This group is usually just as vocal in their beliefs as their counterparts within religion. Neither group cares about personal feelings, personal notions of self-worth, or the very personal journeys of others. Both groups care about only one thing. Being right. And they’ll both make happiness close to impossible for those who surround them (I’ll be writing more about that soon).
You see, members of this group, both inside and outside of religion, don’t understand that happiness will only ever exist in a place where one is being true to his own beliefs. Happiness cannot occur in a place where beliefs are forced or manipulated onto others.
And so, looking at all these dynamics, I think we learn something greater about human beings in general. We learn that there aren’t actually two kinds of people inside of religion and two kinds of people outside of religion.
There are just two kinds of people.
Religion (or lack thereof) just gives one of those kinds of people the perfect tool to feel better about themselves by feeling better than or superior to others. It’s that simple.
The truth is, there are a lot of good religions that teach beautiful things.
There are a lot of people who either need to have a religion or prefer having a religion to help them in their own pursuit of spirituality and self-improvement.
There are people who truly would be lost without religion. There are people who would struggle morally. There are people who would lose sight of many of the important things of life.
The other truth is that most (if not all) religions offer the perfect breeding ground for those in the second group. They offer them an environment where they can thrive. They offer them the platform they need to really feel that they are better than others.
And, there are a lot of people who, because of that, or because the teachings of religions will never make sense, will never be happy as part of an organized religion. Their own quest for spirituality is actually hurt, not helped, when forced or coerced into a religion. They are lost inside of religion. They struggle with self-worth and self-perception. They lose sight of many of the important things of life.
So why can’t we all wrap our minds around that already? Why can’t we understand that everybody must walk a path of integrity that is true to them? Why can’t we be okay with that?
Why is there such a need for some people to be able to say, “I’m right, and you’re wrong.”
Why is there such a need for some people to be able to say, “there is only one truth, and I have it.”
Why can’t we simply celebrate each other, our different beliefs, and our own progression?
Why do we feel threatened when others who are good or decent people have different beliefs than we do?
Why do we feel a need to make sure the people we love know how much we disapprove of their beliefs?
Why do we feel like we have to know the truth, we have to have the only truth, and we have to make sure everybody else believes our truth as well?
Why do we drive wedges into our family relationships to prove that we are right in what we believe?
Why do we call others stupid, naïve, or gullible if they believe different things than we do?
Where, along the way, did so many of us forget the very basic teachings of all of our religions?
Where did we forget love?
How did we forget love?
And what changes can we all make whether we are in a religion or out of one?
It doesn’t matter to me what religion you are a part of. It does not matter to me if you are in a religion or not. And it shouldn’t matter to anybody else.
If you look at the two groups above, you will notice a colossal difference. Members of the first group work on bettering themselves. Members of the second group work on “bettering” others. They lose sight of themselves. They hurt others in the process.
And at the end of the day, the incredible irony will always sing true. Those in the first group will get to love others in ways that those in the second group will never understand.
By focusing on bettering themselves, real love for others happens… naturally.
No, it doesn’t matter to me what you believe or how you live.
What matters to me is why you do it and how you do it. Nothing else.
So do it for the right reasons and do it the right way. Please.
Dan Pearce, Single Dad Laughing
PS. I write this from the perspective of a man who has spent plenty of time in “both groups.” Where are you in regards to this discussion? Have you also been a part of both groups? How have any of these dynamics affected you and the people you love?
This is the eleventh post of The Happiness Dynamic Series. A little while back, I published Whose Life is it Anyway which sparked a much greater multi-day discussion of happiness here on Single Dad Laughing. To view all the posts in this series, click here.
Bang on! This is exactly what I have noticed for years, but have never been able to put into words, nearly as well as you can anyway.
I have spent time in both groups, tending to lean more toward the first group for the past 15 years.
I am learning to be happy in my own journey and happy for others in theirs.
I should also add that I love your post about the disease of perfection. I think that has infected the church as much as anywhere else. The thing that people on the outside of the church don't get is that the people on the inside aren't perfect and generally aren't claiming to be perfect. We are just as afraid to admit our flaws as everyone else is. It is a goal of mine to be more transparent so that others can see that I am not, nor do I claim to be perfect. It is a daily struggle for me to say and do the right things. All I have to say is thank God for grace!
