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A Brief Discussion About Christian Fundamentalists

Some of my Christian friends are quite disparaging about Christian fundamentalists. This usually comes from an unforunate emphasis by the media in characterizing fundamentalists solely as angry, rigid believers who who believe not only that their faith is the only correct one, but who consider it their mission to force others to change their belliefs to fit the desired mold. While such people certainly exist, they do not represent the whole of fundamentalist Christianity. After all, Christian fundamentalists run the spectrum from the relatively intolerant Jerry Falwell and Bob Jones University, to the peaceful and unobstrusive Amish and Mennonite communities. It occurs to me that a brief discussion about the different kinds of Christian fundamentalist would be fruitful. Christian Fundamentalism is the belief that certain aspects of Christianity are critical in importance. This leads to three sub-groups of Fundamentalists:

1. Militant Fundamentalists - who believe that Christianity is the only true faith and Fundamentalist Christianity is the only true Christianity. This group tends to demand rote obedience to strict doctrines, and is intolerant of individualism or unconventional behavior. This group tends to connect "acceptable" Christian identity with certain cultural norms, dress, behavior, speech, and is aggressive in recruiting. Coercion is common as a tactic.

2. Insecure Fundamentalists - who believe that the version of Christianity they hold is the "best" version, down to which version of the Bible they approve and how they conduct services and prayer. This group tends to be vocal in evangelism and is senstitive to cultural norms, preferring a 'comfort zone' where everyone acts according to a community interest rather than self-interest. This group is not hostile to other beliefs, but considers them incorrect and tends to conduct debate on the assumption that the other person does not yet know the truth, as represented by the Fundamentalist's comprehension.

3. Individualist Fundamentalists - who believe that all humans tend to sin, and therefore no human is fit to judge another person. For this group, the Gospel is intensely personal, and the Fundamentalist aspect of the faith is the process of anchoring faith and its profession on key trustworthy aspects of the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. This group is looser in form and emphasizes compassion for others, devotion to personal integrity, and respect for the person as key teachings of Jesus Christ. This group does not consider all beliefs equally true, but accepts that all beliefs are valid to some degree depending on the individual case, and agrees that God speaks to all His children in whatever way they can accept. This group recruits through encouraging people to seek truth for themselves, and to test assumptions and reject stereotypes.


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Comments (28)

DJYou're missing som... (Below threshold)
Jeff Blogworthy:

DJ
You're missing something, but I can't quite articulate it just now. I reject no. 3 as based too much in individualism and emotion, though you seem to present it as the most attractive manifestation of Christianity. Christians are to act corporately and as part of "the body" that is the church. Each part has its due function (Eph. 4:16). A bible believing church recruits through proclaiming the gospel (the good news) and presenting it as the truth. This navel-gazing search for individual truth is a symptom of a spiritually sick society. People need to hear the truth proclaimed and taught. Jesus commands to "Go and make disciples (learners) of all nations." Like it or not, this implies a certain amount of militancy.

How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? Rom. 10:14

I agree, in general, with your insecure fundamentalist characterization.

No. 1 suffers from your insertion of the phrase "rote obedience." Insistence on doctrinal purity is not the same as legalism. There are fundamentalist groups who are very legalistic, but I would place them more in your group no. 2. Perhaps you need another category.

I am curious as to what you mean by "coercion." Threat of hell for those who reject Christ?

I am not trying to pick on you lately. Just food for thought.

Thanks Jeff, that's the ide... (Below threshold)
DJ Drummond:

Thanks Jeff, that's the idea of discussion, just throwing it out there.

Fundamentalists come in a wide variety of beliefs, and the stereotype just doesn't fit most of them.

Hmmm, was this attempt to c... (Below threshold)
Wordygirl:

Hmmm, was this attempt to categorize fundamentalist Christains actually supposed to be helpful? If so, to whom?

