Big G, Little J, and The Other Guy

There’s an active conversation going on over at Ark’s blog that includes a Christian pastor ( a comparatively rare type of visitor for this blog).

Many of the “regulars” have asked him some probing questions and so far, he’s handled them fairly well (considering he’s a Believer).

In one comment, he made reference to the “Trinitarian Theology” — and I asked him if he knew the genesis of this belief. He responded that he had read all the documents leading up to the formation of this doctrine and we would “talk about it later.”

Since the comment section is getting quite long on Ark’s blog, I’m posting the question here — both for “Mel’s” response as well as any others who would like to jump in.

So … how did the doctrine of the “Holy Trinity” get started?

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177 thoughts on “Big G, Little J, and The Other Guy

    • I may wrong here, but didn’t the trinity doctrine come into being during the Council at Nicaea during Constantine’s reign? He wanted to settle the “is Jeebus purely god or purely man debate” once and for all, and he did. The Nicene Creed was then written in order to create a universal Catholic canon. Constantine then stated, “This canon is correct. Everything else is wrong. Follow it or die.” The cross and the sword became forever synonymous.

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  1. As I understand it, nobody really understood the references to what we now know as the trinity. Arias taught that Jesus was begotten of God, that he hadn’t always existed, and was a different sort of substance from God. Athanasius wasn’t having it. He drummed up a lot of supporters – powerful ones. There was a lot of back and forth shouting, things got ugly, some were expelled here and there. Eventually the Council of Nicaea was called together and the matter was debated thoroughly under the authority of Emperor Constantine. Athanasius’ side won and what we know as trinitarian theology is the victor; Arius’ teachings are pretty much heresy.

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  2. Holy cow! No, that’s Hinduism. The Trinity came about as an attempt to keep Christianity under the roof of monotheism. If Jesus were a god all to himself and acknowledged YHWH as his father, then here we go again: gods to the left of us, gods to the right of us. This rather bizarre concept basically insists on the separation of the three at the same time as insisting on their unity which makes for some awkward theology.

    For one example, there are protestants who claim that the NT supersedes the OT. You may know some of these folks. But this, therefore, claims that the OT was a covenant with the wrong people or was the wrong covenant or didn’t cover the good guys (us) from the beginning. If Jesus = YHWH it is more than a little awkward for Jesus to have to say, “Oh, that deal was for those other guys, you know, the Jews, which is why I cam back as one of them, uh … well, it is complicated.” Yeah, Matthew quotes Jesus as saying that not one jot or tittle of the Law is to be changed, but all kinds of Christians are ignoring it wholesale.

    This is a typical situation one gets into when one participates in a charade in which people are free to just make shit up. If somebody else’s shit becomes popular, you have to incorporate that silliness into your own, or you might be rejected.

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  3. Now how the hell did I miss that thread? 😦

    I skimmed through and I still have to say that Mel ‘reads’ like a very nice guy. ok, so a little delusional but at least he’s not resorting to ad hominem and he’s keeping his sense of humour. I also wondered if Clay sounded like this guy before he ‘gave up the (holy) ghost.

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  4. I have done very little reading on it, but I’d like to answer it anyway. lol It always seemed that the holy ghost was a representation of trans-substantiation. This is something you see in other religions like Buddhism, or Sikhism, in which spirits transfer into other bodies. As Steve said the idea that God could make himself incarnate requires the ability to transfer ones essence into another form. In Sikhism for instance there are 10 holy gurus, who have no real relationship to each other genetically but are all considered to have been endowed with the spirit of God, even while God himself also existed. In the case of Jesus, it’s even more serious, because he’s considered more than just a messenger of God, but also God himself. So it seems to make sense that you’d need to invent this sort of third form, the holy ghost to unite the concept of Jesus and God. In the end it’s like…okay here something people made up…and now here’s something else we made up, that we need to relate to the first thing we made up, and so let’s make up this other thing. 🙂

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  5. What I know is that when I studied theology I found the Trinity ‘did my head in’. After studying the concept in detail and the theological explanations I felt I understood the concept less at the end of the process than at the beginning. Looking back I conclude that this was because of inherent contradictions of the concepts it seeks to bring together.

    Historically it is Hippolytus who died in 236 and Tertullian 160-220 who seem to have been the first theologians who fleshed out the theology of the Trinity.

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    • Goodness Peter, you’re doing it all wrong. This is how it goes:

      Catholic says: “I don’t understand the three persons in one god concept, can you explain it to me?”

      Priest: “No, it’s a holy mystery, sit down and shut up.”

      Argument over.

      You people have this terrible habit of overthinking *everything.* 😉

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    • Are they Peter? Are they less dogmatic? I’m not sure they are. I look at what Mel wrote at Ark’s ->

      “Probably not. The issue of “being born again” is not a question I can answer non-theologically, nor do I time to nuance it properly other than a quick response. Quick answer: there’s nothing outside of Christ (Col.1:16-17), in any realm or dimension, visible or invisible. You are in Christ right now (according to what I believe), whether you want to acknowledge it or not. You’re not asking an absent Jesus to come into your heart; you’re consenting to entering into a dynamic relationship with Someone who’s already in you.”

      Sounds pretty black and white to me. Is this “less dogmatic?”

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      • Zoe, I was working my way down the comment section and stop at Peter’s to comment, so I hadn’t seen your comment yet. This was the very quote I highlighted in my reply to Mel. You left out the last sentence, which didn’t sit right with me when I read it, so I addressed him on the whole of that quote. He concluded:

        “I’m sure that’s quite upsetting to you.”

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        • I saw your comment at Mel’s Victoria.

          I left that last sentence out on purpose here just to focus on the part before it. It’s difficult to focus on my point with that last sentence there. 🙂 It reeks of condescension, though I suspect he will claim otherwise. He knows what he’s doing and that it reeks or he would not have tacked it on.

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        • As well as this quote. “You are in Christ right now (according to what I believe), whether you want to acknowledge it or not.

          The discussion certainly evolved to expose a rigidity that wasn’t initially revealed early on. That’s how clergy and evangelists ensnare people. It’s a rather common tactic.

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        • @ Victoria Mar. 22 7:25 a.m. (not sure if my reply will show up under yours)

          It reminds me of those “great spiritual leaders” (tongue in cheek) who constantly reminded me, their sheep that the sheep are unenlightened and don’t worry deary, just follow and one day you will see. The light will then turn on.

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    • Except, when they hold positions of authority, telling people that Jesus is real, and they can have a “personal and intimate” relationship, in a romantic and maternal way, with this cultural deity. That makes them convincing, because they are inducing people’s feelgood, bonding neurochemistry, which deactivates neural circuitry necessary for critical assessment.

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      • Victoria I know what you mean about the argument ‘its not a religion its a relationship’.

        A relationship with, dare I say, a persons imaginary friend.

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        • Right, Peter, and we know how difficult it was for us to come to the realization that we’d been duped. He’s no dummy, and I am of the opinion that if you and I, who were deeply committed, can see through the BS in an age of information, so can he. He said that he might be deluded, but at least he will die happy. Yes, I’m sure he will, and at the expense of those he mislead. As I told him, I don’t care what he believes so long as he keeps it to himself, away from children and the vulnerable, and doesn’t profit from it, financially.

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    • I did. He never really gave me much of an answer. I addressed Revelation, chapters 19 & 20. I brought up where it’s written that the angel of the lord called the birds to gorge on the dead flesh of unbelievers, and those whose names were not found in the lamb’s book of life, were tossed in the lake of fire. He just said those were intended to be metaphorical and symbolic. *shrugs*

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    • That is really where the rubber hits the road (to use a colloquialism).

      You might be interested in a comment I made to Violet over on Mak’s blog:

      ‘Speaking of Hell, Neil Carter had an interesting post on Hell recently. I found among the comments a real gem:
      ‘I sometimes ask fundagelicals the question: will my 8yr old daughter go to hell if she dies tomorrow, for the sin of being raised in an atheist family? It always becomes very awkward, and no one has answered the question directly so far, even though they know perfectly well that the answer is a resounding “Yes, the little sinner deserves to burn in Hell forever!” according to their religion. So why not just own up to it? If your own religious convictions make you so uncomfortable, maybe you should start asking yourself some tough questions… (which of course was the reason I asked the question in the first place).’

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  6. Well, well, well. This is a subject we studied hard and thoroughly at seminary for… well, my full 3-years there. 😮 I’ll see if I can tackle it here with brevity and hopefully convey it understandably.

    Because I’m sure that Mel and others, i.e. some Xians and some ministers, over on that blog will answer it from a purely Xian theological POV, I will approach it from a purely broad historically chronological POV. And I must emphasize broad; i.e. non-Christian sources and by expanded inference from Paul’s epistles, Acts, and the popular growing Gnostic Movement of the time.

    Essentially, and perhaps the most BASIC contextual backdrop to the counter-measure of or need for the Trinity, was the major Judaic problem and function of the “Messiah” after Yeshua’s/Jesus’ death — and because there were MANY claiming Messiahs before during and after the life of Yeshua, this became an even bigger Jewish-Messianic conundrum! Everyone had their own independent interpretation of exactly WHAT the Messiah would be and do. There is no debate whatsoever amongst most of the various 1st-century CE Jewish sects (and Diaspora) of the time: ‘the Messiah was going to be a literal Earthly King!’ Why is this important? Because in order to make all the Old Testament prophecies of the coming Messiah to work in fulfilled harmony, Yeshua/Jesus MUST BE something MORE than just a dead unfulfilled Messiah! He must also be MORE THAN HUMAN!!! In order for the the Messianic prophecies to be valid, Yeshua has to be both God (the spiritual) and Messiah (the Earthly king of the Jews). Between the Apostle Paul (later after Yeshua’s death; in his epistles) and even later the rising controversy with Peter (in Acts), various teachings of the now dead Messiah/Yeshua spreading throughout the Synagogues, and the earliest Followers of “The Way“, and including Gnostics (N. Africa) and the Jerusalem Council (James brother of Yeshua)… there still persisted a major problem amongst Xian leaders and followers!

    During all of the current misguidings, different and valid interpretations of the Messiah/Yeshua as no longer the long long held function of Earthly “King of the Jews” (he’s dead), then in order for it all not to go to waste and be just another “false dead Messiah”… the 3rd- and 4th-century church leaders invented methods and theology to TURN Yeshua/Jesus into a spirtual King, heavily using Paul’s epistles throughout Asia Minor and west to Rome (eventually to become the Vatican/RCC) to make the new religion available for ALL Gentiles, ALL Romans. But not so much for the orthodox Jews in and around Jerusalem and the north African coast — the Gnostics. These followers and churches would be wiped out for they knew WAY TOO MUCH about the Judaic teacher/messiah. Once wiped out, then the next order of business was to teach the Roman/Gentile masses that “the one God” still lives and communicates via the dead and risen Yeshua (the Son of the Gospels)… who is NOW the Holy Spirit, all three very much alive: hence the Holy Trinity.

    All of this “theology” is supposedly backed up through the 4th-century Canonical Scriptures.

    That’s my initial attempt to explain the NEED (function) of the Holy Trinity. Hope that helps. LOL 😉 I will be happy to refine and answer any questions.

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    • Professor what strikes me is how much Christian ideas were borrowed from other cultures.

