I’ve never found a need to do so. Others all over the world are in a similar position as I am, including many in the States. I think the States ought to be even more secular than it is now but Jim O’Neill would completely disagree with me on that. He has written an article complaining about that state of affairs and insists the only way America will get better is by trusting God.
The other day I was reading a well-written article on the various Far Left plots threatening America. After I finished reading the article, I realized that among the several remedies offered to help extract ourselves from our present difficulties, turning to God wasn’t one of them—prayer wasn’t mentioned at all. In fact, God wasn’t mentioned anywhere in the article. Sadly, that’s to be expected.
That’s because prayer won’t fix the economy, or the environment, or whatever political conundrum currently faces the good ole U S of A. All it’s good for is uniting a populace, and there are so many other ways to do that, too. I think the more people rely on prayers and gods to fix their problems, the less they learn how to rely on themselves and trust others. Prayer is merely a ritual that makes the doer feel better. Any benefits around the world noticed after a prayer session have to be chalked up to coincidence.
It struck me that the absence of any mention of God was not remarkable in any way. That, in fact, I had come to take the absence of any mention of God in a “serious” discussion as a given. To see or hear any mention of God in a “credible” political/cultural discourse anymore, is rare to the point of nonexistence.
Which, I’d argue, is the way it should be. In a country as culturally diverse as the States, it’s smart to keep gods out of things when discussing issues and necessities, especially when those issues affect everyone regardless of personal belief systems.
I’m not saying that God needs to be included in all, or even most, political discussions, but there should not be any reason to exclude mention of God either.
Depends on when or why you want to include god though. If you want to include god to condemn the homosexual lifestyle, that needs a slap down, because laws shouldn’t be made to support the bible, they should be made to benefit society and there are no valid and justifiable reasons outside the bible to ban gay marriage.
As Richard Stark notes, “Not only were science and religion compatible, they were inseparable—the rise of science was achieved by deeply religious Christian scholars. ”
I didn’t know who Richard Stark was, and O’Neill merely pulled this quote off a collection website that doesn’t note what book it’s in. Stark is an agnostic and sociologist of religion. I found an interview with him where he discusses his work and thoughts about the history of the rise of Christianity.
You describe the everyday misery of the ancient world. Did Christianity change that?
RS: It made it a lot more bearable. The Church didn’t clean up the streets. Christians didn’t put in sewers. So you still had to live with a trench running down the middle of the road, in which you could find dead bodies decomposing. But what Christians did was take care of each other. Their apartments were as smoky as the pagan apartments, since neither had chimneys, and they were cold and wet and they stank. But Christians loved one another, and when they got sick they took care of each other. Someone brought you soup. You can do an enormous amount to relieve those miseries if you look after each other.
He can’t state with any assurance that pagans weren’t doing the same for their kith and kin, though. Humans tend to want to look after each other. It’s not a Christian thing, it’s a human thing. He later argues that pagans tended toward killing their enemies rather than get along with them and seems to completely ignore the fact that early Christians were just as capable of the same over-the-top violence when it suited them. And it has suited them often in the time since.
Back to O’Neill:
Unlike atheists, who are limited (contracted) to a mere scientific viewpoint, Christians have the elevated vantage point of a more inclusive world-view—one that is not nearly so provincial and limited as the material reductionist one. The Christian view allows for, indeed encourages, an expansive, pro-active outlook.
I like that “mere scientific viewpoint” line. I’ll take a scientifically based, logical, rational approach over faith-based malarky any day. This is a similar viewpoint to William Lane Craig’s in the debate yesterday. He sounded like he had a good handle on some scientific terms but only so far as he could use them as evidence in his case. That seems to be the only use religionists have for science.
That’s not what science is for, nor how it’s supposed to work. You don’t start with your answer and work backwards to find enough “proof” to carry it, you start with a theory and hope the result of research leads to what you were wanting. If it doesn’t, it’s still going to be a valid scientific result, even if the theory now isn’t. George made the point last night, you can’t use the unknown to prove the known. God as described last night wound up sounding like some disembodied mind without a beginning point floating invisibly either in or out of this universe. Nothing you can see, nothing you can really know like we know a tree by sight or a concept by its definition, so how in the hell can something like that be pointed to as proof it made the universe? How? It makes no sense to favour that argument as one’s evidence of the truth and expect everyone to be convinced by it.
I’d also argue he’s wrong about what Christianity encourages. I think it depends on what flavour of Christianity he refers to here. Not the Young Earth Creationists, that’s for sure. YEC supporters have their work cut out for them when it comes to denying age of the earth, dinosaur fossils, and how far away stars are. They wind up coming across as fruitcakes.
