Atheists read this

Seated harlequinI do not argue for the truth of Christianity, but its value. I practise Christianity because it helps me live a good life. Good means good to me.

Truth is what is. If you shave God away with Occam’s razor because we can increasingly answer the question “How did we get here?” through scientific materialism, and claim there is no more evidence for God the Creator than for a teapot orbiting Jupiter, that is absolutely fine. Nevertheless the word “God” is useful to describe particular human experiences which have value. You might use psychology to analyse my occasional sense of Oneness with the Universe which produces awe and wonder, calm and acceptance in me. Congratulations. I will still use God-language. Christianity remains a useful way into these experiences.

The Bible has value. It is contradictory- Jesus claims to be God, but also simply man; Nehemiah calls for Jewish isolation from foreign cultural influences, as they are evil, but Jonah proclaims God’s love for the Assyrians, who had destroyed the Northern kingdom of Israel. That the Grand Canyon was not formed during a few months of flood, or even that human sacrifice is revolting, does not vitiate the Bible. I might think a saying repulsive and silly, and later find value in it. This means that being open to it being valuable profits me.

Christians do silly, destructive and oppressive things, like seeking to prevent legal abortions even for rape victims because if it was really rape “a woman’s body has ways of shutting that The Blind man's mealdown”. By all means tell me this, but in moderation. Christian history is full of vileness, of wars, persecution of “heretics” and outsiders, and support for vile things such as slavery. However this does not mean that I must reject what I consider to be “true” Christianity, which would support none of these things, and which is also a thread throughout the last two thousand years.

This post is inspired by Violet Wisp, whose pictures and prose I recommend. Of course I play what she calls the Supernatural trump-card– “My God is magic and does not need to make sense”- because the world does not make sense to me, and acceptance that I do not understand particular things helps me towards greater understanding.

You do not know what I believe. God is, and God is not. If I use God the Creator as a way into understanding- I am created in the image of God, therefore I am loving, creative and powerful- this does not prevent me from using atheist materialism in a similar way- I have evolved here over 4.5 billion years, therefore I fit. Practice is more important to me than dogma: I value sitting in silence with Quakers, where people speak when Inspired, and what matters is the value of what they say, not the precise mechanism, materialistic or spiritual, of Inspiration.

You might think of my Christianity as a series of hacks, to do as well as I can at life. You might think your life-hacks are better- but I have learned mine over decades, they work for me, and it is more courteous to describe yours than to demand I reject mine.

Pictures from MMA.

67 thoughts on “Atheists read this

  1. As you know, I think quirks are fine; I have many. The part I find confusing is that you seem to recognize this is a quirk- but at the same time you want it to be given special consideration? I’m not sure I understand.

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    • No, not special consideration. I am saying “but God does not exist” is not an argument against Christianity. I was bored with someone’s continual assertion that God does not exist. Even were that so, so what?

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      • I suppose I understand because in a similar way I hold on to a whole range of traditions because I was raised that way and because I think they have value. I’ll go to my deathbed insisting on pressed white linen napkins, and that tables be set with proper porcelain, crystal and silver. I don’t care that there are more practical ways or that it may seem dated and old-fashioned. I don’t use bad language. I think marriage is no less important or valid than a career as a life-choice. So who am I to criticize the things anyone else holds on to?

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  2. I understand, Clare. Everyone uses tools to help them cope in this world. You use the tools of Christianity and the belief in the belief in the Christian God. As best as I can tell, you do not intend to use your belief in belief to do harm. Once the world becomes fully aware that the Bible is a book of fiction, it won’t be so dangerous to the body of humanity.

    “The rejection of the Bible as literally true is more or less settled and understood among most Conservative rabbis”
    ~Rabbi David Wolpe

    “Those who take an interest have known these facts for years,”
    ~ Israeli archeologist, Ze’ev Herzog of Tel Aviv University

    “Scholars have known these things for a long time, but we’ve broken the news very gently” Professor William Dever of the University of Arizona – America’s preeminent archaeologist,

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    • Mmm. No Abraham, though there was someone who found the personal relationship with the all powerful God. No Moses, though someone bound the people of Israel into a peaceful tribe. No David, though I value the story.