      It has been noted how the idea of Hell was taken from zoroastrianism. In the case of the Gospel of John, the concept of Logos (Word) was borrowed from the Greeks. Likewise the concept of an immortal human soul separate to the body was a Greek concept.

      In all three cases here (and there are many others as you would know), it is striking that these concepts were not really developed in the Jewish Old Testament.

      I even suspect that monotheism was borrowed by the Jews from zoroastrianism. There are hints, especially in archaeology that the Jews were not originally monotheists. Indeed it seems that there was a lot of the Bible stories were written quite late and then implied to be much older.

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      • Some good points Peter. Riding your coat-tails here, much of Yeshua’s/Jesus’ teachings (concepts) are near identical to a Buddhist Bodhisattva’s teachings — e.g. Sermon on the Mount. And 1st-century BCE thru 2nd-century CE Judaism was quite open and engaging to foreign discussions/debates with Far Eastern and Near Eastern traveling monks/religions into the Mediterranean Sea during and after Yeshua’s/Jesus’/Issa’s death. It is also a well-known, well-documented that Greco-Roman sociopolitical traditions would often adapt, modify, and/or hijack (fully or parts) different and foreign religions-sociopolitical structures if they benefit the Empire. By all indications, as you are alluding to, this is exactly what took place in 3rd- thru 5th-century CE Italian Penisula (Rome), Asia Minor, and Judea. However, in Egypt (Alexandria) and N. Africa, the Gnostic versions (Zoroastrian flavors), did not coincide in the least with long-standing Greco-Roman divine Emperors and Imperialism! Hence, the extermination of anything un-Roman un-Paulian — i.e. favoring Gentile inclusions, but in Roman style. Obviously, the MIGHT of the Roman Legions along with those Romanesque Church Fathers soon won out. At that time, nothing could stand against the Roman Empire.

        Jews not monotheists? Yes indeed. The fact that various weak dying-out Judaic sects and Diaspora were never truly united as one Judaism — too many exiles — only further untangles ancient polytheism and undermines monotheism at its contemporary heart! Like forensics and archaeology, history is no longer told and discovered only “by the Victors.” 😉

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        • Yes even the once popular Christian academic William Barclay admitted that the only original moral teaching of Jesus was the golden rule, ‘do unto others as you have them do unto you’. And in that case the originality of Jesus was limited to turning it from a negative statement ‘do not do unto others would you would not want them to do to you’ to a positive statement.

          As to the Buddhist link I understand that around 200 BC Buddhist teachings were introduced into Egypt and became very influential so logically would become part of any moral code being developed a century or two later.

          When I still called myself a Christian I rejected as ridiculous the idea that other faiths might have influenced Christianity. Afterall it was direct from GOd so that was ridiculous or so it seemed. Looking back I see this as an object lesson in how preconceived views are so influential in how we view evidence and cna cause us to literally lose the forest for the trees.

          Paul Davidson has a great article here on the Christian Eucharist:
          https://isthatinthebible.wordpress.com/2017/02/28/the-roots-of-the-eucharist-christianitys-oldest-ritual/

          I love this quote, it really says it all to me:
          ‘Nevertheless, early Christian theologians were painfully aware of the similarity between their own Eucharist and the practices of other cults. Justin Martyr, writing in the second century, admitted the similarities between the sacred meal of the Mithraists and the Eucharist. His explanation was that the devil had counterfeited the Christian ritual in advance and had his demons teach it to followers of Mithras (Apologia I.65–67). Tertullian would make the same argument 50 years later (De praescriptione haereticorum 40.4).

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        • Professor something I should add is Bart Ehrman’s argument that early Christianity was actually quite diverse and it was only overtime that a degree of unity evolved. As you suggest the power of the state helped. Indeed in North Africa Augustine (reluctantly) used the power of the Roman Empire to bring the DOnatists back into the fold.

          Then 1,000 or so years later when Christianity lost the capacity to enforce its will through the state it started fragmenting again.

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        • Some additional excellent points Peter. I see you’ve done some extensive digging. Bravo! I’ll comment on/add to both of your comments here. 🙂

          Most all contemporary Faith-followers have very little-to-no education of the broader historical brushstrokes of just how massively expansive the 1st-century BCE to 4th-century CE Roman Empire’s rule and sociopolitical culture reached, much less aware of just how much the rest of the known world — i.e. the Near and Far Eastern empires — wanted COMMERCE with the Romans. As a result and just like today’s airports and naval piers, all sorts of tangible and intangible influences come ashore! Religious ideas and practices were certainly fluid traveling with merchants to the different peoples for thousands of miles; like the internet today! It cannot be avoided given a curious, evolving mammalian species such as ours. Modern Xian seminaries CERTAINLY don’t teach any of this particular secular history. Care to guess why? LOL 😉

          Hint: Viewing events and people thru ever-more powerful broader metaphorical microscopes reveals why it is necessary for leaders, governors, emperors, nobility, (all throughout ancient history up to the modern era) to maintain firm control of an “uneducated” citizenry thru divinity, mysticism, and/or (blind?) “faith.” A Wizard [of Oz] behind a green curtain, if you will.

          We should also let it be known that these Yeshua/Jesus/Issa teachings were a conglomeration of Near and Far Eastern religious ideas, doctrine, and practices (via commerce and synagogues/temples) mixed-in with Greek, Judaic, Egyptian, and Roman customs, etc., that had existed over there in that part of the world since AT LEAST the 4th- to 6th-century BCE. In other words and as you’ve pointed out, Buddhism and Zoroastrianism (Far & Near East) influenced many Judean Magi, Rabbi, priests and their early formations of theology. Then during Yeshua’s/Jesus’ tumultuous life joining further Hasmonean reformation/revolt (ref the Dead Sea Scrolls and Roman records), Messianism turned out to be not only a feverish hope of Jewish freedom (hundreds of claimed Messiahs!), but a very DEADLY lifestyle-choice under Roman and Herodian/Sanhedrin control and rule!!! LOL

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  7. I am going through a bit of a nostalgia phase as I revisit the songs of my formative years. Now this is the sort of religion I should have gone for, Boom Sha La La Lo. I doubt this song ever made it out of the antipodes:

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  8. It appears my invitation to “Mel” over at Ark’s blog is either being ignored … or his “talk about it later” means much later. Or perhaps he just got distracted by the flood of comments/questions directed to him by Ark’s visitors.

    In any event, I’m going to answer the question I put forth based on research I did for my book. To avoid “re-thinking” the issue, I’m simply going to quote several passages.

    Most consider Christianity, the adopted child of Judaism, to also be a monotheistic faith. However, some feel this is a misnomer because of the “Trinity” doctrine. According to this teaching, God is divided into three separate entities. There is God the Father, God the Son (Jesus), and God the Holy Spirit. The belief is that each is distinct yet coexists as one being.

    However, what is interesting about this belief is “the doctrine of the trinity was not taught by the early Christians, nor is the word found anywhere in the Bible.”.

    It was not until the late second century, when Theophilus of Antioch wrote his Apology to Autolycus, that the word was actually used. What I found intriguing is his use of the word was different than what most recognize (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). To Theophilus, the “trinity” (Greek: trias) meant “God, his Word, and his Wisdom.”

    It wasn’t until the early third century that Tertullian, a Latin theologian, wrote a treatise in which he definitively described the trinity as including the Father, Son, and Spirit. Over the next several years, church fathers (Hippolytus of Rome, Origen, Novatian) began to include and expand on the theology. Finally, Gregory (c. 213-c.270), a bishop in Asia Minor, wrote a Declaration of Faith which treated the Trinity as standard theological vocabulary. About a century later, in 325, the First Council of Nicaea established the doctrine as orthodoxy and made it a part of the Nicene Creed.

    It is interesting to note that the gods of many ancient religions also came in threes. For example, the Babylonians had Anu, Bel, and Ena; the Egyptians had Osiris, Horus, and Isis; and the Romans had Jupiter, Pluto, and Neptune. In today’s world, Hinduism, the main religion of India, recognizes the trinity of Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. Christian theologians will deny any similarity, saying these gods are separate entities and not “joined” into one substance as in the Trinity.

    Despite its widespread acceptance among Christians, the Trinity doctrine has been a stumbling block to non-Christians throughout its history. The intensely monotheistic Jews completely reject the concept because it denies the “oneness” of Yahweh, which they believe is unmistakably taught in the Hebrew Scriptures.

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  9. Thanks for that, Nan. I guess it illustrates a basic concept to me, which the indoctrinated hand-wave – that everything in the Bible was man-made, by many men over time. In fact, many men who created, embellished, exaggerated, and wove (what has become) a popular tall tale.

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  10. Thanks for inviting me, Nan. Sorry I’m late to the party. I got mugged over at Ark’s site (lol!). I’ve read everyone’s comments here and found them both educational and entertaining (especially about me!). But I admit my ignorance on what a Xian is, other than a city (Xi’an) in China. I do love Chinese food, btw.

    I think you roughly summarized my understanding of how the doctrine of the trinity came into being. I’ve personally read all the available documentation from the ante-Nicene church fathers. Unfortunately, not much from poor Arias (other than Athanasius’ refutation) or Sabellius (modalism). They tended to burn the works of heretics (later on, just burn the heretic). After all the back-and-forth political food fight, they landed on the Nicene Creed, adding more on the Holy Spirit in the First Council of Constantinople (381 CE).

    Two responses to the comments made.
    First, as already mentioned by some, this three century debate was primarily because Jesus had blown the roof off of their Jewish theology (even though it was hidden in plain sight from Genesis to Jesus). It was also thought insane by those influenced by Greek philosophy (God is indivisible, etc.) While they experienced this mystery, it took them three centuries to put language to it. Politics and heretics aside, there is a brilliant reason why they landed on the Trinitarian view of God.

    Second, borrowing from other cultures does not de-legitimatize divine inspiration. There is no separation between sacred and secular (in my view). And I think I’m on solid theological ground here. There is nothing outside of Christ (Col.1:16-17). Therefore, Truth is residing in everyone. Separation is based in Greek dualism (as opposed to a ternary paradigm). There was none of this “us” and them” with other cultures (that’s Fundamentalist gobbledygook). Paul quoted the Athenians’ poets, “In him we live and move and have our being.” When they recognized a good maxim they acknowledged it and incorporated it. All language is metaphor at best when talking about theology. I quote the Beatles (“All You Need is Love”) or the late atheist John Lennon (“Give Peace a Chance”), and many other “non-Christian” sources when I believe a statement is divinely inspired. The difference was, Paul and the early church identified Jesus Christ as the “Logos” (badly translated into English as “word.” It means, “reason for everything,” Heraclitus – sixth century BCE).

    That’s my answer to your question in a nutshell. Sorry it’s so long. If you want to know how I understand the trinity and why it’s important to Christian doctrine, I can summarize that on a different thread. I won’t have as much time as I had with Ark (we have company at home), but will try to respond when I can.
    Again, thanks. Peace.

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    • So now that we somewhat agree on the genesis of this belief … do you intellectually believe it’s valid? Why must God/Jesus/Holy Spirit be “joined”? I know the “standard” reasons … but I’d like your POV on what advantage it serves.

