Writer. Creator. Large mammal.
He was indeed. I'd forgotten how much of his work I'd been exposed to in my early years of comic reading. Too bad you never got to meet him, either. I'd have loved to hear a story about him.
Nice expose here:http://www.comicsalliance.com/2011/12/15/eduardo-barreto-dies-batman-titans-artist/Am more trying to wrap my head around the passing of Christopher Hitchens, and deciding to walk a mile or two in his anti-theist point of view. Him and George Carlin.All I know about Eduardo, besides his fine art, is Uruguay, which reminds me to check Wikipedia, and finding a mostly secular country. Interesting, as comics can be a most secular industry.Hmm. food for thought.
I'll just lift a few phrases about Christopher Hitchens off of what other friends of his said about him: He was envied, feared, adored, reviled and loved. Never ignored. Never bested. A great and marvelous man, about the most bullshit-free thinker of our time. Chris Hlady, I too try to walk in his anti-theist path. He and George Carlin were absolutely shining examples that you don't need to be frightened of established theist doctrine. They made better sense of this world, I think. I'm just a bit less secure that such a thunderous force as Hitchens isn't around anymore.
2011 is a bad year for comic creators. This year alone we lost:Joe Simon Jerry Robinson Dwayne McDuffie Eduardo BarretoGene Colanand Randy Savage, even though he wasn't involved in comics.
I had never heard of Eduardo Barreto or Christopher Hitchens. That's okay though, I'm pretty sure they'd never heard of me.
What i know of Hitchens is that he didn't believe in God. As One of Gods opponents on earth,it Makes me wonder if he was stubborn in this opinion to his last breath.
I wonder if Marvell staffer said in the 70s, "who does Shooter think he is, God?"Creators are often likened to God whether deserving or not.If God was the model for man, wouldn't He now be a doddering old fool, senile, and incapable of any further meaningful action?Oh, maybe God is a nice place-holder fit to define anything one doesn't understand, but when one gets down to it, God is a silly concept. As Hitchens points out, it is apt for megalomaniacs, full of themselves, sporting their delusions of grandeur, which may be what comics, and all creative endeavour is all about.In discussions with others, invoking God is ultimately a distraction, taking away from the intrinsic value of any work. Too often, deference to God is a poor alternative to taking responsibility for the consequences of actions or inactions.I suppose the best use of "God" is in suppression of one's anger, and taking time for reflection and prayer, or reconsideration. However, its "comforting" aspect fades in any practical application. Comics are very practical, as a foundation. Inspiration, if it were attributed to God, would be sadly handicapped, indeed.
Dear Chris,I'm very grateful that someone was able to come up with an intelligent response. Myself, I decided to stick to the old Norwegian saying "If you've got nothing nice to say, keep quiet".
Ole, I am a quality inspector. I get paid fairly well to tell people exactly what they don't want to hear. I get paid to review the designs of patent holders and people with far more education than I have. In many cases (not all), even the brilliant people I work with have humble themselves to admit their shortcomings. A better product results and a more open mind. Thin skins grow thicker, and people collaborate for a solution that is greater than what one person comes up with on their own. In many cases I am not an advocate of silence if there is a better way to do something and an open mind to listen. Silence breeds complacency. My ancestor has his name on the Liberty Bell. The foundation of the American culture occurred when our people refused to be silent.
Dear Defiant1,You definitely have a point. I just guess I'm old enough to not want to waste too much time on pointless arguments. I also prefer to be as polite and respectful as I can these days. That is not always possible - or warranted - but I hope I've learned to some degree which battles to pick.There was nothing even remotely polite I could have said about gn6196's comment."One of my favorite philosophical tenets is that people will agree with you only if they already agree with you. You do not change people's minds." - Frank Zappa
I'm a deist and so disagree quietly with just about everyone on these topics, but the truth in that Zappa quote keeps me sane and out of, as you say, Ole, pointless arguments."A better product results and a more open mind. Thin skins grow thicker, and people collaborate for a solution that is greater than what one person comes up with on their own. "Truer words. As a quality coordinator myself (for a faculty practice affiliated with a children's hospital) I put this into practice at every opportunity.Dear Anonymous, it's true. (Moment of silence.) I'm still processing Jerry Robinson's death. Not that I knew the men, just it often occurs to me that I'm getting closer and closer to a world (not to be morbid; this is grounded entirely in trying to appreciate them all the more in-the-now) without Stan Lee, William Shatner, so many others. They've already lived long and prospered, longer than most. These people that have loomed large in my imagination since my earliest memories... hope they linger peacefully in this world for many years more.
Zappa's quote is very similar to what I was saying on another post. I'm an advocate of stimulating brain plasticity (Neuroplasticity).
Chris Hlady,I certainly agree with your point of view. However, I've come to observe in life that there are very distinct levels of difference when it comes to Faith and Religion. I know people in my life who go to church, and they are good and wonderful people. They and myself will basically compare notes on belief, and most always come to the mutual conclusion that nothing is 100% anything, and that we're all just doing our best to get by as good people. The other distinction is Religion, which does not have a great track record, suppressing civil rights and covering up for child rape on a massive scale, being the foundation of so many wars. Kind of like our government; the leaders don't seem to represent their people very well. I don't believe the argument between God or Not is pointless. Ignoring those extremists on both sides who think their view is 100% everything, while any opposing viewpoint is an attack, it's always the healthiest thing to have other viewpoints presented.Defiant1 and I certainly disagree on this subject, but I always appreciate and respect his ability to engage in the conversation. We're all mortal, and I believe no one really knows where we're going after we die. All we can do is embrace the 'frequency level' we're most comfortable with, and live by that.'Do unto others' is not just a religious doctrine. It's good common secular sense. We're all just trying to make the best sense of everything as much as we can. I think we're all scared. We just deal with our fears differently. With the loss of so many wonderful comics creators - not to mention the every day people all around us - it certainly makes me appreciate all the goodness there is. Especially with so much bile and hatred and actual evil that's floating around out there. Communication is key.
Thanks ja and Ole for replying to my posts. Ole's the name of my great-grandfather, by the way. Love my Norwegian roots.Personally, I just resigned as my Church Council president last Tuesday, after giving up working in that context. I'd certainly tried over the years, but largely futile work in a small congregation. I've certainly done my share of bible study, prayer, communion, etc. At the same time, I've certainly never seen more, in my days, than the secular side of Christ. The water is always water, and not holy. The bread is bread, and not the body, and the wine is wine, and not the blood of Christ.Rather than criticize my faith, I'll appreciate Hitchens words and attitude. Simply, there is no evidence of God, despite the spiritual-like nuances of the world. Somehow, the non-god aspect "is" truly more satisfying, more challenging, and more pertinent to the crises facing the world.It reminds me of Plato's allegory of the Cave. One can view the shadows of Religion's explanations, but they can't stand up to the light outside. And that's okay. The world is what it is, and is best dealt with as it is. It can be dealt with by shadows, illusions, and misperceptions, but it really muddles fair dealings, and might create some awful abuses. Not to diminish comfort to widows, orphans, those in mourning, and the need to believe in miracles, for some. Believe me, I tried, but reality always plays the trump card.Dealing with the deluded had just become too time-consuming, and counter-productive. That said, how can we best do honor to the giants whose shoulders we build upon? Appreciate their work, and make ours the best it can be. Let the light be fair to all (and even compassionate if it must).
Chris Hlady, your last paragraph said it all, very nicely and with great truth.
There is a difference between going through the motions of belief and actually believing. People look for a sign to believe, but signs are manifest by a person's belief. I could tell you a glass of water was going to quench your thirst, but sitting next to it everyday and analyzing it skeptically on a periodic basis is absolutely not the same as picking it up and drinking it. Christian faith is believing in that which you cannot see. If you can see the answer, the word to describe it would be called anticipation, not faith.
