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A few questions from an open-minded agnostic.

Who Me

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Empathy makes social creatures more fit. Fitness in an evolutionary context only means reproducing the most (which you have to be alive to do) and nothing else.

I don't know about how other religion's beliefs translate into chartiable acts. I also don't know how accurate it is to equate what secular organization's like the Red Cross does with Christian morality. Christians have also been in a position to help others for the longest, so that may explain why their charity organizations are the oldest.
Sorry empathy makes one more compassionate and understanding and it does not help if one is struggling to compete to survive.
Go to your local sports club and ask the winner of a game, ' how does empathy help you win?'

Charities in the west arose out of Christian compassion.
Atheists in the west are compassionate because of the remains of Christian influence.

I have been going on about the fact that religion teaches we should be compassionate.
Atheist says nothing about morality, and evolution is about doing what ever it takes to survive.
A compassionate atheist, while he is a nice person is also not living according to what he believes.
 

Who Me

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wickedness is in high places, is there ever more righteousness in low places? Why would that ever be the case?
Look at the Wesley led revivals that happened in England in the 18th century. This was among the working classes and hardly touched the mill owners, mine owners or those who owned the landed estates and ruled the country.
If you want to read about the effects then the story of Billy Bray is worth finding and reading.
He was th son of a Cornish tin miner, worked himself down the tin mines, rebelled against the drabness of Methodist life, lived as a drunken miner untill he got saved and radical changed from a drunk to a sober, honest joyful man.

I've gone on at length about the difference Christianity makes, the above is a 18th February tale, I'll give you a 20th century tale from an atheist.
Search Matthew Parish, ' Why Africa needs Christianity.'

He lived in Africa and as a journalist went to see a charity working among poor communities.
His testimony as. An atheist is that Christianity benefits individuals, whole communities and enabling them to take responcibility for themselves, their communities and seek to change things for the better.
 

Who Me

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I have to point out a simple truth, that many do not understand by survival pressure on any living creature. Whatever feature of that organism increases its chances of survival will be selected for because more offspring will be born with that trait. It is a pure energy put in compared to number of offspring produced.

So therefore looking after your young, love, protection for some creatures though costly, increases the number of off spring that survive and succeed. So morality that works will prosper, because more societies survive with certain moral outlooks than others.
A social animal, like ourselves, gains its power from co-operation into armies of soldiers, workers, mothers etc. With culture, writing and speech we can store information, so that one group can pass on this information to another group.

This is what selection pressure is all about, and you have to have rules to work any social group, and these rules are its morality.
The mistake christians make is morality is not exclusive to the bible, it is exclusive to all people. Good morality is exclusive to God, and that is the point. But the driver of morality is our emotional balance, our conscience, our fear and our desire to stay safe. And this pressure is no minor thing, get some things just a little wrong and you are dead, literally.
 

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Reply to Peter Jensen. Post 152.
Not clear if I am replying to this post !!¡

Survival of the fittest and survival through co operation are not complementary, in a perfect world we would work together for the common good.
Neither we or the world is perfect and there are plenty who will cheat, steal or use what ever there is for there own or there groups advantage.

Yet most people see that behaviour as wrong, as you say we all have a moral sense and this comes from God.
However atheist and those in the media etc will not acknowledge that, to them morality is determined by society, and to an extent it is.

I have been asking for the philosophical reasons why different groups are moral.
Again why is an atheist moral?
What reasons are there in an atheist s world view for him to be moral.
On what basis does an atheist accuses God of being immoral in the OT?
 

Who Me

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Peter Jens explained it quite well.

Also, where do you think charities in the east arose from?
They arose because they saw what Christian charities were doing and wanted to stop them influencing those being helped to be interested in Christianity.
 

HeIsRisen2018

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Or you have no idea.

What is common sense in North Korea compared to common sense in America or in Iran?


I give up!! :wall You're just going to disagree with anything I say anyways so what's the point? :rolleyes
 

Not_Now.Soon

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I have been asking for the philosophical reasons why different groups are moral.
Again why is an atheist moral?
What reasons are there in an atheist s world view for him to be moral.
On what basis does an atheist accuses God of being immoral in the OT?
Hi Who Me.

