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 Post subject: Fight religion disguised as disbelief!
PostPosted: Sun Dec 07, 2008 3:40 am 
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OpEd by Ken Connor

Every generation has a few atheists who seem eager to tell the world how much smarter they are than everybody else. The fact that such individuals still exist, and that they are still producing popular tracts in defense of their disbelief, is no surprise.

Nevertheless, because ideas have consequences, one cannot ignore the recent push by big-name skeptics to persuade Americans that there is no God and that we should therefore adopt a new set of ethical standards. In previous times, most people had a solid enough understanding of moral truth that they were not easily persuaded by atheist rhetoric, but today many Americans are so influenced by relativism that they find it difficult to respond. Some men and women are beginning to wonder if they really believe America's founding principles, as stated in the Declaration of Independence, that "all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights..."

A couple of weeks ago, Peter Singer, a bioethicist at Princeton University, wrote an article for the New York Times that essentially denies the Declaration's core principles. While discussing the sad case of Ashley, a severely disabled girl whose parents had her uterus removed and put her on hormones to stunt her growth, Singer said:

We are always ready to find dignity in human beings, including those whose mental age will never exceed that of an infant, but we don't attribute dignity to dogs or cats, though they clearly operate at a more advanced mental level than human infants. Just making that comparison provokes outrage in some quarters. But why should dignity always go together with species membership, no matter what the characteristics of the individual may be?....[Ashley] is precious not so much for what she is, but because her parents and siblings love her and care about her.

In Singer's mind, Ashley is not precious for what she is, and she does not have dignity simply because she is human. He even strongly implies that dogs and cats have more dignity than this handicapped little girl. Yet the Founders believed that all people are created equal, even those whose mental age does not advance very far.

We have here a tale of two cities. One is the city envisioned by the Founders where God has created all men and women with a fundamental equality which ensures that every person's rights are secure. The strong do not have more worth than the weak, the young do not have more value than the old, and the rich do not have more human rights than the poor. The self-evident truth is that, despite the differences, every human being enjoys an essential dignity. Every life is precious, even the wretched, weak, penniless, despised, feeble and frightened.

Then there is the city envisioned by modern atheists like Peter Singer. This is a place where a dog can have more worth than a handicapped child. This is a place where a grandmother with Alzheimer's disease has no dignity if she has no one who loves her. This is a place where newborn babies can be killed if they are imperfect or unwanted. It is a godless city where human worth is measured on a sliding scale. Woe is she who is wretched, weak, penniless, despised, feeble and frightened. Such people may have been better off as a dog or a cat than an unwanted and imperfect human being!

Ultimately, America will choose one city or the other as its destiny. This week we celebrated the 96th birthday of the man who saw the United States as the shining city on a hill, Ronald Reagan. As the late president said, "A troubled and afflicted mankind looks to us, pleading for us to keep our rendezvous with destiny; that we will uphold the principles of self-reliance, self-discipline, morality, and, above all, responsible liberty for every individual, that we will become that shining city on a hill." This is the same city envisioned by the Founders, and it is the vision that is still admired by a troubled and afflicted mankind.

How might we guard against the men and women who try to persuade us that God does not exist, that there is no inherent human dignity, and that some people have less worth than others? If ideas really do have consequences, this set of ideas will inevitably lead to great human suffering and utter cultural collapse. Therefore, how can America keep its "rendezvous with destiny" and protect the shining city?

Our response must be multifaceted. First, men and women of faith should be educated in their own intellectual heritage. Many of the great Christian minds of the past have confronted similar challenges in their own generation, and they have left behind solid answers. Atheism is not new, nor is the idea that some human beings lack inherent worth. Rather than reinvent the wheel, we should become aquatinted with the way these challenges were previously addressed.

Christians must also be involved in the culture. Though a few famous atheists are churning out books, it is the movie makers, the song writers, and the television show creators that have the greatest influence. The church has a long history of producing beautiful and captivating art; there is no reason why Christians should not continue to engage and inspire the culture through art. One outstanding movie can do more to influence the culture than dozens of scholarly books.