Defiant1: Why should anyone adhere to tenets of belief? Isn't "belief" the epitome of selfish arrogance? Isn't "Christian Faith" the fundamental selfishness that is causing American industry to lead the way in destroying this planet? Who needs Galactus when Faith Will Destroy the World.Merry Christmas (<-okay, that's just being sarcastic)P.S. Mind you, I'm not intentionally picking a fight, too much. I was at a coffee shop outside my mom's church this morning, and I wanted to scream at all the customers to "go to church." I wanted to say, "oh, you think you're so naughty." I'm sure it's just this time of year that wants to make me meaner and nastier to everyone. Maybe I should just make it a comic. Cheers.
Chris,I've had too many of my prayers answered and my mind read to care whether you do or do not believe. I don't fight over religion or your right to want to believe nothing. Belief for me is the opposite of self-arrogance. I had to set myself aside to believe, not the other way around. When your mind is read and the seemingly impossible happens, your reaction will be that of a dropped jaw, not one of pride. Many of the Christian holidays have pagan roots. The Bible specifically talks against the pagan practice of cutting down a tree and decorating it with silver and gold. Does anyone read passages like that? I guess not. My advice to people is to understand the parables of Jesus. Second, I advise people to read the wisdom texts like proverbs. No amount of church will ever clean anyone up. Whatever clean we do get just gets dirty walking out into the world again.
No, it doesn't take God, or devils more like, to answer prayers, or read minds. Most people aren't that hard to read, given a few clues. Perhaps your likening yourself to the Samaritan woman, of the many husbands. Hopefully, your've had a fill of the "living water" to lift your spirit high, but some of your posts on other threads would hardly corroborate that. Some of the easiest instructions are so hard to follow.Regardless, can't wait for some HIggs boson philosophy to give exposition on the physics of the "holy spirit," or what could be so misconstrued. The bible is reference, writings of days gone-by. People find wisdom in some of the strangest places, and even in the experience of some of the strangest folk. May we empathize when hard times get re-imagined as miracles.
[MikeAnon:] With all these comics greats dying lately, it's made me wonder just how much of a shock to the system it'll be once Stan Lee passes. That's the kind of death that will split history into a "before" and an "after." Who besides Stan can rightly be called the living well from which so much enduring creativity gushed forth? (Kirby runs a somewhat close second, but he's still a definite second. His independent creations -- the New Gods, the "Genesis" line, the Eternals -- have never had nearly the same lasting popularity and omnipresence as Stan's many creations.) [--MikeAnon]
Dear bmcmolo,All of us here who care about comics, the medium, and particular comics of all stripes have been lucky enough to have many of the founding fathers of our field of interest alive in our lifetimes. We have not, and do not cherish them enough. At age thirteen, I was fool enough to be disappointed to discover that Sheldon Moldoff did the art for my first published story. I thought his stuff looked old-fashioned and wished Curt Swan had done it instead. Then I grew up, found out who Shelly was, even got to know him a little. Stupid me began to appreciate how lucky I was, how great he was. Now I am deeply honored to have worked with one of the Great Elders. I wouldn't trade that for anything. We who work in the business should honor our forefathers. Everyone who loves comics should appreciate the work of those who paved the way.
Shooter said: "We who work in the business should honor our forefathers. Everyone who loves comics should appreciate the work of those who paved the way."I believe this philosophy should extend to the "elder"/"forefather" characters, too. Comic books are the industry that Superman built, with some help from other characters too. Marvel and DC habitually turn on the characters that their businesses were built upon, unnecessarily "fixing" properties that don't need fixed. Alex Ross and Geoff Johns have proven that there's nothing wrong with the classic characters.
gn6196 said... Makes me wonder if he was stubborn in this opinion to his last breath. ****Well when he got sick, he wrote an article saying he would never believe in God despite getting sick, and that if he ever claimed he did, it would be the result of delirium cause by his illness to his brain and not his actual 'conversion'for what it is worthROb
I look at this as God's world. Much as you and I might consider our computer to be ours. You can have a part of what he owns or not. It's your choice. Free will is respected. Hell was compared to the valley of Gehenna. It was a trash dump. This is where the analogies of fires, worms, and gnashing of teeth emerge. There were fires burning regularly, dead rotting flesh had worms and there were rats. In my opinion, not believing in God is essentially saying "throw me out with the trash." To make another analogy, most of us own a computer. If that computer were infected with a virus, we are going to run an antivirus program. It will clean up certain programs. It won't be able to clean the ones that are too infected. Those get deleted. People who want to view God as some wrathful deity and forget that they don't own this world. They didn't create it. They don't even know how to create a world. It's not unlike a child demanding to do something that the parent has said is bad for them. On a more offbeat tangent, I really don't believe that God is outside of life looking down on us in the classic sense. I believe he is all the mechanics inside of matter. At an atomic level, there is a predisposition for certain subatomic particles to bond. When combined, there is a predisposition for certain atoms to combine or repel. I believe there is a driving mechanism there that equates to God and it builds upon itself. I do believe in evolution. Man is comprised of dust/dirt. I believe what is defined as the creation of man in the Bible is the cohesion and building of complexities until life becomes self-aware. An awareness that and there is a connectedness that goes deeper than just stimulus/response. The ability to consciously create and be aware that God is out there.
That sounds all cushiony and comfy, Defiant1. However, it's impossible for me to see anything you talked about as being something that is believable. To take something on faith doesn't make things real; the only thing I can see it as is a pleasant wish-fulfillment. No one knows how things were created. The Bible was written by man, who created God in their image.But that doesn't negate the few good messages within The Bible, as it doesn't from any other religious text. A good parable is a good parable, no matter the source. Even beyond our contrasting beliefs, the bottom line is that we all treat each other well, as we would like to be treated ourselves. Especially in a world that's not just Christians, but everyone else thrown in, of all faiths, beliefs & dogmas. Happy Festivus, everybody! =D
I think we might disagree on what "getting along" means. Tough love means saying "no" to some people. Many people don't like the word "no". "Do unto others" is also a phrase that can be interpreted many ways. I've said many times "I'm treating you exactly as I'd want you to treat me" and they still aren't satisfied. I always get peculiar looks when I sing "I'm dreaming of a white Hanukkah". Don't people like snow?
Well, since somebody brought it up ...The whole Christian story of 'salvation' is based on a human blood sacrifice; that, evidently, was the only thing that could possibly appease their bloodthirsty god. And who was he 'saving' them from? HIMSELF, and the eternal Hell he created.Hardly a rousing, ethical tale.Moreover, those of us who cannot accept or believe in such stories are told we're sinners and we'll be kept alive to burn and suffer forever.If all this was true, would there be a need for such heinous threats?-Pete Marco
Sorry Pete, But That's not quite right. The Bible teaches us that Because of Sin we have a separation from God. When he told Adam not to eat from the tree of Good and Evil he warned that he would surely die. Before that sin, man was supposed to be immortal but sin came into the world and now we are all subject to corruption and decay. The death was not merely physical, it was spiritual as well. The reason Jesus died on the cross is because someone had to pay for our sin and bring us back to life both spiritually and physically in the afterlife. It's okay if you don't believe it. God loves you so much that he lets you say no to his love. But I'm sorry to divide this site over my comment on Hichins. I wasn't trying to cruel but I just wondered if he rethought was he was espousing all these years. Apart from what The Bible says, I just don't see how any intelligent person could not see an intelligent design in the way this world works.Just the way the human body is put together is mind boggling.
