Pagan Christianity: My Learning to Doubt

Tags

, , , , , , ,

The image above is the second edition of Frank Viola’s original book, Pagan Christianity, because George Barna, Christian pollster, wanted in on the arguments. It’s a great book for anyone wanting to trace the origins of certain Christian practices, or at least that’s what I thought at the time I read it. Who knows now. It might need to be critically evaluated by someone… and not me right now because I don’t have the time.

But back to my tale, I attribute this book with the first honor of skepticism about Christian practices. I was quite the young fundamentalist (although I did always try to excuse away the chauvinism the epistles to Timothy) and I never thought about whether tithing was biblical or if there should be more than one pastor per church. But Pagan Christianity showed me that there were things that the evangelical “church,” note that I use it loosely here, simply did from tradition rather than the Bible. And I wanted church practices to derive from the truth! I was a six-day creationist, anti-charismatic (not hostile though, for I had several friends who were Pentecostals or charismatics), I aspired to be a leading apologist, etc. etc.

But then I wondered why Viola didn’t criticize the idea of the Trinity just like he did with other practices derived after the first century. I doubt he ever would doubt it from the way he writes.

All of this reminds me that I failed to start at the beginning and should turn there next. Here is the link to check out this book: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00APOW7JI/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_awdb_t1_p8WKCb7K393DR

I will have to come back to this book again as I continue my story, but for now, I’ll say that I have a special post coming out the 27th as a review of a new book and that my next in this series involves a fiery 14 year old fighting against the “lie of evolution.”

Thanks all

How Apologetics Leads to Disbelief

Tags

, , , , , , , , , ,

While I can’t say that I started reading my first atheist book exactly on 9/10/05, I definitely did close to it. I still use same day receipts as book marks and I have never taken this one out of Bertrand Russell’s Why I Am Not a Christian. Of course, when I walked out of Books-a-Million that day, I also carried out a Christian book and explained that I was studying to defend against atheism. In fact, I remember the book’s namesake essay and thinking, “I wouldn’t want to be the kind of Christian Russell disliked either.”

This series of articles will document how searching for “the way, the truth, and the life” led to disbelief in one individual. And it’s inspired by a random event that happened tonight as I was skimming through my library. I hope to outline how my apologetics studies began and where my beliefs stand today. I’ll start here in the middle, inspired by this little token of my past.

I went back through Why I Am Not a Christian years later and noted where certain arguments were now “outdated,” especially by arguments posed by William Lane Craig. But now I am reading it through again. And I see such simple power in the article. I think what amazed me then still amazes me now – that Russell though he could sidestep Christianity so easily.

The pages of the book have long been yellow now, but the content is just as fresh as the day I bought it nearly 14 years ago. Back then, everything was different. I was a Christian high school graduate seeking to become an apologist and philosopher, a sexual virgin, a cigarette virgin, alcohol virgin, and one hell of a cocky guy.

But at the same time, I had already bought a book that would change my life forever. And I bought it from Union University’s on-campus Lifeway Bookstore: Frank Viola’s Pagan Christianity….

———————-

Works Cited

Russell, Bertrand. Why I Am Not a Christian: And Other Essays on Religion and Related Subjects. Touchstone, 1957.

Wealth and Poverty

“For indeed any city, however small, is in fact divided into two, one the city of the poor, the other of the rich;”

– Plato (via the mouth of Socrates)

a.co/bqIfEoS

If the failed communists experiments taught us anything, it’s that there will always be the “haves” and the “have nots.” What should be the focus of politics is the standards of living for the poorest members of society. Poverty is America is not poverty in Sierra Leone or Columbia or Germany. And I don’t think that it can be measured by finances either. Instead, poverty guidelines should take into consideration life opportunities and freedom from government regulation.

Without any sources at hand, I cannot comment further on America’s basic poverty definitions or anywhere else for that matter. But what do you think qualifies for poverty? No specifics needed, just general guidelines and the such.

Graham Harman’s Object-Oriented Ontology: A New Theory of Everything – Part 3: I Was Both Mistaken and Correct

Tags

, , , , , ,

I have constantly been considering the aspect of OOO that denies physicalism And I realize now that it is correct when one considers objects as Harman does. There are objects of thought and social objects that are not physical (such as imaginary friends, weddings, the election of 1996). However, I still maintain that there must be a physical substance underlying all such things. Can there be thoughts without brains? Weddings without people (at least currently on earth – for all you savage smart-asses 👍🏻)? An election without a means to record results (whether electronic or on paper)?

But now I am on page 161 and Harman directly addresses the New Realism of Ferraris and Gabriel. And he admits to the very complaint that I have against OOO. It claims no knowledge is possible of real objects. But such an absolute claim is it least knowledge of what real objects are not. And digging down into the relationships between objects and people only shows that knowledge is possible. Now if he would simply change his claim but no absolute knowledge is possible, then I would agree. He does say that direct knowing of real objects and real qualities is impossible and I agree, but this is far from no knowledge.

Perhaps I’m reading him wrong on this point. And perhaps he has read the New Realists wrong too. Absolute knowledge about anything is impossible because the relationship between the one attempting to know and the thing being known constantly shifts with the increase of knowledge by the student. I’m not sure how to word it clearly right now, but perhaps it will come to me later on. I’m just hoping I’m misunderstanding him and that he has more to offer in OOO. I feel like he is close to saying something useful but never breaking the dam’s walls to flood my mind.

