Uncommon Sense

April 4, 2022

Are You A Real Christian™?

There is a test and to prove you are a Real Christian™ you will have to pass it. This test is based upon an article written by Dan Foster on Medium.com (What Jesus Actually Said). This article lists the 49 commandments of Jesus the Christ. To save you some time, I recreated the list below, without Dan’s always brilliant commentary. Note—These have been rephrased from what the scripture directly says. And, as always, I recommend you read the whole original article if you are interested.

The 49 Commandments of Jesus the Christ

  1. Turn your life around (repent) Matthew 4:17.
  2. Follow my example Matthew 4:19.
  3. Be happy if others put you down Matthew 5:11–12.
  4. Shine! (Matthew 5:16).
  5. Reconcile with your enemies (Matthew 5:23–25).
  6. Do not lust Matthew 5:28–30.
  7. Keep your word Matthew 5:37.
  8. Turn the other cheek (Matthew 5:39).
  9. Go above and beyond (Matthew 5:41–42).
  10. Love your enemies Matthew 5:44–46.
  11. Live generously and graciously Matthew 48.
  12. Don’t show off your generosity (Matthew 6:1–18).
  13. Do things that matter eternally Matthew 6:19–21.
  14. Seek God first (Matthew 6:31–33).
  15. Don’t judge others Matthew 7:1–3.
  16. Don’t reduce holy mysteries to slogans Matthew 7:6.
  17. Ask, seek, knock  Matthew 7:7–8.
  18. Treat others as you’d like to be treated (Matthew 7:12).
  19. Don’t look for shortcuts to God (Matthew 7:13–14).
  20. Look for character, not charisma Matthew 7:15–16.
  21. Pray for more helpers (Matthew 9:37–38).
  22. Be wise and inoffensive Matthew 10:16.
  23. Don’t be afraid Matthew 10:28.
  24. Listen to God’s voice Matthew 11:15.
  25. Cast your burdens onto him Matthew 11:28–30.
  26. Honor your parents Matthew 15:4.
  27. Beware of performance-based religion Matthew 16:6.
  28. Don’t run from suffering Luke 9:23–25.
  29. Be kind to children Matthew 18:10.
  30. Restore broken relationships Matthew 18:15–17.
  31. Don’t be greedy  Luke 12:15.
  32. Forgive others Matthew 18:21–22.
  33. Don’t split those who God has brought together Matthew 19:4–6.
  34. Serve others Matthew 20:26–28.
  35. Use the church for what it was intended Matthew 21.
  36. Don’t doubtMatthew 21:21–22: .
  37. Invite in the outcast Luke 14:12–14.
  38. Respect authority (Matthew 22:19–21).
  39. Love God (Matthew 22:37–38).
  40. Love others (Matthew 22:39–40).
  41. Be ready to go Matthew 24:42–44.
  42. Remember me  Matthew 26:26–28.
  43. Start a new life John 3:5–7.
  44. Don’t walk into temptation (Matthew 26:41).
  45. Care for others John 21:15–16.
  46. Baptize those who believe (Matthew 28:19)
  47. Let God’s power be your strength Luke 24:49.
  48. Teach others to live like me Matthew 28:20.
  49. Keep My Commandments (John 14:15).

Comments

Citations
4 in gLuke
3 in gJohn
42 in gMatthew

At first I was a little taken aback that there were no citations from gMark, and then I remembered that over 90% of Mark was included verbatim in gMatthew.

I would also add that there is absolutely nothing new in these “teachings,” that is all of the precepts were available prior to the time these were supposedly taught. No great innovations, no new understandings, nada.

The Test!
Okay, now is the time to take the Real Christian™ Test, which will determine whether you are a Real Christian™ or not! Basically, all you have to do is go down the list: Give yourself 2, 1, or 0 points for each commandment if: 2–you do this almost always, 1–you do this off and on, or 0–You rarely or never do this.

Go ahead, I will wait.

Now sum up all of those numbers. A perfect score for a follower of Jesus the Christ would be 98 but that is unlikely. So, how high do you have to score to qualify? Well, to even be considered, you have to score  . . . higher than atheists score.

