11/10/99

Hi,

Sorry you didn't like my "fast food" analogy.

The built-in hunger to know God is a Christian concept. I am just relating to you what I understand about that concept. Many, many people have written, in works of fiction as well as nonfiction, about those inner feelings that, I think, Augustine put his finger on. I am sure that I have said this before, but those feelings are related to "real meaning of life" and "real purpose in life" and I think that alone makes it fairly universal.

Let me suppose that I didn't grow up in a predominately Christian culture. If I never came to hear of Christ, I would be in an honest state of ignorance. If I never heard rightly the message of Christ, then I would have honestly, though mistakenly, rejected Christianity. But if I hear the message of Christ and His death on the cross for me, then something I don't really understand may happen; God, in His time and place, may awaken something inside me. If that happens, I have the will to suppress it or not. But I know that the questions of honest ignorance and honest disbelief do not apply to me anymore.

Now as to whether God forgives honest error. One of the Bible verses you quoted: "He who believes in the Son has eternal life; he who does not obey the son shall not see life, but the wrath of god rests upon him." John 3:36. If He wanted to, Jesus could have easily said: "He who believes in the Son has eternal life and all others will see hell". But He didn't really say that, did He? Doesn't the words "obey the son" imply a rejected, not merely misunderstood, communication?

I'm not sure I understand this that you wrote: "People are born atheists and will remain so until the idea is planted in their heads, whether as children or adults, that there is something else." I can set up a thought experiment: a child raised in isolation by two parents who never mention god or related subjects. I can imagine this child one day saying: "mom, dad, where did the trees and the sky and the earth and the sun and the everything come from?" At that point, the parents will relate some idea about god. It may be the god of "chance", but it will be a concept about god.

I see Christianity as the adoption of an individual into the body of Christ. It is not the action of joining a church or association, but rather an action between God and the individual.

You ask if I think that Lutherans are the only true Christians. Lutheran and Christian are of different realms and therefore I can't equate them. To be a Lutheran is to join a human association; a transaction between people. To become a Christian is a transaction (or union, or covenant) between God and the individual. To say that Lutherans are the only true Christians would be something like saying that the only true master mechanic is a socket wrench. (Oh go ahead and make fun of that analogy too.)

Does omniscience and omnipotence necessarily negate "free will"? I don't think it does. Pretty deep subject. How do we humans, in human terms and experiences, come to grips with what omniscience and omnipotence really mean?

I think that atheism is a form of polytheism. All of the polytheistic gods on Olympus are gone but all of the demigods are still there. (As you know, a demigod had authority over some little aspect of existance whether it be a waterfall or a bridge or whatever.) (Now I know that "demigod" has some negative connotations, but I don't mean any disrespect to you by using the word.) Inside their realms, they are the creators; i.e. the ones who have the uncaused, inherent power to cause events to happen. Now I myself claim to create things, such as the writing of original essays, but I lay my power to create as a reflected or derived power from God and not of my own doing.

Cheers and looking forward to Thanksgiving,
Lynn

11/10/99

Hello,

I was not making fun of your analogy, merely pointing out the flaws in it. I apologize if you were offended.

You mentioned "the built-in hunger to know God is a Christian concept". Exactly. It really is a concept in the truest definition of the word - merely an idea invented for the particular circumstances. Granted, we all want to discover why we're here, why the sky is blue, and so on; human nature wants to see order where there is chaos. What Christian philosophers like St. Augustine did was twist that around to say that we all want to know the creator of the universe. However, there is no foundation, external nor internal, that produces absolute concepts such as 'gods(s)' or 'soul'. This has been observed through the ages. Augustine was neither a psychologist nor trying to convert pagans or atheists.

So if your god were to "awaken" something inside of me, but "I have the will to suppress it, or not", then, by your reasoning, it would be fair to say that I now "know that the question of honest ignorance and honest disbelief do not apply to me anymore." But I've never been awakened by your god! In fact, I've never been awakened by any deities. That would be quite impossible considering my belief system. And since this has never happened, it stands to reason (by your reasoning) that I have not consciously or unconsciously suppressed the will of your god. That would leave me in a state of honest belief that there is no god. Therefore, the point of whether or not your god forgives honest error is moot. He simply doesn't exist to forgive or not. Of course, there is such a thing as 'dishonest error', but this does not apply to me, as I am being very honest with myself.

Your thought experiment concerning a "child raised in isolation" is quite real. I was born an atheist (as we all are) to freethinking parents who directed me to many resources in response to my curiosity: many forms of creation myths (including Christian) and scientific theories. But a "god of 'chance'"? Never.

Why is it difficult to come to grips with such concepts as 'omniscience' and 'omnipotence'? Omniscience, for example, simply means 'all-knowing'. If you understand 'all' and how it applies grammatically to 'knowing', then you understand that 'all-knowing' pertains to a being that knows everything. It's not difficult. The human mind may not be able to fully perceive such a concept, just as it may not be able to perceive the vast expanse, beginning and end of the universe, but we can certainly understand it.

One thing I can't understand, however, is how you reason that atheism is a form of polytheism. Atheism is the disbelief in any and all deities. Polytheism is a belief system that includes more than one deity. The two terms completely contradict each other. Therefore, your theory is flawed. Nor do I understand why you might think that 'demigod' has negative connotations or why it could possibly be disrespectful to me (especially as an atheist). A demigod is simply the offspring of a god and a mortal. Hercules was a demigod. Jesus was a demigod. I'm not using the example of Jesus to be trite; I'm just giving another example of how Christianity is unoriginal and taken from previous myths and legends. After all, Christians were desperately trying to eradicate any previous pagan religions.

I am a free, functional, confident, and god-free human being. My creativity and creations are my own, they are not derived from some unobservable, all-powerful and all-knowing force. I am the power and force behind my creations, I am my own person, and it would be pointless to share my glory or agony with something that doesn't exist.

I am still curious as to how you come to the conclusion that many Christians are just atheists pretending to be Christians. Is there a point to that? How do you know that they're not wrong? Also, what makes the bible so rich when much of it is lifted from other religions?

Meretricula

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