Before replying to the section I'm quoting from you, I want to say that I agree with your assessment of atheistic morality. From what I've seen the culture around atheists are what shapes their own, even when they disagree with what that culture they are in believes and values. This becomes more visible when they are the ones shaping their culture, for instance any government and society that as a society (or by the authority of a dictatoral leader) leave out any cultural foundation with morals such as Christianity or a few other religions.

That said, I have an issue with people identifying themselves as atheists as their world view. It's been pointed out to me (by atheists no less) that atheism doesn't say what a person does believe in, or what they do value. It only says what they don't believe in. If someone's only claimed views are what they don't believe in, then all that is is antigonism towards those beliefs.

Yet so many people instead of saying what they do value or what they do believe in, they identify mostly with being an atheist.

With that in mind towards the question for how an atheists holds a moral view. The answer is that they don't. Not according to atheism anyways. Anything else they've picked up from their culture from a Christian influence, to a business-man's harsh or friendly assessment, to scientific inquary that holds no moral grounds. Those are the things that would define a atheist. Being an atheist just robs them of knowing God. It does nothing to identify their morals or what those morals could be.
 

Serving Zion

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Sure a nice church points to heaven and shows admiration for God, but one day it'll cease to exists and more good could have been done with those resources. Why waste any resources on transient things when they could be used in other ways?
It is simply what those people think is best. I am not saying it is right, and I wouldn't suggest it is by God's design because they truly do rely on their own intellect.

As for the value of churches, I do acknowledge the potential value of people meeting to worship God and to discuss and learn together in a united spirit. To some extent, the environment in which that happens contributes to a more valuable worship (as for example the acoustical properties contribute to the song). But there is some extravagance that is wasteful and the idea of paying a salary to a pastor who makes a lifestyle of it and doesn't even know who is who without looking up the spreadsheet, is really missing the point of how it all began - it's just symptomatic of what the institution has become through the centuries where the institution ruled the society.

Why did he say they will not always have him? He'll be around forever in heaven.
Matthew 26:6–13
It is because Jesus was the holy one of God - made without blemish, unstained by the world. God's spirit was able to express through Him without any of the artifacts that distort His image through we whom He now operates. This is how St. Paul (who had never met Jesus Christ in human form) said "we see Him now, as through a glass dimly - and on the day of His appearance we shall see Him as He is and we shall be like Him". This is what it is like for us, when we perceive that He is speaking to us - it is His spirit being obscured by the flesh through whom He speaks. We see the carnal body of the person who is speaking and it distracts from the spirit that is speaking - but Jesus was perfect. John 1:14 "We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth".

I thought it was because they're bored and need stimulation.
Yes, that is a thing that happens. Do you suppose there will not be boredom in heaven? Could you explain that some more? What would they be occupied with instead?

Well, I think people should be able to draw whatever they want. I'd to have that right myself. I've decided that's my interest. People who seek to undermine that right are going against my interests. Whatever arguments or reasoning they have(and there's many types with many reasons) doesn't compel me because I already decided what I want. Most people don't seem to think in this way though. They try to frame everything as being about something "more important" than personal interest. That includes people who aren't religious .
That's interesting. I do think there is a responsibility for an artist to produce wholesome thoughts in the viewer, but besides that I would agree that if you have created it then it belongs to you.

Ignoring everything else these people have done or think, why is it that in a certain context, when it comes to a specific thing, priests would do something quite bad, while a group of people who either worship an emperor or aren't religious, would do a good thing?
There could be a number of reasons for that. I'd say though, that if a priest is not behaving in a Christ-like manner, it is because he has not followed Christ's expectations of him at some point and has been lured into demonic possession. That is not to say that those who do good deeds are necessarily not demonic though, but that the reason the priest is not behaving in a Christ-like manner is because he is not following the path that Christ is leading him on in order to become Christ-like. The collective of those who operate in the spirit of sin are somewhat orchestrated in order to achieve an overall sabotage of the knowledge of God, to turn people away from the faith through every opportunity they have.
 