Finally, Christians must be involved in the public square. When the ideas of Peter Singer, Richard Dawkins, and Sam Harris are translated into laws, injustice results. It is terrifying to contemplate a world where the law does not consider human beings to have any inherent value or dignity. We have seen this world in the past; we must never allow it to happen again. As Christians, our obligation is to love and serve our neighbors by remaining a persistent public voice in resistance to the growing threat against our culture and our nation. We must not abandon the shining city on the hill.


American Christians need to understand that atheism is a belief system. By having any and all religious language removed from the public square, the state is sanctioning secular humanism. Let us not repeat the mistakes of the 20th century by allowing atheists such as Pol Pot and Mao Tse-tung into power.

Atheism, in a sense, is advocating a deity. The god is humanity itself, and its miracles, including self-salvation, are produced on the altar of science. Just try to drink down this glass of science..."Atheism: The belief that there was nothing and nothing happened to nothing and then nothing magically exploded for no reason, creating everything, and then a bunch of everything magically rearranged itself for no reason whatsoever into self-replicating bits which then turned into dinosaurs." Makes perfect sense;) And they call Genesis hard to believe? :lol:

One of my favorite quotes from Roy Hattersly (unrepentant atheist Parliament member)...

Quote:
We atheists have to accept that most believers are better people. The only pssible conclusion is that faith comes with a packet of moral imperatives that, while they do not condition the attitude of all believers, influence enough of them to make them morally superior to atheists like me. The truth may make us free, but it has not made us as admirable as the average captain in the Salvation Army.


Last edited by cwbjr67 on Mon Dec 08, 2008 1:35 am, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 07, 2008 6:51 am 
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Nice rhetoric. I'm always cautious about things like this involving our "Founding Fathers". People such as Jefferson owned othe people & had sex out of wedlock. The same folks who hold Jefferson up for public esteem are quick to condemn Clinton for having sex with a woman other than his wife in the White House.

Furthermore, I don't want the govt. involved in my faith. They don't need to tell me anything about it. I already know..............Bill


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 07, 2008 9:01 am 
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Nice rhetoric indeed, assuming you use the definition of rhetoric to mean "Language that is elaborate, pretentious, insincere, or intellectually vacuous." And no, that's not a preface. :lol:

What I find interesting is that Christians always try to shoe-horn atheism into the definitions of a religion or belief system (when it is clearly not), I guess because that's the only way they can understand it. Even your snide definition above falls helplessly back into religious metaphors like "miracles" and "altars." The position of the atheist is not to propose an alternative to the theists' explanation: it is he simply that the atheist does not accept the theist's explanation. Therefore, the atheist need only demonstrate that the theist has failed to justify his position, which is pretty easy since there's a reason it's called "belief."

It's tough for me to rebut arguments like this because they argue against a world-view that in no way resembles my own. My definition of atheism would be more along the lines of "Atheism: recognizing that we still truly have no idea where we came from or how we got here, but refusing to halt the search for that truth by simply accepting fairy tales shilled out by two-bit hucksters two thousand years ago."

What's truly astonishing to me is that virtually every story or tenet of the bible--from the creation of earth to the crucifixion and resurrection--is just a rehashing of myth and fable that came before, and yet Christians get truly offended when we refuse to accept their explanation: "but it's true THIS time."

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 07, 2008 5:40 pm 
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I don't think I shoe-horn anyone into into any system of belief except Christians. You either have Christians or not. You either believe in the teachings of Jesus or you don't. If you don't you will either go to hell or not. I really don't care which. However I don't really try to insult you & your system of beliefs. I don't believe in them, but it really is none of my business.