      BTW. I do applaud you for your temperate responses to the “attacks” you endured on Ark’s blog. While I feel believers are living in a fantasy world, I do understand where you’re coming from since I was among the “saved” at one time. (Just to let you know, I have NO intentions of going back … ever!) Fortunately, my experiences were not as damaging as Victoria, Zoe, and others. Also, I was able to disentangle from most of my disgust, disappointments, and guilt through my book.

      In any case, I hope as you find the time, you’ll stop back in and offer more of your perspective.

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      • Thanks Nan for your gracious response. As I told Ark, I’m not trying to win anyone over, just trying to understand and be understood. Ironically, I do see that some see me on a trajectory toward deconversion. Just so you know, I also have no intentions of being deconverted…ever! Too late for that for me, too. I’ve been through valley and am on the other side now. Sorry if that sounded preachy (I just liked the sound of it in my head!)

        Your book sounds interesting. Seriously, where can I get it?

        I will try to answer your questions: is the trinity intellectually valid, and why the three need to be joined, when I can find the time. I will put it on a new thread to keep those two questions separate.

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        • Mel I have a question when you have time. It is not as technical as the other questions. When we first started to have this discussion on Ark’s site you mentioned you can tell what parts were distortions of God’s words and which ones were what God wanted to have us do. Did I understand you correctly? Do you mean the verses as written? Or do you have a version of your deity that you then interpret the verses around? I guess I am asking does the feeling you have over what is correct and what doesn’t fit in start at the bible or in your feelings.

          So along those lines I wondered about the base of your conviction in the real god you picture? More specifically if you found out something you based your assessment on turned out to be false , would that change your perception of your deity? Have a great time with your company. Be well. Hugs

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        • Short answer for now. I read all Scripture text through the interpretive lens of Jesus Christ. His life and teachings about God. I can explain why when I have more time if that doesn’t answer your question.

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        • Yes please, when you have time fill in the gaps a bit. While you know what you meant when you wrote it, I find there is a lot of room for my interpretation and I don’t want to misunderstand. Thanks. Also don’t stop what you are doing to continue to discuss this stuff with me , I can wait till you are free. Hugs

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        • Good grief no! Not sure where you got that idea!!??! I simply meant that your Christian and deconversion experiences were much more emotional and long suffering than mine. OK?

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  11. Here Nan.

    “BTW. I do applaud you for your temperate responses to the “attacks” you endured on Ark’s blog. While I feel believers are living in a fantasy world, I do understand where you’re coming from since I was among the “saved” at one time. (Just to let you know, I have NO intentions of going back … ever!) Fortunately, my experiences were not as damaging as Victoria, Zoe, and others. Also, I was able to disentangle from most of my disgust, disappointments, and guilt through my book.

    In any case, I hope as you find the time, you’ll stop back in and offer more of your perspective.”

    Emphasis added by me. That’s where I got the idea. Thanks for clarification.

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    • I’d also like to make a clarification, in case Christians are reading this post. I didn’t leave Christianity because of the unfortunate experiences I had as a Christian inflicted by Christians, and biblical doctrines. I did have some good times, and I did meet/know some caring and kind people, too. However, Christians are definitely not more prosocial than non-Christians. Those manifestations of the “fruits of the spirit”, are not divine, nor original to Christianity or any other religion. I left Christianity, and eventually became a nonbeliever, because I diligently studied.

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      • Victoria: “I left Christianity, and eventually became a nonbeliever, because I diligently studied.”

        Thanks for pointing this out Victoria for the benefit of those who lurk. As you know, same for me.

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      • Just saw this. Carmen, you’re absolutely right! Most Christians I talk to look at me with glazed looks in their eyes whenever I go deeper than superficial stuff (or I scare them. Lol!). So…thanks for some stimulating conversation. Will get back into it when I can…

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      • Well, I suppose to the uncritical, my approach can seem rather grueling (rather than grilling) because I criticize, give my reasons, and the explanation why the criticism matters. If someone can point out where I;ve missed something or gone astray, then I really appreciate the correction. But when one doesn’t correct and merely uses tactics to avoid and distort and misrepresent what is being criticized, then – yeah – it can seem like a grilling because the criticism stands and we see if there’s intellectual integrity on the part of the person who thinks their position is still equivalent in merit when the criticisms haven’t been addressed honestly. People like to say they want honest dialogue but, when push comes to shove, people like Mel don’t. And this is what needs to be revealed so that the person can chew on this over time and have that seed of doubt start doing its work. That’s how meaningful change often comes about: incrementally and over time long after the ‘dialogue’ has been abandoned.

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        • I actually agree with you, tildeb. We should accept criticism of our views. That’s how we learn and grow. We should talk about things and chew on them over a long process of time. We’re all better for having done so. I have learned most of what I understand today through a long process of critical thinking.

          But with all due respect, it’s quite another thing to engage in that dialogue disrespectfully and judgmentally, assuming we know better and we’re here to help the poor misguided pointy-headed dullard out of their ignorant fantasies. To me, that’s offensive, and I will not subject myself to such dialogue. It’s condescending arrogance. You assume you know me but you don’t. I don’t know you either. So, it’s not because I’m afraid of pushback or will wilt under close scrutiny, but because it doesn’t accomplish any beneficial form of communication. It actually stops it. Ironically, I’ve already spent way too much time having one-way conversations with judgmental Fundamentalists who employ the same tactics. I don’t have time for that.

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        • You’re a fundamental religious apologist uninterested in altering your beliefs. You are willing to present yourself as a liberalized agnostic, but you’re not. You are willing to be dishonest in order to pretend your religious beliefs have intellectual and scientific merit (hence the passing references to quantum physics) in order for you to argue that there is an equivalency between your religious beliefs and scientific knowledge.

          This deceitful.

          So, within your explanatory model of divine POOF!Ism, why is religion – including your own Christianity – always geographically based if what it contained were universally true as you seem to assume?

          And why did we as a species have to go from alchemy to chemistry, astrology to astronomy, demon possession to medicine,everything, in fact, always unidirectional from ignorance to knowledge in spite of religious belief if – as you insist – faith-based belief like yours were an equivalent and compatible method to scientific inquiry?

          This one way direction from ignorance to knowledge is mirrored by religious credulity for pseudo-answers to scientific demonstration. Knowledge never involves mysterious causal agencies of Oogity Boogity. Ever.

          Obviously, your thesis of compatibility is demonstrably false in every field of where knowledge is obtained. Yet there is no subject of inquiry where religious apologists think on the merit of their beliefs they deserve a seat at the table and assume their beliefs magically offer important considerations deserving of respect.

          That you want to privilege your own faith-based beliefs and interpretive insight into a transcendental realm in order to claim a false equivalency for your superstitious nonsense is not surprising to me. Nor is it surprising that you would blame me and my tone for pointing out the obvious to you. Your discomfort can’t possibly be your incorrect faith-based claims, now can it? Hey, why stop lying to yourself now?

          You are a deceitful and dishonest person who thinks his religious beliefs somehow protects him from this charge. Sorry Mel. It won’t be the last time you’re absolutely wrong nor will this exchange or any other be an opportunity for your to stop being a religious apologist. You’ve too much skin in this game.

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        • Tildeb, I direct you to my Blog Rules. Comments as the one you made in the first paragraph of your “tirade” and then again at the end are not acceptable. You are attacking and/or making assumptions about the person, not the idea or belief.

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        • He’s practicing deceit. I’m pointing out. I’ve have lots of evidence. That’s not a character flaw I’m ‘attacking’; it’s a choice he’s making and continues to practice. Why is calling him on it against your comment policy? .

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        • From my Blog Rules: Simple disagreements are to be expected, but anyone who attacks or makes belittling comments related to the beliefs, character, or lifestyle of other visitors will not be tolerated and such comments will be moderated or even deleted.

          It’s one thing to “point out” the “errors” of someone else’s thinking/beliefs, it’s another thing to say things like “You are a deceitful and dishonest person who thinks his religious beliefs somehow protects him from this charge.”

          Tildeb, you (and anyone else) can disagree with Mel’s beliefs and perspective on religion all you want. I would never censor anyone for that. In fact, most blogs that include believers and unbelievers revolve around such disagreements. And sometimes people get pretty angry with each other. But disagreeing with someone’s belief or opinion and attacking that person’s character are two different things.

          If you have any further comments or concerns about this, send me an email so we don’t air our dirty laundry in public. 😉

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  12. Question to me: “do you intellectually believe it’s [Trinity] valid? Why must God/Jesus/Holy Spirit be “joined”? I know the “standard” reasons … but I’d like your POV on what advantage it serves.”

    I’m not sure just how far you want to go down this rabbit hole, so I’m going to really try to answer this briefly. Haha…These two questions are probably the most important questions about why Jesus (which poses a third question, but will stick to this subject).

    Disclaimer: trying to explain “God” in our three-dimensional “world” for anyone who believes and has any understanding at all, is a totally absurd endeavor! But I will give some dirt-simple analogies without nuancing it more than I have to. I will address your questions in reverse order.

    First analogy: At the most simplistic level, we know that the main components of a atom are electron, proton, and neutron These three are distinct yet dynamically joined together. When looking at one, we don’t say atoms, we say atom. But the electron is never the proton, and neither are ever the neutron. Similarly, we Christians say “God” for Father, Son, and Spirit, but they are distinct from each other. Just like we can look at an electron in an atom, while understanding there is also a proton and neutron. Of course, we know now that atoms are mostly space (other non-local dimensions interacting), which adds another mind-boggling mystery to it.

    Here’s another thing we know about atoms. The energy is not in the electron, proton, neutron, but in the RELATIONSHIP between them. This is why trying to separate them releases such energy. The point is, we have a three-in-one example, where the power is in the relationship, however inadequate the analogy may be.

    Second analogy: Why is this valid (to me)? Because, axiomatically, God is love (agape), which means “other-centered, self-giving,” etc.). For God to BE love, He must be able to express love apart from His creation. If God was solidary, singular, His essence could not be love. Love requires a relationship. To say “God” is to say He is primarily relationship. He never does anything alone. The whole point of the incarnation is so that God could invite us into this eternal fellowship (called by some, “the Divine Dance.”) I believe the whole cosmos was place in Christ (Col.1:16-17) so that we could all “waltz” with God in this Trinitarian flow. Everything spins in the cosmos at the most fundamental level. Some have likened the spin of the universe to a waltz. I see that as a perfect analogy of God in this dynamic flow.

    Going a little deeper, God is ternary, not dualistic. Dualism is confrontational, polarizing, causing stalemate. Unfortunately, traditional theology is dualistic (although the earliest church leaders intuited this without the scientific understanding). Ternary (affirming, denying, reconciling) is ever creating, ever transforming. The interaction of the three always creates a fourth, and on it goes.

    This is where the ternary model actually beautifully helps explain evolution, believe it or not. There is an excellent work by Cynthia Bourgeault about what she calls “The Law of Three,” based on the earlier works of G.I.Gurdjieff. It’s a very heavy academic read but worth the endeavor if you want to get this aspect of the dynamic nature of ternary theology. You’ll need to get out of your three-dimensional mindset, though. 🙂

    Okay, I could say a lot more but will quit here since I’ve written a whole blog post! But, you ask very deep and important questions. No simple answer. Blessings.

