cuchulain

biblical interpretation and the atheist

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I cannot speak for all Atheists.  I wouldn't want to try to do so.  I know several Atheists who have read the bible, tried to seek meaning and enlightenment, and just didn't get it.  Or maybe they interpret the book in such a way that makes it seem vile to them.  That's where I fall.  I cannot interpret the book in any way that is good.  I just cannot bring myself to believe that the original authors of the book meant well, but that is bias on my part and I understand that.  It simply explains why the book isn't for me.  

I have heard several Christian renditions, for lack of a better word, of the bible.  They mostly seem benign and peaceful, until something comes up that they personally don't believe in.  Example, homosexual marriage.  Then they are overflowing with hate, all from that wonderful, loving book they all share.  And it baffles me.  

But I got to thinking the other night.  One of the big things I try to follow is to allow others the freedom to decide for themselves.  Now if that just doesn't sound arrogant, eh?  Who am I to decide for anyone else what to believe?  And how would I enforce it anyway, right?  And so I come to this point:  I can very easily judge another persons interpretation of the bible.  It's just as easy as judging them for anything else, and I believe I have the right to do so.  I, like many Atheists I know, like to pick on biblical interpretation that spews hate, or propagates some form of discrimination. 

The flaw comes when I encounter a Christian who doesn't practice discrimination, or hate(at least, not more than the average person might).  I find myself in the defensive mode, or maybe the attack mode at that point.  It's kind of like an automated response, only I wouldn't want to abrogate responsibility for how I respond.  Maybe a knee jerk reaction sounds better?  I hear an interpretation of the bible which isn't hateful, and the first thing I try to do is pick it apart.  There are Christians out there who do good with their book, who sincerely try to seek peace and harmony with the book and the people they interact with.  And they will explain how they interpret their book and why they act the way they do, or why they don't consider someone else to be a true Christian(yes Dan, I am talking about you a little bit :) ).  I realize looking at it that they are doing no more than I do.  Judging.  I don't view it as wrong for me to judge others, but I tend to view it as wrong for Christians.  Mostly because I have been told(by various Christians) not to judge others.  I view it as hypocritical.  BUT...some judgement needs to occur.  Someone needs to be able to differentiate those who follow their ideology and beliefs with someone who does not, and so for Dan to say specifically that he doesn't see someone as a true Christian because they don't follow the scripture the way he interprets it should be perfectly valid for me.  Knee jerk response seemingly turns me into a jerk in that scenario, however.  

So I guess this is simply a long winded apology on my part to Dan and all those Christians who have tried to tell me they interpret the book a specific way, as well as a statement that I will try(and may or may not be successful, but it will be a legitimate try), to respect your right to judge who you view as a true Christian, and to judge how to interpret your own religion's book.  I haven't always responded the way I should have, and I have no right to tell you that you should interpret the book in a specific way.  

 

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I understand your desire to be fair.  The Bible is not interested in being fair.  Neither are the people who hold it inerrant.

 

I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear.
For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.
 
The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.
 
The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. Corrupt are they, and have done abominable iniquity: there is none that doeth good.
Edited by Jonathan H. B. Lobl

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I would not presume for their desires.  That's my point.  It's kind of like a Christian claiming Atheists desire to disprove God.  It really might be true, of some of us.  But the hubris of one person to speak to another's beliefs just strikes me as too high.  Now, if a Christian claims to believe the bible says specifically that they should kill people, enslave, or something like that...then I can take a stand against their position as immoral.  But so far as telling them how they believe...now that I consider, didn't Dan recently tell you how to believe as an Atheist in a thread?

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6 hours ago, cuchulain said:

I would not presume for their desires.  That's my point.  It's kind of like a Christian claiming Atheists desire to disprove God.  It really might be true, of some of us.  But the hubris of one person to speak to another's beliefs just strikes me as too high.  Now, if a Christian claims to believe the bible says specifically that they should kill people, enslave, or something like that...then I can take a stand against their position as immoral.  But so far as telling them how they believe...now that I consider, didn't Dan recently tell you how to believe as an Atheist in a thread?

Over time, it blurs.  I forget which threats came from which Fundamentalist.  We all know the party line.  

