Knowing God’s will – do we have to learn Greek?

Tug of war

It was an argument about women preaching in church.

The first guy was a moderate and a historian, and he wrote a book about why women should be allowed to preach. The second guy was a pastor and a conservative, and he argued against this view. The first guy replied, the second guy responded. Each response was slightly more testy than the one before, but still polite, I guess.

I don’t want to focus on the topic just now (that will come some other time) but on the basis of the two arguments.

If that doesn’t sound all that thrilling, please read on, because I think it is very important.

What’s in a word?

The discussion centred around 1 Timothy 2:12: “I do not permit a woman to teach”, and the meaning of the word didasko, teach.

The first guy said it meant something more than simply delivering a sermon, and so didn’t apply to preaching today. The second guy said no, it simply meant teach, and thus included modern day sermons.

The argument got pretty technical, and went on for pages. How was this word used elsewhere? Which one of four possible meanings should be applied in this particular case?

In the end, surprise surprise, both men ended up exactly where they’d started. The first guy remained moderate and convinced about the historical context, the second guy remained conservative and sure that his position couldn’t be challenged.

Impasse.

That’s the way God planned it?

Is this really the way God planned the Bible to be used?

Here are several reasons why I think not.

Did Paul really consider such fine points when he wrote these words?

We can’t know what was in Paul’s mind, but surely that means we have to be a little wary of examining meanings in finer detail than Paul may have intended for his words?

This way of interpreting the Bible is not the way Jesus and the apostles did it

Jesus and the apostles were very loose in their interpretation of their scriptures, our Old Testament. For example:

  • Most scholars say Isaiah 7:14 refers to a young woman, and the more restrictive meaning of virgin isn’t likely (there is another Hebrew word for that), yet Matthew apparently had no problems using the more restrictive meaning.
  • In Mark 14:27 Jesus quotes from Zechariah 13:7, and in Ephesians 4:8 Paul quotes Psalm 68. In both cases, they change the words and the meaning.

These examples suggest that finer points of meaning were not always important for Jesus and the apostles, so we have to wonder whether we should have a different emphasis to them.

Can only Greek experts read the Bible with understanding?

Obviously we need Greek experts to translate the New Testament. But once a person has it in their own language, do we really think that the meaning of some important passages must remain hidden to them if they don’t know Greek?

Of course it is always helpful to have any extra knowledge we can get, but do we not believe that the Bible and the Holy Spirit are enough to know God’s will?

Who obeys everything in the Bible?

I have given examples elsewhere of many places where christians who say they believe in the Bible’s authority nevertheless find ways to explain away some clear meanings that don’t fit their theology. A few examples include:

  • “In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.” Luke 14:33
  • “I would like every one of you to speak in tongues, but I would rather have you prophesy.” 1 Corinthians 14:5
  • “You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.” James 2:24

Few of us apply these verse strictly and literally. But if it is legitimate to explain away the obvious meaning of these sayings, then how can it be truthful and consistent to argue about so fine a shade of meaning in the case of didasko?

This type of interpretation, and argument, only demeans the authority of the Bible.

With this approach, the authority on contentious matters is no longer the Bible, but the opinions of Greek experts. In the end, I am left with the impression that the real, though unadmitted, authority is the theological view each person holds, which leads them to favour a particular interpretation.

It is hard to claim we believe in the authority of the Bible if we treat it like this.

So it seems to me that both the men I have referred to are victims of an inconsistent system of interpreting the Bible. It seems likely that each is defending a viewpoint they feel strongly about, and are using the Bible to justify their views rather than remaining less dogmatic in view of the uncertainties.

Is there a better way?

I believe there is.

The Holy Spirit gives wisdom and teaches truth

We believe the Holy Spirit gives wisdom and revelation (e.g. Ephesians 1:17, 1 Corinthians 12:8), and in John 16:13, Jesus says the Spirit will guide us into all truth.