I only recently discovered your blog, and I have really enjoyed reading your parenting posts. But this post really saddens me. It makes me sad that you (and countless others) seem to feel so judged by Christians, but it also makes me sad that knowing that people are constantly questioning the motives of Christians. I am certain that there are Christians out there who are not doing things for the right reasons, but most Christians that I know are really trying to help other people. I am the youth leader at a small church in an impoverished area. My husband and I drive 35 minutes to attend that church so that I can work with these teens. It is 100% volunteer on my part, and I actually put a ton of my own money into it, not to mention my time and energy. I don't do it to get praise. Believe me, most of the parents don't even notice me and they definitely never offer praise. I do it because these teens need a positive influence in their lives and they need someone who will support them no matter what. I know you are writing me off as an exception to the rule, but I don't think that is true. I can name dozens of other people like me who invest their time and energy into helping people for no personal gain. And yes, we sometimes judge other people. Don't you? Yes, we sometimes criticize or say comments that we shouldn't. Doesn't everyone? I think it is unfair that Christians are told to love everyone and accept everyone but then we are held to a higher standard and expected to be perfect and then called out when we make mistakes. We are human just like everyone else.
The other thing that I would like to comment on is the mention of happiness in your post. I know people aren't going to like what I am going to say, but the truth is that Jesus never really promised us happiness. He gave His life so that we could have eternal life. He never said that we wouldn't have to suffer in life or that we would never question our faith. He does care about us, but He cares much more about our eternal salvation than He does our happiness during our short time on earth. Think about his disciples and everything they went through. They didn't have some life of luxury for following Jesus. They gave up everything they had to follow Him and then almost all of them were killed for it.
By the way, I really am not judging you. I don't think you are less of a person because of this post. Quite the opposite. My heart always hurts for people who have been turned off by organized religion. And I truly do worry for them (you). That's the thing that people who aren't Christians don't understand. If someone really does believe in Heaven and Hell, and they really do believe there is only one way to get there, shouldn't that person be telling everyone about it? Wouldn't it be far more hateful to just let people go on their merry way on the path to Hell? No, I am not endorsing handing out Chick Tracks as Halloween treats or picketing establishments that are against our beliefs. But I do think there is a time and place to discuss our beliefs, especially with people that we care about.
I'm not sure humanity as that black and white. As I read through this post, I tried to analyze honestly which group I fit into, and I realized I could identify with both. I think most people can identify with both. And I also think a lot of people are misunderstood because their heart belongs to the group that is concerned with bettering themselves, but they are so passionate about sharing their faith that people assume the wrong things about them.
I become a Mormon to turn white and get the complexion for the protection and it didn't work, so naturally my faith went with it as well. This is a joke for those who cannot sense sarcasm. Hey blog guy, i like the way you write, and though i feel you could express more complicated thoughts, i like that you are thinking and expressing yourself at all. Keep it up!
Ah! I love this! It sums up exactly what I feel about people on both sides of the fence. The "enforcers" on both sides are so damaging, and I wish there were more good people who "live and let live." I try very hard to be that person--loving, genuine, and good. But I mostly try to be honest with others--I take shortcuts, I don't think I'm perfect, I don't sweat the small stuff, and I don't believe in guilt. I just believe in trying harder, and being better than I was yesterday. No guilt, no shame, no unrealistic expectations. Thanks for writing this--it's perfect!
I have noticed what you wrote, but never was able to put it into the concrete terms you used. Thank you. Hubby and I were talking yesterday about the LDS church and the people we met in it who were in the first group. One family was my mom's home teachers. The husband said, "You aren't a member of the church, yet you come to church with your mom. Is there a reason you haven't joined?" I told him about my spiritual journey and how most people in churches didn't like the journey, the abilities I had, nor by extension, me. He chuckled and said, "Well, you haven't been exposed to enough members of this church who have the same abilities. We all just get along and wait for the rest of them to catch up."
I now call myself spiritual rather than religious.
