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tolerance?(47 posts)

Jun 26, 2002 6:58 AM
A thread below about stopping a plane for prayer made think, who are the most tolerant and intolerant people on Earth? Who tolerates different views the most and least?

I'm no world traveler, so I'd like to hear perspectives from some who have.

Why, me of courseStarliner
Jun 26, 2002 7:55 AM
I am the most tolerant person on earth. Usually. Especially if there's a profit waiting ahead for me.
My vote for least goes to...cory
Jun 26, 2002 8:12 AM
Based on reaction to my newspaper column over more than 20 years, the least tolerant people I come in contact with regularly (bearing in mind that I haven't been to, say, Iraq) are self-described born-again fundamentalist Christians right here in the U.S. It's pretty hard to argue nuance with somebody who's absolutely convinced he got his instructions personally from God.
On a global scale (again bearing in mind my innocence regarding fundy Islam), I'd say maybe the Japanese in their home country, but that strikes me as more an overweening confidence and serene parochialism than actual intolerance.
My vote for least goes to...PaulCL
Jun 26, 2002 8:49 AM
I have to agree with you on the fundamentalist christians. I have some in my extended family. A discussion based on merit or facts is impossible. All of their beliefs depend upon their particular church's interpretation of the Bible. It's difficult to have a frank conversation when someone believes that every single move they make is dictated by a higher power. They are absolutely intolerant of other ideas or opinions.

AS you may guess, I take great pleasure being the token "heathen" in my family.
you could say the same of any ultra right or left group (nm)ColnagoFE
Jun 26, 2002 8:55 AM
It's true of anyone who thinks they know the answer. nmLen J
Jun 26, 2002 9:07 AM
Intolerance SweepstakesJon Billheimer
Jun 26, 2002 9:13 AM
I think the Taliban and Wahabbi Muslims have to be right up there, way ahead of Christian fundamentalists.
I was sort thinking about big groups, countries, etc. nmDougSloan
Jun 26, 2002 9:50 AM
No, Taliban types...Wayne
Jun 26, 2002 12:55 PM
and fundamentalist Christians are the same, we're just lucky that the Christian fundamentalists live in a country that won't tolerate the oppressive laws that they would like to implement. Clearly some have no problem putting a bullet a person's head they just can't drag them out to a soccer stadium to do it!
As the other poster said it's hard to be tolerant when you know you have the answer and God gave it to you.
That's a serious insult and gross overgernalization (nm)Kristin
Jun 26, 2002 1:23 PM
Yes, perhaps it was too much ofWayne
Jun 27, 2002 3:39 AM
a gross generalization, but if you don't see that the Taliban is to Islam what Christian fundamentalism is to mainstream christianity than I fear you won't (or didn't) get a very good score on your SAT. They both represent extreme cases of beliefs that aren't held by the "mainstream" of either of their respective religions.
SAT question:DougSloan
Jun 27, 2002 6:28 AM
SAT test question (pick the one BEST answer):

Islam is to Taliban, as Christianity is to:

A. Fundamentalists
B. Ku Klux Klan
C. Nazis
D. Catholics
D. Baptists
That's easy...its D. Baptists...its always the baptistsKristin
Jun 27, 2002 7:26 AM
Just offense intended.
(cough) nazis... Right?sctri
Jun 27, 2002 8:40 AM
That was what you were going for doug?
That their aryian race was not only white, but christian, and that is the same loose connection that people have taken with Islam and the Talaban. Just like the nazis, they were lousy people, and they were going to be lousy no matter what book they read, or how they adressed their God.
I am not too familiar with the Koran, but i doubt that it states, "tho shalt oppress thy women..." but similary the bible is "interpreted" to justify whatever individuals believe anyways...
Its not a chicken and egg thing... hatred was first, the bible was good intentioned, but now its used to justify all kinds of stuff...

Now see that's a hard one...Wayne
Jun 27, 2002 8:57 AM
because you want to say Nazis because they killed people much like Taliban but really Nazism was a nationalistic/ethnic movement not a movement based on religion. They used religion to justify some of their beliefs but really it was about being German (or Aryan in their mythology) not being Christian. Ku Klux Klan was also about racism with religion used as justification. So I'm going to stick with Fundamentalism because it represents the extreme of the mainstream christianity, like Taliban represents the extreme of mainstream Islam. (Wouldn't alot of baptist church's also be fundamentalists?)