So surely it is foolish and arrogant to engage in discussion of difficult matters like this without explicitly seeking the Holy Spirit’s wisdom – both protagonists together!

We still believe the Bible, especially the New Testament, are our scriptures which reveal God to us. But they are only authoritative when interpreted correctly. And they can only be interpreted correctly if we seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance.

How it should work?

When we come across a difficult passage, or any passage really, we do our due diligence and seek to understand the historical context and the meaning of the Greek words.

But we also diligently pray the the Holy Spirit would guide us to the understanding he wants us to have today and in our situation.

The New Testament shows us that the guidance of the Spirit can most be known by the body of believers, not just by an individual (see e.g. Acts 13:1-3, 15:28, 1 Corinthians 14:29). So we need to be praying with others, especially those who think differently, each honestly asking the Holy Spirit to guide them all, and to change their minds if they are mistaken. And we should be looking for signs of the Spirit’s consensus in churches around the world.

Dangers?

People will see dangers in this approach. Any kook can claim the Spirit’s guidance, they will say, and things will become chaotic.

But I suggest:

  • That already happens. People predict the end of the world, proclaim weird ideas, start strange churches. I don’t see that stopping soon, unfortunately.
  • Even among what we may class as sensible christians, there are a wide range of matters on which there is wild disagreement about what the Bible actually teaches.
  • If we look for consensus, it is less likely that strange ideas will surface, not more.
  • Do we really believe in the Holy Spirit, or not? There is a danger in modern evangelicalism for our Trinity to be Father, Son and Holy Bible. Do we not trust God in this?

Let’s do it!

Let’s move on from relying on intellectual arguments to decide important matters. Let’s invite the Spirit to guide our reading, and our conclusions.

References

If you want to read more about what the first and second guy said, here are the references:

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30 thoughts on “Knowing God’s will – do we have to learn Greek?

  1. carmen says:

    How – EXACTLY – does one distinguish the holy spirit’s ‘voice’ from one’s own, UncleE? (since they both originate in the same place – one’s head)

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  2. John A. C. Kelley says:

    I think this kind of thinking requires the belief that scripture holds a monopoly on authoritative truth about God, which I don’t agree with at all. As far as I’m concerned, the Bible is written by men no different than you or I, who merely expressed their theological views in such a way that resonated with many Christians and Jews. The Biblical cannon was not put in place until Christians felt a need to organize themselves in a uniform way, which I don’t see the need for. The Jews followed shortly with the Tanakh.

    I don’t see much difference between the prophets, the gospels, the writings of Paul, the writings of Augustine, Aquinas, Calvin, Luther, Wesley, etc. They all wrote compelling thoughts about the divine that not everyone agrees with, but still resonate with many. The only thing I see in scripture is a group of people searching for who this new God who separates himself from the other gods is in the Tanakh, the perfect revelation of this God in the gospels (which required four different perspectives and still doesn’t capture the entirety of God), and the thoughts of how we should change our lives based on this information.

    Quite simply, in my view, scripture is just the journal of the great thinkers of Judaism and Christianity, but is not complete truth. I also think all religions are basically the same, a bit deeper they start to differ, but on the deepest level, they are the same again. I think all religion is searching for the same God through different revelations inside different cultures and different minds.

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  3. unkleE says:

    Hi Carmen, that is a very important question.

    I think first we need to be praying sincerely. Then I think we need humility to recognise that we can so easily be mistaken. And then I think we need to learn to recognise the Spirit’s guidance.

    But most of all, I think it requires christians to discern as a community. As I said in the post, the Bible makes that clear in a number of places.

    So this isn’t some infallible quick fix. It will take time and it will be uncertain. But it has a number of advantages over how we do things now – it strengthens cooperation rather than adversarial argument, it gives the Spirit of God his rightful place in our lives and it changes the way we approach things.

    Thanks. What do you think about that?

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  4. unkleE says:

    Hi John, I think I’m halfway with you on this, but I see some things a little differently.