Can I prove God exists? Well that's a good one. It's plain & clear to me & the rest of the Christians. That's who my rhetoric is aimed at. One thing I will say is I am constantly weary of false prophets. They do more harm than good. I'm also concerned about 11:30 Christians, they are faithful for an hour on Sunday morning. "Two bit hucksters". Is that really needed? I think that is going from the realm of criticism to the hatered of insulting.............................Bill


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 07, 2008 8:11 pm 
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Hostrauser wrote:
...My definition of atheism would be more along the lines of "Atheism: recognizing that we still truly have no idea where we came from or how we got here, but refusing to halt the search for that truth by simply accepting fairy tales shilled out by two-bit hucksters two thousand years ago."



Hostrauser wrote:
What's truly astonishing to me is that virtually every story or tenet of the bible--from the creation of earth to the crucifixion and resurrection--is just a rehashing of myth and fable that came before, and yet Christians get truly offended when we refuse to accept their explanation: "but it's true THIS time."


These blanket statements really display a complete lack of understanding about Christianity. Two-bit hucksters? Really? This alone reveals that you are either completely unfamiliar with the historic record of the people you are speaking of, or that you are simply trying to be mean. As far as your rehashed fables go, let's think about it for a minute. For argument's sake, let's suppose their was a flood as described in the book of Genesis. Wouldn't it make sense that a version of the same record would appear in other ancient text and in other cultures who, over time became separated from one another? I would think it would be more suspicious had the story of such a calamity not appeared elsewhere. But why is it that the Genesis record is automatically considered to be the copy? Could it be that there are those who desperately want Christianity to be false?

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 08, 2008 12:53 am 
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Hostrauser wrote:
Nice rhetoric indeed, assuming you use the definition of rhetoric to mean "Language that is elaborate, pretentious, insincere, or intellectually vacuous." And no, that's not a preface. :lol:

What I find interesting is that Christians always try to shoe-horn atheism into the definitions of a religion or belief system (when it is clearly not), I guess because that's the only way they can understand it. Even your snide definition above falls helplessly back into religious metaphors like "miracles" and "altars." The position of the atheist is not to propose an alternative to the theists' explanation: it is he simply that the atheist does not accept the theist's explanation. Therefore, the atheist need only demonstrate that the theist has failed to justify his position, which is pretty easy since there's a reason it's called "belief."

It's tough for me to rebut arguments like this because they argue against a world-view that in no way resembles my own. My definition of atheism would be more along the lines of "Atheism: recognizing that we still truly have no idea where we came from or how we got here, but refusing to halt the search for that truth by simply accepting fairy tales shilled out by two-bit hucksters two thousand years ago."

What's truly astonishing to me is that virtually every story or tenet of the bible--from the creation of earth to the crucifixion and resurrection--is just a rehashing of myth and fable that came before, and yet Christians get truly offended when we refuse to accept their explanation: "but it's true THIS time."


So, you're saying that you don't like it when your faith is mischaracterized and skewed by vitriol, eh? Very interesting. :saml:

There is far less historical evidence for Caesar and Socrates than Jesus, so I guess they are figments of imagination, too.

Let's look at your truth claim that Christianity is not unique, and it is derivative in substance from lost pagan religions. Even the novice historian would be hard pressed to draw these conclusions, but I will indulge your quest for the truth. Take Mithras. Supposedly, the "communion" was the forerunner to the meal instituted by Jesus in the upper room. First, this meal IS derivative--of the Passover which was celebrated much earlier than the Mithraic ceremonies.

The Mithraic ritual was steeped in astrology (the procession of the equinoxes), but before I begin, let me remind you that Mithras was a false name used by followers of Perseus, but that's neither here or there. At Jesus' meal, the bread and wine were the elements instituted to be taken for the remission of sin. The Mithraeans used the elements (bull, people, scorpion, dog, etc.) to form a star map. They would slay the bull and drench themselves in the blood. Please note that the earliest archaeolgical references to Mithras are in the second century AD.

Concerning the virgin birth parallel, Mithras was born out a rock in a cave. This is hardly a worthy comparison to the virgin birth much less the source material of the Incarnation. Did you know this conclusion is based from the poor sensationalistic scholarship of a Wiccan priest? Hardly a secular source.

