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Author Topic: What's the difference?
AI Wessex
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OK, this is a serious thread topic, though I'm sure some people will feel insulted by it. Anyhow...

What's the difference between a pagan or other primitive believer in a supernatural system about the nature and order of the universe and a Christian where both believe that the supermoon eclipse that will happen tomorrow night augers the end times, a major disaster in the Middle East, or retribution on the world for its moral failings?

I ask because the Mormon leadership has issued a statement advising anxious LDS members that the church leadership does not support the belief that this is proof and advent of the endtimes, and that various other Christian pastors have said it augers exactly that. You can find all sorts of stories about such premonitions and warnings on the Internet if you choose to look into it.

I have yet to hear that an atheist or Muslim or Jewish cleric believe that.

I will certainly understand (and largely agree) if you argue that those people who believe such nonsense are whackos, but bear in mind that almost every revelation about divine intervention and guidance could similarly be called into question.

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hobsen
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In Russell Moore's Southern Baptist view Jesus will appear in the sky to the east (east of where? Jerusalem?) riding a flying horse. In the Norse canon Odin is swallowed whole by the wolf Fenrir - and dies. Probably I could not tell Jesus on horseback from Fenrir, but that just means I need a new pair of glasses. Your younger eyes should have little difficulty.
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DJQuag
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Probably no surprise coming from me, but I don't see a difference between the two, Al.
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Rafi
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Interesting that in light of the ongoing conversation of hating Christians, we see a thread dedicated to it (albeit in a passive aggressive way).

Atheists many times have environmentalism as their religion, replete with doomsday scenarios and retribution for moral failings. This partucliar religion has all the trappings, demands, premonitions and warnings of any other faith and they've proven about as accurate.

Islam has an entire faction dedicated to actively bringing about Armageddon and are killing thousands to do it. How have you not heard about that?

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AI Wessex
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quote:
Interesting that in light of the ongoing conversation of hating Christians, we see a thread dedicated to it (albeit in a passive aggressive way).
I understand that some people are uncomfortable talking about some aspects of deeply held beliefs. But I think there is room on Ornery for people to question underpinnings or implications of such things without feeling that they are being personally attacked. If you or others are not comfortable with this kind of approach, I encourage you to not participate.
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JoshuaD
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quote:
What's the difference between a pagan or other primitive believer in a supernatural system about the nature and order of the universe and a Christian where both believe that the supermoon eclipse that will happen tomorrow night augers the end times, a major disaster in the Middle East, or retribution on the world for its moral failings?
I don't understand spending any time at all thinking about dumb Christians. It's like spending time debunking people who poorly understand science. It has got nothing to do with anything.
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AI Wessex
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Yet they influence culture and our laws in different ways. They are a part of your life even if you never have to personally deal with someone else's "dumb" views.
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D.W.
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I'm just sitting here wondering how I never noticed atheism has its own "end times" stories. [Smile]
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JoshuaD
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quote:
Originally posted by AI Wessex:
Yet they influence culture and our laws in different ways. They are a part of your life even if you never have to personally deal with someone else's "dumb" views.

Yea, and the best way to help remedy that problem isn't to say "Christianity is stupid" or "Christianity is like Paganism". They will just block you out. Instead, you can say "Hey look, your religion says something a little different than you think." and you can help bring them to the good ideas (which then don't do harm to our culture and laws).
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AI Wessex
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If it were that easy, wouldn't the false stories have already been corrected and those that believe in them have learned?

I think it's a facet of human nature that we give meaning to things, especially things we don't understand or are afraid of.

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Seriati
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quote:
Originally posted by AI Wessex:
Yet they influence culture and our laws in different ways. They are a part of your life even if you never have to personally deal with someone else's "dumb" views.

Do they? Name the end of days Christian who is influencing our culture or laws? Or is this once again, find a dumb Christian or Republican and pretend their views are mainstream and criticize a group that represents the majority of the people in the country day?
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Wayward Son
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quote:
Or is this once again, find a dumb Christian or Republican and pretend their views are mainstream and criticize a group that represents the majority of the people in the country day?
You know why it's hard to determine what Christians believe?

