Rosenhouse on Andrew Sullivan—again

As L’affaire Sullivan winds its way to its squalid end, with Andrew looking (to many at least) as a superstitious bully who knows nothing of the history of Christianity, you should have a look at Jason Rosenhouse’s latest post at EvolutionBlog, “Who gets to define Christianity?”

Jason is responding this statement by Sullivan about those many Americans who take the Genesis story and the Adam and Eve myth as literal truth:

Christianity is not and never has been defined by a majority of American believers in 2011. It has existed for two millennia in countless forms and incarnations, if you pardon the expression. My own dismay at what passes for Christianity today is not exactly a secret on this blog. I can agree with Coyne on this and still find him crude and uninformed about the faith he has such contempt for.

Jason responds by making a point that I’ve emphasized before—one that’s obvious to those, including two atheist Jews, who know anything about religion:

But Sullivan is not just placing himself in opposition to a majority of American believers in 2011. He is also placing himself in direct opposition to the traditional teaching of the Catholic Church. It is not as though atheists, motivated by a desire to make Christians look foolish, came up with the idea that Adam and Eve were real people who actually sinned. We’re not the ones who wrongly discerned historical content in what certainly seems to be an ancient myth. As we saw in yesterday’s post, the reality of Adam and Eve and the transmission of their sin through “ordinary generation” was, for most of Christian history, central to how most people saw themselves, and it was an idea promoted by virtually all of the great Christian theologians. Yet Sullivan denounces them all as brainless. Hence my description of his views as arrogant.

This brand of arrogance is typical of “sophisticated” believers and theologians, who implicitly decry the majority of fellow Catholics (or other Christians) as fundamentally ignorant of religion and of the real nature of God. The religion of such people, the sophisticates imply, is simply wrong. Yet what’s more ironic is that many theologians, or people like Sullivan, characterize themselves as “humble,” despite their arrogant view that they, alone among Christians, have the handle on truth.

Jason then makes a point that’s obvious, but cannot be made too often:

That’s not the interesting part, though. Sullivan’s statement got me wondering about the question of how Christianity is defined. I would argue that Christianity, or any other religion for that matter, is defined solely by what communities of believers say it means. There is no objective standard or Platonic essence to which you can refer. There is no basis for saying, with regard to how a particular community practices Christianity, “You’re doing it wrong!” unless that statement is just short hand for, “I don’t like the way you’re doing it.”

Fundamentalists are often criticized for acting as though they are the only ones practicing authentic Christianity. That criticism is well-deserved. But it is no better when more moderate Christians assume the same pose, acting as though they are the ones who really understand what Christianity is all about. When skeptics address themselves to culturally dominant versions of Christianity, exposing its beliefs as unwarranted and perhaps even dangerous, it is not a serious reply to say, “But you haven’t criticized real Christianity, as practiced by myself and a handful of other sophisticates.”

Politically I’m all in favor of religious moderation. If we’re stuck with religion as a serious social force, far better it be the sort of faith that is flexible with regard to doctrine. Intellectually, though, I don’t find it to be much of an improvement over what the fundamentalists offer. Sullivan’s understanding of original sin is, so far as I can tell, something he simply made up. I can find in it not the slightest connection either to the Biblical text, or to traditional Christian teaching.

John Haught, the Catholic theologian whom I’ll be debating in a week, is of this stripe as well.  All his books on accommodating science and faith rest on the same idea: those Christians who deny evolution on Biblical grounds are not only wrong, but misunderstand how God worked—by using evolution as his pen to write the great play of life.  They (and we scientists) don’t realize, as Haught does, that beneath the apparent naturalism of cosmic and biological evolution is an unfolding drama, in which God is moving things forward toward a Teilhardian “omega point” in which the essence of every being that ever lived will be enfolded into the bosom of Jesus.

Some humility!

_______________________

UPDATE:  I’ve just noticed that, over at Choice in Dying, Eric MacDonald has also gone after Ross Douthat and Andrew Sullivan for their equivocation about the Fall; e.g.,

Douthat and Sullivan can’t play both sides of the street here. They can’t scream “Parable!” when they’re making fun of Jerry Coyne, and then take it literally when they go to Mass of a Sunday morning (or Saturday night, just for the sake of convenience!). And if it screams “Parable!” then they’re going to have to answer the question how it came about that someone had to be sacrificed on a cross for the sake of a story, and how they distinguish between myths and stories and history.

114 Comments

  1. Posted October 8, 2011 at 9:24 am | Permalink

    As to Jason’s question, I’ve always thought that anybody who would claim to have taken the Christ as Lord and Savior should be considered a Christian. What other definition could possibly make sense?

    Cheers,

    b&

    • Posted October 8, 2011 at 11:01 am | Permalink

      Ben – I think that you are right. The 30,000+ xian denominations and sects would probably all accept the definition [although some of Rick Perry’s pastor friends throw out the Mormons who would accept your definition]. However, I still contend that in reality, even among all those who would agree with this definition, the xian faith is idiotypic in that no two xians agree on all of the doctrines, dogma, scriptural interpretations, etc., attendant to xianity.

    • Narvi
      Posted October 8, 2011 at 11:01 am | Permalink

      I know plenty of Christians who don’t consider Jesus their Lord. God is the Lord, Jesus is his son. Though they would agree about the ‘saviour’ bit.

      Of course, since these are NORWEGIAN Christians, they don’t share the assumption that some Christians have – that Jesus and God are the same person. I didn’t even know this was a belief until I started talking about religion online.

      The definition I use, is: “Someone who thinks Jesus was God’s son, sent to forgive humanity”. I’ve never seen a Christian that doesn’t fit this discription.

      • Posted October 8, 2011 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

        It says many times, particularly in the book of John, that Jesus is God. He claimed to be God at least, but it also makes reference to the Trinity: The Father, the son, and the holy spirit. If you believe in the Trinity, you are a Christian. If you do not, then by nature, you are not.

        • Scote
          Posted October 8, 2011 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

          No. Belief in the Trinity is not required to be Christian. John Adams didn’t believe in the trinty, neither did many of the early Christians. Neither do Unitarians.

          • Posted October 8, 2011 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

            Then they are not “CHRIST”ians. Just because you believe in certain doctrines of the bible, it does NOT mean you are a Christian. Islamists even believe in certain doctrines of the bible, but not the “Trinity,” so therefore they are not Christians.

            • Posted October 9, 2011 at 5:19 am | Permalink

              “Christ” or “messiah” is not actually a term of divinity. It’s term signifying a kingship, supposedly supported by God.

              The doctrine of the Trinity was apparently created somewhat later than the Bible, although one can defend it somewhat with gJohn

            • Sajanas
              Posted October 10, 2011 at 8:42 am | Permalink

              What about the Christians that existed before the Gospel of John was written? Or before the Trinity was codified into doctrine? Or the variety of alternative Christian denominations that were just as old as the proto-orthodox Christianity?