How about Dionysus? Lots of secular folks say that the Miracle at the Wedding at Cana is a rip-off. The motif of changing water to wine is not present in the Dionysus legends. The jugs of Elis, for example, were not filled with water but were empty, and the fount of wine in Andros did not replace one of water. Most writers acknowledge that in the Johannine narrative there is an implicit contrast between water used for Jewish purificatory rites and the wine given by Jesus; the former is characteristic of the old order, the latter of the new in the ancient literature. Plutarch says that there was a spring at Haliartus with clear, sparkling, wine-colored, very pleasant-tasting water in which the newly born Dionysus was bathed. Also, Pliny says that at Andros, on the festival known as Theodosia, a spring in the temple of Bacchus flowed with wine. Pausanias says that at Elis the priests of Dionysus placed three large empty cauldrons in a sealed room to find them filled with wine when they returned the next day. And Ovid says that Liber, the Italian god identified with Bacchus, gave the daughters of the Delian king Anius the power to turn things into wine, a story associated with Dionysus. However, from these references, it is obvious that there are significant differences between the Dionysus legend and the story in John 2: the spring at Haliartus flowed with water, and the one at Andros flowed with wine, not water that had once been wine; and the empty cauldrons in the Elis temple were filled with wine rather than water subsequently changed into wine which were the key elements in John's story.

If you would like me to expound further, I have more than enough information on the subject to silence these speculative eisegetics.

As always, skeptics' "vacuous" attacks on religion are inevitably aimed at Christianity. For example, the esteeemed Cardinal Dawkins rants about the insipid opposite face (Jesus) of Yahweh. He calls the Bible a real "s-----." I can't say that word here. The Bishop Hitchens states with his customary panache that "it goes without saying that none of the gruesome, disordered events described...ever took place." Sorry--too much archaeological evidence says otherwise, and even the most liberal historians use the Bible as source material. It is common knowledge that Biblical authors used many different literary techniques to convey its message. It's intellectually inadequate to describe the whole Bible as a historical narrative.

Cardinal Dawkins expresses his concern for the "mammals" of Roman Catholicism by saying, "it is hard to believe...that health is improved by the semi-permanent state of morbid guilt suffered by a Roman Catholic posessed of normal human frailty and less than normal intelligence." There's a lot of Catholics on this board, and they seem well-adjusted and of normal intelligence to me!

The "church of free thinking" is nothing more than a faith as indicated by the proselytizing not only by our esteemed Reverend Hostrauser but by the rantings of the Four Horsemen of Disbelief as well. Free thinking does not indicate disciplined thinking. There's too much evidence--medical, cosmological, sociological, historical, archaeological--to cast Christianity aside as a fairy tale, and the consequences of living in a godless society as confirmed by recent history are far more grave than dealing with misguided monotheistic zealots.

When a given public display of religion is challenged by atheism, lawmakers should honestly look to see if they are sanctioning a system of beliefs peddled under the guise of science. :soap:


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 08, 2008 6:30 am 
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I was watching PBS a couple of weeks ago when some archaeologist believe they found evidence that the walls of Jericho did fall down as the Bible described. Not only that but other historic things that happened according to the Bible, were found written on Egyptian walls. What was so cool was the time line of the two were the same.

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 08, 2008 9:11 am 
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cwbjr67 wrote:
There's too much evidence--medical, cosmological, sociological, historical, archaeological--to cast Christianity aside as a fairy tale,


Such as? What kind of evidence is there outside of beliefs?

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and the consequences of living in a godless society as confirmed by recent history are far more grave than dealing with misguided monotheistic zealots.


Hmmm...history shows all sorts of conflicts based on religion, up to the curent day.

Mike


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 Post subject: Re: Fight religion disguised as disbelief!
PostPosted: Mon Dec 08, 2008 9:18 am 
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cwbjr67 wrote:
By having any and all religious language removed from the public square, the state is sanctioning secular humanism.


No it's not...it's permiting anyone to believe anything they so choose without feeling that the government is endorsing one particular set of religious beliefs...or no beliefs...over another.