Because so much is done in their name that they don't support. [Big Grin]

I looked up the percentage of Christians that believe in evolution. Turns out that 86% or so belong to denominations that accept evolution. That's means only 14% or so actually believe in creationism. (This was confirmed by another survey, which showed only about 15% of Christians believe the Earth is only 6000 years old or so.) So we can state categorically that mainstream Christians believe in some form of evolution.

So who is trying to force creationism into our High School biology classes? [Wink]

Christians are not denouncing creationists, or at least not loudly enough. Christians are not denouncing those pushing for the absolute banning of abortion (including in cases of rape and incest). Christians are not denouncing teacher-lead prayers in schools. And those advocating them call themselves Christians.

And politicians are pandering to these Christians.

If Christians allow, even if they don't approve, these actions of fellow Christians, what is a non-Christian supposed to think? Especially those who do denounce these things? Should we consider them allies? Or are they aligned with those Christians who believe these things?

You keep telling me that, if you knew more, you'd know that Christians are not like those radicals that are routinely interviewed by the news media. But we're not hearing that side. We're not hearing the major pastors denouncing other pastors. We hear--quiet.

The Bible says that those who are not for God are against God, and those who are not against God are for God. But where do mainstream Christians stand on women's rights, helping the poor, the right of women to control their own bodies, the teaching of science, and such? Are mainstream Christians for or against these things?

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AI Wessex
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Seriati:
quote:
Do they? Name the end of days Christian who is influencing our culture or laws?
You are unfamiliar with the role of the Rapture in Christian mythology? One of the most basic tenets that Christians believe in is the Second Coming of Christ.

To get a taste of how people with beliefs in Creationism and End Times influence politics and politicians, start by looking at the Value Voters Summit speakers and organizers from this past weekend. There's more than enough in their agenda and speaker list to answer you.

Begin with Tony Perkins, the leader of the Family Research Council and organizer/host of the VVS to get a taste of the general tone of the meeting:
quote:
“[W]hile it is true that the United States of America was founded on the sacred principle of religious freedom for all, that liberty was never intended to exalt other religions to the level that Christianity holds in our country’s heritage…. Our Founders … would have found utterly incredible the idea that all religions, including paganism, be treated with equal deference.”
His VP, Jerry Boykin, who shares his views, was United States Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence under George Bush for 5 years.

Jonathan Cahn is a Christian Pastor who addressed the Summit this weekend. His theme is that 9/11 was brought by the US onto itself because of its sinning ways. He missed his mark with his recent prediction that this past September 13 was supposed to be the "day of God's reckoning".

Todd Starnes, a frequent commentator on FOX News also spoke at the VVS. He believes that the recent SC approval of SSM is a signal that the End of Days is near.

Other speakers echoed similar themes.

Among Presidential candidates, Ben Carson, who is now tied with Trump in some recent polls as a leading candidate for the GOP nomination, is a 7th Day Adventist. As an article of faith he believes in literal 6-day Creationism. SDA "leaders" routinely make false predictions of the rapture.

Marco Rubio is a regular at Christ Fellowship services, a ministry known for denial of evolution, performing exorcisms and the Rapture.

Ted Cruz and his father deserve a whole thread for their craziness, but for this post I'll just point out that his father believes in a unique form of the rapture and that Ted has gratefully received his father's anointment to unite the country under the Dominionist banner.

Let's not forget Michelle Bachmann, who won the Iowa Straw Poll in 2011. She thanked Obama for his policies this past April because they are hastening the End Times.

There's plenty more, but that should satisfy your skepticism about how End of Days/Rapture believers are bringing heavy influence to the GOP and in turn how the candidates view the state of things.

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AI Wessex
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Too late to edit, but to clarify that the Tony Perkins quote is from previous remarks. I prefaced the comments made at the VVS with his POV since he sets the agenda and speaker list.
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kmbboots
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quote:
Originally posted by Wayward Son:


Christians are not denouncing creationists, or at least not loudly enough. Christians are not denouncing those pushing for the absolute banning of abortion (including in cases of rape and incest). Christians are not denouncing teacher-lead prayers in schools. And those advocating them call themselves Christians.