              The Emperor Constantine set down the Trinity in the Council of Nicaea, but why should you presume that is the correct and only means of determining ‘Christianity”. There are Christian branches today that are older than the proto-Orthodox, with rather dramatically different theologies. The problem is that there is no really good way to tell who is right and wrong. The Trinity Christians are just the most successful.

        • Steve Smith
          Posted October 8, 2011 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

          No. The Johannine Comma—the Bible’s only reference to the Trinity—was a fraudulent addition to the Bible made sometime in the early Middle Ages. This is one of the more famous examples of the many cases of Biblical fraud.

          • Posted October 8, 2011 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

            Much of John’s account of Jesus describes the relationship between God(the Father), Jesus(the son) and the holy spirit.

            John: 1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.

            Those 4 verses are exactly what the “Trinity” is. Whether or not the Johannine Comma was added as fraud, it only more clearly describes it for the simple people. It does not mean that it is not a reoccuring theme throughout the entire New Testament. To say otherwise is shear ignorance.

            This is why reading and interpreting the bible FOR YOURSELF is crucial to spiritual developement. Otherwise you end up claiming that the “Trinity” only appears in one place in the bible. Propaganda at its finest.

            • Steve Smith
              Posted October 8, 2011 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

              You are clearly ignorant of your own faith. One simply has to read the passage from John you cite, or indeed the rest of the Bible to see that the Trinity is nowhere to be found, except as noted in the fraudulently added Johannine Comma.

              This is the very reason for the Nicene Councils: early Christians were killing each other over severe yet honest disagreements about the self-contradictory nature of Christ. Homoousians, Homoiousians (!), Arians, Trinitarians—no one could agree which held the heretical views. The Trinitarians prevailed, at least in the west, which is the only reason you hold the opinions you do, not because of anything written in the Bible.

              This dust-up over Adam and Eve is amusing, but every other part of the Bible is just as discredited by the facts. The only “mystery” is why anyone who knows this continues to cling to the transparently fraudulent nonsense.

              • Ichthyic
                Posted October 8, 2011 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

                You are clearly ignorant of your own faith.

                In this case, it’s not correctly described as ignorance, but pure projection!

                he projects his conception of the trinity, even when it is clearly not even there!

                is it any wonder why so many treat religion as something that creates cognitive dissonance, and thus mental health issues?

            • Posted October 8, 2011 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

              “This is why reading and interpreting the bible FOR YOURSELF is crucial to spiritual developement.”

              I’m interested to know where God/Jesus instructs his people to “interpret” his words, or even implies that it’s allowable.

              If you’re allowed to take whatever meaning you want from the Bible – which implies ignoring whatever you don’t want, for personal reasons – by what standard is that accomplished?

              What if your interpretation leads you to discard Eden, Adam, Eve and the serpent as truth and as a result discard Jesus as God and his sacrifice as essentially pointless? Or myth? Or fiction?

              If the best path to spiritual development lies in interpreting Scripture for oneself, what point is there to organised religion? To churches, to preachers, to baptism, confirmation, confession, sacrament, keeping the Commandments?

              If the best path to spiritual development lies in interpretation, whence the Reformation, Crusades and Inquisition and continuing sectarian schisms? Why did the early Roman Church fight tooth and nail for centuries to keep Europe wholly Catholic? Were they enlightened enough to see things your way or was their interpretation skewed by political concerns? What if there’s only one “true” interpretation and the Vatican’s is it?

              What if the interpretation that says “take all this literally or burn in Hell” is the closest one to the truth?

              • Posted October 8, 2011 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

                Bah.

                Should’ve read “Weren’t they enlightened enough…”

              • Posted October 9, 2011 at 1:29 am | Permalink

                What if your interpretation leads you to discard Eden, Adam, Eve and the serpent as truth and as a result discard Jesus as God and his sacrifice as essentially pointless? Or myth? Or fiction?

                Um… you become an atheist?

                /@

            • Posted October 8, 2011 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

              We may not know all there is to know about sewing and/or gardening implements, but your average atheist is most definitely not ignorant of what’s in the Babble. Which is a big part of why we’re atheists.

      • Bernard Ortcutt
        Posted October 8, 2011 at 8:42 pm | Permalink

        The Church of Norway adheres to the Augsburg Confession, Article I of which states that

        …there is one Divine Essence which is called and which is God: eternal, without body, without parts, of infinite power, wisdom, and goodness, the Maker and Preserver of all things, visible and invisible; and 3] yet there are three Persons, of the same essence and power, who also are coeternal, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. And the term “person” 4] they use as the Fathers have used it, to signify, not a part or quality in another, but that which subsists of itself.

        So, it’s church doctrine that the Son and the Father are separate persons of the same essense and power. This is similar to most Trinitarian Christians. Of course, I realize that most normal Norwegians don’t believe this nonsensical crap even if they claim to be members of the Church of Norway, but it is the official doctrine.

        • Posted October 9, 2011 at 5:23 am | Permalink

          I think the Church of Norway is pretty standard Lutheran in its doctrines (which include the Trinity), although in practice it seems extremely liberal, not very different from a slightly religious humanism.

      • truthspeaker
        Posted October 10, 2011 at 7:58 am | Permalink

        “Of course, since these are NORWEGIAN Christians, they don’t share the assumption that some Christians have – that Jesus and God are the same person.”

        They might not share it, but the state Lutheran church their tax money goes to does.

  2. Posted October 8, 2011 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    Very good point by MacDonald. If it’s a parable, then why do some of their tenets of faith depend on it being literally true.

    I’m really enjoying these posts criticizing these crap arguments.

    So, um, did anyone say how to tell if something should be taken as parable or literally true yet?

    • Posted October 8, 2011 at 9:52 am | Permalink

      Yeah. In short, if stating that something is literal would make you look like a blithering idiot, then it’s metaphorical; otherwise, it’s literal. The poor fools, though, don’t know how to react when it’s revealed that stating that these same passages are metaphorical also makes them look like blithering idiots.

      And now you know why I never miss a chance to mention the gloriously-risen Jesus’s penchant for having his intestines fondled through his gaping chest wound.

      Cheers,

      b&

      • Posted October 8, 2011 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

        My main question for you Mr. Goren, is why so fixated on one story that predates historical context? Neither you, nor I, or anyone else could say for sure if the Adam and Eve philosophy is literal or metaphorical. Since there was no written history, we have no other sources to draw from, therefore there cannot be a debate. But really why so stuck on it? If you’re bent on having a debate about history, read Deutoronomy. It is full of things that can be discovered in a historical sense, and if the events in Deutoronomy really took place, which there are a tremendous amount of details that suggest it could be literally true, then we can begin to debate the book of Genesis. Now why does it make sense to study one book when we’re debating another one entirely? Because they were practically written around the same time period and by the same people. Although it is very important to note that these books have changed tremendously over the years, and do not resemble today what they did at the time of their composition. If you know the book of Jude, you know the story of Elijah, and his struggle to maintain the doctrines in the above mentioned books. That was nearly 3,000 years ago, and are not the only times the books have been changed. This is the main reason why the New Testament is so important to Christians.

