yikes! you couldn’t have made my point any better for me. equating gay people with addicts…nice. i appreciate your candor, though.”One has to wonder if you have ever personally witnessed the devastating consequences of the homosexual life-style. I have, and the physical, psychological, and familial suffering it causes is absolutely brutal. While I am sure you feel your view of homosexuality to be magnanimous and “politically correct,” it ignores the devastating consequences. Fault me for being direct if you will, I think it is obvious which of us has genuine empathy for those trapped in this pernicious way of life. That clearly contradicts your accusation of homophobia, which was the actual point of discussion.Aside from the fact that you are seemingly dealing with a parenthetical point here (you didn’t address a single major point of my last 3 posts), I do beg to differ with you. It is PRECISELY my familiarity with these three religions that enables me to see the distinctions that you, as an atheist, are unable to objectively see. You presume that I am a Christian because I am ignorant. The reality is that I am a Christian because the Christian worldview deals more accurately and comprehensively with the existential questions than does Judaism, Islam,…or Atheism. I am aware of this, not because someone told me that this was the case, but because I have studied comparative religion to decide for myself. Despite your obvious belief otherwise, some Christians are capable of thinking for themselves.The similarities you cite are superficial at best, while the distinctives of these three religions are as diametrically opposed as they can possibly be. Your lack of familiarity with these is evident in your comparison. Using your line of reasoning here I could make a good case for a dog and a cat being one and the same because they each have four legs, two eyes, and one tail.I am still working on my response to your post of August 20, 2010 10:21 AM as I don’t want to post a response of epic proportions. In the meantime, how about a more comprehensive response to my last three posts? Or are you conceding the points? 🙂

  • peterhuff

    Hi RCofield,Four solid posts to Walter. It will be interesting to see his comments.

  • peterhuff

    Hi RCofield,Four solid posts to Walter. It will be interesting to see his response.

  • RCofield

    PETERHUFF,Have not encountered Onofrio yet.Yes, I saw Persiflage’s post on the other thread. I think a lot of what we are encountering here is people “philosophizing” without actually having to practically think through some of what they are saying. Persiflage’s “relative” truth concept probably sounds pretty good to him on paper, but I don’t think he would find living in a world where truth is a subjective construct very practical. The fact is he would find it quite frightening.One thing that I have found helpful is to try and get them to cite specific examples of “relative” truth, and then deconstruct the example. Once they have given an example the problems with it are usually self-evident. The abortion issue is a good case-in-point.

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    RCofield,well, no. but that’s where the evidence points… on the other hand, i CAN say i’m 99% certain that the jealous, vengeant, earth-flooding, original sin-cursing, tantrum-throwing “look at me” (only) god of the bible doesn’t exist. (i leave open the 1% chance that he’s trying to fool us by hiding all the evidence of the flood, and planting that beautiful sequential progression of fossils, and making it seem like the earth is billions of years old. i mean, i suppose that’s possible, but that prankster god is unsatisfying – to say nothing of his worthiness of being worshiped.)i imagine you see it as a false dichotomy: either the bible is true, or there’s no god. but, actually, besides the bible’s god, there are many many many other gods people have experienced. of all those gods out there, how can you be sure you’ve picked the right one?besides the obvious “other” gods within judeochrislam, there are the ancient greek gods, the roman gods, the african animist gods, l.ron hubbard’s god, the sumerian gods, hindu gods and countless other gods. people have the same reasons for believing in (or having believed in) these gods as you do for yours.given all the gods ever perceived, the odds are almost infinitesimal that you’ve picked the right one (if there is only one, that is…).

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    RCofield, you said,huh? “my” references are not 2000 years removed. they are from ancient historians as quoted by “modern” historians. many of the “secular” herod references are from josephus. but josephus is not the only reason we think herod was a real historical figure. we have actual physical artifacts: coins and buildings – WAY better than eyewitness evidence.

  • RCofield

    Hey Peter,Thanks for the encouragement. Have you heard anything from Pam lately? She never responded to my last post to her (3 weeks ago?).

