Monday, June 19, 2006

"Hm" and wide, "hm" and wide...

Two big things happened in the Anglican/Episcopal church yesterday.

New Hampshire consecrated a gay bishop. The article I link to quotes Anglican church leaders bemoaning Gene Robinson's consecration as "tear[ing] at the fabric of our communion at its deepest level."

Also yesterday, the Episcopal church elected Katherine Jefferts Schori as the presiding bishop for the United States. Rev. Jefferts Schori will be one of only three women serving as bishop of an Anglican province (the Anglican Communion is comprised of 38 provinces). A priest in the article is quoted as stating he is shocked an saddened by her election.

As a Christian and an Episcopalian, it saddens and frustrates me that culturally-ingrained sexual mores have so overtaken and overpowered the church that its true message is obscured. Here's a newsflash: there's no such thing as a perfect Christian. Every priest and every parishioner sins multiple times a day. Leaving aside the debate of whether things like fornication and homosexuality are even sins at all, why do conservative church leaders treat them as though they're the only sins that matter? What about the greed, pride, and hypocrisy that run rampant in most conservative churches (at least, most conservative churches of which I've been a member)? As Jesus said, it's time to ignore the mote in your brother's eye and take care of the beam in your own. Even *if* conservative leaders are correct, and homosexuality is a sin, and priests should not lead homosexual lifestyles -- so what? Doesn't the Bible say that all things work together for GOOD for those who love God and are called according to his purpose? (Hint: it does). Maybe instead of worrying about the theological dogma that divides us, we should be focusing on the message of salvation which unites us.

But I guess that would mean humbling ourselves and allowing God to work through other imperfect vessels instead of praying loudly in public and thanking God that you are such a "good" Christian who is not like those sinners. Silly me.



At June 19, 2006 at 2:23 PM, Blogger SisterMcCoy said...

Hopefully Bishop Jefferts Schori will be able to move the church away from its obsession with sex and gender and on the the things that really matter to God.

At June 20, 2006 at 3:05 PM, Blogger The Law Fairy said...

Thanks for commenting, Sister! I, too, hope that our new bishop does good things for the church. The church is sorely in need of sensible leadership.

At June 20, 2006 at 4:28 PM, Blogger Lazerlou said...

"Leaving aside the debate of whether things like fornication and homosexuality are even sins at all"

I did not realize this was much of a debate. I realize they aren't made a big deal in the Bible, but as far as I can tell, there is no doubt that both are sins according to the Bible.

I do find it strange that you would pick and choose between which aspects of institutionalized organized religion you support and which you do not. It really should be an all or nothing game if you are going to believe in any such far-fetched stories in the first place. Including the intense misogyny found in the Bible.

Let's not forget Job got twice as many sons but daughters that were twice as beautiful as a reward for his faith.

You really think whatever God is, he cares about what humans do and don't do? You really think we are made in his image?

At June 20, 2006 at 7:31 PM, Blogger The Law Fairy said...

Lou, thanks for visiting.

I'm not sure if I see your point. Is the problem that I'm not a stereotypical right-wing Christian, or is it that I'm a Christian at all?

It actually is a debate, Lou. The problem with the Bible is that the Bible that we currently have is not the direct from-His-mouth word of God. It was "inspired" by him and transcribed through imperfect humans -- all of them men (although there are non-canonical texts composed by women. Surprisingly enough, the all-male Council of Nicaea excluded them all from the authoritative canon).

I don't "pick and choose" aspects of orgnized religion -- my religious philosophy is pretty consistent with many Episcopalian churches. I don't think that divine revelation is limited to the black letter of Scripture (King James version or otherwise). I believe that love and humility are key aspects -- far more key than divisive dogma that we probably all get wrong in one way or another.

I'm not sure what you're getting at with your all or nothing statement -- you're referring, I take it, to a literalist Evangelical interpretation of the Bible. Evangelical fundamentalists, though they may be the most vocal Christians in the country, do not make up even a majority of Christians. In fact, it is one of my pet peeves when people associate "Christians" with Evangelicals. We are WAY the fuck more diverse than that.

Is the last comment meant to get a rise out of me? I don't get it. Yes, obviously I think God cares about humans. I mean, duh. That's kind of a non-negotiable of Christianity.

At June 21, 2006 at 11:16 AM, Blogger DarthImmortal said...