Do I get credit?
sorry, minus 5 pointsDougSloan
Jun 27, 2002 9:06 AM
From what I understand, the Taliban use religion as an excuse to kill and oppress. That is a key feature of that group. You cannot say the same about fundamentalists in general, whereas you can about Nazi's or the KKK. I think Nazi's is the best answer. They, in part, used religion, or opposition to a religion, Judaism, as an excuse to kill many people and control others. They had a common goal to rid the Earth of those they deemed lesser than them.

By contrast, the vast, overwhelming majority of fundamentalists are extremely peaceful, loving people, and have never harmed nor advocated harm of anyone.

Jun 26, 2002 3:59 PM
Ironically, that's about the most intolerant and prejudiced thing I've read in a while.

I'll give you prejudiced but intolerant?Wayne
Jun 27, 2002 3:34 AM
I didn't say I would do anything about it, in fact I would stand up for the rights of any religious group to believe whatever they want, and do whatever they want until it infringes on the rights of others to live their lives as they see fit. But it is christian religious fundamentalists who have shot abortion doctors (and anybody else standing in the way), and I'll give you 100 to 1 odds that it was christian religious fundamentalists who made death threats to the judge and person who brought the case in the recent pledge of allegiance ruling.
but the whole group?DougSloan
Jun 27, 2002 5:50 AM
There are millions of Christian "fundamentalists" in this country. How many have committed violent acts opposing abortion? 10? What you've done is pick out a few instances of bad conduct and labelled a whole group, which you obviously don't like, in an effort to make them all appear bad. That's no different than being racist, except maybe it's more acceptable in your circles.

This is off track, and I certainly don't agree with vigilante violance, but remember that these people's thinking is that doctors are murdering babies. Preventing murder of innocent people is justified. Now, I think their ends should be accomplished by legal means, but it's not quite as nutsy a concept as most make it out to be.

Yeah, it was a bit over the top...Wayne
Jun 27, 2002 6:18 AM
but I'm still unapologetically prejudiced against Christian fundamentalists because to have a mindset and view of existance to be categorized in that group means you hold beliefs that are antithetical to everything I believe. But I'm very tolerant, and wouldn't exclude a fundamentalist from being a friend if I got to know him/her and found them to be a person I liked. But I would prejudiced in the sense that I wouldn't go out of my way initially to be in this persons company because I couldn't imagine finding enough about them to like that I would want them as a friend and vise versa. My best friend and my mother-in-law are both great people but they're wackos when it comes to believing in new-age, spiritual mumbo jumbo, it doesn't mean I think any less of them as people. But as an objectivist I would say I'm also prejudiced against people that hold new-age, spiritual beliefs in the same sense as above.
word gamesMJ
Jun 27, 2002 8:47 AM
There are millions of Islamic "fundamentalists" in the world. How many have committed violent acts opposing something? 10? What you've done is pick out a few instances of bad conduct and labelled a whole group, which you obviously don't like, in an effort to make them all appear bad. That's no different than being racist, except maybe it's more acceptable in your circles.

This is off track, and I certainly don't agree with vigilante violance, but remember that these people's thinking is that the US/Israel is murdering their community. Preventing murder of innocent civilians in refugee camps and attacking the country that funds the oppressor is justified. Now, I think their ends should be accomplished by legal means, but it's not quite as nutsy a concept as most make it out to be.

any merit in the re-write?
not all 'fundamentalist' Christians are nutcasesweiwentg
Jun 26, 2002 10:16 PM
just as not all Muslims are Taliban prototypes. it's a bit bad of you to label all fundamentalist Christians that way. yes, they are a bit set in their ways, but not all of them go and shove them in people's faces. I know, because not so long ago I was one of them. the stereotype you describe - intolerant, fundamentalist Christians who push their views and offend everyone - only applies to a small segment of the population. unfortunately, some of these are highly visible (the religious right, which actively promotes its political agenda), and practically all Christians get tarnished with the same brush. sometimes, anyway.
Well said. That's exactly what I was thinking.Kristin
Jun 27, 2002 6:00 AM
Let me throw out a hypothetical.