I consider myself a Christian fundamentalist in that I do believe that certain precepts of the Christian faith are of critical importance, but I do not recognize myself in ANY of your so-called categories. I believe that the Bible is the holy, inspired Word of God, that faith in Christ is the only way to heaven, and that Gods' Word is eternal and unchanging. We do not get to pick and choose those parts of God's Word that happen to be convenient for us at any given moment. There are universal truths and universal morals. Would I like everyone to believe as I do? Inasmuch as I want all to be saved, yes, but I certainly don't equate "evangelism" with "recruitment" and "coersion". There are as many different categories of Christian fundamentalism as there are individuals with different backgrounds, beliefs, and circumstances.

BTW - your third category is the antithesis of a fundamentalist as it describes someone of absolute moral relativism.

OK wordygirl, then help us ... (Below threshold)
DJ Drummond:

OK wordygirl, then help us clean it up. How would you define Fundamentalists in a way which accounts for the screaming meanies like Falwell as well as the Amish and the Mennonites?

I would classify the Amish/... (Below threshold)
Jeff Blogworthy:

I would classify the Amish/Mennonites as "religious separatists."

I do not think the characterization of Falwell as a "screaming meanie" is fair. This sounds like judgmentalism - which is apparently only prohibited for fundamentalists. As long as the fundamentalists are the ones being judged - well OK then. I only wish that I have done 1/10th as much for the kingdom of God as Falwell did in his life. I say that in all honesty and admiration.

Both Falwell and the Amish ... (Below threshold)
Wordygirl:

Both Falwell and the Amish believe in the inerrancy of the Bible (which is a basic tenant of fundamentalism) but how they act upon that belief is what distinguishes them.

Why the need to define Fundamentalism if not to criticize and condemn, and ultimately to show the virtue of the opposite? I'm afraid your "Christian friends" likely need no further excuse to disparage those who carry a sense of moral certainty.

To me what defines a Christ... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:

To me what defines a Christian Fundamentalists is a belief in the inerrant word of God. That means the original scriptures in their original language as they would be understood by someone of the era and place in which they were written. The closest we have to that ideal is the modern translations of the Bible. The Bible must also be understood employing the proper division of times. True understanding takes a lifetime of study and contemplation. One reason Christian Fundamentalists may disagree on various teachings is because we are at different places in that lifelong journey.

In John 14:6 Jesus says "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me." To say that any other religion is equivalent is calling Jesus a liar. Some say this from ignorance, but some say this not to offend others; not because they are true peacemakers, but to avoid the persecution that comes from challenging false beliefs.

Men like the Apostle Paul are called to preach the undiluted word of God in season and out. In doing so they offend many as they proclaim the Gospel. Their reward is persecution for the sake of the Gospel, which they shrink not away from.

Some are called as Apostle, some as preachers, some as teachers, some as ... How the world views them depends on the strength of their faith, their courage, their commitment, and their calling. The Militant Fundamentalists Paul writes this in 1 Thessalonians 4:9-12

Now as to the love of the brethren, you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another; for indeed you do practice it toward all the brethren who are in all Macedonia. But we urge you, brethren, to excel still more, and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you, so that you will behave properly toward outsiders and not be in any need.

Is this what you fear?

The key is understanding th... (Below threshold)

The key is understanding that some people believe emotions are subjective, and others believe them objective and legislatable.

To define fundamentalists, you must first define belief. The type of belief that philosophers often discuss is some sort of certainty or feeling of certainty that is either unprovable or has not yet been proven.

The fundamentalist's beliefs include beliefs about morals and beliefs about historical, scientific, and spiritual facts. Compare to the belief you have that, when you flip a light switch, it will turn on (or off). It's not an ooshy-gooey feeling, it's an expectation of cause and effect.

The fundamentalist Christian believes that God is a real, existing entity outside of space-time, who is a person with thoughts and actions; not a field or a force or an idea.

Where the fundamentalist Christian gets into trouble is when he or she has an attitude that contradicts the Scriptures. For example, Jesus taught us never to have an "us versus them" attitude; after all, everyone on the planet is either a member of the adopted family of God, or is a neighbor.