Of course we do.
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NobleHunter
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It's just that reasonable Christians don't do loud as well. And, for that matter, are specifically enjoined against being loudly Christian.
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Wayward Son
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So I guess what we have to do is when someone hates Christians or loves Christians, disparages Christians or praises Christians, speaks about Christian weaknesses or Christian values, we need to remind them to specify which Christians.

Because the only thing Christians all seem to agree on is that they are following Christ. (Just don't ask them what Christ is like or what He believes... [Smile] )

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kmbboots
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quote:
Originally posted by NobleHunter:
It's just that reasonable Christians don't do loud as well. And, for that matter, are specifically enjoined against being loudly Christian.

And most of us don't do it with "I"M A CHRISTIAN!!!!" emblazoned on our t-shirts.
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NobleHunter
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Careful Wayward, you're getting awfully close to an argument about Greek prepositions. [Razz]
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AI Wessex
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The original intent of this thread was to try to explore the difference between belief that governs public policy and empirical evidence that contradicts it. The End of Days spectacle is an obvious example, because it was being played out as I wrote the opening post.

Other belief-based positions are actually more important, since few people on either side of most issues are thinking about long-term consequences of policy decisions being made today. I suppose End-of-Day believers have a good reason for not worrying about the day after tomorrow, but global warming action supporters can't get even people who agree with them to rise up as the evangelicals do about even minor issues when they know their children's and grandchildren's lives will be significantly affected unless we act now.

I'll put a few belief vs. empirical evidence topics out for comment, if anyone is interested. No thread on Ornery has ever succeeded on these issues in the 10 years I've been reading and posting without believers becoming offended by criticism from either believers or non-believers who want to understand this phenomenon better. I'm hoping this (the nth) time will be the charm.

1. Evolution vs. divine creation
2. Global warming skepticism vs. adherence
3. Divine vs. secular law in society
4. Absolute vs. relative morality (and ethics)

Take your pick, but please don't post if you feel offended, aggrieved, victimized or otherwise denigrated by talking about these things.

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D.W.
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Not sure I see the connection between your first post and this question but...

All but item #2 seems like short discussions. The phenomenon boils down to two things as I see it. The first is conflicting views about what a person needs to be mentally healthy and behave in a socially acceptable manner. To many this includes faith or religion. That we “need” a higher power or authority to tell us what is right and offer rewards or threaten punishment beyond what we are willing or capable of doing through secular society. Some honestly believe that people cannot be moral (not be anti-social) without this outside influence. They may believe this either through their conclusions of human psychology or their religious beliefs.

The second part is that if you believe that faith or religion is required for a healthy society then the desire of religions to survive, maintain and gain influence makes a lot of sense. Or spread the word, convert or educate or what have you if “gain influence” sounds too calculated.

Item #2, to me at least, has always seemed purely economical. It is natural to “reject” data which, if accepted, demands a significant change in your way of life. In this case, a significant change in level of comfort/convenience.

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Fenring
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quote:
Originally posted by AI Wessex:
The original intent of this thread was to try to explore the difference between belief that governs public policy and empirical evidence that contradicts it. The End of Days spectacle is an obvious example, because it was being played out as I wrote the opening post.

Most relevant government policy - ranging from foreign policy to corporate allegiance - has nothing to do with the wishes of anyone in the population. Multiple reports have been released stating that the U.S. barely qualifies as a democracy right now, and that the will of the people has little impact on the running of the nation. In light of this I find the topic thread largely vacuous and a red herring

That being said there are disagreements among American people about moral and ontological things, and having large disagreements is what America is about. The goal of a democracy isn't the achieve consensus, but rather to achieve a system of representation of beliefs that is equitable and just. It's not the 'job' of a democracy to ensure that everyone has the correct opinions, although to be sure in a corrupt democracy political parties will influence public opinion against its own good. That is the fault of the system, not of religion.

quote:

1. Evolution vs. divine creation

This is actually something of false dilemma since many groups (including the Vatican) believe in evolution as it involves diverging away from a starting form (natural selection + adaptation), but they don't believe that species can increase in complexity purely from the process of mutation and selection. That being said, no serious national policy in America is based on whether evolution as it's taught is correct or not.

quote:
2. Global warming skepticism vs. adherence
The term "adherence" is interesting, because it implies that the options are to reject the theory, or else to fall in line and obey. I know this isn't actually what scientists intend, which makes it all the more sad that this topic was branded as a partisan issue. It doesn't help that the boy has cried wolf many times over the years about various global crises, and if this time it's based on something real it will be sad if people don't listen.

quote:
3. Divine vs. secular law in society
Is there any divine law in society? Many secular laws are certainly based on a religious cultural background, but is this point a reference to the religious freedom laws we are seeing now? If so that is not "divine law" but is rather an attempt to prevent the state dictating a person's morality to them.

quote:
4. Absolute vs. relative morality (and ethics)
It is factually true that moral realism is either correct or incorrect. We don't know the answer yet and while we can propose reasons why we think it may be true or not, we can't demonstrate it yet. At present it seems that most people who take a position on this choose their side based on what they would like to be true. "I don't want to be judged by someone else, therefore I reject that there is an absolute basis for judgement," or "I want to be able to tell people what's right and what's wrong, therefore I assert that there is a fixed basis for right and wrong." But only one side is really correct, since if ontological moral realism is a fact (e.g. the Platonic forms exist) then disputing it would be equivalent to denying the laws of physics. Note that supernatural or extra-universal matter is not required for moral realism to be true.

[ September 29, 2015, 12:09 PM: Message edited by: Fenring ]

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AI Wessex
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quote:
Some honestly believe that people cannot be moral (not be anti-social) without this outside influence.
Would you be willing to call this need for a morality source an appeal to an authority figure? Why can't we get along without it?
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AI Wessex
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quote:
In light of this I find the topic thread largely vacuous and a red herring
But you then go on to comment at length...
quote:
That being said, no serious national policy in America is based on whether evolution as it's taught is correct or not.
Rather than say that's not true, I'll say that you can't prove that it is true. We've had some seriously religious Presidents over the years, but I don't think any were explicitly asked how evolution factored into their thinking on policy.
quote:
If so that is not "divine law" but is rather an attempt to prevent the state dictating a person's morality to them.
How is refusing to allow a gay couple to marry just the state dictating the denier's morality? They aren't being asked to marry someone of their same sex. Kim Davis clearly is driving the car from the back seat by denying others what the law says she must allow them to do if they wish.
quote:
It is factually true that moral realism is either correct or incorrect. We don't know the answer yet and while we can propose reasons why we think it may be true or not, we can't demonstrate it yet. At present it seems that most people who take a position on this choose their side based on what they would like to be true. "I don't want to be judged by someone else, therefore I reject that there is an absolute basis for judgement," or "I want to be able to tell people what's right and what's wrong, therefore I assert that there is a fixed basis for right and wrong." But only one side is really correct, since if ontological moral realism is a fact (e.g. the Platonic forms exist) then disputing it would be equivalent to denying the laws of physics. Note that supernatural or extra-universal matter is not required for moral realism to be true.
I think this argument is full of holes. To suppose that because one side of this "argument" can't prove they're right doesn't necessarily mean that the other side is still wrong. For instance, creationists insist that those who doubt their belief *are* wrong, and yet there is virtually no physical evidence to back up either their claim to be right or others who claim they are wrong. Those who don't believe in creationism can in fact provide plenty of evidence that creationists are unable to disprove, but which they dismiss.

Your comment about absolute moral realism and Platonism is interesting to me because we *do* know that the brain favors certain constructions reflecting reality and not others. For instance, I'll ask if you believe that there is a platonic ideal for language? If you'll answer that question, I'll likely have others.