      I believe in the historical Jesus, though someone said that looking for the historical Jesus is like looking down a deep well. Dimly, you begin to discern a face. Eventually you recognise the face is your own.

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      • “Jesus is like looking down a deep well. Dimly, you begin to discern a face. Eventually you recognise the face is your own.”

        I really like this. It compliments the neurological data that we have two senses of ourselves. Research has also shown that when one hemisphere of the brain is asked if it believes in God, it will say no. And if when the other side of the hemisphere is asked if it believes in God it will say yes. 😉

        We can also quickly create a sensed presence by simple meditation exercises. It is ourselves sensing ourselves (one hemisphere sensing another) but its interpreted as a separate entity.

        So from what I can gather, Clare, you are drawn to Jesus because to you, Jesus represents the empathic, compassionate, loving side of yourself. Jesus is the caricature of human goodness. I understand why you get value from the bible in that sense, although there are many other books that I would consider more inspiring and enlightening, IMO. The bible represents the best and worst of human behavior. It’s a human book inspired and penned by humans. It’s bible literalism that is responsible for the enormous harm that has been caused to humanity throughout the ages.

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        • I am fascinated by those tests. I read that in some cases each has completely different personalities. It is certainly a possible source of my “inspiration”.

          So, how can I say that and value Christianity? Because of the pictures in Christianity of how inspiration works. “No sign will be given except the sign of Jonah”.

          I am not in favour of biblical literalism, but you knew that already.

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  3. It sounds like you acknowledge Christianity is both contradictory nonsense and harmful, but you use it anyways. I’m not sure I understand your reasoning. I find it a bit silly, but to each their own. If that’s what you think helps you do good and get through each day, good for you. I’ll continue to admire the people who live by their convictions, whether they believe in god or not, over those who use religion as a comfort crutch. I personally admire people who seek truth.

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    • Welcome, and thank you for commenting. Oh, where to start?

      So you admire Bill Whatcott, Canadian anti-homosexuality campaigner, over Patience Strong, who gave comfort to millions?

      You admire people who seek truth. Hooray! You do know that includes me, right?

      contra… zzzzz

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      • “So you admire Bill Whatcott, Canadian anti-homosexuality campaigner, over Patience Strong, who gave comfort to millions?”

        I never said that. Nice try though.

        “You admire people who seek truth. Hooray! You do know that includes me, right?”

        I suppose. It honestly doesn’t sound it from your post, for the reasons I mentioned.

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        • The trouble is, Cranium, you did not mention any reasons at all. On Patience Strong- what “People who live by their convictions”? All fanatics and closed-minded people “live by their convictions”.

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    • Well, Chris, thank you for popping in anyway, even if you did not understand what you tried to read. If you got nothing out of it, you did not understand it.

      Added: I could not resist your page “Wisdom” where the first thing I read was, The mountains are fountains of humanity as well as of rivers, of glaciers, of fertile soil. The great poets, philosophers, prophets, able people whose thoughts and deeds have moved the world, have come down from the mountains–mountain-dwellers who have grown strong there with the forest trees in Nature’s workshops.

      What about cities? Are there no philosophers there?

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  4. Hi Clare

    In the spirit of your final request, I will describe a part of my life that has some (distant?) parallels with your Christianity.

    For my sins, I “support” Bristol City FC. I have a season ticket and go to home games with a group of friends. They are Bristol born and bred. I’m not.

    During matches, one of the songs we sing is “In Bristol City We Always Believe”. That belief, it has to be said, is more in the team’s ability to play badly but, at the end of the season, by some miracle avoid relegation.

    Anyone in the “Away” team end would be hard-pressed to distinguish between me and any of my friends around me in the “Home” stand. We are all wearing red and white BCFC gear etc.

