6/02/2008

The Globe & Mail vs. Religion

Quarter of Canadians don't believe in any god, poll says!! Or does it?
Actually, it does not.
The poll says:
72 per cent of respondents said they believed in a god, while 23 per cent said they did not believe in any god. Six per cent did not offer an opinion.

A quarter would be 25%.
Nice spin though. Very secular. Very atheistic. Not the least bit subtle about any bias with respect to religion. Down with those fundy Christians who make us feel bad about our sin and offer us the healing balm of God's grace.
Just what I expect from the G&M.
But, I'd like to point out that "god" (small "g" with good reason) refers to pretty much any benevolent spiritual being that may or may not be in control of the universe at any given time. The reality is that significantly fewer actually do believe in God.
If you have time, take a look at the lengthy discussion going on in the comments section. It's pretty much what one expects. Atheists a plenty, not an independent or unique thought among them. All Christian bashing. Multiple Flying Spaghetti Monster references.
Boring.
Ten thousand years, and not much changes.
The fool says in his heart "there is no God." Psalm 14:1

12 comments:

Dave said...

From a statistically point of view, it is essentially 1/4 because of the margin of error.

Lore_Weaver said...

Would you prefer they said "More than 1/5th but less than a quarter"?

Makes for a less succinct and punchy headline, doesn't it! I like, "Nearly twice as many Canadians don't believe in God than Americans" but that could be just as easily misinterpreted.

I could toss out a few arguments against the existence of God that aren't cookie cutters... but that's besides the point.

If the fool says in his heart that "there is no God." Than why did St. Augustine have to defend God's existence? What drove him to Manichism (sp?) and back? Perhaps deep thoughts of origin and the universe are more environmental and skewed by society than based in reality. :D

Greg said...

Be careful about calling people fools.

Matt 5:22
... But anyone who says, 'You fool!' will be in danger of the fire of hell.

Besides which an atheist doesn't necessarily say "There is no god", no more than you could definitely say that there are no unicorns or leprauchauns. As an atheist, I would say that there is no reason to believe in any gods, just as you see no reason to believe in unicorns.

Ruth said...

I love it when atheists try to quote Scripture to support their own views.
Let's back and see what Matthew 5 is actually talking aboutm shall we.
Matthew 5:21-24
"You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.' But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, 'Raca,' is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, 'You fool!' will be in danger of the fire of hell. "Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift."
Hmm. Looks like the reference is to one's brother... that is, their fellow Christian... which atheists are not.
Nice try though Greg.

Greg said...

Good one. Actually that reference sounds like a literal "brother", meaning "brother", as in ... "sibling".

My understanding is that Jesus would have us:
1) all be brothers (Matt 5:47)
2) love our enemies (Matt 5:44)
3) seek peaceful solutions (Matt 5:9)

But if you think that he meant, "You're allowed to insult anyone who doesn't believe what you believe", you go right ahead and let those insults fly.

You'll be a shining example to the Christian community. Let it be understood that it was the Christian, not the atheist, who laid the insult. And it was another Christian who justified it.

Ruth said...

With respect to #1, your understanding is wrong. We are not all brothers. God put enmity between the seend of the woman (believers) and the seed of the serpent (unbelievers) after the fall. See Genesis 3:14, 15.
With respect to #2, we certainly are to love our enemies. However, love does not let someone continue in error. Far from it. Love points out the truth: that you are in error.
With respect to #3, it says blessed are the peace makers. Sometimes, peace must be enforced. In any case, your criticism is not valid since I have not advocated a violent solution with respect to conversion, nor would I. You also cannot demonstrate that my words are not peaceful.
"Let it be understood that it was the Christian, not the atheist, who laid the insult."
Facts are not insulting.
Lies are.
If I told you that you were wise for not believing in God, then I would be insulting you.
You'll have to try again.

Greg said...

Do you really want to get in to the story of serpent (who told the truth) vs God (who lied)?

The serpent wasn't an unbeliever. The serpent was the truth teller. Eating the fruit *did* make them gain wisdom and they *did not* die the day they ate it.