I suspect some of why some try to hard to convert others to their perception on religion (whether Christain flavored, Muslim flavored, atheist, or whatever) may be because they over-extrapolate from their own personal experience. A person who achieved most of their moral development via their preferred relgion/spirituality may be quick to assume that this is necessarily the ONLY way to achieve moral development, therefore anyone who does not take THEIR path to moral development are doomed to be amoral. Some of the challenge may be in getting more peopole to understand at a deeper level that, hey, people are diverse. Different people (surprise!) will have different needs! And even where needs may be the same after all, there may be multiple paths to getting those needs met--and different paths work differently for different people. The path that is the ONLY path that works for person A may be completely devastating if forced upon person B. And vice versa.
I know this is not all of it--complicated issues often have multiple answers. But I think it is sometimes a factor (among many) that may apply for some.
If you talk to people where I worship God, we are not interested in religion, which is a man-made set of traditions, rituals, etc. to reach up to God. We are interested in worshiping the God who redeemed us from our own flawed and sinful lives, through His grace and mercy, with a plan He conceived and executed. He then made this redemption available to anyone who wants to accept the gift. There is no earning it, or being good enough to not need it. There is no buying it. There is only accepting the free gift, offered to all. We then want to share with others how great it is to have received that gift of salvation, and to be living as a child of God. We also want to live in a way that shows God how grateful we are, by walking in His light and not indulging in acts of darkness. We recognize that because we are clothed in human flesh, we will never be able to live perfectly, at least in this lifetime. But, God is there to forgive and restore, always. And my fellow congregants know that we are a just a bunch of flawed lives, which have been gloriously saved, and no one is better than another. Not a bad deal eh? It's all there in the Bible, but many religious systems ignore the Truth that is in God's word, and present a false gospel, such as salvation through good works. If you choose to reject the free gift though, it may be something you regret ultimately.
Keep speaking out like this. It is only when we use calm, sensible words like Dan's that we get to something useful. I'm using my blog to speak out too. http://toriabipolar.blogspot.ca/ I dare you to speak out too. Dare you to get past "but I can't say anything on this subject". You can and you will if you see fit to. We need to hear it. We need to have posts and action. Not a nod of the head and a comment that you're right Dan. We need to have fingers typing out messages of love, compassion, caring, and conviction that the haters, on both sides of the fence are wrong.
As a struggling "trying stay in Catholic", you speak a lot of TRUTH to me...Thank you of sharing your insight, it is much appreciated...and very timely!
Thank you for this post. Growing up in Happy Valley I was surrounded by a lot of people in the first group. Or at least that is how I remember them looking back. I moved away for a few years in which time I left my religion. Coming back to this area I seemed to be surrounded by the second group. And part of me wonders if it's just being on the other side that I see it more, or if I do experience it more. It's a struggle for me in day to day life and I'm thankful for this reminder that the best thing I can do is make sure I'm part of the first group. I believe so much in the simple yet strong power of love. I honestly feel as though it changes the world. Or it can, as long as people believe it. I think it's the same message that was in I'm Christian Unless You're Gay, it all comes down to loving your neighbor. That's all. I think we want life to be more complicated than that, but it's just not.
I'm so sorry to hear of those in the comments that have been hurt... Anyone read When Bad Christians Happen to Good People? I've heard it's good... I am just really fortunate to be a part of a church that is really awesome (and I mean this one building, I'm not speaking for The Church... just this group I have found.) and helps me to be a better Jesus follower - I'm still very fallible and very screwed up, kind of like everyone else. But I have hope, and I try to live my life by saying "they will know I'm a Christian by my love..." not my judgement/scripture quoting abilities/where I attend/a sticker on my car...
Hello again, DanI too recognize the dichotomy in this argument because I too lived it. As a member of one religion, I was taught that approval from God was performance-based and depended on how many people I could convert. It also fostered this "holier than thou" mentality among my peers. I grew up hearing people say "They're going to die anyway," or "They don't have what we have" when people disagreed with our teachings or weren't receptive to our message. It also didn't help that many of my peers attacked each other based on these notions of spiritual superiority (and I'm ashamed to admit that I partook in this behavior). In time, I found that such an attitude was in direct conflict with the core of our teachings (to love others as God loves us: unconditionally). As I got older and more fed-up with this nonsense, I left my religion behind, thinking that God was a fallacy, a figment of our imagination. However, in observing another individual (who is now one of my dearest friends whom I love tremendously) in how he viewed his religion as a way to better himself which, in turn, freed him to love others unconditionally, I reassessed my relationship with God and who He really was and was thus able to connect with God on a deeper, more personal, and a much healthier level. This, in turn, changed my judgmental nature and helped me to learn to love and connect with others, no matter their beliefs. I suppose what I'm trying to say is: you're right. Life, with or without religion, is best lived by loving others. Great post as always, Dan!