    But there is a crucial difference.

    I don’t believe. Not in BCFC. When all around me are bawling at the referee over his bias against “us” in his decisions, I see that our player did commit the foul, was offside etc.

    But there I am in amongst the sea of red and white, indistinguishable to the external viewer.

    And I think that were my friends to realise that I do not share their passionate belief in BCFC then I would not be “one of them” in their eyes.

    That’s where I see a possible parallel between my relationship with BCFC and its fans and your relationship with Christianity and Quakers.

    If I have understood your posts, you are saying you do not believe the dogma which, to most Christians, is what defines them as Christian (i.e there is one God and Jesus Christ is the son of that God). What you appear to value is the way of life that being Quaker gives you.

    Now if I were being honest with my friends at the match (which I don’t plan to be because it would disrupt what is an enjoyable experience) I would admit that in spite of being to all outward appearances a BCFC fan with all the trappings that entails, I am not because I fail the primary and sole critical test of a BCFC fan. In Bristol City I do not believe.

    What do you think?

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    • The allegation of parallel is not quite in the spirit of my request, but I see the parallel.

      It’s not just me, though, it is liberal-liberal Quakers, many Quakers in the UK. Some of us believe Christianity, but some of us hold to it lightly. David Jenkins, newly appointed Bishop of Durham, shocked the Church by calling the Resurrection “conjuring tricks with bones”. We don’t tend to believe literally in the conjuring tricks. The dogma matters less than the experience. We had one book of theology in 350 years, An Apology for the True Christian Divinity by Robert Barclay, published in 1675.

      So the dogma becomes a way into the experience, an aspect or facet of the experience.

      Where the parallel falls, though, is that football is a team game with opponents. Some Christianities foster the creation of out-groups, saying that outsiders are going to Hell, or that if you stick to their Truth you will be persecuted. We seek to recognise that the in-group is Creation, not any particular group of people; we seek to extend our fellow-feeling to everyone and everything. This is not unique to Quakers, in Christianity.

      You do not believe in BCFC. Do you feel any sadness when they lose? Do you feel any pleasure when they win? Are you sure that is only sympathy with your friends?

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      • Hi Clare

        I’m glad you see the parallels and I wouldn’t want to take the football analogy too far – though your suggestion of the opposition being comparable with other faiths is a neat one. So no matter how hard I might try, I am never going to hate “Gasheads” (supporters of Bristol Rovers). But I was in truth rather saddened than the reverse when they were relegated from the Football League, which I think would put me in a minority of one in a room full of true BCFC fans.

        In answer to your end questions though: yes I do feel sad when BCFC lose and glad when they win. But not to the extent that some of my mates do. Essentially football is a trivial matter compared to the bigger picture of how anyone lives their life. I’m not with Bill Shankley on “Football is not being a matter of life or death, it’s much more important than that.” For most people, their religious faith, if they have one, does fall into the “matter of life or death” bucket.

        What I did learn from your response that surprised me was that a minority of Quakers remained accepted members of the Quaker body while not believing what I understand to be the key point of the Christian faith. That seems to me to be a very open and warm attitude to humanity which I can understand would make it a comforting place in which to be part.

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      • I and em>my Father are one. But ‘one’ what? Well, we are both ‘Arks’ him being Ark senior. But I do not claim to be my dad.
        There is not a single verse or passage in the bible where Yeshua claims he is god. It is wholly a church construct.

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        • Oh, I agree. I was simply looking at it metaphorically. Nipping that scripture in the bud, so to speak, as I’ve seen many Christians pull that card. God is a human construct. We see this clearly in split-brain experiments as well as research on “the sensed presence.” We see this in the fact that the God of these “holy” books perfectly represent human “nature”.

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    • Someone told Jesus he was good, and Jesus said, “Why do you call me good, there is no one good except one, and that’s God.” This is in Mark 10:18 if you’d like to see.