This is an awesome post and you have raised interesting points. The most important thing is to believe in God, everything else is incidental. The definition of an anti-Christ is one who speaks for Christ. So why do all of these idiots insist on speaking for Him.

Leave judgment in the hands of God and worry about keeping yourself free from sin. Amen

At June 21, 2006 at 11:42 AM, Blogger Lazerlou said...

Hmm, so there are non-negotiables?
What is your criteria for non-negotiability?

Must you believe in the immaculate conception and that Jesus was the son of God?

Must you believe in original sin? If so must you believe in the story of adam and eve?

Must you believe in Heaven? Must you believe that Jesus Christ died for your sin on the cross to enter heaven?

Must you believe that those who do not believe Jesus was the son of god are destined for eternal hellfire?

Just curious.

I believe in love and humility and compassion and classical judeo-christian values (and doing so requires much faith) however, I don't have a vision of God as one with intent and anger and the other anthropomorphic qualities early civilizations gave to him, which so many rational human being still cling to, and which provide the bases for exclusion and ultimately war.

The silly stories are why so many are dying today. My anthropomorphic god is better than yours and requires us to believe X to be a part of his kingdom.

At June 21, 2006 at 12:29 PM, Blogger The Law Fairy said...

darth, thanks! I really wish more people were level-headed about it.

lou, the non-negotiables are the things that, without which, someone couldn't really be considered a "Christian." It means you believe in sin, you believe in Jesus, and you believe that his death and resurrection paid the penalty for sin. If you don't believe these things, then it really doesn't make any sense to call yourself a Christian (and if you didn't believe these things, it's likely you wouldn't want to call yourself one).

The other things you mention are mostly doctrinal and different denominations have different takes on them. My personal beliefs about all those different issues aren't really relevant here.

lou, I haven't called anything you believe "silly" and I think it's unfair and rude of you to call some of my deeply-held beliefs "silly," particularly when you don't even know what many of those beliefs are. I have no problem with you disagreeing with me or disbelieving the things I believe; indeed, I would argue until I'm blue in the fact that you should have the right to have different beliefs. But using childish names to address my basic *worldview* is incredibly disrespectful.

People die because of entropy. People fight because of greed and pride. That they dress it up as "religion" does not mean that underneath it there is anything about death or violence inherently and exclusively tied to religion. People will always find something to kill each other over.

At June 21, 2006 at 12:53 PM, Blogger Michele said...

I don't know if you saw, but I recently posted something about a so-called church protesting at funerals as a result of their hatred of homosexuals. This is infuriating! I am with Darth, believing in God is the most important; second in importance is human decency - 'love thy neighbor' ring a bell? Do your best to live without sin and love others as if they do...God will deal with the rest.

At June 21, 2006 at 1:11 PM, Blogger Lazerlou said...

Law Fairy,

You didn't finish. Do you believe I will be damned if I don't believe Christ was the son of God?
And all muslisms too?

To me, the idea of God coming down and impregnating a woman to bear a child he will kill to save the rest of humanity's souls is downright silly. Sorry, if that is what you believ and if it is an old an excepted religious story. It doesn't make it any less silly.

And I think, given the world stage and who is running our country and who we are fighting against directly implicates religion in death and war.

Fundamentalists islamists want us dead and to convert us to their god. George Bush is a evangelical who believes that Jews must get to Israel before the rapture can happen. I'm glad you have reconciled your religious beliefs with the death it casues, but that certainly does not mean religion is not to blame.

And why Christianity and not Hinduism? Because you were brought up that way? I should respect all unquestion institutions no matter what damage they cause?

Just curious. But do tell if you think tunbelievers will go to hell, or are heaven and hell also negotiable?

At June 21, 2006 at 2:22 PM, Blogger The Law Fairy said...

missy, that's horrendous. People like that lead to extremists on the other side, like lou, who won't shut up until everyone with religious beliefs is silenced.

lou, that brings me to you. You are of course welcome to comment here but I am not sure why you are here, other than to tell me I should not be a Christian. You're not going to change my mind by ridiculing me, I promise. But feel free to continue to act like an arrogant prick. I'm done arguing with you, as there is no point to it.

At June 21, 2006 at 2:39 PM, Blogger Lazerlou said...


I just am curious. I'm not being a prick or being arrogant by asking questions, even if I'm making you uncomfortable.

You are obviously well edcuated and are a compassionate thinker. I did not mean to stir your anxiety, and I was hardly being prickish.

