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Let's take a few paragraphs and change a few words:

I am so grateful I wasn't exposed to this stuff as a kid. I think sometimes, Did I ever question a belief in a God? Honestly, the more I think about it I can honestly say, No, I never formed that doubt. In fact, I rejected it heavily when I was very young and never took a step in that direction. At that time, I sensed something was bad about it. Even the very few times I walked into an atheist’s house, it majorily gave me the heebie jeebies and I pretty much stayed clear of it. I look back on my life and what I've been through and look at how much I've been exposed to it, which is practically nill, I can honestly say I never formed the doubt. My exposure and knowledge of atheism is very close to being zero. And I am so grateful for that. As I read more and more about atheism on relgious sites, I become even more grateful that I am pure in that sense.  

Since I know very little about it, my biggest problem with the whole atheist thing, then and now, was people that formed the “doubt” of a being you could not see and that this being could help make your life better or that you could pray to him to get what you wanted, etc. For me and my realization is that it was up to ME, to put hope into MYSELF and no one else. The way I look at Hope and that whole issue is that Hope comes from within and nowhere else. After what I read in Pat Robertson's post, I am very very grateful I never formed a belief in it. I am so very grateful I was never exposed to it other than my 2 to 3 week stint which I didn't take it seriously and thought it was a joke and then what I've seen on religious sites and the little I've been learning. I've been told that different philosophies are not all about a nice fatherly guy in the sky type deal. But there are many different variations of it and so on. I don't know. Obviously there are many different variations and interpretations of it. What a way to be pulled in so many different directions. Even more grateful now I never formed a doubt and never took a step in that direction.

I would say this person accepts her beliefs and doesn't care to learn anything which would question or challenge them. I don't think making this observation is an attack on her character, just an observation. I would recomend that this person give atheistic literature a chance. If she gets upset with me, I think it would be her problem, not mine.

bis bald,

Nick

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Hi Nick

I hear how important it is to you for people to have clarity as to the basis of their convictions and I'm guessing that you get annoyed if you don't see this in what people say? I value this too, especially having grown-up in an irrational, religious household where people didn't think for themselves.

I didn't read your comments to Paul and Angie as merely an observation though, I see observations as something without any evaluation, a statement of the facts; whereas I did read character evaluations in what you said e.g. tagging them as not being 'good objectivists'.

I appreciate the insights that your posts provide but my enjoyment of them is tempered by this. I would have liked you to have shown more consideration, as what I value so much about this forum is the ease and openness with which I and other people can talk about things without the fear of being branded 'not a good Objectivist', which has plagued the Objectivist movement for so long.

Come on Nick, do you really want to fight with these people, what purpose does that serve you?

I'd like to hear your reactions to my post, even though I may take a while to respond as I don't have regular internet access at the moment.

Fran

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I appreciate the insights that your posts provide but my enjoyment of them is tempered by this. I would have liked you to have shown more consideration, as what I value so much about this forum is the ease and openness with which I and other people can talk about things without the fear of being branded 'not a good Objectivist', which has plagued the Objectivist movement for so long.

I would also like to talk with ease and openness, not walk on eggshells, afraid to offend someone's fragile ego. I don't think it's an insult to be called 'not a good Objectivist.' I'm proud of the fact that I'm not one. I'm a neo-objectivist. My point is that someone can't be a good anythng, even a good Christian, if they don't want to read opposing views or talk with people who question what they think and challenge them. I think this is what plagued Objectivism.

It bothered me when Angie said that she was glad she hadn't read the Bible, especially after what Nick said. Yes, I criticised the Bible, but I didn't mean for someone to think it is good just to avoid anything with which they may disagree. I think they can be better opponents of the Bible if they have read it.

Come on Nick, do you really want to fight with these people, what purpose does that serve you?

