(Dateline OC.net Palace) After ensuring that all the rotten fruit in the OC.net realms had been purchased from the stores, the Global Moderators/Brewpub Sous Chefs proceeded out to the OC.net Palace Balcony. And after unfurling the ceremonial Scroll of Declaration, and performing the customary Rochambeau to determine speaking order, they proceeded to announce to the shivering masses:
"Today we have found the missing ballot cards, and are pleased to announce the Post of the Month winners for the last 1/4 of the year. Please accord all due honor and praise upon:
September's winner, Northern Pines
Were those "incredible sound minded atheists" once christian? Were they born and raised in a mostly christian culture or country where christian symbolism was everywhere (maybe not anymore, in this mostly secular age)
Many were, many weren't. It all depends.
It is my personal prediction that the next generation of atheists will be mostly wild nihilistic, crazy anarchists,.........etc. So far, it seems to me that most of the wild and crazy anarchists in the U.S. claim to be Christian of one sort or another, not atheist. Just check out our recent political happenings to see the reality of that.
Most "soft atheists" (or hard agnostics however one wants to phrase it) are in fact not nihilistic or crazy anarchists at all. It seems to me, most true anarchists (like the Joker in the Dark knight movie) in history were either mentally ill in some fashion, or were in fact quite religious in one form or another. (Bin Laden)
The more consistent an atheist gets, the more ideas and culture in general must change. A true consistent atheist must not believe in free will. For if the material world is all that there is, and if we are made of only material stuff, then all our choices must be determined, and all our choices must be 100%ly predictable.
How did you come to such a strange conclusion about atheists and free will and everything being pre-determined? Did an atheist tell you that, or is that your conclusion as to what must be the "logical" outcome? As I know many atheists who strongly disagree with such an assumption. In fact, most atheists would find it odd that a religious person would accuse atheism is believing in and unchangeable "destiny".
If you are consistent, then you must believe that there is nothing wrong in herding people like animals, and nudging them, and killing them.....or doing whatever with them as you see fit.
You mean like good Christians did for much of Christian history? Or how the Holy Orthodox Church empowered the Eastern Roman Empire to put down the dangerous "heretics" by torture, warfare, excommunication, dragging people through the streets, skinning pagan philosopher's alive, stuff like that? Or Do you mean how the Church/State union took away Jewish land and rights? Told Christians it was a sin to go to Jewish doctors? Or how Orthodox countries like Russia had things like the pogroms, and in fact DID "herd people like animals" (as long as the people were Jews or Poles) into specific areas. Or do you mean how countries like Greece were ruled by dictators in the 20th century? I remember being told by someone at Church on Pascha night before the service while they were roasting the lambs...how "during the war of Independence from the Turks, when we rose up against our oppressors"....yada yada yada.......the story went on for awhile and then ended about how the villagers took a Turkish soldier, skewered him like a lamb and roasted him alive over an open spit, just like they were roasting the lambs outside the Church that night....the story ended with everyone getting a big laugh over this story because of course, the evil Turks deserve to be treated like...well, like animals I suppose.
Do you mean "atheist" ideals like that?
I need not go into all the evil Western Christians have caused towards our fellow man because every good Orthodox Christian already knows all that those "Westerners" have done. But the Orthodox are in no wise clean in these ideas you assume are particularly "atheist". (and yes I know all the good and unquely Christian values the Church both East and West has brought about too, but it doesn't really apply to my point here)
Thus, there are consequences to a belief.....or lack of a belief.
I think rather there are consequences to our ACTIONS....now granted you or I might say "well Christians that beat slaves, burned pagans alive, and rioted in the streets were not behaving like "true Christians" should behave...and so weren't following "true Christianity"" . . . . and yes, I'd definitely agree with that. That is my take on it because Christ's teachings are so clear that these things are in fact quite evil, not "ok to do because I'm saved/in the Church". With that said, there are atheists who would use a similar argument about institutional atheism like the Soviet Union, as not really be "atheism" at all, but itself a religion, or at least a religious styled philosophy used for political gain and power. They would, and have argued that a "true thinking atheist" would not do such horrible things.....because, well it's irrational and actually goes against atheist ideals. Like, the idea that we only have one life to live, and we should make the best of it, which includes helping people in need, feeding the poor, and creating a better world for all humanity. Yes atheists believe in these Christian values too.