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Fenring
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Al if you don't understand the debate between realism and nominalism then just say so. Also bringing up Kim Davis as your example is a terrible straw man.
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D.W.
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quote:
Originally posted by AI Wessex:
quote:
Some honestly believe that people cannot be moral (not be anti-social) without this outside influence.
Would you be willing to call this need for a morality source an appeal to an authority figure? Why can't we get along without it?
1: Yes.
2: Depends a lot on who "we" is.

I believe any individual can do without morality anchored in religion and still be moral if raised that way. In fact, other than a tiny minority, I think we are hard wired for empathy which predisposes us to morality. I think we are taught tribalism, and certainly religion, which tend to distort us from being judged moral by outsiders (objectively moral) and instead measure our own morality by the judgment of insiders. (subjectively moral)

If you are asking however if we would be in total anarchy if for some reason everyone woke up tomorrow believing all religion was just a lie? Then yes, I believe things would go to crazy town.

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AI Wessex
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quote:
If you are asking however if we would be in total anarchy if for some reason everyone woke up tomorrow believing all religion was just a lie? Then yes, I believe things would go to crazy town.
Because those who need it would have no sense of right/wrong, I suppose?
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D.W.
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I don't think it's not having a sense of "right/wrong". I think it would be more of suddenly being skeptical of why you were taught something was right or something was wrong. If it wasn't the divine, some uncorruptable force setting out those guidelines then who's pawn was I? And for what reason?

Some would bounce back after that. Some wouldn't. Either result would be chaotic and more so depending on how closely tied the individual's faith was to their identity.

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AI Wessex
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I imagine that the bigger issue would be the loss of certainty of where one fits into the world. I'm not disagreeing with you, btw...
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Fenring
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quote:
Originally posted by AI Wessex:
I imagine that the bigger issue would be the loss of certainty of where one fits into the world. I'm not disagreeing with you, btw...

Yeah, I can only imagine what would happen if this was the norm. /s
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scifibum
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quote:
Originally posted by D.W.:
I don't think it's not having a sense of "right/wrong". I think it would be more of suddenly being skeptical of why you were taught something was right or something was wrong. If it wasn't the divine, some uncorruptable force setting out those guidelines then who's pawn was I? And for what reason?

Some would bounce back after that. Some wouldn't. Either result would be chaotic and more so depending on how closely tied the individual's faith was to their identity.

I think there's a bigger backlash in systems where moral and religious authority is tied to actual power and governmental authority (and not least because such systems tend to be a bit on the repressive side). Perhaps this tracks with how much the individual identity ties in to the religion, but the difference between "I'm never going to church again and I'm having more and different sex going forward" and "I'm setting **** on fire" may be the difference between secular government and sharia.
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D.W.
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I think it ties into how "fair" someone believes society is to them. People will put up with a lot of oppression and hardship if they believe that the next life is going to be better or that they are being "tested by God" or that some divine being loves them and their oppressors will get what's coming to them in the next life if not this one.

Whether your sense of justice bridges the gap of death does a lot to define you. I think a lot of what people today tolerate would be intolerable if they suddenly stopped believing in an afterlife and the divine.

Thank God that those who establish religions set up safety nets to avoid such an event. [Wink]

Then again my mother told me she is an atheist who doesn't believe in any kind of afterlife awhile back. Other than being a bit frivolous with cash she doesn't seem to act differently than most people.

So I'm likely just typing to entertain myself...

[ September 29, 2015, 04:33 PM: Message edited by: D.W. ]

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Seriati
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quote:
Originally posted by Wayward Son:
quote:
Or is this once again, find a dumb Christian or Republican and pretend their views are mainstream and criticize a group that represents the majority of the people in the country day?
You know why it's hard to determine what Christians believe?
Because you'd rather postulate about what "Christians" believe on topics unrelated to their religion than ask them?

It may surprise you know that there are many many political topics (in fact pretty all of them) on which Christian churches don't actually have messages.
quote:
Because so much is done in their name that they don't support. [Big Grin]
What does it mean that the Teacher's Union supports a candidate? Do you believe that means that every teacher has to support them? That teacher's can't vote for the other guy? That every teacher who isn't a supporter is obligated to publically announce their own contrary vote?
quote:
I looked up the percentage of Christians that believe in evolution. Turns out that 86% or so belong to denominations that accept evolution. That's means only 14% or so actually believe in creationism. (This was confirmed by another survey, which showed only about 15% of Christians believe the Earth is only 6000 years old or so.) So we can state categorically that mainstream Christians believe in some form of evolution.