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    • It’s rather fascinating that you compare your reasoning for the trinity to science. I did ask for an intellectual perspective, so I suppose one could see the correlation.

      However, to me, going this route is a cop-out. I strongly doubt the individuals who originally came up with this belief were considering atoms, protons, and electrons.

      You say, ” God is ternary, not dualistic.” While belief in the “dualism” of God is a subject in itself (and one that I intend to address in a future blog) for the purpose of this discussion, why/how do you make the “ternary” determination? Common belief leans towards the idea the god of the Old Testament was monotheistic (although there is some dialogue on this since scripture says in one place “Let US make mankind in our image”). It was not until centuries after the death of Jesus that any idea of God existing as part of a trinity came into being. And it was not a scripture based idea … it was the conclusion of one man (Theophilus of Antioch).

      I think we need to probe this topic a bit more. Are you game?

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      • Nan, I was using something we know in the natural world (atoms) as an analogy. I am not claiming that the Bible is a science book. As you probably know, it was never intended to be that.

        As far as the Old Testament view of God is concerned, it’s just that. The New Testament writers saw something hidden that was never seen in the Old Testament, even though there were traces. Not polytheism, but three-in-one, which took three centuries to flesh out! The early church leaders intuited something like “ternary” but they had no such language for it. While Trinitarian doctrine has always been part of the church, especially in the East (Western church gave it lip service), it wasn’t until about 100 years ago when people like G.I.Gurdjieff started to give language to the ternary paradigm. And, by the way, there are researchers of this from all walks of faith, not just Christians. At the risk of incurring ridicule here, theology has had to advance just like science must advance. Again, science and theology are two very different things, but I don’t believe they are mutually exclusive.

        Bottom line, theologically speaking, God cannot be love if He is alone. What the New Testament gives us is that God is about relationship before anything else. Same God, better understanding.

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        • The New Testament writers saw something hidden that was never seen in the Old Testament. This is nothing more than an assumption made by apologists and scholars who study the bible. When the average Christian reads the bible, s/he is never going to see this “hidden” truth.

          To me, this is the crux of the issue. The origination of the “Trinity” concept (and many other “accepted” doctrines of the church) did not come from the bible per se. It came from those “early church leaders” you mentioned. Human beings who studied “the word,” formed impressions and opinions, and then put their ideas down in writing. Others who were less knowledgeable (for whatever reason) accepted what these “leaders” said and Voila! The doctrines of Christianity were formed … and have became part of the theology that exists today.

          You indicated that “theology has had to advance just like science must advance.” IMO, the advancement of science has far overtaken that of theology. The big difference with science is it can be tested and confirmed or denied, whereas the same cannot be said for theology since it is based on the words of a centuries old book … and the opinions of those who believe they have “uncovered” hidden truths.

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        • “To me, this is the crux of the issue. The origination of the “Trinity” concept (and many other “accepted” doctrines of the church) did not come from the bible per se.”

          I would respectfully disagree with your premise if you’re saying that this proves it false. First, Scripture must be interpreted, not just read. It’s not a textbook, like an owner’s manual or a science book. We construe the data and form doctrine. This is why there’s always room for honest disagreement. If we were talking about biology or cosmology we could concretely conclude a thing because it resides within the time-space realm and we can measure it with instruments.

          This is why it’s faith based. Evidence of things not seen… We measure the concrete value of doctrine by the fruit it produces in a person’s life and whether it provides explanatory scope. But it’s always open to adjustment.

          Doctrine is usually derived both from direct or inferences of the text. While there’s no word “trinity” in the NT (just like the word “Bible” is not in the Bible!), I could show you were the writers did see a Trinitarian doctrine through the statements they made.

          And again, I was not making a direct comparison between science and theology. I was saying that both need to advance (in their own way). I hope that makes sense.

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        • Scripture must be interpreted, not just read.

          For me, therein lies the problem. Whose “interpretation” is correct? It’s said there are around 30,000 to 40,000 different Christian denominations. Why so many? Because each one “interprets” the bible in a different way.

          Why not just take the Word for what it is? If if makes sense and moves you to change your life … great! Go for it! On the other hand, if it comes across as pure nonsense, then disregard it and live your life as you see fit.

          Seems to me a much simpler scenario than “construing the data and forming doctrine.”

          But that’s just me.

          Thank you for taking part in the discussion, Mel. Don’t be a stranger. I’ll be posting other “debatable” topics now and again so keep an eye out. 😀

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        • Diversity is not the problem (denominations), divisiveness is. This is why Jesus said we would be known for our love for one another (not by our doctrinal agreement). The Bible is not a simple book (book of books). It contains multi-layered themes, written to many different peoples, in multiple genres, heavily uses metaphor, allegory, etc. Reading it in a flat wooden literal way would make it incoherent. That’s why it must be interpreted.

          Anyway, thanks, Nan, for being a gracious host. I look forward to what you have to say. 🙂

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      • “While belief in the “dualism” of God is a subject in itself…”

        To clarify, I’m not saying that there is nothing dualistic. I am saying that God’s nature is ternary.

        Sure, we can talk more about it. But this is admittedly a very heavy topic, not understood by many anywhere (relatively new), and I am not an expert. But it does give language to some things we didn’t understand before. I don’t know if I could do justice to the ternary subject on an academic level. This is where people like Cynthia Bourgeault are helpful. She dumbs it down a little from the lofty heights of people like Gurdjieff and makes it a little more understandable for hacks like me. 🙂

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  13. @ Mel Wild. Mel this is not on the trinity but I am curious. How do you view separation of church and state? Would you support a “Christian” Sharia system? Do you agree we shouldn’t give priority to any religion? Thanks. Hugs

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    • “Would you support a “Christian” Sharia system?”

      Ahhh! Absolutely not! That would be the worst thing we could possibly do! I guess I’m more Libertarian that way. We’ve had enough of “Sharia” Christendom in the West for the last 1600 years. Look where it got us!

      Here’s the thing I try to tell my Christian friends. We all pretty much have the same values about having a peaceful society that works for everyone. Let’s talk about our differences in a civil matter and live and let live.

      I believe if our faith is appealing, people will see it on their own. I don’t need to convert them by the sword. 🙂

      Thanks Scottie. Hugs back at ya!

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      • I like that Mel. Too many people have the attitude that if they do something, then everyone should, if they use a certain brand then others should use that brand and so on. There is a big debate in the US right now about inserting church doctrines into laws. Molding laws based on one version of one faith. OF course it is the version and faith of the one proposing the law. I think a way to explain somewhat how I feel about religion is to say it is like underwear. What you wear and how is your business and no one should tell you how or what to wear. There are even times and places where you can display your underwear. But don’t try to make me wear your underwear, don’t try to get me / kids / others to do anything with your underwear. Does that make sense? As you said a society that works for everyone, and everyone has different views on underwear. Hugs

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  14. @ Scottie. You asked, “Yes please, when you have time fill in the gaps a bit. ” I had said that I interpret Scripture through the “lens” of Jesus Christ. I told you I would fill in the gaps, so here goes…

    First, because Scripture reveals, both from Jesus’ own statements and those afterward, that He was with God from before the foundation of the world (John 1:1 (cf.Gen.1:1); 8:58;17:24; Eph.1:3-5; Col.1:17; Heb.3:2-4)

    Second, John uses the Hellenistic etymology of logos (also alluding to Hebrew Torah-Wisdom), stating that Jesus Christ is the “reason for everything” (John 1:1). Heraclites first stated that the “logos” was conflict (what brings chaos into order?) in the fifth century BCE.

    Third, Jesus Himself said that no one actually knew God except as He reveals Him (Matt.11:27). John also stated, no one has ever seen the invisible God, but the Logos (Jesus) “has declared Him.” (John 1:18)

    Fourth, Jesus Christ is the exact representation of God (John 14:17; Heb.1:3)

    Fifth, Jesus was the flesh and blood manifestation of what the invisible God, who is Spirit, is like (John 1:14; 4:24). The apostle John said they were eyewitnesses to Jesus… “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life— 2 the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us” (1 John 1:1-2)

    Sixth, Jesus often reinterpreted the Scriptures, taking out the retributive Zeus-like view of God that Israel had One example: Luke 4:18-20 (cf. Isa.61:1-2). He left out the “day of vengeance…” (Isa.61:2)

    There are other reasons, but these are the main ones. As someone once said, “Jesus Christ is perfect theology.” Whatever is not like Christ is not like God; whatever is like Christ is like God (Heb.1:3). To read the Bible indiscriminately, as if Jesus never happened, would be to read it wrongly.

    That’s my take on it. I just wanted to be sure to answer your question before I forgot. 🙂 Blessings.

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    • WOW great gravy! You went far beyond what I really was asking, thank you. I did not mean to put you to all that work. I must have goofed in the way I phrased my question. I admit most of what you wrote went over my head. I am not a big scholar of different religions, as they say I know just enough to be dangerous. Everyone here is helping me to understand all this stuff. Let me try again, even though you might have answered it above.

      Right now Peter and I are talking about terrorist acts committed by groups, specifically what percentage are committed by Muslims. So I looked it up on google and got pages with one set of answers. Peter got information that had a totally different take on the subject. Now just straight looking at the numbers would give two different answers. The more pages I read the more clear it became that the posts and figures were slanted for or against due to the bias of the author. That did not make me happy because then to get my answer I had to try to figure out the emotional state or motivation of the person claiming the information. I hate that. I miss too much stuff and get the wrong ideas. It is so messed up. It is like our …current president, facts become whatever you feel.

      I am not saying you are doing that. However could there be a bit of that in your view of your deity? I mean if you go on your feeling of what god should be, then that is sort of like creating a different god than what the people of the bible wrote about based on their culture and time. Everyone can have their own view of something , from movies to gods. Everyone sees Thor differently, and there are thousands of different christian denominations claiming they all know the “real” Jesus. Does that make sense?

      So I was wondering if you were not doing that, but using accepted interpretations of verse, which you clearly know a lot of them as you just listed a bunch for specific things, and those verses turned out to be false, would that change your view of the God you believe in? Thanks. Hugs

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      • Sorry Scottie. My friends say the same things sometimes! I tend to give people a drink with a firehose. 🙂 I also don’t know what you’re specifically looking for, so I just give you my theological take off the top of my head (without editing down to something more palatable.)

        First, on interpretation. As I said to Nan, that’s all we can do with Scripture, interpret it, which opens the door to honest differences of interpretation. But our life in Christ is not based on doctrinal accuracy but love in relationship. I personally believe the “Jesus” hermeneutic provides better explanatory scope than other models.

        One thing we’ve found out over the last 200 years is that there is no such thing as an unbiased opinion, as if the observer can be disinterested and have no affect on the data. This is why this assumption of earlier higher criticism has now be found to be bankrupt. This is why theology changes over time. It’s the water we’ve been swimming in, we cannot disconnect ourselves from what we are reading. In other words, we all tend to find what we are looking for, concluding according to our paradigm.

        You said: “and those verses turned out to be false, would that change your view of the God you believe in?”