Not_Now.Soon

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Also, where do you think charities in the east arose from?
I think that would be an interesting subject to look into. If you assume the charities have always existed in some form or another, then that challenges the idea that these charities have stemmed from Christian morals influencing them. However if those charities only existed after having a Christian influence, or only exist temporarily when more of society suffered through what the charities supported (then the charities disappeared again later) then that challenges the idea of the world holding stable lasting morals without religion, and without Christianity.

Without a historical background to know the actual details of charities in the east, either assumption is just as likely, or just as faulty.
 

OzSpen

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When it is a religion rather than a personal living faith.
WM,

Christianity is genuine/pure religion:

26 If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless. 27 Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you (James 1:26-27 NLT).​

Oz
 

Who Me

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I give up!! :wall You're just going to disagree with anything I say anyways so what's the point? :rolleyes
Please don't give up. The point is to discuss and discover the truth.

Feelings have very little to do with the truth and morality, that which is right or wrong does not change because of feelings or political views.

May l suggest you take a look at the reasonable faith web site and it's Q+A section.
There you will find very logical arguments defending Christian views.
Be warned they are hard reading.
 

Who Me

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Hi Who Me.

Before replying to the section I'm quoting from you, I want to say that I agree with your assessment of atheistic morality. From what I've seen the culture around atheists are what shapes their own, even when they disagree with what that culture they are in believes and values. This becomes more visible when they are the ones shaping their culture, for instance any government and society that as a society (or by the authority of a dictatoral leader) leave out any cultural foundation with morals such as Christianity or a few other religions.

That said, I have an issue with people identifying themselves as atheists as their world view. It's been pointed out to me (by atheists no less) that atheism doesn't say what a person does believe in, or what they do value. It only says what they don't believe in. If someone's only claimed views are what they don't believe in, then all that is is antigonism towards those beliefs.

Yet so many people instead of saying what they do value or what they do believe in, they identify mostly with being an atheist.

With that in mind towards the question for how an atheists holds a moral view. The answer is that they don't. Not according to atheism anyways. Anything else they've picked up from their culture from a Christian influence, to a business-man's harsh or friendly assessment, to scientific inquary that holds no moral grounds. Those are the things that would define a atheist. Being an atheist just robs them of knowing God. It does nothing to identify their morals or what those morals could be.
I agree with you atheism is totally bankrupt in every area of life, it is altogether negative and is unable to help people life there lives.
 

Who Me

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WM,

Christianity is genuine/pure religion:

26 If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless. 27 Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you (James 1:26-27 NLT).​

Oz
Narrow minded, intolerant, bigoted can all be true of the Christian.

Despite this it is Christianity that has radicly changed the world.

We need to be bold in our lives to do it again, God willing.
 
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It is because Jesus was the holy one of God - made without blemish, unstained by the world.
What does this have to do with spending money on Jesus? Am I interpreting the parable too literally?

Yes, that is a thing that happens. Do you suppose there will not be boredom in heaven? Could you explain that some more? What would they be occupied with instead?
I've read a lot of different ideas about what heaven will be like. One said it would be an endless forest to "explore" because exploring is fun and that's what they did it as a kid. Another wrote that while humans will have physical forms, their unnecessary parts will be missing, so they'd have no digestive tract because they wouldn't need to eat, no genitals because they wouldn't reproduce, and no other "unnecessary" parts. Yet another wrote it would be people in eternal bliss just staring at God forever and nothing else. I'd be lying if I said any of these sounded appealing to me personally.

That is not to say that those who do good deeds are necessarily not demonic though, The collective of those who operate in the spirit of sin are somewhat orchestrated in order to achieve an overall sabotage of the knowledge of God, to turn people away from the faith through every opportunity they have.
Are the good deeds done by non believers a trick meant to deceive then? I'm trying to compare these two groups of people. My impression was that in every single situation, a priest would do the better thing because they've been transformed. It's easy to wave your hand though and say they were actually just evil and masquerading. The "transformation" aspect seems confusing and hard to measure to me. Is there spectrum of how transformed a person has been? Do some people innately need more to be transformed, or is that dependent on their enviroment?