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Just try to drink down this glass of science..."Atheism: The belief that there was nothing and nothing happened to nothing and then nothing magically exploded for no reason, creating everything, and then a bunch of everything magically rearranged itself for no reason whatsoever into self-replicating bits which then turned into dinosaurs." Makes perfect sense;) And they call Genesis hard to believe? :lol:


People used to believe that the sun moved across the sky drawn by chariots.

Just tbecause something's cause is NOT yet known does not mean that the explanation is some sort of relgious hocus pocus. It just means that the answer is not yet known.

Mike


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 Post subject: Fair questions from Mike
PostPosted: Mon Dec 08, 2008 11:06 am 
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Mike wrote:
cwbjr67 wrote:
There's too much evidence--medical, cosmological, sociological, historical, archaeological--to cast Christianity aside as a fairy tale,


Such as? What kind of evidence is there outside of beliefs?


I don't have enough time or space here to give an unabridged analysis. You have to do some of the research on your own. It's really not that hard to find, and any moderate professor of history or pastor can set you in the right direction. I'll go easy on you since you're a Cadet! 8-)

One method of providing evidence of New Testament reliability is to delve into external sources or what is called extrabiblical testimony. The following citations establish the historical authenticity of the life and death of Jesus.

Tacitus, a highly regarded historian of the ancient world, gave an account of the great fire of Rome. There is an interesting inclusion amongst the details. It reads, "Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus [emphasis added], and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their center and become popular."

Note that Tacitus writes an acidulous, intolerant review of Christianity with borderline racist remarks, but it is tangible evidence that proves Jesus lived in Judea and was executed under Pontius Pilate. Also, it infers that "a most mischievous superstition" is the resurrection of Jesus, and this event spawned Christianity.

The Babylonian Talmud contains a writing in Sanhedrin 43a that states, "On the eve of Passover Yeshu [Jesus] was hanged [crucified]. For forty days before the execution took place, a herald went forth and cried, 'He [Jesus] is going forth to be stoned becaused he has practiced sorcery and enticed Israel to apostasy. Any one who can say anything in his favor let him come forward and plead on his behalf.' But since nothing was brought forward in his favor he was hanged on the eve of Passover [emphasis added]."

Several things are corroborated in this passage. Jesus was crucified. It gave the exact day of execution. It, also, clearly implies the intent of the Jewish religious hierarchy to bring Jesus to answer for acts considered to be supernatural as well as the assertion that his teachings were causing people to renounce the faith and practices of Israel.

Lucian of Samosata sarcastically refers to Jesus as "the distinguished personage who introduced [Christianity's] novel rites, and was crucified on that account." Mara Bar-Serapion of Syria asks his son, "What advantage did the Jews gain from executing their wise King? It was just after that their kingdom was abolished."

What an embarrassment of riches! AND--the testimonies of Josephus, Pliny the Younger, Suetonius have not been included here. They further the case that history proves that Jesus lived and died. He was a real person!

Some conclusions can be drawn from these writings.

Jesus lived.
Jesus taught.
Jesus performed acts considered to be sorcerous or supernatural.
The Jewish religious hierarchy intended for Jesus to be stoned.
Jesus was tried.
Jesus suffered under Pontius Pilate.
Jesus was executed on the eve of Passover
People believed Jesus rose from the dead.
People worshiped Jesus as God.
Believers partook in a communal meal.
Believers were persecuted and executed for their beliefs.

Just the tip of the iceberg, Mike. It's out there if you search for it.


Last edited by cwbjr67 on Mon Dec 08, 2008 11:24 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Archaeology and the New Testament
PostPosted: Mon Dec 08, 2008 11:18 am 
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Remember--this is just the tip of the iceberg. I don't have the time to write a thesis for you. Ms Malibu brought up one instance of archaeological evidence of Biblical accuracy.