    I certainly agree with you that scripture isn’t the only way God reveals himself to us. But I think, as CS Lewis apparently did, that there are degrees of inspiration. I believe God spoke to prophets in the OT and through Jesus in the NT, so those words had to be “inspired”. I believe some writers today are “inspired” in what they write (for example, the writer of the stage musical Godspell), but that is a slightly different form of inspiration. Then Paul in 1 Corinthians 7 distinguishes between advice he gives that comes from “the Lord” (presumably Jesus) and other that comes from himself, but then he says “I too have the Spirit”.

    So I think I would say that different parts of the Bible are inspired in slightly different ways, but it nevertheless carries some extra authority because it is recognised as our scriptures.

    Maybe that isn’t much different to what you are saying, but maybe a little. What do you think?

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  5. carmen says:

    Hi UnkleE,

    Again, we are back to completely subjective things. Who decides what praying sincerely means? A thousand people with a thousand opinions. Who decides what humility looks like? Is there such a thing as ENOUGH humility? And how does one recognize the Spirit’s guidance? I suspect for every person who claims to have had divine guidance, it manifests itself in a thousand different ways – again, highly subjective.

    UnkleE, I have read what you have written on Nate’s blog, your own blog, and we have exchanged emails. In my opinion, you are a rational, intelligent, caring man. You have a good head on your shoulders and I’ll bet you are extremely dependable, capable, and kind to others. I happen to think that you are a good man . . . just because you are. Not because of any sort of scriptural revelation, divine intervention, or prayerful inspiration. I think you need to give yourself the credit, not some elusive, unprovable, completely subjective entity. I also know that you can’t and won’t believe me. 🙂

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  6. unkleE says:

    Hi Carmen,

    This blog is written mainly for christians, who share certain viewpoints which you may not share. Yes, there is subjectivity in all this, though it is not, I believe, “completely subjective”. The text of the New Testament is fairly fixed and objective, and although there are parts that are argued over, as I have addressed here, there are many other parts which are quite clear and uncontentious. So that is a substantial amount that is objective.

    But the questions you ask are all valid, and like most things in life, specially personal relations, answers cannot be defined with mathematical rigour. That is why I stressed that these things need to be decided in community.

    Thank you for your kind words about me. Most people on Nate’s blog would probably disagree, but who am I to argue? 🙂 But I would have to say I don’t feel I can claim a lot of credit. I really do think that I have changed a lot, and generally for the better, because I try to follow Jesus. I don’t think Jesus is “some elusive, unprovable, completely subjective entity”, but a real historical person about whom we have significant information. So I can’t believe what you say fully without negating that historical evidence.

    I wonder where you are at. Do you feel comfortable sharing that?

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  7. newport977 says:

    But Eric,

    How do we know what is from God? I think this is the main question.

    How do we identify what is from God and His Guidance and what is not. What is the difference between a message or interaction from God….and other thoughts or feelings?

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  8. unkleE says:

    Hi, I think if we have a passage whose interpretation is contentious, then we don’t have certainty, and praying for the Spirit’s guidance won’t be any less certain, but will add something positive into the mix. We may still not be sure, but we are at least open to the possibility of a new understanding, and we give God the permission to reveal something new. I think that is a big improvement. And if we see people going through the same process all over the world coming to a similar conclusion, I think it doesn’t require a lot of faith to infer that is God’s Spirit.

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  9. newport977 says:

    “And if we see people going through the same process all over the world coming to a similar conclusion”

    Which process are you referring to? And what is the similar conclusion?

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  10. unkleE says:

    In the post I wrote:

    “The New Testament shows us that the guidance of the Spirit can most be known by the body of believers, not just by an individual (see e.g. Acts 13:1-3, 15:28, 1 Corinthians 14:29). So we need to be praying with others, especially those who think differently, each honestly asking the Holy Spirit to guide them all, and to change their minds if they are mistaken. And we should be looking for signs of the Spirit’s consensus in churches around the world.”