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      • I have seen it. He also uses the title Son of Man/ Child of Humanity, used in Daniel but most commonly by Ezekiel, to refer to the prophet himself. Jesus claims to be man. Jesus claims to be God, as in “I and the Father are one”. Well, I and my father are not one. The John passage is not ideal to show Jesus is making a unique claim to god-hood, as Jesus quotes Psalm 82:6: “You are gods” addressed to human beings. But the hearers “pick up stones to stone him” for blasphemy, thinking he claimed to be God.

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  5. I do not argue for the truth of Christianity, but its value.

    I find this comment seriously disturbing.
    If you do not value truth,em>per se is this why you follow christian doctrine, because it is based on falsehood?

    Furthermore, if you do not argue for the truth of Christianity are you arguing for the lies of Christianity?

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  6. You must not be aware of the passage where Jesus admits he does not know the date of the End of the World, only his Father does. That doesn’t sound like he and his Father are really one, does it?

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    • Well, he would not be human if he knew that. He is human as well. Once the Church had decided Jesus Christ was wholly man and wholly God, theology moved on to how he combined those natures- Miaphysites, Diaphysites and all that. Like oil and water in the same glass, or like wine and water? Kenosis: living as man, could he have all God’s knowledge? The infancy gospel of Thomas said yes, but that view was rejected.

      And- as I said, I do not cling particularly to doctrine and dogma. Instead I am aware of it. “I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvellous for me.”

      Part of the Reformation was the decision to reject any doctrine that could not be justified from the Bible, and then search in the Bible for what doctrine that left.

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      • Sure, doctrine like, “If your slave dies under the lash, you’re in big trouble, but if you just crack his ribs and destroy his kidneys and he lives for a day or two after the whipping, it’s all good, because he’s your property.”

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  7. Lovely post, as always.
    Just a few ideas you might find helpful:
    1) Scripture is evolutionary: later authors reflect on older authors, and reinterpret the older text. The NT is, to a large degree, a commentary on the OT. Placing yourself in the tradition does not mean, say, advocating Joshua’s mythical depopulation of Canaan.
    2) Scripture tells the story of a people that predates scripture. The Jews predate the OT, the Christians predate the NT, so in calling yourself a Christian you are inserting yourself into a history, a people, and a culture, of which the Bible forms a part.
    3) There is much to be scandalized by in the history of these things we call the Church, or (worse) Christendom (Jesus warns us about these scandals), but it is an intellectual error to focus exclusively on the scandal. For every Constantine there is a St. Benedict, for every Torquemada a St. Francis. For every Westboro cult there are oases of human and spiritual flourishing.

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      • Boring. Completely and totally boring. Consider your comments on this thread which I have let through:

        1. Jesus claims to be God No, he doesn’t.
        Clare: twenty comments on another post saying this.

        2. There is not a single verse or passage in the bible where Yeshua claims he is god.

        3. His god-hood was bestowed upon him by the church.

        4. If you do not value truth,em>per se is this why you follow christian doctrine, because it is based on falsehood?
        Clare: This shows your failure in reading comprehension. You might begin to understand if you thought of doctrine as metaphor.

        In the eleven I trashed,

        1. I…read the text[Bible] as it stands and call it out for what it is …bullshit.

        2. what the Roman Empire couldn’t do exclusively with the sword they eventually managed with the sword and a doctrine/’book’ of lies.

        etc.

        You are merely being abusive. You make little argument, merely assertion. You keep repeating yourself. I have no problem with disagreement- see this thread- and engage with it.

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        • Assertion?
          Oh, dear; Claire, [misspelling] there is enough evidence within the covers of the bible itself to damn it for eternity.[assertion]
          Are you so blind, inculcated or merely obtuse?[insults]

          [Clare: Thank you for proving my point. If you considered the possibility that I might be other than an idiot, your mind might begin to open.]