Stuck in a Corner?

Tags

, , , , , ,

Last Friday, my wife and I had another couple for a games night which usually consists of a board game and several alcoholic drinks. This time, we never got to any game itself and we went into theological and philosophical discussions. My wife, however, tucked a bottle of wine under her arm and got into it alone (she is terribly bored by these subjects for her own reasons).

The know about the time I declared I didn’t believe in God. That was years ago and they politely challenged me to go over that position again. I’ve been silent for years about it because I work part time at a church. I can’t afford to lose my job either. My family is counting on me. I also can’t be completely honest with myself either because I don’t want to be cornered.

I decided a while ago to be satisfied with being politely quiet on the issue. There’s the contemplative view that allows me to escape directly answering questions like that. It keeps me safe and uncornered. My honest answer is, “I want to believe in God, but claim to be agnostic until I can satisfactorily answer the question publicly.” Well, it is true… to an extent. I actually have an answer, but I will keep it to myself for the time being.

In the meantime, between all the work and school work, I’m going to work on expositing my position for myself and hopefully others.

You Can’t Run for Office! You’re an Atheist!

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Above is a screenshot of North Carolina’a state constitution, article 6. Section 8 flat out says, “You can’t run for office because you’re an atheist!” Section 7 requires the individual to swear, “so help me God.”

And it’s not just North Carolina. The list on thehumanist.com also lists Arkansas, Maryland, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Texas.

Tennessee, my old home state, even stated that an elected official must believe in both God’s existence and a “future state of rewards and punishments.” I seriously doubt that many public figures adhere to believing in eternal punishments these days (but few would say so publicly, even if their public actions say otherwise).

This isn’t fair and it’s completely unreasonable. The assumption appears to be that a public official is more likely to behave if he think’s God is going to hold him accountable after death. But why hasn’t belief in God stopped individuals from cheating on their spouses, commuting tax evasion, shooting their neighbors, or even raping innocent people? You can still believe in God and do terrible things. The same goes for atheists. Both believers and nonbelievers of God have the potential for good and evil.

And any church-going southern evangelical Christian will tell you that it’s not the belief in God that counts, it’s the relationship. But again, that has never completely deterred all sorts of evil.

These constitutions must be amended in this new millennium, in the next decade even. People need justice systems and political systems to be fair in order to respect them.

The Odyssey, A Cup Of Tea, and a Fire(y?)

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , ,

I’m struggling to get through this book. There’s laundry to be done, dishes piled up and a crap ton of emails I didn’t get to at work today just calling to me from my laptop. I’d rather be wasting my time playing Stardew Valley on my phone or watching some more on season one of One Piece.

But hey, it’s sleeping outside and I’m toasty and getting caffeinated off of green tea and ginger. Not too shabby (if the little people would stay asleep).

Tried to get a rental from Enterprise today without success. My wife’s van got a preliminary estimate of $5,646 of damage to it last Wednesday…. and we’re still sharing one car to go four places in the morning. We keep joking that we’ll need to get divorce lawyers if the rental doesn’t work out soon! (Side not: how the hell does the phone autocorrect “divorce” to “socioeconomic”????? That’s just trying a little too hard, Siri.)

And… yep. That’s about it. Overall, the day has gone well for me with little to complain of.

Late School Nights

Tags

, , , , , , ,

I’m sitting on my meditation pillows trying to read the Odyssey (a little over 300 pages in this version) before midnight Wednesday. I’m not even on page 30. Ugh how I wish I could keep my attention on the task at hand. Instead I eat to barely stay awake to read 3 pages before I pass out. I’m struggling.

1 year and that masters in done…. I’ve officially been a student for 25 years when I exclude the 2 years I took breaks. A quarter century learning, another using that knowledge, and another to forget it all. Might even get a bonus round at the end, but who knows. Right now, I’m trying to pronounce Greek names (mans struggling even though I took a years work of Greek before!

No Way I’d Have Ever Believed – My Apologies

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , ,

(Photo Credit: Idan Arad)

I’m having to read through Genesis-Leviticus in the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) for my current graduate course. Some of the things I used to try and make excuses for are even worse now: Abraham’s near murder of Isaac, God making Pharaoh’s heart so He can kill all of the firstborns in Egypt (from tiny babies to the elderly), etc.

If I hadn’t have been brought up in church and taught to believe in the Bible, I never would have. It’s brutal and unjust and if there is to be any theology that unites the whole, it has to dismiss God’s “schizophrenia” to exalt one personality over another. I don’t say any of this to bash believers of Christianity or Judaism (or even Islam for that matter). But if I hadn’t have been brought up religious, I never would have believed that this is a God worth following.

But then again, very few people bother reading the books they claim to believe. Forgive me if I offend You or you. Know that I have no joy writing this. Just honesty.

Just a note…..

My breaking point was when I applied the interpretative method (hermeneutics) of evangelical fundamentalism to the New Testament’s interpretation of the Old Testament. I found that it didn’t work. Fundamentalists would argue with the apostles if they were side by side. Test it and see.

Chasing Cars

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , ,

Life is never like the songs you used to sing.

Sometimes chasing cars means not wanting to say goodbye instead of being lost together with your love.

When we are young, we love magic. When we are old, we love ghosts. Neither truly exists in the present. Both are wanting more than is possible.