        • Ichthyic
          Posted October 8, 2011 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

          Neither you, nor I, or anyone else could say for sure if the Adam and Eve philosophy is literal or metaphorical.

          make some sense or take a hike, I sez.

          • Ichthyic
            Posted October 8, 2011 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

            and, if you want people to even begin to take you seriously, you should dump the Obama-as-Joker thing.

          • Ichthyic
            Posted October 8, 2011 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

            Because they were practically written around the same time period and by the same people.

            wait, you really think genesis/exodus, etc, were written at the SAME TIME as the supposed gospels?

            wow.

            I suppose you think Galileo and Einstein were contemporaries too?

            • Posted October 8, 2011 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

              Don’t twist my words, you know exactly what that phrase referred to: the books of Deuteronomy and Genesis were written around the same time. No one mentioned the gospels, written between 30 and 100 A.D. The other books I referred to are between 3,500 and 1,500 B.C.E., but their dates of composition are not known for certain. As for my avatar: Obama is a joker, a deceiver, and YOUR king. As for me, I do not require a king, for mine will be coming home shortly.

              • Posted October 8, 2011 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

                “As for my avatar: Obama is a joker, a deceiver, and YOUR king.”

                Last I checked, Barry O was elected by popular mandate. Not that I care, being an Australian and being distinctly unimpressed with O’s record against the rightwing lunatics.

                “As for me, I do not require a king, for mine will be coming home shortly.”

                Better get out the good silverware then!

                Unless of course this is one of those Royal Visits that people of your brotherhood have been predicting for years, but which never pan out. Still, polish the cutlery – you never know who’ll arrive on the doorstep.

                Crikey, do we have a live one here or what?

              • Posted October 8, 2011 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

                I got news for you. Your “king” told a crowd that he would come back within the lifetimes of some of the people in the crowd. Pathetic that you are still waiting. What does it take to shake you out of your dogmatic slumbers?

              • Ichthyic
                Posted October 8, 2011 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

                The other books I referred to are between 3,500 and 1,500 B.C.E.

                that makes what you spewed so much more accurate (not)!

                again, you entirely missed my point.

                but their dates of composition are not known for certain

                even that is irrelevant.

                you want them all to be fucking contemporaries!

                it’s insane.

              • SinSeeker
                Posted October 9, 2011 at 12:07 am | Permalink

                “polish the cutlery”

                You Australians with your euphemisms!

              • Aratina Cage
                Posted October 9, 2011 at 11:40 am | Permalink

                @nathanjaye

                Obama is a joker, a deceiver, and YOUR king.

                President, not king. Most kings and emperors aren’t much more than figureheads anyway these days. But I won’t argue that he did go back on his word several times already. Still, loads better than McGrumps and Ma Grizzly would have been.

                As for me, I do not require a king, for mine will be coming home shortly.

                Erm, then don’t you mean that you do require a king, just that he left his throne and has not returned to it yet? (By the way, the “Jesus, Coming Soon” signs are all fading now after being up for almost a decade. I think it’s safe to declare your king legally dead, don’t you think?)

          • Ichthyic
            Posted October 8, 2011 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

            Deutoronomy. It is full of things that can be discovered in a historical sense,

            but have they?

            have you even really looked?

            and is it even relevant to your initial point?

            • Posted October 8, 2011 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

              There is no historical record of Moses, period. But all three books are supposed to have been written by Moses… So like I said, they must have been written around the same time period, but may or may not have been written by Moses. Why? Because we aren’t entirely sure if Moses ever existed. If he did, the books were surely changed and altered by Jewish elders, very much so by the time of Christ. The book of Jude tells us that by the 8th century B.C.E. the books had already been changed, let alone how much they had changed in those 800 years before Christ. Again, why the new testament is more important to Christians than the Torah. Genesis, Exodus and Deuteronomy are all books of the Torah, in case you were wondering. The initial point is that all you “great thinkers” attack the texts of the Torah because they are easy targets(mostly referring to Genesis). I don’t know if it is because you are incapable of reading more than one book, or because it is the first book, I do not know. Try challenging the New Testament. You will not have much success.

              • Posted October 8, 2011 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

                See my comment above. In the New Testament, Jesus said he would come back within the lifetimes of some of the people listening to him that day. He didn’t. His clear prediction was false, therefore he was not God. For this ans a million other reasons, the New Testament falls on the rubbish heap along with the Quran and all the rest of the world’s superstitious Holy Books.

              • Posted October 8, 2011 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

                “Try challenging the New Testament. You will not have much success.”

                Do you include Revelation? I always like the rider on the white horse with the sharp sword going out of his mouth. Not clear whether it is blade-first or handle-first. Did he swallow it? (Sharp? Riding a horse? Not a good idea.)

              • SinSeeker
                Posted October 9, 2011 at 12:10 am | Permalink

                “Try challenging the New Testament. You will not have much success.”

                You mean like jesus’s cure for epilepsy (to take just one example)?

            • Ichthyic
              Posted October 8, 2011 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

              Try challenging the New Testament. You will not have much success.

              you’re laughably ignorant of the history of the new testament books.

              it’s not even worth bothering to provide references to get you started.

              • Posted October 8, 2011 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

                So how many people were at the tomb on Easter Sunday morning?

              • Ichthyic
                Posted October 8, 2011 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

                So how many people were at the tomb on Easter Sunday morning?

                HA!

                exactly.

                why, it depends on which particular telling of the story that ended up being included you choose, of course.

                just like which order god created the universe can be chosen from which version of genesis you prefer.

                🙂

        • Ichthyic
          Posted October 8, 2011 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

          predates historical context

          grrr.

          wtf does this mean?

        • Ichthyic
          Posted October 8, 2011 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

          This is the main reason why the New Testament is so important to Christians.

          er, WHAT is?

        • Posted October 8, 2011 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

          Ah, so you’re embarrassed by the whole talking snake schtick and would like to change the subject to Jesus?

          Suits me fine.

          Where shall we begin?

          As tempting as it is to begin at the beginning with that birds-and-bees lesson your parents have so obviously neglected, I’ll instead cut to the chase.

          I’m sure you, being a devout Christian and all, would agree that the miracles Jesus performed were an important part of how he revealed his true nature to the various witnesses of his story — and, I’m equally sure, that you’d agree that the most important of those pre-Crucifixion miracles was what Jesus did to poor Lazarus.

          Poor Lazarus.