Another key difference is the ontological question of beliefs. If a person holds a false belief, such as believing the Flood was a local event and not global, is that a case of inadequate or wrong learning that requires patient dismantling of a structure of false facts and assumptions, or is it a sign of deep moral rot that must be purged with sermon after firey sermon?

I would like to think of myself as the third type, but I still hold certain beliefs to be objectively true, scientifically, historically, philosophically, and spiritually.

It is fun to listen to othe... (Below threshold)

It is fun to listen to others banter about Mennonites so that I can sit on the sidelines and hear what others think about me. Who would have thought that a Mennonite might actually be plugged into cyberspace?

I am amused at the conversations that non-Christians have about Christians. Even Mennonites are not monolithic. There is great upheaval in the Mennonite church today over many issues. I don't know, think of us as the Episcopals with dated clothing.

The debate that fundamentalist Christians have with the outer world varies little from the same conversation that takes place within the church.

I suppose it was a lot easier when all us Christians lived on the farm and churned our own butter.

I just reject the idea that... (Below threshold)
A-gu:

I just reject the idea that the media characterizes fundamentalists negatively.

Rather, the media more or less just defines fundamentalist: people who believe they're right and that all non-Christians and maybe "misled Christians" (not in their denomination) are going to hell.

So much time wasted on imag... (Below threshold)
dr lava:

So much time wasted on imaginary beings, silly ancient mythology, ridiculous supernatural hocus-pocus.

One common thread through all fundamentalism is ignorance and fear.

One common thread throug... (Below threshold)
Jeff Blogworthy:

One common thread through all fundamentalism is ignorance and fear.

ABC's Good Morning America displayed this on-screen throughout a report from weather reader Sam Champion: "Will Billions Die from Global Warming?" Champion eagerly relayed how the upcoming report from the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) "will estimate that between 1.1 and 3.2 billion people will suffer from water shortage problems by 2080. That's not your grandchildren, that's your children. And between 200 million and 600 million more people will be going hungry." Over on NBC's Today, co-host Matt Lauer warned of "a controversy in Washington over what literally could be the end of the world as we know it.

heh.

There are, of course, some ... (Below threshold)

There are, of course, some self-described "fundamentalists," but the term is more often used by others, pejoratively, to define those with whose beliefs they disagree.

Thus, to the observer with an agenda, the "fundamentalists" may be portrayed monolithically, with the worst traits of some on the fringes imputed to all. Frankly, I've seen congregations that believe some rather odd (to me) things.

My own "fundamentalism" relies on a stricter construction. What is important in my Christian faith is the "fundamental" truths that we are all sinners before God, and lack the capacity as humans to fully atone for our sins, or even to "sin no more." We do not deserve Grace; it is an undeserved Gift through Jesus Christ.

In receipt of Grace from God, I can only rejoice in it, and praise His Name. I cannot set myself above others, though, because there, but for the Grace of God, go I. [Note this does not prevent me from calling a fool a fool].

That's "fundamental" to my understanding and belief. Any other beliefs people wish to attach or argue over do not concern me at all. I do, however, submit that such secondary and tertiary doctrines are not "fundamental" by definition.

So if someone handles poisonous snakes as part of their services, to me that's not "fundamental" at all. I fully accept that God is powerful enough to protect me from a poisonous snake if He wants to, but I also accept that He has already given me the glorious protection of enough intelligence not to pick one up.

There was actually a meetin... (Below threshold)

There was actually a meeting of various Christians to agree on and spell out the "fundamentals" of Christian faith. Sort of like those meetings where they hammered out creeds in the old days.

Probably the things most identifying of a "fundamentalist" are an evangelical-protestant outlook.

Some of the most conservative and seemingly extreme Christian groups aren't evangelical at all, they're predestinationist. If I'm not mistaken, this would include the snake handlers.

Meeting? Meeting? We don'... (Below threshold)

Meeting? Meeting? We don't need no stinkin' meeting . . .

You're right about the "predestinationists," although I'm not certain the snake-handlers belong to that category. Of course, if you or I are mistaken, we can correct our mistakes.

If a snake-handler is mistaken, though . . .