        For me, if ALL of Scripture turned out to be a fairytale it would not change my relationship at all. My relationship is not based on the Bible’s veracity. God is as real to me as my relationship with my wife (although not in a physical sense). He has proven Himself (“He” or “Himself” is not meant to be gender, male/female, but relational) to me in many, many intangible and tangible ways. So, to try to convince me that Jesus didn’t historically exist, or that there is no God, would be like trying to convince me that my wife doesn’t exist. It’s too late for that for me. And I think I have shown in the other discussions that we cannot prove without a reasonable doubt that there is no creator of the cosmos. Saying there cannot be an original cause (creator) when we don’t know for certain is also a statement of faith.

        Having said that, I believe we can reasonably trust that Scripture not a fable. But the Bible is also not a history book or a science book. It’s faith-based, more ontology, anthropology, and sociology than accurate history of science. And I believe, in that regard, it’s brilliant. And I would also say that if we were going to use the same scrutiny with other works of antiquity that we’ve done with Jesus and Scripture, then we must also question whether anyone existed at all…did Plato exist, for instance? Did we actually land on the moon, for that matter! We know that there is no media evidence that cannot be doctored. So, the pulling this thread must apply to all history and “hearsay,” even if we see it on the news. To accept one (Plato) and not the other (Jesus) only reveals our a priori bias.

        I probably went overboard again! Sorry…I’m just trying to explain my “no, it wouldn’t change my view.” Blessings to you,

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        • Hello Mel. Thanks for the answer and for continuing to talk. Mel if I understand you correctly you believe in a more generic deity than a specific one in the bible? Is the deity you believe in a single entity or a collection of entities? Does your belief preclude the idea of more than one deity? The reasons I ask these questions is to understand how strictly or loosely your personal God is based in the bible. ( as I understand it or what others follow as the bible god ) Mel I have read theist on different blogs claim they came to “know God” when filled with the holy spirit. Do you believe that people who have never heard of your bible and have a deity, are they influence in the creation of this deity by the holy spirit? This is different from the debate of “do primitive people who never knew the bible and jesus go to heaven or hell. I am really trying to understand how this idea that the bible could be a fairytale and it wouldn’t change your view of god. I think that is grand actually as I don’t really like the God of the bible. it is a immoral arrogant woman hating jerk. So if you used the best things you can find and created a grand God I am all for that. I also wonder if you would recommend that method for everyone? OK, talk later, it is late and I fell asleep twice trying to write this. 🙂 be well . Hugs

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        • Scottie. Let me try to clarify. First, most of the early church had a relationship with God in Christ without the Bible. Many couldn’t read it if they had one. Also, let me clarify that the Bible text does give language to my relationship with God, but even if I had no text for it, I would still have the relationship. I just wouldn’t have the text to support it (like I don’t have a textbook for having a relationship with my wife). But, again, there’s other evidence of this relationship.

          Second question, since I do have a Bible to inform me, I believe in the Trinitarian God that it reveals, but I don’t give it lip service like many evangelicals do. As I have explained elsewhere, three “persons” (inadequate word but the best I have right now) in one essence (like my oversimplified atom analogy), in a dynamic, ternary union, which gets even more complicated because we tend to see things dualistically. The early church called this dynamic union perichoresis (to “dance around”). Christ (eternal Son) became Jesus (human) in order for God to widen the circle of fellowship, if you will. I could get more technical, but your eyes may be glazing over about now… 🙂

          Next question, since I believe that everyone and everything is in Christ (Col.1:16-17), then I believe that everyone has the Holy Spirit in them. God poured out His Spirit out on ALL flesh (Acts 2). Scottie, I believe you have God living in you. But, while this is true (I believe), not everyone exercises faith, which is the key to entering into this relationship with God. God is about relationship and intimacy, not prayers to a distant god. What you’ve probably experienced is religion, which is not all what I’m talking about

          I will stop there. I probably raised more questions than gave answers! Peace.

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        • Ok, Mel. Thanks for the reply but I have to trot off to bed. It is late here and I am tired. I keep falling asleep at my desk. Ron says I am like a little kid fighting going to bed. So I will chat with you tomorrow. Good night be well, hugs.

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        • I hope Mel hasn’t left yet. I have a question or two. You write

          And I would also say that if we were going to use the same scrutiny with other works of antiquity that we’ve done with Jesus and Scripture, then we must also question whether anyone existed at all…did Plato exist, for instance?

          which on the surface looks like a valid question but it isn’t. Is anything attributed to Plato lessened if it were to be said today he, Plato, didn’t exist? In what ways are the stories of Jesus and the writings of Plato comparable?
          Or to talk of a different person from antiquity. Does the saying attributed to Solon address to Cyrus[?] that a person can only be counted happy after death lose its effect because Solon did not exist or that both of them didn’t exist?

          In the writings of Plato is there anything that requires us to suspend reason to believe it? For example does he talk of feeding thousands of people with a few loafs of bread and 2 fish? Or does he talk of walking on water? The bible has such stories and more and they can only be taken seriously by those who already believe the biblical narrative.

          Next you say

          For me, if ALL of Scripture turned out to be a fairytale it would not change my relationship at all.

          Is this to mean evidence has no tract with you?

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        • My point is that we choose to believe what we want to believe when it comes to philosophical or spiritual issues. And because of this, we will be more critical of “historical evidence” we don’t agree with. While we can have objective confidence in hard facts learned from scientific discovery, we cannot apply the same principle to matters outside of the physical world. They are not things we can put under a microscope and conclude something.

          And as far as the “miraculous” goes, why couldn’t God suspend the natural order of physics, especially when we know what’s possible at the quantum level (uh oh…I know I’m going to be scolded for appealing to science again).

          I’m not at all against evidence, it’s just that my evidence is of another kind. My relationship with God is very real, proven to me in so many other ways. You could dismiss it as brain chemicals, hallucinations, etc., and dismiss what I believe. That’s fine. But it still doesn’t answer WHY we’re here, what is the cause of all these “chemicals,” strings, waves, particles, if you will. It leaves us with a very short life here and then we’re gone.

          You choose only to believe scientific data we can measure, mostly in the 3D world; I choose to believe that there’s a lot more. The Bible text, while important to me, doesn’t change that. Christianity is not the Bible; it’s a relationship with Christ, someone as real to me as my own breath. No argument can change that for me. He didn’t win me over by an argument. I won’t be turned away by an argument either.

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        • Tell me Mel, when did you choose to believe as you do.
          You didn’t answer my question. What in the writings of Plato would lose their strength if they were anonymous?
          Your evidence is of alternate facts? You don’t know what I believe. You are not qualified to speak on it.
          Is it possible to be a Christian without the bible?

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        • I chose to believe about 39 years ago. I wanted to know Jesus like my (future) wife knew Him. At the time, I didn’t have a Bible nor was I able to understand one very well. (pretty burnt-out druggy musician.) God met me powerfully first, then later I started to study the Bible.

          Neither Plato’s nor Jesus’ writings would necessarily lose their strength if they were anonymous. I’m not sure what your point is there. My point was that it’s hard to confirm anyone’s existence with certainty in antiquity. We mostly go on writings and circumstantial evidence. I have no reason to doubt that Plato existed, btw.

          My evidence is based on things not seen, the way He changed my life, confirms things I believe He’s saying to me through other people. The joy I feel in my heart every day. How He has taught me how to love unconditionally. The transformation that took place in my life, my nature and temperament from what I was before, the many dramatic healings I’ve personally witnessed. I’m sure some of these can be explained away, but not all of them. Certainly, not my daily relationship with Him. The Bible only confirms it for me.

          If it wasn’t possible to be a Christian without the Bible then there would’ve been almost no Christians in the first several centuries! They had no “Bible” until much later. Many of the believers could not read anyway. Even after the Bible was compiled, it was usually in Greek or Latin, and a few other languages, and mostly kept in monasteries. The rank and file believer had little or no access to one. The Bible didn’t become important on a personal level in Christianity until around the 16th century.

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        • So one morning 39 years ago Mel woke up and chose to believe in talking snakes, pregnant virgins and transporter fish. Good to know. Tomorrow I will choose to be Muslim.
          The words attributed to Jesus are said to determine your life in the here after. They ought to be verifiable. The works of Plato makes no such demand. Nothing is lost even if they were anonymously written.
          It is true the early Christians did not have the bible as currently constituted but have some form of scripture. Without that scripture and constant preaching do you suppose they would be Christians?
          Your standard of evidence seems to be so different from mine. Would you on this belief tell your neighbors you have a wife but she is invisible?
          The drunk is happy. It’s not evidence for god.

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        • Yes, the evidence of my faith is very different than your evidence. It has nothing to do with talking snakes! But even so, you will not get the verification you want without faith. In this world, believing is seeing. And I will most gladly put my faith in Jesus now and for the hereafter. And here’s the thing. I have absolutely nothing to lose if you’re right.

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        • You got so much to lose if I am right. You have believed a lie and taught others the same lie, a mistake you are unable to mend.
          You could also be annoying the true god every time you mention Jesus and you will be punished by being sent back as a rapid dog.
          It is not so black and white and it pays to be open to more possibilities.

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        • You must be a comedian. It is you who said no evidence will move you from belief in transporter fish. Not I. I keep an open mind but not to the point of accepting absurdities

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        • My point was to your openness. I am open to a point. But what I find absurd and irrational is believing that there can be no first cause (creator) to the cosmos. That’s the ultimate “POOFism” to me.

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        • I didn’t realize I was in a courtroom. I was making a general comment to what I have learned here. And it’s very much to the point. You said you’re not open to absurdities. I’m not either, like causeless POOFism.

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        • Why would you mention it and it has not been part of the discussion we have been having.
          But now that you seem you can’t get over it, what evidence have you the cosmos had a beginning? What, say you, is the origin of the creator and how many are they? Are they 33(?) as Aristotle proposed in his metaphysics or you will stick with WLC and his Kalaam Argument developed from an earlier argument?

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        • Hello Mel, good afternoon. Hope you week is well so far. I have been reading the comments and I was startled by one thing you wrote. You wrote about your transformation. You seem to give all the credit to your deity and saved none for yourself. I am sure no matter how much direction your God gave you, you did the work. You suffered the withdrawal. So now you are a different person and have been for 39 years.

          Then I read where you say no argument would change your mind because an argument did not cause your change in the first place. Ok, but what about you? Could you change your mind about everything dealing with your conversion, your deity, and your faith?

          The reason I ask I once read a short article about a man who decided to spend a year as a theist. He felt it wouldn’t change him, felt it would prove to others his version of god. At the end of the year he felt otherwise.
          http://www.npr.org/2014/12/…/after-year-of-atheism-former-pastor-i-dont-think-god-exists
          http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/01/04/ryan-bell-atheist_n_6397336.html

          So I wonder what you think would happen to you if you found out there was no god or that your faith was wrong? Would you revert to your old ways you now dislike? Would you decided to forgo being a decent caring person and become a lawless hateful being? I wonder what you feel your god is giving you that you couldn’t give to yourself? Thanks. Hugs

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        • Hi Scottie. It would be hard to answer this to your satisfaction. All I can say is that I was angry at God when this happened, and I wanted nothing to do with Him, and the last thing I wanted was to return to Him. Everything about this encounter was counter-intuitive.

          But I will agree with one thing you said. I felt like I was given the choice at the time…I could either walk away (I was a church leader at the time) and feel some sense of freedom from the prison I felt I was in, or open my heart to Him again and “walk with Him” in the middle of my “hell.” I had the impression that He would love me either way. For some reason I can’t explain because of how I felt at the time, I chose the latter. And I can say with all sincerity that it’s the best decision I’ve made in my life. It changed everything. There’s no turning back for me now.