I took the test and there were more than a few guaranteed zeros, being an atheist and all: #2, 13, 14, 17, 19, 21, 24, 25, 33, 35, 36, 39, 46, 48, 49. You cannot profess to not believe in this god and do those things with any sincerity. So, there are 30 points an atheist can’t claim, so a score of 68 is a line of demarcation (98 – 30 = 68). If you score above 68, you are guaranteed to be better than any stinking atheist!

I scored 36. So, if you can’t beat 36, then you aren’t following Jesus any more than an atheist does. But then my score may be high or low compared to the scores other atheists might achieve, so if you know any (or are one), if you can convince them to take the test or take it yourself, you might list your score in the comments below. I am sure other test takers will be grateful.

Have fun!

Addendum If you pass this test and in the future someone claims you are not a Real Christian™ or a True Christian™, you can point out that you are certified to be so by the Real Christian™ Test and challenge them to take the test themselves!

February 16, 2022

Is It “The Problem with Christianity is Christians” or “The Problem with Christians is Christianity?”

To be clear it is not generally atheists making either of these claims. The claim that “The Problem with Christianity is Christians” is made by all those, usually evangelical, Christians who claim that we atheists paint them with a broad brush. It is only a tiny minority of Christians who are acting badly, they say, and besides those people aren’t ‘True Christians™” in any case. But then, there are also tens of thousands of Christian denominations, each of which claims that they are right and the others are wrong in some way. Consequently, “The Problem with Christians is Christianity” in that those “other” Christians are being led astray by their church leaders, who are, of course, “false leaders.” For example, my evangelical Christian sister thinks that Catholics aren’t true Christians. (Of course, evangelicals will state at the drop of a hat that a third of the world population are Christians and they all can’t be wrong (which of course is exactly what Christians are saying about one another) but if you exclude Catholics, which comprise 50% of all Christians, then the fraction of the world’s population which is “Christian” drops to about 17%, well behind Muslims. Some of their propaganda doesn’t seem to be at all well thought out.)

So, which is it, do you think, of the two statements in the title?

I think it is both. And, no they are not mutually exclusive choices. This is not like the dichotomies we are so fond of, e.g. “there are only two kinds of people: cat lovers and cat non-lovers,” etc.

The mere fact that there are between 30,000 and 40,000 denominations of Christianity tells us a lot. Not just that Christians are obstreperous and can’t get along, but that no one of those 30,000-40,000 could find enough common ground with one of the others to say “Good enough, mate; let’s pray together.” Instead, each of those groups claims that they are right and the others are wrong, but to an outsider like me, it seems to be more about power. The “church leaders” of these “denominations” would rather be king of a small tribe, rather than a minor leader of a small cadre in a big tribe. Once again, Christian leaders fail at their most basic mission, supplanting it with the seeking of personal power.

Similarly, most Christians go along with those leader’s nonsense. They would rather sit in their pews, smug in the knowledge that they are right and the others will burn in Hell. So much for “love thy neighbor.”

Many people misunderstand Yahweh’s commandments. The commandment of “love thy neighbor” meant that Hebrews/Jews should love the Hebrews/Jews living near them. Jews were insular. They were forbidden to marry gentiles. They were forbidden to eat with gentiles. They were forbidden to eat food cooked by gentiles. They were told to live together and not allow gentiles into their neighborhoods. So, when the word “neighbor” is used in the Bible, it means “fellow Hebrew/Jew” not just the people living around you as so many claim it means. Many times they are implicit in the rules “Thou shalt not murder (other Hebrews/Jews) becasue killing gentiles was often commanded by Yahweh himself. If Christians were to take these commandments of Yahweh/Jesus to heart, they would be expected to “love thy fellow Christians.” Protestants should love Catholics, and Jehovah’s Witnesses should love Mormons, and so on. See any evidence of that? Any at all? Gosh, an outsider like me could interpret that as “The Problem with Christianity is Christians.” No?

February 1, 2021

All The Different Jesi

Filed under: Religion — Steve Ruis @ 12:21 pm
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(What is the plural of Jesus anyway? Jesi? Jesuses?)