:-o

Very good arguments put for... (Below threshold)
WildWillie:

Very good arguments put forth. I would only add that 12 regular men, without any communication media besides their own testimony spread the teachings of Jesus throughout the world. Only 12. People really had no capacity to read or own a bible until maybe the 1600's. So, faith has to be a powerful tool.

My personal barometer to gauge a Christian is by his fruits and/or works. Do I feel edified when I am around the person claiming to be a Christian? Does that person do things just because it needs to be done? Anyway, I love this discussion. ww

ww - 13, if you count Paul ... (Below threshold)
Mike:

ww - 13, if you count Paul :-)

Any discussion of Christian fundamentalism generally gravitates toward a discussion of "literal" biblical interpretation.

Curiously, all Christians, to some degree, take the Bible literally. The Franciscans take Matthew 19:21 literally. The Pentecostals (at least the ones I grew up around) and Bible Missionaries take I Timothy 2:9 literally. The "snake handlers" take Mark 16:18 literally.

I suppose it could be said that Christian fundamentalists are more likely to derive their beliefs from a propositional reading of Scripture; that is, they assume that the entirety of Scripture is inerrant in its exposition of truth, so that any excerpted portion of the Bible proposes an authentic and accurate understanding of God's message to man.

Thus fundamentalists are comfortable with explaining their beliefs by providing short proof-texts from Scripture and pointing out that the plain meaning of those texts should be taken literally. But as I illustrated earlier, what separates Christian denominations are disagreements over which passages are to be taken literally, and which passages are to be interpreted metaphorically. No one, regardless of how committed they are to Biblical inerrancy, interprets the entire Bible "literally."

DJ, I think that your point about insecurity is very well made. Insecurity and fear are what drive many of the smaller movements within fundamentalism ("Christian" books/music/movies, the crusade to "save" Christmas, and the homeschooling craze are prime examples) and encourage fundamentalists to disengage from society at large. Stanley Hauerwas and other contemporary theologians have suggested that perhaps such fear means that many fundamentalists really do not know what they believe. I wonder if he is on to something.

So much time waste... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:
So much time wasted on imaginary beings, silly ancient mythology, ridiculous supernatural hocus-pocus.

It never fails. Whenever we get on the subject of religion some atheist shows up who hasn't figured out that what they believe is just as much a matter of faith as those professing the creed of any organized religion. Their attitude flows from pride in their intellect, but if they had an intellect to be proud of they wouldn't have such an attitude. Thus, this attitude is the signature of a dimwit atheist.

One common thread through all fundamentalism is ignorance and fear.

As for fear, just watch the science channel on cable to get a mega dose of fear. They show program after program on asteroids colliding with Earth, black holes swallowing the Sun, gamma ray bursts frying the Earth, mega volcanoes, mega tsunamis, and mega pandemics.

Atheists quake with fear as they ponder the improbable stability of the Earth. As a Christian I know such things may come, but only in their appointed time, and so, I do not fear them. They are but birth pangs.

Atheists quake with fear... (Below threshold)
Veeshir:

Atheists quake with fear as they ponder the improbable stability of the Earth.
Not all of us. And plenty of religious people quake with fear over the same thing. Or did you miss all the "The world will end after 1999" types?

What plenty of people on every side of every debate seem to not realize is that people are people. No matter what you believe, there are people on your side who act exactly the same way as people you don't like on the other side.

I don't like religious types who hassle me about not having religion just as much as I don't like atheists who hassle religious types about their religion. dr lava being a prime example.

Not all of us. And... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:
Not all of us. And plenty of religious people quake with fear over the same thing. Or did you miss all the "The world will end after 1999" types?

Perhaps you haven't pondered the improbable stability of the Earth long enough. Tune in to the Science channel for a new season of mega disasters. Yes, many Christians do fear such things when they are not acting in accordance with their faith.

You forget that all those who said "The world will end after 1999" were proven correct on Jan 1, 2000. We just don't know how long after 1999 the world will end, but end it will. :)

I don't like religious types who hassle me about not having religion just as much as I don't like atheists who hassle religious types about their religion. dr lava being a prime example.

