Fellow Atheists/Agnostic Atheists - Let's Chat: Do you feel it is risky being "out" these days?

Jeff-66 wrote:

As someone formerly involved in those kinds of churches (that is, very evangelical) back in the 80's thru about the mid 90's, I can tell you what that probably is.

It is extremely common in evangelical (fundy) churches to talk about "the armor of God", girding oneself with the "shield of faith", wielding the "sword of the Word", etc. They are not literal ideas of combat, but figurative and are meant to express going to 'battle' in the spiritual realm. Fundies fully believe that evil spirits are flying all around the world, attempting to sway, influence, and steal souls from God. These evangelicals believe themselves to be spiritual "soldiers" for God, and they do battle via prayer, preaching the word, studying the bible, and attempting to convert non-believers to God's side.

And jihad really means "struggle," not a violent religious war...

Seriously, having anyone with an absolute belief system start talking about things in terms of war is how lots of people die. History has shown it's just way too easy for folks to forget about the whole "thou shall not kill" rule, especially when they believe they're saving your immortal soul by killing you.

OG_slinger wrote:
Jeff-66 wrote:

As someone formerly involved in those kinds of churches (that is, very evangelical) back in the 80's thru about the mid 90's, I can tell you what that probably is.

It is extremely common in evangelical (fundy) churches to talk about "the armor of God", girding oneself with the "shield of faith", wielding the "sword of the Word", etc. They are not literal ideas of combat, but figurative and are meant to express going to 'battle' in the spiritual realm. Fundies fully believe that evil spirits are flying all around the world, attempting to sway, influence, and steal souls from God. These evangelicals believe themselves to be spiritual "soldiers" for God, and they do battle via prayer, preaching the word, studying the bible, and attempting to convert non-believers to God's side.

And jihad really means "struggle," not a violent religious war...

Seriously, having anyone with an absolute belief system start talking about things in terms of war is how lots of people die. History has shown it's just way too easy for folks to forget about the whole "thou shall not kill" rule, especially when they believe they're saving your immortal soul by killing you.

Agreed. We also have a War on Poverty, a War on Drugs, and a War on Terror. Only one of these is something I'd consider a good thing. Perhaps as we struggle to re-introduce a generation of people suffering from post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury, we'll learn that in politics and in religion, war metaphors are a really bad idea.

War is hell, even for the "good guys" or the "winners".

OG_slinger wrote:
Jeff-66 wrote:

As someone formerly involved in those kinds of churches (that is, very evangelical) back in the 80's thru about the mid 90's, I can tell you what that probably is.

It is extremely common in evangelical (fundy) churches to talk about "the armor of God", girding oneself with the "shield of faith", wielding the "sword of the Word", etc. They are not literal ideas of combat, but figurative and are meant to express going to 'battle' in the spiritual realm. Fundies fully believe that evil spirits are flying all around the world, attempting to sway, influence, and steal souls from God. These evangelicals believe themselves to be spiritual "soldiers" for God, and they do battle via prayer, preaching the word, studying the bible, and attempting to convert non-believers to God's side.

And jihad really means "struggle," not a violent religious war...

Seriously, having anyone with an absolute belief system start talking about things in terms of war is how lots of people die. History has shown it's just way too easy for folks to forget about the whole "thou shall not kill" rule, especially when they believe they're saving your immortal soul by killing you.

And there are Christian sects that store up guns and want to wage war on the government and set up a Christian theocracy. Anything's possible, but I'm just stating what that picture is most likely about, and stating that 98% of these sects are simply getting themselves roused up to pray and read their bibles. They aren't violent. My guess is that if the sh*t did hit the fan, most of them would run and hide like little schoolgirls. These aren't people raised in the Middle East taught violence from childhood. They're you're typical overweight, undereducated, full of bluster Americans who wouldn't know war if it bit them on the ass.

History has shown it's just way too easy for folks to forget about the whole "thou shall not kill" rule,

Hell, I've seen people on this actual board argue that this is a mistranslation -- that they got a commandment wrong in the Bible. Supposedly, it's "thou shalt not murder".

So much for Biblical literalism, eh? If it doesn't say what you want it to say, even if it's a commandment, well, then there's ways around that little problem.

Malor wrote:
History has shown it's just way too easy for folks to forget about the whole "thou shall not kill" rule,

Hell, I've seen people on this actual board argue that this is a mistranslation -- that they got a commandment wrong in the Bible. Supposedly, it's "thou shalt not murder".