Many Christians search for an historical Jesus to finally learn what he was really like. And this began before TV was invented, so the need to know by inquiring minds seems to be a longstanding attribute of people.

Jesus has been characterized as a brilliant teacher, a moral paragon, an admirable healer, an anti-authoritarian figure and on and on, but does that make “him” so? Let’s look at some of these roles.

Jesus Was a Brilliant Teacher
This is a frequent claim, but there is no evidence of it. Certainly, modern Christians do not seem to have accepted his teachings per se. And, it is clear that Jesus’s teachings are overrated. Not a single thing he is claimed to have taught was original to him. For those fixated on the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew) or the Sermon on the Plain (Luke)—wait, there are no contradictions in the Bible!—one must wonder why the earliest gospel, Mark, didn’t include a version of this oh-so-important sermon. How could old Saint Mark have missed this? It is almost as if Luke and Matthew invented the thing out of whole cloth.

Conclusion Jesus was a brilliant teacher—not.

Jesus was a Moral Paragon
Jesus demanded absolute submission to him from his followers, and he damned one and all who did not wish to follow him. He egotistically set himself up as the only conduit to God. He focused on the need for each of his followers to be obedient to none but him, to the exclusion of anyone else with whom the follower may have had social, moral, or emotional obligations.

All of this may undermine Jesus’s status as a paragon of virtue, but overwhelming all of that is the fact that Jesus invented Hell/Hellfire/the Lake of Fire, etc. The Jew’s idea of the afterlife was Sheol, a shambling gray/dark space we inhabited after death. No eternal barbecue, just time in a very quiet space to examine one’s life if one hadn’t bothered to do that while alive. No interruptions by screams of torment, just eternal quiet.

Instead of Sheol, Christians get eternal punishment for finite, even trivial, infractions. OMG! Was there ever a better argument for not converting to Christianity?

Conclusion Jesus was a Moral Paragon—not.

Jesus Was an Admirable Healer
Really? You would accept this claim for someone who healed by casting out demons and by performing magic. (Some people object to the claim Jesus used magic, but the use of spittle, mud, etc. were common magical props is unmistakable. If he were all-powerful, no such magically processes would have been needed, maybe just hand wave or the snap of the fingers, or why not just heal the people without drawing attention to himself! Imagine that, healing people without getting props. It is claimed that Jesus did healings to promote his message. Does this mean that Jesus could not make himself understood otherwise? This all-powerful god is show some major powers creep.

Conclusion Jesus was a admirable healer—not.

Jesus Was an Anti-Authoritarian Figure
This is just plain silly. Jesus was pushing, pushing, pushing for the Kingdom of God to be implemented on Earth. And what was this kingdom? It was an authoritarian kingdom with Yahweh at the top of the organization chart. Each of the disciples, remember, fantasized about being given a kingship over one of the “nations” to rule over, with of course, Yahweh/Jesus at the top of the org chart. In the Bible there are no white people and there is no democracy, but we have myriad Christians now banging the drums for an American theo-democracy, led by white people.

Conclusion Jesus was an anti-authoritarian figure—not.

* * *

So, WTF???
So, why do all of these false claims about Jesus exist? I blame the Apologists. While you can study such things as apologetics in colleges, there is no such title or certificate one can earn.

The ancient Greek word apologia means “defense” and Christian apologists (William L. Craig, and his ilk) are “defenders of the Faith.” (That is a title you can be awarded by certain churches but not a title one can apply for.)

Christian apologists are fan boys of Jesus and can only say nice things about him. For example, here are some questions and typical apologetic answers:
Q: Was Jesus tall?
A: Oh, yes, Jesus was tall.
Q: Was Jesus good-looking?
A: Yes, Jesus was quite handsome.
Q: Was Jesus good in school?
A: Jesus, it is told, was a straight A student.
Q: Did Jesus ever do anything naughty as a child?
A: Jesus was a perfect child . . . put down that copy of The Infancy Gospel of Jesus . . . lies, all lies.
Q: Was Jesus good to his mother?
A: Jesus was the perfect son, except when his mother was a bitch and then he had to put her in her place.
Q: Was Jesus a good carpenter?
A: Jesus was such a good carpenter, that buyers for all of the royals, even stretching to Rome, vied to buy his pieces. He made his family very wealthy, which was why they were upset when he took to the road. They thought he should stay closer to the business.