Indeed, if all atheists were like Richard Dawkins, then I'd agree with you that atheism is a dangerous philosophy because Dawkins and his group harbor a pseudo religious hatred toward, well religion. (ironic isn't it..lol!) However Dawkins seems to simply be doing what religious people have been doing for a long time. I don't see these problems as really "religious" or "atheist"....these are human problems. Call it original sin, ancestral sin, or some scientific name, for a "selfish gene", but it's a human issue. Granted extreme atheism and extreme Fundamentalist religious beliefs empower people to do evil things they might not otherwise do, however throughout human history, religious Fundamentalism has the far longer track record in doing awful things. "Atheism" with the Soviets and China caught up quickly in numbers, however the fact that these are really the extremes of both sides doing the exact same things shows to me that these are HUMAN problems.
I'm certainly not down playing the role of religion in particular (after all most religions believe in an "after life" and so if we "go to heaven" when we die, then what's the big deal if we kill a bunch of people....ie they're not really dead only "in the hereafter".....and so religious extremism I find a bit more unsettling than atheist extremism, however extremism is extremism and is dangerous no matter what. And in the end, it's a "human" problem.
Beliefs of course are important, but atheists typically do not raise their children to believe in "nothing"....however in the U.S. (heck and in Greece where 98% of everyone is Orthodox) people raise their children with "Christian values" and yet young people, raised Christian are the ones who typically believe in "nothing".
Anyways, I fear I've derailed the thread here with "bigger" questions to ponder which was not my intention. I just felt like atheists/agnostics were getting a bad wrap and an "us vs them" theme was beginning to play out, which has been happening since the Enlightenment which kind of set up the idea we're all "seperate" peoples.....there, we can blame the Enlightenment as opposed to each other for the woes of the modern world...much better...LOL!
and October's winner, Sakeneko
I'm not sure that this subject is a good one for public discussion in an open forum. Too many of us are enraged by what this man did, and rage is contagious -- it spreads like a flu epidemic. I'm one of those who catches this particular flu every time it comes around unless I am *very* careful.
On a personal level, our Lord's words were that we are to forgive anybody who asks forgiveness, no matter what they did. He didn't give us any outs on that command, and told us that the consequences of not forgiving would be that we will also not be forgiven. Entertaining public thoughts of torturing perpetrators of sin or crime isn't okay. It feeds sin within us and tempts others who also find their anger hard to control in cases like this to do the same.
In this case, the perpetrator will be locked away and unable to harm other children. There are criminals that benefit from parole, early releases due to overcrowding, and the like, some of whom probably should not be let go. A man convicted of these sorts of crimes is not in that group, however. In my (not humble enough) opinion it is right to jail perpetrators of this sort of crime for life without parole; letting a violent sexual predator who has attacked prepubescent children go is saying that their lives are worth less than the predator's freedom.
I will pray for the child and her family, who have also been given a life sentence without parole by this terrible crime. I also intend to pray for the perpetrator's repentance and eventual salvation, however, because our God became incarnate for him as well as the rest of the human race. Sometimes I need to remind myself of that, and to remember that I also have evil in me. Praying for evil men is a good reminder of both things.
Lord, have mercy!
and November's winner, Scamandrius
One thing that people must realize is that you cannot read "texts" from the ancient world the same way we read texts today. We are a text driven society. The milieu of the NT was an oral society. Only 5-10% of the population could read. Fewer could read AND write. Writing and reading are intrinsically foreign to language itself. If you were to represent all of human history in one calendar year, that is, Adam and Eve began on Jan. 1 and we are at Dec. 31, which month would you think that writing was invented in? May? No. August? No. November? No. December? Yes. And when in December? The first? No. The fifth? No. The tenth? No. The fifteenth? No. The 21st! As such, writing is a very recent innovation in the history of language. The invention of the alphabet is even more novel as most writing systems were originally ideographic or syllabic (vowel-consonant clusters).
A written text cannot defend itself, Plato tell us. How many of us have gotten angry over the words of an editorial or other printed medium? We cannot change it and trying to argue with it will be of no avail. Written text codifies truth as well as it does mistakes. So, how are we to tell the former from the latter? You must decide what is traditional. Let me provide an example.