Say that Jesus did really live (this can be substantiated), and that he was God (less "proovable"), and that he really did visit earth 2000 years ago. Lets also assume (just for now) that 4 gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John; are accurate accounts of Jesus' activity. I believe that a detailed and objective study of the gospels would reveal a Jesus who did not condon things like shooting abortion docs in the name of God. People can freely identify themselves with a certain religion; it doesn't mean they understand that religion.
You should read up on the "historical" jesus...Wayne
Jun 27, 2002 10:14 AM
you would probably find it very interesting. The guy we call Jesus undoubtably lived and achieved some prominence as one of many Jewish Messiahs, otherwise he wouldn't be mentioned in a couple of different histories and he wouldn't have gotten himself nailed to a cross as a rebel to the Roman (local Jewish, as well) government. Now the gospels are known not to have been written until late in the 1st century or 2nd century A.D. almost assuredly by people who didn't know Jesus. So you've got decades of oral tradition before they're written down so the best you can probably hope for are some kernals of truth about his actual life. Also they we're written over a span of decades and it's clear the audience for whom they were written changes. The early ones (sorry I don't know the order) are clearly written by Jews trying to convert other Jews to believe that this guy Jesus was the messiah that the old testament talks about. The last one or two are clearly written for/by a person who no longer considers himself a Jew but a christian and is trying to convert others (Greeks who I guess were still believing in their pantheon of Gods). Also Jesus' message was probably more militant early on (see story below) and after the diaspora of the Jews in 70 AD probably took a turn toward the gentle, meek shall inherit the world type stuff we know today (afterall the people consuming the story had just been utterly crushed and thrown to the 4 corners of the Roman empire). And that's why Christianity would become the dominant religion it did, it was the first to say you know life sucks, you ain't got shit here, but man you just wait, in the afterlife you're going to have it good, gold and wine, all that stuff just behave yourself while you're here on earth. I don't know how Islam spun off of the others was Mohummed a Jew? I always read that Islam worships the same god as the Jews and Christians, something I would like to learn about. I know they don't think Jesus was god but just another prophet like Mohommed which makes me think it came out of some kind of Judaism.
Example of how Jesus' followers changed the spin on a story:
We all know the turn the other cheek story told as a parable about non-violence, but that story is really one of defiance not exceptance of your lot-in-life.
In the class structure of the Roman world at the turn of the millenium a upper-class person would never back-hand an equal you would slap them with an open hand if your were going to strike your wife, child, a business partner (short of fisticuffs and an all out brawl). Backhands were what you gave to slaves and peons. Really what the story originally meant was turn the other cheek in the sense of turn the other cheek (the opposite of the one you would be backhanded on) so that your oppressor can strike you with an open hand because you're his equal! That's quite a different message than turn the other cheek so you can get clocked again!
Wayne, I have some thoughts on this, and a questionKristin
Jun 27, 2002 11:53 AM
I have a question for you. One that I would like you to read it with an open mind. To do that you will probably need to take a moment, draw a breath, and make a conscious choose to lay aside your initial preconceptions.

Have you ever allowed yourself to consider if there is a god? Any god? A being who is more powerful than humans and who exists outside of what we know as time and space, and who perhaps even made the earth? Have you ever considered that even though it seems ridiculous?

It is difficult for people to release the beliefs they cling to and consider all possibilities. Most people believe what they want to believe, rather than seeking the truth. This applies to most everyone on earth...Christians, Muslims, Pagans, Atheists, and Hindus... I can tell you that many, MANY Christians don't pursue true understanding of what they believe. They sit in their pews on Sunday and believe what their told. They read their devotionals and let everyone else do the thinking for them. The majority of Atheists and agnostics operate on the same level. They might sound more intelligent than some Christians; but only because what they read is written in that style. Most are merely repeating what they've heard or read.

I've been pursuing truth about the world and God for 17 years now. Admittedly, I lost a number of those years to the church pew--believing everything I was told. Eventually, enough contradictions were piled on, and my faith waivered. Finally, I began again to seek the truth about God-the real truth. With a FULLY open mind, I asked the hard questions. Is God REALLY real? Is this whole religion thing an illusion created by weak and frightened people? I was willing to allow myself to discover that God is not who I thought he was. I don't shy from difficult questions, and I don't take the teachings of others at face value any longer. Instead, I use the brain I've been given, the talents I possess and the tools at hand to research the truth. These days, I have more questions than answers; but I can tell you this, I am confident in what I have learned.

What you've written above is well said, but honestly, it sounds as if you're reiterating things you've heard along the way--things that support what you already believed. I can tell you for a fact that some of the information is inaccurate. I can demonstrate that John and Matthew were written by those men respectively. And that both were disciples of Jesus personally. Also, each book was started within 30 years (I believe) of Jesus death. All of the gospels were written directly by the men for whom they are named. John wrote his account while exiled on the island of Papros (sp?) -- there could not have been any "oral tradition in his case." Both Mark and Luke were disciples of Jesus' original 12 disciples. In fact, did you know that in order for a book to be included into the new testament, it has to stand up to rigorous historical tests? One of the tests is that the author must have either known Jesus personally or have known one of the original 12 disciples (actually 11). For instance, there are some very insightful writings by Barnabas, a disciple of Paul, that have been excluded because he is twice removed from Jesus.