          So, we’ll just have to leave it at that. I always appreciate your hugs! Blessings to you.

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        • Hi Mel. I was just wondering what your god gives to you now that you couldn’t give to yourself if you wished? You don’t need the same life change now you felt you needed then do you? I won’t argue the worth of your decision, as only you can decide how much it was worth. Also I feel it is never too late to change your mind or take another path in life,but again only you can make that choice.

          You said at the end we have to leave it at that. That is OK if you want, everyone has the right not to talk about things that upset them or they don’t wish to talk about. I do also. But I am not sure what we have to leave “it at that”. I think you answered a question I did not ask, or did not mean to if I did. I wanted to know if you felt that your faith was keeping you as you are now? If your belief was what was making you a good person? I wondered if you felt you would return to your old ways if you felt your connection to your god was lessened? Would you stay the same if you did what they other Pastor did ( is pastor capitalised, it is a job title ?) or would you change somehow? IF these are the things you did not wish to talk about please don’t feel I am pushing or prying, just say you don’t want to talk about it and I will not ask it again. Be well. Enjoy your rest of the day. Hugs

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        • I live in a small world? Really? I think I live in a world that is 99.9% what we can’t see. There’s at least ten dimensions outside of space and time, who knows how many universes, and almost none of it we have a firm grasp on, but we know it somehow interacts with this small physical world. So, when I agree that I believe that the world we see is framed by the world we don’t see (Heb.11:3), I don’t think I’m believing in a small world. Believing in only what you can see and measure is a very small world to me.

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        • Again you must be confused. Earlier on you said seeing is believing; have you seen any talking donkey, walking snake or a fish transport anyone in its belly.
          I have said nothing of my beliefs. I don’t know why you keep making them up.

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        • Earlier I said that believing is seeing…in the world of faith, you won’t see a lot of things until you believe. You said I live in a small world, and yet you don’t know me either. It’s quite the opposite. A small world, to me, would be a totally rational one where only what can be proven is accepted as reality.

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        • Yes, believing in imaginary universes adds layers upon layers upon layers to the world. It’s almost as if this infinite number of layers could add knowledge about our own. Alas…

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        • You chose the adjective and not the noun and then substituted another noun in its place. You really aren’t very careful in your thinking, are you?

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        • Really? This is what it’s come to? You need to scold me like a little child on my word usage?
          Okay, here’s a simple one word sentence for you. Goodbye.

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        • I suspect the fact that I criticized you right off the bat for relying on false equivalencies ends with me pointing out yet another – and showing exactly how you do this even with simple language – means the irony is completely lost on you. Pity. You really could learn something here by recognizing when you do it. You could even fix this reliance you have on at least this particular fallacy. That would be a good start, an opportunity you seem determined to avoid at all costs.

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        • Again you are right I don’t know you but you have written previously in this thread you believe in miracles, that you wanted to believe as your wife, that Jesus is your relationship partner and what nots. You also indicated nothing is about to change those beliefs you hold. From a belief point, you have said so much. A lot of inferences can be made from those. When I said you don’t know me, it is because I have not said anything about my beliefs so it was presumptuous of you to mention the beginning of the cosmos, for example, precisely because I had not made any comments about them.
          Again in a world where unproven things are proclaimed real must be peopled by mad Men. Explains a lot alternative facts. Are you by any chance American?

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        • Exactly. We BOTH don’t know for certain. So, to claim there’s no possibility is an irrational argument. In the end, we both choose to believe or not believe in the possibility.

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        • No one is saying there is NO possibility; the argument is that there is absolutely no evidence to inform such a possibility for a creator god, which undermines the claim you make that the creator hypothesis is at least an equivalent possibility to hypotheses like Big Bang that do have evidence for them.

          This has already been pointed out to you several times to absolutely no effect.

          But again, no one is saying with CERTAINTY that the Big Bang is correct but honest people appreciate that there is a greater likelihood of an explanatory model being likely when it has compelling evidence that comports with it versus an explanatory model that not only has no evidence for it but stands contrary to and in conflict with how we understand the universe to operate, one that includes magic and supernatural elements vs models that have physical and chemical mechanisms supported by how we understand reality to operate.

          You work very hard trying to create an equivalency that simply is not the case. In areas where we have no evidence, the usual response about the likelihood it’s the case, the usual response is, “I don’t know.” You don’t know, Mel, and this is not a reference to certainty; it’s a reference to the fact that you have no evidence whatsoever to inform the creator hypothesis you pretend is equivalent to hypotheses that HAVE compelling evidence.

          This matters because using your method allows anyone to imagine anything at any time and insist that whatever the imagined case may be is equivalent to anything we not only understand about but successfully apply from reality. What you’re doing is not just a disservice to respecting what is the case but a disservice to what we can know about it. That’s why your claims of knowledge of whatever kind derived from a method we know can produce no knowledge is so pernicious; it is equivalent to the very worst kind of anti-intellectual, anti-scientific drivel that currently is empowered in the White House busy attacking and dismantling our public institutions, deleting and distorting the information they contain. Your method when used in positions of public trust is guaranteed to cause a huge amount of unnecessary suffering to very real people in real life in the name of respecting personal ill-informed superstitious beliefs/imaginings/assumptions MORE than respecting reality as we can and do know it to be. That’s why you need to be criticized for trying to enable ignorance and superstition with all of these false equivalencies to knowledge and science.

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        • Evidence – to be evidence – is defined as the means to LINK cause with effect. Mel has neither the means nor the linking data to connect his religious beliefs with anything from reality.

          What he does offer us is a Just So story based entirely on him… his assumptions, his assertions, his beliefs, his interpretations, his narrative. That’s what constitutes in his mind the ‘evidence’… a story that he then shapes into what he wants others to think is ‘another’ kind of knowledge, ‘another’ way of knowing.

          Upon examination, it is neither because it produces no knowledge, no insight, and he provides us no evidence that it does.

          But Mel’s confusion is not the problem. What is a problem is being deceitful about all of this. To compound all the errors Mel fools himself into believing is true, what he does then is worthy of much harsher criticism; he presents his ‘testimony’ falsely and insists that the source for all of this does not come from him and him alone. He adamantly holds fast to the lie that his fictional account does not come from him but from reality independent of his assumptions, assertions, beliefs, interpretations, his narrative, that it he has ‘received’ a revelation that gives him insight into unknowable realms that contain unknowable causal agencies from which he thinks he shares a ‘relationship’. After all, Mel tells us his life changed because of the influence he underwent from the object of his projected beliefs, as if the object itself and not him was the cause.

          Mel avoids presenting evidence because he hasn’t any but rather than admit as much and leave it at that he turns to deceit and rationalization (with some hand waving towards quantum physics to make it seem more sciencey). He has fooled himself and now tries to fool others.

          Liked by 1 person

      • Scottie,
        You always make sense. That’s exactly it – Mel’s feeling about (his) god drives his understanding, as it does every for every other him or her.
        Since you mentioned underwear in another comment, I wanted to mention the Mormons’ magic underwear. I’ll bet Mel scoffs at that belief. He has stated that he gets frustrated by fundamentalists, and I assume it’s because of some of their beliefs.

        Mel, you need to realize that many of us scoff at your beliefs for the same reason. There’s no doubt in my mind that you are probably a wonderful guy. You’re obviously keenly intelligent and have been quite diplomatic in your interactions, both here and on Ark’s spot. But the bottom line, for me anyway, is that belief in gods is still -at its base – a product of imagination. Just because your interpretation doesn’t embrace extremes does not make it any more palatable. Certainly there’s nothing objectionable to the way you are presenting your beliefs — you don’t advocate unequal treatment for some people, for instance – but you are still attempting to convince us that the imaginary is real. 🙂

        Liked by 3 people

        • Hello Carmen. Thank you. I do agree with you that Mel has been nice. Also I never understood the magic underwear thing at all. I think it got started because someone was to shy or ashamed of their body to take their undies off when doing public bathing. Just an aside I find it really interesting that the times and people that some fundamentalist like to claim were so moral had no problem showing their bodies publicly. I have seen pictures of guys in school doing nude swimming while girls in swimsuits were there swimming also. Seems our ancestors were not as afraid of their bodies as we are today. So back to magic underwear, I knew a kid in PVA ( a SDA boarding school ) who was so shy and body a shamed that he wouldn’t shower with the rest of us boys and when he did shower he refused to take his underwear off. I wonder how many religious traditions were started by mistake or because of something like what I mentioned? Hugs

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        • Hi Carmen. I understand why you would scoff at this. I am talking about something “spiritual” which there has been a lot of research and effort to explain in all away. Of course, we do this. We don’t like mystery! And, again, I’m not trying to convince anyone here either. I know you’re not open to that. But I do hope to understand you better, and I hope you will understand me better, too.

          The truth is, you would scoff at just about everything I have encountered with God. I don’t have instruments to measure it. But let me say this about imagination and how our brain works. We now know that most of the cosmos exists outside of time and three-dimensional space, probably ten other (non-local) dimensions (maybe it’s infinite, who knows. For instance, the atom is mostly non-local. So, the rational logic you’re employing, and I would try to employ to explain it, won’t prove or disprove anything here. It’s not like trying to solve a math problem. Even brain chemicals and neurons simultaneously exist in many other dimensions. So, what about the 99.99% of those atoms that exists outside of time and space? How do we know for certain that these chemical reactions aren’t influenced by forces in these invisible dimensions? the honest answer is, we don’t.

          So, if I were you all, I would hold off on the dismissive scoffing. The truth is, there’s infinitely more going on than we currently understand. So that’s why I say that not believing in the possibility of a creator (first cause) is irrational and takes just as much faith and believing in one. Our faith is just directed in different directions. You can totally disagree with me. Again, that’s fine. It won’t change what I believe either. I’m just saying that it’s not as kooky as rationalists try to make it.
          Blessings.

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        • … which it doesn’t, yet again, but still trotted out by the apologists as if it had even the slightest bit of merit… Still, handy dandy for those who wish to use them to try to fool people with Really Bad Reasons fully discredited time after time after time yet still pulled out of storage where all the junk is stored and then offered to those who are gullible enough to buy into the idea that the intention for the trope must be good because it offered in such a nice way. Of course, I cannot accurately and truthfully describe what this action really indicates about the intentions of the person offering them in reality because it goes against the comment policy Apparently honesty is not the best policy but one that must be of less consideration in the name of protecting those sensitive to tone… specifically the tone criticizing this constant use of indefensible tropes.

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        • Do you ever not judge other’s character and motives and not ridicule people who you disagree with? Just wondering…I haven’t heard it yet. Not a good way to gain credibility and influence others.

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        • Mel, I respect people who care about what is true and who seek to decrease their ignorance when the opportunity arises and increase their knowledge when that opportunity arises.

          This is not you. You don;t care about any of that. And you demonstrate that time after time. You misrepresent yourself as someone who does and then don’t. You don;t walk the talk and, in fact, refuse to own it.

          You try to sound nice and reasonable and educated on the one hand and then turn right around on the other and pull out standard apologetic tropes when your religious claims are legitimately challenged. Or – in my case – when what could be honest misunderstanding and/or misrepresentations by you could be addressed with honest explanations.

