A Response To Smartyr
Written by jason b. santos on Thursday, 7/4/2002
Please allow me to address the problems you have with Christianity. I will respond paragraph for paragraph, and for those who are reading this, I have included Smartyr’s article. His paragraphs begin with ***.
***This all came from my hardline catholic uncle, which astounded me, as it kinda proves my theories against the bible, and essentially has aided my path to agnositicism/ aethiesm. It all starts off with the story of creation.
First of all, your “hardline Catholic uncle” does not prove anything. He may validate your conception of the Bible, but this does not mean that you have resolved the ever-searching question of the soundness of Scripture. Secondly, agnosticism is not the same as atheism. Agnosticism is founded in uncertainty of who or what “God” is; whereas, atheism is complete denial of any form of a “god.” You cannot be both—you can be uncertain or you can deny—those are your choices.
***Unbeknownst to most people there are 2 stories of creation that are woven together in the bible.The first is the stroy of adam and eve, the scond is the 7 day story. When The Jew's homeland was taken over by the Sumerians, a large number of jews fled south to egypt where they were promptly enslaved. The jews were basically split into a northern or sumerian half and the southern or egyptian half. Now as egypt fell and the romans took over the sumerians, both halfs of the jewish culture returned to their homeland. When they returned they decided to write out their history which up to this time had been all oral. So the elders all came together and they discovered that there stories of creation were completely different. the Sumerians had the adam and eve story while the Egyptians had the 7 day story. To settle this they just wove both into the torrah together.
Third, there are not two stories of creation. I understand what you are asserting. Genesis 1:1-2:3 is what you call the seven day story, and Genesis 2:4-2:25 is what you call the Adam and Eve story. It should be distinguished, however, that the seven day story is, as Genesis 2:4 says “…the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created.” The first portion of the creation account is meant to give a larger picture of how God created the world, i.e., the plants, animals, etc. The Adam and Eve account is meant to show how God created human begins and to explain how sin entered the world. Each story has a very different focus. They are not two stories woven together to make one. One is meant to provide detail to the other. Furthermore, your account of the Jews is rather faulty on many points; however, I will only draw two observations. A) The Pentateuch (Genesis through Deuteronomy) is strongly deduced to be written by Moses, not by the “elders” of the two Jewish sects, and B) Rome wasn’t build in a day, nor was it present during the time the Pentateuch was written.
***Now my question to you is which one do you belive in? How do you know this isn'tthe only MAJOR story that hasn't been changed through a long told game of telephone? What I'm trying to say is, how do we know that the bible isn't just folklore? It may just be a bunch of garbled up stories that have over time been greatly embellished time and time again. This is the best example I have found, and I do think that there are more in the old testement, but I haven't looked into the new testement all that much.
To answer your own question, you don’t have to choose between the two parts of the creation account, they can both be affirmed without conflict. In addition, your reference to “a long game of telephone” undermines the importance of oral tradition in ancient and even modern day cultures. The game of telephone works like it does because people are whispering to one another, providing many opportunities for faulty transmission of information. On the other hand, the oral tradition focuses on passing information accurately from tribe leader to tribe leader, so that the masses would understand the history of the tribe. Retelling the same story is the point of the oral tradition. Next, we do not have any absolute proof that the Bible is not “folklore,” but then the same could be said for the rest of history. Did you know that the written documentation on the life and person of Caesar Augustus is miniscule compared to the vast compilation of Biblical manuscripts, yet no one doubts his existence or the historical account of his person-hood. Historically speaking, the Bible is one of the most complete, well-documented pieces of ancient literature of which our world has to speak.
***The other major problem I have with the bible is that it has been translated so many times into so many different versions, that I don't think I can really trust it. Even if I really wanted to, I know it has been more than likely falsifeid during translation, especially since it has been under the influence of the Catholic church. I always grew up with my parents teaching me about god but never taking me to church. It was all instilled in me, but not by a pro or by the masses. I later found organized religion to be nothing more than people telling people how to live their lives and how to worship a "god". Then I found out that the vatican (the catholic capitol where the pope lives etch) is not only the smallest nation in the world but also, by far the richest.