I don't think anyone likes being hassled about their religion, be it Christianity, Atheism or others. Many Christians are content to lead a quiet life and attend to their own business. Others seek the lost that some might be saved, and many express their beliefs politically by their votes and expressed opinions. It's that political activity that earns the most ire from non-Christians, and it irks them to no end that Christian morality is defined by a millenniums old text that cannot be changed.

Perhaps you should re-read ... (Below threshold)
Veeshir:

Perhaps you should re-read this paragraph before you start lumping all atheists together.
What plenty of people on every side of every debate seem to not realize is that people are people. No matter what you believe, there are people on your side who act exactly the same way as people you don't like on the other side.

I read your paragraph, but ... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:

I read your paragraph, but dismissed it because the "people are people" claim is meaningless. People are people, but some people murder others (death row prisoners) while others put their own lives at risk to save others (NYC firemen). People are people, but some are liberal and some are conservative. Yes we are all people, but what a person believes determines how they act and what they do.

As with Christians not all atheists have the same degree of faith in what they believe, nor do all atheists believe the same exact thing. That said, by definition atheists believe there is no God. Thus, humankind is the ultimate moral authority. That means every individual can decided for themselves how they act in situations where no human law governs their actions.

If a poor family can't pay their rent it's ok for an atheist landlord to evict them and never look back. For a Christian landlord evicting a poor family, while legal, can cause a moral dilemma. If the family is poor because they won't work or they spend their money on foolish or illegal things, then eviction passes Biblical moral standards. If the family is poor because they can't earn enough to pay for necessities, then the Christian landlord is in a moral dilemma. He has to be concerned with what God says is proper, not what human law allows. Both the Christian and the atheist landlords may end up allowing a poor family to skip paying all or part of their rent, but unlike the Christian, the atheist never faces a moral dilemma over such a situation. In fact, an atheist who experiences a moral dilemma in such a situation isn't really in touch with what they profess to believe.

As for the mega disasters I've talked about above. An atheist can only believe the Earth is stable and habitable by pure chance. A Christian believes the Earth is stable and habitable by design. The difference in belief results in differences in actions. Atheists support searching for extraterrestrial life, and for defending the Earth from asteroid hits, while Christians believe this is a waste of resources.

That said, by definition... (Below threshold)
Veeshir:

That said, by definition atheists believe there is no God.

Ahhh, therein lies the rub.
How many atheists do you think believe in Global Worming? Would you say they were atheists just because their god is Gaia instead of Yahweh? Their prophets the Goracle and Erlich instead of Moses and Abraham?
And remember, leftism is a religion, they might not have a god, but they surely have a bunch of prophets.
One of the aspects of most religions, IMO, is something you believe for which there doesn't have to be proof. "You have to have faith."
Every religion has stuff that you have to believe on faith. That's why I became an atheist after being Catholic, going to Catholic schools from 1st grade to my first year of college (Siena), being an altar boy and reading the readings in church. I kept asking questions about God and the religion and, after a certain point, I was always told, "You have to have faith." While I try to follow the teachings of Jesus, that's because I like them and think they would work best if everybody would treat others as they themselves would like to be treated (If I were a murderous icehole, I would want to be removed from society, if I acted like a nitwit like Barney I would want to be verbally smacked upside the head), not because I think he's God.

So take global worming, any facts that disprove it are ignored, any that seem to point out that it's true aren't investigated closely, indeed, any close inspection even by believers is taken as heresy (Bjorn Lombord for instance).

So just because somebody claims to be an atheist, doesn't mean they actually are an atheist.

Perhaps I'm not an atheist, I have faith in me and my bibles are the dictionary and encyclopedias. But I have no god, I'm not infallible, I'm just never wrong.

If a poor family can't p... (Below threshold)
Veeshir:

If a poor family can't pay their rent it's ok for an atheist landlord to evict them and never look back. For a Christian landlord evicting a poor family, while legal, can cause a moral dilemma.

I reject that utterly and am upset that you would think me so contemptible. That's why I rarely get in conversations with religious types, they just casually insult me constantly. As if I need some divine being at my back in order to make me act like a human being.