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  8. Interesting, faith is as a personal journey as atheism, but we need to respect each other in the infinite diversity of creation (or evolution). One point though you make that Christianity is full of vileness and wars – but these come from innate imperfections of greed and ambition which are equally prevalent in atheist history.

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    • One of the vilest atheist regimes in recent history, the Khmer Rouge, sought to obliterate all traces of the French and American Christian colonists. It was a reaction. The charge is that if Christianity has any value, it must make you more moral- but atheism need not do that, as it is not a philosophy by itself. If Hitler was atheist, that says less about atheists than his alleged Christianity says about Christians. Linuxgal referred to slavery, I looked it up and found there were slaves in Byzantium until 1453.

      Our tradition produced Reformation wars, heresy hunting and Crusades- and also beauty and well-living. I am entitled to value all the good in our tradition, which brought forth Quakers, after all.

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  9. When I first left Christianity, I looked around for something to replace what I had lost. Tarot cards filled this void for a time. I enjoyed contemplating the imagery, meditating on the story that is told through the major arcana. It left me with the understanding that self-reflection is a good thing, and anything that can be used to improve you is a positive thing.

    I find the Bible can only be used this way with great caution. It’s as if there were a class, and everyone you saw take it were changed. For some, they became better, loving people who are a joy to be around. Others come out spewing hatred in every direction, focusing on drawing the lines of “us vs. them” all the while thinking they are better people for it. If I had a friend who was searching, I would have to think carefully before suggesting this “class” to him, and I might not at all for fear that he would come out a hatemonger.

    If I’m honest, I have to admit that the negative description also applies to many atheists I have seen, at least when dealing with the religious. “Us vs. them” is in many ways human nature.

    I still have my tarot cards, along with the Bible my parents gave me when I was 14. They are both special to me, although neither holds the power in my mind they once did.

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    • Welcome, Stan, and thank you for commenting. I am sad that you do not write more: the drug-growing God creating the world for a drug crop is fun.

      In the Bible we have Ezra, Nehemiah and Haggai preaching this exceptionalism, us v them which I agree is bad, and Jesus preaching of the Good Samaritan: Who is my neighbour? Everyone. No more us v them. Yet- the preservation of Judah which Ezra or Joshua preaches keeps the culture alive through waves of conquest and persecution. They may write bloodthirstily of killing “the people of the land”, yet in the reign of Josiah, when I read the Deuteronomic history was written, and in the return from Babylon, they were threatened by mighty empires and have been ever since.

      So they built as men must build
      with the sword in one hand and the trowel in the other

      but the sword was for defence not offence. Us v Them- for there is no alternative.

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  10. Thanks for name drop and kind words. But you might have guessed I’m not blogging anymore and probably won’t for quite a while. I lose whatever chemicals give me the energy to do this when I’m pregnant it seems. I did enjoy seeing that you spammed Ark though. 🙂

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  11. Hi Clare and thank you for your comment on my ThinkBlots blog. You say “I practise Christianity because it helps me live a good life.” I apologise that I haven’t closely read either your entire post or all the replies (although I’m retired I have a very busy life) before making this reply.
    None of my friends are religious with one exception and she’s a Quaker. This is a deliberate strategy on my part. I find that Christians, in particular, are unable to stop themselves bringing their belief into interactions with others. Having freed myself from the need to belief some years ago and having been trained as scientist I find this intrusion of faith (belief without evidence) disturbing.
    I know there are very intelligent people are believers but I cannot rid myself of a suspicion that if my interlocutor believes one thing (god) without evidence, what else do they believe without evidence?

    If I have a life ‘motto’ it’s: Keep calm, and question everying.

    I need no divine being to inform my ability to lead a happy, moral, compassionate life. And I see no reason why anyone would.
    What kind of world do you want to live in?
    A world without murder? Don’t murder!
    A world without lies? Don’t lie!
    A world full of compassion? Be compassionate!
    A world full of acceptance? Be accepting!
    That’s all it takes. Know what you want your world to be like and live accordingly. No god required.
    Peace.