Belief is a choice.  If you choose not to believe, you will burn.  If you had studied Scripture, you would believe.

Well, I did study the Scriptures.  Look at some of the gems I came up with.  The same people told me to pray.  While it fills me with shame to admit it, I did pray.  My eyes were opened.  Not the way they intended.

When the pious tell me to study Scripture, so that I will learn the truth -- what I find is the result of my instructions.  Ask Dan if my understanding of these Scriptures is faulty.  Dan is annoying, but he's honest.  He will insist that every awful, hateful thing in Scripture is literally the Gospel truth.  

:sigh2:

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Judging people is not my job description as a Christian. Loving people is. I may judge certain acts as immoral but only among other Christians. I am not to be concerned (in a judgemental way) with the behavior or beliefs of non-Christians but, by my behavior, I am to emulate what a Christian believes. 

I read in Scripture where God promises to reveal Himself to those who seek Him. I cannot limit God to what I think are the rules of revelation. If a person is seeking God and winds up in a temple, a synagogue, meeting hall or a mosque...who am I to judge? I am told to express my beliefs "when asked about the hope that is in me."

I know folks who are not Christian and have a better grasp on the Christian life than some Christians. Peace.

PS: Nice to see you guys.

PPS: While I hold the events in all scripture to be true, a Christian (especially of the Gentile persuasion) should spend most of the time in the New Testament. When ya got that down pat, especially Romans and Hebrews, then perhaps a much clearer understanding of the OT pronouncements would be forthcoming.

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Pete   

I just wonder what does it matter what theists think of atheists. I think each person knows their own path in life and those who think you have no right to not believe in what they say are at fault. A person can be a Christian or an Atheist . Unfortunately there are many debates that are brought about by those who feel their view is right for all and all should adopt it or be at fault. In there is much turmoil. On topics like homosexuality the trouble is again not that a person is gay but those who keep saying they have no right to exist as a gay or it is some illness which needs curing.  They then cause terrible misery.

What others chose to say about theism should be for them only and they alone should live it and leave the rest of us alone. 

It is not that Atheists are not wanting to be saved but that they do not recognise anything to be saved from and the means of being so called saved is nonsense to them. Some do not understand this.

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1 hour ago, Pete said:

I just wonder what does it matter what theists think of atheists. I think each person knows their own path in life and those who think you have no right to not believe in what they say are at fault. A person can be a Christian or an Atheist . Unfortunately there are many debates that are brought about by those who feel their view is right for all and all should adopt it or be at fault. In there is much turmoil. On topics like homosexuality the trouble is again not that a person is gay but those who keep saying they have no right to exist as a gay or it is some illness which needs curing.  They then cause terrible misery.

What others chose to say about theism should be for them only and they alone should live it and leave the rest of us alone. 

It is not that Atheists are not wanting to be saved but that they do not recognise anything to be saved from and the means of being so called saved is nonsense to them. Some do not understand this.

 

I have been spending some time on Facebook with the various godless groups.  The labels vary.  Some say Agnostic or Atheist or Free-thought.  Much the same difference.  I mention this because they all attract the same mindless Christian trolls.  They engage in drive by preaching.  They demand to know how anybody can not believe.  They insult everybody who does not believe.  They threaten non-believers with damnation.  To my surprise, the Muslim trolls are even more irritating than the Christian trolls.

 Does any of it really matter to me?  No, but it irritates.  Like sand in a wet swim suit.  It has been an interesting experience.  I'm pulling out of these groups because I've had the experience and see no need to keep it coming in my life.  This much I have discovered.  My Atheism has become harsher as a result.

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Pete   

They used do that with me but I came back strong that made them look bad. Now they leave me alone.

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3 hours ago, Pete said:

They used do that with me but I came back strong that made them look bad. Now they leave me alone.

Real life is different.  Face to face, I have no difficulty dealing with fools.  On Facebook?  Life is too short to roll around in the mud with trolls.  I don't care enough.  I can't be bothered.  "Oh, look.  Someone on the internet is wrong.  And stupid  And vicious."