          Dude couldn’t catch a break. First, he’s dead, which sucks, but is part of life. Then Jesus comes along to his funeral and, amidst all the weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth, he chimes in with a brilliant idea. “I know,” paraphrases he, “Let’s bring him back to life!”

          The family is horrified. Lazarus stinks pretty badly by now, after all. Jesus ignores their pleas, though, and revivificates poor Lazarus’s putrid corpse, making him the first of what we shall see is a great many zombies.

          The local townsfolk are understandably upset about this turn of affairs and try, convict, and execute Jesus for disturbing those resting in peace, as it were. One might think they were afraid that they, too, would be zombified if Jesus were permitted to continue with his reign of terror.

          And, as it turns out, with great justification. For, as we learn, at the moment the necromancer himself gives up the ghost, he unleashes a massive zombie invasion of Jerusalem. The dead roam the streets, we are to believe, in a scene right out of a Sam Raimi flick.

          Curiously enough, we never do learn how the townsfolk dealt with the zombie horde, but the story of course doesn’t end there. The Jesus monster finally reveals his own true nature as the zombie king, the undead, undying, and unkillable master of the underworld.

          My personal favorite scene — as the regulars here can attest to — in the month and a half of his reign of terror before he teleports back to the mothership, is when he orders one of his thralls to fondle his intestines through his gaping chest wound. Zombie snuff pr0n at its finest!

          Even the transporter scene isn’t the end of the story, of course. Jesus leaves with a promise that some day, “real soon now,” he’ll be baaaaaack, and this time he’s coming for you, too. Nobody will be left alive; everybody will be turned into a zombie. If he thinks you might give good intestine, you’ll join him in the throne room where you get to spend the rest of eternity begging for the privilege. If not, it’s off to the dungeon, where he’ll take special pleasure in laughing over your infinite torture.

          But wait! There’s more!

          According to the suckers who’ve bought into this nonsense, a modern-day shaman can cast a particular spell onto a stale cracker and cheap wine, magically turning them into the flesh and blood of this ancient nemesis. And those who eat the zombie flesh and drink the vampire blood will themselves be turned into immortal zombie vampires, destined for the express lane to intestine-fondling nirvana.

          And that’s somehow supposed to be a good thing.

          So. You still think you want to discuss Jesus? Because there’s plenty more where that came from.

          Like, for starters, how not a single one of the copious contemporary accounts of the period even pretends to vaguely hint at a passing mention of a suggestion that anything resembling any of this ever happened….

          Cheers,

          b&

          • malefue
            Posted October 8, 2011 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

            this has to be the best thing i ever read regarding jebus. you will be quoted, mr. goren, i hope you don’t mind.

          • Posted October 8, 2011 at 8:08 pm | Permalink

            I would award you +1, but you already have too many Internets. (Yeah, I’m a socialist)
            🙂

          • Aratina Cage
            Posted October 9, 2011 at 11:51 am | Permalink

            You should try to turn this script into a movie (or sell it to someone who will). It would be the perfect anti-Passion film. They’ve already merged Dracula with Judas, so why the hell not make Jesus the Zombie King?

          • Posted October 10, 2011 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

            Thanks, all.

            Yes, malefue, please steal as you see fit.

            Aratina, I’ve toyed with the idea of turning it into a story of some sort, but it’ll be a while before I have the time to devote to it to do it justice. The interesting bit is that you really don’t have todo a whole hell of a lot to the original…indeed, I could see one simply using the KJV text as the script, with narrator where appropriate, and doing nothing more than staging it as-is, remaining always faithful to the text. All you’d do is not leave anything out.

            Cheers,

            b&

    • Posted October 8, 2011 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

      At the risk of seeming a party-pooper, I have to say I’m not crazy about the argument MacDonald makes in the above quote. I don’t think it’s particularly potent.

      “Sophisticated” believers can always claim that the A&E story is a parable that simply describes the True Fact of Original Sin, which can itself be nebulized as “imperfect human nature” – as the Mormons think of it. From that point if view, Jeebus still had to atone for our wicked ways, if not a specific offense committed by a real couple.

      They may not be full of fancy rhetorical flourish, but I think the best refutations of all things religious remain: 1) logical impossibility, as has been demonstrated on this site many times by Mr. Goren; and 2) to (semi) quote Rod Tidwell: Show me the evidence!

      • Ichthyic
        Posted October 8, 2011 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

        I think the best refutations of all things religious remain

        but, this wasn’t intended to refute all things religious, but instead Sullivan’s remarks in particular.

        • Ichthyic
          Posted October 8, 2011 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

          well, the KIND of approach used by Sullivan, anyway.

          point is, not meant as an argument to dismiss religion, but as an argument against the courtier’s response.

      • Posted October 8, 2011 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

        But you are missing the fact that the belief in this story is not required to be a Christian. You can choose to believe or deny anything in the bible and still be saved. The only thing that is required to be a Christian is the belief that Jesus is God, that he died for the sins of mankind, and was henceforth resurrected. Nothing further, but complicating this notion is what makes us human.

        • Chayanov
          Posted October 8, 2011 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

          “You can choose to believe or deny anything in the bible and still be saved.”

          That’s convenient.

          /eyeroll

        • sasqwatch
          Posted October 8, 2011 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

          Hoo-boy. You are SOOOooo going to hell, Nathan

        • Posted October 8, 2011 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

          No, that’s precisely what I didn’t miss. Under pressure, the matter of which doctrines represent essential Xianity becomes an a la carte affair. He’ll, even not under pressure.

          Which is why I think the two arguments I referenced are ultimately the best. They make angels-on-pins arguments unnecessary.

          • Posted October 8, 2011 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

            Apparently, Steve Jobs didn’t approve of mild swearing.

            • Posted October 8, 2011 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

              Five minutes after installing Lion, I thought the new autocorrect was the bee’s knees.

              Ten minutes later, I was on a desperate search to figure out how to permanently disable it.

              If you’re still sitting on the fence, see here:

              http://damnyouautocorrect.com/

              Cheers,

              b&

              • Posted October 8, 2011 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

                Ha!

                Yes, I’m familiar with that site. Most of those have to be manufactured.

                Autocorrect is at least as inconvenient as it is helpful.

        • NMcC
          Posted October 9, 2011 at 1:52 am | Permalink

          “…Jesus is God, that he died for the sins of mankind, and was henceforth resurrected.”

          Oooh! You big fibber!

          No he didn’t. He had a rather unpleasant day and a half for a parable.

        • Kevin
          Posted October 9, 2011 at 8:07 am | Permalink

          “Saved” from what?

          Seriously.

          Hell? There is no such a place. Nor heaven, nor purgatory, nor any other post-death place.

          They’re myths. Fairy stories. Fables.

          Lies.