So you have no personal definition of "fit", but you don't think empathy can be a part of it. Do you think God made some more "fit" to survive? If so, what is the reason for this? Or do you think the entire concept that a member of species could be more "fit" than another is entirely fictious?
 

Serving Zion

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What does this have to do with spending money on Jesus? Am I interpreting the parable too literally?
This article has some interesting facts. I think it makes a very good point near the end, where it says "I think it would be difficult for people today to do something like that". In fact, I think that it would be difficult at any time for somebody to bring themselves to give away a whole year's worth of a thing that is precious to them. Just imagine what sort of struggle she would have had to overcome in order to go through with it! .. but then also consider that she was under no compulsion, but it was a thing she had genuinely wanted to do from her own heart.

So consider what sort of pain it would have been for her if Jesus had said "you know what, they're right. Let's sell the oil and we'll feed the poor instead" .. well then she would have lost her precious ointment, she would have been denied the privilege of expressing her love for the son of God, and she would have always been tempted by resentment then toward every poor person she saw.

Jesus said to them that even if they were to spend a year's worth of wages on the poor, the poor would still be poor, and that's a simple fact. If you don't believe me, you should go out and try to help a poor person to no longer be poor!

I've read a lot of different ideas about what heaven will be like.
.. but not from anyone who has actually seen it, right?

One said it would be an endless forest to "explore" because exploring is fun and that's what they did it as a kid. Another wrote that while humans will have physical forms, their unnecessary parts will be missing, so they'd have no digestive tract because they wouldn't need to eat, no genitals because they wouldn't reproduce, and no other "unnecessary" parts. Yet another wrote it would be people in eternal bliss just staring at God forever and nothing else. I'd be lying if I said any of these sounded appealing to me personally.
Of course, that is all speculation, because that is about all we can do until we get to see it for ourselves - apart from describing the general difference between what the nature of a human is like in absence of sin and therefore hypothesising as to what such a society might look like. I think it is ultimately harmful for people to expect others to believe purely speculative hypotheses. That's why I don't do it myself. It also doesn't rest well with my conscience to talk about things that I'm not sure of.

Are the good deeds done by non believers a trick meant to deceive then?
I know that sometimes they are, but I also know that sometimes non-believers do good things from a genuine spirit of love. God is bigger than belief, and He in fact retains ownership of some non-believers upon the basis that they haven't yet rejected Him (albeit some of them perhaps have rejected a false presentation of Christianity and not yet discovered their true identity in Christ).

I'm trying to compare these two groups of people.
Can I warn you against doing that? You really can't make such a blanket judgment like that. Jesus warned about the deceivers, that is people who use lies in order to evade the truth that would reveal their wrongness. In context of religious people, He called them "wolves in sheep's clothing" - where outwardly they make themselves look like God-fearers, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. That means they want people to think they are harmless and trustworthy, but their real inward interest is looking for someone to devour. They are the type who actually crave for someone to convert, because that is the only thing that can satisfy their appetite.

There's a lot of other interesting things He said in describing people of that spirit. One of my favourite parables about that, is Matthew 6:22-23. He says that the eye (therefore the way we see) is a lamp for the body (therefore the source of light within us). When our eye is good (when we are looking at things in the right way) then our body is full of light. But when our eye is bad (meaning that we are looking at things with a flawed perspective), then our body will become full of darkness. That makes sense, right? Haven't you seen it enough on Christian discussion groups, where one person is literally unable to see what the other person is saying? I am sure you have. So that's what is going wrong. They have some defect in the way they are seeing things.

Now look at the next part: He said "if the light you think you have is in fact darkness, how deep that darkness must be!". Does that help you to understand some things a bit more? Can you see how the person who thinks they are looking at things the right way when in fact they are wrong, is putting their whole strength toward the wrongness because they are convinced that they are right to do so? .. it explains a lot when you understand that problem. It is a human problem, that is actually caused by sin. The person's own pride is preventing them from accepting any opportunity they might have to see that they are looking at things the wrong way.