So much for Biblical literalism, eh? If it doesn't say what you want it to say, even if it's a commandment, well, then there's ways around that little problem.

There is a good argument to be made for that translation.

It is much (much!) harder to get around Jesus' command to love our enemies and forgive them and that the appropriate response to violence is to turn the other cheek.

Sure, but that puts a stake in the biblical literalist argument... if they can get a commandment wrong, what else is messed up in KJV?

Malor wrote:

Sure, but that puts a stake in the biblical literalist argument... if they can get a commandment wrong, what else is messed up in KJV?

Don't confuse KJV only-ism for biblical literalism. Some people actually believe that the KJV version was more inspired(?) than the original Hebrew and Greek.

Well, if it IS 'more inspired' than the originals, it still says Thou Shalt Not Kill.

Nomad wrote:
Malor wrote:

Sure, but that puts a stake in the biblical literalist argument... if they can get a commandment wrong, what else is messed up in KJV?

Don't confuse KJV only-ism for biblical literalism. Some people actually believe that the KJV version was more inspired(?) than the original Hebrew and Greek.

I cannot even begin to wrap my brain around this one, nor do I want to convince my fingers to Google the reasons for it.

Malor wrote:

Well, if it IS 'more inspired' than the originals, it still says Thou Shalt Not Kill.

It's a very odd commandment anyway, considering God (YHWH) ordered the killings of millions in the OT. In fact, he even ordered parents to stone to death their own children if they were rebellious.

The person in the foreground of the picture is wearing a Chi Alpha Ministries Logo, which is a campus outreach of the Assemblies of God. Among other things, they (XA) do "expect supernatural power" in their lives, and view speaking in tongues as the true sign of a successful baptism in the holy spirit (that is, a mark of salvation). They also believe in faith healing and the rapture of the saints.

As to spiritual warfare, however, they take a much more moderate line, holding that too much focus on Satan's power is harmful. They feel that Christians can only be oppressed by Satan, not defeated, and so they emphasize the spiritual armor as a way to avoid spiritual oppression. They also caution against attributing every bad thing to Satan.

That's almost certainly what the preacher was speaking on. AoG are old school fundamentalists (Pentecostals, I believe), not one of the new "demon-fighting" sects, and seem to dislike them quite a bit.

NSMike wrote:
KrazyTacoFO wrote:

Apparently many churches are preparing to physically fight against the "evil" non Super-Perfect-Christian churches. Evangelicals are scaring me more than they did when I lived in the bible belt with them (this is a church on the Indiana/KY border).

**Edit**- Apparently the whole peace, love and charity part of Christianity is taking a backseat to the "war on religion" and "preparing to defend against the non-believers-that-love-satan-and-want-to-murder-Christians-in-their-sleep".

To me, the first question is whether or not the above quote is an assumption on the part of Krazy, or if this is info he got from his Facebook friend.

It's an assumption on my part. But I grew up in KY near this area. I'd say it's a 50/50% chance of it being armor of god or a battle speech to tell people to defend themselves when the big bad non-Christians come to eat your babies all Machiavelli style.

Malor wrote:

Well, if it IS 'more inspired' than the originals, it still says Thou Shalt Not Kill.

There are several bible historians who have made the argument that the commandments (and much of the rest of the bible) were written as being applicable only to fellow believers. I. E.: while it says "thou shalt not kill," what it actually means is "though shalt not kill someone who shares your beliefs, but nonbelievers and rival beliefs are fair game."

ruhk wrote:
Malor wrote:

Well, if it IS 'more inspired' than the originals, it still says Thou Shalt Not Kill.

There are several bible historians who have made the argument that the commandments (and much of the rest of the bible) were written as being applicable only to fellow believers. I. E.: while it says "thou shalt not kill," what it actually means is "though shalt not kill someone who shares your beliefs, but nonbelievers and rival beliefs are fair game."

Then why the "every life is precious" bullsh*t? They can't have it both ways. Either killing is just flat out wrong or it's fair game for anyone different.

ruhk wrote:
Malor wrote:

Well, if it IS 'more inspired' than the originals, it still says Thou Shalt Not Kill.