I think you get the idea (they make shit up). Was he a good teacher? The best, Jesus was the best teacher, ever. Right.

September 5, 2020

The God Feature of Omnipresence

Filed under: Culture,Reason,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 11:56 am
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In a recent post I wrote “We claim that this (Christian) god hears our prayers and may act upon them right away. We also claim that this god is omnipresent, that he is always observing you and listening to you speak. Is this really necessary? It involves a human foible, that of someone needing to be within “ear shot” to witness what you say . . . and within line of sight to see what you do. Is this “power” necessary for this particular god? Absolutely not. If he is all-knowing, he already knows all that you have said and will say and do. He doesn’t need to be “there” to witness your prayer or your actions.” The reason is simple: because he already has.

God has perfect memory of the past . . . and the future. Whereas we “think back” to recall a memory, this god can “think forward” to recall an event that hasn’t yet happened, but will.

My conclusion in that previous post was that “omnipresence” is an unnecessary claim for any god which is all-knowing. It is an indicator that this god is made up because it contains human frailties coded into it, a being which supposedly has no human frailties.

So, why do theists insist that the Christian god is omnipresent? I think it has to do with human nature also. Imagine a Christian confronting a friend contemplating some sort of sinful behavior. Which, do you think, will be the more effective argument? Telling them that “God” will be there seeing and hearing what they do? or telling them “God” already knows what you will do and he will punish you. Human nature says, “well if I am to be punished I might as well get my money’s worth.” (Anyone who has raised a teenager has encountered this attitude.)

So, Christians have transformed their god into a Voyeur God to make it a more effective weapon in controlling the behavior of others. Having a god who watches you when you are voiding your bowels or bladder hardly seems attractive. I guess if it matters which hand you use, there will have to be some oversight. And, sex of course. God watches all of that kinky stuff and takes mental notes or possible they are automatically recorded in big books that will be consulted when you are at the pearly gates being judged (or whenever a cherubim is feeling horny and needs some help getting off).

Something is definitely sick here, and I don’t think it is this god. Being imaginary makes so many of its actions second hand, don’t you think?

August 27, 2020

Assembling God

Filed under: Culture,History,Reason,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 10:54 am
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The god of Christianity, Yahweh/Jesus/Holy Ghost didn’t show up in scripture fully formed. His powers kind of grew like Topsy, created on the fly by ordinary human beings.

Some of these are logical consequences and some are hidden presumptions. For example, claiming that this god is all-knowing means that in order to “recall” any fact from his memory, he only needs to recall the past or future action. This requires this god to have one hell of a memory, but is not unthinkable. But there are inherent problems associated with claiming this power for this god. Here is a typical question on Quora asking about this consequence. “If God knows my whole life from beginning to end, did he imagine me before he created me? If he imagined all the things I will say and do, is it him being me doing these things? I imagine people doing whatever but it’s not them doing what they do.” Basically this question is asking that if this god knows everything I am going to do, do I have free will? The straightforward answer is an obvious “no” and the consequence is we should not be held accountable for our actions because we were programmed by god to do those things. I will leave it to you to unpack these arguments because they have been around for almost all of human history.

Other consequences are somewhat loaded with creator responsibility. (Not Creator responsibility, but creator responsibility.) We claim that this god hears our prayers and may act upon them right away. We also claim that this god is omnipresent, that he is always observing you and listening to you speak. Is this really necessary? It involves a human foible, that of someone needing to be within “ear shot” to witness what you say . . . and within “line of sight” to see what you do. Is this necessary of this particular god? Absolutely not. If he is all-knowing, he already knows all that you have said and will say and do. He doesn’t need to be “there” to witness your prayer or your actions. He doesn’t even need to show up to perform the miracle you are praying for. He can do anything remotely, plus the fact that he has tens of thousands of angels on the payroll, most of the time sitting around eating his food and drinking his wine, the lazy bastards can be sent to do some work for once. And, since the all-knowing god already knows, he can schedule this angel to do that task, months, years, or millennia ahead of time to avoid any time pressure.