I want to debate with people who are culturally literate enough to understand my terms and challenge my views.

bis bald,

Nick

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Nick, I am not trying to be a bitch but do not assume that I am afraid of reading material that may challenge my view or my beliefs. I have read many many things that goes against my beliefs and I am around people everyday that do not see life as I see it or that do not have the same beliefs that I do and I don't have a problem with it. For one, I did not appreciate your distorting my post in the least bit and put your spin onto it, reminded me of some of the things that have happened on SOLO. There's a huge difference, Nick, between insulting someone such as you did with me and Paul by telling us we follow blindly and never thinking to walking on egg shells. This is not being open and at ease. This is downright disrespectful. When you make comments like that, you better believe you will feel the ramifications for it and we will not sit there and say, Oh, yes, Nick, I so agree with you; I don't ever think; I do not question anything and follow blindly; I'm so afraid of hearing or reading something that may conflict with my beliefs. What you said was rude and disrespectful to both me and Paul and to the others on this forum. It was obvious to me the way you responded and later admitted it bothered you when I said I had never read the bible and I was grateful for it that you took this extremely personal. It showed in the way you responded and it was a definite knee jerk reaction and you resorted to character assassination. I have already stated the reasons why I reject religion.

I find it very interesting that I get such a knee jerk reaction from people that believe in religion when I tell them I have never been exposed to it. That there truly are humans walking this earth that know nothing about it but are surviving and flourishing without it. Your post did not prompt me to not read the bible. That was a decision I made a very long time ago. I have already stated the reasons why I reject religion and you do not have to read the bible in order to reject it. I have learned enough about it to know it is not for me.

I find it interesting that I get that response from people when I tell them I have no knowledge of it. I believe that the reason I get such a bad reaction from people is that most people out there have been exposed to it to some degree or another. They have formed some type of belief in it at one point or another. I have never formed the belief in a god and I think that threatens them to some degree. That religion truly is not a necessary part of a human being's life in order to survive and flourish and be happy.

You do not know the road I have walked to get to where I am at today. You have not seen what I have seen. You have not gone through the things I have gone through. I will tell you this it is some very heavy shit and not for the faint of heart. I cannot deny my mind. I cannot deny what I have seen with my own 2 eyes. I cannot put faith into a being I cannot see and that will not help me, will not bring me the things I want in life, that will not make my life what I want it to be. The romance to me seems a little one sided.

As I said, I do not have a problem hearing other people's points of view or beliefs that conflict with mine. I live around it everyday. BUT I do not push my way of life onto them as they shouldn't push their way of life onto me. I do not have a fragile ego. That is another insult to me. You do not know me in the least bit and do not jump to conclusions and make your assumptions about my ego or how I am as a person or that I am afraid to read something that does not coincide with my beliefs. You again are jumping the gun and passing your judgment without knowing me personally. This is very childish. Do you see me posting about how I think you are and that you follow blindly, you don't think, that you have a fragile ego, and that you are culturally an idiot, and so on? No. I have not been doing this but you have resorted to this and it speaks volumes to me on how you are. All I have been doing is defending myself from your attacks. And quite frankly, your posts are evidence enough of how you are. They speak for themselves.

I do not appreciate the continued attacks and I think it is very childish to say the least. I am sure I will be bashed over the head by you for this at some point or another. I truly do not appreciate the things you have said about me without even knowing who I am, my past, my mind, etc. This will be my last post to you. I will not waste my time and energy defending myself against a person that results to name calling and insults those around them that do not agree with you. This was evidence enough when me and Paul stated we were not familiar with religion and one had already rejected it (myself) and you took it extremely personal. When I told you I had no desire to engage in religion and Paul also had very little knowledge of it, you resorted to disrespecting us and throwing insults. Our views are quite different than yours and you became upset. Who is the one that has the problem hearing another person's point of view that conflicts with yours? It is only obvious what the answer is. YOU.

Angie

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Oh, okay, Angie, whatever.

When you first started talking to me in email, you seemed to misunderstand one of my posts and think I was addressing one of your posts. I wasn't.

I checked out some of your posts in other threads, and I decided to just keep my thoughts to myself. I tried to be polite and not criticize you. I invited you to my board.

When I made my comments about your apparent disdain for the Bible as similar to the disdane religious people have for responsible material which speaks out against what they learn in the Bible, I had no ill will for you or Paul. I did not like or dislike eithor of you enough to want to insult you or be hostile against either of you. I thought I was speaking as an adult to other adults.

Now, since everything is messed up and out in the open, since you are criticizing me, I might as well tell you I'm really not interested in your long ramboling posts. I'll leave you alone if you just leave me alone, okay? I did talk about what you said because someone asked me to show them something. That's done now. I'm satisfied I made my point, whether anybody else is or not. We don't like each other. Let's just stay away from each other.

bye,

Nick

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Nick said some things that pissed-me-off. I think my initial response to it was appropriate. As was Angie’s. As I’ve said elsewhere, if someone makes you angry, be angry. If they piss-you-off, let them know they pissed-you-off, with vigour if that’s how it moves you. This is part of being an authentic human being. I let Nick know with piss and vigour.