Now, I have given you an overview of this one inaccurate thing you have been told. Of course, I am at work and don't have any references at hand. I will do some thorough research on the claims in your post, and respond to any inaccuracies I find with verifiable references. I mostly likely post a response on Monday morning. Till then have a good weekend!
Jun 28, 2002 4:17 AM
I am totally open minded but a skeptic (which means I reject faith as a legitimate means to knowledge). Of course God could exist, if we can imagine it it could be, but that's not germaine to whether or not we know he exists! I think even the greatest christian thinkers (Thomas Aquinis?) concluded that acceptance of God is entirely a matter of faith and if you're looking for proof via observational methods that we use to establish facts than you're going to be sorely disappointed! Tell me how you Know god exists.
As for my knowledge of early christianity it comes from a class I took in college about 10 years ago and a recent PBS documentary called, I think, "the historical Jesus". But I'll admit I could be wrong, you've inspired me though and I intend to get some books on the subject as well as early Islam.
One caveat, seems like you've read alot on this, be skeptical of what you read and look at the source! Book publishers have no standards for truth, they just need to sell copies! And I think you could see how this subject could be filled with bias. Make sure the people your reading are Ph.D's (for the most part) and/or publish in peer-reviewed historical journals and site the historical documents. Otherwise you may just be getting some guys opinion based on loose facts (which is what you got from me and I very well may be wrong!) or worse, his propaganda. In science you don't get away with bullshit, you might get away with it for awhile but eventually somebody will call you on it. The historical sciences aren't hard sciences but none the less they have methodologies that ensure the facts are as accurate as possible (of course the interpretation of the facts is where it gets interesting and very open to one's bias). There is a ton of junk science out there (in particular in archaeology and evolution) so you got to watch out.
More thoughtsDJB
Jun 28, 2002 8:18 AM
A good book to include in your research is 'The Case For Christ' by Lee Strobel. He talks to academics about some of the issues you mentioned in your previous post concerning when the Gospels were written, who wrote them and so on.

But instead of trying to convince you that the Bible is what we claim it to be, I want to ask a few questions based on something that hasn't really changed since those days -- human nature. (Some of this is also from Strobel's book).

1. How do you explain the actions of the Disciples? They watched their leader arrested, tried and put to death. Most of them scatter and hide out or go home. They must have been very disillusioned. But after 3 days, they claim to have seen Jesus in the flesh. Not just seen, but talked to, touched, ate with Him. So the Disciples go out and begin to spread that message. As you know, the Christian movement became a threat to the Jewish and Roman governments. So the Disciples were, over time, beaten, imprisoned and all but 1 eventually died a martyr's death. The important thing is that they weren't claiming to have heard a story or rumor about a resurrected Jesus, but personally witnessed Him. A lot of people might give their lives for something they believe is true, but would you give your life for something you knew was false? Do you think they would have been spared if they changed their story? Do you think the Jewish or Roman leaders would have trumpeted any such denial(s) from the rooftop? It might have stopped the Christian movement in its tracks.

2. Immediately after Jesus began to appearing to people (the Bible says hundreds), Jews began to convert in substantial numbers. This isn't a trivial thing. These people were giving up a whole way of life. Their whole identity was defined as being a Jew with all of its traditions and rituals. Unlike a Christian today turning to Islam or a new-age religion, it was probably more like an Amish person rejecting their way of life. In the Amish community, the result is a total shunning. Do you think they would have been doing this on total hearsay? Don't you think there must have been a lot of 'I saw Him with my own eyes?'

3. In regard to question 2, Nero began the persecution of Christians in 64 A.D. , (only 31 or so years after Jesus was crucified). This was still within the life span of many of those who claimed to be there in person. As with the Disciples, if people had been making the story up, don't you think there would have been a lot of denials once the persecution began? Not only persecution of themselves, but of their friends and family.

You asked Kristin how she knows God exists. It should be obvious that something like that can't be proven scientifically. Just as you can't prove God doesn't exist. Either way it's by faith.

So I'm left with circumstantial evidence like the above 3 questions.

Also, little thoughts like (just a few):

- the universe has a beginning point, unlike secular thought going back to Aristotle (including Darwin), that the universe was eternal and had always existed. Where did everything come from?

- the fossil record doesn't support gradual evolution as Darwin predicted (look up the 'Cambrian explosion' for example). This led Stephen Jay Gould to come up with his theory of 'Punctuated Equilibrium' to explain what archeology is finding.

- the 'engineering' of a cell is so infinitely more sophisticated than a scientist of Darwin's day would have believed. Even with a more simplistic view of cellular biology, Darwin originally grants the existence of a 'god' in order to get life started.