Sigh...I wasn't planning to get into this, and there's no way I'll be able to phrase myself even remotely as politely and thoughtfully as Chris Hlady. I also still don't really want to waste my time on pointless arguments. But I'll give in to temptation this once before moving on:gn6196, I wonder how you can NOT see that you ARE being cruel, disrespectful, insulting and provocative?I was just thinking to myself why I feel more upset by your messages about this subject than by some others here, whose opinions and beliefs are also obviously different from mine. I realised that it's because when others write "I believe that...", "I think...", "I look at this as...", my reaction is "That's interesting! You obviously have enough trust in your beliefs and your opinions to respect that others think differently. That makes me interested in hearing more". YOU put on the arrogant "I know better" tone of "The Bible teaches us...", "God loves you so much that he lets you say no to his love" etc. Big warning sign.Personally, I can't for the life of me understand how otherwise intelligent and seemingly rational people can possibly seriously believe in one or more supreme beings - especially in light of all the modern world's scientific knowledge. In ancient times, yes - as an easy explanation for the way the world works and a remedy for the fear of death. Perhaps even today in some of the world's less "developed" parts. But in educated, wealthy countries? It's mind-boggling!But it's perfectly fine! I don't "preach" to anyone, I don't try to "convert" anyone, I have no desire to do so, and I have absolutely NO problem respecting anyone's right to make up their own minds and believe anything they want. It only becomes a problem if it causes harm to others. Unfortunately, religion - and particularly organised religion - far too often does.What was particularly provocative in your original message (besides the "one of Gods [sic] opponents" thing) is the assumption that SURELY someone who doesn't believe in a god will rethink such opinions at the time of death.It's just as far-fetched as me expecting you to reconsider YOUR beliefs on your deathbed. How likely do you think THAT is?"Ignoring mortality, we worship mediocrityAnd wait to see what happens up on high"- Bad Religion
The Bible itself isn't intelligently designed. In Matthew, the claim is made that Jesus is the fulfillment of prophecy in Isaiah 7:14. Unfortunately, that passage refers to something entirely different. Somebody went through a lot of effort to make Jesus appear to be something he wasn't. They were lax in their attention to detail, however. So much for an "infallible" book.
Religion is false morality created to obscure real injustice. Taking advantage of those too frightened and/or ignorant to know the difference. Child molesters and thieves disguised as "holy men". The world's biggest con.
I am sorry I had not heard of Mr. Barreto sooner. I did an image search for some of his work. You're right. He was a fantastic talent, taken much too soon. Best wishes and condolences to his family and fans.
I really don’t mean to be cruel , provocative or in any way arrogant in my posts on this forum. But try not to get so angry over what I and others that post here believe. Let me address , for a minute, they way Organized religion is depicted. I am a member of a church and along with the Bad things that you might hear, there are many good things that happen. I’ve seen people that didn’t have anything to eat or places to stay fed and housed. I’m not talking about members or even people that believe in God, I’m talking about people walking in off the street with needs. There are scandals in ANY organization that will be exposed. The terrible things that Enron and the Wall street gang have perpetrated in the name of money eclipse what Organized religion has done. The historical accounts of religion starting wars and persecutions were ordered by men. Men who didn’t understand what the Bible truly teaches. Anything can be twisted for evil in this world.But I’m not advocating following a religion. I advocate a relationship with God. As for Hitchins, he lived life on his own terms. But what if he was wrong?
Religion allows people like Rick Perry to sleep at night while advocating discrimination and executing innocents. If it wasn't for religion, nobody would be fooled intoVoting for this clown. In addition, people like Perry want to shove their immoral religion down the throats of everyone else. No thanks.
The Wikipedia page for Mr. Barreto includes a portrait done by Michael Netzer, who I have seen comment here a time or two. Beautiful job, Mr. Netzer.
Going to a church or believing in God does not make person "good". People say "I don't go to church because Christians are a bunch of hypocrites." That is a factual statement. It is also factual to say that non-Christians are hypocrites too. One group goes to church because they KNOW they are flawed. One group rejects it because they think they are good enough. The excuse to be atheist is quite simply a closed mind. You know what you need to know, there is no reason to accept an opposing perspective.The choice to be agnostic is a doubting mind. Your eyes and ears are open to different possibilities.The choice to go to church can be for any reason. Some go to meet the opposite sex. Some go just to feel like they are part of a group. The choice to believe and have faith is that of a Christian. There are people who say they are Christian and can't accurately tell you anything about the teachings at all. If you are avoiding Christianity because people are hypocrites, that is a very good reason. It is NOT a good reason to avoid the message being taught in the pages of the texts. Some of you have read texts and see conflicts. Good. Did you read further? Did you try to balance your opinion with others who don't see a conflict? or did you just stop there? Whatever the answer, you have chosen to be informed or ignorant. The God I believe in is not to blame for your rejection to know more or understand more. If someone discovers there is a hell after they die, they CHOSE to go there. If you choose not to believe in food, you are the reason it didn't get eaten, not the person who offered it to you. Everyone reading this has a free will. It might be questioned or challenged for sincerity, but ultimately you decide your fate or lack of it. A wrathful (fictitious or not) God you may envision is blameless for your fate.
Michael Netzer has done portraits of quite a few creators including Mr. Shooter himself.
I choose to believe that God is not an advocate of genocide (as he is portrayed in the Old Testament). I also choose not to believe that Jesus is the fulfillment of prophecies which have nothing to do with him (as he is portrayed in the New Testament). This is as easy to believe as the fact that my car requires fuel. The god of Rick Perry and Michelle Bachmann is as fictitious as the lies they try to sell.
Getting back from the internet graffiti to the late Mr. Barreto. He was a fine, fine artist. His Teen Titans and Martian Manhunter issues were a joy to look at. I wish he could have collaborated at Marvel in the Shooter years.
How did this whole god debate start on the comment section of a blog devoted to comics? I don't want to wade through all these stupid back and forth arguments about the validity on god. I don't care who believes or not. Stop taking over the comments section!
Slentz,Feel free to contribute whatever type content you find entertaining. I'm here looking for other comments, but in their absence I reply to what others are posting.
@Slentz:I couldn't agree more.
Slentz said"How did this whole god debate start on the comment section of a blog devoted to comics? I don't want to wade through all these stupid back and forth arguments about the validity on god. I don't care who believes or not. Stop taking over the comments section! "The second and third comment opened the subject up. It seemed a natural thread drift. I read this blog regularly and just comment when I find something of interest. I don't try to control what everyone on this blog says . If you want that, go to the John Byrne forum.I respect that everyone is entitled to post whatever comments they wish. Remember " a gentle answer turns away wrath".
It is pretty annoying to try to find the comic posts amongst the long and repetitive posts about religion and politics.The death of a comic creator brings up the death of Christopher Hitchens who had nothing to do with comicsOf course, since he was a noted atheist, that leads to posts about religion and slams abotu what people do or do not believeAnnoying.Rob
Rob, Back at you, with your constant complaints about other people's posts that don't do any harm to you or your day, with your blustery fake outrage and offense. Poor you. You see Defiant1's posts, or mine, and you think we're going to be talking about things you don't want to read... here's a thought: don't read our posts. "Comments" sections usually have comments in them. Like any conversation, the subject matter goes from this to that. Get over it. And yourself.We tolerate your nonsense. You can certainly tolerate ours. ===================================gn6196: "The terrible things that Enron and the Wall street gang have perpetrated in the name of money eclipse what Organized religion has done."NOT EVEN CLOSE. Wars over centuries, mass child rape and cover-up (still a thriving practice today), subjugation of women and minorities throughout time. Enron did bad things, but ya gotta have some perspective! You sure are right, though: we couldn't have such a rich conversation in the John Byrne forum.========================================Defiant1: "One group goes to church because they KNOW they are flawed. One group rejects it because they think they are good enough." There are more categories than that, and you know it. If you don't, you need to pay better attention. There are millions of people (like me for example) that simply don't believe as you do. I always try to better myself. I just don't believe that Church is the way to go about it. Research, therapy, communing with good friends, paying attention to my personal growth and failings - and making the conscious choice to be a good person, onto which Church doesn't apply - are essentials for so very many people to live good moral lives without need of religion. You can be a good moral person without religion in your life. Happens with billions of people every day. =============================================Ole M. Olsen, "... "I know better" tone of "The Bible teaches us...", "God loves you so much that he lets you say no to his love" etc. Big warning sign."Oh my, yes. Very well said. You said things better than I ever could have said. Thank you.