I just want to know what you believe becasue it helps me understand how it is people who are rational in 99% of their lives can decide to submit themselves to the irrational authority of organized religion.

And I think beliving that others who don't belive as you do will suffer eternal hellfire probably undermines whatever compassion you do have in real life for those different from you, so I want to know if you belive this, if hell for those who don't believe in Christ is a "non-negotiable"

You should not have so much discomfort in explaining your religious faith, and I'm hardly being arrogant or ridiculing you. I'm just curious. Really, I am.

At June 21, 2006 at 3:34 PM, Blogger The Law Fairy said...

Well, then I apologize, lou. I will admit to being touchy about this subject, so I ask your forgiveness for over-reacting.

The problem is not that I am uncomfortable; it is that I am frustrated that I have to justify my beliefs to people who don't understand them. I don't go out and proselytize, so I don't understand what more people want. I am content to let people believe whatever they like as long as they don't try to outlaw birth control, or make women dress differently, or eliminate prescription drugs from the market, or whatever.

And while you may not be arrogant or prickish, your underlying attitude still evidences a fundamental misunderstanding about religion that I run into almost every day, and I hope you'll understand that trying to justify myself to complete strangers can feel a bit like hitting my head against a brick wall repeatedly. I hope you'll forgive my resistance to putting my beliefs on trial, yet again.

Here is the problem: faith isn't rational. This is *not* an argument against it. Everyone has faith in something, but most people who pride themselves on being "rational" pretend that they have a basis for everything they believe. There's nothing wrong with admitting that you don't have a rational basis for something. While the Enlightenment did a lot of good for society, it's also poisoned and indoctrinated us into a cult of scientism. We're taught to believe that we have precisely five reliable senses. This has never been proven, it's merely been observed, and you cannot trust observation.

No, I don't live my life as though nothing exists, or as though the law of gravity will just up and quit tomorrow. But unlike most people, I am willing and able to accept the fact that my existence is neither under my control nor subject to my understanding. The problem with most intelligent, educated people is that they can't handle this. So they resort to ridiculing those who can reconcile the rational and realistic portions of their minds.

I don't know what happens to unbelievers. I have no idea how that would have anything to do with feeling compassion for them. If you think there's an important link, by all means, lay it out.

Again, I'm sorry if it seems like I'm reacting hostile-ly. It's just that I have had this conversation dozens of times and it never ever ever goes anywhere but people expressing their awe that someone "so intelligent" could believe the things I do. It's not a compliment, it's a slap in the face. I've never said to someone "you're so articulate for a black person!" or "you're so pretty for a lesbian." I'm not a walking contradiction and I resent people telling me that I am simply because they Do Not Know Me. Look, if you are my shrink perhaps you might know what you are talking about. But otherwise, I don't really need to listen to strangers telling me that they understand me better than I understand myself.

At June 21, 2006 at 4:11 PM, Blogger Lazerlou said...

I understand there are limits to reason, and what faith is. Real scientists do not believe science explains or can explain everything. I believe in God, I'm just not willing to say what he is or who he is or what he wants us to belive and to do. The same was true for Einstein, so lets not bash those of us who reconcile reason and faith.

But there is certainly a difference beween having faith that small blue invisible cats rule the universe from the tree outside my house, and having faith in human decency and goodness.

faith is necessary when reason fails, and reason fails all the time and necessarily so. I have faith, but is it faith in love, which is impossible to justify completely from an ethical standpoint.

Faith should provide you the last step to make it over to the other side, it can't and shouldn't catapult you over to the other side in place of reason.

If you want a great secualr theory of faith, you should read a man named Eric Fromm. He explains the difference between irational and rational sources of faith much better than I do.

The battle of faith in my mind is the battle between Marx an Nietzche, whether it is better to be the blond beast, to embrace egotism and indiviudality, to rise above the weak and their morals to flourish as an individual, or whether compassion and love and humility are the best way to live. I can get about 99% of the way to justifying as a rational, ethical matter a life of humility, love and compassion, but the last 1% does require faith.

having faith in love and human decency and goodness is a *rational faith* founded in rational sources of authority, namely human experience. Beliving stories about sacrificed sons, walking on water, and immaculate conceptions is the exact same thing believing gravity can stop tomorrow. I'd hate to burst your bubble, but I don't see much of a difference, other than popularity.