- male and female would have had to evolve on parallel tracks, one without the other, slowly developing a reproductive system. How did reproduction happen until that process was complete? For example, out of sheer luck, the first one-celled organism put itself together. It h
Dammit, I've got to get some work done...Wayne
Jun 28, 2002 9:48 AM
but this is far more entertaining. To your first three points:
1) You don't know what of that is true and what isn't, that's what I'm interested in, the facts! History as a "science" as we know it didn't exist in the ancient world, the gospels are propaganda (which doesn't exclude them from containing historical truths) trying to sell a savior. If you don't think over the 2000 years that led to few modifications here and there you're crazy. I'd like to know what the oldest copies of one of the gospels is (maybe 1000 yrs or so?), I bet in differs substantially from what's in the King James Bible.
2) People engage in irrational behavior everyday on this planet, I can probably find you 10 examples of people going to their graves because of something we view as totally irrational, that doesn't mean God exists. People are completely capable of self-delusion (just look at that Crossing Over show in the afternoons, a guy doing a magic trick and they think their talking to their dead relatives) and the disciples undoubtably believed Jesus was God, that doesn't mean the ressurrection story is true or that's why they believed maybe it was added later.
3) The Jews were ripe for a messiah, look at messianic movements, they always happen when a society is under extreme stress! Just think about the native americans and the Ghost Dance (I can't remember the Indians name that was the prophet).

As far as a beginning to the Universe, I don't know, that doesn't mean a God had to start it!

Evolution, please don't go there, you will lose and end up looking like a nut-case. The Catholic church recognizes evolution as viable theory to explain the history of life on earth. There is so much evidence from so many different fields in it's favor that it could rightly be called a fact. Punctuated equilibrium is a theory about the nature of evolution not about whether it occurs or not. Because you can't envision how complexity arose out of simplicity has no bearing on whether it could have occurred or not. Maybe God did start everything, how do you propose we test that. For me, I'll just say I don't Know.
the gospels today do differ significantly from originalweiwentg
Jun 28, 2002 10:38 AM
through the years, translations were made that reflected cultural biases. there is some evidence that Christian authors added to the Gospels material that was consistent with Christian belief. see and go to the section on Christianity. a very interesting site, and quite fair-minded. although in the end they do not believe in Christianity.
as for the bit about evolution, we're not all nutcases. I don't excuse sticking one's head in the sand, so to speak, on scientific matters. but consider this. consider Descartes' problem of knowing whether or not anything in this universe exists. the entire universe could be one very convincing, very consistent, masterfully done hallucination. you exist, but that's about all you can be sure of. I don't necessarily buy the rest of Descarte's reasoning, but if you don't, what then? there's a little element of faith in merely taking the universe for what it is.
Thanks, I'm really only interested in it...Wayne
Jun 28, 2002 11:44 AM
from a historical perspective and will check out the website. I've emailed a professor of medieval history who teaches a class called "history of Christianity" for a recommendation of a scholarly book that treats the history of jesus and the early church in a unbiased, secular manner. Aren't there a few other gospels beside the ones in the bible? I want to say the Gospel of Thomas, found in a cave in Egypt in the '50s? You gotta figure that every little Christian community in the eastern mediteranean had it's own gospels for the first couple of 100 yrs before the church was founded and organized stuff. What about gnosticism? wasn't that an alternative version of christianity that was snuffed out by the early catholics?

Yes, this could all be a hullicination, but evolution still explains the life part of it! Really, denying the basic tenets of evolutionary theory is nearly the equivalent of saying the earth is flat or that the sun rotates around the earth. I've seen the anti-evolution lit. it's filled with half-truths, misrepresentations and sometimes complete falsehoods. I've never seen a scientist publish anything on the existence of God! The claim that punctuated equilibrium somehow refutes evolution is a common one and is typical of the tactics of these people, and is laughable. Darwin talked about gradual change, maybe he was wrong, maybe (probably) it occurs in spurts often (were still talking 100k of years instead of millions of years here, not spurts as in a few generations). I mean the guy was working before we even new what genes were, it's remarkable actually how much he was right! So what, this is science not dogma, the reason science works is because you can test if something is true or false. The anti-evolution thing is very strange, I mean, you could get by just fine claiming the sun rotates around the earth, you could publish seeming inconsistencies as proof that astronomists don't know what they're talking about, etc. etc. Why? If ever there was a system of aquiring knowledge to have a little faith in, it's science. The proof is in the pudding, it works! We know more now about more different things than at any point in history.
Please realize that evolution and science in no way contradict a belief in god. They may contradict some literal interpretations of the bible but do you really beleive that the whole bible can be understood as a statement of fact? Lots of scientist including ones who work in evolutionary fields believe in God, lots of atheists don't have a clue about how science is done or what evolutionary theory means.

