miditek wrote:The problem here is that you've probably never had religious classes of any sort, unless you had them in primary school, or otherwise, what could possibly be an alternative source for the rhetorical questions?
NeonVomit wrote:I attended an evangelist church every Sunday until the age of 16. I also attended mandatory religious instruction classes in both primary and secondary school until that same age (yay for state religion).
That's great! So at the very least, you do comprehend
all of this stuff on an academic
level, even if you don't subscribe to the God as a Deity thing, which is completely understandable. And all this time I thought that you were a completely Godless, atheistic infidel
, that had never even opened a Bible or a Torah!
The people that irritate me the most are those that have no clue about Christian, Jewish, or Muslim theology, and then act as if they can speak with some sort of authoritative opinion in an attempt to debunk a concept that they have not a clue about!
If you'd had secondary or undergraduate level training, you'd realize that the Bible was written at different times, and by many different authors, all of which were inspired by God, and to bring His message to His people. It's really that simple. Even a secular academic type would tell you that- that's what one could expect in the coursework, as well as what instructors would be looking for as answers on any exam.
NeonVomit wrote:I am very aware that the bible was written by different people at different times, edited by different people at different times who had different ideas. I've studied it in quite a bit of detail, along with other religious texts. That is precisely why I do not find it a reliable source.
Hey, at least you've read
both sides of the story, as it were, before coming to your current decision
. If that's how you choose to believe, then that is your privilege, and no one, not a minister, nor a rabbi, or an imam should tell you how or what to believe otherwise.
NeonVomit wrote:Why else do you think there are entire courses of higher education study aimed at religious texts?
My impression is that university level courses are there for those that are considering going to seminary, or to a related field, such as counseling, or even teaching. UGA (the University of Georgia) is now offering biblical classes as a secular
academic elective, and the news story read that many university students that were not raised in a Christian or Jewish home feel "left out" because they never had any religious training while growing up, and really don't have the foggiest idea of what their non-secular friends are saying in everyday conversation.
NeonVomit wrote:(I am quite aware of these courses, I have friends who are currently studying those exact subjects at my university which has a strong tradition in those fields).
I am a bit confused here, but am sure that you can clarify this for me. Are your friends taking these classes as part of a secular on non-secular track?
For example, are some of them preparing for seminary, or do they just need extra electives to graduate?
NeonVomit wrote:It is because so many people put so much stock into that confused, tangled, twisted little book that does contain much wisdom, but also quite a lot of rubbish that is totally irrelevant in today's world and society. Now, deciding which is which is the problem...
Some of the greatest men in history put a great deal of faith in that book. Churchill and Roosevelt were indeed, "God-fearing men", while Hitler and Stalin (despite the latter's degree in theology from the University of Tiblisi) were not. Yet another coincidence?
NeonVomit wrote:Also, if God's message is to be channeled through the medium of (imperfect) man, then how can we rely on it? How can we expect radically different people at different points in history to produce coherent writing that show a common picture?
If you try to reconcile this via traditional scientific methods or other academic devices, the argument falls flat on it's face, and you'll end up driving yourself nuts thinking about it eventually.
However, let's assume that God is real, that He is omnipotent, and that he can utilize His power (the concept of Divine Providence, although the term is not mentioned specifically in the Bible), even through us frail and imperfect human beings to achieve His goals.
I think if you'll look back at the historical aspects of the Bible, you'll see that God used many misfits to get his point across. Noah had a drinking problem, for example. David committed the sins of adultery and murder. Solomon fell into idolatry. Ezekiel had moments where his faith foundered, as did Thomas. St. Paul (Saul of Tarsus) was a rabid Christian-hating and murderous member of the Sanhedrin, but he too changed on the road to Damascus.
In short, if you're looking to find the answers in the imperfections and eccentricities of the messengers, then you're missing the entire point (even from an academic standpoint). Focusing on God, accepting His authority, and acknowledging that His word as the ultimate and final say can and will open many doors to those that seek Him.