But you refuse to answer my #1 curiosity. Do you believe in eternal afterlife? In heaven and hell? You say you don't know what happens to unbelievers, but do you have know what will happen to you and other believers after death?
Is the only path to heaven by accepting that Jesus Christ is the son of God and died for our sins?

At June 21, 2006 at 4:53 PM, Blogger The Law Fairy said...

lou, I guess I'm not sure why you care. Curiosity is one thing, but when you couple curiosity with what I can only term dismissiveness, it begs the question of what you're trying to prove or find out.

Yes, I believe in an afterlife. I believe in heaven, I sort of believe in hell but I don't know how it works. I think faith in Jesus is required. Is that satisfactory or should I also detail whether I believe in harps and pitchforks? Again, I'm just failing to see the point of your curiosity. Who gives a rat's ass what I believe?

There are eyewitness accounts of Jesus walking on water, etc. Relying on historical texts is no more ridiculous than believing in a modern scientist's interpretation of the fossil record (NO I will not engage you in a debate about evolution, because I don't give two shits what happened and I don't have strong beliefs one way or the other).

Why do you believe in human decency and goodness? I believe in the capacity to do good things but I don't believe for a second that people are inherently good. No one had to teach me to be selfish. I think it's our moral obligation to strive to be good, but we're not naturally inclined to do it. That's what makes life difficult, and THAT is why we have wars and death and killing. Blaming it on organized religion is a cop-out and a way to avoid dealing with the very real HUMAN problems that each and every person has. We are all capable, every last one of us, of all kinds of atrocities given the "right" impetus. We're also capable of overcoming our shortcomings, which is OUR obligation. Many people find that religion helps them to accomplish this. It is ludicrous to dismiss religious faith, which has led to so much good, because others twist it to cover their own misdeeds.

My faith is no less "rational" than yours, and calling your faith rational does not make it so. My faith has been tested and tried by life, and by relying on my sense and experiences I have determined that, yes, I do believe in God and I do make the informed choice to be a Christian. If you refuse to acknowledge the validity of that choice I really don't see the point in trying to persuade you.

At June 21, 2006 at 5:38 PM, Blogger Lazerlou said...

Oh you couldn't persuade me. That is for sure.

Eye witness accounts of walking on water? Indeed.

"Relying on historical texts is no more ridiculous than believing in a modern scientist's interpretation of the fossil record."

No, no that is false. As the evidence for the fossil record can be beheld and understood and tested by you and me. The eyewitness account? Not so much. Unless you've seen some walking on water yourself.

Not much respect for the scientific method or your senses huh? I'm guess you don't have a backgroud in hard science either?

There is no disputing evolution if you have any knowledge of genetics. There is no disputing the fossil record if you understand carbon dating. None. I'm not going to argue with you about this, I'm just going to promise you that is the truth and sugegst to you to make yuorself comfortable with the evidence. OUr understanding of evolution doesn't explain everything, but what we know has been proven beyond any scientific doubt. the world is without a doubt older than 6000 years, and chimps and humans do have common anscestors.

I agree with most of what you said about human capacity for sin and violence and war. Its just that the right impetus does seem to be over and over again, religious difference.

I disagree that some faith is less rational than other faith. Again, faith should not catapult you over reason, it should augment it.

I'm just curious about people like you, that is all. It is all for my knowledge. Thank you for being honest. And thank you for being a decent Christian who understands that Jesus was a man of love and compassion, and not hate and fear.

At June 21, 2006 at 5:43 PM, Blogger Lazerlou said...

"I am willing and able to accept the fact that my existence is neither under my control nor subject to my understanding."

I hope you don't belive this to be absolutely true. You have free will. It is bounded but you have LOTS of control. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. And You certainly can and do understand plenty about your existence. You understand a hell of a lot more than people did 2000 years ago, that is for sure. You should feel empowered by knowledge, not threatened by what you still don't know and don't understand.

At June 21, 2006 at 5:55 PM, Blogger The Law Fairy said...

"has been proven beyond any scientific doubt."

"I'm just curious about people like you"

Jesus Christ, lou. Do you see why I don't like getting into this? You're just saying ridiculous things. I'm sick of this. NOTHING is proven beyond any scientific doubt. You don't need *any* kind of degree to understand that.

I am not a science experiment. I'm a person with a different belief system than yours. How is it that people always complain about religious proselytes when the secular proselytes are just as bad, if not worse??