Thank you! I'm sharing this all over the place :) I am going to write a response on my own blog this week -- http://www.gypsystreasures.com Your view is poignant and so straight on! and you are so elegant in your writing!
I don't think I've ever commented on a blog post before but I just wanted to this time because this one particularly resonated with me. About a month ago, I told my parents I was bisexual. My family is very religious and of a more conservative mindset. It took a long time to work up the courage to tell them and how they reacted was not what I had wanted. They told me I needed to see a psychiatrist. That the thoughts in my head were evil. The stuff that we've all kind of heard before from those who believe that being anything other than straight is unacceptable. Except these words were coming from MY parents, and were being directed AT ME. Their own son. I was the exact same person as I had been 10 minutes ago except their whole perception had changed. Since then, they've attempted to "pray" the evil thoughts out of me etc. But I've tried to make them see and understand how this fits right in with my life and is a part of me etc.
So what I'm trying to say is, this post really struck a chord with me because it's almost exactly what I've tried to emphasize to my parents the whole time they are passing judgement. That they should be happy within their religion and if I believe that being bisexual is OK it doesn't make them worse people for being tolerant and accepting that. I'm unsure of whether sharing a post like this with them would help at all - it might just backfire, but I'm sure that I'll be drawing on some points that you bring up within the post - it's SO well articulated.
So thanks! It's good to know sometimes that you're not alone in your viewpoints...
Thank you, Dan, for this post. It rings absolutely true to me because it's how I've always felt when the matter of religion comes up in discussion (that happens a lot, since I work in a religiously based facility). I'm an atheist, and have been since I could ever remember but for the first half of my life never had a word to put to the idea.I tried to go to church, I tried to believe in a God the way that my family expected and tried to make me do. But I couldn't. The very first time I went to Sunday school I read some of the bible and just couldn't wrap my mind around it. It was ridiculous (and I was 7 when this happened) and at first I just thought it was a joke. By now I obviously know this isn't true but it's made things very difficult for me. I do my best not to discuss religion with others because the fact is that when they find out my own personal beliefs they scoff and usually either: insult me; accuse me; or attempt to convert me. None of which work and all of which are offensive.It is my fervent hope that more people will come to understand exactly what you've said here, because I think that's the core of everything, religious and non-religious. It's about loving other people, not judging them. I've had people, more than once, upon finding out my lack of religion look at me credulously and say, "But then how do you know to be a good person?" And I just have to say, "I'm a good person because I know what's right and wrong and I love people; I'm not a good person because other people tell me to be that way." Anyways, I've gone on long enough... Thank you, Dan, really.
Hi Dan! Do you read these comments? (Just curious, since there are so many!)
You inspire good dialogue in your blog, which is why people enjoy it so much (I think).
You have a lot to say in this post about the church, which is understandable, since Mormons spend so much time discussing that. But, to me, there is nothing sweeter than having a real relationship with God who loves me and died in my place on the cross to pay the penalty for my sins. Other believers have a place in my life, but it's really all about Jesus. People are flawed - you are right about that - they will usually disappoint you if you make them your god. Even what God allows to happen can be surprising or painful at times, but at least with Him I know he sees the big picture and wants what is really, truly best for me.
Thanks Dan. I was raised anglican and became athiest at the age of 15. I was told I didn't know how I felt about religion and that I couldn't possibly believe what I believed. I spent the next 7 years in search, and found that I believed there was a God, but that he merely set things in motion (the big bang) and has little to no influence on the world today.
I read J Shelby Spong's book "Jesus for the Non-Religious" and found it absolutely wonderful - which led me to believe in a human Jesus, not a divine one. A Jesus who was an ordinary guy, like you and me, who saw something terribly wrong with his faith and spoke out against it, angering the establishment who tried to make an example out of him, and made a martyr instead.