  • peterhuff

    Hi RCofield,I haven’t heard from Pam since your exchange of posts. It could be that she got frustrated trying to post or maybe she is having a harder time responding to your posts than to mine, but I suspect the former. I’ve been trying to challenge Walter and Pam on some of these same issues you brought up. I would like to see their source references. Like you I bet they are mostly 19th century higher critics, Wikipedia, some Internet site or the Jesus Seminar crowd. Like you, I sense that they cannot pull out any solid historic evidence, at least that wasn’t well refuted by the early church fathers. Good points on abortion! I have read a book exposing Margret Sanger, among others, whose macro-evolutionary underpinnings have yielded some outrageous philosophies. Walter and Pam’s views go against following a natural philosophical world-view to its gruesome conclusion.And the funny (sad) thing about it is that they criticize God for His justice in dealing with sin. “The LORD saw how great man’s wickedness on earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time.” (Genesis 6:5) Without justice it is hard to image just how much worse things could be. But an evolutionary view has a tough time explaining justice, since it changes from culture to culture and person to person. You have to look to the Christian world-view to get the consistency that is needed, that all sin will be dealt with by God, either in the individual answering for it himself or by the Son paying the price for the individual in full, as the substitute, and in the process giving the individual a new nature, one that is no longer hostile to God, but loves Him.I find passages such as Romans 8:7 or Ephesians 2:1-3 insightful in dealing with some of the more radical atheists on these forums such as Onofrio. Have you ever had a dialog with him?Btw, I was hoping that CalicoJ would respond to your epistemological challenge, the justification of knowledge. I wanted to see how you ungirded his/her philosophical underpinnings. Did you see Persiflage’s argument on Susan’s Bedbugs forum concerning truth and its relative nature for the subjective mind? That is going to require some thought. I want to respond before the forum shuts down on Tuesday.

  • RCofield

    WALTER,Part 1 of 2WALT: “well, sorry (not really) you find the ought/is distinction fallacious. i gosh-darn guarantee you if you ask any atheist if killing theists just on the basis of their religious beliefs (a la joshua, noah or muhammad atta) is “ok”, s/he’ll say “no!” but if you ask a biblical literalist if it was “ok” for god to kill everyone (including fetuses…) in the world except noah et. al. for their religious beliefs, s/he is forced to say “yes.” well, that god ought not be worshipped, but he is….”You again manage to miss the point entirely. I was not saying the ought/is argument is fallacious across the board, just that the evolutionist’s use of it when it comes to morality is fallacious. I even gave an example from your own contentions. When you say that morals (ie—wrong to murder) are the product of evolution you are saying that is just the way it IS. Yet you turn around and fault God for judging the world by the Flood and you say He OUGHT not to have done so. You are making an absolute moral judgment here while at the same time trying to contend that morality is not absolute, but is rather an “evolved,” subjective construct. IF the immorality of murder evolved, then there was a time that it was not immoral. So, on what basis do you now declare it immoral—something that we OUGHT not do—and precisely when did it reach the evolved status of being immoral?WALT: “so the idea that w/o god it’s “anything goes” is fallacious – and illegal: proscribed by secular laws. are you really telling me you need the bible to tell you it’s wrong to murder?”One can only shake ones head in amazement at such a statement. First, many of the very “secular” laws of this nation to which you have their root in the Judeo-Christian tradition. One can hardly enter a single building in our nation’s capital that is over 100 years old without encountering dozens of “law” passages of scripture from both the Old and New Testaments etched into marble and granite. Secondly, you ask me if I “really…need the bible to tell (me) it’s wrong to murder.” Are you kidding me? You have clearly stated that you are in favor of a woman having the “choice” to have an abortion doctor murder her child while it is still in her womb—the very place where a child should be the most safe! Who is it here that does not understand that murder is immoral? Again, this it the PRECISE problem with “evolved,” subjective morality that does not have an objective source outside of fallen, depraved humanity. History is replete with such examples of subjective morality that has been responsible for the murder of untold millions.

  • RCofield

    WALTER,Part 2 of 2WALT: “now, evolution doesn’t “weed out” all non-cooperative individuals, but enough that the majorities in every known society – whether they’ve heard of yahweh/jesus/allah or not – have laws against murder and stealing.”Wow. Every known society? Aside from the murder-factories of abortion clinics in our own society, are you unaware of the “societies” in the so-called “Dark Triangle” of Indonesia who see absolutely nothing wrong with murdering and eating one another? They have NO such laws as you speak of. Somehow your “evolved” morality has managed to overlook them. Our church has sent a missionary family who is living among the Kirowai tribe at this very moment and preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ to them, trying to accomplish the very thing that you insist evolution has already accomplished.I recently did mission work in India. One of the most riveting experiences I had while there was watching a funeral. The body was placed on a mound of wood at the edge of the Ganges River and burned to ashes, then shoveled into the river. Are you not aware that before the Baptist missionary William Carey began his ministry to India in 1793 every time a man died, if he had a living wife she was bound and thrown on the fire with her dead husband? It was only after decades of efforts by Carey that this practice was outlawed. It wasn’t “evolved” morality that stopped this horrific practice of murder, but the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ.And stealing has been “weeded out” for the most part? You gotta be kidding me. We had to fend off extortion at every turn as we worked our way from the airport to the outskirts of Navi Mumbai. Not only does evolution “not weed out all” corruption, it is questionable that it has “weeded out” ANY corruption in places like this. Anyone who has worked in India (and like societies) will tell you that the corruption (stealing) is almost universal. And most of them view the ability to steal/extort from someone else a badge of honor.I don’t think your concept of “evolved” morality is nearly as potent as you seem to think it is.