How do you know that I understand more than people 2000 years ago, if historical records aren't all that reliable? I guess they're only reliable when they fit with the particular point you're trying to make.

I don't feel threatened by what we'll term "knowledge" for purposes of simplicity. I just get irritated with pointless arguments. I've coming away from this feeling exhausted and like I've hit my head against a brick wall yet again. You don't seem to have gained any real understanding about me and you see me as a curious oddity. I hope you've enjoyed staring. I'm going home now.

At June 21, 2006 at 9:11 PM, Blogger lakhawk said...

Allow me to suggest some reading that would help you understand how intelligent people can believe in Jesus. That way you can satisfy your curiousity without further infuriating Law Fairy. Start with The Case For Christ by Lee Strobel, followed by his The Case For Faith. It should help you avoid confusing the dogmatic orthodox with thoughtful committed Christians in the future.

At June 21, 2006 at 9:34 PM, Blogger Lazerlou said...

Well you certainly are willing to use the lord's name in vain! I guess that whole ten commandments thing is one of the negotiables.

There is plenty we know beyond a scientific doubt. I really have have no idea what you are talking about.

You know the world is round, rather than flat. How about that one? People 2000 years ago did not.
I mean we can split and fuse atoms now. Or should I introduce you to pictures of Hiroshima?

I'll leave you alone. I know you are not a science experiment. I just like to know how it is super educated religious people reconcile reason with faith. Always been curious. I'm also curous how liberal Chritsians deal with the fact that in the end, they believe many of people they are compassionate to are destined for eternal hellfire.

I'll read your book if you read "Why I am not a Christian" by Bertrand Russell.

At June 21, 2006 at 10:20 PM, Anonymous Leif said...


As to Bishop Robinson, it is not that fornication and homosexual conduct are the only things that are "important." It is that the official position of the Anglican Church is that those behaviors are sinful, yet Robinson embraces them and can even be considered to be boastful about his engagement of them. It is the theological equivalent of allowing an openly unrepentant thief to be ordained or consecrated - one does not condone and embrace sin (or one's inherent predisposition to sin, if homosexuality is innate (which would make it no different than other inherently sinful desires)). Whether you agree with the characterization or not, the Epistles and the Old Testament, fairly read, are clear that the behaviors are sinful, and that is the Anglican Communion's official position. Were they to change that position, I suspect there would be less of an outcry over Robinson's consecration (and, not coincidentally, a much larger corresponding abandonment of the Anglican Church proper for offshoots of varying independence or inter-communion, probably seceding by Province).

Based on the CNN article you linked to, opposition to Bishop Schori's election appears twofold: opposition to her vote to ordain Bp. Robinson and opposition to the Communion's decision to change its policy 40 years ago regarding the ordination of women. The first makes some theological sense; the second is . . . well, not irredentism, but certainly based more on arguments from tradition and the deviance therefrom than on church doctrine. Though you may disagree with those bases, they are not irrational, based as they are in Scripture, tradition, and doctrine.

So, uh, rah, Episcopalianism, I guess.

At June 22, 2006 at 5:41 AM, Blogger Michele said...

There are so many things that I would like to say, but I do agree that it would feel like I am beating my head against a wall. The bottom line is that in my mind, faith is what gets me through the tough times and helps me celebrate the good ones. If you choose, Lou, to not believe that then that's fine. But, please, STOP harassing anyone who you feel is intelligent despite the fact that he/she is religious. I am an educated woman who believes in Jesus Christ/a loving God. Scientists can't prove that He doesn't exist and neither can you.

At June 22, 2006 at 10:08 AM, Blogger The Law Fairy said...

Hi Leif! Thanks for commenting :)

You raise a fair enough point. As a matter of official church doctrine, you're correct -- I guess that I personally find it hard to tow the party line any longer in that respect. I agree that there are many passages in Scripture that could reasonably be interpreted as condemning homosexuality and fornication as sins -- but in my mind these conflict with a lot of other things you see in the Bible. For instance, David and Solomon were sex fiends -- but the only time God appears to really rebuke them is for other things, e.g., David for murdering Uriah, Solomon for idolatry, etc.