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    • Welcome, and thank you for commenting. I find your thoughtful blog interesting.

      If you did not read closely, you might not have seen that I am a Quaker- you have reacted to my first paragraph, but before your quote I say “I do not argue for the truth of Christianity”. You object to belief, and I hold belief lightly.

      I believe God is.
      I believe God is not.

      This is a paradox.

      I find my Christian practices of Quaker worship and Bible study, etc, useful. I find God a useful way of understanding my experiences. Do not make judgments about what I believe.

      “If you want a world without murder, do not murder”. That is not enough. Jesus said if you said “You fool!” you are in danger of the fire of Hell. Quakers say Search out whatever in your own way of life may contain the seeds of war and Bring into God’s light those emotions, attitudes and prejudices in yourself which lie at the root of destructive conflict, acknowledging your need for forgiveness and grace.

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      • I don’t object to belief per se. I object to irrational belief and belief without evidence.

        I’ve never had anyone offer me actual evidence of the existence of a divine being although I’ve asked many times.

        Your “I believe God is. I believe God is not.” violates the Law of Non-Contradiction. Paradoxes might exercise the mind but they’re not the way to make sense of the world. You can, of course, hold those two contradictory beliefs but by doing so you make your ability to think logically suspect.

        As for judgements … we all make judgements all the time. To not do so would be to put ourselves in danger. When we meet a stranger we make immediate judgements about whether to be in their company is safe or risky, whether they’re a liar or a truthful person, whether they have the potential to be our friend or our enemy.

        I’ve been a student of the Bible too. I’ve never found anyone who actually lives by its precepts.

        The Gospel of Matthew (KJV):

        “And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? …

        He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness,
        Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
        The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet? Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.”

        Not, apparently, some of your possessions, or a tenth (a tithe), but – it would seem – the lot.
        I’m left concluding that I’ve never met anyone who’s destined for glory. Have you?

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        • You are bandying words. I say, “do not make judgments about what I believe” because you do not know what I “believe” or the way I “believe” it. If you now start arguing about what “bandying words” means, I will get very bored.

          The rationalist model of the human being thinking things through calmly and rationally and then doing the rational thing does not apply to most human beings, even rationalists. The ways of humanity are strange.

          The germ of this post was someone insulting my belief as if it were a scientific theory, and saying all of Christianity is rubbish. If you want to read what I say, take out a bit you think is silly and crow about my ability to think, you bore me. Reading my blog without this bias, you would see my ability to think.

          Go, give all you have to the poor. Um. For two thousand years we have read that, and mostly known the standard answer- that it was a command in a particular situation for a particular person, not generally; and a lot of us have still felt uneasy about it. I have retreated to a monastery, which I loved, so seen that giving all away does happen.

          Added: here is an analogy. Is it rational to drink alcohol? Of course it is- it helps you relax, and it lets you express things you might not otherwise express. But it does not help you think rationally.

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  12. Really? “Bandying”? [To exchange words in a heated or hostile manner]. This sounds a little like the ‘merican Christian Right being called to account – FINALLY – and crying “Look, look … we’re being persecuted!” And no, I’m not painting you as part of the Christian Right, merely saying you seem to be taking more umbrage than the circumstances might warrant.

    You clearly can think. But as I pointed out previously (although not in so many words) one can be very intelligent and still hold to that which is unproven and un-evidenced. We all have our reasons for the chinks in our rationality.
    You do not make it at all clear, in your original post, that you were dealing with someone who had insulted your ‘belief’ and who’d called “all of Christianity” rubbish although you certainly seemed to be somewhat aggressively defending your position.

    I’m curious to know what you regard as “true” Christianity. An acquaintance once said to me, “You’re such a good person. There’s only one thing wrong with you … you’re not a Christian.” That really puzzled me. What am I missing, apart from a belief that a skyman had himself born and killed as payment for the wrongdoings of others (to wit, the creatures made by his hand and in his image)? Being good’s not enough? I need to also believe in talking snakes, trumpets blasting down what history tells us were non-existent walls and hoardes of the dead breaking out of their graves in Jerusalem?