I talked elsewhere, not only about being authentic, but also about being civil in an Objectivist Living social world. A key element of being civil is treating others with a respect for their intrinsic value. By misrepresenting me and Angie to create straw-persons for the purpose of knocking them down, he was displaying a disrespect for our intrinsic value. I have to admit this is one hot button I do have. Nick pressed it. I responded with moral indignation. I will probably do the same thing when this button is pressed again. It is the one thing that triggers an absolutist, black or white, right or wrong, mentality in me. I value my moral response to seeing mine, or someone else’s, intrinsic value disrespected.

The immediate reaction now behind us, it’s time to make this civil again. What has actually occurred? Nick made unqualified and unfounded statements regarding the nature and development of mine and Angie’s perspectives. Not that mine and Angie’s perspectives are the same but Nick treated them as such. He reached some poor intuitive conclusions about us and said things that were inappropriate and off the mark. Angie and I each responded to Nick’s statements in defence of our own authentic perspective and value. Nick was then caught on the defensive, trying to justify the position he has found himself taking and possibly wondering how he deserved our wrath. Realizing that Nick was oblivious to the inaccuracy and inappropriateness of his statements about Angie and myself, and that the animosity was continuing to rise due to posturing, I chose to decline from further responses. Angie and Nick then carried the path of animosity and mutual disrespect to its inevitable conclusion.

I took some time to read some of Nick’s posts. There is a lot of value there. He is clearly well read and has worked out some interesting interpretations and assessments of his subject matter. I cannot write Nick off as having no value. He clearly brings another intelligent perspective to this forum. His interpersonal skills may need some work. However, coming from me, this is a little like the pot calling the kettle black. I’m not exactly the social butterfly. Intuition regarding social nuance is not my strong point either. (But I'm working on it.)

I think we all bring different strengths, different experiences, different motivations, different perspectives, to the table. Unfortunately, it may not have been our strengths but our weaknesses that first interacted. It was definitely the weaknesses that brought the communication to an end.

What is great about this forum is that a respect for other perspectives is a fundamental value. Respecting our own perspective occasionally means taking a stand against someone else’s, sometimes with passion. Sometimes, as in any relationship, respecting another’s perspective means we have to try to take a personally detached view of events, let go of the defensiveness, understand where an interaction broke down, and take steps to mend the fence. I suppose this post is my admittedly strange approach to mending fences.

I have talked about causal intuition on other posts. The interactions that have taken place on this thread are a great demonstration of the importance of understanding the powerful role of causal intuition that operates, usually, below conscious awareness. In Nick’s imagination causal connections were made from what he read in mine and Angie’s posts that produced images in his mind of who we are. Right or wrong, these images formed the basis of the statements he made about us. We read his statements and intuitively generated the causal connections that allowed us to recreate the images of who we are in our imaginations. It was this foreign distorted image of myself and an understanding of its source that I reacted to. In this way three otherwise intelligent and benevolent people found themselves embroiled in an adversarial breakdown of communication. We started out by discussing ideas and ended up exchanging intuitively generated images of one another without consciously knowing we were doing it. And we didn't like what we saw.

I think understanding the dynamics of this process, and others like it, has greater importance than in just the local case. To understand these dynamics is to take a step into understanding subconscious processes. This is precisely the level at which I believe we will find the cause of what Barbara has called “Objectivism’s plague.” It is on the level of subconscious intuitive processing that Ayn Rand deviated from the basic Objectivist principles she identified, which has led to the culture of denunciations and excommunications. It is also on the level of subconscious intuitive processes that intelligent people implicitly exchange personal perspectives of one another’s images, which has continued to lead to the breakdown of discussions on Objectivist forums. It is also on the level of subconscious intuitive processes that most other relationships breakdown. We need to understand these processes better so we can better understand the causes of our own and other people’s actions. We need to understand these processes better so we can evaluate the causes of our underlying assumptions. We need to understand these things better if we are to understand our own psychological and social dynamics. We need to understand these processes better so, along with behaving more like grown-ups ourselves, we can help Objectivism grow-up also.

Paul

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Hi, Paul.