There are several bible historians who have made the argument that the commandments (and much of the rest of the bible) were written as being applicable only to fellow believers. I. E.: while it says "thou shalt not kill," what it actually means is "though shalt not kill someone who shares your beliefs, but nonbelievers and rival beliefs are fair game."

The OT commandments were written for Jews, and yes, applied towards other Jews. Still, this "thou shalt not kill" command contradicts orders to kill other Jewish people at times (adulterers, eaters of shellfish, rebellious kids, etc).

OG_slinger wrote:

Then why the "every life is precious" bullsh*t? They can't have it both ways. Either killing is just flat out wrong or it's fair game for anyone different.

You have to make a distinction between the OT and the NT, and keep in mind that the OT was 100% a collection of Jewish works, for the Jewish religion, and had nothing to do with Christianity whatsoever. It was later that the Christians co-opted the OT and tried to force fit the two works together in an attempt to woo Jews into the Christian faith.

Placing the OT and NT side by side, and trying to have it all make sense is sure to leave you scratching your head. The God in the OT was petty, mean-spirited, full of vengeance and wrath, and had almost zero tolerance for even the smallest of violations. The NT god (Jesus/Holy Spirit, etc) is almost a polar opposite characterization, and the folly is that Christians will have us believe that they are the exact same person.

The New Testament was also written for Jews, although later authors of some parts deliberately wrote for non-Jewish audiences. There was a huge debate in the early Church about whether they should recruit just the Jews, or expand to other groups. Guess who won? What would Jesus think? Depends on which account you follow...

We hold today that the NT is Christian, but Christ was not a Christian, he was a practicing Jew. People forget that all the time. All of his apostles were Jewish (Paul was not an apostle), and he initially rejected the idea of teaching or healing non-Jews.

Here's Matthew's account of Jesus' commission to his 12 disciples. Note the expectations of abuse, and the old school abjuration to stick to Jewish communities. Matthew 10.

1Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.

2 These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon (who is called Peter) and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; 3 Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; 4 Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.

5 These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. 6 Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. 7 As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy,[a] drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.

9 “Do not get any gold or silver or copper to take with you in your belts — 10 no bag for the journey or extra shirt or sandals or a staff, for the worker is worth his keep. 11 Whatever town or village you enter, search there for some worthy person and stay at their house until you leave. 12 As you enter the home, give it your greeting. 13 If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you. 14 If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet. 15 Truly I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.

16 “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. 17 Be on your guard; you will be handed over to the local councils and be flogged in the synagogues. 18 On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. 19 But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, 20 for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.

21 “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. 22 You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. 23 When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another. Truly I tell you, you will not finish going through the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.

24 “The student is not above the teacher, nor a servant above his master. 25 It is enough for students to be like their teachers, and servants like their masters. If the head of the house has been called Beelzebul, how much more the members of his household!

26 “So do not be afraid of them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. 27 What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs. 28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.[b] 30 And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

32 “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. 33 But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.

34 “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to turn

“‘a man against his father,
a daughter against her mother,
a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law —
36 a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’[c]

37 “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.

40 “Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. 41 Whoever welcomes a prophet as a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and whoever welcomes a righteous person as a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward. 42 And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.”
----

Remember, Matthew was written with Mark at hand, but Mark, which was probably written in Syria for a Gentile, takes care to explain Jewish law, custom and practices to the reader. Matthew, though, has a Jewish audience, and plays to their biases and expectations. Absolutely fascinating, since it shows that the change from Judaism to Christianity had not yet occurred in the late 1st Century AD, and the faith was not anything like unified at that time in it's dogma and beliefs and practices.

Jesus' God was definitely YHWH, but Christianity did indeed seek to differentiate from the Jewish god as time went by. If you think about it, it's weird, because at the same time they want to claim the same god, but that's what you get with religion at times. Humans and their beliefs and stories are complicated.

Bit of a necro but I think this fits here well enough;

Nathan Phelps: Escaping Westboro Baptist Church

Insightful look into leaving faith from a rather extreme case.

krev82 wrote:

Bit of a necro but I think this fits here well enough;

Nathan Phelps: Escaping Westboro Baptist Church

Insightful look into leaving faith from a rather extreme case.

My first thought is that this is a "trap". That's how low my opinion of elder Phelps is.

DSGamer wrote:
krev82 wrote:

Bit of a necro but I think this fits here well enough;

Nathan Phelps: Escaping Westboro Baptist Church

Insightful look into leaving faith from a rather extreme case.