          I have provided these.

          You have waved all of them away without any consideration or honest reflection. All. I would get more feedback from a wall. My tone was polite and considerate and honest. Your responses – rather than addressing the merit and quality of actual differences of opinion expressed – was to pull out a discredited religious trope and fling that in my direction as if it had some counter-merit. I then bothered to dismantle a couple of standard tropes you flung my way (tropes only used not by deists or people who lean this way or that regarding different religious sympathies) but solely by Christian apologists (you had said you were not religious but believed in a liberalized Christian version of god only to reveal yourself as a standard Christian evangelical creationist). I showed why these first couple of tropes had no merit nor addressed the legitimate criticisms I had previously raised…..to absolutely no effect. Your response to these necessarily long-winded explanations by me was not to correct your own misunderstanding and misrepresentation or incorporate some equivalent difference of opinion but to pull yet another trope and fling it my way, and then another, and then another. All of that demonstrated behaviour and a mindset contrary to the one you kept saying you had.

          You gave absolutely no indication whatsoever that you actually cared about these explanations why your tropes were not the case. All you were doing was evading exactly that which you said you wanted: to better understand these differences. That was simply not the case. Again and again, over and over, this was not the case.

          When someone does this enough times with me, only THEN do I understand that you (just like every other Christian evangelical creationists who cares not at all about anything reality has to say about their beliefs) have no intention whatsoever to either understand anything other than express what you believe and you demonstrate this interpretation by seeming to be inoculated against anything reality has to offer.. raised by me or anyone else – that challenges any of your religious claims that contradicts or is incompatible with or contrary to your beliefs.

          What I’m not allowed to do here is accurately describe with a few perfectly acceptable honest terms what someone who does what you do is called. That you are fully deserving of such terms doesn’t matter to our blog host nearly as much as granting to you a level of polite acceptance no matter how much or how often or to what extent you do not wish to respect what you say you are here to do. I simply fed you enough rope out of the goodness of my heart for you to hoist yourself.

          But thanks for the advice on how to gain credibility and influence with others. I just don’t go in for the kind of manipulation of language rather than reality some people think serves their cause so admirably. It’s a character flaw I have.

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        • tildeb, all I’ve gotten from you is dismissive labeling and insults. On the other hand, I’ve had a productive conversation with the others and gained valuable insights why they have issues with faith, and they’ve been respectful. And I have respected their view. They have asked me questions and I have answered them from my point of view. They didn’t have to ridicule me or be condescending in order to disagree.
          No, you have no credibility with me.

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        • Hi Mel, I’m a little slow getting to my emails this a.m.

          I’ll tell you that you’re absolutely right about one thing – I do disagree with you. 🙂

          First off, it really makes me shake my head when apologists try to use science to argue in favour of gods. To me, there’s no compatibility at all. You could write pages and pages of more of the above, and it would make my eyes glaze over… and do nothing but indicate to me that you are trying to convince YOURSELF that the imaginary is really real. It’s not logical at all – no matter what terminology you use – so you lose me right at the beginning.

          I’m also quite confident that you know the definition of faith (belief without evidence) so it’s not at all sensible to suggest it takes faith to disbelieve. . . give your head a shake.

          No matter how sensible you sound in your explanations, when it comes down to it you’re still arguing that the invisible exists and that, furthermore, it has an effect on a person’s actions and thoughts. Sorry, but there is no way to convince me of that as you’ll always be missing the crucial component – evidence.

          As I’ve suggested before, magical thinking is not an acceptable replacement for rational thinking. And Mel, I’m just not sure that comparing your love for your wife to your love of your invisible friend is the best compliment you can give to your wife. I think if I were she, I be tempted to tell you, “Well then, dear, just imagine I’m with you to . . . ” (fill in the many different scenarios). 🙂

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        • Carmen, please remember I’m not trying to convince you of anything. It seems to me that a lot of this reaction is because you all think I’m doing that, but I’m only trying to be understood, and trying to understand you. That’s why I’m here.

          You think my “invisible friend” is irrational and foolish. Fair enough. I fully understand the holes in my argument, especially in specific areas of my faith. But I don’t think you want to come to grips with the gaping holes in your argument. This is what honestly puzzles me.

          I think it’s equally irrational for anyone who says that they don’t know what is the “first cause” of the cosmos to totally discount the possibility of a “creator.” That is not a logical conclusion; it’s a prejudiced conclusion. I’m not saying it’s proves God either; I’m saying you cannot disprove God. The fact is, you don’t know, and I don’t know. So, in that sense, you have confidence (faith, trust) that there is no God, even though it cannot be proven with evidence (or disproven). I have faith that there is a God. We’re both putting our confidence in something that is not only invisible (outside of time and space) but we have no way of back up our claim with evidence.

          And, again, I’m only using science to show that this is true. So, atheists have no right to tell theists that we cannot appeal to science. We have as much right as you, at least in this comparison.

          So yes, of course, you are free to disagree. And I am free to believe that your conclusion is irrational.

          And my arguing that the invisible exists? Well, we know for certain that it does! That was my whole point. In quantum mechanics we’re proving this all the time. There is phenomenon affecting objects from somewhere else. It doesn’t prove God; I never said it did. But it does prove there’s a whole lot more going on than what we can observe.

          The best I can do is use metaphor with “spiritual” things (or brain chemicals affected by whatever, if you will). But I don’t think you can just dismiss what you don’t fully understand. Even the idea of being “rational” suggests predictable laws…and (gasp)…a design, but there I go again with my tropes! 🙂

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        • Mel,

          It’s taken me awhile to respond as I have many distractions but I wanted to take up a couple of your points.

          First off, the “you can’t disprove God” trope. True enough, I can’t. But then no one can disprove the existence of Herb the Vegetarian Dragon or the mermaids of which my grandchildren are so enamoured. Does that point to those two actually existing, though? But of course – in their 5-year-old minds. (which is the same place your god resides, by the way)

          Now, you state that you really want to understand. I’ll take you at your word and offer another perspective you may not have considered. You may realize that many who read/comment here were once devout believers like yourself. They truly accepted what their leaders – the understanding easy-to-get-along-with, diplomatic ‘nice’ guys – said. The ones who kept the ruse going with logical-sounding, philosophical ‘carrots’ such as “You can’t disprove the existence of God”. Those same leaders might have promoted the ‘enduring relationship’ idea and helped to perpetuate the idea that a dead person could live forever – an alluring “eyes on the prize” bonus for complete devotion to an invisible, unprovable entity. For most of us, it worked for years.

          Many of Nan’s readers, however, also read, studied, thought critically, and ended up reaching a logical, reality-based conclusion — that the Bible is completely man-made, that it was written as a primitive explanation for things people didn’t understand in a long-ago time, and that there’s no such thing as the supernatural. They/we realized (after careful consideration of all the facts) that no matter what our well-respected, intelligent, ‘nice’ leaders said, the whole thing was a ruse. . . a carefully-crafted tale . . perhaps even the greatest deception of all time.

          Now try to imagine (and I know you CAN) how people feel when they realize they’ve been conned. . . duped. . . a victim of their own trust in people from whom they expected truth. Imagine their feelings of hurt/disappointment/anger/sadness directed toward those ‘nice’ people who assured them that they had good reasons for believing in the unbelievable.

          These are the people who read/comment here – the ones who feel completely taken advantage of, who had their trust betrayed, and were even convinced that their gullibility was a virtue. There’s no nice way to put this so I’ll just spit it out. Nice guys like you, Mel, are making a living hoodwinking people. You’re actively promoting the greatest lie ever told, simply put. I know, I know you’ve got valid reasons for doing so – you feel in your heart that it’s the right thing, that’s it true and good, that it’s what you should do. You’re convinced that there really is something ‘there’ (quantum physics?) and that – furthermore – it’s the god you just happen to believe in. Many of us get where you’re coming from because we’ve been there before. We just don’t believe it anymore.

          Tildeb suggested in one of his comments that one never knows when a seed of doubt is planted which ‘trips’ cognitive dissonance. There’s no doubt in my mind that my comments make you uncomfortable; that you are insulted to even read some of them. That you outright reject some. The thing is, your job is to sell hopes and dreams, not reality. As a well-respected blogger said on his site yesterday, “Christianity only has the power a person gives it. Without belief, there is no invisible omnipotent force ready to force itself on anyone. All the claims in the world about how real this deity is are as meaningless as the monster underneath a child’s bed. No grand puppet master pulls the strings. It isn’t a bad thing to not believe.”

          Many of us don’t believe in the supernatural anymore, Mel. We believe in the natural. And it’s super. 🙂

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        • Hello & grand morning Carmen. Thank you for your comment. I never realized the damage and hurt religion did to people who once believed. I was not a convert despite desperately wanting to find a god to protect me, so I couldn’t deconvert. Carmen as is my way when I find people who are hurting I want to help. How can I help the people here I admire so much? I am not sure if I can help, but I think the people who left a false system of ideas did them self a grand favor. Thanks. Hugs

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        • Scottie, I can’t speak for everyone, only for myself. But it seems to me that you offer much in the way of support already to everyone in the ‘community’ by being yourself – accepting, encouraging, supportive and always affirming. Keep being you, Scottie! (oh, and having a great sense of humour is a good thing, too!) Hugs to you too! 🙂

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        • Carmen, EXCELLENT write-up! I feel you said much of what most of are thinking, but in such a nice way. 🙂 Especially loved your very last paragraph.

          From my perspective, I do think Mel is a wee bit different than most of the believers we come across in that he doesn’t seem so “hung up” on scripture. (I think you’re quite familiar with the ones I’m referring to.) He’s repeatedly referenced Christ’s love and stresses that’s the really big thing in his life (rather than “the holy doctrine”). Yes, he most definitely sees things from the Christian POV, but he doesn’t seem quite as dogmatic as so many others.

          Anyway … good job!

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        • Nan, I can always imagine that the reason Mel is so reasonable is because he’s closer to the agnostic/atheist viewpoint than he realizes. 🙂

          Who knows? He might get that ‘kernel of doubt’ from this thread . . .

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        • But is he really? Every time I push him to be honest, Mel comes back with fundamentalist tropes. That’s not approaching agnosticism; it’s creating a garrison mentality and blaming it – along with others who share the view – on being ‘attacked’ (yes, the truth can seem unreasonably harsh and with what appears to be a liberal bent). So, just how important is ‘nice’?

          Here’s something to chew on as it relates to accommodating faith-based reasoning as if equivalent to evidence-adduced reasoning: it follows a pattern wherever it appears (in this case politics).

          See the pattern, see the problem.

          It’s not about being nice; it’s about respecting what’s true, supporting institutions that do this, not obeying in advance, not giving away our personal autonomy, and holding fast to those virtues. And it’s about why this matters MORE than accommodating delusion with ‘nice’: our survival depends on it.

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        • Tildeb, I used the word imagine. 🙂

          I especially liked what Timothy Synder said about truth. “Believe in truth. Without truth we don’t have trust. Without trust, we don’t have the rule of law. Without the rule of law we don’t have democracy.”