In Nigeria, in the 1800s, the British Imperial Government, to keep order had their court system in place to hear disputes between various groups within tribes regarding disputes, most often concerning land. This particular situation involves a group called the Tiv. The British, being meticulous record keepers, kept written records of what transpired at various hearings. To assert claims of a family to a certain section of land, a tribal leader will read off his genealogy showing his ancestral claim. The British wrote this down. However, a situation arose when the the same piece of land came up in dispute and the same tribal leaders appeared and recited their genealogies establishing their rights to the land. To the surprise of the British, the genealogies were not exactly the same. Now, there was no accusation of lying (at least none that I am aware of) or bad faith on either the Tiv or the British. But, one thing you must remember about an oral society is that as their language is not codified and is more fluid so thus they are more fluid with expression. For the Tiv, a person's prominence in the genalogy is reflected by not only audience but also by circumstance in which is retold. Language is never just an individual construct but in spoken form, very dependent upon the audience that hears. With text, you need not worry about that.
Now, as far as contradictions go, let me provide you another comparison. In the library of Alexandria, there were at any one time 132 versions of Homer's Iliad. Notice, I did not say "copies". The librarians of Alexandria would invite people to dock at Alexandria and while the captains of the ship or passengers were enjoying the amenities of Alexandria, the librarians would make copies of the version of the Iliad, whether it was the whole thing or only a small part, and give those copies back to the people who lent it. These are called "ship scrolls." Now, which one of those 132 versions was the "correct one?" The answer: none. Why? Because the Iliad is a heroic poem from Bronze Age Greece and was written down (perhaps this is why the Greek alphabet was invented, or so says Dr. Powell of Wisconsin-Madison) in the Archaic Age around 700 B.C., 500 years from it's first "composition." A lot can happen in 500 years. The very nature of langauge is fluid and it cannot be contained by text. Text is deficient and locks up variation.
Oral poems and works do not conform to our definition of text. If they did, then a very minor character in Homer's Iliad, who dies in Book II will not miraculously resurrect in Book XXIV. To us that is contradictory, to the poet(s) of the Iliad, no.
Here's another way to think about it. Let us say that all of us here on OC.net were gathered in the same room. If I asked everyone to go to the window, close their eyes and then open them and record here what the first thing they saw was, the responses would drastically vary. I might say "tree", Alveus might say "sky", Isa "building", Fr. George "grass", OzGeorge "bird" etc., etc.. Now who among us is right? The answer: none. We are all right, but we might only remember our one response.
When it comes to the New Testament or even the Old(er) Testament, we cannot apply rules of text. WE cannot expect those texts that have come down to us to be bound by the same rules that we use today. If the Iliad were written today, I guarantee you no one would publish it. Why? Because it's replete with those "problems" of inconsistency and contradiction. Maybe the NT and OT would also be unpublishable today under the same circumstances. First of all, we must disregard the "Protestant" notion that the NT and OT are infallible. THe Protestants decided this, not the Church of the Fathers. Humans had a hand in the creation of Scripture. God didn't just replace Mark with one of his angels and then set him to write. God worked through each of these men, using their talents and even their flaws. (How else can you explain the very poor Greek of Mark?) The flaws of human language worked their ways into the stories we read week in, week out. I suppose that that is another manifestation of the mercy of God or at least that God has a sense of humor; I don't know. Our flaws, as human beings, are in the Scriptures of God through the medium of the language that we use. Because one Gospel writer says there was one angel at the Resurrection versus another who says there were two is to make an issue where none should exist. The people that make the biggest deal out of this do not understand the first thing about the development of human language, let alone of human nature.
When I teach this stuff to my students, I always reference, Episode VI of Star Wars "Return of the Jedi" when Luke, following Yoda's death, asks Obi-Wan why he lied to him. Obi-Wan says he didn't lie but told it from his point of view. In his point of view, Anakin Skywalker was really dead, betrayed and murdered by Darth Vader even though it's later realized that Anakin and Vader are one and the same person.
Sorry for the long explanation. I hope it helps.
And upon completion of the declaration, as the 30 mile long scroll descended to the piazza floor, the crowd erupted in the customary cry of AXIOI, AXIOI, AXIOI!