For my part, I was just trying to keep it spicy while Jim was enjoying his weekend. By the way, I can't believe that crap I had to wade through over the last couple of weeks, trying to catch up, so I can empathize. But overall, I want to know what's being discussed here, because I know every now and then, and often quite frequently, there will be real gems. Thanks to all.
Sigh. Proofreading..."There are millions of people (like me for example) that simply don't believe as you do."I meant 'billions', with a 'B'. =) Festivus!
Guys... believe what you want. My point is that I don't sit around pouting over what you believe, but I'm not really wild about my beliefs being misrepresented by uninformed statements about it.
I'm not obligated or paid to entertain anyone. I'm not part of the editorial content. If someone doesn't like what I'm saying, skip reading everything I write. Chances are, I'm skipping most of the comments from those who add nothing that interests me.
It's not about being part of editorial content. It's about being rude and a boor. Political and religious arguments tend to multiply and dominate everything else, so that Eduardo Barreto's death becomes a foornote in his own thread.,Ja, I love how you blast me for not tolerating your posts and for having fake outrage and for not ignoring you when your post is full of fake outrage, intolerance toward me, and could have chosen to ignore my comment that was not specifically directed at youPhysician heal thyself lol. What a hypocrite. If you want to make the site boring, go ahead. It is after all your blog and people come here to see your comments about religion lolRob
The thread started with the Death of Mr. Barretto which went to Hitchins which moved to belief about afterlife or non belief of the same. I don't get excited by everything said in this blog. Just read what you like. But EVERYONE is curious about what happens when we die.
"You can be a good moral person without religion in your life. Happens with billions of people every day."[MikeAnon:] Just for the sake of stirring the pot, here's a Christian take on that question:Can you be a good, moral person without Christianity? Sure, if you set the bar where most people usually set it. Doesn't beat his/her spouse or kids, holds down a steady job, generally nice to people, doesn't overtly break any laws -- that's what we normally mean when speaking of a "good, moral person" and that's enough to get us in the door to most parties because most of the people throwing the parties are about the same and don't expect us to be any better.But when the person throwing the party is God, and the party is Heaven and eternal bliss, the bar is set higher. How high? Too high. Too high for anyone. The bar is up at 100%. You can't do anything wrong. You can't be anything less than perfect. Because God is perfect and He only keeps company with people who are at His level (like His Son Jesus).So if you come to the door of the party and present your own credentials, you won't get in. You're not good enough. Nobody is. Not even the best, kindest, nicest person you've ever known or heard about would be able to get past the bouncers, because everybody -- everybody, bar none, is just a little bit bad. There are no real innocents, except maybe babies fresh out of the womb -- suffice it to say that if you're old enough to be reading this, you're no innocent. You've had your share of bad choices, disobediences, moments of regret, etc. And those are all disqualifying marks. So if you're thinking about getting in on your own merits, fugghedaboutit.Thankfully, God didn't create Heaven just so He could entertain Himself -- He wants guests at His party, and lots of them. So He sent out His Son Jesus to invite everybody to the party. All you have to do is accept the invitation (i.e., believe in Jesus and accept His Lordship) and don't lose it -- some say you can't lose it, but that's a whole other squabble -- and when the time comes for you to hit the party, you'll get in with no problem. Just show the bouncers your invitation and say, "I'm with Jesus."So it's up to you. You can ignore Jesus' invitation, pony up to the bar carrying your own goodness with you, and face a rude awakening when you get turned away at the door; or you can admit that you don't have what it takes to meet the requirements, accept Jesus' invitation and use it in place of your own goodness, and walk right in when the time comes. [--MikeAnon]
"Let me address , for a minute, they way Organized religion is depicted. I am a member of a church and along with the Bad things that you might hear, there are many good things that happen."[MikeAnon:] No kidding. When I went to school, the only things I was ever taught about Christianity were the Inquisition and the Crusades. I was 25 before I actually sat down and read a Bible, and when I finished reading I was well-versed enough to know that neither the Inquisitions nor the Crusades fit with anything the New Testament had to say about how to practice Christianity. [--MikeAnon]
[MikeAnon:] No kidding. When I went to school, the only things I was ever taught about Christianity were the Inquisition and the Crusades. I was 25 before I actually sat down and read a Bible, and when I finished reading I was well-versed enough to know that neither the Inquisitions nor the Crusades fit with anything the New Testament had to say about how to practice Christianity. [--MikeAnon]Sure but good people like you who happen to be christians are not controlling the government and teaching our children. It's the ones that instigated the crusades and the inquisitions that are in charge of all that. I'll stop there, lest I become rude or offensive.
Rob,It's just not a big deal that conversational subjects drift as they do here. You'll just have to accept that conversations take a life of their own, even on a blog like this. Even when Jim & JayJay are probably rolling their eyes at where the conversation goes, just like you are.Sorry you find these drifts annoying. Just skip our posts, and you'll be fine. Though I do enjoy reading your posts. Even the annoying ones. =D =================================MikeAnon,Since I just don't/can't 'see' God & Heaven as you do, all I can do is try to live my life in as moral a way as possible. I think that's what religious people do too, because they also don't know what's out there, even though it's all laid out for them in The Bible, written by men who never personally experienced Heaven or actually saw God, except through their 'faith'. In your mind, you're going to go Heaven. In my mind, I have zero idea where anyone's going (including religious people), because there is simply no evidence of anything like a Heaven or Hell, or God. Sometimes I wish there were. I can certainly see the appeal of it. Something out there that's greater than us? Maybe. But again, I don't see it, and I certainly can't put a definitive label on it. So all I can do is all anyone else can do: live your life in as good a way as you can. When I die, I hope I will have adhered to all the good standards that everyone should (that's certainly the goal), including religious people. I tell people that if I am wrong about all that, then I would hope that I'd have lived a good enough life to at least qualify me to get into the lower-rent district of Heaven. You know, Heaven's Projects. That should be better than the Projects in the Bronx, I'm sure.I just can't accept your premise about God being at the helm. I believe that 'bar' that's set by people leading moral lives without religion is a pretty damned good bar. Even better if you add being charitable. So if you're right, and I do "pony up to the bar carrying [my] own goodness with [me]", I don't think I would be facing a rejection for having lived a good life that adhered to the same kind of standards that Christians feel would get them into Heaven. The idea that I would be rejected from Heaven (after having lived a good and moral life) just because I didn't accept the existence of God, is in and of itself a good reason to not want to believe in the first place.I can't live my life in fear of something I'm just not convinced that exists. Onward...