As Dinesh D’Souza puts it, “Christians believe that reality is much bigger, and that there are ways of apprehending reality that go beyond rational syllogisms and scientific experiments. What looks like anti-intellectualism on the part of Christians is actually a protest against reductive materialism’s truncated view of reality.”
The link he provides doesn’t lead to this quote; it’s from D’Sousa’s book, Life After Death: The Evidence and the paragraph following that quote is about “the danger of abandoning the ground of science and reason” especially in terms of what Christian scientists go through – following science for work but ignoring science for faith. How can anyone do both and be comfortable with it? Further down, D’Sousa promotes reason and science, but he’s trying to make the claim that reason and science will prove Christians right about an afterlife, something I think is pretty unlikely.
D’Souza also observes that, “This is not a time for Christians to turn the other cheek. Rather it is a time to drive the money changers out of the Temple. The atheists no longer want to be tolerated. They want to monopolize the public square and to expel Christians from it. …They want to discredit the factual claims of religion, and they want to convince the rest of society that Christianity is not only mistaken but also evil.”
Of course atheists want to be tolerated. They don’t want to deal with politicians that only speak to their Christian supporters and ignore other faiths or unbelievers. Look at the flack Alabama’s Governer, Robert Bentley got with his recent speech about Christian brothers and sisters. And look at poll results from 2007 that suggested people were more likely to pick a Mormon over an atheist to run America. They’d even take a homosexual over an atheist. Think those numbers will have changed much between then and now?
O’Neill then tries to quantify what kind of Christian he is.
Although I believe in hell, I don’t buy into eternal damnation. I do not believe that a God that is Love metes out eternal punishment to His immortal “children” for being mentally and spiritually sick, and like the Prodigal Son, gone astray in a “far country.” I believe that such people in fact punish themselves, via a sort of karmic magnetism. That is, those who live rotten lives in this realm condemn themselves to punishment in the next go-round.
Apparently he’s inspired by Buddhism or something and is a new age watered down Christian, not a True one – however that might be defined. Trying to distance himself from people like Westboro Baptist followers and their very literal take on scripture? They are far closer to original Christianity than anyone, by the way. Three cheers for touchy-feely “love everyone” watered down belief systems.
My heart goes out to the vast majority of Catholic priests, who are decent, good people—indeed sometimes even saintly—who have been tarred with the same brush used on their despicable brethren.
Those “despicable brethren” are all homosexuals, according to him:
Perhaps the most damaging attack on the Roman Catholic church, the world’s largest Christian denomination, the infiltration of its ecclesiastical hierarchy by homosexuals. The fact that homosexual priests have been preying on young men and boys who have come to them for spiritual guidance and advice is an abomination that surely warrants hell for those responsible.
So these men aren’t mentally or spiritually sick in need of different jobs and counseling and probably jail time, they’re all evil gay infiltrators on a mission to undermine the church and deserve all the hell god will get around to giving them. Feel the brotherly love.
I believe that “we the people” would be shocked to learn of the pervasive extent of homosexuality/lesbianism in America’s “halls of power.”
So he’s closer to Westboro than it seemed. Again, beyond what’s in the bible, there don’t seem to be any valid arguments that could be made against homosexuality that would prove to me, or anyone sensible really, that these people are a menace to society. O’Neill’s qualms about rubbing up against one are his problem and not relevant to the sphere of country-wide lawmaking. It also hints at him wanting to discriminate and decide via holy book who should be allowed to hold important jobs. That’s not how a democracy works, dude. That’s probably how a theocracy works and people had better revolt instead of agree to have that.
Then he pulls a fast one on me and claims it’s almost okay what Far Left Atheists are doing in terms of how they’ve “greatly shaken the ‘tree of faith'” because it might make the “rotten fruit” drop out. He finishes by noting China’s growing Christian community. He sees it as a good sign that he’s right about Christianity being the only smart choice for the future and would love to see America doing the same. I can’t speak for the choice of Chinese people when it comes to embracing Christianity over whatever they might have believed before, but how much of their conversion has to do with America doing so much business in China? What if the Chinese have essentially been coerced into switching faiths in order to get paid and fed and housed? Maybe they’ve come to the false conclusion that taking Jesus Christ as their personal saviour is the only way they can be successful and powerful. If it worked for America, it should work for them. Makes me wonder if any of them are familiar with the preaching of Joel Osteen…