    I have ‘peeves’ too. One is the use of the word ‘christian’ to merely denote someone who behaves well. This is both insipid and, I maintain, a gross misuse of the word. I’ve even heard someone describe a Muslim as a ‘good christian’. That’s both absurd and disrespectful. While, in print, I can just about tolerate the difference implied by christian with a lower-case ‘c’ as opposed to a capital ‘C’, in speech the difference is entirely lost.

    It’s true that almost everyone conveniently assumes that the injunction to ‘sell what you have and give (it all) doesn’t apply to them. It’s an example of what I call the It’s-not-my-cat-that-kills-the-birds Syndrome, i.e. “I’m being asked to do something which I’ll find inconvenient/uncomfortable so the message was clearly meant for someone/everyone else”.

    I’m so sorry to verge on boring you. I’m somewhat bemused. It’s not something of which I’m accused very often simply because I aim to prod – others as well as myself. If I’ve reached your Boring Point – rather than your Boiling Point – perhaps you could kick back, and enjoy a glass or three of something nice and a jolly good think!

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    • I took umbrage at “you make your ability to think logically suspect”. No, I don’t. If you like having nice little shortcuts where you can say, “This person can/cannot think logically” on the basis of one or two blog posts and comments, it stops you getting to know other people, or how to think.

      I hold what I believe lightly. Yet you again suggest that I hold to things unproven and unevidenced. How do you think I hold these things? Can you accept that “holding these things lightly” is not, actually, impossible? That it might have some meaning?

      “Christian” as a metaphor or synecdoche for “good person” might be irritating enough, without the implication that only Christians are good people. I sympathise. Some of my best friends are atheist (!)

      What is a true Christian? Anyone who seeks to follow Jesus, and most people who claim to be Christian.

      If someone really wants to take a shortcut, a comment based on it has limited value. “Seeking something worthwhile in Christianity or the Bible is a pointless, impossible task.” “The Universe is 13.8 byo, so Christianity is rubbish.” Have a look at some of my Bible posts before jumping to conclusions.

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      • “I hold what I believe lightly.” Is that like being a little bit pregnant or almost unique?

        [Clare: No. It is like light being a wave and a particle.]

        You spoke of your “Christianity” in your very first post. So are you a ‘true Christian’ (see your own definition) or a ‘faux Christian’ — someone who professes to believe the less-contentious bits in order to be thought of well in a world where religious belief ‘must’ be respected?

        [Clare: By that definition, true Christian. And even if England is like that, WordPressworld isn’t, so you might think if that were my attitude, I would be quiet about it, here.]

        Sorry. I’m a Bear Of Very Little Brain. Things have to be spelled out very clearly for me. You seem to be hedging your bets. I’m clearly confused.

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        • Um. Hedging my bets. What would that mean, exactly? Professing certain things in case Pascal was right, and so getting into Heaven, or trying to appear Christian for my Quaker community, but on Earth behaving like a “functional atheist”?

          There are Quakers who are less Christian than I, and we do not have any generally accepted hierarchy of respect based on how “Christian” one is.

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          • Pascal was an idiot who (a) apparently didn’t understand that if god exists he’s not gonna be fooled by an insincere belief held just to avoid hellfire, and (b) didn’t allow for the fact that you can never be sure you’ve chosen to believe in the ‘right’ god. And that’s just for starters 😀

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            • Um. “Pascal was an idiot”. Clearly wrong. Pascal was wrong in this case- I would agree, though it is a marvellous debating point, which worked for- centuries?- after his death for many people, though has been conclusively answered now. But not an idiot, or he would not still be read.

              Listen to yourself. A pointlessly insulting word thrown at someone, for saying something you disagree with. What is the good of that?

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