10/8/99

Hi,

I appreciate your openness in discussing religion. It is indeed a pleasure to write to you.

The discrepancy that you specifically mentioned was that the Bible conflicted with itself on which was created first, man or tree. I am responding that Genesis Chapter 2 does not talk about creating trees, it talks about establishing crops and gardens. An agrarian society, as Israel was, would certainly and instantly grasp the difference. My point is there is no discrepancy. If you have others, let's have them (but one at a time, please).

If there was only one way to translate scripture, that would in itself, be the most visible miracle of all time. It would also be the undeniable proof that He exists. It seems to me you're demanding that God prove Himself to you through a miracle. I personally don't think that we're in any position to demand things of God.

The church would not need to discriminate against what went into the canon if God had only removed the free will of people who would submit forgeries. It is His nature to allow us free will.

You had written:

"What you might say is that the god I don't believe in is kind, loving, watches over, listens to, and helps me. If this is what you mean by desiring someone to rule your life, then I do. That's a very comforting thought, and what I believe to be a big reason why people choose Christianity."

I don't think this is the God that Christianity preaches. What you're describing is a doting grandfather and if I were making up a religion, that might sound pretty good. However, if God actually did give His own Son up to torture and a disgraceful, degrading death on a cross, how shall He treat us - as pampered children? Jesus was tough as nails. In Mark 10, a young rich man comes to Him asking how he could "inherit eternal life". After a short dialog, Jesus tells him to "sell what you have and give it to the poor . . . and come follow me". In other words, give up every bit of your wealth and all of your dreams of the future in order to be His follower. The young man couldn't do it and sadly walks off. Jesus doesn't try to stop him; doesn't call after him and say "It's just an allegory". Jesus just lets him go.

Jesus is relentless. If you become His follower, He will tear down everything that is not built upon Him. Your friends, your ideas and hopes for the future, family, your career, your ideas about right and wrong, your ideas about happiness. He tells me and you that there is nothing that we have ever done, apart from Him, that is good; that all of our "rightneous" is "disgusting and filthy". The basic, fundamental sin is that I have a right to myself and He is determined to tear every bit of that out.

Christianity is not a religion for those who want someone to listen to them and comfort them - they should try psychotherapy perhaps (or a bottle of gin).

"Shopping for a religion" implies a preferential choosing amongst a number of essentially equal commodities. I'm looking for truth, not preference, and I'm not going to be satisfied with a lie. I may start with a passion to know God, but I'm not going to settle for a religion that makes it all up or, even worse, has me making it up. It would be like looking for gold and then settling for "fools gold". Christianity and the Bible are good places in which to begin to search for that truth. The Bible tells us to seek God and we will find Him. In other words, seeking God is our part, finding God is God's part. If you honestly seek God and don't find Him, that is reason enough for you to disbelieve the promises of the Bible.

I certainly agree that most Christians don't know why, or even what, they believe. It's a sorry state of affairs. My personal judgment is that the great majority of those who call themselves Christians, do so for purely social reasons. After all, anyone can call themselves Christian at any time. In actuality, most of them are closet atheists.

Cheers,
Lynn

10/8/99

Hello,

You say that Genesis chapter 2 does not talk about creating trees. Gen 2:9 states: "And the LORD God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground--trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil." This is, of course after god made man, and is also in contradiction with chapter one. Taken literally, it is truly a contradiction. However, you state that it is talking about "establishing crops and gardens". In chapter 1, vegetation and seed and fruit-bearing trees are already mentioned, obviously crops, but are not mentioned in 2:9, which you claim are also crops. Which crops are crops?

There is an exhaustive list of biblical errancies and other contradictions. If you would like me to list them one at a time, I don't mind. They range from relatively unimportant matters to having to do with salvation. However, listing these errancies would probably be explained away by translation errors through the years.

It is my feeling that there should be only one way to translate the bible. If we're talking about an omniscient, omnipotent god with an all-important message for all mankind, why is the bible translated by people in so many ways? Hundreds of people can interpret the bible in their own way and justify it by what is written. If the bible is the word of god, there should be no problem in translation. We shouldn't have to learn extinct languages to figure it out. If the English translation is flawed or translated in different ways, god failed. Basically, it stands to reason that if the Christian god is the real deal, he would have known that the English language would eventually come to be (by his own power, I would assume), and that he should have made his word unambiguous in any language. This also applies to people of other religions: why aren't they convinced about Christianity?

I don't demand that any gods prove that they exist. I don't make demands of things I don't believe in. But, I do believe that human beings are inquisitive by nature. Curiosity and gaining knowledge are aspects of human nature that the Christian church have traditionally discouraged. By saying that you "personally don't think that we're in any position to demand things of God", you're placing yourself in that stereotype and limiting yourself terribly. I mean no offense, but I've heard this position before, and I find it to be a kind of personal excuse as to why you shouldn't inquire after things you don't understand.

You had written that "The church would not need to discriminate against what went into the canon if God had only removed the free will of people who would submit forgeries." This was not the point I was trying to make. The church had no way of knowing what were forgeries and what were not. They simply chose the most popular stories. They did not knowingly discriminate against the forgeries.

The "doting grandfather" of a god that I described is indeed preached by some Christians. The point of this is that Christians develop their own form of Christianity based on their interpretation of the bible. Obviously, your god is not like this, but for many other Christians, he is. Who's to say who is interpretating an already errant bible right or wrong?

I still don't understand why you chose Christianity. You deny that you are shopping for a religion because that "implies a preferential choosing amongst a number of essentially equal commodities." Does this mean that you don't believe that other religions aren't equal to Christianity? If so, why not? Just because Christianity and the bible offered you what you wanted - the opportunity to know your creator and a place to begin your search for the truth - is it not plausible that this doesn't necessarily mean that it's the one true religion?

People of other faiths believe that they have been offered what they want and believe that their religion is as real as you believe yours is. How can you say that despite this, Christianity is the true religion?

So again, why Christianity?

Meretricula

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