MORE EXCHANGES WITH FUNDAMENTALISTS
Our conversations sure set me to thinking. I came up with this series of thoughts while showering this morning. Here goes:
If we are made in god’s image, then we need only look at ourselves to see what god looks like. It means that god is (to put it simply) a confused, immoral, moral, benevolent, hateful, loving, murderous being, full of greed and loathing and compassion and charity, etcetera. God must be capable of betraying himself. God must be no more perfect or perfectible than his creation. The humanists who believe all values come from man are just as right as the religionists who say that all values come from god, since they are both one and the same image with, I suppose, the capacity to do wrong or perform aright. But Christians would say that only Adam and Eve were born perfect and the rest of us are being tortured for their wrong doing so that the rest of us have now fallen away and are imperfect because of those two bad people. Frankly, I think it’s pretty unfair that I have to suffer death for those two malcontents, but that’s not my point.
If we go back to perfect Adam, then our image of god is of a naked man, walking around in plenty and happiness who doesn’t know right from wrong. If Adam, created in god’s image, with a pancreas, brain and brain pan, libido and sex drive, chemical capacity for anger and love, two legs and arms, etcetera, doesn’t know right from wrong, then neither does god at the beginning, right, if Adam was in god’s image, both physically and internally, with the same organs for feeling pain and suffering and making decisions?
If Adam didn’t know right from wrong, how could he and Eve have been expected to know that to disobey god was wrong, even if god told them not to eat of the fruit. After all, they had free will, but they would not have known they had free will until they had something to disobey. So if god gave them an order, knowing that they wouldn’t know they were wrong until after they had disobeyed him and exercised their free will, then he is fully responsible for Adam and Eve’s original sin. God is the sinner, not the two innocents. So our earthly parents are innocent of any wrong doing in the beginning unless god would be so crazy as to blame a man he created blind for not being able to see.
BALANCING A FUNDAMENTALIST IN EITHER HAND
From: George Thomas
Sent: Tuesday, September 21, 2004 12:39 PM
To: Dave O ; Howard K
Subject: Luther's take on reason. . . .
Dear Dave and Howard,
You see, I am a man who believes in human reason and the need for the human animal to become ever more human and ever less irrational or emotional or animal, if you will. But the founder of your sect of Christianity, Protestantism, nailed my objection to Christianity right on the head. As Luther says, “Whoever want to be a Christian should tear the eyes out of his reason” and “you must part with reason and not know anything of it and even kill it; else one will not get into the kingdom of heaven” and “reason is a whore”.
Of course, I’m not prejudicial when it comes to religion; it’s obvious that Islam, Catholicism, Buddhism, Hinduism, you name ‘em, are without reason at the core of their faith. To be religious is to live in the past. We must transcend our animal, irrational, emotional past if humankind is to ever make peace on earth. We’re probably still millennia away from that goal, but I think evolution is on our side rather than against us.
"Unless you assume a God, the question of life's purpose is meaningless" -- atheist Bertrand Russell.
From: George Thomas
Sent: Wednesday, September 22, 2004 12:35 AM
To: D___ O_______
Subject: Slight corrections on last message. . . .
You didn’t respond to what Luther said.
And I understand what Russell meant. Russell isn’t afraid of life being meaningless as a Christian would be. Meaninglessness is a part of the existential doctrine, just what a logical person would conclude, starting without a hypothetical god. So Russell is logical and rational, coming from the premise that god doesn’t exist. Have you ever read any of Samuel Beckett’s or Franz Kafka’s works or Camus’ The Stranger? Then you’d understand how logical Russell’s statement is. And to the existentialist each human must wrest his own meaning from the universe. It’s not a given meaning you borrow from something outside yourself.
Now, what about Luther telling you guys to be irrational and to ignore reason?
From: "D____ O_______"
Date: Wed, 22 Sep 2004 15:31:31 -0700
To: "George Thomas"
here's the problem with responding to you, george ... time. you have all the time in the world to research, type e-mails ad nauseum and debate. i don't. i'm sure you pulled luther out of context. just as i apparently pulled russell out of context. then, didn't russell write a piece about "why i'm not a christian"? one of your atheist brethren threw that in my face for months before i finally took time to read it -- and was amazed at the holes in his logic, the biggest of which was his extremely loose definition of what a christian is. anyone who believed in a historical Christ, by his estimation, was a christian. but i digress. although i enjoy a written format for a battle of wits, i question the value of it. as you observed before, we're talking past each other. you have chosen, against everything your senses and the universe around tells you, to deny God. at your age, it won't be long before eternity will reveal the error of your ways.
on top of that, you keep misrepresenting your experience as fact and dismissing my experience out of hand. for example, you think i'm naive for respecting lt. col. george nadler's service to his country. i've been in the news business 34 years, pal, and i'm now an editorial writer and columnist for a decent-sized paper. you don't survive that long in this business by being naive. you have any idea how many george thomases i've encountered during that time? or how many war heroes? or how many big-shot politicians? naive. c'mon. also, you dismiss g. n.'s service because he was an officer. and grunts, in your world view, knew more about what was going on than officers. here's a guy who flew supplies into backcountry outposts for special forces and racked up 1,200 combat hours. on three tours of duty, including one tour when he extended his duty three times. i'd say he knew a lot more than your average grunt on a 13-month stint.
on another point before i quit this way-too-long response, you once said that i went back to my roots when i embraced christianity at age 22. in other words, i was such a weakling that i had a need to embrace the religious crutch again in my senior year of college. for you atheists, religion is always a crutch. i believe one of your kind described it as the opiate of the masses before his foul creed led to the slaughter of hundreds of millions in the old soviet union. religion can be a crutch. and it can be the discovery of the truth. my faith, tested by life's experience, involves a relationship with a person, the risen Lord, not so stale set of rules. i won't explain it to you, just to have you mock it. i don't need freud to tell me what goes on inside mankind because he can't touch the revelation of scripture re: man.
howard has more time than i do to debate for debate's sake. i find such debate tiring because that's what i do every work day in the liberal bastion where i work. for you, it's relaxation and fun. for me, it's so much more work. if i have time, i will respond to your e-mails. but don't bank on it every time -- dfo
After this letter, I’ll try to back off in respect of your time, but, Dave, do you have any real scientists to send my way in debate? If Howard was ever a scientist, he no longer reasons like one. All his beliefs are now based on appeals to authority, i.e. the Bible and, according to Thomas Paine, the hearsay method, i.e. the Bible. Neither of those hold any water to a rational man in search of truth in the natural world.
I won’t deny or make fun of your choice to have an emotional and purely subjective relationship in your own head with some figure, real or imagined, from a book. We all do that in one way or another, considering the fact that the outside world comes into us all through waves of various kinds and each of us is a prisoner in his own mind. It’s all relative and subjective, that’s for sure, and you have every right to decide how to make sense out of the world for yourself.
But that’s the difference. Christians are perfectly happy to go for a subjective interpretation of the world while atheists try to stick to the scientific method of arriving at the truth, one which can be duplicated and passed on for peer review and verification. And only then can any truth about the relative world be decided on. The subjective experience you describe is personal and truly outside the realm of scientific verification. That’s why it must never be allowed to dominate a country because, then, the subjective experiences of a few can be used against people who don’t even recognize the subjective experience of that ruling majority. Only if you can prove it with scientific evidence should it be considered as an objective test for everyone’s reality.
This, too, is one paragraph too long. I’ll be patient and back off.
"If we don't succeed, we run the risk of failure." —Ahhh, come on, you know? (G.W.B.)