So, being omnipresent is a useless power for such a god. It is only there because of human assumptions about how humans behave, not gods. And this is not the only example of a god’s powers being woven out of thin air, cut from whole cloth, etc.

Consider why Yahweh/Jesus/Holy Ghost has “messengers” or “helpers.” So, why?

Basically this is because they were created in the previous tradition, by the creators ofYahweh, and Jesus was “the Son,” so they had to be kept in Christianity. The baggage, of course, involves devils, demons, and a whole zoo of other supernatural beings in attendance on this god.

But are they needed? You’ve probably heard this argument before. This god has demonstrated the ability to think things into existence (whole galaxies, etc.) and communicate across vast distances. So, does he need “helpers” of any kind? The answer is “no.” In fact assigning a task to an angel (or cherubim, or . . .) takes as much effort or more that doing it himself, just by thinking whatever he wants into existence.

Some claim that these beings are there for purposes of companionship. Companionship is something people need, by does this god? The answer is no. This god is claimed to be perfect, whole, and needing of nothing.

But then . . . this is the god who punished Lucifer for the sin of pride and who created an entire species of sentient beings … to worship him. Remember the speck in your brother’s eye and the beam in yours story. Yeah, like that.

 

August 25, 2020

The Cancel Culture—Real or Imagined?

Filed under: Culture,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 11:43 am
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On the Vridar web site, Neil Godfrey was reviewing a compilation of essays in honor of biblical scholar Thomas L. Thompson.

He began with “Why a volume of essays in honour of Thomas L. Thompson? The opening paragraph of the Introduction explains (with my highlighting):

Thomas L. Thompson has been, for the past five decades, behind some of the – if not all – major changes in Old Testament historiography, if we consider that his criticism of the patriarchal narratives, the exodus and settlement and the United Monarchy were each at their own time forerunners of what later on would become accepted in the field (Thompson 1974, 1987, 1992, 1999).

See below for those four titles. The first, 1974, was met at the time with such opposition that it left him “unemployed and unemployable for ten years”. The 1992 work precipitated his expulsion from Marquette University.”

Thomas Thompson’s Significant Books (I have read the fourth.)

Historically, the largest exponent of the cancel culture has been organized religion. If your beliefs contradicted theirs, you lost your job, in Thompson’s case multiple times, or had a hard time finding a job, or you lost your freedom by being locked up, or even your life. (Burn, Heretic, burn!)

The telling feature in this case was that Thompson was being punished . . . for being right. His heretical opinions have become “accepted in the field.”

August 9, 2020

Monotheism was Inevitable, Right? Wrong.

Filed under: Culture,History,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 11:07 am
Tags: , , ,

I wrote a rather long answer to a question on Quora and I decided to share that argument here in a post. The question was asking about the numbers of gods in the existing religions. Plus, it is Sunday and this is usually time for a religious post.

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That the Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Islam, and Christianity) have only one god is a political outcome, not a theological one. The theology was created to support the political outcome.

Historically, religions threw in their lot with kings to acquire state power. I know more of Christianity, so I draw my examples from it. Christianity sucked up mightily to the Roman Empire early in the first millennium to acquire the power of that state. (It worked, the Romans spread Christianity widely.) But, weren’t the Romans the ones that crucified their god? Apparently that little fact didn’t deter the lust for state power. Rome had the most state power, so suck up to Rome was the plan.

At the same time, secular rulers realized that religion was a more effective tool in getting people to obey than soldiers were. Plus. if they got in a contest with religion, there would be winners and losers, but if they formed a coalition, instead, they would both be winners.

Now consider a king with many gods, many priests, and many visionaries/prophets/etc. When a decision had to be made, which would the king rather do: negotiate with many god’s representatives as to what to do or negotiate with just one such representative, a representative the king could treat well (bribe) and with suitable arguments (bribes) get the recommendation the king desired. (God is on our side in the coming conflict—quick, send this message to the troops.)