Concerning the translations of the Bible comment, I must object to your assumption that different versions have been falsified. All major versions of the Bible come from the original Hebrew (Old Testament) and Greek (New Testament) manuscripts. There are different type of translations for different purposes. For example the King James Version is considered a “literal” translation because it is translated almost word for word. The New International Version, however, is considered an idiomatic translation, because the meaning of the Hebrew or Greek is considered in translation and the language is adjusted to reflect the modern equivalent. The old Living Bible is not even considered a translation, but rather a paraphrase. A guy named Taylor rewrote the KJV so that his kids could understand the Bible better. All major translations have been scrutinized for accuracy and while small mistakes in particular words may occur, you can bet other theologians and historians bring them to light. Furthermore, the Catholic church did not give us the Bible. If any modern day denomination of Christianity helped form the Bible, it was the Orthodox church. The Eastern church (Orthodox) split from the West (what came to be known as the Roman Catholic church) in the Great Schism of 1054. We had the books of the Bible before the 11th century. On your upbringing, I don’t know what your parents taught you about faith, spirituality, and Christianity, but if they never took you to church, I would assume that it wasn’t an essential part of their own lives. I do concede that a large section of faithful church goers are merely going through the motions, fulfilling a “requirement” in their lives, but there are many who attend because it is an essential part of their spiritual development. Yes, people tell other people how to live, but isn’t that society at large? It has nothing to do with church; it’s human nature to pass along your own experiences in the form of life lessons. This web site is filled with recommendations for how we think, discuss, and act—uh oh… maybe we are in church right now.
***Upon all of this I had to turn my back on christianity as a whole. I just don't feel I can trust it. I tried really hard to get it but I just couldn't trust any part of it. I never liked churches, so I turned to the bible at home. Not only could I not understand it but it is more than likely stories and lies. With out any trust or respect for this religion, I could not belive in it. I am not a person to just believe in something blindly, I can't just hold on because I want to. After a year of struggling with it, I had to let go.
It appears that through misinformation you have turned your back on Christianity. You say you don’t trust it, but what you are really saying is you don’t trust the church and many Christians you have met. Christianity is a belief system of how the world is supposed to operate. Truth be known, if the world operated on its principles, we would live in a utopia. We all hold on to things that we don’t fully understand. We don’t have complete knowledge of everything, yet we have faith. This is the essence of Christianity and most other world religions. Faith is believing in something that is not seen or fully understood. If Christianity were 100% without a doubt correct, it would require no faith to believe in its message.
***However in the long run it has been great for me. I find my self a much stronger person for it. I realized trhat religion is nothing more than a crutch for the weak. It is just something that weak people need to lean on when they can't figure something out. Me? I don't have that any more. It has taken off blinders that I previously had on. For the first Time I am standing on my own legs and seeing things clearly
Finally, you claim you are a much stronger person because of your abandonment of Christianity, and that religion is a crutch for the week. You juxtapose your “self-made man” assurance with the “weakness” of those who have faith in Jesus Christ. Just a reminder, some of the strongest humans in the world have placed their trust and faith in Christ. Up to the 18th century, a degree in theology was the highest level of education sought by academics and there have been vast numbers of emperors, rulers, and kings who have held Christianity as their own. Most philosophers, whose thoughts are echoed in the discussions on this site, had faith in Christ’s message. Yes, Christianity appeals to the weak and down trodden, but that is its nature. It doesn’t hide that fact, it states it clearly in the Beatitudes (Sermon on the Mount). You may not need Christianity, because you have other things to fill the void in your life, but for many who struggle to provide their families with something to eat, or who don’t know where they will sleep, belief in Christ gives them hope that something better awaits them in the afterlife. Please don’t judge the poor of the world from your rich American throne (and don’t say you are not rich—even the poorest Americans have more than most of the world population). You claim you have taken off your blinders, but I would purport that you have put them on. Better yet, you have placed a blindfold over your eyes, and plugs in your ears, but you left your mouth uncovered so that you may shout your own thoughts freely. You claim that you have gained clarity, but I think it is all of us that are seeing you more clearly. Whether you want to admit it or not, you are still searching. Don’t give up… the struggle is the journey.
posted by (anonymous) on Thursday, 7/4/2002:
the religion is false, but the happiness is real
posted by Cheeses Crust on Friday, 7/5/2002:
What a cold, hard kick in the uterus.