My first thought is that this is a "trap". That's how low my opinion of elder Phelps is.

Nate Phelps has spoken at quite a few prominent atheist events and on some prominent podcasts as well. If it is a "trap," it's a damn consistent one.

If he did say "I'm not really an atheist and I was working for my father" at some point, I'm not sure what it would prove other than he did a pretty good job of faking atheism.

That was a great episode. I've heard Nate on a number of different Atheism-themed podcasts, and every time I hear his story, I'm still stunned.

My former logics and semantics professor Jean-Paul Van Bendegem often speaks as an explicit atheist, and talks in a Belgian newspaper on how he handles the often-posed question "If you're an atheist, what stops you from just shooting people at will?"

Van Bendegem wrote:

At first I went through a cynical phase, where I responded with 'Correct me if I'm wrong, but being religious doesn't seem to help either.' Looking at history one could argue it's not even cynical.

The second phase was one of righteous indignation, for how dare they ask such a question.

Finally, in phase three I started responding with "As an atheist, all I have left to indentify with are other people. Shooting them would be like shooting myself! Plus, I'm a philosopher so I can't shoot for sh*t."

Paraphrased (badly) of course as the source is in Dutch, but I thought it was well put.

Because, ultimately, morality has a very large biological component. It is very hard to get soldiers to kill anyone, for instance. It takes very, very powerful conditioning to break down the instinctive barriers we all have to doing lethal damage to someone.

Religion, as often as not, is the source of that conditioning. See: suicide and abortion clinic bombers.

There are a small percentage of people who don't have that limiter, and that's probably evolved too. There are distinct advantages to having a few Begbies in your tribe, in spite of the trouble they cause internally.

There was actually a habit amongst the members of a Christian fellowship I was a part of in college where they would jokingly call other members "sinner!" in place of "jerk" or the like.

Someone eventually decided that perhaps that wasn't the best course of action. It's pretty easy for people to find reasons to devalue each other.

Malor wrote:

Because, ultimately, morality has a very large biological component. It is very hard to get soldiers to kill anyone, for instance. It takes very, very powerful conditioning to break down the instinctive barriers we all have to doing lethal damage to someone.

Religion, as often as not, is the source of that conditioning. See: suicide and abortion clinic bombers.

I think it's fair to say that a majority of people would generally favor not harming other individuals without provocation, but we now live in a well structured society with laws and consequences - which is not something you could say for the ancient times when many religions rose to prominence. There will always be outlaws and sociopaths, but we keep them in check through governmental oversight now.

I think religions did initially fill a legitimate and important role of curbing sociopathic behavior by instilling the "fear of god" in situations where there would otherwise be no direct negative consequence for the perpetrator. But now, the very high probability of imprisonment (or even execution) is as much a disincentive as the wrath of god was.

There will always be outlaws and sociopaths, but we keep them in check through governmental oversight now.

Until they get into government, and then we're really in trouble.

Malor wrote:
There will always be outlaws and sociopaths, but we keep them in check through governmental oversight now.

Until they get into government, and then we're really in trouble.

And even then, the solution is not "less government" or "no government". It is "better government".

Remember always that rights exist to protect the powerless because the powerful don't need rights. They have power.

I think it's fair to say that a majority of people would generally favor not harming other individuals without provocation, but we now live in a well structured society with laws and consequences - which is not something you could say for the ancient times when many religions rose to prominence. There will always be outlaws and sociopaths, but we keep them in check through governmental oversight now.

I think religions did initially fill a legitimate and important role of curbing sociopathic behavior by instilling the "fear of god" in situations where there would otherwise be no direct negative consequence for the perpetrator. But now, the very high probability of imprisonment (or even execution) is as much a disincentive as the wrath of god was.

But the Jews were not living in lawless areas. The majority of Judaic thought probably developed during the Babylonian Exile, and Babylon had a system of laws and penalties for breaking them. So I'd say that while what you're saying might be true for the earliest religions, by the time Judaism came around, it was not building on a foundation of lawlessness. It was instead differentiating itself from it's neighbors and it's cultural predecesors with a modified set of rules, but one based on what they already had in place and that the Jews were comfortable with.

It all depends on where you are at. I am not strolling down Vatican City with this sign:

IMAGE(http://i.imgur.com/kWIl0.gif)

Wow... Bruce Willis really has aged, hasn't he?