          When you understand this, you will understand the rest of it. There’s nothing to be saved from and no place of refuge to go to. When you’re dead, you’re dead. That’s it. Nothing after. Not. One. Thing.

  3. Myron
    Posted October 8, 2011 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    God > Trinity > Creation > Adam and Eve > the Fall > Original Sin > Incarnation (Jesus) > Atonement > Crucifixion > Resurrection > Judgment Day > Salvation (Heaven) or Damnation (Hell).

    This storyline is the doctrinal essence of Christian theism. And the belief in its literal truth is what makes Christians Christians.

    • sasqwatch
      Posted October 8, 2011 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

      Somewhere, from behind his computer screen, Father Hardon smiles knowingly.

      • sasqwatch
        Posted October 8, 2011 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

        My bad. Father Hardon’s eternal essence is “smiling” from the great beyond.

      • Posted October 8, 2011 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

        Ragardless of his name, Fr Hardon’s teachings are a joy. I was curious about the Sacred Heart, not sure whether it belonged to Jesus or Mary. Who’d have thought it was so important, when Protestants may never hear of it?

        “Our instinctive Catholic sense tells us that no devotion is worth cultivation unless it is grounded on the solid dogmas of revelation and its roots go back to the tradition of the Apostolic Church.”

        “Solid dogmas of revelation”! You couldn’t make it up. (At least, I couldn’t.) Wonderful stuff!

        • Posted October 8, 2011 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

          “Regardless of his name”? There’s a move to have him canonised – Saint John Hardon. Patron saint of ED?

          • sasqwatch
            Posted October 8, 2011 at 10:18 pm | Permalink

            I’m there.

          • Claimthehighground
            Posted October 9, 2011 at 6:09 am | Permalink

            With communion celebrated with a viagra and a sip of water

        • Tim Harris
          Posted October 8, 2011 at 11:17 pm | Permalink

          ‘Over the years, every time I pick up the telephone, before I talk to whoever called, I make an aspiration to the Sacred Heart. It helps; you never know who is on the other side.’ John Hardon, SJ.

          Well…

  4. Tim
    Posted October 8, 2011 at 11:08 am | Permalink

    Since the challenge to provide criteria for sorting parables from reality in the Bible has not been answered (or even really attempted), there is little Sullivan or Haught can say to challenge the assertion that christianity “is defined solely by what communities of believers say it means”. It’s all up for grabs, which is especially amusing since christians love to assert that their religion provides the basis for absolute standards of morality.

  5. RickK
    Posted October 8, 2011 at 11:15 am | Permalink

    I’ve been told many many times by Christians – if Adam and Eve weren’t real, then there’s no Fall, no Original Sin, therefore nothing for Christ to die for and no basis for Christianity.

    From Irenaeus to Tertullian to Augustine – Christian teaching has been soundly based on the bedrock of a real, living Adam and Eve who made a very real choice.

    Without Adam and Eve, Christianity has precisely zero explanation for why suffering exists.

    Christians who deny that their faith is based on a literal interpretation of Genesis do so out of ignorance of their own faith.

    • Marella
      Posted October 8, 2011 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

      Of course the question of why we should still be paying the price 6,000 years later for something we didn’t do is another issue altogether, which none of them seems to want to address.

  6. will
    Posted October 8, 2011 at 11:25 am | Permalink

    At EvolutionBlog, I saw this item, I think picked up from HuffoPo (or PuffHo as Jerry likes to say):

    “Atheism is entrenched in American Judaism. In researching their book American Grace, authors Robert Putnam and David Campbell found that half of all American Jews doubt God’s existence. In other groups, that number is between 10 and 15 percent.”

    HALF of jews doubt God’s existence? If so, I wonder how many of these non-believers are synagogue-goers? It seems to me that humans as a group long for community and especially a way to foster an innate spirituality (with perhaps ritual). I hope this does not seem paradoxical to other atheists: but I DO find in myself a “spiritual” nature in the sense that I feel wonder and awe at the expanse of universe. I do feel (sometimes) an incredible sense of awe and overwhelm that we are all here in the first place, eating breakfast, walking along the beach, being alive. Being alive in the first place does seem a preposterous improbability.

    We’ve developed a culture where the only place TO – cultivate? nurture? – this spiritual side is through church, synagogue, temple, mosque. I do fulfill this need in the ordinary ways, through music, art, and literature (I’m a reader!), but I wish we’d worked out a culture where we could nurture this trancendent side without the Gods and mythologies and “Good Books” with all their ancient parables and Laws.

    • Bernard Ortcutt
      Posted October 8, 2011 at 11:50 am | Permalink

      “Why do you have to go to church, synagogue, etc… to cultivate a sense of awe?” Who says you do? Even you seem to imply that you don’t have to. If you “fulfill this need in the ordinary ways, through music, art, and literature”, then why can’t you keep doing that? The people who run religious institutions would have us believe that membership in such institutions is necessary for a fulfilling life. Sure, and the Milk Council thinks you should drink more milk. They’re not exactly disinterested parties.

      It’s sad that people who have perfectly normal, fulfilling lives somehow internalize this outdated social norm that they “ought” to go to church, or that they are better people if they do. Americans systematically overstate their church attendance, presumably because of the pressure that those norms still apply. People who don’t attend religious services (which is after all the majority of Americans) aren’t missing out on anything other than the added expense of church donations or synagogue membership fees. No one needs church, synagogue, or some kind of replacement atheist church.

      • Occam
        Posted October 8, 2011 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

        A tangential question is whether so many people do indeed live fulfilling lives. Based on nothing more than a lifetime of personal observations, I doubt that a plurality of people are actually living an autonomous intellectual and emotional (and I am not afraid of using the term ‘spiritual’) life. Too many, to quote the words of the late Steve Jobs, are living “someone else’s life”.

        Indeed, the overwhelming emotional response to the death of Steve Jobs himself, with all the public demonstrations of vicarious grief and proxy mourning seems to me an indicator of a widespread lack of emotional maturity and fulfilment even among people we should be inclined to regard as ‘enlightened’.

        People will attend temples of any denomination because they have not outgrown the need for a spiritual (and often concomitant social and political) kindergarten.

      • Diane G.
        Posted October 8, 2011 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

        No one needs church, synagogue, or some kind of replacement atheist church.

        My sentiments exactly.

        • Posted October 8, 2011 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

          Mine, too.

          I’m a human. I like feeling like I’m a part of something, like there’s a community to which I belong. But I would seek to fulfill this desire almost anywhere other than a church. I’ve known many congregations spanning many denominations. Mm-mm. No sir, I don’t like it.

    • AdamK
      Posted October 8, 2011 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

      This jew has been to synagogue precisely once (as a child, to a cousin’s bar mitzvah.) Lots of family seders, though.