Ja,It's not so much the conversation drifts as 2 or 3 peopel start loudly dominating the room, in every thread, on the same topic ;)not just here. Someone could post a thread back in the day "Spider-Man 25 is a good issue but the villain is a bit too molten man for me."and then someone would say something oike "George Bush is the real villain"and then the arguments start ad nauseum. Rob
Rob, I hear ya. I guess it's just one of those things I choose not to get amped up about, because I know it's nothing I can really control. I think it's something that's not going to ever change. =P
"Sure but good people like you who happen to be christians...."[MikeAnon:] Full disclosure: I was baptized a Christian in 1999 but am presently unchurched and hold beliefs that would probably disqualify me from being a Christian in many people's estimation. You could say I "lean" Christian in many ways, but as for actually being one, that will depend on how liberal your definition of "Christian" is. [--MikeAnon]"...are not controlling the government and teaching our children. It's the ones that instigated the crusades and the inquisitions that are in charge of all that."[MikeAnon:] Well, no, technically they aren't, because the people who instigated those things have been dead for hundreds of years, and even in their "successors" you would be hard-pressed to find the same kind of thinking that made the Inquisition and the Crusades doctrinally acceptable. The Catholic Church today is fully behind separation of church and state (largely because states are so anti-Catholic these days), so the lack of access to state law enforcement and militaries, along with all the present-day general restrictions on up and forming a mob to go make war, pretty much do away with the possibility of repeat performances (unless, of course, the oil runs out and we're back to the days of barbarism). I mean, the Catholic Church doesn't even support the death penalty for anything anymore -- (how 180-degrees is *that*?) -- so it's hard to see how another Inquisition or Crusade is looming, even with the "subtle programming" the church is supposedly giving Catholic school students or the outright lobbying of politicians. [--MikeAnon]
"So if you're right, and I do 'pony up to the bar carrying [my] own goodness with [me]', I don't think I would be facing a rejection for having lived a good life that adhered to the same kind of standards that Christians feel would get them into Heaven."[MikeAnon:] Well, I would argue that if a Christian believes that living up to a particular moral standard that falls anywhere short of perfection is what will get him/her into Heaven, then he/she doesn't really understand the Christian faith. [--MikeAnon]"The idea that I would be rejected from Heaven (after having lived a good and moral life) just because I didn't accept the existence of God, is in and of itself a good reason to not want to believe in the first place."[MikeAnon:] That's because you're still thinking in relative terms. You say "good and moral life" as if that mix of good and bad that everyone has in their past and in themselves is some kind of concrete, absolute bar that a person can either be above or below, but it's really a completely arbitrary standard -- not even a standard at all, really. Think of a person whom you regard as a better person than you: What reason do you have to think that the line between "bad" and "good" isn't drawn between you and *that* person, such that you're "bad" and that person is "good"? No reason at all. And there are better people than that person in the world...so basically what I'm saying is, why do you think that arbitrary line you've managed to remain above is really the "good enough" line you think it is? Maybe it's just an illusion.I used to agonize over this kind of stuff before I ever got into religion. People would look at me and say, "Oh, he's a good guy." But I knew me, and I knew there were things in me that would make them shudder and avoid me if they knew. So by what standard am I a good person -- because I haven't acted on the darkness in me? (Jesus actually talks about that kind of thinking: "Why praise yourself for not committing adultery when you've lusted after people in your heart?") Or take someone who's an outstanding citizen -- maybe a cop, or a firefighter -- who's charitable, kind, everything you'd want a person to be...and a tax cheat. Would you call that person "good" or "bad"? Is a "bad" person charitable and kind? Is a "good" person a tax cheat? The more I came to think about it, the more I realized that the only truly objective standard of morality there is against which people can be equitably classified "good" or "bad" is simply this: Is there ANY bad in you at all? If so, then you're "bad." Only a person with NO bad in them is truly "good." Which completely sucks, of course, because no one is good like that, which means we're all bad, we're all doomed, there's no hope, game over. (And don't think doing good things to make up for bad things works -- if you're a tax cheat, you're still a tax cheat even if you give twice as much money to charity later.)And what impressed me so much about the Bible is that it didn't try to sugarcoat any of this one bit. It didn't try to tell me, "No, no, no, you're being too hard on yourself, you've set the bar too high." It simply said, "You're totally right. Want to know what to do about it?" [--MikeAnon]
MikeAnon,I'm cool with exploring the demons within myself. I have no choice, as they're a part of me, as they're a part of everyone else. I also can't deny good common-sensible phrases or parables that are written in the Bible. Beyond any good real-world common sense, it has no 'biblical' impact on me whatsoever. I'm very confident with my sense of morality. It's based upon our world's history up to this date in time, and my conscious choice to live by that standard of treating others as I would like to be treated, while doing the best I can to embrace the existence of the very demons I wrestle with every day. If this were even a hundred years ago, I'm sure my morals would be different. By my standards of morality now, my 100-year-ago-morality might not be so great by comparison.You may feel that's arbitrary, but I feel it's a solid foundation for what could be a good and decent life. I do compare myself to people I feel are better than me. It's what I aspire to. I can't be perplexed by all the things in life that I don't yet fully know. I'm trying to learn as much as I can. I'll get to it when I get to it. I feel it's the best anyone can hope for. I think that "arbitrary line" I've managed to remain above is the standard that I have chosen to focus on as the level not to find myself below, but rather above.Maybe it all is an illusion, but that's okay. It's one that works for me. I engage in other illusions, like when I buy a lottery ticket. A dollar for a tiny movie in my head of all the things I would hope to do for family and friends with the money. It simply comes down to that these things I don't yet know don't yet bother me, and I'm perfectly fine with that. Especially since I'm confident in my own belief system, I'm no longer (mostly, anyway) grasping at all the wrong straws. I'll learn whatever new things there are to learn when I get to them. Or as a good friend of mine would say, "I'll drive off that bridge when I get to it."So until we all die, we'll still be having this same conversation, I'm sure. =D
A religion which feeds on self loathing would seem to be a breeding ground for exploitation ("you're a nothing sinner and we know best for you"). Sure seems like that's the case!
And their favorite trick is fooling people into voting against their own interests. That's how tea parties are made.
The ignorance continues.
Oh boy, I've been insulted by "anonymous"! Bet your parents wish they were also anonymous...
Example of tea parties fooled by religion into voting against their own interests: their love for Herman Cain, whose 999 would've raised their taxes and ballooned the deficit. But the adulterer (who was/is incapable if blaming himself)was a "godly" fellow so he must've been ok, right?
"If this were even a hundred years ago, I'm sure my morals would be different. By my standards of morality now, my 100-year-ago-morality might not be so great by comparison."[MikeAnon:] I notice what's completely absent from your perspective on morality is any notion of an afterlife -- in which case your acquiescence to an arbitrary standard of morality makes perfect sense, as it ultimately doesn't matter whether you end up being above or below the arbitrary line. Once you're dead, you're dead, and that's the end of you. It's only if you think adherence to morality has consequences beyond this world's paltry ability to mete out cause and effect that an objective standard of morality becomes a concern. If you believe in a Heaven/Hell paradigm or a reincarnation/karma paradigm or any other paradigm in which good and evil are rewarded according to even the most rudimentary sense of justice, then morality matters. If you believe that life stops when you die, or that everyone who dies gets the same reward no matter what, then morality doesn't matter, and there's no sense in contemplating its intricacies, for, as the Apostle Paul wrote, "If this life is all we have to look forward to, let's eat and drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die." But if you think there's something beyond this life -- something real, not just how you might be remembered by other people who will themselves eventually die (along with the rest of the universe once heat death is reached and *everything* dies) -- that's when the search for objective morality kicks in. Indeed, I would argue that the first step in a person's journey of faith is taken when that person chooses to believe that this life is not all there is -- that *something* comes after this -- and that the good or bad things he/she does in this life have an impact on whatever comes next. Or, as the writer of Hebrews said, "It takes faith to please God because you first have to believe that God exists and that God will reward you for pleasing Him." If there's no God (or no supernatural process acting in the place of a personal God to separate the "good" from the "bad"), or if that God (or process) is apathetic toward any distinction between "good" and "bad", then there's ultimately no reason to be moral except with regard to how well it serves you in the here and now (in terms of your survival and sense of self-worth) and/or with regard to how it serves those whom you care about or rely upon in the here and now (in terms of their survival and disposition toward you). [--MikeAnon]
[MikeAnon:] Jeff Z: The link between the religious right and the tea party is more due to a correspondence of their worldviews than anything else. Both believe in self-reliance and/or God-reliance as opposed to government-reliance. And remember, every political contest is a choice between the lesser of two or more evils, so just because either the religious right or the tea party might line up behind a particular candidate doesn't mean that he/she is their ideal candidate.As for religious exploitation, sure -- one could argue that the Catholic Church roused its adherents to embark on the Crusades by the same doctrinal exhortations that put radical Muslims in the cockpits of passenger planes on 9/11: "Do this for God and He'll let you into Heaven!" Which is why you can't just turn off your brain and listen to your religious authority figures. You have to know your faith so that you don't go off the rails, either by your own devices or by anyone else's. As it's recorded in the Book of Acts, "While Paul was preaching to the Bereans, the Bereans were checking the Old Testament to see if what he was telling them was true." [--MikeAnon]
So why didn't anyone check Isaiah 7:14 which referred to a specific situation is Isaiah's time, a young woman(not a virgin ) giving birth and a child named Immanuel (not Yeshua)? Someone dropped the ball there...And if it wasn't for people turning off their brains and listening to religious authority figures, tv evangelists would be out of business and the actual ideals of Jesus would be paramount.
