Friday, April 24, 2009

Potent Quotin'

--The Case for Christianity (C.S. Lewis)

"Reality, in fact, is always something you couldn't have guessed. That's one of the reasons I believe Christianity. It's a religion you couldn't have guessed."


  1. "I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours."

    -- Stephen Roberts

  2. Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important.

    C. S. Lewis

  3. Life is half spent before we know what it is.

    George Herbert

  4. Would you help me with this quote. I've heard it in debate. I understand it but don't dispute it. Is the only intention to remind theists that we also reject gods and lots of them?

  5. I think Roberts is saying that he thinks no religion has any more basis in objective reality than another. He dismisses Christianity, and all other religions, as myth without foundation, in the way Christians so dismiss others.

    For example, you (and virtually everyone today) reject Zeus and the Greek Pantheon as obviously false. It's myth: you just know it isn't so.

    To atheists, Christianity has no stronger a foundation than the mythology of the Greek gods. The stories seem mythological, contradictory, and look like an effort to explain the world, or create a particular type of normative foundation for society.

    The Christian God is no more objectively real for Roberts than Zeus. He wants Christians (and Muslims, and Hindus, etc) to consider their own faith in these terms.

  6. I appreciate the clarification. So it is call for skepticism towards your personal world view? I think I haven't understood this fully because my view of almost everything is skeptical. I must be because I only believe in ONE MORE God than Roberts. LOL

    My return to Christianity is filled with skepticism and is dynamic. You can see this at under "The Results: Has the emperor clothes?"

    I think the American church betrays a system that is beautiful in its twists and turn, simple and complex and, to some extent, mysterious.

    Jesus was revolutionary; what's revolutionary about the American church franchise? I concede that you are almost entirely correct that it is a man-made contruct to serve man. Of course you can apply social science with better results than if I apply a stipulated system of propositional truth to it.

    I defend the core of it though, the root idea. People suck and cause decay to almost everything they touch, including this core.

  7. Roberts may be offering another nuance: that we should generally question our faith, and ask ourselves what normative foundation supports it.

    Christianity has several powerful foundations: respect for others, love for one's neighbor, a general predisposition against conflict and for tolerance of others. He advocated sharing wealth with the poor, and protecting the downtrodden and weak. Sadly, too many of today's mainstream Christians operate from a norm of capitalistic greed--God will reward the faithful with wealth and happiness. As someone who thinks of Jesus as a philosopher, and not a god who works in mysterious ways, I wonder what He would think of today's megachurches.

    I took from my Christian education three norms: that every human being has value (we should not dehumanize others to build ourselves up), that we all see things differently (no two relationships with God are the same), and that as God's children we all share his love with Him and with each other.

    By that I mean that by hating other human beings, we diminish our love for God.

    On some level this constitutes another argument against His existence: His Love ultimately has no power to overcome human intolerance and hate. We fear each other, and death by the others' hand, more than we love God.

    Constant human conflict makes sense to the atheist. We wonder why it makes sense to Christians.

  8. When I decided to have children, I hoped to do the right thing by them. I also wanted them to love me. I can't imagine valuing that love unless they give it to me freely.

    They're teenagers now, so I question whether their free will is good. I know they love me but it's shown poorly on a regular basis. There is plenty to enjoy in them now but I know it will be expressed in a way I will more fully understand at some point in the future.

    This is my view, we have free will and we screw up but we can do better and will eventually know more than we do now.

    In Christian systematic theology, the period of time between Jesus' first and second coming is characterized by a gradual increase in man behaving poorly toward man.

  9. Do you think that man's inhumanity to man is on the rise?

    I could make a good case that while humans still do violence to each other, the scale is smaller and the efforts less organized.

  10. This may very well be and I hope you're right. My use of the word "gradual" may be inaccurate and skewed by my recent experience with one of the Lost Boys of Sudan.

    The more technical position held by Christians en masse is that there will be an increase in man's inhumanity to man and natural disasters preceding the rapture and/or Jesus' second coming. Whether this is true or false in our time I will yield to the social scientists.

    On the broader issue, Christians see what they expect to see, bad results from people making bad choices freely.

    My friend James Mangok Wol saw family killed when he was six and endured near starvation by eating leaves for years while his group ran for their lives from the Muslims (Google him).

    One person sees this and wonders what God is doing or concludes there is no God while another sees this and wonders what man is doing, blaming man.

  11. These last few comments make me curious about your position on dispensationalism: pre, post, or none?

  12. I don't have one at this point and I'm not sure I will. I was a firm pre-dispensationalist in my 20's but I can see contrary views now, mostly because I don't feel any strong need to be right.

    I don't even know if any of this will happen in our lifetime. I know that the changing relationships or "covenants" or "dispensations" are not a philosophical problem for me and I marvel at the hand of God in time.

    What is less marvelous for those of us in a culture laden with immediate reward is that it is not that. For me, the only immediate reward I see right now is that it's a buzz that doesn't quit.

    Another obvious reward for me is that it establishes nearer boundaries in which I think the best game is played. Without this personal relationship, it was for me like playing football with no rules, chaos. If some broad rules can be established the game is just more fun to watch.

  13. If you're looking for the view that is most predominantly held, it's going to be the pre-trib with the rapture happening before the tribulation and Jesus coming after the seven years of tribulation. This was the most widely held view.

    Pardon the jargon, I try to avoid it.

  14. Again, thanks. And I would not worry about using jargon as long as you give definitions when necessary. Jargon is appropriate when describing an insider or expert view and the terminology helps get the point across.

    What you have here accurately answers my question, and the jargon is not intended to obscure the views I asked about.

    That said, I agree that we should default to avoiding it.