Someone mentioned that Jesus could be viewed as a lunatic because of the writings that describe him, but remember those writings came about many decades after Jesus' death, so a lot of "chinese whispers"* could have happened before the story went onto paper.
* No, I'm not calling it anything else. We've been calling it that for a long time and I'm not stopping now.
Peace, joy, love, happiness, abundance are my wishes for you and Noah. Go laugh and come back rested and optimistic. Cheers!
This says how I feel http://youtu.be/1IAhDGYlpqY.
I love this message. As usual, Dan, you've hit the nail on the head.
I am someone who prefers to be outside religion. And I like to think that I am of the 'bettering thyself' group, without judging. But last week I realized that, for some reason, when someone is too open about 'praising god' or 'praying to Him' or 'Jesus as my lord and savior'...they go down a couple notches in my book. I become wary of them. And, after looking at it more closely, I think it's because I have trouble disassociating people who LOVE their religion and people who PREACH their religion. I have been preached to many times, and it makes me very uncomfortable. Conversely, I've had wonderful open conversations about religion many times as well. I guess I just have to work on not prejudging the religious as the religiously fervent.
Thanks for being so thought-provoking.
I was raised a fundamentalist Christian and reverted to Islam some 10 years ago. Islam is so beautiful, I was so happy, I had found my place in the world. After a few months, I was horrified to discover that THEY are everywhere. They. You know who they are. They are the rule makers, enforcers, holier than thous that inhabit every temple, synagogue, masjid, church, cathedral. THEY, in their effort to purify the world, just burn it. It was a hard realization that there is no escape from them. So I learned to worship God instead of a dogma. It's a process. Just connect the best you can and take it one day at a time.
I am posting as a guest..
This was posted and I read it and I have to say, i couldn't have said it better....I also was raised in the Mormom religion and knowabout 75% of the people think in the first group where as I, like you am in the second group.....I am happier just living a good life and believing in God but also questioning some of the truths as the religion teaches them....there is alot of beauty in the religion but, as i have come to know and love them, snobs in the religion! So I am now an inactive member!!
I just wanted to say thank you......You put into words what I have been trying to say for a very long time!!!
I used to be a Mormon and some of my mom's family are still. My older brothers were required to go to church as Mormons before I was born and they both have a hate for "religion". I was not required to go to church as my parents had stopped going by the time I came along. But, I did attend with my maternal grandmother once in a while. I was also able to attend Catholic, Lutheran, and Presbyterian as well as Jewish services. I left the Mormon church for a myriad of reasons that would take much to long to write, but some details that I retain today are; the Mormon Religion is a cult. (http://www.christiananswers.net/q-aiia/aiia-top10cults.html), and most ex Mormons have a similar "taste" to their anti-religious musings. I can relate. However, I cling, and I mean with teeth and nails, to the FACT that Jesus said he is THE WAY, THE TRUTH, and THE LIFE and that NO ONE can reach the Father except through him. I also cling to the FACT that Jesus hated religion. He hated rules that could not save you, such as the Jewish Pharisees and all their rules and he was all about love and he plainly stated that he came not to judge. If you ever ever ever come across a person, who calls them selves a follower of Christ, you shall know the degree to which that is a truth by their fruits. But I ask you, if you are without sin, throw the first stone. Being a Christian is not a destination sir, it is a process. And the fact that you dwell on all of this instead of learning to be a life transformed by Christ and sit on the fringes and talk this to death is so sad. Go to www.40daysinthebible.com and learn what the Bible really says and how Christ's words, not a religion, but Christ, the living God can transform you. Let the WORD of Christ DWELL in YOU RICHLY! Fight against being religious everyday! The more you do and the more you draw close to God you will find peace. Remember, cults are religions that try to cling to Christianity but control you. All religions are false because they are man's attempt to control God and put him in a box, or as Atheists do, say he doesn't even exist. Christianity is just God's attempt to have a RELATIONSHIP with us; to reconcile us back to him because our spirits were made to last for eternity. And either yours will live with God for eternity or in a place devoid of God, call it what you want, but God is a gentleman and if you don't want him in your life, he'll put you in a place where he is not. I call it hell. Please tell me you see the difference, it is quite stark!!!
So, i was accused of telling you to shut up and that I wasn't who I said I am on th reply. If you, DAN took it as an attack, please forgive me because it wasn't what I meant. I am a bit upset, but whatever. Thanks again for your post.
