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March 2, 2014 / compassioninpolitics

More comparison between Atheism and Christianity

Faith is required (risk, leaning in, being vulnerable….soaking in the mystery and relationship with God). God isn’t there to baby us….he’s there to nurture us and get out of the way. He’s like a mommy bird….but he’s not on the extremes of a helicopter parent.

In His opinion this best preserves free choice….and requires faith, conviction, and relationship to develop.

God created the reason for you to think in that way in the first place. Sam Harris is telling you ethics pretty much don’t exist…along with a slew of other atheists in order to main the consistency of the assumptive edifice that is scientism. You have Stephen Hawking, who knows science, but not philosophy or what meaning or purpose would look like if it hit him over the head. Stephen you wrote a book….you like to teach people about the aspects of science you like…..thats purpose and meaning…..whether its limited or misguided is another question. But I believe deep down you know you have meaning and purpose and know that ethics are important. And atheists seem to want to have it both ways….everything is relative…but science. The truth is probably somewhere near the middle. And the idea of a “free thinking” atheists destroying the possibility of choice through the ideology of determinism seems beyond absurd to me. You can’t stake out a consistent or coherent position on any of these issues.

At least God:
1) invented the basis of ethics (purpose and meaning) by inventing goal directed humans
2) Gods elimination of certain peoples was because they were evil–and he was saving innocents in the future and from other countries from those people. He was acting with a utilitarian calculous even on a physical scale……and we won’t even mention the spiritual one (2 hours of pain versus a lifetime in hell).


As a critical thinker…..I’m sure you’re good at comparison and contrast between the differences.

1) The existence of other people named James has nothing to do with you.
2) The existence of other people who grew up near you….has almost nothing to do with you.
3) Or for instance the injunction that all writers are the same or all teachers are the same or even all philosophers are the same.
4) I’m sure you are smart enough to distinguish between a Christopher Marlow and a Shakespeare.

If you throw away these important distinctions….you throw away your ability to do any kind of critical thinking. I don’t know any real philosopher or any real historian who would muddy up the waters and suggest that there are just no distinctions.

People voted with their feet. Pick a president you like….and contrast versus Ross Perot. They are distinctively different.

In terms of this specific contrast:
They aren’t philosophically similar
The results aren’t similar
The Bible is a unique document that stands at the center of history.
Jesus is an even more unique person who stands at the center of history.

Comparison and contrast solves the supposed lack of distinction you try to outline.

And lets be quite honest….this “there all the same” is a tactic of manipulation, propaganda, fear, and guilt by association–its not a legitimate form of analysis that would pass mustard in a court room or a classroom for that matter.

I’ve never liked history much because of the memorizing dates thing….but once the preconceptions and myths about history left, it became far more interesting. I think you have to give the sheer artistry of the Bible a chance.I realize thats a bit of a foreign concept….but the notion of learning to appreciate it in the sense that its comparably better artistically most any other book in history. To me, that distinction–that remarkableness–that signals that its not some evolutionary fluke….it stands out as unique. It weaves together (ie multiple Old Testament prophesies of Jesus).

Determinism denies the entire possibility of being rational–if its all just squirts of chemicals. You’re not writing this….you’re just experiencing various squirts of chemicals that are writing this for you. Not a very tenable or coherent worldview for someone who wants to espouse the dignity of humans or the idea of human freedom and choice….and even rationality…..or anything else that humans want to care about.

I like the idea that I can use both sides of my brain when creating things.

RE: Ethics. I think you are missing the point.
If we define God by who he is–He clearly pre-dated the stone age people you refer to–and He created them.

I think we can agree that the New Testament ethical system is uniquely different from those ethical systems of old.

Well, you can research each of those in turn and see how they measure up. Obviously if you start with biased research…you are going to get potentially biases answers. So, its challenging.

The historical Jesus seems to hege against the Torah. And to me the person of Jesus as sacrificial and walked in human flesh is a partial answer to the problems of suffering. Being tortured and whipped, and dying on the cross is certainly profound suffering and sacrifice. All the problems that Atheist lodge at Christians seem most challenging for Jews & the other religions. Jesus’ notion of forgiveness as well as the level of freedom from tradition that we get from Galatians is pretty impressive. (theres a whole genre of literature on notion of Christian liberty and discernment).

I honestly haven’t studied Hinduism, but to the extent of the challenges in India, I would suggest that its inaction on the massive, massive class divide seems to not be an answer to the human condition. We need to look no further than Matthew 25 for an answer from a Christian perspective and Christian giving while imperfect, I believe is measured as just short of a billion.