Now back to Jesus. My point from those examples (peace, love, brotherhood) was that Jesus meant for his followers to be nice to other people, not insult them. It goes directly against calling some a "fool" for having different beliefs.

Ruth said...

"The serpent was the truth teller. Eating the fruit *did* make them gain wisdom and they *did not* die the day they ate it."

Wow!! Talk about a spin on things!
Separation from God and spiritual darkness is not wisdom. And Adam and Eve most certainly did die. The physical process of death entered the world, and what's more, they immediately died spiritually. See Romans 5 for details.

"My point from those examples (peace, love, brotherhood) was that Jesus meant for his followers to be nice to other people, not insult them. It goes directly against calling some a "fool" for having different beliefs."

Again, I ask you, how is lying to someone "nice?"
Furthermore, you have selective tastes when it comes to the words of Jesus. What do you do with verses such as the following (all spoken by Jesus):
Matthew 10:34 Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.
Matthew 12:34 You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.
Matthew 16:23 Jesus turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men."
Matthew 23:17 You blind fools! Which is greater: the gold, or the temple that makes the gold sacred?
Matthew 23:27 Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men's bones and everything unclean.
Matthew 25:41 Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed...'
Luke 11: 39,40 ...Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. You foolish people! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also...
Luke 12:20 But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you...'

With respect to "brotherhood," what Jesus actually had to say was:
Matthew 12:50 For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.
With respect to neighbors (which isn't what you were arguing for, but I'll give it to you anyway), see the parable of the Good Samaritan, Luke 10.
As you can see, brotherhood is not universal.

Greg said...

I'm putting the spin on things?

The bible has God saying, "You will surely die on the day that thou eatest thereof" and *I'm* the one putting the spin on it because I think this means "you will die on the day you eat it"?

Whereas you, who has to go 30 or 40 books further in to the bible, past the actual life of Jesus, to translate "death" in to "spiritual death" while simultaneously arguing that it means that physical death "entered the world" ... you are giving the most level interpretation?

I'm trying to argue that you shouldn't insult people by calling them "fools" for disagreeing with you and somehow you think the act of "not-insulting" is akin to "lying"? Hmm.

Am I also "lying" if I don't say, "your religion is a fairy tale"? No, I'm simply being polite. You see, we have different viewpoints and the common Christian argument that religion makes you a better person really doesn't hold water if you insult people.

"Matthew 10:34 Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword."

Great. It was bad enough when you were just justifying insults. Now you're going to stab people who disagree with you?

[sigh] The blogosphere is getting rough these days.

Ruth said...

Greg, if you don't understand that Scripture interprets Scripture (the reason behind providing you with Romans 5), one of the simplest theological maxims there is, then you don't have the ability to debate with me or any other Christian you should chance to meet.
Yes, I am giving you the most level interpretation of "death." You, on the other hand, are speaking out of ignorance. You have just demonstrated, both by your initial question and subsequent response to my answer, your total unfamiliarity with the Doctrine of Sin. We can't really have a debate, or even an adequate discussion, on Christian doctrine until you patch up the holes in your "knowledge."

If you really do want to discuss any problems you see with Christianity, I suggest you read up on it first. I recommend for starters:
The Bible
Institutes of the Christian Religion by John Calvin, and all of Calvin's commentaries
The Pillars of Christian Character by John MacArthur
Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
Studies in Dogmatics: Sin, by G.C. Berkouwer (in fact, read all of Berkouwer's Studies in Dogmatics series. You will find yourself more than prepared for any debate if you are able to grasp his arguments.)
The Bondage of the Will, by Martin Luther. Get all of his commentaries as well.
The Confessions of St. Augustine,
everything you can find by Charles Spurgeon, Jonathan Edwards, and of course http://monergism.com/

Greg said...

I've read the bible ... from end to end (I admit to skimming the "begat"s. They got tiresome). Shortly thereafter I became an atheist. One of the strangest assertions that I see from believers is that some type of complicated interpretation is required to understand what the bible is saying.