Essentially, using mortal concepts to explain the supernatural is a losing proposition. God has written that He will hide the truth from the unbeliever, and that any attempts to pigeonhole Him will fail. It is impossible to understand any of this without first knowing God.
NeonVomit wrote:Why is the vengeful God of the Old Testament who flooded the world and destroyed cities so different from the God in the New Testament if they're meant to be the same God?
Oh, God calmed down somewhat in the NT, after His heart was broken during the Crucifixion, there is no doubt about that. However, if you'll pay close attention to certain passages in Matthew, as well as the entire Book of Revelation, I think that God is saving the real punishment (to be applied on a global, rather than national or regional basis) for the time of tribulation, Armageddon, and Judgment Day itself.
NeonVomit wrote:If the bible is meant to be a guide for modern living, then why does the book of Leviticus condemn homosexuality so vehemently and give very precise instructions on the treatment of slaves?
Leviticus is not the only book that speaks out against homosexuality as an abomination. The book of Romans also contains admonitions from Paul regarding this type of behavior. My opinion is that God's law and His word do not change based upon current trends and fads in society.
We have the choice to engage or not engage in this type of activity. In the age of AIDS, one does have to wonder what anyone is thinking by engaging in sexually promiscuous behavior, whether or not it is homosexual or heterosexual.
Regarding slavery, it amazes me that people want to complain about the slavery of the past, while giving little or no attention to the slavery of the present.
World: Americas US sex slave ring smashed
and there are other instances of this very vile practice going on in Eastern Europe, Turkey, and even with children staffing the brothels in SE Asia. Why complain about ancient biblical interpretations of how ancient slaves should have been treated when lives and souls are being utterly destroyed at this very moment? Slavery is indeed alive and well in this world.
NeonVomit wrote: Maybe you can understand why I don't see the bible as an answer-all for all of life's issues.
Of course I can understand, and even empathize with you on this. The Bible itself is a great roadmap to how we are supposed to live, but guess what? Take God out of the equation and out of your life, and a stack of Bibles in fifty different languages won't do a person a bit of good! Any serious Christian will tell you that only a personal relationship with God will allow anyone to truly understand any of this stuff!
So before throwing the academic slant at Christians or Jews, try to realize that some of the best and brightest university graduates out there are believers.
NeonVomit wrote:Some of my lecturers are quite religious and I respect them immensely. My parents are very religious, are two of the most frighteningly intelligent people I've ever encountered and are both very well educated (both hold Master's degrees and my mum is working on a PhD).
That's great! It's good to see that you have a mix of both secular and religious people that you admire, and I think that having both types of people in your life is a very healthy thing to have. It is also good that you seem to be close to your parents. Many people are not, but the worst case is for a child to have parents that are not good/not bad, but indifferent
. To me, that's the worst.
NeonVomit wrote:They are a bit disappointed that I do not share their views, but as well-educated people they are glad that I think for myself and come to my own conclusions. As I've stated before, I will not judge anyone on their religious beliefs. Religious extremists are, unfailingly, people with severe character flaws in my opinion.
Well, I think that the important thing is that your parents and you do function as a family unit, that they love you and support you, and that they have encouraged you to think for yourself.
I have a Catholic friend that is married to a Jewish girl, and they have three kids, which presents an obvious dilemma. Their solution is that the kids go to Temple on Saturday, and to Mass on Sunday, and once they reach the age of accountability, they will be allowed to make a choice on religion. Mom will not get angry if the son chooses to be Catholic, and Dad will not be angry if the girls choose to be Jewish. By the way, all of the kids have already had their Bar Mitzvahs and Bat Mitvahs, and are probably still not closer to a decision one way or the other, as of this writing.
Regarding extremists, there are religious extremists, such as al-Sadr, and there are secular extremists, such as Stalin and Hitler. My question is, aren't the victims of one or the other just as dead? Did one suffer more than the other due to a presence of or a lack of religion?