"So why didn't anyone check Isaiah 7:14 which referred to a specific situation is Isaiah's time, a young woman (not a virgin) giving birth and a child named Immanuel (not Yeshua)?"[MikeAnon:] Prophetic sayings have multiple layers -- one layer generally refers to whatever is going on at the time and situation the saying was uttered; other layers can refer to future events, past events, and/or spiritual truths. (For example, Ezekiel 28:12-19 rails in the here-and-now sense against the king of Tyre but in a higher sense rails against Satan -- "You were in Eden, the anointed cherubim, until wickedness was found in you.")Taking Isaiah 7:14, the verse in the literal sense probably does refer to a young woman giving birth to a son named Immanuel (meaning "God with us"). However, in a higher sense it also refers to the birth of the Messiah (who would be God incarnate as a human being, literally "God with us") in the future.With regard to the translation of "almah" as either "young woman" or "virgin", there is nothing precluding the word from being translated either way -- the Greek Septuagint translated the word as "virgin", and that translation was composed by Jews -- but note the terms are not mutually exclusive either. In the case of the here-and-now sense of Isaiah's prophecy, he was likely referring to a young woman not yet married -- which in those days meant a virgin -- who would soon marry and produce a child in the usual sense, name him Immanuel, and (according to the rest of Isaiah's prophecy) would not see adulthood before Israel and Judea had lost their kings (which was the important here-and-now part of the prophecy so far as the king who was listening to Isaiah was concerned). [--MikeAnon]
I know of no other book with as must nested meaning as the Bible. You can read something and think you understand it. Come back 5 years later, read it again and it'll mean everything you thought it meant and 5 times more.
So the Bible and prophecies are to be taken utterly litterally- except when it's convenient to call it allegory. I take literally Jesus' statement : why do you call me good? Only my father who is on heaven is good. He had perspective regarding his place in the scheme of things. His worshipers- not so much.
No you insult yourself.
Cime back when you have a name, little boy. Can't really take "anonymous seriously.
"So the Bible and prophecies are to be taken utterly literally -- except when it's convenient to call it allegory."[MikeAnon:] Actually, in this case the prophecy was both literal and allegorical. I understand where you're coming from, though. The first time someone told me that Satan had been referenced in Ezekiel, I was like, "What??" but then he explained the references, and I saw that there wasn't really anything that said those verses couldn't have an additional layer of meaning to them. [--MikeAnon]"I take literally Jesus' statement : why do you call me good? Only my father who is on heaven is good."[MikeAnon:] But that's not what Jesus said. He said, "Why do you call me good? No one is good but God." Jesus' point was not to say, "I am not good." His point was to ask, "Do you fully grasp what you are saying in calling me good? Are you merely flattering me, or are you acknowledging my divinity?" [--MikeAnon:]
Sorry but your interpretation does not strike me as correct. You are interpreting through a believer's eyes. I'm looking at face value. Using Occam's razor, one can easily see Isaiah 7:14 only refers to Jesus because the editors of the NT decided that it did. Using Occam's razor again, it is obvious that Jesus never intended to be worshipped and that it was very convenient to distort his message as a means of controlling people throughout the centuries. Instill a fear of hell in people, claim that you have the only means to ensure that they can avoid hell and those who (are often forced to) believe will let you do most anything to them in this world. And if Jesus was referring to his own divinity, why did he acknowledge that his will and God's were not the same? I'm sure you have an explanation which defies the obvious on that one, too.
Are you guys still at it?So, consider 9/11.Did the victims go to heaven, or did their humanity and "soul" get reduced to dust? To many, the only thing that remained is the memory.What about the hijackers? Do they deserve a heaven? Do they deserve non-existance? Do they deserve to be remembered?It's a different world nowadays. Maybe none of us will be long-remembered. Certainly not as long as Abraham, Moses, the prophets and Jesus. Maybe those guys will be remembered forever. In a thousand years time, will anyone remember 9/11? In a hundred years? What will ancestors be saying in a hundred years, or a thousand year?Will anyone still be collecting comics? Or will it be a phenomena that dies with the memories of the readers?Memory, Non-existance, God. God provides a validation of sorts for all that is lost, that can never be reclaimed or remembered. Everyone struggles with the dilemma in some form.On this December 24th, 2011, may we all find some form of comfort in the days ahead.
Hell is the absence of God and everything good that God created. Fear of hell is unfounded. People choose hell by rejecting God. Fear is to to translated as "awe" and reverence, not being scared. Jesus said that man would be able to move mountains. The company I work for does that. We build shovels that get placed on mountains in Chile. I'm told that when they are through digging, there is hole in the ground as big as the mountain was tall. The old testamant was proof that man cannot live by laws. The new testament was a new contract. It provides an example of what diobeying the law causes as a result (death) and all it asks is that you have faith and consider that God is really out there. As I stated above, Hell is essentially a garbage dump where the trash is thrown to rot, decay, be eaten by rats and worms, and burn. The parable of the wheat and the tares explains why evil coexists with good. Jesus says that after the wheat was planted, an enemy contaminated the field with tares. Tares look look exactly like wheat when they grow. Jesus said that if you uproot the tares, that you will also uproot and kill the wheat. The harvest (judgement day) is when the fruitful and unfruitful WILL be separated. The tares will be burned (as trash) and the wheat will be harvested for the next crop. God sacrificed Jesus as an answer to Abraham who was willing to sacrifice his son for God. God did not require Abraham to sacrifice his son, instead he sacrificed his own. This also parallels to Solomon's first act of wisdom. A woman stole a mother's baby while she was asleep and claimed it as her own. When the mother awoke, the two argued as to who was the real mother. Solomon not knowing ordered that the baby be cut in half and given to both. The real mother, not wanting her baby to die was willing to letn the other woman have her baby so that it would live. The woman who stole the baby had no problem with the baby dying. This is how Solomon was able to discern who the true mother was and he gave the baby to the woman who was willing to sacrifice it so that it could live. If you don't care that Jesus was sacrificed, essentially you are like the woman who was a thief. Everything you see of value WILL be taken away. I think it ironic that this series of posts offends everyone and yet it is the thread generating the most replies. If the topic is so offensive, it would be wiser to just ignore it and let it wither up and fade in importance like the other comments from months ago.