I’ve been offering support all along. And you’ve all but conceded the problems of determinism and the physicalist interpretation of the universe. What does Accam’s razor get you…well it does get you science….but it also guts humanity of its most precious things–which if you see any movie that has a positive outlook on things are important. In fact, without purpose or meaning or a point to the story….movies don’t exist. The basis of story…..and the basis of history is purpose and meaning. So, if Hawking (Dawkins, Harris, et al) had paid attention to the overarching arc….or live enriching experiences around a family table….at Birthdays, Thanksgiving, the holidays……or even the remorseful times like funerals…..the importance of . When I was in high school I had an ethical code (founded on my Christianity)….but I was basically seeking happiness in relationships. I tried to ignore, suppress, or otherwise not talk about the pain….but our bodies and lives can’t live stories like that. Our bodies and lives as systems….as systems need…..relationship….they need honest, empathetic, and giving relationship. Walling ourselves off from humanity or human experience or human touch isn’t a viable option. Over time I’ve changed from being exteriorly focused… inwardly focused. We have to move beyond rationality as mode of operation to include a more holistic view of human beings….human knowledge and human understanding. You can get science and you can get spreadsheets and math…..but you can entirely miss the bubbling up of human potential, emotion, and experience. I don’t want to miss that experience–I am more than skin, bones, cells, and chemistry–I act with deliberation and intention….and with passion and mission and conviction and purpose. Any philosophy or worldview which can’t get that–doesn’t get me–doesn’t get humanity–and leaves something very much to be desired.


Both sides do this. If we are going to abstract this away from the content itself…its no worse than compulsory education.

Also, if you spot that God did make us….it follows that parents are doing the right thing.

Plus, I don’t see the problem with telling kids a bunch of parables that helps them live better lives–lives that are more loving and giving…..and beyond simple instrumental calculation. Ethics and humanity is more than bean counting.

But science is designed to never see certain stuff. Its like looking at the world through a micro-scope and hoping to get another view–it won’t happen. For instance, the Atomists of Aristotle’s time bare significant resemblance to physicalists of this generation. However, by picking the frame to examine and not seeing other frames and other perspectives….the attempt at objective viewpoint leaves us with an impoverished view in certain contexts…..i.e. the personal, relational, subjective, and ethical.

And remember its not information that has value in the abstract….its only when insights are really combined and mixed up and fused…that they really have value. Its only ideas with purpose that ultimately get anywhere. Wisdom is the ground for data and rationality. Analysis and abstraction alone are limited tools that only gain their value when combined with a fuller, comprehensive, and multi-dimensional toolset.

I guess its not so much Okhams razor intrinsically, but physicalism combined with the worldview of scientism. If you think about the discipline of science as a circle….things that fall both inside and outside generally get lopped off. This means we label those things non-science. Its like zipping up your suitcase with things in and out…..and not caring…..or closing the subway door without caring.

Don’t get me wrong….Okhams razor or the boundary policing or demarcation is probably a more technical term in the literature…..but not acknowledging the context….or the degree to which scientific principles are at play is to ignore truth. And…the way its done…fails to see the way in which humans are integrated beings. We are clockwork and squishy…..we are living-breathing-organic and fount of idea, thought, innovation, question, and revolution. It may well be that part of the equation is chemistry….but to suggest the other don’t matter or are irrelevant or should be disregarded is simply. Defining away (or attempting to define away) our humanity….doesn’t make our humanity suddenly make our humanity go away.

The emotional and the non-physical are both intrinsic parts of the human experience. In fact, its the non-physical which often pushes us forward toward the next horizon, discovery, and innovation–with ideas, insights, creativity, and passion.

I just got out of a four month relationship in November. The one things I can tell you is Love isn’t 0s and 1s. I could sure attempt to assign numbers to the intensity–but those aren’t particularly meaningful.

If anything….Harris’ conclusions seem to suggest that early choices have big impacts and that some choices have spillover or cascading effects….which isn’t to say we don’t have choice or that choice doesn’t exist. Its just to say that we sometimes have choices with a lot of gravity–which we may or may not pay attention to.

When Christians mess up is not how you should judge Christians much less Christianity.
Our forefathers aren’t responsible for any backlash that has occurred against racial minorities. We generally consider those un-American. Plus, it was power and money and lack of love which were foundationally the issue in all those cases. Jesus is the answer to sin and temptation and Jesus is the answer to the problems and brokenness of the world. And Jesus is certainly the best answer to providing grace and forgiveness when our ego, perceptions, or priorities get out of check. Jesus helps us see each other as humans and helps slay the idols that control us in trapped situations and addictions.

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