          Mel, I certainly wish you all the best as well. I believe you are a good man – with or without (your) god. I also fervently hope that someone on this thread has planted a seed of doubt in your mind because truth is the basis of reality.

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        • Carmen, I do get what everyone is saying here. I think I have a firm grasp on the major issues you have. Some of those issues I would agree with, as I have said.

          But when you say, “Nice guys like you, Mel, are making a living hoodwinking people. You’re actively promoting the greatest lie ever told, simply put.”And…”The thing is, your job is to sell hopes and dreams, not reality, ” you are moving away from facts to your opinion and making judgments not backed up with proof. And which “reality” are we talking about? The 3D one we can see, or the one we can’t see?

          Most believers I know, even the ones I vehemently disagree with, sincerely believe what they are “selling” (sic). Their intent is not to hoodwink anyone. Sure, there are some who deliberately deceive, but that is a very small percentage. Most are acting out of their personality, bad theology, fears, etc.

          I agree that we should question what we believe. I have critically processed what I believe for years and it has adjusted my faith considerably. I have probably read just about everything you all have researched yourself. You are giving me nothing new here. I’ve also seen many holes in those critical arguments. You’ve all come to a very different conclusion than I did. The truth remains, we can rightly reject our religious experience, but that doesn’t mean we can prove or disprove God. And, for me, to only accept what I can scientifically prove is a bit narrow-minded. So it all comes down to what we “choose” to believe about that.
          I wish you the best. Peace.

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  15. Mel I have been listening to Matt Dillahunty and one thing he says that addresses the issue you said to Carmen is this: We have no tools to test or verify the supernatural, we do have the ability to do so with the natural. I paraphrased him. So the idea is we have to deal with the natural world and we can dismiss the supernatural until it can be verified, proven, shown to exist. Gods and deities are supernatural by definition. The special feelings that some people get when immersed in religious stuff is explained well by science. We shouldn’t disregard proven science to support unproven dreams and fairytales.

    Understand I do agree with you on not trying to change your mind. You are an adult. Hey if this belief makes you feel better and helps you in life I am all for it. We have already established you do not support interfering in the secular world. So as a consenting adult, you are more than welcome to do whatever you want with other consenting adults.

    Have a great Sunday. Today must be a work day for you as a pastor. Be well. Hugs

    Like

    • Scotty. I understand your point. And you’re right. We can measure the natural world. We can’t do that with whatever these other reams are. If there is a “supernatural” world(s), it would take a different kind of equipment (call Ghostbusters? 🙂 ) I also agree that a lot of “Christian” apologetics doesn’t answer these questions.

      I guess if I’m trying to convince you of anything it’s to be careful about saying there’s no possibility of these invisible realms, or even a “god”, when you cannot prove that either. It’s an argument from silence, which is a fallacious argument. I cannot prove it either. I can only say that I believe in God.

      Beyond that, I have total respect for what you’re saying. It’s well thought out and researched. That’s good. No one should just be indoctrinated into their worldview. I came here with the understanding that we’re all adults and no one is trying to change the other’s minds, only understand one another better. I think I understand you better now, so thank you for that! You have been very respectful and I appreciate that. I hope you understand my position better, too. Let me know if you have any other questions for me. I can’t promise I know the answer, but I will do my best to give my point of view. Blessings and peace to you and yours (and thanks for the hugs!)

      And, btw, today is a “work” day, but I’m home now. Will probably take a nap though. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Mel, you wrote I guess if I’m trying to convince you of anything it’s to be careful about saying there’s no possibility of these invisible realms, or even a “god”, when you cannot prove that either.

        Why must Scottie (or anyone else) be “careful” about this? Is some big boogie devil going to strike? Seriously, you say you’re just trying to understand others better …. not change their minds. But this almost sounds like a threat.

        Further, you write I cannot prove it either. I can only say that I believe in God. By the same token, while non-believers may not be able to disprove the existence of the Christian God, they choose to NOT believe in its existence.

        You’ve spoken often of the “love” you feel. I think for people on my side of the fence, emotion is replaced by reason … and this is why convincing us is pretty much a losing battle.

        But it is entertaining to “swap stories.” 😀

        Liked by 1 person

        • Nan, I meant that you don’t sound rational. When someone will not admit that anything could possibly be wrong with their position, even when presented with the possibility, they actually lose credibility. But now that you mention it, do watch out for those little black imps that come out of the smoky bottomless pit… J/K! 🙂

          And remember…nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition. Sorry, Monty Python just popped in my head… 🙂

          Okay, seriously now…when you say that you “choose” not to believe, that at least sounds more rational.

          Like

      • Hello Mel. I hope you had a good nap. I want to thank you for the nice things you wrote. I especially took joy in your saying what I wrote is well thought out and researched. I also thank you for the feedback that I had been respectful. I sure hope I had, and nice also. If I had been a jerk or mean or insulting you wouldn’t want to have a conversation with me and you would well be correct in that. I don’t like it when I try to discuss online with someone and they get personal and insulting rather than talk about the different issues. Or get angry that my different opinion is somehow a personal attack on them. I think we all have a core set of rules / ideas / morals we live our lives by. It doesn’t matter if you are a theist or atheist. Well my code says I treat everyone as I would want to be treated, as well as I can, with understanding and respect until they give me a sufficient reason not to. Even if someone abuses me, my response to that should be tempered by my reason and kindness to others. ( An example is someone who I once tried to talk with online who wouldn’t answer anything I asked but instead insulted and belittled me. I did not respond in kind, I simply stopped talking to him.)

        The people here are some of the nicest kindest understanding people I have met. They respect others and even tolerate me. 🙂 I have learned a lot from them all. I want to compliment you also. You have treated me with respect and thoughtfulness during our talks. See that is what I feel we have been doing, having a conversation. Two people who met at the place of one of my friends and we are chatting about different things we believe, feel, and think. We are currently talking about religion or lack of it in our lives. At least I think we are, I am.

        I asked the questions I did of you at the start because you had me confused with something you said that others may have understood. Then you explained it. You asked if I understood you better now, and yes I have a much better idea of your personality and how you deal with people who have a different opinion than you. You told me how you felt about the questions I asked which I appreciate. Now in a conversation normally we would both ask questions, however I understand you are focused on the many things others are saying and asking, responding to those questions also. However I don’t mind if you have questions, I would try to give a reasonable answer. And to that is why I typed so much of the above. Because I think I gave you a misconception some where.

        I am an atheist and I have never seen any convincing evidence of a god or deity. Nor do I see a need for one in my life. Sadly I have seen some negatives from people who do believe in a deity who try to force their view on others. I am not saying all believers in gods commit harmful acts, but there seems to be a larger, more driven percentage than in the non believing community. I also can see the truth in that we can’t measure, reproduce, test, influence the supernatural. However I don’t discount what we may find out in the future. New discoveries are being made every day. It maybe someday we will find a way to confirm the supernatural. Until then I see no reason to give credence to anything other than the natural world we live in, that we do have means to confirm as real. Does that help you understand where I am coming from.

        Be well and have a good one. Hugs

        Liked by 2 people

        • Thanks Scottie. I do understand what you’re saying and respect that. And I agree with the other things you said, too. Btw, I have atheist friends who I’ve known to be some of the most loving, caring, and compassionate people and, of course, intelligent. I sense that here, too, in the little time I’ve spent with you all. Otherwise I wouldn’t be here.
          I’m a guest here, but if any questions do come up in the course of conversation, I will ask. Blessings.

          Liked by 1 person

  16. In a response to Scottie, Mel wrote
    I read all Scripture text through the interpretive lens of Jesus Christ.

    How does he do this? Are there interpretations of scripture that Jesus left behind? Or what Mel thinks is synonymous with what Jesus wants?

    Liked by 3 people

    • You have to purchase a pair of special glasses that have been blessed by both the Pope and a rabbi named Franklin Stein in order to get the “correct” interpretation of the bible. They cost 100 dollars, and, if you like, I can send you a pair today via holy spirit express. Let me know. I’m also selling freewills for 6 bucks. I’ll toss one in for you if like. Thanks, and remember what Nancy Reagan once said to her butler, Timmy,” Timmy, if you’re gonna read the bible, ya’ gotta read it through the right lenses or it’ll simply seem like a bunch of gibberish.”

      Liked by 4 people

      • We have not even answered the question of the existence of Jeebus and here a fellow uses his lenses to interpret religious text.
        Please give those special glasses and 6 freewills to go with it

        Liked by 2 people

  17. Mel, it sounds to me that your wife was of great influence. I really wish you’d give her the credit for your change of life if you can’t recognize that you were the one who accomplished that feat. . .it’s difficult to give up drugs and you did that. Good on you. Giving an invisible, unprovable ‘spirit’ the credit for ‘saving you’ robs you of the chance to take well-deserved credit for surmounting personal obstacles in your life. You saved yourself, Mel, so pat yourself on the back and recognize that you probably met your wife at a crucial time in your life; a timely coincidence.

    Liked by 3 people

  18. It is such a shame I cannot be Ark on Nan’s blog, as my response to all the Rose Fertilizer Mel adores shoveling like the prime grade sycophant he so obviously is would test the auricular sensitivities of the most liberal-minded Saint.
    Dear Pastor Mel has the theological qualities of an Unklee without the consensus but all wrapped up in the metaphysical cuddly, candy-coating designed to soften the hardest of hearts… not a Pharaoh of course … and woo the the downtrodden, the broken of spirit and the regular common or garden drugged out musician.

    No naughty religion for uncle Mel Children, No sireee . Just God soft hands Jesus, to use an epithet from another Jesus-Follower.

    No we don’t attend anything as crass or institutionalized as a church, good heavens, whatever next? But we do occasionally meet every Sunday … the Lord’s Day, at a building that can hold up to 200 people … Oh and bring your bible and sure … you can wear a cross. And money for the offering so’s we can put down a deposit with a local builder … well, yes, he is my brother in law in fact … so we can begin construction on an extension to welcome more of the lost and see if can’t save them? I prayed to Jesus and said it was a good thing.
    Why does ” the offering” always remind me of Catholic Indulgences?

    I think Tildeb is right. People like Mel need to called out every single time – and kept away from kids.

    Me, I just call them D#$&/”ds.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Looking on it I can see the shirt was a bad color for me. I love bright red, but rust…not my best. See the problem Ron keeps telling me is the gay taste gene skipped me. 🙂 He totally dislikes my ideas for decorating ( just because I hung a outdoor large round thermometer with a jumping deer on it in the peak of our livingroom cathedral ceiling, Changed out our coffee table with one built out of tree trunks, ran flashing multi colored lights all over and criss crossing our Living room ceiling for christmas …doesn’t everyone like lights for christmas.) He also claims I pick clothes out like a drunk straight frat boy. And my sudden shifts in cooking mode ended when I got the idea to add curry powder to his morning over easy fried eggs. SO look at this small list of a few of my actions, yup, the gay decorating gene went right by me without stopping. It’s ok though, I got the important gay genes. 🙂 Hugs

      Liked by 1 person

      • Oh I forgot to mention his total hissy fit and load drop when I setup my computer desk and entire system including shone system and sound system ( it was in the 1990’s ) in his “fancy sitting room” where he could go with friends to “discuss and have coffee or tea”. He also dislike me calling it “my former playroom”. 🙂 Hugs

        Liked by 1 person

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