For me, I do not tolerate insults, disrespect, ill will towards me in the least bit. I was not going to respond earlier and was going to just let things cool off a bit. But when I came back and was going to respond, I still saw additional attacks and insults and that is what prompted my last post. I do not tolerate this type of behavior well by others. In my dealings with Nick so far, there has been no disrespect, insults thrown, etc., on my part. When it was directed at me, it truly caught me offgaurd and I was surprised a bit. I have sent Nick private messages through this forum asking for clarification on one of his posts that "seemed" to be related to one of mine but obviously was not. I told Nick that I had been reading his posts since he came to this forum and I found them interesting. They were a little bit long in the beginning but they have shortened up quite a bit. I told Nick to keep posting. He then extended me an invitation to visit his message board which I have not done. I barely have enough time to post to this forum let alone other ones.

I do not mind having dealings with Nick just as long as there is no disrespect, insults thrown, etc., and we both respect each other's point of view, our own experiences, our backgrounds, the roads we have walked to get to where we are today. As I said, I do not tolerate name calling in the least bit. Once Nick gets to know me better, then he can pass whatever judgment he wants on me. That's his opinion of me. In the dealings I have had with Nick so far, he has been very respectful towards me and friendly. I do not mind moving past this. But as I said, I do not tolerate disrespect and name calling in the least bit. I am sure it will not happen again since this whole fiasco has finally come to a head.

Angie

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Paul,

You are gracious, I'll give you that ;) You and Angie both are strong individuals who have great minds for seeing fundamentals, without having to resort to OUTSIDE sources to learn what a "Torah" is so that you can "intelligently" discuss what shit is, so let's get back to your original question. I would like to see others here weigh in on your question. One person that comes to mind is Rich, who seems to have an intelligent knowledge of Christianity.

And by the way Rich, if you are reading this, how many times do I have to challenge you with E-4? ;)

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Hermeneutic Guru Jody goes for the Readers Digest condensed review :D/

"The new testament sets about to tell you that Jesus is the messiah, and that he's a'coming soon to burn those worthy, and play some jazzy number on the harps with those 'others' who are worthy."

A bit more to it than that, don't you think? [-X And does your disdain (aka "shit") apply to studying the Gnostic Scriptures as well? I'd imagine, no?

And what's with the "shit" stuff? 8-[ That's kind of punk for you.

Speaking of punk- don't you think D4 works oh-so-much better than E4? Give 'er a crack sometime! :D

rde

Trying oh trying to keep young O'ists from becoming book burners.

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Now, Now, kids, let's play nice....LOL Two of my favorite buds on this forum. We all have our own ways of life. What one thinks is good for him may not be good for the other. :D

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I like the Sicilian opening a lot, much more than the defense, which is just not for me. Lately, I'm playing Queen's Gambit.

rde

If I can't say s#$t, I'll just hijack this sucker and say Jesus made me

do it.

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I think that the major reason that Christianity (and Judaism and Islam as well) is popular is because it helps people avoid responsibility for themselves.

First of all they do not have to form a ethical theory on their own, it is handed to them on a platter. Trying to figure out what we should do with our life and how we should act is not done easily. It is time consuming, draining and thought provoking, it makes you use your mind on a level that you do not for everyday task and most people would rather not do this. For example, when I talk to people that are religous one of the first things that they say is that if there was not a God to hand down morals then men would just go chaotic and kill each other, they do not believe that man is able to be responsible enough to form values and morals on his own. To me this is avoiding responsibility.

Second they do not have to take responsibility for themselves. Many times when something happens to a religous person they say that it is "God's will", or when talking about the future "may God be with them". This lets them off the hook with reality. If they didnot reach a certian outcome, say they didn't get a job they wanted, it was not because of their lack of ability or the preference of the employer, but God's plan. Or if they are about to apply for the job they build an excuse "may God be with me" beforehand, therefore if I don't get the job it is because God wasn't with me.

Thirdly it helps them avoid reality in the form of hope via prayer. Instead of having to take a look at themselves and see their flaws and then taking painstaking actions to change the way they are to gain the values they want, they hold the idea that God made them the way that they are and that they should accept their station in life and if they want something different they should pray for it and hope it comes magically to them.