    To take an example, the one that is behind the discussion I referenced – the place of women preaching. The traditional view has been challenged in a number of ways by different interpretations. People continue to argue over them. But if everyone arguing about this issue were all praying for the Holy Spirit’s guidance, and gradually people around the world all started to come to the same view, I would feel pretty confident it was a view the Holy Spirit had guided them to.

    Does that make sense?

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  11. ignorantianescia says:

    I understand you wanted to write a more general essay about the Holy Spirit and not specifically one about that text about “to teach”. But I think there is a more scholarly, more conclusive and more Greek solution to the discussion: reject 1 Timothy as Pauline. It isn’t accepted as such by modern scholars, in part because of its Greek.

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  12. carmen says:

    Hi UnkleE,

    Sorry for the delay – the time difference interferes with fluid conversation!
    As you know, I have come to believe (after reading most of the same books that Nate lists, watching debates, and thinking) that the bible was written BY men, FOR men (and also specifically for a certain group of people in the Bronze/Iron age). I have come to believe that there is nothing god-inspired about it, that indeed there’s no such thing as the supernatural. I think THIS is the life we get and the idea of heaven is only to assuage people’s fears of death. I never did believe in hell as being a place where ‘souls’ go – the church I still belong to never did adhere to that concept at all. So I see the concept of hell as solely a revenge wish for believers. The bible was an attempt to explain what people couldn’t understand, to a largely illiterate population. We now have scientific answers to many of the questions/answers contained in the bible — specifically, now we know better. I now refer to it as my ‘least favourite fiction’.

    The Jesus bit I have struggled with. For a time, I hung onto this idea – “Well, Jesus was a good person who set a wonderful example, did good deeds and promoted peace”. I read that same ‘take’ in much of what you write. But I have now come to the conclusion that IF he was actually an historical person, he was probably an apocalyptic preacher – and there were many in those days, as there continues to be. I cannot accept (and I really don’t think any intelligent, sensible person should) that he was begotten of a spirit. . .honestly, UnkleE!

    Remember, you asked me if I minded sharing. 🙂

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  13. unkleE says:

    Hi Carmen,

    I’m sorry, I’m a little thick and I didn’t realise at first that you were the Carmen I already know. My apologies. My only excuse is that I have been involved in a lengthy discussion on Nate’s blog, and being asked questions by a number of people at once, and I think back here i was on autopilot.

    How are you? I guess you are coming out of snow and cold and heading into a welcome summer?

    I don’t mind people sharing views opposed to mine as long as they are courteous, which of course you are. I didn’t realise you felt quite as strongly as you express here – is that further development since we corresponded, or were you just being more sensitive then?

    I think apocalyptic prophet is a reasonable label for Jesus, though just a label, and I think he was also more than that. Of course I disagree with much else that you say but I won’t go into that now.

    Best wishes.

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  14. carmen says:

    Yes, UnkleE – the temps are finally getting warmer here; around 14 degrees yesterday and that was a red-letter day!

    Yes, too, that my views have changed since we spoke – I am becoming more of an anti-theist all the time. I remember hearing (from one of my atheist friends) about a two years ago, “I won’t be satisfied until every priest/rabbi/pastor is out of work!” and thinking, “That’s a little harsh!”.

    I now feel the same way – they’re peddling a grand deception.

    I am very happy that my eleven grandchildren are growing up NOT hearing about an imaginary sky-dictator who ‘poofed’ the world into existence. They are bright, inquisitive children whose parents explain things to them using rational, reasonable, and sensible conversation. Like them, I am quite happy to say, “We don’t know” as an answer to some questions and have cast aside a supernatural explanation, which relies on wishful thinking, bizarre beliefs, and an ancient, superstitious, barbaric myth.