  • peterhuff

    Hi RCofield,I’ll give it a try, using the abortion issue, since the site did have lots of thought provoking material, and it does tie in with relativism both from a Sanger and Hitler perspective. I’ll carry the argument along the moral relativism lines.I’m not sure but I think Persiflage is a she???

  • RCofield

    WALTER,WALT: “jesus, man, get over yourself: i say i want abortion to be safe, legal and rare – and you equate me with hitler! and you mention gas chambers and auschwitz… get the #@$%#$ out of here.RCO:You may be hyper-ventilating. Try breathing into a paper bag.Ahh. So murder is OK only if it is “safe, legal, and rare?!” This is classic atheistic, subjective morality that is innately blind to the dangers of its own subjectivity.WALT: “…and you equate me with hitler! and you mention gas chambers and auschwitz…”RCO:Hitler’s “nuance:” Jews were sub-human…..6 million humans murdered.Abortion’s “nuance:” An unborn child is not really human…..50 million humans murdered.Hitler’s means: The gas chambers of AuschwitzAbortion’s means: Sterilized (sometimes) abortion clinicsYou seem to like pointing out similarities. What is it about THESE similarities that is bothering you?I tried to tell you early on that your atheistic arguments against theism can be turned around on you rather effectively. Of course now I find out that you are not really an atheist, but an agnostic. An agnostic who “borrows” atheistic arguments to argue against theism and “borrows” christian arguments to argue moral “oughts.” Wouldn’t it just be simpler, as an agnostic, to just say “I don’t know?”WALT: “…get the #@$%#$ out of here.”RCO:Is this (#@$%#$) some sort of “evolved” morality that I am unaware of? :-)And who is this “jesus/jeez” character to whom you refer?

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    Rcofield,

  • peterhuff

    WALTER: “Rcofield,Please explain the difference Walter as it relates to right and wrong, good and evil.

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    peter,i’ve said repeatedly that these parallels are not EXACTLY like the jesus story. but they sure have the same characteristics. like with RCofield and the similarities between judaism, christianity and islam, you keep focusing on the differences, which i concede, but can’t see the similarities…many ancient gods are “healer”, many were divinely fathered, and many rose (in some manner/form or other) from the dead. those are just the things people expect from a god.

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    peter,

  • peterhuff

    Hi Walter,Do you think most of the similarities can be shown to have preceded Christ? What is the earliest documented evidence for the similarities and how do you know that they weren’t borrowed from the Christian sources or OT accounts? We see numerous heresies springing up after the crucifixion and resurrection, numerous alleged gospel accounts, such as the Gospel of Thomas, along with a host of false witnesses, just as Christ said they would.

  • peterhuff

    Hi Walter,WALTER: “peter,Plants grow under water. Seeds float on and cross the ocean all the time, plus Noah waited for a period of time before he sent out the raven and doves. Only when the dove returned with vegetation did he proceed. (see Genesis 8:3-14) That is a span of time in which sufficient vegetation could establish itself and provide food for the animals, plus God also gave Noah the command that it was okay to eat clean animals and birds. I would image that certain trees and bushes could withstand being underwater for long periods of time and that some stood firm in places were mudslides and upheavals did not take place. The point is that these are not out of the logical range of being accounted for.Grasses and other sorts of nourishment could be established fairly quickly. That would be something in which the animals could eat. Birds eat seeds, as well as animals. That is nourishment.

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    WALTER: “Rcofield, nope, never heard of the “dark triangle.” documentation please. are you saying they think it’s ok to kill and eat members of their own clan/family/tribe? or the clan on the other side of the river? big difference.”PETER: Please explain the difference Walter as it relates to right and wrong, good and evil.really, you can’t see the difference? humans have evolved in families/clans/tribes. we cooperate with people in our “group”. we compete with people of the “other” group.now, this “other” group can be people of a different country or race or religion or it could just be people who live on the other side of the river. the people in one’s own group provide us with food, shelter, company, mates etc… the people in the “other” group are a threat – competing for land or prey or whatever.part of humans’ moral evolution is to learn to see our “group” as being larger and larger – hopefully eventually to include all of humanity. obviously, we’re not there yet.so as it relates to RCofield’s cannibalism claim, i’d be very surprised if there’s a tribe that condones eating of members of one’s own tribe just for the heck of it – unless it’s seen as some kind of religious god-pleasing ritual/sacrifice, or as some kind of way to keep a person alive after they’ve already died.