So I guess what I'm saying is I don't think the doctrines themselves are irrational, though I do think they're wrongheaded; rather, I think the church is irrational for clinging to them so strongly at the expense of its message. At the very least I think it's clear from the Bible that God works through avowed sinners. I think it's also clear that the important, key things for Christians loving God with all our hearts, minds, soul, and strength, and loving our neighbors as ourselves. In my mind, not allowing for the possibility that one might be wrong is a symptom of pride, rather than moral tenacity. So I guess I would just like to see a less divisive consideration of the issues. But then, I am an idealist at heart, much as I am loathe to let her out ;)

Missy, thank you. Very well put indeed :)

At June 22, 2006 at 10:20 AM, Blogger Drewcatt said...

Wow Lou...

First, I'm as devout an atheist as anyone (yay faith in rationality and reason), and a firm beleiver in evolution (and the evidence that supports it), but Lou, walk easy man.

You can't say out of one side of your mouth that your curious, then ridicule the responses you get from the person and faith you're curious about. You can't engage in discussion half the time, and chide your opponent the other half. It doesn't work that way... this isn't politics.

For what its worth, Law Fairy, you have something I had and lost, faith in a higher power, and for that I'm a little envious. But another time for that. Better yet, you seem to know what and why you beleive. If there were more people out there that thought about their faith, and how to use their faith ina constructive manner, the world would be a much better place.

At June 22, 2006 at 4:34 PM, Blogger Lazerlou said...

Y'all are way too sensitive about this stuff.

I'm only curious at the lines that you draw in accepting religious dogma and institutions. You question certain aspects of traditional institutional Christianity (based on empirical observation and self examination that is consistent with scientific method)
yet you embrace others as essential, including that you must believe Jesus was the son of god and savior of man through his suffering and sacrifice.

It is fascinating to me how one goes about distinguishing which aspects of the institution should be subject to scrutiny.

And Scientists can't prove that Jesus/God doesn't exist as much as they can't prove small blue invisible cats rule the Universe from that tree outside my window.

Don't be so defensive.If your going to be a person of faith, have some. you shouldn't be beating your heads against the wall beceuse a skeptic is merely asking you questions about the lines you draw with respect to institution.

Again though, you can still believe in Jesus' message, and it still requires faith, and you will have the same struggles for righteousness, without believing he was the son of God.

That is basically what I do, and I am only wanting to know why law fairy draws lines where she does.

It is hard to find people of faith with even the capacity, let alone the willingness to discuss their beliefs.

At June 22, 2006 at 5:47 PM, Blogger The Law Fairy said...

Thanks, drew. It is reassuring to know there are thoughtful atheists out there who respect my right to be a thoughtful Christian.

Lou, you may find it difficult to find people willing to talk religion with you because you have an agenda. You pretend that you are curious but it is clear that you don't respect a life of faith. I'm not trying to make you live the way I do; you owe me the basic decency and respect not to try to make me live like you. True curiosity does not involve using words like "silly" to refer to others' beliefs. You're not curious; you're prejudiced.

At June 23, 2006 at 9:58 AM, Blogger Lazerlou said...

I clearly do respect a life of faith, but not those that require these extraordinary irrational leaps. It is one thing to believe in the essence of Christ's teachings, which certainly requires faith itself. He is one of the great humanists. It is quite another to believe he is the son of God and that those who do not believe will not be rewarded like those who do. That sort of thinking has many negative real world consequences.

My asking you, as a rational, educated person, how it is you justify the paticular belief system you have chosen (which is likely the same as your parents and their parents before them, one that is likely contingent on family history and cuture more than anything), is not out of line.

If you are going to blog about the topic of the evolution of religious doctrine you should be able to discuss it.

"I'm not trying to make you live the way I do; you owe me the basic decency and respect not to try to make me live like you."

Oh really, how so? I owe you nothing of the sort. If I am trying to convince you to abandon the highly institutioalized and culturally contingent religious doctrine that clouds your obviously loving nature and humanistic beliefs and am doing so by trying to appeal to reason (you know, the same thing that has provided us with solid facts into the nature of the universe, and which has provided us with indoor plumbing, air travel, proper nutition and antibiotics taboot, and all you have is blind faith to convince me to choose your fanciful stories over say, the Hindu ones, perhaps you are just avoiding the fight all together, because you know, as a rational erson, it is one you can't win.

And outside of your inviting this discussion by writing about these topics expilictily or implicitly on your blog, I might note that while you don't proselytize, other belivers that Christ is the son of God are some of the worst.

You need to have some more courage to defend your faith if you are going to write about it. Crying foul before a discussion has even begun is a cop out.