    I think I told you that when my adult daughter asked me, three years ago, “Mum, you don’t really believe all that business about God/Jesus, do you?”, I had no idea that my search for that answer would lead to where I am now. In fact, I know I’m like many others – I’m a bit ashamed that I ever believed any of it. Quite simply, Eric, it’s hogwash.

    Despite whatever else you think about me, I am honest. 🙂

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  15. unkleE says:

    Hi Carmen, I like honesty and it is very important to me.

    I think I can agree on one other thing you say – I wouldn’t mind if we had much less priests/rabbis/pastors – I think professionalised religion is generally not very good.

    I won’t try to dispute with you about your beliefs, even though I think you are sadly mistaken. But I will make one comment. I think one of the saddest, and most difficult to respect aspects of modern unbelief is the use of deliberately mocking and inaccurate terms for religious beliefs – things like “imaginary sky-dictator who ‘poofed’ the world into existence”.

    I don’t think they help anyone, I think they sound like generic mockery that is repeated slavishly around the internet, and I think it is a misrepresentation. For those reasons, I think such language is unworthy of someone like you.

    I guess in a strongly religious culture like in the USA people feel like they want to lash out, a bit like slamming a door when we are angry, but I don’t see anything to recommend it. What would your response be to that?

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  16. carmen says:

    My response to you, Eric, would be to ask how you could – or would – believe in the supernatural? – surely that seems unworthy of someone as intelligent as yourself.

    But I will take your point to heart, as I can see why that would seem like mockery.

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  17. unkleE says:

    Hi Carmen, I wouldn’t want you to think I was offended (I should have said that before), just that I think it is wiser and nicer to treat other people as we’d like to be treated.

    As for belief in the supernatural, I wonder why you would think it unworthy of me? It isn’t an unusual belief – probably 90% of people alive today also believe in it, though they have different beliefs about it of course. Psychologists say it is natural for people to believe in God. And kids, left to themselves, wouldn’t be atheists as some atheists claim, but would probably have some supernatural belief. And either it must be true or it must have some evolutionary advantage or it wouldn’t be with us now.

    So it logically shouldn’t be that much of a surprise that people believe in the supernatural, the surprise is that some people don’t. People believe for many reasons. I believe because I believe the evidence for God is way stronger than the evidence against, though I think there is evidence both ways. In other words, God existing explains many things about the universe and life that atheism cannot explain (in my opinion).

    So it is quite understandable that I believe, because I feel honestly that it is so much more likely to be true than not. Why did you think it unworthy of me?

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  18. carmen says:

    I don’t know about your 90%. . . perhaps that’s overstating the case? It seems to me, based on my experience and what I read, that younger people are leaving organized religion in droves. I’m still on church boards, and I’ve heard the conversations, Eric. I also look around every time I’m in a church – it’s a sea of grey-haired people. As to the conversations, it’s all about how to get young people in the pews; endless discussions about ideas to attract them. Interestingly enough, no one wants to acknowledge the elephant in the room – and the one I had to confront not that long ago — that young people just don’t believe in god(s). It’s ‘four for four’ with my own offspring, and most of my friends are facing the same – the children that were “brought up in church” are critical thinkers. As such, they have decided that it’s not for them – they have realized that there has always been a human hand in what people call ‘beliefs’. That’s the reality, Eric. So I see you as I saw myself not many years ago – I did what my parents did and honestly never really examined my beliefs. Once challenged, they didn’t stand up to scrutiny. I guess it’s not so much that I think that clinging to faith is unworthy of you, Eric; I just can’t see how you can still have it in the face of information that has become known — that the tale is man-made.

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  19. unkleE says:

    The 90% is based on global figures of about 85% in one religion or another, and the 15% left are made up of atheists, agnostics and theists unaffiliated with any religion, so 90% is about right. Of course some people listed as a particular religion may not personally believe, but likewise some who are listed as atheist (in officially atheistic countries like China) may actually believe in God, but they are the best figures we can get, I think your perception is based on your own country. In the west, religion is declining, but in Asia, South America and Africa christianity is growing. So too is Islam in some places. Other religions, smaller animistic religions and non-believers are actually declining elsewhere.

