Wednesday, February 15, 2012


I've always enjoyed a good religious discussion. I find religion to be fascinating. How do people get so incredibly zealous about something they can't see? How do people get to the point where they are willing to kill others or themselves over something they can't empirically prove?  How can people so emphatically deny that there is a being larger than us and insist that humans are the pinnacle of existence? How can GOD evoke such strong reactions whenever he is mentioned in discussion? It truly is fascinating.

I am a Christian. I do believe that God created the Earth and all its contents. I also believe that Jesus was born to a virgin and was sinless. I believe he performed all the miracles (and many more) that are chronicled in the Bible. I believe he was hated then (as he is hated now) by people that refuse his love. I believe he was crucified and was buried only to arise from the dead 3 days later. I believe he was God in the flesh and that he provides atonement for the sins I commit.

All that said, I respect other religions. I respect that they are just as adamant in their convictions as I am. I still disagree with them but I respect them. Where I get tripped up is how to make them all work in the same world. If I am having a discussion with a devout Muslim, we will have a few things that we can agree on and a whole bunch we disagree on. How do we reconcile those differences? Do we need to reconcile those differences or can we coexist with no problem? I don't know the answer to that question. I know the task I am charged with--Go out into the world and make believers or all men. I believe this is an important task and one I should do with gusto. So do other devotees of other religions.

I guess the point of this blog is to open up dialogue about this topic. I struggle with this part of religion. I know some of my friends will say something to the effect of, "well, that is why I don't believe in God" and "the zealots are who drove me out of organized religion". I get that. I really do. I don't think you have to be obnoxious to get your idea across. I think my mission is to present a great example of Christ's love and give the raw materials for someone to form their own faith while providing the instructions if they want them. Any respectful conversation is welcome.


Zak W said...

For me, as I am an atheist, I truly believe the problem that every religion will have with every other religion is arrogance. Not the arrogance of opposing religions but of their own arrogance. A conflict will always be there until this arrogance is removed and ALL religions except each other equally. Every religion, Christian, Muslim, Jewish or whatever has a sense of entitlement to it. They believe they are right and if you dont believe what they believe then you are wrong. Now I may not be able to quote you verses per say but I know enough about religion to say that by "Christian" standards thats not how it should be but IS. This was a major factor in me rejecting religion.

In actuality all religion is the same. It all revolves around a central deity and a set of morals or "laws". The only difference being the "fluff" around it and how it pertains to its followers. It plays in the into the fear and joys of a particular culture, and alot of it having to do with preference. Its like a movie, some people prefer Horror, some prefer Action, some prefer Romantic Comedy. Its what suits you. I myself enjoy a hint of realism and there cannot allow myself to believe in a religion such as the Christian religion as the scientific proof that has been provide thru out history has shown that most of its mythology is wrong.

Its a story. A wonderfully crafted story to, based on cultural significance, lead us to be good, moral humans, and fear the evil in men and the world around us. For me as a intelligent human being, I know what is right or wrong, my life is not based on what a book tells me, and I dont do things based on Judgement from a "supreme being" who lives in the sky. I do things based on how I would want to be treated and looked at. Respect me and Ill respect you.

Now I will probably persecuted for my words, as they strongly go against the ideas that most Christians have but there in lies the problem.

Katie J said...

I personally think the underlying theme of most religions is love. I personlly am turned off by the technicalities, the arguing, and the self-righteousness of many religious people. I do believe in God, but in a very generalized sense. I am inclined to think that if there is a God that created me, then they knew what they were "getting into" with me and everyone else. I believe that if there is a "hell type place" it is only reserved for a very small amount of truly "evil" people. I mean the worst people. People who get pleasure out of torturing other people in the most sadistic awful ways. But, then you get into the argument of what made them that way? Why are they "bad"? Why would God make such people? Where do you draw the line? And, I have no idea. But, I think if there is a God, he is loving, kind, and appreciates thd different thoughts, opinions, and temperaments in all "his children" even me, who gets clammy within 10 feet of any church, and who couldn't tell you much about the bible or any of the other major religious books. But, for the most part, I try to be a "good person" which trying to define could be a whole other topic. So, I guess I'm just saying, I don't know what the "answer" is, but I like to think God has a loving-heart and a great sense of humor. (and a really great collection of vinyl)

Zach Kaubisch said...

I am atheist because of lack of evidence. Should evidence turn the other way, pointing to a deity rather than man made external projections of human traits and behaviors we find important, I'd change my mind. Religion, and gods, are unnecessary in the explanation of the universe and how it works. They are unnecessary, unproven, and currently unprovable. It would be intellectually dishonest for me to embrace something with no evidence to support it and plenty of evidence pointing to it being born out of the human mind.

Zach Kaubisch said...

I am atheist because of lack of evidence. Should evidence turn the other way, pointing to a deity rather than man made external projections of human traits and behaviors we find important, I'd change my mind. Religion, and gods, are unnecessary in the explanation of the universe and how it works. They are unnecessary, unproven, and currently unprovable. It would be intellectually dishonest for me to embrace something with no evidence to support it and plenty of evidence pointing to it being born out of the human mind.

Jonathan said...

Great job so far! I want to dig a little deeper on the idea of atheism. I believe that atheism requires MORE faith than Christianity (and the others as well). It is incredibly difficult, nay, impossible for me to believe that the world formed out of chaos. I also believe that everything has to originate somewhere. I know that per our scientific "law" matter cannot be created or destroyed, it simply changes forms. I would add this change to that--Matter cannot be created or destroyed by man, it simply changes forms in our hands. At the very least, I think it is a huge leap of faith to emphatically believe there is not a higher being that created the world we live in--even if you don't buy all the intricacies that I believe in.