    • Posted October 8, 2011 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

      Will,

      Society defiles mankind’s natural feelings toward life and the universe. So many influences attempt to mold your mind before you ever reach an age where you can interpret life for yourself. We all have a natural feeling of having a spirit, and life after death. If you do not, then you have driven yourself away from your natural state which happens quite often, especially in modern society. But these notions are not instilled by any church, the same as morality and ethics are not instilled by Christian or Jewish doctrines. You are born with these feelings, and to deny them is to deny you’re humanity. Whether these feelings are God given or not is completely up to you, but know that you are not alone, for I have never regularly attended church or synagogue, but have a very strong belief in the idea of a human soul.

      God bless,
      Nathan Jaye

      • Bernard Ortcutt
        Posted October 8, 2011 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

        Recent research indicates that supernatural explanations occur to kids at much lower rates than they do to adults, so it is hardly the natural state of affairs. It’s only with religious indoctrination or acculturation that people start to give supernatural explanations.

        http://epiphenom.fieldofscience.com/2011/10/supernatural-explanations-just-dont.html

        As a note of personal biography, I have never had any supernatural inclinations. I was taught Catholic doctrine as a child and immediately found the implausible.

        • Ichthyic
          Posted October 8, 2011 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

          It’s only with religious indoctrination or acculturation that people start to give supernatural explanations.

          too true. all the current research supports this, as summarized by what evidently has become a broken record for me, since I post it every day:


          Childhood Origins of Adult Resistance to Science

        • Myron
          Posted October 8, 2011 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

          “Children naturally categorize the world into different kinds of things. If the child is not certain about where to draw the boundaries or misattributes properties from one area to another, the child is going to be thinking supernaturally. For example, if a child thinks that a toy (physical property) can come alive at night (biological property) and has feelings (psychological property), this would represent a violation of the natural order of things. If the child thinks that thoughts can transfer between minds, he is misunderstanding what a thought is and where it comes from. Children who mix up the properties of their naive categories are thinking supernaturally. Inanimate objects that come alive and have feelings are magical. A thought transferring between minds is otherwise known as telepathy.”

          (Hood, Bruce M. The Science of Superstition: How the Developing Brain Creates Supernatural Beliefs. New York: HarperOne, 2010. pp. 96-7)

          • Ichthyic
            Posted October 8, 2011 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

            this says nothing about the normal state of how children actually process that result though, and what the influences are in how they end up doing that.

            read the paper I posted, it’s only a 2 pages long.

            talking about slightly different issues, most likely.

      • Ichthyic
        Posted October 8, 2011 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

        Society defiles mankind’s natural feelings toward life and the universe.

        I need a random gibberish translator whenever I read your posts.

        have one in mind?

  7. Posted October 8, 2011 at 11:39 am | Permalink

    ( subscribing )

  8. Posted October 8, 2011 at 11:59 am | Permalink

    My definition is, I think, somewhat more practical. Religions, including christianity, are defined by the way money moves through religious organisations to fund particular ideals. That is all religions can best be defined by their organisational structure and cash-flows.

    • Ichthyic
      Posted October 8, 2011 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

      seconded.

    • Posted October 8, 2011 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

      Highly doubtful, considering after the death of Jesus that ALL of the disciples were eventually executed. In spite of this the word was already out, and people continued to praise the not so popular Christian god, even when faced by persecution. It wasn’t until about 300 years after the death of Christ, when Emperor Constantine adopted the religion, that it became a popular belief. And Islam remains popular today, even though many Islamic countries are considered of the “3rd world.” You are correct in saying money corrupts religion, and that leaders do side with religions with either a.) high followings, or b.) lots of money. But leaders are shady, they always have been shady, and they always will be shady. Religious leaders are not excluded, and many have used their position to acquire more power(land, money, resources). Greatest thing about the disciples: they were killed before they could become corrupt. They did go on to be worshipped as “saints,” an idea I am totally not cool with.

      • Ichthyic
        Posted October 8, 2011 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

        you’re in no way positively contributing to any conversations here.

        do go away?

        nested comments don’t work well having to wade through endless drivel like yours.

        thanks muchly.

      • Posted October 8, 2011 at 9:19 pm | Permalink

        I must ask where you get your information regarding the deaths of the disciples. My guess is you’re simply repeating the hackneyed talking point that appeals to those whose understanding of the New Testament is limited to John’s gospel and Paul’s letters. Either way, I wait patiently for your correction.

      • truthspeaker
        Posted October 10, 2011 at 8:04 am | Permalink

        “considering after the death of Jesus that ALL of the disciples were eventually executed”

        Evidence?

  9. Ichthyic
    Posted October 8, 2011 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

    There is no objective standard or Platonic essence to which you can refer. There is no basis for saying, with regard to how a particular community practices Christianity, “You’re doing it wrong!” unless that statement is just short hand for, “I don’t like the way you’re doing it.”

    When Catholicism was formed, it was realized that a standard hierarchic authoritarian structure would subsititute just fine for any objective standards.

    they simply would be made by fiat. That worked for quite a while.

    But Sullivan shows us just how well that has worked in modern times…

    meaning, since he is supposedly a Catholic, not very well.

    I recall hearing rumors that the only reason the Pope hasn’t declared most american catholics apostate is simply because of the cashflow.

    • Posted October 8, 2011 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

      Sullivan just thinks his own fiat should preempt all other fiats.

      • Ichthyic
        Posted October 8, 2011 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

        well, that’s that Catholic upbringing for ya.

        🙂

      • Posted October 8, 2011 at 8:54 pm | Permalink

        Well, I think my dad’s fiat* trumps all others.

        * not actually his, but the same model. 😉

  10. Rob
    Posted October 8, 2011 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

    I recall reading Sam Harris’s debate with this guy a few years ago. Harris is relentless in his destruction of what Sullivan offers as ‘arguments’, and exposes his mush-headedness.

    • Diane G.
      Posted October 8, 2011 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

      Sullivan’s persistence then shows the futility of thinking that reason will ever sway such ideologues. (Yes, I know, our arguments are actually intended for the undecided. So, I suppose, are Sullivan’s.)

      • Kevin
        Posted October 9, 2011 at 8:15 am | Permalink

        It shows he hasn’t read a catechism for many, many years.

    • Tim
      Posted October 8, 2011 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

      I read it a couple of years ago as well. I don’t remember Harris and Sullivan getting too much caught up in the original sin question. One thing I remember is that Sullivan does what so many Christians do when arguing with atheists – especially with atheist scientists. They love to cite scientific authorities; Sullivan starts right away with Pascal. (Harris trashes him immediately with a quote from Nietzsche, “The most pitiful example: the corruption of Pascal, who believed in the corruption of his reason through original sin when it had in fact been corrupted only by his Christianity.”) It seems to me that almost all Christians cite Pascal, or Newton, or even Einstein (always incorrectly and disingenuously). What they never seem to understand (or care) when making these arguments from authority is that it is the science these men great. Newton’s science was brilliant, and Newton’s brilliance was demonstated by his science. Newton’s Christianity was shit, despite his brilliance. Shit coming out of a smart guy’s mouth is still shit … which brings us back to what you get when you read what Sullivan says about Catholicism.