At June 23, 2006 at 11:06 AM, Blogger Drewcatt said...

To but in once again...

Lou, I think the problem here is that you're seeking something that is nearly impossible.

You admit, on one hand, that the leap of faith required to go from beleiving in the essence of Christ's teachings, to beleiving that he was the some of God is irrational.

You then turn around and ask LF to go about explaining what you've already termed an irrational way of thinking... what everyone else, and you, would probably just call a 'leap of faith'.

Maybe I'm missing something, and if I am, feel free to correct me, but as it stands now you want LF to somehow explain away a glaring irrationality... something which very few people have every managed to adequately do.

Religion... beleif, requires faith. For many beleif is enough. They know that there is someone that cares and looks out for them, and for many that is enough. You may not like it, but it's probably closer to the truth than any thought out explanation for it.

The very act of having faith requires the type of logical leap that otherwise defies explanation. And now you want that very thing explained in all its nitty gritty.

I'm not going to say that you're being pompous, or that you're getting on a high-horse, or that you're trying to convery anyone, preach or anything. But you're asking LF to work through a contradiciton that you setup yourself (and is inherent in these types of discussions)... and that's unfair.

At June 23, 2006 at 11:27 AM, Blogger Lazerlou said...

It's not so absolute Drew. Some leaps of faith are much larger than others. You can support arguments for faith, and particular kinds of faith and people do it all the time. Read Fear and Trembling by Kierkegaard, for instance, or my personal favorite, The Art of Loving by Eric Fromm. He does a great job at distinguishing bewteeen faith based on and supported by reason and introspection, and faith based only on irrational authority.

Like I said, faith should take you to a belief by providing the last step that reason or ethcis cannot make. It should not catapult you over reason and science to a belief that can be damaging to humanity by factionalizing it based on differing mythology.

At June 23, 2006 at 12:41 PM, Anonymous Leif said...

Ah, yes, Lou, the famed "rational basis" test of human spirituality. It worked so well when Notre Dame was converted into the Temple of Reason; when Marx derided religion as the opiate of the masses; and when Lenin, Mao, and Stalin and their acolytes enforced "scientific socialism" against the irrational masses below them.

"LF is smart; therefore, she should be a secular humanist." The leap of faith you take to make this conclusion is at least as astounding as the leap you contend Christian believers have made. LF raises doubts about a temporal heirarchy governing a community of believers; you demand she defend her allegiance to a spiritual Truth. This entire argument is based out of some bizarre agenda on your part to proselytize LF, her readers, and her commenters into "converting" to your beliefs, because, apparently, some "other belivers [sic] that Christ is the son of God are some of the worst [proselytizers]." Bravo for your playground "fair-is-fair" bravado.

LF raised a point about her disagreement with a church doctrine and emphasis on that doctrine to the [perceived] exclusion of Christianity's central message. Your response is to attack her belief in God ("You really think whatever God is, he cares about what humans do and don't do?"), her belief in Jesus' divinity and the virgin incarnation ("silly"), her general belief system ("mythology"), and her candor and sense of decorum when she expresses no further desire to engage you.

You are an immature provacateur, and a cloying, self-satisfied one at that. Return thence to your dank underbridge, and let the others debate minus your gleeful feet on the table.

At June 23, 2006 at 2:19 PM, Blogger Lazerlou said...

I guess we need a few hunderd more post enlightenment years for people to begin to feel comfortable discussing these issues. The institutions are so entrenched and still have such a hold over people you get attacked for questioning someone who only doubts religious dogma to what amounts to an arbitrary point.

I don' think it is an attack to wonder why someone would believe God meddles in human affairs. I mean its all over the Bible, so it seems strange God just stopped appearing as burning bushes.

I'm not saying either that educated people must be secular humanists, either. Eistein certainly wasn't, nor am I.

Nor is it an attack to wonder why someone chose a particular religion over another and to point out the cultural and historical factors at work that go into a person's "choice" of belief systems.

Nor is it an attack to call the story of the immaculate conception a silly one. I think it is by any objective standard. You are just way too used to it. God impregnating a woman to have a child to be sacrificed? Silly indeed.

Y'all are WAY too defensive. You have no idea what an attack is if you think my questioning of law fairy is an attack. Have some courage to question yourselves and be questioned by others, or else you give support to the idea that it is just an opiate of the fearful masses.