    But I am surprised that you think belief is unworthy and that I’m clinging to faith. Some atheists speak very scornfully like that about believers, but we know each other and I don’t think you would be rude like that. So why the surprise? Do you really think there are no reasons to believe? Are you really so sure of your reasons to disbelieve that you can’t think that someone could have a different view?

    I am curious. And wondering if you have ever really consider the counter view to the one you hold now. So I am interested in how you come to think this way.

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  20. carmen says:

    You’re doing it UnkleE – turning my questioning into a personal attack on YOU. It isn’t, but I have heard this before on blogs. You know very well that I used to be in your position, not that long ago. You also know that education is the reason I no longer believe — I have said, on this thread, that it’s been my reading, thinking, and sensible conclusions that have made me realize that reason, science, and logic trump wishful thinking. I’m sorry you think it’s rude of me to suggest a different opinion, but that’s it UnkleE – I have a different opinion. Plus, I have stated my favourable opinion of you, right off the top. 🙂

    To bring the conversation back to the topic of this thread, though, I will reiterate that you have not identified how you differentiate the voice of god from your own voice (in your head), and how can we identify god’s spirit at work in the world? Again, they both seem completely subjective to me — I think the line for that would be, ‘like nailing jello to a tree’.

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  21. unkleE says:

    Hi Carmen,

    I’m sorry, but you have misunderstood me. I certainly wasn’t personally attacking you, and I didn’t think you were rude to me. I thought we were having a friendly conversation as old friends. I’m sorry if I came across otherwise.

    You made some fairly strong statements to me (“I think that clinging to faith is unworthy of you, Eric”, “I really don’t think any intelligent, sensible person should [accept the virgin birth]” and “a supernatural explanation, which relies on wishful thinking, bizarre beliefs, and an ancient, superstitious, barbaric myth”) but I wasn’t at all offended by those comments (I really don’t get offended at things, though I often disagree with things people say), and I chose not to argue with you about your beliefs.

    So I didn’t attack your beliefs at all, but I thought it was reasonable and unthreatening to ask how you could feel so strongly that you would say those things to me, when previously you hadn’t said anything so strongly. Like I said, I was curious as to why you were so surprised. After all, there are billions of christians in the world, and I didn’t really think you could them them all silly and acting unworthily.

    Anyway, to your questions. I rarely hear the voice of God in my head, and on the few occasions I think I have, I haven’t known it was him, it as only later that I decided it must have been. An example is when that voice prevented me from having a serious car accident.

    Likewise about seeing God’s Spirit in the world. I look, reflect, pray and come to a conclusion that I would never regard as certain, just a possibility that helps me in deciding what’s true.

    Yes, both are quite subjective, that’s why I have said that we need to decide these things, where this is relevant, in community. And not be too proud and certain. Of course, if you don’t believe in God, you won’t see any possibility of this being true, but I see it differently, because I trust God.

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  22. carmen says:

    . . .and I think you give god way too much credit, Eric. I think you have a logical mind, a keen intelligence, and a positive attitude — where you see a spirit’s influence, I see YOU. 🙂

    As for the billions of christians, I wonder how many of them (the ones attending churches, which is where the stats come from) feel just the same as me. They belong to the ‘club’ but may not actually believe at all – who’d know?

    Oh, and it’s not that I think they are silly and acting unworthy — it’s more that I think they are delusional and not facing reality. There are emotional benefits to it I suppose, but I have just come to believe that being realistic is preferable (for me!) to living in a fantasy world.

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  23. unkleE says:

    “. . .and I think you give god way too much credit, Eric. I think you have a logical mind, a keen intelligence, and a positive attitude — where you see a spirit’s influence, I see YOU. :)”

    Thanks. I’ve had that said to me before. (It is funny, isn’t it, that you say this to me at the same time as others on Nate’s blog are telling me what a detestable person I am!) But I can say quite definitely that I am a very flawed individual, but Jesus motivates me to do a lot better than I used to.