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    where’s pam? i miss her totally frill-less, totallt rational cut-to-the-chase posts… oh, well…she’ll be back soon, i’m sure.RCofield, you said,i seriously hope this is for effect. you really so no difference between “pro-choice” and hitler?

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    peter,

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    RCofield, your position on abortion is principled and so forth, but please don’t get the idea that it’s gods view.exodus 21:22-25 gives us our only “biblical” perspective (that i know of) on the value of fetuses in god’s eyes:ex 21:22″”gives birth prematurely” means “has a miscarriage”. “serious injury” means “serious injury to the mother” – not the fetus. this verse clearly indicates god, at least old testament god, did not regard fetuses as people. if he did, the penalty for causing a miscarriage would have been death.

  • RCofield

    WALTER,Part 2 of 2WALT: “are you saying they think it’s ok to kill and eat memebers of their own clan/family/tribe? or the clan on the other side of the river? big difference.”RCO: You are contending that humans have evolved enough that we know it is immoral kill our own clan/family/tribe. Yet you at the same time contend that it is morally acceptable for a woman to choose to kill her own child in the womb…as long as it is “safe, legal, and rare.” This is not a “nuance.” It is a flat-out contradiction. But then, that is inevitable when morality is viewed as an evolving, subjective construct.And here is where it gets REALLY interesting. You contend that man has evolved to the point that we don’t kill and EAT our own clan/family/tribe. Are you aware of the disturbing reports that keep popping up (despite government blackouts on such news) that the Chinese may be trafficking the remains of aborted children as a culinary delicacy? And it apparently is not limited to aborted remains as Gansu police recently found two arms, apparently belonging to a child between 5 and 8 years old, cooked in a mixture of chili and ginger discarded in a dump (2006). There seems to have also been efforts in 2003 to stifle reports that restaurants in the southern Province of Guangdong were cooking dead babies in soups. When the subjective morality of abortion becomes acceptable in a society life gets really cheap really fast.And what is the official religious position of the Chinese government? You guessed it. Atheism.

  • RCofield

    WALTER,Part 1 of 2WALT: “are you saying they think it’s ok to kill and eat memebers of their own clan/family/tribe? or the clan on the other side of the river? big difference.”WALT: “really, you can’t see the difference? humans have evolved in families/clans/tribes. we cooperate with people in our “group”. we compete with people of the “other” group. …..part of humans’ moral evolution is to learn to see our “group” as being larger and larger – hopefully eventually to include all of humanity. obviously, we’re not there yet.”RCO: This “evolving” morality of yours is a real piece of work. So, after millions of years of supposed evolution mankind has still not “evolved” enough to recognize we are all in the same “group”…but “hopefully” we’ll get there one day? Are you reading what you are writing? You are starting to sound like Eckhart Tolle, Oprah Winfrey’s New Age guru.And you are again unwittingly “borrowing” from Christianity and trying to morph it into your atheistic (or agnostic?) worldview. What your millions of years of “evolving” morality has yet to realize Christianity has been teaching for millennia:Acts 17:24 God who made the world and all that is in it, being Lord of both Heaven and earth, does not live in man–made temples, 25 nor is he ministered to by human hands, as though he had need of anything––seeing that he is the one who gives to all men life and breath and everything else. 26 **From one ancestor he has created every race of men to live over the face of the whole earth.** He has determined the times of their existence and the limits of their habitation…

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    RCofield,i knew the word “nuance” would bother you….but jeez…

  • peterhuff

    Yes Walter, we miss Pam, but sometimes life does intrude, doesn’t it? I hope all is well with her!I see your August 24, 2010 6:21 PM post as really pitifully weak. All you have is an ‘us verse them’ argument. There is no way to determine right or wrong in it. It is just who can bully the other into accepting their position. The bully calls the shots. In such a view there is nothing wrong with Hitler’s Germany. If evolution takes the turn that the majority of the world support a Hitler style regime then this is your ‘good,’ even if you are Jewish. If most of the world is converted to Islam then Iran is good. As RCofield said, it is all a matter of survival of the fittest.There is no morality that is ‘better’ than any other. Majority determines what goes, except in non-democratic countries. You can’t pass judgment on Hitler if you are German, because majority rules. Another culture is no better or worse, but culture is your highest appeal. It could all change on a dime, depending on who your next leader is. Back and forth you go. One year slavery is in favor, another it is forbidden. One year gay marriage is allowed, the next it is not. How do you get moral progress from this? It all becomes meaningless and absurd.