"You are interpreting through a believer's eyes. I'm looking at face value. Using Occam's Razor again, it is obvious that Jesus never intended to be worshipped...."[MikeAnon:] You're not looking at face value. You're looking under the presupposition that Jesus is not God the Son, as Christians believe Him to be. If Jesus is not God incarnate, then you are correct: "No one is good but God," would mean that Jesus is not good. (Or at least it would mean that whatever goodness Jesus has is derived from God and not His own proper possession.) But if Jesus is God incarnate, then obviously when he says, "No one is good but God," He is including Himself in "God." So taken at face value the statement can go either way. It is whether you believe in Jesus' divinity or not that directs which way the statement will go in your mind.As for Occam's Razor, Occam's Razor requires that you still consider all the evidence. If you want to use Jesus' words in Matthew 19:17, why not also his words in Matthew 22:42-45?JESUS: What do you think of the Messiah? Whose son is he?PHARISEES: The son of David.JESUS: How then does David, speaking in the Spirit, call him Lord, saying, "The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool?" If David calls him Lord, how can he be David's son?Here's another conundrum. If the Messiah is just a man, just the son of David, then by paternity David ranks higher than the Messiah. But David calls the Messiah "Lord" as if the Messiah ranks over him. If you accept that the Messiah is supposed to be God incarnate, the conundrum is resolved -- the Messiah is David's son according to the flesh but David's Lord according to His divinity.These words spoken by Jesus appear in the same three gospels in which the "No one is good but God" comment appears. Occam's Razor requires you take them both into account. Given that you have two dialogues with Jesus in which He appears to claim divinity, doesn't Occam's Razor require you to choose the simplest solution, which is that He is indeed divine? [--MikeAnon]"And if Jesus was referring to his own divinity, why did he acknowledge that his will and God's were not the same? I'm sure you have an explanation which defies the obvious on that one, too."[MikeAnon:] One of the central tenets of Christianity is that in the Incarnation God the Son became 100% man, having everything that a human being possesses, including a human will. So in Jesus two wills existed, the divine will and the human will, the human will being wholly subordinate to the divine will (as is proper). Likewise, Jesus also had a natural human instinct for self-preservation, which was evident in the massive internal struggle he underwent in Gethsemane -- He didn't *want* to die, and if there were another way to accomplish His Father's mission He would have gladly taken it, but He was completely submissive to the will of the Father, even unto death, which provides us the model for living as well. [--MikeAnon]
Remember Washington and the cherry tree? People build legends around charismatic dead figures. Same thing happened 2000 years ago on a grander scale, locked into place by a corrupt Church which found a great means of power. I love when Christians provide just 3 choices: they he was either insane, a liar or the Son o' God. Kind of convenient to ignore option #4: misinterpreted/words put in his mouth. Wonder why that option's never mentioned? Probably because it's true. Or do you think an institution like the Church was incapable of that? Easier to believe that God sent his Son to die for our sins followed by thousands of years of sinning in his name.
Jeff Z-The problem with your point about The cherry tree is that the people that walked with Jesus, died Violent deaths. ( except John).It wasn't a rumor or something they heard about. Nobody would die or be tortured to death for something they KNEW to be a lie. And you keep talking about "the church" , but Jesus emphasized relationship with God- not religious dogma from a church. I'm guessing that The disciples expected Jesus to return in their lifetimes and when they got up in age, they started to chronicle what he did on earth for others to know about.
People could very well have died willingly for the ideals Jesus represented, especially disdain for false authority. Speaking of false authority, the Church is a significant subject because the NT was edited by that very Church in such a way as to make people fearful, docile and subject to their false authority in every way. Such false authority now (or recently) manifests in figures such as Bachmann, Perry, Cain, Gingrich and W, whose "relationship with God" consists of lying constantly in his name.
I'm talking about the 12 that actually , physically walked with him. They all got tortured to death and they wouldn't renounce what they saw or what they were taught. If it were me and I didn't see him come back from the dead, i would just wimp out and admit it was all made up. They didn't.They saw the miracles . They saw him after the crucifixion And continued to walk with him for 40 more days till he went back to heaven. There was no doubt in their minds what and who he was.
Of course, if legend plays no part in the story of Jesus, it definitely would have no role in the stories of his disciples. It's all 100% true and to be skeptical is to be damned. For another view of the 12: http://www.jesusneverexisted.com/apostles.html
Jeff, I appreciate this discussion.This is Something we both can consider without getting angry.
I'm furious, personally :)Merry Christmas, by the way!
"I love when Christians provide just 3 choices: they he was either insane, a liar or the Son o' God. Kind of convenient to ignore option #4: misinterpreted/words put in his mouth."[MikeAnon:] Well, sure, the liar/lunatic/Lord "trilemma" is predicated on Jesus' having actually said what He is reported to have said in the Gospels. But if there's insufficient reason to put stock in the controversial things He is reported to have said in the Gospels, there's no reason to put stock in anything else He said in the Gospels, since both what you like and what you don't like comes from the same sources and in the same frequencies and with the same corroboration among the Gospels. (In fact, one of the few events or sayings that appears in all four gospels is the miracle of the feeding of the five thousand.) [--MikeAnon]"...do you think an institution like the Church was incapable of that? Easier to believe that God sent his Son to die for our sins followed by thousands of years of sinning in his name."[MikeAnon:] Here's the thing I don't get, though: Why go through the trouble of inventing a fictional Messiah and fictional Apostles (as purported by the article you later cite)? Why invent such complex ideas as God become Man or a Trinity in the Godhead or the God-Man dying for sin and rising from the dead? 700 years later Muhammad would invent a whole religion based on very simple ideas: monotheism, a day of judgment, prayer, charity, fasting, etc. It seems to me that if the Church felt it was necessary to preach such complex ideas as the Incarnation, the Atonement, the Resurrection, the Trinity, etc., it was only because they felt those ideas were true, and, because those ideas were true, they were constrained to preach them.Personally, I would find Bart Erhlman's hypothesis that Jesus was a rabbi with Messianic delusions and an expectation of an immediate kingdom with himself as head -- someone quite real whom his followers, out of grief, would genuinely and sincerely proceed to blow all out of proportion after his death -- more plausible than the idea that Jesus and the Apostles were mere invented figures. I mean, if you read the letters of the New Testament, the very least you should be able to pick up from them is that (1) these were real people writing to real audiences; (2) right or wrong, they really believed what they were saying; and (3) what they were saying really isn't all that bad, no matter what their spiritual descendants might have done with their words later on. I just wonder if you've ever taken that kind of objective look at the teachings of the New Testament. I know that when I did as an agnostic, I came away with the sensation that, "Wow! If Christians would really put these moral teachings into practice, the world would be such a better place!"But it should be understood that the impetus to put these moral teachings into play really doesn't come from the moral teachings themselves -- as if "doing good is its own reward," which is probably the vapid statement ever made, right up there with "what goes around, comes around," which is demonstrably false -- but rather because of the truth-claims of the persons who put forward these moral teachings. If Jesus is God, then you should follow His teachings, and the teachings of His apostles. If Jesus is not God, why make the effort? Why make life harder on yourself in doing good if you don't actually think you or your loved ones are going to benefit from it -- or, even worse, knowing that you will suffer for it -- unless you think there's someone who in the end appreciates what you're doing and will reward you for it in spite of the lack of good things and/or imposition of bad things you're experiencing in the here and now? [--MikeAnon]
[MikeAnon:] I also think you're discounting all the good that organized religion accomplishes. How many people have given to charity, cared for the sick, and done other good deeds on account of their religion? Likewise, how many people have refrained from bad deeds on account of their religion? Granted, what matters most is what is true, regardless of the consequences that truth might bring, but to act as if religion has been all stick and no carrot for mankind is to overlook thousands of years of kindnesses and generosities that may never have happened without it. Religion hasn't just been inquisitions and crusades. It has also been hospitals and food banks and refugee camps and crisis centers and all sorts of other good things for the world. Please don't be so blindly optimistic about human nature as to think that all those good things would still be there in the same amounts if religion were to dry up tomorrow. People don't like trading something for nothing. Religion at least provides them with the promise of something they don't see to compensate for the nothing they do see. [--MikeAnon]
It's very possible to me that the Gospels mix both things actually said (leaving them out would compromise them in the eyes of those who heard the words passed down and would expect them) with things that suited the Church's agenda. It is also more than likely ( in my opinion and the opinion of some others) that Paul was a deluded, fanatical individual after his conversion as he was before. That his writings often contradicted Jesus' intentions.. I strongly believe in a Higher Power based on my own experiences. I also believe that man is limited in understanding this Power, and that nobody is justified violating basic ethics in the name of God. This includes blatant lying, flying airplanes into buildings, discrimination, and flaunting an attitude that one's unprovable beliefs put them more on favor with the Deity than someone else's unprovable beliefs. To the extent that religion helps make the world better, it. is good. To the extent that it abets lies, terror, hatred and bigotry it is evil. Just like anything else, it is a tool to be used and can kill as easily as it can build. If believing in Jesus helps make one more ethical, that's wonderful. If it creates monsters like W, Perry, Cain et al (and it does) I have a huge problem with that. Religion (or belief in/ relationship with Jesus whatever you want to call it) should not be a shortcut which allows people to bypass the truth, enable criminal behavior, sell out the people you purport to represent or deny others the rights you grant yourself. Neither should lack of religion. The best advertisement for Christianity is a good Christian. The ones who want to lead us (and their reason challenged supporters) are the best reason to not go that route. I gladly accept any gift the Higher Power grants me. I am not so arrogant as to insist I know the absolute nature of that gift for everyone. Seeing so many of those that do, I am more than comfortable with that choice.