We ended up with large monotheistic religions primarily because of politics.

Think about it! If there really were only one god, would that god have allowed his creation, mankind, to create such a large number of imaginary gods (thousands of them!). No, the one and only True God™ would have nipped that in the bud and everyone would have acknowledged that there was but one god from the beginning.

In the Bible the evidence therein shows that it took over a thousand years for the Hebrews to go from polytheism, to monolatry (the worship of one god without denial of the existence of other gods), to monotheism. Mostly monotheism was forced on the people by the priests and kings (Hint: the elites!). There was no public support for such a concept and scripture didn’t demand it . . . until it became secular policy and then scripture was “adjusted.” (Look up King Josiah if you are dubious.)

 

July 28, 2020

Motivations According to Conservatives

Unemployment insurance has been, irrationally, deeply controversial. It has always faced bitter opposition from conservatives who claim that it would discourage workers from seeking jobs.

This is a part of their “those people are lazy” mindset which is joined with the belief that if “those people” didn’t have to work, they wouldn’t.

Let’s see how this belief plays out if taken to heart.

In our “pay as you go culture,” you have to pay for everything: you pay for the food you eat, for the shelter over your head, and you pay for the utilities to keep that space livable, you pay for health care. You pay for all of this by getting a job that pays “enough.”

Let’s do an experiment—one that actually has already been done any number of times, but hey, this might be the first time you thought this through. Let’s offer someone who has one of those “keeping body and soul together” jobs, one that pays just enough to be able to pay the rent, keep the TV on, and feed himself (no family), the same amount of income, but he doesn’t need to go to work to receive it.

The conservatives will immediately see this guy in a hammock sipping a mint julep. He just got his ticket punched to Easy Street! Well, we all now know what “staying home” is like during this pandemic. Does it feel like Easy Street? “Are we not entertained?” So, after lolling about for a bit, this “lazy bum” we are paying to do nothing gets the idea that he could get a good job and really expand his income. After all, the government is covering his nut, but not for vacations, cars, or a family. Do, you think this guy would settle for another boring dead end job like he had before? I tend to think he would aim higher. If he applies for 10 jobs but doesn’t get one of those, what has he lost? He still has food and shelter, so he is not desperate. I think we can count on human ambition being at least moderately high. Having that minimum income to backstop him, he is less likely to settle, not more likely.

And what does this say about the shit jobs people were doing for poor wages? What would happen if people said “Why should I break my back for little more than the basic income I get automatically?” Quite a number of those jobs would go wanting. Consequently . . . if you believe in market forces . . . those jobs are not worth doing, or if they are, higher wages are going to have to be paid to entice people to do them.

And, what would a lot of people opting out of the job market do for those seeking jobs? Hmmm . . . fewer applicants for the same number of jobs means higher employment rates. Conservatives can’t argue this is false because they have been claiming for years that Mexicans, illegally in the U.S., are taking jobs away from Americans. We have argued that there aren’t a whole lot of Anglos seeking work in the roofing business in the Texas summer or in the fields picking vegetables, but the conservatives insist that Mexican “illegals” are taking those jobs away from Americans. If so, it has to work both ways. If poor people stop applying for the shit jobs they have been doing, there will be more jobs for Americans who want them.

Now, small business owners will complain (they have little power otherwise) that if they have to pay higher wages to keep people in the jobs they have on offer, they will go out of business. Again, let’s consider a small thought experiment. So, you Mr. Small Business Owner advertise for an employee to fill one of your shit jobs, and several desperate people apply. You pick one and you train them. They perform in a lackluster manner and quit or get fired after a short stint “on the job.” And so, you are back advertising for a replacement . . . again, which you will hire, train, and . . . well, I think you see the cycle. If, on the other hand, the job pays well, and this owner tells an employee they have to pick up the pace, they are much more likely to do so, because the impact of losing a higher paying job is greater. Many people won’t want to lose such a job and so will try harder. Fewer adverts get put, less time is spent training new employees, less over time is paid covering for employees who got fired/quit, etc. Which process is less expensive to the SB owner? I don’t think the answer is obvious.