Mao I was accused of telling you to shut up and that I wasn't who I said I am on th reply. If you, DAN took it as an attack, please forgive me because it wasn't what I meant. I am a bit upset, but whatever. Thanks again for your post.
I was raised Catholic, but haven't been a practicing one in quite a few years now. I, like you, Annette, consider myself spiritual... as in guided by God's spirit, but not religious... as in following set doctrines that change every now and again as the "folks in power" get that hankering for a change. God is the only "folk in power" in my opinion and the only one who has the right or authority to judge me, forgive me, and guide me throughout my imperfect life.
@AndyFox This idea of "choosing to accept a free gift" or "rejecting the free gift" or "flawed lives" is religion itself. That's not spirituality. That is christian dogma. Your entire response is nothing but dogma, so you can get to write a response you judge beautiful, but right at the end you give yourself off for what you truly stand for: "if you choose to reject the free gift... that may be something YOU regret ultimately." That's not beautiful nor righteous. That's Christian dogma of exclusivity, which in spirituality is senseless. And once your message gets taken by people who would like to FORCE it upon others, bypassing separation of church and state in this country, then it gets complicated.
@AndyFox "many religious systems ignore the Truth that is in God's word, and present a false gospel"
And yet every religion (and sect within) believe they know this "Truth", that they have the correct interpretation of books written by desert bronze age people and manipulated through the years by countless scribes and assorted leaders.
I've avoided posting retorts to most out of respect for the blog owner, but this response really got to me. Maybe it's the fact that my father-in-law is telling my 4 year old son and 3 year old daughter that I'm going to his Hell because I don't accept--in fact reject the existence of--father, son, or holy ghost. Maybe the arrogant passive aggressive threat of "obey my god or else!!" got to me. Maybe it was the silly apologetic argument of "God isn't religious, it says so in the Bible!!" that broke my irony meter and finally cracked my shell of tact. Maybe, just maybe, the post reminded me of the many people I listened to and talked with on my way up the religious leader ladder, and then away from the religion entirely. Whatever button it was, you pushed it, so like the good uppity atheist, I'm going to go ahead and push back.
Now, question: which verses of the Bible are you using to justify your theology? Let's start with your best 10, just chapter and verse numbers please.
@AndyFox Well said! I totally agree. I wish I could have put that into words cause that is how I feel ultimately!
Thank you for your post here. I woould like to just say hang in there and knwo that you are a great person! I hope with time your parents can come around and see the greatness in you. I also hope that you will come to peace with them what evr their view ends up being.
@frank1985 That book sounds interesting. Thanks for posting about it. (also, by "chinese whispers", do you mean people changing things, like in the telephone game? I've never heard that phrase before)
@NatalieMcBroom Love the video. Thanks for sharing it, Natalie!
@NatalieMcBroom Wow.... and I don't mean that in a good way. This kind of fervor is exactly how new religions start.
@Andre Machado @aprilfortner Christianity is not exclusive. Any one who accepts the free gift can be a part of the Kingdom of God. God gives you free will to accept or reject. You just want a God of your own making, because you don't like His terms. By the way, as far as I know Christianity is the only faith system that contains the concept of eternal reward or punishment, where you don't earn your way. Earning your way is such a human concept, not the concept of a transcendental God. Of course philosophically it makes sense, once you are imperfect, no matter how hard you work, you can never make yourself perfect. But God can clothe you with his own perfection/righteousness. It is beautiful that God would sacrifice himself to clothe the imperfect with perfection, the unrighteous with righteousness. Furthermore he did this when even we were his enemies. He did not expect us to love Him first. Romans 5:8.
So what is your spirituality - whatever you create in your own mind? You are the arbiter of what is spiritual? Somehow you have been linked in to the deeper things of the universe? You are the judge? What is the basis for your dogma?