Jonathan said...

and, all three of you have great points that are hard to address. Honestly, the religious world in general has done a lousy job of discussing your points in a frank and believable, honest way.

Zach Kaubisch said...

As for religions being able to coexist..absolutely. That's how Christianity got where it is..sort of. It was spread at the point of a sword mostly, but adopted many of the conquered people's traditions and beliefs. Christmas, for example, is a renaming of an old pagan tradition. There is nothing in the bible itself saying December 25th is the day on which Jesus was born. But, to better assimilate the pagans, it was decided to combine the pagan date and practice with the birth of Jesus. Pagans could keep doing what they always did, while paying lip service to the Christian beliefs to keep everyone happy and content. I'm sure Islam and Christianity will eventually meld into one religion. Some of that will be peaceful. Thanks to the history between the two, much of it will probably not be. I personally would prefer religion in general gone completely. Irrational beliefs are a hindrance to human growth. I am sure that will be argued against, but the safest, happiest, least violent places on the planet tend to be secular, where religion is at most a traditional practice, not a belief.

Zach Kaubisch said...

Atheism requires no faith at all. Your argument is a common one, and really doesn't work when you consider that atheism is not, as commonly believed, the REJECTION of a deity; it is simply the lack of belief. As I said, were the evidence to show a deity, intellectually honest atheists would change their mind immediately. The evidence is not there. As for the world being formed from chaos, that is another common argument. Unfortunately, I have to head to class so I can't get real into it. Hey, if you can get Joe Henry to add some input, he's a lot better at explaining stuff than I am. I'm probably the more well read of the two of us, at least in terms of biology and evolution, but I just suck at trying to explain what's rolling around in my head. The idea of order from chaos is also a physical idea as well, and there he is absolutely my superior. I'll let him know if I see him today to come take a look at this.

Jonathan said...

And that is where I respectfully disagree with you. In fact, Joe and I had a long Facebook conversation about this last year I think. Atheism is absolutely a form of religion. Atheists religiously believe in no deity. There are atheists groups that meet regularly to discuss this belief. The atheist wholeheartedly puts their faith, their explanation for existence, their origination story, all the aspects of religion, in science. In other words, science answers all the questions that a religious person answers with God. The atheist seeks measurable data, the religious rely on faith in God (or Allah or whatever). It is still a set of beliefs that govern actions and answer tough questions.

Here is the thing, I use a definition of religion that can encompass a lot of things--extreme patriotism, atheism, agnosticism, "organized" religion, etc.

Having been a professed agnostic, I understand where you are coming from. I never went so far as to say there is no God, I always thought there was some kind of being larger than me because I didn't believe it was possible that we arrived where we are by chance combinations of molecules--there is entirely too much order, too much pattern, too many "systems" to be accidental. That said, it is tough to reconcile "faith". It is also very easy to be put off by the arrogant (as Zak W. called them).

Here's another one for ya, I actually believe in evolution to a small extent. I don't believe that one species can evolve into another. I believe in long term adaptation where we change over the course of hundreds or thousands of years to adapt to environment. I tend to think, though, that God plays a role in making that happen.

Daniel said...

There are indeed a lot of great points made here.

To state that atheism is the absence of faith is akin to the scientific definition of cold--cold is the absence of heat/energy. It's like saying I don't have belief in a deity, therefore I have no belief, period.

Doesn't there have to be a belief either way, not simply a lack of belief in a particular line of thought. Either one believes god/God/gods exist, or one believes god/God/gods don't exist. Or, I suppose, one could simply refrain from taking a stance on either position and simply live life without conviction either way. I suppose that's one way to have an absence of faith.

I don't see how that's possible, though. And if that is the case, how does one living without conviction determine morals and values? Everyone I've ever met seems to have some conviction on what is right and wrong. If morals are not based on a theology, what are they based upon?

Daniel said...
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Daniel said...

Jonathan stated that the point of this blog post was to open up dialogue. Unfortunately, it seems that the dialogue has either died or had an extended pause. I'd like to extend the life of this discussion, though, as I find it intriguing as well… and in doing so, get back to one of the questions Jonathan posed to us: “How do we reconcile [religious] differences?”

Humility and an open mind are the two things that I propose to be the key ingredients to reconcile any difference between people. With these two things, one can actually listen to another person and have a chance at actually understanding their thoughts and ideas. Without them, one will be attempting to over-power the differing view(s).

With humility and an open mind, one can readily accept a logical and reasonable dialogue, responding with positive affirmation and encouragement towards reconciliation—or at least peaceful coexistence. An arrogant and closed mind will deny plausible evidence towards a truth and refuse reasonable ideas, thoughts, and considerations.

In our culture, I’ve found that when someone poses a question to someone, challenging their idea or thought on a matter, the person being questioned often becomes defensive, if not offensive, in the response. I’m guilty of this at times and have to fight against this natural reaction to a question. The question can be as simple as “Why did you go that way to “so-and-so” house?” or as controversial as “Don’t you think a mother has a right to choose abortion?” No matter the innocence of the questioner, the reaction is too often one with an emotional charge.

The answer, I think, lies in how we treat one another during dialogue, such as this. I prefer dialogue in person when the subject matter is controversial in nature, as my words in text are all too often misunderstood. Even in person I am perceived as arrogant. This is why I include an open mind with the humility. Give someone the benefit of the doubt, and/or ask for clarification before assuming that the intent was to offend.

I’ll tell you now, if I mean to offend someone, it will be quite obvious and the intent will be undeniable. In a setting such as this, though, I want to encourage dialogue. It would be counter-productive to be offensive in any way. So, be encouraged to continue sharing in this dialogue. We obviously have some varying views represented in the few posts so far. I think we have some things to learn from one another and can all benefit from the discussion.

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