INTERVIEWER: What has the study of biology taught you about the Creator, Dr. Haldane?
HALDANE: I'm not sure, but He seems to be inordinately fond of beetles.

JBS Haldane, famous English evolutionary theorist (1892-1964)
I think you're reading more into my post than I put there...DJB
Jun 28, 2002 1:21 PM
First of all, I wasn't trying to 'prove' anything to you. I think I said that more than once.

To your responses:

1. I don't doubt or care if every word of a current translation of the Bible isn't exactly the way it was written thousands of years ago. I mean if you look at how Hebrew is written down (without vowels), you know that even Hebrew scholars debate the meaning of some of the words. For example, does the Bible mean the universe was created in 6 24 hour days, 6 periods of time, 6 eons? In any event, if the Bible is talking about something that God did, it's infinitely above me possibly understanding it.

I do believe, however, that the Bible still tells us what God wants us to know. In other words, it's still true.

2. I think you're missing my point about the Disciples. They didn't die just with a belief (Jesus is God), but also with a claim to have actually been there with Him after the crucifixion. That's a different thing.

3. Sorry, I don't know much about the Ghost Dance.

To the beginning of the universe, I only mention it because Darwin believed it had no beginning. He might just as well believed the Earth was flat. I also didn't (or didn't intend to) say that a god had to start it. But _____ had to start it. You can fill in the blank.

Punctuated equilibrium is interesting to me because such a renowned evolutionist as Gould was forced to admit (in his own way) that the fossil record was different than Darwin predicted. In fact if you get past the 6 day issue (not an easy thing for some), the fossil record is far more Biblical than most evolutionists would care to admit. If you give Darwin credit (in your other post) for being as close as he was without the benefit of modern day science, doesn't the writer of Genesis get some credit for being as close as he was?

Even as I wrote that, I realized that I forgot to make a distinction between 'micro-evolution' or change over time within classes, and 'macro-evolution' or a direct line between a single cell and man. I won't argue that micro-evolution may or may not have happened (of course, I could always call it 'Adaptive Creation'!). I just think you might be avoiding all of the Scientific evidence within the Intelligent Design movement. Not that that movement requires the God of the Bible to be the answer. It's just pointing out the problems with macro-evolution.

There is no denying, however, that we are unbelievably complex creatures. If you think that everything about you developed by chance and without forethought, that's your choice.

The other points were just thoughts to think about, not facts which refute anything. In 'fact', I don't believe we'll ever see either side 'proven' right. Well, at least not until we die.

I have, a bitweiwentg
Jun 27, 2002 3:43 PM
before I did, I'd already decided that the Bible was not inerroneous. and so, like Kristin, I used my brain.
my conclusion is that the teachings of the Bible still hold value, even if they're not the teachings of the true Jesus. I will follow the ones that are applicable to today's society to the best of my ability. am I 'cherry-picking' commandments? if so, I'm doing no worse than those people who kill doctors performing abortion, and those who condemn homosexuality. except that I'm not killing anyone. besides, we all 'cherry-pick' - we tend to automatically discard information that doesn't fit our stereotypes. in this case, it's not automatic.
yes, there are Christians who don't use their brains. for the most part, they're harmless to you. remember, the most important commandment is to love God, and the next most important is to love your fellow man. so, while the execution of 1) and 2) is not perfect, it is pretty good, for the most part. I can understand that proselytization would cause you annoyance. just be polite and say no - it's your right, after all.
remember, it is easy to, when looking at a certain group of people, take note of the idiots in that group, and tar the whole group accordingly. Christians as a whole are not bad. yes, there are some idiots which I would personally like to meet in a dark alley. but they're few in number, if rather prominent.
Strobel, Historicity, Arguments from Design, etc.Jon Billheimer
Jun 28, 2002 11:54 AM
Strobel's book is highly informative in that he cites most of the good historical validation of the Gospels. This is a serious apology, but certainly not, in my opinion, an adequate justification for orthodox Christian doctrine-- simply a strong defense for the historicity of the Gospels.

Second, most of the early church Christians did not believe Jesus was God. This was an evolved doctrine used to buttress the authority of the Bishop of Rome and apostolic succession. See Elaine Pagels work on this. The doctrine of Christ's divinity split the church and resulted in the entire Alexandrian wing of the church--originally the most influential portion--to be excommunicated by those who sided with the Bishop of Rome.