Lastly and probably most importantly it helps them avoid death, which I would say is the single most fear of most people. Instead of having to accept the fact we are mortal and that our life is limited and that one day we will cease to exist, Christianity allows them to hold on to the idea that when we die we just magically go to another realm where we sit with our relatives and friends and have an eternal vacation. Also heaven is usually depicted by preachers and christian writers as a wonderful place were everything is perfect and good, a place of no responsibility. Just the other day I was talking to two friends who are Muslim about my aethism and the first thing that they asked is "If your aethist what do you think happens when we die" and my reply that we are just dead and cease to exist kept them silent for about a minute before resumming the conversation.

The avoidance of responsibility is probably the single most important thing that I think is wrong about our society. I believe that it is also the major reason behind the philosophy of Socialism and Statism. The idea that I don't have to be responsible because everyone else or the government will be responsible for me is the key idea behind Socialism. That is why Ayn Rand believed that there were not much philosophical differences between what she called mystics of faith and mystics of muscle.

This is also the reason why I think that objectivism is a tough sell to the masses. On one hand you have religion which says that you are not responsible for yourself and that when you die you will live forever in bliss, or on the other O'ism which says that you must make the most out of life yourself and when you are dead you are dead. To the no thinking human who doesn't have the will to be responsible for themselves this is an easy choice. Also it isn't a bad wager, if someone who is Christian is wrong when they die they are just dead, on the other hand if they are aethiest and right they are still just as dead. But if the Christian is right they go to heaven, while the aethist goes to hell.

There is alot more to this, this is just a summary of my thoughts, religion versus reality and responsibility is something that I am very interested in and want to write about someday. Human psychology plays a huge role in religon. Other things to think about is:

How religon controls people and helps keep the status quo, one reason that most religous people are conservative.

How religon is taylor made for the poor (the majority of people) so that the religous can stay in power. The powerful stay in power but the poor are promised a good life in the after life. (what a cruel joke)

How religon's purpose is to explain the unexplainable and that it has evolved from trying to explain everything (Greek paganism and their deity for everything) to explaining less and less as we found out about the world until we came to one god which explains things we can only be put to doubt (what happens when we die?) and (what should we do?).

Because of the type of psychological comforts that religon affords,and the fact that the majority of people need that security blanket, the majority of people chose sometype of religion. Others decide to be responsible for themselves and become aethist, this later is the pool that O'ism has to draw from which is small pool, also this is the reason that most of us have become self sufficient and rational on our own first then found objectivism not the other way around and why most people who aren't reject objectivism. Objectivism doesn't have anything to offer to the poor of spirit who lack will. What would they get from objectivism, that they are responsible for thier short comings and situation in life, that if they want change they must pull themselves up and do it themselves, that life is short and they are running out of time, that they have no omnipotent force to turn to for justice and hope. It is much easier for them to blank out and put the responsibilty on God's shoulders or societies shoulders and then wait for their prayers to be answered and for the afterlife.

Dustan

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Jody and Rich, come on now, you know I'm just playin' with you guys. You boys can rough house all you want with all the profanity you feel you need because we all know I have a trucker's mouth on me sometimes too. :D Have at it and let the rough housing begin. LOL

I so need to start addressing these posts to the individuals that they are for. Of course, I did it again. First time I posted I didn't address it to anyone thinking you guys would know who it was for. But came back and addressed it to the two of you and changed it around a bit.

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Damn! Whats that smell?

Oh, hey! Jody's back! Shoulda' known.

Just want to give some observations.

Paul,

Concerning your original post, I highly suggest reading the bible. I am sure somebody, somewhere has translated it into Canadian by now!

Also,

You? Pissed off? Noooooooooooooooo!

I agree that there is nothing wrong with being pissed off. In my opinion, people who don't, either have no convictions what-so-ever or they are just plain wussy-fied! And, I think you were justified.

Angie, my fire breathing buddy!

It is going to take weeks before my eyebrows grow back. They were both singed off reading one of your flame throwing posts! Good thing I wasn't nekkid, I might have lost something really important! (No short fuse jokes, please.)

And, Ditto what I said to Paul about being pissed off!

Nick,

And, you read Objectivist literature and accept it without question, being glad that you didn't learn more about other views.

This is an assumption.

And it is rude as hell.

Yes, there comes a time when one must take a stand and not compromise.

Yes, and Paul and Angie did just that.

You don't have to worry that your Objectivist views might get corrupted. If they are so fragile that non-Objectivist views may sway you away from being an Objectivist, then maybe you aren't a good Objectivist after all.