And there are many who see absolution for their sins as license to. do so. In that light, religion can create an extremely destructive illusion (the 42 virgins thing, too). Incentive to do good depends on the person, not on any specific belief.
Jeff, You refute Christianity by citing examples of people who aren't adhering to the principles of it's teaching. I'm pretty sure I've heard an Atheist say "Oh God, not again." at some point in their lives. I don't take that to mean they believe in a God. Nor do I look at sins done in the name of religion and assume that their religion teaches or encourages that behavior.A girl ripped a cigarette out of my hand and angrily said "You don't need to be smoking. It's bad for you." Instinctively she put the cigarette in her mouth and lit it as she was lecturing me. I said "What about you?" She replied. "I'm different. My life is F'd up, yours isn't." Sometimes the people who are F'd up are still telling you valid information that should be heeded. A Norwegian health study indicates that belief in a God has health benefits.http://feeds.sciencedaily.com/~r/sciencedaily/~3/YDCzkGMY0RM/111223114042.htmAs one preacher said, it doesn't matter how well you clean yourself up by going to church, once you leave you're walking into a dirty world and you'll just get dirty again. Faith is a conscious choice to purge the behavior you clearly identify as wrong. For some it's instant. For some it takes many years. Christianity teaches that you are justified by faith. Bad things happened to Job. He said at one point "My greatest fear has come upon me." In the new testament it says fear is not of God or from God. Job was in a process of purging fear from his life. This process is analogous to metallurgy where a metal is heated and impurities rise to the top and are separated. Faith is a purification process.
After keeping the peace over Yule, I decided to take one last (I promise) peek at this thread:ja:"Oh my, yes. Very well said. You said things better than I ever could have said."I wouldn't say that, but thanks anyway. :-)I usually find myself agreeing with most of what you write - except the choice to discuss politics and religion on a mainly comics related blog in the first place, as that will predictably keep people going ad nauseam. But here I go myself. :-)You wrote (elsewhere):"The idea that I would be rejected from Heaven (after having lived a good and moral life) just because I didn't accept the existence of God, is in and of itself a good reason to not want to believe in the first place.I can't live my life in fear of something I'm just not convinced that exists."That is exactly the same conclusion I've come to myself.There seems to be some strange kind of misconception that people who don't believe in an afterlife have no reason to act good, or at "best" that one's deeds while alive are irrelevant if you don't get "judged" at "the end". That is a misconception I think I really can't be bothered to even try to address. If some people really can't see the point in being good for goodness' sake, then there's really little I or anyone else can do about it, I think.I think that humankind is by nature perfectly capable of "sensing" whether an act is good or not. However, many people are obviously also capable of ignoring that, and simply trusting their religious dogmas' (or their religious leaders') definition of what is good and bad. "Who are we to question god's motives? We are here to do his will."So while your common sense may tell you that it is in fact a BAD thing to discriminate women, homosexuals and people with another skin colour or to kill people who hold other beliefs (the list is pretty endless), you do it anyway, because it's (someone's interpretation of) god's will, and you have to follow his will (it's most often a "he". Strange coincidence, that!) to get to heaven.Religion is a perfect excuse for people in power (usually men - there's that coincidence again) to get more power and more privileges at the expense of others.Are there religious people who ARE good and DO good and selfless deeds to others? Of course!! Are there non-believers who ARE bad and selfishly exploit and harm others? Oh, indeed!However, most advances to civilisation, human rights, scientific knowledge etc. have come about DESPITE religion rather than BECAUSE of it. When pressure has become too heavy, religion has had to adapt (reinterpreting their "universal truths") or die out.Again - as far as I'm concerned, people are and should be free to believe whatever they want. Whatever excuse you need to be good - be it common sense, humanism or religion (the hope of everlasting paradise with god in heaven or the fear of an eternity in flames) - that's fine!I don't want to waste my time with people who think the earth is flat, that dinosaurs never existed or that the universe is 6,000 years old, but if you really want to believe that, be my guest. I'll leave you alone unless you try to push your ideas on others.However, I have very little tolerance for people who use religion as an excuse to discriminate, kill and generally act unethically.gn6196:"But EVERYONE is curious about what happens when we die."gn6196, I'm sure you're a great guy, but you really ought to consider speaking for YOURSELF. Personally I'm more curious about what happens BEFORE I die. I believe in a life before death. :-)"Everybody believes in something and everybody, by virtue of the fact that they believe in something, uses that something to support their own existence." - Frank Zappa
"There seems to be some strange kind of misconception that people who don't believe in an afterlife have no reason to act good...."[MikeAnon:] More properly, they have no reasons that cannot be justifiably overruled for the sake of expedience, based on your own personal set of priorities. For example, you might think stealing is wrong, but if your options are steal or die, you'll more likely steal than die unless you have some compelling external reason that makes you think adhering to your moral code is worth dying for. The survival instinct pretty well trumps everything. Greed, hunger, sexual desire -- these things are wonderful motivators and are usually countered only by fear of punishment or promise of greater pleasure. People and governments can do only so much to provide carrots and sticks to keep people on the straight and narrow, but these temporal carrots may be insufficient to satisfy, and the temporal sticks may be insufficient to thwart one's basic instincts. Belief in an afterlife which is affected by our choices in this life takes the carrots and sticks to a plane beyond what we can see, setting up rewards and punishments as guarantees rather than maybes. Here in this life you can behave and not get the carrot or misbehave and not get the stick, but the rewards and punishments of the afterlife are as inescapable as the afterlife itself. So, basically, without an afterlife you have no higher duty than to survive (or, if you have others you care about, make sure they survive). But if you believe in an afterlife, you have a higher principle that can override your survival instinct and cause you to avoid wrong and do right even when it's in your personal worst interests to do that. [--MikeAnon]"I think that humankind is by nature perfectly capable of 'sensing' whether an act is good or not. However, many people are obviously also capable of ignoring that, and simply trusting their religious dogmas...."[MikeAnon:] Well, the problem is that (1) not everybody's "sensors" are functioning properly, (2) not everyone follows their sensors or are aware that they should, and (3) what's right and wrong, if sensible, ought to be clearly definable so that people don't need to trust their "sensors" but can instead do what their ancestors have already determined with their own "sensors" what is right and wrong. (Laws, after all, are nothing more than the "sensings" of prior generations which have been written down and made binding on everyone then and now.) That takes care of problems with one's own personal tunings and also gives everyone the security of knowing that they're all on the same page, working under the same set of moral rules, which is really key to having a functional society. [--MikeAnon]"[God is] most often a 'he'. Strange coincidence, that!"[MikeAnon:] Not strange at all. If you took all the men in the world and banded them together, and took all the women in the world and banded them together, and then made the men go to war with the women, who would win? The men, obviously, for on average men are stronger than women (plus some percentage of the women are going to be hobbled by their menstrual cycle -- women simply aren't built to be warriors like men are). So if a god is the avatar of a tribe, and tribal warfare is all about whose god is stronger, what tribe in its right mind would make its avatar a woman and put it at an immediate warfare disadvantage?Plus, you can't refer to God in a genderless fashion (even though technically God has no gender) without also rendering God a nonperson. Humans are not psychologically equipped to impart personality without also attaching gender because in humankind there is no such thing as a person without gender -- the SNL "Pat" skits are a great commentary on how the qualities of personhood and gender are inseparable in the human psyche. [--MikeAnon]
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