    “As for the billions of christians, I wonder how many of them (the ones attending churches, which is where the stats come from) feel just the same as me. They belong to the ‘club’ but may not actually believe at all – who’d know?”

    I’m sure there are many unthinking christians, just like (in Australia at least) there are many unthinking non-believers. Some believe and don’t think much, some are probably as you say. I feel sorry for them, though for different reasons than you I guess.

    “Oh, and it’s not that I think they are silly and acting unworthy — it’s more that I think they are delusional and not facing reality. There are emotional benefits to it I suppose, but I have just come to believe that being realistic is preferable (for me!) to living in a fantasy world.”

    Probably many of them would think exactly the same in reverse about you. I find it interesting and surreal to see how people on either side ay things about the opposite side without apparently thinking the others could say the same. (Not saying you’re not aware of that, but your statement didn’t express that awareness.)

    Delusional is a pretty loaded word. Mental health workers say that if atheists really believed christians were delusional they wouldn’t mock them or argue with them, but would treat them gently – unless they didn’t have any compassion. Again, you are not acting like that most of the time, but I’m not sure if you’ve thought through your use of the D word.

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  24. carmen says:

    . .. smile. . .Eric, your reply is actually amusing. Know what I think? I think you are very subtle in your insults, but insulting nonetheless.

    You don’t like for me to use the term ‘woo’, (I suppose I could have used ‘magic’) and then tell me that Jesus motivates you to do a lot better than you used to. Jesus is not a real person, Eric. IF he was, he’s been dead for a long time. YOU motivate yourself, Eric. As for my use of the ‘D’ word? Look up the definition. Lo and behold, right on the list of themes, the very first one – “This is a false belief that another person, group of people, or external force controls one’s general thoughts, feelings, insults or behaviour”.

    ” I find it interesting and surreal to see how people on either side say things about the opposite side without apparently thinking the others could say the same. ”
    Really, Eric? You find it SURREAL that anyone would NOT want to live in a fantasy world? Think about that, Eric.

    Through research, reasoning and logic I have taken the position that science, evidence and rational thought explains most things.

    I’m sorry Eric but for me, religion explains nothing.

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  25. carmen says:

    I just saw a quote that seemed appropriate to this discussion.

    “It’s easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled”
    – Mark Twain

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  26. unkleE says:

    Hi Carmen

    I am feeling quite sad right now. I remember how I enjoyed getting to know you a year ago, about what it was like to live in Nova Scotia, about what you believed and why you were leaving the church. I think I would still enjoy talking to you about those things.

    But you are not the same now. You have twice accused me of things that I never intended and which I think were not justified – this time accusing me of making subtle insults. I haven’t been attacking you or your beliefs, just responding as graciously as I can to some rather strong statements you have made. I haven’t complained about those statements, not do I object to them, but you have complained twice now about me.

    Before I respond any more, I want to check what are your intentions. If you are going to keep on making accusations about my integrity, then I’ll wish you well and stop responding, sadly in view of the friendship we used to have. But it is possible to discuss and disagree strongly without all that.

    What do you say?

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  27. carmen says:

    . . .sigh. . .Eric, do you recognize that what you are involving yourself in is emotional manipulation?

    However, if that is how you are feeling then I will respectfully end the conversation. I do – very sincerely – hope you come to your senses.

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  28. unkleE says:

    Return sigh. So that’s a third accusation, because I said what I felt? You don’t need to end the conversation, you are free to continue to comment, but I won’t be responding while the conversation is unpleasant.

    And I feel quite sensible, and I don’t need to accuse you of being delusional and lacking sense. I hope you learn soon that insult and accusations don’t really help anyone. Farewell, but I hope i see you back here again soon with a kinder and less insulting attitude.

    Like

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