Condesending and rude as hell!

If you get all upset everytime someone misrepresents you, you must be outraged quite a bit.

I can't speak for Paul or Angie on this, but I am outraged every time it happens.

I'm not really attacking other people here.

Bullshit!

I'll just keep posting until I find someone who doesn't mind talking with me,

Good luck with that.

Well, if I'm such a threat, then perhaps someone should ban me. It's been done before. Often times people can't refute my arguments with logic, so they accuse me of being impolite. It's a trick used by religious people a lot.

Trust me, you are not perceived as threatening by anyone here. They are thinking of another word though. And, you are more than likely not going to be banned. You see the proprietors of this site are quality people and are actually interested in you and what you have to say. Why do you keep asking to be banned?

And, in my opinion, the only "trick" being used here is the one of trying to lure someone into a piss fight by equating their arguments with that of religious fanatics. Rude as hell, I might add.

Still, I try to be polite,

It would appear that you are not trying very hard.

I want to debate with people who are culturally literate enough to understand my terms and challenge my views

Oh, no attack there!

I might as well tell you I'm really not interested in your long ramboling posts.

I am.

I also like her long rambling ones too! Of course I tend to wear an asbestos suit, which helps.

I would also like to talk with ease and openness, not walk on eggshells, afraid to offend someone's fragile ego.

Yeah, right!

I'm a neo-objectivist.

Is that anything like a neo-bullshit artist? Just asking!

I don't think it's an insult to be called 'not a good Objectivist.'

Ohhhhh, it's an insult! In these parts anyways!

I know I'm not accepted by many people, and some people really hate me and will look for any excuse to condemn me. I've experienced this before. Still, I try to be polite, not tell them to blow it out their @sses, and keep saying what I think needs to be said.

Please do not play the victim here. Doing so is soooooo unbecoming of a "neo-objectivist."

Nick, I have been making fun of you, which is rude.

Sometimes being rude is just as viable as being pissed off. It all depends on your intention. Your rudeness was, in my opinion, based on your intention to belittle and insult good people who have their own opinions.

That is the problem isn't it. They have their own opinions.

Your once viable opinion has been lost in such a heaping pile of shit, made up of your rudeness, ill will and victimhood, that now no one wants to go near anything of value you have to say.

Pat yourself on the back for that. Well done!

Jody, Rich,

You guys really need to stop playing Battleship on the internet! #-o

Geeks!

not bald

gw

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My cock eyed friend, you're too much. I can't stop laughing. You are such a smart ass, unique style. I guess one of my posts was kinda fiery, you think? Yes, it rubbed me the wrong way. I don't get pissed off often. I'm pretty laid back. But when I do, I'll definitely let them know. I'm glad you like reading my long rambling posts even though you sometimes have to wear an asbestos suit to get through it....LOL Yes, I can be long winded, just have lots to say. I'm glad you weren't butt naked when reading my fiery post because I'm sure the precious jewel and 2 kids would have gotten toasted. And we don't want that to happen now do we...LOL

Your fire breathing dragon

Angie

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gary, thanks for making many of the same points I chose not to. You did it with far greater flair anyway. Damn your twist on the world is funny!

We couldn’t get a Canadian translation of the Bible up here because the government was too busy diverting the funds to special projects like printing all the cereal boxes, chocolate bars, etc. in French and English; and bribing Quebec to stay part of the country so we can keep reading the French side first and learning to like it. There was a grassroots movement that developed to create our own Bible. It’s about these guys named Bobby Orr and Wayne Gretzky. They led their tribe to the holy land which, unfortunately, turned out to be south of the 49th parallel. It was written by Don Cherry, eh.

am bald,

Paul

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  • 5 months later...

As a person born and raised into a predominantly Christian household (mother and sister are christian, father is agnostic) I figured it was about time this thread be revived, this time without the personal attacks. The way I see it, personal attacks are fun to watch but contribute very little to the discussion at hand. If he calls you a bad objectivist because he thinks that you have not duly noted religion as an option, that contributes very little to whether or not Christianity fiction and whether or not it parallels Objectivism.

There is no word besides indoctrination that would describe how I was exposed to christianity as a child. For the first years of my life I was forced into church, although at that point my complaint was that it was boring, I was forced to attend a Christian school four three years before I finally got out of the hell hole after getting in a fight with the vice principle, and my sister is known around my entire school as the most devout Christian of the entire student population, more than one thousand people. Because of all this, I have always found the concept of at least a god hard to shake. Also because of all this, I have a good base in knowledge of the ins and outs of the religion.