How about anybody with a conscience would feel bad? And I've noticed plenty of people who "Bless" me at every turn acting like that too.

As I said before, people are people. Believing in a god doesn't make you a nicer person. I could list a near infinite number of religious people who acted like total bastards. Just like I could list a near infinite number of non-religious types who do as well.
And, as I've seen people constantly call commies "atheists", I'll point out they have a religion, any "ism" is a religion. They just don't have a god.

Wizbang went down when I wa... (Below threshold)
Veeshir:

Wizbang went down when I was trying to enter a comment about this, so I'll try again.
The difference in belief results in differences in actions. Atheists support searching for extraterrestrial life, and for defending the Earth from asteroid hits, while Christians believe this is a waste of resources.

That's just silly. Are you saying you know God's Will? Even when I was a believer, I believed that God helps those who help themselves. Just throwing yourself on His mercy is how plenty of people have ended up dead. Bad things do happen to good people.

If you believe in free will, you can't believe that you should not take any steps to protect yourself.

I would point out that believing that of the infinite number of planets in the infinite universe only the Earth has people is hubris to an extreme.
What if God has been raising us to be good and now He wants us to travel to other planets to show them His Word? Or what if they're bad people and he wants us to go there to wipe them out, instead of a flood, he wants to use us and give us their planet? What if a threatening asteroid strike is the goad needed to get us back into space so we can perform His work?

Claiming to know God's will is also hubris.

If you type "define: atheis... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:

If you type "define: atheist" into Google you come up with definitions such as this one. Atheism entails the absence of belief in the existence of God or other deities. Absence of belief: Atheists are people who do not believe in a god.

If you don't fit the definition then you shouldn't use the term atheist to define your beliefs. You might be of the deep ecology religion, but if you don't believe in God, then the highest moral authority is human. As a human, you have the right to accept or reject moral values that are set by other humans. The only way that's not true is if you believe some humans have greater moral authority than you have, in which case you have just deified them.

In my prior posts I've been talking about mature atheists who understand what they believe and what that entails. It appears your Christian upbringing has instilled into you moral values, but atheism has no externally imposed moral values. Atheists are governed by human laws and values they have imposed on themselves. If that doesn't fit you it's because you're not a real atheist. Why keep the trappings of your childhood religion if, because of your unbelief, those things can no longer benefit you?

Yes, all religion is based on faith. News flash, so is science. The most fundamental tenets of science cannot be proved and must be accepted on faith. One of those tenets is that the universe is unreasoning. In other words, there is no God. Because of that fundamental tenet science must reject any evidence of God, for if it were to accept such evidence, science itself ceases to exist. Even among scientists, most of what they know is base on the witness of other scientists which they accept by faith to be true. In your own life, how much do you know about the world based on your own personally observations? Likely less than 10%, so the rest of what you think you know you accepted on faith.

I read the Bible and I accept that it's God's word by faith. It's not hubris to believe the Bible and in the Bible it tells us a lot about the last days. There is an asteroids that hits the Earth, but it's called a star and it's name is wormwood and it destroys a third of living things. There will also be signs in the heavens and signs in the Sun. Nothing that humans can do will change these events, so as a Christian I don't worry about them. Nature is under God's control and He's not going to allow some stray black hole to swallow the Sun ahead of schedule.

If you can only have a reli... (Below threshold)
Veeshir:

If you can only have a religion if you have a god, then I guess Buddhism, Shintoism and Confucianism aren't religions.
Atheists are governed by human laws and values they have imposed on themselves. If that doesn't fit you it's because you're not a real atheist

Sorry, that's just not so. Anybody can figure out that we are better if we work together. Anybody who's just out for himself is a jerk. I believe that Jesus was a man, the western philosopher worthy of the name, but I don't believe he was a god. As you said, I've imposed human values on myself, those that I think are the best for all humanity. That's self interest at its finest.

And, as I've said before, the list of religious people who aren't good is long, probably longer than that for atheists because most people for all of human history have been religious.