The bible is saying what it says. If God meant us to understand him, why did he write in such an obtuse way that I need a library to understand his moral guidelines?

The doctrine of Original Sin is very simple. You just have to read the Church's riff on the "hereditary stain" placed on humanity. I'll sum it up for you:

1) desire for wisdom is bad
2) obedience and submission to God is good
3) we are all evil because Adam and Eve ate the fruit after having been told not to eat it
4) evil is passed down heritably, like genes
5) the stain of evil is removed in two parts
a) God had a part of himself executed
b) I must believe in the execution event as a means of stain removal

It doesn't really make moral sense to me that:
a) I'm at fault because of anything my ancestors did (nevermind that it was their desire for wisdom)
b) A moral failure can be excused by having a third party nailed to a piece of wood

And here I speak as one who used to believe it. It's not my fault, as an atheist, that Original Sin and Redemption don't make sense. It's the fault of the theology.

Ruth said...

"If God meant us to understand him, why did he write in such an obtuse way"

He didn't. But you are right; the Bible does say what it says, and it's very easy to understand... though not in one's own strength.
As Romans 1 says, people prefer to suppress the truth.

"1) desire for wisdom is bad"

This is a demonstrably false statement, and only goes to further prove that you don't know what you are talking about. If you had read the Bible from cover to cover as you say, then you must have come across the book of Proverbs at some point.
Proverbs 3:13 Blessed is the man who finds wisdom, the man who gains understanding,
Proverbs 4:5 Get wisdom, get understanding;
Proverbs 4:6 Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you. Proverbs 4:7 Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.
Proverbs 8:11 for wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with her.
Proverbs 9:12 If you are wise, your wisdom will reward you; if you are a mocker, you alone will suffer.
Proverbs 19:8 He who gets wisdom loves his own soul; he who cherishes understanding prospers.

"2) obedience and submission to God is good"

Yes.

"3) we are all evil because Adam and Eve ate the fruit after having been told not to eat it"
"4) evil is passed down heritably, like genes"

Both of these are gross over-simplifications. Again, I would point you to Romans 5. While we are certainly guilty on account of Adam's sin, we are guilty of our own sins only, and not Adam's. Also, it is not accurate to say that sin is passed down like genes. While the word "inherited" is certainly used, it does not imply a physical inheriting, but a spiritual one. To simplify it for your understanding, something perfect cannot come from something imperfect. As soon as Adam sinned, he had no chance of bearing a perfect offspring, and he thereby deprived all his progeny of the good gifts he had been given.
Perhaps the Heidelberg Catechism would help you on this point.

"5) the stain of evil is removed in two parts
a) God had a part of himself executed
b) I must believe in the execution event as a means of stain removal"

Not really.
With respect to part b, although it is most often worded that you are saved because you believe, it's actually bi-directional. One believes because they are saved and is saved because they believe. The Holy Spirit regenerates an individual and thus they believe. This regenerative work is a gift bestowed on us by God. We do not achieve it of our own accord. Read Romans 9.
With respect to God executing a part of Himself, again you misunderstand. Jesus is not a part of God. Jesus is God. As such, what God actually did was to lay down His own life.

"a) I'm at fault because of anything my ancestors did"

No. You are at fault because of what you do. You will not stand before God and be held accountable of eating the fruit, as Adam did. But, I already discussed this.

"b) A moral failure can be excused by having a third party nailed to a piece of wood"

No. Your sins are most definitely NOT excused. Your sins are no longer reckoned to you (Psalm 32:2), and that is different.

"I speak as one who used to believe it"

I hear this excuse from atheists all the time. What can I say?
You really don't.
You speak as someone who thought they believed, but actually didn't. If you had believed, you would have been obedient, persevered and remained in the faith. (John 14, Romans 16:26, Hebrews 10:36, 1 John 2:24, 1 John 5:3)

"It's not my fault, as an atheist, that Original Sin and Redemption don't make sense."

Actually, it is.
John 1:5 The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.
John 3:18-20 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.

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