      • Bernard Ortcutt
        Posted October 8, 2011 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

        Pascal was a productive mathematician and scientist who never did a minute of scientific or mathematical work after his religious conversion. How that is supposed to suggest the value of religion to science is beyond me.

        • Ichthyic
          Posted October 8, 2011 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

          it does remind me of several more modern examples of the phenomenon, though, just to reinforce your point.

        • NelsonMuntz
          Posted October 8, 2011 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

          And the Pensees just rip off Montaigne.

    • Tim
      Posted October 8, 2011 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

      One more thing: at the beginning of the Harris-Sullivan debate, Sam says,

      I have found that whenever someone like me or Richard Dawkins criticizes Christians for believing in the imminent return of Christ, or Muslims for believing in martyrdom, religious moderates claim that we have caricatured Christianity and Islam, taken “extremists” to be representative of these “great” faiths, or otherwise overlooked a shimmering ocean of nuance. We are invariably told that a mature understanding of the historical and literary contexts of scripture renders faith perfectly compatible with reason, and our attack upon religion is, therefore, “simplistic,” “dogmatic,” or even “fundamentalist.” As a frequent target of such profundities, I can attest that they generally come moistened to a sickening pablum by great sighs of condescension. Present company excluded.

      I guess Sam can dispense with that last polite qualifier now.

  11. Lenoxus
    Posted October 8, 2011 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

    In fairness to those who would treat A&E as metaphor, the conventional “fall and atonement” interpretation is sheer jaw-dropping stupidity.

    In Dr. Suess’s “The Butter Battle Book”, a war breaks out as a result of differences in toast-buttering preferences. Imagine if a character were to declare (with or without evidence) that in reality the other side butters their toast the same way, and one of his countrymen responded “But that would mean all the fighting was over nothing!”

    Theologically, the removal of a bitten fruit is no loss to Christian coherency, and acting otherwise is giving the orthodox model way too much credit. Having Jesus “atone” for the sum of human sins in general makes a tiny bit more sense than having to “atone” for Edengate, thousands of years after it happened. (Remaining unclear is why an omnimax God has to kill anyone in order to “pay for” or “forgive” anything. Having Edengate result in a world with wars and tsunamis makes less sense than almost any other theodicy, so there’s no loss there either.

    It’s a nicer paint job on a rotting shack. A much nicer paint job.

    • Bernard Ortcutt
      Posted October 8, 2011 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

      You have to keep in mind the role that original sin has in Christian theology. Original sin means that you can’t lead a moral life without Jesus’s atonement and God’s grace. It makes you dependent. If you have the ability to be good on your own, then religion is finished, because you are in control of your own moral status. That’s why Christianity has always strongly condemned Pelagianism. For most of Christian history, accusing someone of Pelagianism was close to calling him an atheist.

      • pj
        Posted October 8, 2011 at 7:12 pm | Permalink

        Yes, but there is no *inherent* need for the original sin to be literally The Eating of the Fruit. I must admit I’ve often wondered why some atheists make such a big deal about Adam and Eve. It probably depends on what flavour of Christianity you’ve been exposed to? I live in a Lutheran country and I’ve never come across the idea that literal reading of Genesis is indispensable for Christians. Over here I would be laughed at if I presented the impossibility of the Fall story as a serious argument against Christianity. By all means say that liberal faitheist Scandinavian Christians don’t know their own faith but Christianity is as Christianity does, and from where I stand, talking about A&E is so much flogging the dead horse.

        But I claim no deep knowledge of other denominations than Lutherans.

        • Bernard Ortcutt
          Posted October 8, 2011 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

          The Second Article of the Augsburg Confession states:

          It is also taught among us that since the fall of Adam all men who are born according to the course of nature are conceived and born in sin. That is, all men are full of evil lust and inclinations from their mothers’ wombs and are unable by nature to have true fear of God and true faith in God. Moreover, this inborn sickness and hereditary sin is truly sin and condemns to the eternal wrath of God all those who are not born again through Baptism and the Holy Spirit. Rejected in this connection are the Pelagians and others who deny that original sin is sin, for they hold that natural man is made righteous by his own powers, thus disparaging the sufferings and merit of Christ.

          So, original sin by a literal Adam causing hereditary sin is very much part of standard Lutherism. The ELCA, LCMS, and WELS all adhere to the Augsburg Confession. Maybe there are some small Lutheran denominations that don’t, but I’m not aware of them.

          • Torbjorn Larsson, OM
            Posted October 9, 2011 at 6:33 am | Permalink

            If you call the Swedish Church, that still nominally have ~ 70 % of the population as members,* it isn’t exactly small (some 7 million people then).

            However, I can’t remember how they square the A&E fable except that it is, of course, a metaphor. Sin and its explanation doesn’t play a large role, and it seems to be symbolic for ‘human existence’.

            Of course if you start to dig around likely their liturgy probably doesn’t follow their theology much. But that is religion for you.

            ————
            * Because you had to opt out before the -00 separation between church and state.

            • Bernard Ortcutt
              Posted October 9, 2011 at 9:05 am | Permalink

              I was thinking of US Lutheran denominations, Do you have something that states that the Church of Sweden no longer accepts the Augsburg Confession? The Church of Sweden accepted the Augsburg Confession in 1593 at the Uppsala Synod, so unless they’ve changed their minds, Article II is still in their Confession of Faith.

              It’s understandable that commenters on websites say something sensible, but it’s pretty meaningless as long as the Church still adheres to a blackletter Confession that states the opposite. The problem for liberal Lutheran churches is that adhering to the Augsburg Confession is seen as constitutive of being a Lutheran church, so it’s not something they can give up easily.

          • Torbjorn Larsson, OM
            Posted October 9, 2011 at 6:42 am | Permalink

            Here is a Swedish Church description of A&E myth:

            “There were cave people before Adam and Eve?
            [2010-02-09]
            Hello! I have a question I would like to see answered. I wonder if that would be that the cave man was created before Adam and Eve, then it is said that Adam and Eve were the first people God created, or can it be that God created all life and not Bigbang? But before God created Adam and Eve, had cave man lived for many years. How would you explain this?
            Sandra
            Joel Ingmarsson answers:

            Hi Sandra! Thank you for your question. First, we must remember that Adam means “man” and Eve means “woman”. So God created man male and female, two similar, yet different. When the Bible speaks of Eve and Adam, it means then the (first / first) Man and Woman. It’s about God created man male and female. As the world’s first two people called each other – if they even had names for each other – we know nothing about. Whether prehistoric people lived in caves, on the savannah, or around the great rivers Euphrates and Tigris, were created by God. He wanted man, and man became. It’s the same with you and me. We are here because God wants it. How old is the earth, and which “year” world’s first human beings came into being, we can not exactly know. The Bible gives no dates. Development Doctrine gives a rough draft. But if the “Big Bang” (there’s different names for it too …) you can read in the Bible’s very first lines: God said, ‘Light to be! “And there was light. (Genesis 1:3). Best regards Joel Ingmarsson Priest” [through Google Translate]

            Here is another description:

            “2008-04-15 21:50:24
            Did Adam and Eve existed?

            replies
            Hello!
            I am not a literal believer in that way. Adam means “man” just like Eve. My interpretation of the Bible is more about the creation story to tell you that God created man, man and woman. Adam and Eve is thus more to me that God created man, not so much that they have been around as individuals.

