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Re: In the Lion's Den

Aug 31, 1995 06:27 AM
by jrcecon

Daniel -

Careful! You tread on *very* dangerous ground here ... this is not
the lion's den - 'tis a list full of snakes, coiled and holding their tails
in their mouths ... and if you stay much longer, not only will you not
manage to "convert" a single one to your point of view, but their evil
wisdom may start creeping into your soul through hidden cracks in your mind
(that are unknown even unto yourself!) and you may find yourself (gasp!)
beginning to actually question your *own* beliefs!

(Psssssssst - hey buddy, over here ... you vant to taste theees

(Tee Hee).

Sorry, I realize this may be quite serious, but the sudden presence
of an evangelical on this list is such an unexpected delight, such a very
bizarre intellectual juxtaposition, that I have been in stitches since you
began posting. Since you are here, perhaps you'll answer a few questions
that have always tickled my fancy about the evangelical perspective:

1. You demand that we refute the claims of Christianity ... but isn't
it more reasonable to assume that they need to be demonstrated before they
must be refuted? If I say "My friend Bob is lord of the world", and *you*
are compelled to believe it unless you can disprove it - wouldn't you
probably say "that's ridiculous - I don't have to disprove it, you have to
*demonstrate* it". The foundations of the evangelical claims seem to be
wildly tautological - and appear to run according to this formula:

Thesis: Jesus is the only Son of God, and is the Lord of the World,
and the Master of Masters.

Proof: Jesus says he is, and *since* he is the Son of God and
*says* he is the light and the truth, therefore He is.

Thesis: The "Bible" is the "Word" of God, and in it is the only
real truth, and anyone who believes in it is right, and anyone who does
not believe in it is wrong.

Proof: The Bible *says* it is the word of God, and *since* therefore
it says it is, *because it is the Word of God, it *must* be.

2. I've also been puzzled by the apparently bizarre misunderstanding
of *scale* that appears to run throughout evangelical thought. Imagine
a Being called God, a Being of such inconceivable stature that it is capable
of creating, out of nothing, the entirety of the universe - the operative
scale being literally billions of years of time and a space so large that
it cannot even be measured with units as enormous as light-years - attempt
for a moment to grasp (as impossible as it is to do) how almost unbelievably
brief and immeasurably tiny the planet earth and the little specks on it
that consider themselves immensely important and call themselves civilized;

Having postulated a being such as this, as evangelicals seem to do,
does it then make sense to then say (as I've recently heard) that this Being
actually thinks that it is desperately important that one political party
gets elected instead of another? That it *cares* whether I have gone through
a formal ceremony before I sleep with someone? That it not only *cares*
whether or not I go to church on Sundays, but even judges some churches to
be "right" and others "wrong"?

While such assertions certainly have afforded me much mirth over
the years (and hence serve a valuable function!), it certainly would be
quite difficult to actually take such preposterous thought *seriously*.

3. The "Bible" ... which is, by the way, short for the Latin
"biblia" or "books". Evangelicals, as I understand them, seem to insist
that this is not simply *a* collection of books of religious metaphor
(and as such, IMO, a very worthwhile contribution to humanity's wonderful
storehouse of religious and spiritual exploration) - but is *the*
book, that it contains completely accurate historical truth, and
that its words and injunctions must be taken as absolutes beyond
question or interpretation.

Unfortunately, even a wee bit of research seems to raise some
rather serious probleems with this. The "bible" is not *a* book, but is
a rather more like an anthology - a collection of stories written by wildly
different people over the course of (if the Old Testament is included)
several thousands of years - translated and re-written so many hundreds of
times that the chances that any of the books even vaugely resembles the
true "original" version are slim to none. What is to be followed exactly?
The King James version? Why that one? How many evangelicals can read
the original Greek, the various Aramaic dialects, the unpointed Hebrew of
the OT?

How much depth have your studies taken you into? Have you
discovered that there are two almost completely discrete creation stories
in Genesis (for instance) - that the first mention of what is translated
as "God" is not IHVH (Jehovah), but ALHIM (Elohim) ... a word that is a
*plural* and suggests both masculine *and* feminine gender ...?

Well, 'nuff of this. You came here (apparently) on a mission,
but perhaps you'll stay because ... well ... this is just a damn
interesting group of people - *none* of whom believes the know the "whole"
truth - all of whom are engaged in pursuing personal quests that range
through almost eevery science, religion and art, past and present, on
planet earth ... and even further, you may find (if you perhaps really
decide to listen for awhile) that there are some on this list that have
studied both the Old and New Testaments at levels of depth and with an
independance of thought that perhaps surpasses many of those in the
circles of evagelical fundamentalism.

Even further, one of the most remarkable aspects of this list
(and one that differs greatly from evangelical circles) is this: No one
here will dispute your right to hold your beliefs, nor will doubt the
intensity of your passion - and no one will try to "convert" you to
anything. If you state strong positions, and even further, demand that
those positions are the "only" true positions, those positions *will*
be questioned - not because you're a "Christian" in a "Lion's Den"
(with the somewhat disturbing hint of a martyr complex that such a
position suggests), but because we *all* question one another, we all
put one another's ideas through the testing of the alchemical hotfire:

This is a place were metal is refined, the dross burnt off of it,
the hidden flaws in its structure revealed. If you remain with us (as I
personally, would invite you to do (-:) you will find that you will not
accomplish the goal you came here with (if, as it seems, that goal is
to "convert" "unbelievers" to the "truth"), and you may wind up entering
the inner turmoil that invariably accompanies genuine spiritual
maturation, but if you have the tremendous courage (and few things in
life require greater courage) to throw open to question beliefs you
hold as the very foundation of your life - you may find that you emerge
with your beliefs deepened, broadened, and *strengthened* beyond
anything you currently imagine ... may find that the spiritual concepts
you currently hold are actually the *seeds* of a much larger spiritual
world - and that this strange list may actually supply the heat capable
of germinating those seeds.

Evangelical Economist & Chaos Theorist

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