Third, arguments from design are not proofs of God, nor is the scientific observation that the known universe had a beginning and will have an end any kind of proof. It simply buttresses some of our god-intuitions.

Finally, Strobel's appeal to the truthfulness and integrity of the gospel writers with respect to Jesus' claims and resurrection are not proofs. They are simply persuasive appeals. And his central argument that if Jesus did in fact rise from the dead, he must be god is simply not an inevitable conclusion from a premise. It is a conclusion which is simply a restatement of a pre-existing premise.

Where does that leave us with respect to Christianity's claims? 1) One, that these claims are pretty fantastic when compared to any others made by any other religion. 2)Pick your beliefs as you will, but don't claim rational justification, because there simply isn't any.
Wow, finally someone with some knowledge on the subject..Wayne
Jun 28, 2002 12:24 PM
and the philosophy surrounding this issue. Did you attend seminary school?
Wow, finally someone with some knowledge on the subject..Jon Billheimer
Jun 28, 2002 1:55 PM
My father was a prominent fundamentalist clergyman associated with the most right-wing, conservative elements within the Evangelical/Fundamentalist movement. He was a prolific author for a period of time and had a philosophy and theology degree. I was educated in parochial schools, including one which my father founded and ran.

Being of a philosophical bent myself I have read widely from liberal, conservative, and agnostic/atheistic philosophical literature. From childhood I questioned, argued, and sorted things out for myself. Consequently, I am not a Christian, but I do understand the doctrinal and historical underpinnings of Christianity. I also took comparative religion and philosophy courses in university.
From where are you pulling the information about Jesus' divinityKristin
Jun 28, 2002 1:13 PM
I have never heard this in any circles...where are you getting your information??
From where are you pulling the information about Jesus' divinityJon Billheimer
Jun 28, 2002 2:01 PM
See Elaine Pagels' Gnosticism. Also any good treatment on the early origins of Christianity. Reading your New Testament carefully you will note that Jesus did not say that he was God. He often said that he was one with God, that he and the Father were one, etc., etc. From these statements, early Church fathers framed the doctrine of the trinity which holds that God manifests as the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. The Alexandrian church viewed Jesus as the son of God, or God's unique messenger, but not as essentially divine himself. The doctrine of Jesus' divinity, according to Pagels and other liberal scholars, together with the doctrine of Apostolic Succession from St. Peter was used to bolster the authority and political power of the Bishop of Rome.
P.S.Jon Billheimer
Jun 28, 2002 2:36 PM
Claims of divine incarnation hark back to early Zoroastrian doctrines. As well, there were other claimants to divine or messianic status around the time of Christ, one well known example being Apollonius. The Jewish prophetic tradition, especially during and following the Maccabean period, was fertile ground for pretenders to a messianic role. Culturally and politically this was an expectation and hope in the face of Roman rule and oppression. So the apostles' beliefs in the role and status of Jesus was not as farfetched as a similar belief would be in a modern context.
also check www.religioustolerance.orgweiwentg
Jun 28, 2002 6:21 PM
To KristinJon Billheimer
Jun 28, 2002 6:45 PM
Check out the essays at the above-noted website on early christian history and gnostic christianity to put into historical perspective the spurious and uninformed claims of orthodox Christian churches to authenticity and exclusivity.
Kristin, keep this in mind if you check this site out...DJB
Jun 29, 2002 8:30 AM
I only spent a short amount of time there, so this is just an impression, but the site seems to be very biased and not at all "even-handed" as someone claimed.

It seems like the other religious sections (I looked at Islam and Hinduism) were written by either members of that faith or someone very sympathetic to it. Statements of history or doctrine are stated with no comment or challenge. The statement "the Qur'an (Recitation) are the words of God." isn't followed by any attempt to question who wrote it, has it been revised, etc.

The Christianity section, however, is rather hostile. Especially toward conservative Christianity. It seems to have been written by a very liberal Christian (at best).

I'm not commenting on the contents of the site, just the structure. If the site were truly "fair", each religion or demonination (conservative, liberal, etc) would be allowed to state their case without comment (or have commentary on all religions).

You can judge for yourself.
What tolerance means...DJB
Jun 26, 2002 11:11 AM
Tolerance means that you allow others to have a different opinion on a subject. It doesn't mean you have to agree with them. You can even tell them that they are wrong. That is very different than hauling them to a soccer stadium and shooting them in the head for transgressing against your religion (i.e. the Taliban).

With that said, my vote is split between radical Islam and any Communist country (like North Korea).
Intolerance is neither bad or good...Kristin
Jun 26, 2002 12:21 PM
Doug, is this an experiment? What a great question. Just as in the posts asking: Who is a Fred/Posuer? By the very definition of tolerate and intolerant, anyone who anwsers this thread will prove themselves to be just that.