Repetition is part of it.  They keep coming up with the same silly challenges.  They will begin by demanding proof that God doesn't exist.  They will ask stupid questions about evolution -- establishing that they have no science knowledge and no coherent thought.  They demand proof of the Big Bang theory.  They keep coming up with Pascal's wager.  Again.  As though it were the first time.    The questions don't change.  They keep asking the same stupid questions -- over and over again.

In fairness, it's not only the pious who act like total louts and jerks.  I've also left a few Atheist groups because they don't know how to be civil with Agnostics.  Sometimes, the group piles on.  Why stay and fight when the exit is right there?  And it's so easy to click on "Leave Group"?  There are times when talking to an Atheist group is like talking to religious Fundamentalists.  Their minds are set in stone.  Time to leave.

Edited by Jonathan H. B. Lobl

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mererdog   
2 hours ago, Jonathan H. B. Lobl said:

In fairness, it's not only the pious who act like total louts and jerks.

To be even more fair, there is no real way to know who is a believer and who is just playing the part to troll nonbelievers.

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mererdog   

I am a big fan of Katt Williams' stand-up. A few days ago, I was watching one of his specials, and he started badmouthing atheists. He literally called us stupid. I not only didn't get upset, I never stopped laughing.There are a couple of reasons I cut him so much slack on this...

First, all his negative talk about atheists came in the context of responses to negative talk from atheists. Getting called stupid for believing prompted him to call me stupid for not believing. That makes it an unartful defensive response, rather than a malicious attack, at least in my view.

Mostly, however, I cut him slack because he states that he gets death threats from atheists. While it is unfair to blame all atheists for that, it is also human nature. I can't expect people to react rationally to something as emotionally charged as a death threat...

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3 hours ago, mererdog said:

I am a big fan of Katt Williams' stand-up. A few days ago, I was watching one of his specials, and he started badmouthing atheists. He literally called us stupid. I not only didn't get upset, I never stopped laughing.There are a couple of reasons I cut him so much slack on this...

First, all his negative talk about atheists came in the context of responses to negative talk from atheists. Getting called stupid for believing prompted him to call me stupid for not believing. That makes it an unartful defensive response, rather than a malicious attack, at least in my view.

Mostly, however, I cut him slack because he states that he gets death threats from atheists. While it is unfair to blame all atheists for that, it is also human nature. I can't expect people to react rationally to something as emotionally charged as a death threat...

Are you sure of your facts?  I've spoken with some Atheists who were true fools.  Still, death threats?  It seems unlikely.  

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mererdog   
25 minutes ago, Jonathan H. B. Lobl said:

Are you sure of your facts?

I know only what he said. It wasn't said as part of a joke. It is possible he was lying. But he is very famous and very controversial and that attracts the crazy. It seems reasonable to take him at his word.

But tying back in to my earlier point about trolls... I want to point out that you shouldn't necessarily trust the person sending the anonymous threat to describe themself honestly.

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2 hours ago, Jonathan H. B. Lobl said:

Are you sure of your facts?  I've spoken with some Atheists who were true fools.  Still, death threats?  It seems unlikely.  

Greetings to you my brother,

I am reminded of a bit the late, great Bill Hicks used to do.  One night he was performing in a small town way down in the Bible Belt.  Afterwards, in the parking lot, he was approached by a few of the locals who said "Hey buddy, we're Christians, and we don't like what you said up there'"  To which Mr. Hicks (blessed be his memory) remarked, "So, forgive me."

In Solidarity,

Rev. Calli

 

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On 4/19/2017 at 4:33 PM, Pete said:

I just wonder what does it matter what theists think of atheists. I think each person knows their own path in life and those who think you have no right to not believe in what they say are at fault. A person can be a Christian or an Atheist . Unfortunately there are many debates that are brought about by those who feel their view is right for all and all should adopt it or be at fault. In there is much turmoil. On topics like homosexuality the trouble is again not that a person is gay but those who keep saying they have no right to exist as a gay or it is some illness which needs curing.  They then cause terrible misery.

What others chose to say about theism should be for them only and they alone should live it and leave the rest of us alone. 

It is not that Atheists are not wanting to be saved but that they do not recognise anything to be saved from and the means of being so called saved is nonsense to them. Some do not understand this.

Beyond what it matters to me personally, it shouldn't.  Although, I do live in an area where such things might matter in a dangerous way.  