So who is trying to force creationism into our High School biology classes? [Wink]

What kind of analysis is that?
quote:
Christians are not denouncing creationists, or at least not loudly enough.
I'm willing to bet that the MAJORITY of people opposing (denouncing is a really odd choice of words by the way) Creationism are in fact Christians. It's just statistically the most likely occurrence given Demographics. I think the problem is you believe they have some kind of special duty to do so "as a Christian" or somehow to add a tenant to their faith in support of evolution. A Religion is not the same thing as a political group.

There's a lot of anti-Christian bigotry on this site. Straw-manning Christians is not okay.

And KMBoots, it's not the far right version of Christianity that is being discussed, its the far left strawman version of it that's under discussion. Plenty do be offended by on doctrinal matters with extremists, but most of these political arguments are about efforts to disallow or dehumanize the beliefs of religious people not about actual efforts to impose those beliefs on anyone.

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TomDavidson
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quote:
There's a lot of anti-Christian bigotry on this site.
Can you cite an example?
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Wayward Son
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quote:
Because you'd rather postulate about what "Christians" believe on topics unrelated to their religion than ask them?

It may surprise you know that there are many many political topics (in fact pretty all of them) on which Christian churches don't actually have messages.

Which Christians, Seriati? Which Christians?

Because there are groups of self-professed Christians who are quite vocal about these topics, and who are quite willing to call anyone who disagrees a CINO (Christian In Name Only). [Smile]

And they are getting the ears of politicians, including (perhaps especially) Presidential candidates.

So when it comes to politics--to illegalizing abortion, to making it illegal for Planned Parenthood to use Federal monies, to prayer in school--in other words, to issues that affect people outside the faith directly--these other Christians you speak of don't count.

Because they are not demanding their politicians to leave these issues alone. They are voting out those who are pushing these issues. And they are not getting politicians to kowtow to them like these other, vocal, influential, Conservative Christians.

So while you may believe that a majority of Christians don't believe or care about these issues, the face of Christianity in this country does. And people are not going to go and try to find out what "real" Christians do and believe because it "really" doesn't matter. As far as how Christianity is changing this country, as far as the direction Christianity is moving this country, they don't count. They are allowing, if not encouraging, these Christians to do what they want.

Perhaps these political Christians don't represent real Christianity in this country. But they are real, and they are the ones that are in our faces and who we have to deal with.

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D.W.
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FWIW when I generalize about Christians it's through the lens of my Roman Catholic upbringing and exposure to some Baptists along the way and seeing the quite varied belief and behavior within my own family/friends/acquaintances who are believers or were raised within the religion.

I expect some of the things I've said, and will say, here could be seen as bigotry. Straw-manning however implies an intent to deceive / willfully distort doesn't it?

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AI Wessex
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Similar request to you: cite an example of "straw-manning" Christian beliefs. So far, even though there is no attack on Christians, the response from Seriati (and you?) is that because the nature of belief and its relation to public policy are questioned, that those things are therefore an attack.
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D.W.
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quote:
Similar request to you:
Me or Wayward? I didn't suggest there were examples here. I in fact was atempting to disqualify statements which may have been thrown in that basket.
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AI Wessex
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Sorry, Seriati did, and I thought you were echoing him. Tom has already asked him for an example of anti-Christian bigotry, which he apparently thinks is being expressed through strawmen:
quote:
There's a lot of anti-Christian bigotry on this site. Straw-manning Christians is not okay.

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D.W.
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What I was getting at is I'm often critical of Christianity. I don't feel I have, and am not sure I have recognized from others, straw-manning of Christians.

Generalizing based on exposure is NOT straw-manning as I see it. It's not "fair" necessarily but that is different than being intentionally dishonest or misleading to win an argument.

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