Again, I always go to the dictionary.
tr.v. tol•er•at•ed, tol•er•at•ing, tol•er•ates
1. To allow without prohibiting or opposing; permit.
2. To recognize and respect (the rights, beliefs, or practices of others).
3. To put up with; endure. See Synonyms at bear1.

Not tolerant, especially:
a. Unwilling to tolerate differences in opinions, practices, or beliefs, especially religious beliefs.
b. Opposed to the inclusion or participation of those different from oneself, especially those of a different racial, ethnic, or social background.
c. Unable or unwilling to endure or support: intolerant of interruptions; a community intolerant of crime.

So, by some definitions above, some of you have encountered SOME intolerant fundamentalist Christians and SOME intolerant Muslims. And in response to this post, you have shown yourself to be intolerant of them. So, what comes around goes around.

Just about everyone is intolerant of something. We all have values and principles and will defend these when we feel threatened. That's human nature. I can be a slob. I've met tons of people who are intolerant of my sloppiness. I am a Christian. I have encountered those who are intolerant of my beliefs. Then there are the lunatics who are intolerant of strange stuff. Like the little old lady at work who lectures me about riding 40 miles at a time.

Now lets consider the whole organized group intolerance thing. Every group that defines itself has values, therefore all will be intolerant of something. For example: A group that values tolerance, will by its very definition, intolerate intolerance...will it not? Tolerance nor intolerance are bad. Both serve a purpose, and both can be useful. It is the motives behind the thing that define its purpose and usefulness. Additionally, one should be able to substantiate the thing they are tolerating or not tolerating.

Just a note about the term "born-again." Its out-dated and not commonly used within the evangelical church today. This phrase, expressed only once within the canonical text, was sensationalized in the 80's. It became so heavily overused and misinterpreted that its meaning has become skewed. These days, it is most often used by anti-Christians as a derogitory comment. Even in its purist interpretation--a word picture of a second beginning or second chance--it describes only a very small peice of the Christian experience.
I think you pretty much nailed it. nmDougSloan
Jun 26, 2002 4:01 PM
Good Job Kristin. Well said. nmLen J
Jun 26, 2002 6:34 PM
Intolerance is neither bad or good...Woof the dog
Jun 28, 2002 10:32 PM
I could make a case that you are infringing upon my right to exist just by your own mere existence. What are all of you doing around here anyway? Taking up my valuable resources on this planet that I will likely need when ...uhm... the next meteor crashes.

Out of control
Woof the dog.

P.S. Jesus was a schizo, and probably induced trance in others, especially his close followers. Man's extremity = God's opportunity.
re: tolerance?Leisure
Jun 29, 2002 7:43 AM
Sorry to oversimplifiy, but it's a bit hard to make sweeping generalizations of any group of people and know absolutely that you're right. There are plenty of intolerant people to go around, and I might note some of the opinions I've formed over time. I wish I'd caught this thread earlier, there were a lot of things that would have been more fun addressing early as opposed to in hindsight. But anyways, some of my thoughts:

Intolerance IS often bred strongly in religion. It is my belief that the most innate flaw of religion is that, by definition, it assumes itself to be right absolutely. Not only does this mean it assumes everyone else to be wrong, it also makes it inflexible to change, judgemental among others and it's own members, and unable to take responsibility for past mistakes or lack of insight. This is, fortunately, mostly just a problem with those that choose to be overzealous in their beliefs. While the Taliban is a good example, I think we should be fair about the role "fundamentalists" in Israel (before I go labelling all Israel or Judaism). The genocide of an ethnicity of people to seize land under the claim that their God promised it to them is dead wrong. They, like the Taliban, will never accept responsibility for this. Their God gave them permission. It's not unlike the Crusades, or Manifest Destiny, both tragedies based in the concept of divine conquest.

Desperation breeds intolerance. People that are desperate are in situations that impair fair judgement. In its extreme manifestations, desperate people become capable of rationalizing and institutionalizing horrible things. You can look at pre-Nazi Germany and understand the rise of Nazism, the subsequent holocaust and its affect on Israel, and subsequent to that what they are doing to Islam that influences the rise of fundamentalists like the Taliban. Note these are all good examples of victims becoming perpetrators on a societal scale.

Which brings me to my last point. Intolerance breeds intolerance. People that have learned to be locked in their thinking will tend to proceed to discriminate on others, creating for someone else the situation that they themselves had to endure. It is not right or justified, but it is a hard cycle to break.