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4 hours ago, cuchulain said:

Beyond what it matters to me personally, it shouldn't.  Although, I do live in an area where such things might matter in a dangerous way.  

For the truly devout, Atheism is a thought crime.  Crime is for punishment.  As in damnation.  Of course, the Fundamentalist is quick to explain -- there is no hate in their heart.  This is the Word of God.".  Needless to say, they don't understand the Atheist reaction.  Fundamentalists also proceed on the assumption "that if it's not from God, it's of the Devil"  Again, they don't understand the Atheist response, to being told they worship the Devil.  They are a remarkably judgmental lot.  They love to quote Psalm 14/53:  "The fool says in his heart, there is no God."  Pardon me.  No judgment there.  Only quoting "The Word.".  Such is the religion of Love.

In Saudi Arabia, Atheism is conflated with terrorism.  Terrorists are executed.  Apostates are also killed.  Such is the religion of peace.

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Assassin   

The problem we have is people pick through the book and only use what is useful to them at that moment just like I am about to do. In the bible it tells us not to judge yet people judge homosexuals, drunks, and people who are just all around different all the time saying they are going to hell. In the bible it says to obey the law of the land and again if you go by that then it is legal for same sex couples to get married and is alright through gods eyes. Your body is a temple but people kill there bodies everyday by drug use and alcohol and smoking. I see this different than most I feel like until you get your life right and perfect then you shouldn't worry about everyone else. We have judges and law enforcement to police people who are doing wrong let them do their jobs. If you don't like someone because they are gay or they are always high or drunk then you have the right to stay away but to publicly ridicule someone for their own beliefs even if in your eyes are wrong is not your job. I get a crazy response because I am a Christian and I don't believe in the trinity which in most people's eyes that I talk to means I don't believe in Jesus which is false. That is a story for another time but I get judged due to my belief and again is wrong. As far as a violent religion yes it is and has been from day one but we also have lived in a violent world as well. We cant expect a book that is based of the worlds history IMO to be roses and rainbows this is not how the world is or was so the book tells the story (which some stories are not violent by the way) of how the  world was viewed back then. I just realized I could of shortened this comment by just simply saying I live by the old saying if you don't have anything nice to say then don't say nothing at all. Sorry for all the miss spelled words I didn't proof read before I posted.

 

 

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Å

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Parts of the Bible are indeed, very old.  They do reflect the savage nature of their human authors.  If they had been "inspired" by an eternal, all knowing and all good god -- instead of the primitives who did write them -- the results would have been different.

Slavery would have been condemned.  Women would not have been oppressed.  Homosexuality would not have all the tirades and death penalties.  

In short, it would like the eternal and timeless God wrote the Book.  For instance -- The Creation account in Genesis would not have God creating plant life before the Sun.  Instead, we get an account by the people of the time, who had no concept of where the Sun goes at night or what the Sun is.  We would not be told that the stars are little shiny things to decorate the night sky.  It would look like God's authorship.  Not the ignorant and primitive savages who did author it.

The Bible would also have God's timeless morality.  Guess what.  If you think slavery is wrong -- your morals are already better than God's.  If you think that genocide is wrong, much less drowning the whole planet -- your morals are already better than God's.

Oops.  Did I say that out loud?   :sigh2:

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if god were eternal and constant, why no more burning bushes or big stone tablets? when he changed, was he not perfect before or after the change?  if he wrote knowledge of himself on our hearts, all the hullabaloo was unnecessary in the beginning, wasn't it?

Edited by cuchulain

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26 minutes ago, cuchulain said:

if god were eternal and constant, why no more burning bushes or big stone tablets? when he changed, was he not perfect before or after the change?  if he wrote knowledge of himself on our hearts, all the hullabaloo was unnecessary in the beginning, wasn't it?

Unless of course, it's symbolism.  More than one man has found God in a burning bush. :D 

Alright.  A more serious response.  The apologists have taken pains to explain why God is no longer present, as in the bad old days.  We have better communications than we used to.  The word does not travel by word of mouth any more. People are better educated and more skeptical than they used to be. Fantasy is more obvious.

Edited by Jonathan H. B. Lobl

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