Conservatives seem to think the very best motivation for poor people is desperation (you have all seen the drug company commercials showing poor people unable to afford the medicine their dependents need, the problem is not invisible). They, of course, reserve special scorn (“lazy and shiftless”) for the racial minorities who are poor, but all of the poor are painted with their wide brush. (They work out their schemes on the Black and Brown poor, and then they always bring it home on the White poor . . . always). On the other hand, in their lives and the lives of other white, privileged Americans, their salaries are more than adequate to meet a family person’s nut for the whole family, and while it may not be enough to pay for a McMansion, or private schools for the kids, and a Porsche, it is enough for cars, vacations, a paid healthcare plan, and a few splurges, etc., and the motivation preferred by this class is greed, pure and simple. They laud hedge fund managers and other financial fat cats as examples of what you can do if you apply greed to your work life.

So, basically, conservatives have very low opinions of the motivations that move people and I suspect that is because they have a low opinions of people in general, other than themselves and their close associates, of course. And I wonder where they learned to have a very low opinion of people . . . religion!

Such a Deal!

I was reading a blog post on Bruce Gerencser’s web site recently and he ripped off yet another thought-provoking statement. Here it is:

“Cultural Christianity is all about what people say and not what they do. This is the predominant form of Christianity in America. When asked, do you believe in the Christian God? most Americans will say, Yes! It matters not how they live or even if they understand Christian doctrine. They believe, and that’s all that matters.” (Bruce Gerencser)

Here is a key flaw in the fundamentalist/evangelical Christian viewpoint. Basically they say, to be saved from the terrible fate of God’s curse, all you need do is accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior. That’s it. Accept Jesus and . . . done deal . . . you are saved.

You don’t have to do anything else. You don’t have to join a particular church, as the Catholics do. There is no requirement to do good deeds. You do not have to donate money to the cause. There is nothing else you need do to avoid the Lake of Fire you were condemned to.

Consequently, many Christians (most?) violate Christian mores/ethics in great number. This is the allure apparently. You need do very little and Bingo! you are saved. Of course, the religions promoting this theological point are really missing the mark. If Christians were, in addition, supposed to do good works to maintain their “Get Out of Hell Free” status, they could be doing a great deal more good in this country, and the world, too. Imagine that churches could put on brag sessions in which members would “share” all of their good deeds done each week. “I helped an old lady to cross the street.” “I mowed my disabled neighbor’s front lawn.” “I visited a sick congregant in the hospital.” “I volunteered at the food bank all day Saturday.”

Natural competition and good, old fashioned one-upmanship would lead to an expansion of such efforts. Who cares if these actions are ego-driven, good things are getting done. But unlike Noah’s Ark, missing this boat apparently is no big deal.

Making Christians by asking very, very little of them is a proven path to success, success in the form of numbers of congregants. But now that people are thinking more and have more access to information and other people via the Internet, it is becoming apparent to many others that there is an even lazier way to avoid that Lake of Fire—become an atheist!

Become an atheist and voilà, you are no longer subject to the curse of a god which does not exist. And, there are no church meetings, no dues or tithes, no required beliefs, no deadly sins, in fact, no sins at all. No singing songs along with a bunch of other people who also cannot sing. No listening to lectures that are boring in the extreme. No effort need be made whatsoever.

Disbelieve and you are saved—saved from a fate worse that death and the myriad things listed above, and that is only a partial list.

Disbelieve and you are saved. Much easier than believe and you are saved.

July 24, 2020

Oh, Wow!

Filed under: Reason,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 8:17 am
Tags: , , ,

From time to time I like to check in to see what the other side of the god argument is saying, so I bit on this book: God’s Grand Game: Divine Sovereignty and the Cosmic Playground by Steven Colborne.

This chap seems to be taking all of the god claims to heart and looking seriously at the consequences. I believe his viewpoint is: it is all true and you will agree with me if you just follow along.

Here is all of Chapter 4 (This is as far as I have gotten as this is a bit f tough sledding.) I also hope that doesn’t violate fair use regulations but as I am not profiting from this I suspected that it is not.