The most fundamental tenets of science cannot be proved and must be accepted on faith.
That's just silly. You can repeat scientific experiments. You can't repeat religious tests. One guy is raised up while another is laid low. Sure, nobody has ever seen an electron, but you can predict their behaviors. You can't predict any god's behavior. Just ask Job.
The most fundamental tenets of science cannot be proved and must be accepted on faith. One of those tenets is that the universe is unreasoning. In other words, there is no God. Because of that fundamental tenet science must reject any evidence of God, for if it were to accept such evidence, science itself ceases to exist.
Again, that's just silly. He set up the Universe to follow certain laws. Or are you saying that God makes the water freeze at 32degrees? Of course, your God can change the laws at His whim (miracles), but in general, His creation follows the laws He set forth. Einstein believed in God, he also tried to figure out the rules his god set up. The only way you can believe that is if you are of the religion that believes that the world is 5,000 (or so) years old and that, therefore, God created light on the way from other stars and put dinosaur bones in the ground that looked as if they were a hundred million years old. Sure, carbon dating has a huge margin of error, but that doesn't mean that it doesn't work. Unless God decided just to make it seem as if it works while it doesn't.

He's not going to allow some stray black hole to swallow the Sun ahead of schedule.

It must be comforting to believe that, but I just don't trust Him that much.

If you can only ha... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:
If you can only have a religion if you have a god, then I guess Buddhism, Shintoism and Confucianism aren't religions.

Buddhism is a religion only to those who deify Gautama Buddha. To those who don't believe there's any higher beings, Buddhism is a body of philosophies.

Shintoism is a religion and involves the worship of spirits including Amaterasu, the Sun goddess.

Confucianism is a religion only to those who deify Confucius. To all others it's an ancient Chinese ethical and philosophical system.

As soon as a person deifies another person they are no longer atheist.

Anybody can figure out that we are better if we work together. Anybody who's just out for himself is a jerk. I believe that Jesus was a man, the western philosopher worthy of the name, but I don't believe he was a god. As you said, I've imposed human values on myself, those that I think are the best for all humanity. That's self interest at its finest.

You're actually agreeing with my statement that "Atheists are governed by human laws and values they have imposed on themselves." You decided for yourself what's good and adopted those values as your moral code. The point is, you are free to modify your moral code to suite your own self interest whenever your moral code becomes burdensome. That's a luxury Christian don't have because their moral code is established by God.

The most fundamental tenets of science cannot be proved and must be accepted on faith. .

That's just silly. You can repeat scientific experiments. You can't repeat religious tests.

There's no scientific test that can prove the universe is unreasoning because a being who can control nature can frustrate any such test. Therefore the fundamental tenet that the universe is unreasoning can only be accepted by faith. You can run millions of other scientific experiments, but they don't address this fundamental question, and thus, can neither prove nor disprove the existence of God. If God exists then what's the point of studying the origins of life and species. If "God made it that way" were an acceptable scientific statement then where would the profession of science be? Why spend a lifetime studying what may or may not have been created by supernatural means? That's why my following statement is true.

One of those tenets is that the universe is unreasoning. In other words, there is no God. Because of that fundamental tenet science must reject any evidence of God, for if it were to accept such evidence, science itself ceases to exist.

If that seems silly to you it's because you haven't thought it through enough.

He set up the Universe to follow certain laws.

You got that right.

Of course, your God can change the laws at His whim (miracles), but in general, His creation follows the laws He set forth.

Also right.

Unless God decided just to make it seem as if it works while it doesn't.

So why would God do that? Here's what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 1:18-29

For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the cleverness of the clever I will set aside" Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God.

If God could be found by human wisdom (science) then the very intelligent among us could find Him and be saved, not by faith, but by their own intellectual powers. That's not God's plan. He has chosen faith in a seemingly foolish message as the means to salvation. It's something any human can do no matter how minimal their intellectual powers. God has hidden the greatest treasure in plan sight where anyone can receive it, but few of those the world considers great can find it because of pride in their own intellectual powers.

Your are already living by faith, so why not have faith is God?




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