Archaeology is a powerful witness to the historical accuracy of the New Testament. Dr. Nelson Glueck, who is the premier modern authority on Israeli archaeology states, "No archaeological discovery has ever controverted a Biblical reference. Scores of archaeological findings have been made which confirm in clear outline or in exact detail historical statements in the Bible. And, by the same token, proper evaluation of Biblical descriptions has often led to amazing discoveries."

Archaeology has proven Luke as an accurate historian time and again. For example, Luke refers to Lysanias as the tetrarch of Abilene, and for years, scholars rejected this passage under the assumption that Lysanias was the ruler of Chalsis. John McRay states, "An inscription was later found from the time of Tiberius, from Anno Domini 14 to 37, which names Lysanias as tetrarch in Abila near Damascus--just as Luke had written." Of the thirty-two countries, fifty-four cities, and nine islands cited by Luke, none have been found as a mistake.

The Gospel of John accurately reports details about the Pool of Bethesda, the Pool of Siloam, Jacob's Well, and the location of the Stone Pavement near the Jaffa Gate where Jesus appeared before Pilate.

If these authors went to such lengths on secondary details, certainly the veracity of the biography of Jesus has to be taken seriously.

Next is the manuscript evidence. The Bible has stronger manuscript support than any known piece of classical literature including Plato, Homer, Aristotle, Tacitus, Josephus, and Caesar combined. There are 5000 New Testament manuscripts in existence. Ironically, the earliest fragment that has been located is from the Gospel of John, and it has been found that it goes back to the reign of Emperor Trajan which blows the opinion that John was produced nearly a century after the synoptic Gospels out of the water.

Secondly, if the Gospel of John was written as early as Anno Domini 98, then the other books of the New Testament were composed much closer to Jesus' lifetime. When comparing the timespans from oral tradition to written transposition of other faiths, it is not a stretch to say that the New Testament is the penultimate ancient document, and any corruption from legendary development is minimal. For example, the Parsi biography of the Gathas of Zoroaster was written 2200 years after its oral origin. The scriptures of Buddha were written 600 years after its beginning.

I don't have enough time today to get into the whole "religion is the cause of humanity's woes" debate, but I will get some of my books together if you're willing to give it a whirl. 8-)


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 Post subject: Re: Fair questions from Mike
PostPosted: Mon Dec 08, 2008 11:20 am 
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cwbjr67 wrote:
What an embarrassment of riches! AND--the testimonies of Josephus, Pliny the Younger, Suetonius have not been included here. They further the case that history proves that Jesus lived and died. He was a real person!


Oh, I do not doubt the history. I don't believe there is any evidence that christianity is anything more 'real' than any other religion in the history of the world...that it is anything more than a hieracrchy set up by the educated and literate to control the uneducated 'back then'.

Mike


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 Post subject: Re: Fair questions from Mike
PostPosted: Mon Dec 08, 2008 11:53 am 
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Mike wrote:
Oh, I do not doubt the history. I don't believe there is any evidence that christianity is anything more 'real' than any other religion in the history of the world...that it is anything more than a hieracrchy set up by the educated and literate to control the uneducated 'back then'.

Mike


Honestly, the Roman civilization was near its apogee at that time, and it was quite hostile to Christians especially the most intelligent proponents of the faith like Paul. I believe you're talking about Constantine and the Nicene Council which is centuries later, and it is not pertinent to the beginnings of Christianity. However, we can break out some info on that as well.


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 08, 2008 6:57 pm 
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I truly wish I could convince everyone of the truth about Jesus Christ, but I can't. I have the luxury of not being a scientist. The very nature of religion is faith, the nature of faith is absence of proof. I guess I'm past that because it's no longer faith with me, it's hard cold emperical fact. I just don't have the skills needed to prove it.

I'm certain we can co-exist with non-believers. Some of their complaints are valid. However, do not confuse the corruption of man with the purity of Christ. The religious wars, that's mans idea. It doesn't come from God. No politician speaks for me and/or my faith. I think that's why the founders created a seperation of church & state. There was religious oppression in England at the time of the Mayflower arrival. But, I'm not an expert in history either............................Bill


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