Religion for me has always been more of a guide on how to live. Because I agree with the objectivist way of life, I have ceased to care about the existence of a supernatural being. For that reason I call myself an Apathiest :lol:.

On the subject of whether or not Christianity is fiction, you will have as hard of a time convincing any christian that Christianity is fiction as you will have convincing an objectivist that Christianity is non-fiction. It's a matter of belief, not facts. Some people use lack of evidence for something else as evidence for God. We call evidence of something evidence against god.

Religion assumes because it hasn't been proven that something happens because of science that it is God's doing. Atheism assumes that if someone says "this proves God exists" that if you debunk said evidence you have proven that non-existence of God. In reality both are bad ways of proving whether or not a supernatural being exists.

So, while Religious people try and prove that God does everything Science isn't involved in, and Atheists use science to prove what God isn't involved in I remain an Apatheist. You can prove that God isn't involved but you can't prove he doesn't exist.

As for parallels between Objectivism and Christianity, there are always the basic morals. No killing, no stealing, etc. Christianity seems to lean more towards altruism, however according to some, (although this may have been an attempt to quell my arguments about their hatred of greed) helping people can be done in a big-business-like fashion such as employing people and bettering their quality of life.

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I have to add my recommendation to read the Bible itself. It is fascinating, and so much of Western culture and cultural referents depend on it that you will be greatly rewarded thereby.

You don't have to read the whole thing, so don't feel overwhelmed. A lot of Christians make recommendations on what parts to read, and their recommendations aren't bad, although they are, of course, making recommendations with an agenda to "get you saved"; don't worry, it won't happen. :devil: They are also picking out the more accessible parts for you.

I'd recommend starting with Genesis. Everyone needs to know the stories of Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Abraham and Sarah, the Tower of Babel, Noah's Ark, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat (oops -- it's not quite called that, but the story's there nonetheless), Jacob's Ladder, Jacob and Esau, Lot's Wife, and all that stuff people refer to all the time; again, it's part of Western Culture. Continue with Exodus; everyone needs to know the story of Moses and Pharaoh, the Plagues of Egypt, the Passover, the Exodus, the 40 years in the desert, the origin of the 10 Commandments (did you know that there are two different versions of them in the Bible?), etc. I'd say keep on reading until the stories start getting boring; you'll know when they stop being stories and start being detailed descriptions of the laws about how to slaughter animals and how the priests' robes have to be made, etc.

Then, go to the New Testament and read one of the Gospels. Pick one of the first three; Mark is the shortest, but also the harshest. Luke is probably the best one to give you a sense of the typical well-known Jesus. John, the fourth gospel, is completely different from the other three; more mystical in tone. If you're interested, go back and read that one later. The gospel you read will give you an idea about the life and times of Jesus; you'll learn about the apostles, the miracles, John the Baptist, the Last Supper, Judas the Betrayer, the crucifixion and death of Jesus, and the resurrection (unless you pick Mark, which in its original form doesn't cover the resurrection).

If you're still interested, you can continue with Acts, which tells stories about what the apostles did after the resurrection and how the early church got started, including the conversion and adventures of Paul, who was pivotal in the formation of Christianity; in fact, some say that Christianity as we know it today is really Paulinism.

Finally, pick one of Paul's major letters to the churches he founded; Galatians, Corinthians, or Ephesians are good choices. These letters will give you a good sense of what contemporary Protestantism is all about; salvation by faith instead of by works, how early Christianity broke from Judaism, what life was like among early Christians, etc. Christianity started off as a Jewish sect, and most scholars believe that if it weren't for Paul, it would have remained so.

After that, it's up to you if you want to browse around further. The Song of Solomon in the Old Testament is an erotic love poem said to be written by King Solomon about one of his wives, but is held to be an allegory of the love between Christ and the Church as well. There are lots of other stories, many of them violent, lots of shockingly horrible things attributed to God, many beautiful loving things also attributed to God -- you'll find it all.

One thing I learned recently from a book I read is that at the time Jesus lived, a movement within Judaism was popular called Apocalypticism, whose adherents believed that the end of the world was coming soon, that repentance and a return to God's laws was needed, and that those who didn't repent would burn in a fiery hell. Sound familiar? :) Adds a little perspective to Christianity, doesn't it?