@shawmutt @aprilfortner Well, first of all, Shawmutt, unless you can explain dark matter and dark energy you don't know everything about this universe, and for you to dispositively say that God does not exist is the height of foolishness. You can't know that, because neither you, nor the most brilliant physicist in the world can even explain about 90% of the universe. But somehow you know for a fact that God doesn't exist? We can't even measure dark energy or matter directly, we can only approach that it exists based upon some gravitational effects. You surmise there is not a God. But there is a whole lot in creation that points to God. The question of chirality pretty much ends the discussion about whether or not there was an intelligent designer. I know hard core atheists don't want to admit it, but no scientist can explain how chirality in nature always ends up with 50% left handed and 50% right handed molecules, but for any rna strand to have formed randomly, you would have to have a huge number of uninterrupted left handed molecules lined up, without one single right handed molecule. It is statistically impossible for it to have happened, basically. It must have been a miracle! Exactly.
As far as verses:
John 1:1, 1:14, 1:11, 8:58, 10:30; Acts 3:11 --> 4:22; Romans 1:16, 3:23, 3:28, 5:8, 10:9; Eph 2:9-10; Col 2:6-15; 1st Tim 1:15 --17>; 1st Tim 2:1-7. And a whole lot more, but these are some of the passages I keep in the memory banks when I am called to defend the faith.
God's main message is that he loves you - he wants a relationship with you - and that even though he can't stand sin, he has sent his Son to take your punishment - but only if you want him too and agree that your sin is wrong. The Bible tells us Christians to share our faith in gentleness. I apologize for those who have acted in anger when they have told you about Jesus. It should never be that way - it is sinful and ugly when people hurt you to get their way. Here are a few verses to get you started, since you asked for some. There are only three passages, but I think it should be enough to get started.
John 3:16-21 ESV
16 "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God."
Ephesians 2:1 (a letter to the Christians at Ephesus) "And you were dead in the trespasses and sins2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us,5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them."
Romans 10:9 "because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved."
:) It's a good thing there's room for all of that! Forgiveness is offered to anyone who repents, asks God for forgiveness, and believes that Jesus is his/her Lord (master). It is important to note that Christians still sin - and need forgiveness - after salvation. There are verses for that too, if you are interested. God knows we're not perfect (yet)!
@Mouse Yeah. It was a game we played as children where we'd sit in a circle, the teacher would start with a statement and we'd whisper it to each person in turn. The last child would say what they heard and we would compare the differences. Some P.C. dimwit decided we should call it "secret whispers" because calling it Chinese was offensive (and I don't think that person was Chinese either) - the same brains trust that thinks children will recognise Santa's "Ho ho ho" as three prostitutes.
@DonnaManning- Natalie claims that judging is wrong, yet she does it herself in declaring that- "And the fact that you dwell on all of this instead of learning to be a life transformed by Christ and sit on the fringes and talk about this is so sad."
I'm sorry, Natalie, but you're as flawed as we are. See, you're wrong- Jesus didn't hate religion, but you are correct in that he hated what the Jewish faith had become- empty of meaning. They had lost the meanings of their traditions. He was the fulfillment of many of the promises made to the prophets of the Old Testament. He actually was the meaning to those empty traditions.
Also, your definition of "cult" is kinda off. Here's a (possibly somewhat biased) clinical assessment of Mormonism when compared to the American Sociological Association's classification of a harmful cult. (btw, this author is a board certified clinical psychologist, and knows his shit)
Pleas calm your shorts, Natalie- I worry about you!
@shawmutt I can't answer for the angry woman columnist - as I've said before, Christians sin too, and they will sometimes say things that are not justified by the Bible. I would like you to attempt to re-read all of the accusations that you wrote the other day, that mostly amounted to name-calling. It sounds quite angry and hateful to me. Most of the Christians that I have known have been well-educated, helpful individuals who examine their lives thoroughly (physicists, medical doctors, engineers, etc.). If you have legitimate questions about how we came to our faith, there are several apologetic resources that I could recommend. I'm afraid this blog is too limited (and so is my time) to argue with someone without genuine interest.
@aprilfortner Really? That's all you got out of what I wrote? I'm angry at your god? On the contrary, there are no feelings directed towards your god, negative or otherwise. Hence the title, 'a'theist. Without theism. I hate your god about as much as I hate the tooth fairy or Santa Claus.