            Lars Johansson, vicar of the parish Caroli” [tGT]

            Obviously the idea of sin is not grounded in the A&E fable in the Swedish Church. Maybe they don’t believe in it anymore.

            Hey, that would explain why the catholic church dislikes the lukewarm Swedish Church! It isn’t even properly lutheran. (o.O)

          • Torbjorn Larsson, OM
            Posted October 9, 2011 at 7:08 am | Permalink

            Interesting. Since I never have reflected over these things, being too close to the subject as it is.

            I found this recent (post-modern) work on the concept of sin in the Swedish Church.

            A preamble states that sin is seldom used. The work starts out with that the A&E fable gives the historical context of the concept.

            Then it declares that “sin” is the inherent problem of accepting religion, that it feels strange: “Sin can be described as the theological concept that describes our feeling of ‘otherness’ to each other and God.” This is referred to as Luther’s concept (though based on the A&E fable). [p5]

            Interviews seems to support that interpretation. Priests want to keep the confession to sins, many congregations want to be able to opt out.

            The conclusion becomes “The concept of sin is a heavy baggage that the Swedish Church has not been able to liberate itself from. It is silent on sin in many churches.” And that it is a loaded concept, that the SC theologians have changed it to be independent of the A&E fable,* and that the church haven’t explained [read: is afraid to explain] that very well.

            ————–
            * In other words, there would be exactly no support for the Swedish Church in its own texts anymore.

            Except for maybe the equivocation on what science calls cosmology (big bang or inflation or standard cosmology), and how that interjects doubt so that the creation myth can be said to be “an option”.

            Yeah, that will go down well with believers and non-believers. =D You can tell it is a dying church, I think.

  12. NelsonMuntz
    Posted October 8, 2011 at 6:59 pm | Permalink

    Why would a omnipotent being use evolution if the being knew what the end result was going to be? Why not just wiggle your nose or slap your arms together and blink and be done with it?

    • Ichthyic
      Posted October 8, 2011 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

      Why not just wiggle your nose or slap your arms together and blink and be done with it?

      • NelsonMuntz
        Posted October 8, 2011 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

        Mountain Dew is the best soda ever made.

  13. Posted October 8, 2011 at 11:43 pm | Permalink

    What is a parable but a metaphor that needs to be explained. I don’t fall for that hokey bullshit. I’ve had enough of it. If the christians are going to claim there are metaphors in the bible, then they need to point them out and define them. Until then they can shove that argument up their ass.

  14. Posted October 9, 2011 at 6:53 am | Permalink

    Haughty Haught can relish that his God gives him a purpose and happiness- the argument from happiness-purpose and take away his angst- the one from angst, but he cannot give evidence that people really need to believe in Him in order to have real purpose and happiness and no angst. Those two arguments lead to Lamberth’s genetic argument that supernaturalists themselves make the genetic case for their supernaturalism! They proffer those arguments as reason to believe in Him,lacking evidence, thereby revealing why in the end they project onto Him their need for happiness and purpose and lack of angst which they really have out of their own inner resources!
    They further poject behind Nature intent-vitalism- teleology- directed outcomes and design when only teleonomy- causalism-mechanism and patterns exist as Lamberth’s argument from pareidolia notes. His teleonomic argument notes that science finds only teleonomy ruling Nature so that to claim divine intent not only violates the Ockham with convoluted, ad hoc assumptions but also contradicts rather than complements science!
    His Malebranche Reductio notes that per Nicholas Malebranche, when we act, ti’s God who does the actual effectuation of the act! That is in the end to what directed evolution amounts! So much for the Primary Cause!
    How can a mindless being without intent noted act in the Cosmos then? Wouldn’t therefore Haught and the other advanced theologians just have faith in the end? He claims that faith envelopes ones entire being whilst Alister Earl McGrath claims that people first have evidence for Him, then apply faith as certitude. Both and William James’s will to believe bely mean that people should bellieve what they want to no matter that new evidence comes along. Jameas and Keith Ward make a straw man out of William Kingdon Clifford and David Hume’s dictum to proportion the amount of evidence for a belief. James tries to make his notion of faith tentative but no whilst when we follow Clifford and Hume we have no belief but we act anyway until further evidence arrives to make for a belief or not. Why, we can consider more than one hypothesis, aiming to find evidence for one of them to arrive. That certitude contradicts our scientific tentativeness.
    I dare tackle those solecistic, sophisticated sophists of woeful,wily woo!
    Most of the time we can rely on authorites for our beliefs. Any must align with our conservation of knowledge. Paranormal and supernatural claims require much evidence and so far they contradict that knowledge! We have to verify political claims. We know from an empirical basis-experience- that most of the time we can trust most people until the evidence suggests otherwise about any. That is why James and Ward’s straw man is such an outlandish proposition! We can get out of bed everyday without the crushing blow of testing every claim!
    Therefore, directed evolution is an oxymoronic obscurantism! Francisco Jose Ayala have no evidence then for their God,because without intent, no argument for Him has validity!
    After thousands of years, supernaturalists giving no evidence for Him and as Victor Stenger notes whee mountains of evidence should exist and in line with Charles Moore’s auto-epistemic rule, absence of evidence is indeed evidence of absence and no argument from ignorance! Therefore, by analysis instead of having to traverse the Cosmos or having omniscience ourselves we gnu atheists do delcare no God exist! Evidence against Him is hardly dogmatism!
    Aren’t advanced theologians so jocular?
    Folks, go after theology to show how it is so stupid! This is where I differ from Clinton Richard Dawkins! Both the theology and the arguments fail!
    http://lordgriggs1947.wordpress.com
    http://buy-bulll.posterous.com

  15. Posted October 9, 2011 at 7:02 am | Permalink

    Ayal
    a and others have… no God exists..
    will to believe mean
    http://buy-bull.posterous.com


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  1. […] up with the latest drama bombs exploding in my own blogosphere. Upon catching up, I noticed a few posts (that are, obviously, a couple days old) going on again about the Adam and Eve or Original […]

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