4
God in Inanimate Objects

It is easy to see how God is active in living creatures, but it is perhaps somewhat more difficult to envisage what ‘God is doing’ in the case of inanimate objects, like tables or books. When I look at a table and investigate its nature, an obvious question arises — is God making the table be, or can the table be without involvement from God?

The table existing without involvement from God would have to mean that there is some part of the cosmos in which God is not present. But this cannot be, as God by His very nature is omnipresent. Therefore, there must be a sense in which the table is ‘in God’, or, put another way, God’s being must permeate the table. It is natural, then, to assume that God is holding the table in existence. The table appears solid and stable, and it is perfectly possible for God to create these qualities in the table. God is, after all, omnipotent, so holding a bunch of atoms in place for a few hundred years does not pose the slightest problem.

Another aspect of God is that He is wholly in the parts as well as the whole. This means that each individual part of the table contains the fullness of God. It should not be hard to imagine, then, that God, in His infinite power, can create subtle change in such objects over time. We are talking, for instance, of objects like the table fading in colour, becoming infested by woodworm, or drying out. If the smallest particle is just as present to God as the whole table, then God can affect change on any level.

One might naturally ask, what would become of the table if God’s involvement were taken away? Could it exist without God? We have already established that God is everywhere, so we would have to conclude that there can be no table without God.

Taking all of this into account, should it not be possible for God to make major unexpected changes in the order of things? For instance, if God wanted my table to vanish before my eyes, is this not possible? Remember, we are saying that God is holding every particle of the table in existence. I would have to conclude that, yes, it is as possible for a table to vanish as it is for a man’s pain to vanish, as I described witnessing in the chapter “How Do I Know God Exists?”. God could remove a table from existence in a flash, if He desired. So why, then, do we not see more instances of this?

Well, it is perfectly possible that God likes order. Perhaps regularity is one of the things that gives God pleasure. This is understandable if we remember that God has all of eternity at His disposal. God might like to make some things appear and disappear (like a flash of lightning), and cause other things to remain for hundreds of years (like a table). Evolution (in objects as well as animals) may well please God, as the unfolding of His will and His plans provide our creator with anticipation and something to look forward to.

Λ Ω

So, if I burn a table on a bonfire, I am burning god? (Throw on a beef steak and burn him at the steak?)

The table is maybe a bit too weird a place to start. How about: “God, in His infinite power, can create subtle change in such objects over time. We are talking, for instance, of objects like the table fading in colour, becoming infested by woodworm, or drying out. If the smallest particle is just as present to God as the whole table, then God can affect change on any level.”

We have to ask, why an omnipotent god would use his powers to stick the atoms of every fricking object in the universe together? This has to be incredibly boring stuff. He is omnipotent and this is what does with his powers . . . hold the atoms of a table together? If he were to get distracted, would the table fall apart?

Wouldn’t it make more sense to have such a god create universal rules regarding the stickiness of atoms and use those to hold the atoms of things together. We could call them, I don’t know, chemical bonds, for short. No? I do note that none of the properties of the Christian god is that he is “all-intelligent.” (What would that be in Greekish? Omni-smart? Omni-percipient, Omni-éxypnos?) Maybe he is dull enough that he thinks he has to hold together every damned thing. Why use gravity to hold together stars and planets when . . . you can do it yourself?

As to my question: if he were to get distracted, would those objects fall apart? This is apparently how he makes things disappear or appear out of nothing, as we have all seen happen, like . . . never. Really, this has never been seen in all of human history and you’d think that in one of those “I am the Lord, your God . . .” moments this is a trick that would be really convincing to bystanders, not to say any persons who were disappeared and then reappeared. Imagine the conversations later! “I am telling you Shalom, you disappeared for like a quarter of an hour and then you were brought back. Where did you go? Did you get to see Heaven? (. . . or Hell?)”

Again, it makes sense that all of the sticking together of parts be on automatic and then God can just overrule the rules whenever he wants to make things appear and disappear, no?

Does Occam’s Rule apply to gods?

Amazing, absolutely effing amazing, s    i    g    h   .

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