The Bible, on the other hand, and the people that use it to justify hatred, bigotry, jingoism, bias, restrictions of all kinds of rights, and other such nonsense are very real things--I don't necessary hate them but they aren't the kind of people I'd have a beer with. Even the ones that think they are harmless annoy me--like the lady who says the race I'm running in tomorrow is the work of Satan. http://www.fredericknewspost.com/sections/opinion/display_columnist.htm?StoryID=135227
But I'm digressing--why is your focus on me and not on the points I made? The Bible is indefensible ridiculousness--I could hate your god with every fiber of my being, it doesn't legitimize the pre-scientific, child-like worldview, violent, bronze age desert people books that make up the Bible.
@shawmutt I can see that you are very angry at God right now. I would respond to your post, and even perhaps give you some educated, worthwhile answers, but I don't think you would seriously consider anything that I said. I hope things go well for you.
John verses TL;DR: A “loving” god is quite content with (and often causes) egregious suffering in his creations and condemns over two-thirds of the world’s population to Hell.
God's main message is that he loves the world, but hates his son. As an example for parents everywhere, God sent his son (who is also God) to be tortured and killed to save the world from himself. Let's not even get into the egregious suffering that some have to endure in this world, such as the parasite that your God created that eats the eyes of young African children. Sorry, but the suffering endured in the crucifixion story, even with the violence porn (thanks Mel Gibson), doesn't seem particularly sacrificial. Of course, the fact that Jesus is actually immortal and simply rises from the dead in three days doesn't really add to the sacrifice either.
It's important to note that "the light" is the triune Christian god. "Evil works" refers to anything outside of the Christian religion as laid out in the Bible. Therefore, this "loving" God condemns 67% (and growing) of the world's population (that's about 4.6 _billion_ people folks) to the wrath of god (John 3:36 and many more) in an eternal lake of fire (John 15:6 and many more). I guess it's a small matter to a god that’s OK with flooding the entire earth and killing all its inhabitants (Luke 17:26) and otherwise condoning all the atrocities of the Old Testament (Matthew 5:17 among others), turn family members against each other (Matthew 10:21), tell his followers they have to eat his flesh and drink his blood (John 6:53-66), and tells handicapped people (this includes infants) they are that way because of some apparent sin (John 5:14).
On a textual note, the story of the lone sacrificing savior, the martyr, has been used ad nauseum throughout assorted mythologies. The Jesus story is not the origin of this myth.
On to the Ephesians:
Quick side note: regarding the quote “following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience”. This is one of the countless examples of a pre-scientific, almost child-like world view held by the bronze age desert people that wrote the books that make up the Bible. You would think the god who made the universe would give his followers a better idea of how it works. How some can follow the backwoods ramblings that make up the Bible is beyond me. Weather is caused by Satan, huh?
In any case, like every other slippery topic, is salvation by faith alone or by works? The Bible, as always, says yes! I’ll refer to the skeptics annotated Bible with helpful links: http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/contra/faithalone.html
If it were judged by quantity of the versus, salvation and deeds would win out! Again, each sect claims they know the truth, and they all have the verses to back it up! They can't all be right, but they certainly can all be wrong.
Thank you for worrying about me, but it isn't necessary. I was only quoting what is in the Bible in my comment and the definition of cult was not mine. And just because someone has a PhD in psychology does not mean they know everything. I have been in the industry for years and even the great experts they follow had sad and flawed lives. When I said that how he was acting was sad, I must clarify that it made me sad that he felt that way. It really doesn't matter to me what anyone believes. It is their free will. I have a real heart for homosexuals and people who are drug addicts who have come to me in the past and chose to confide in me about their struggles because they know me and know I love them even when others don't. I have worked with teens abandon or taken from their families and homeless people who have told me how non judgmental I am. So if I sounded that way it was only due to my inability to explain my position in a manner that you ladies could understand. I feel that I touched a chord in you both because of the same manner you responded to me and I wasn't even writing to you. Let Dan defend himself, he doesn't need people rescuing him, he's a grown man. I used to rush in and write "rescue" responses such as yours, not including reference website postings, just opinion responses to try to negate what emotions were set off inside of me from a comment meant for another. You both are free to comment in a socratic manner regarding your opinions about the subject but keep your concerns about me to yourself.and please refrain from talking about me on a public place. You know nothing about me and unlike Dan, I didn't invite you to talk with me or about me. I've seen how you do this to posters on this blog and it is more harmful than helpful. @DonnaManning @lovindmutts