There's another thing Jesus said too, that goes toward those who are living with a good conscience although not calling themselves Christian: In John 10:16 He said "I have other sheep which are not from this fold. I must bring these also, and they will hear my voice, and they will become one flock—one shepherd."

Can you see how He is using poetic language to describe that there are people who belong to Him although they are not part of the Jewish religion? He says that they are the type who follow Him although they don't have the religious knowledge that belongs within the Jewish faith. It makes more sense when you realise that the spirit of God is the spirit of truth and the spirit of love, and that spirit is a thing that is distinct from information - so although those people live outside of the religious information of Christ, they are still living within the spirit of Christ, by being truthful and loving. Jesus has promised that He will consolidate all of His people to be one flock, having one shepherd.

My impression was that in every single situation, a priest would do the better thing because they've been transformed.
That would only be the case if humans were 100% honest, but as we know, there are Christians who are dishonest. Whenever a person does dishonesty, they are choosing to follow the ideas put to them by the devil (aka "the father of lies"). We can see that it was beginning way back at the start, through various things the New Testament writers said (eg: 2 peter 2:1-3, 2 Timothy 3:6-8, Acts 8:18-21, 1 John 4:1-3).

It's easy to wave your hand though and say they were actually just evil and masquerading. The "transformation" aspect seems confusing and hard to measure to me. Is there spectrum of how transformed a person has been?
Yes there is, as a comparative measurement of how unlike Christ they have become. The ultimate level of transformation is to be Christ-like, and that means that we need to undo a whole lifetime's worth of the world's programming, all while living among a world that itself is programmed to be so unlike Christ.

But also there is a definite state of sanctification, whereby a person is living in God's grace and is able to think, say and do things that are completely without blame in God's sight - simply by their attitude being aligned toward repentance. What that means, as I said yesterday, is that as our awareness encounters growth that shows us we need to change, the sanctified person is willing to make those changes. The fact that they do a thing that is wrong does not mean that they are doing sin, because the moment they realise they are doing wrong they resolve to do right. (That's what love does).

On the other hand, a person who becomes aware of their wrong and continues to do it, must then search for a way to rationalise their behaviour to escape the conviction of their conscience so that they can keep thinking that they are without blame - and that is when they leave the path of Holy Spirit and take on the ideas of a deceptive spirit instead.

Priests are not immune to sin just because they have repented in the past, because life is a constant journey through changes in knowledge and opportunities for sin.

Do some people innately need more to be transformed, or is that dependent on their enviroment?
The environment does have a big impact on a person's character development, but as long as a person remains of good conscience in God's sight (ie: true to their convictions), then they are no longer doing sin. The old character has been pushed out by the new spirit that dwells in them (Matthew 12:43-45, John 15:3-4). The Holy Spirit is empowered to remain in them because they have resolved to leave the life of sin that opened the door for the unholy spirit that was previously in them.

However, as we know that there are many different vices that can lure a person to sin, we must remain of good conscience following our growth of the knowledge of holiness whenever the truth reveals it, until the end of our life or until the present age passes away - whichever comes first.
 

Not_Now.Soon

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I agree with you atheism is totally bankrupt in every area of life, it is altogether negative and is unable to help people life there lives.
What I meant wasn't that atheism is bankrupt. It's that it's nothing at all. It's not a world view. What it is, is a describer for not holding a belief, not holding a view. What that means is that anyone who says they are atheist have to get their values and morals from somewhere else, because it doesn't come from being an atheist.

That said though. Even if that isn't what I meant, I do think that atheism is bankrupt of anything good. Anything that robs people from God, such as a belief in atheism is no good to anyone.

To John Doe Smith, I'm sorry if that sounds harsh, but that's what I've seen. If a person is an atheist, they can be an alright person, but that doesn't stem from not believing in God. Whereas the things that a person does to try and be close to God, can actively help them be a better person then they were before. That's what I've seen anyways.
 
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