At June 23, 2006 at 7:25 PM, Anonymous Leif said...

"I'm not an asshole; you're all just cowards."

Thanks for playing, Lou. We're done here.

At June 23, 2006 at 8:36 PM, Blogger Drewcatt said...

It's not a matter of absolutes Lou... not at all. You're right, some leaps of faith are bigger than others.

What you seem to be saying (and once again, correct me if I'm wrong) is that faith should only work in one fashion... "faith should take you to a belief by providing the last step that reason or ethics cannot make. It shouldn't catapult you over reason and science..."

By mechanically limiting what faith is, you limit the boundaries in which anyone can even begin to answer the questions you pose. In other words, in order for any response by LF or any religious person to make sense to you, the answer must meet a certain criteria not based so much on actual reason, as it is by what you think the answer should be.

LF gives you an answer, and you tell her that it simply isn't good enough because you say so.

Now this might be justified. As you've mentioned, a lot of evil, damaging things have been done in the name of God, gods, Allah, Jehovah (or reigion), and why people do those things should be subject to a very high level of scrutiny. However, it's easy to misinterpret 'attack' and 'defense' when you ask someone to complete a race, but set the finish out of sight, out of experience, and out of the realm of distinct possibility. If you want an answer to a question, then you need to make sure that an answer is possible.

As should be clear by now my concern, and it's been since I've entered this discussion, is that in framing the debate as you have you're denying yourself the ability to accept LF's response. I doubt anything she told you could be good enough for you.

You asked her to explain to you the reasoning behind her faith, but tell her that, before she even responds, that it's irrational.

Just to be clear though, I'll give you my own take on faith (not having read any of the authors you have this may be a bit un-nuanced):

Faith is the concept that something is, even in the face of a lack of compelling supporting evidence. I think what you're looking for is more akin to beleif, which I think of as having a more reasoned grounding. To illustrate the point, some people have faith that a higher power exists, though there is no way to test or prove that faith. On the other hand, we all have a belief in gravity based in scientific understanding.

Or more informally (I hope you like sports), Cubs' fans have faith in the Cubs (though they're utter crap), while White Sox fans beleive that their team can win the World Series (they did it last year, and the team got better to boot).

The difference is marked by a reliance on emotion as per intellect (which is where I'm thinking you have a serious problem... you beleive that the faith in religion can be reached via reasoning, whereas I don't think it can (regardless of how much you think about it). There is no rational faith as far as I can tell.

To get back lastly to attacking and being defensive. You called the story of the immaculate conception a silly one earlier. I agree with you, it is. But let's get something straight here. For someone that beleives in the conception, and the story, you calling it silly is a slap in the face. There's a difference between making the statement, "That's silly", and asking someone to justify their belief, or their opinion. You obviously know the difference as well, as you note, it's not an attack to ask someone a question (even if it may be disrespectful, unfair, etc.). The problem here is that interspersed between your questions are little gems like:

I just want to know what you believe becasue it helps me understand how it is people who are rational in 99% of their lives can decide to submit themselves to the irrational authority of organized religion.

You want to ask questions of people, participate in a good and lively debate, ridicule them, question their courage, AND tell them that the basis of their faith is silly, all at the same time. It may not be an attack, but surely you can see how it would be taken that way?

Holy crap on a stick Batman... that got long.

At June 24, 2006 at 8:56 AM, Blogger Lazerlou said...

I guess we aren't done here. Sorry Leif. Maybe work on your cheek turning and humility?

Drew, I attempt to limit faith, but not, as you suggest, to the point of one conclusion. My only criteria is that faith should not contradict reason and/or science and/or common sense human experience. That is all. It proscribes having faith in talking burning bushes and walking on water and hot nights of God sex. It certainly doesn't have to be actively informed by reason or lead to particular conclusions.

My desire to know how someone who thinks well and is educated justifies submission to irrational authority is genuine. I am mystified by it and often wonder what motivates people. Unfortuneatley the answer remains fear and inability to transcend indoctrination from an early age - I was just hoping for some kind of other explanation on this blog. But I do not mean to upset, even though my style does.

"Few people are capable of expressing with equanimity opinions which differ from the prejudices of their social environment. Most people are even incapable of forming such opinions."

-Albert Einstein

"My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble mind"

-Albert Einstein

"Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind."

-Albert Einstein

"Save me Jebus."

-Homer Simpson


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