Another thing I've found fascinating recently is the Jewish interpretations of the Old Testament writings. Such studies are quite rich, and I'm startled that Christian scholars ignore them and try to interpret the Old Testament "de novo", so to speak, when the Old Testament is Jewish in origin. It's amazing how much can be read into word choices, rhyming schemes from the original Hebrew, puns in the original Hebrew, etc. The Kabbalah is made up of such studies, and results in a much kinder, gentler interpretation of some very harsh sayings in the Old Testament. I read two long articles by a rabbi, one on the creation story, and one on the Cain and Abel story, and was fascinated by how much he could find in such short original texts.

There's much of value for a nonbeliever to find in reading these and other religious texts; much that sheds light on universal human nature.

Judith

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Judith,

Hear hear!

I would like to add that I read an article in the Florida Today newspaper a few months ago (sorry, I don't remember the name of the author) who made a very interesting observation.

He stated that religion should be taught in school--all major religions. They have impacted human society more than any single influence. Most of mankind's wars have been fought over religion (or, at least, involving religion, like using it as an excuse) and the social structures of large segments of the population have been and are designed according to religious precepts.

It is important to understand the hows and whys of the world we live in. Learning proper facts is the only way to deal with harm and evil in an effective manner. Children should learn the facts about the major religions objectively.

Michael

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I would like to add that I read an article in the Florida Today newspaper a few months ago (sorry, I don't remember the name of the author) who made a very interesting observation.

He stated that religion should be taught in school--all major religions. They have impacted human society more than any single influence. Most of mankind's wars have been fought over religion (or, at least, involving religion, like using it as an excuse) and the social structures of large segments of the population have been and are designed according to religious precepts.

It is important to understand the hows and whys of the world we live in. Learning proper facts is the only way to deal with harm and evil in an effective manner. Children should learn the facts about the major religions objectively.

I certainly learned about the other religions during my public school education. I distinctly remember learning about Islam and Buddhism and Hinduism during sixth grade. I don't remember if we covered Judaism or Christianity; probably not, but maybe we did and I just don't remember it because they were so familiar to me.

The only problem I can foresee would be getting it wrong, or not covering all the different sects, and offending students who adhere to another sect. But hey, there's an opportunity for that person to stand up and educate the class!

Judith

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Judith,

You had a privileged education. Mine was not as rich.

On another issue, I do remember a strange government teacher I had in high school. His manner of teaching the Constitution was to have us memorize it (the way some places teach the Qur'an). His idea was that if we memorized a certain number of paragraphs a day, we would have no problem by the end of the course. He always joked, "Now I know that some of you are going to try to memorize this thing 2 or 3 days before the final exam, but you will not be able to. Nothing will be able to save you. You are hard-headed." His manner of joking was more mocking than benevolent, too.

Needless, to say that I was one who tried to memorize the Constitution about 3 days before the final exam. I didn't do so well, but I passed. I remembered nothing from that class except that I hated the Constitution with a passion for a long time after that. It took quite an effort to overcome my revulsion so I could understand the Constitution later in life.

Michael

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On another issue, I do remember a strange government teacher I had in high school. His manner of teaching the Constitution was to have us memorize it (the way some places teach the Qur'an).

. . .

Needless, to say that I was one who tried to memorize the Constitution about 3 days before the final exam. I didn't do so well, but I passed. I remembered nothing from that class except that I hated the Constitution with a passion for a long time after that. It took quite an effort to overcome my revulsion so I could understand the Constitution later in life.

(*wince*) What a pity. No one should have to memorize a document like that! Understanding it and applying it is much more important. In fact, if I were teaching a course on it, I'd allow the students to have a copy of it open on their desks during the exam. But I'd make them apply it to situations they'd never seen before to make damned sure they UNDERSTOOD it....

On the subject of the Bible, I forgot to mention that a decent but understandable translation is essential. There are colloquial translations out there, like the "living Bible", that are downright slangy but don't quite convey exact meanings, and there's the King James, which some people adore because of its elegant poetic style but which (a) is also not completely true to the original texts and will probably put a modern reader to sleep. I like the ones that try to stay as close to the original meanings of the original languages as possible, with footnotes that explain obscure texts, or where alternate meanings are possible, or where texts vary among different versions.

Judith

Edited by Judith
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