I want more.
posted by malcolmmasher on Friday, 7/5/2002:
This is kind of a response to (anonymous) above. You can't prove or disprove the existence of God (or any divine/supernatural entity of your choice). Thus, you can't call them false without being rude and making unsubstantiated assumptions. In other words: someone's religion is their business, not yours. You can go ahead and think they're stupid if you like; nobody can, or should, stop you. But telling them so is rude, insulting, and impossible to back up with proof.
posted by (anonymous) on Saturday, 7/6/2002:
blah blah blah malcolm you can talk and talk and talk but it doesn't change the fact that it's pretty much exposed by now... the more educated and free-thinking pretty much establishes that there is no god(at least as described by the christian faith)... and while we can turn this particular issue into a religious debate, that's fine.. but don't attack me for making a small comment under the assumption that there is no god... if you want some evidence in the atheist's defense, look it up elsewhere, because there have been some pretty hard facts that have been presented before in the past...
posted by Smartyr on Saturday, 7/6/2002:
I am rewrting this article as I type. But I want to say now that my first article was not intended to be that big, it evolved after I got into it. it was meant to just tell the 2 stories, but I got going. As for your last paragraph, what an asshole you are. I will rip your sorry ass apart on that one. You can back up the others with more myths, but on that one you stuck your foot in your mouth buddy
posted by smartyr on Saturday, 7/6/2002:
I would like to say one thing. This arguement is damn near pointless. I doubt that these articles will change anyone's beliefs. most people are way to stuck to xtianity to go out. and those who question it almost always fall it. When I rewrite my article I hope it to be all they need. But they have to start the questioning first. I can't really start that. so if anyone reads either of these articles and is swung one way or another by the arguments made, PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD EMAIL ME> I want to know if jason or myself helped anyone, or if we are arguing in vain. Neither of us will ever change our mind. despite the fact that he is wrong(-:
posted by jethro on Saturday, 7/6/2002:
WOW smartyr, your more ignorant then i first thought, this isnt a matter of who is right or wrong, jason isn't trying to change your beliefs, he is merily pointing out the weaknesses in your beliefs so that you can evolve and not stay so close minded, its what smart people do, i guess your name really is nothing more then play on words.
posted by Smartyr on Sunday, 7/7/2002:
Eat shit and die jethro. You are no better than the trendy assholes at the mall that call people fags to make themseleves feel big. I have already evolved out of xtianity, so I can't evolve back in. I feel that most christians are more closed minded than most aethiests, because we have the balls to look out of a religion, where as you don't.
Jay, I may have went a little over board on the first one at 2 am yesterday, but I meant it at the time, I didn't mean to be that insulting now that I read back, but I do feel that you were rather hypocritcal in what you said. give me some time to respond fully
posted by Smartyr on Sunday, 7/7/2002:
IN a calmer response to jethro I would like to point out that I am rewriting this artickle and that my thoughts will be much better represented. GImme a few more days... I take it you are still a christian, unfortunate for you. You can't call me close minded untill you have looked outside the blinders of your religion. This isn't a matter of right or wrong, note the smily face> we are simply debating over beliefs.... By the way, i'd like to see your lazy ass write some articles, rather than spending all you time ripping on mine so you can feel better about yourself
posted by Cheeses Crust on Sunday, 7/7/2002:
You know smartyr, you'd be surprised at how many christians in this country really don't care about their religion. They call themselves christians so they won't be looked dow upon.
I find it interesting that some atheists such as you claim to be have nothing better to do that bitch about religion. It's one thing to say religion sucks if people start discussing it, but to constantly put christians down and claim to be athiest doesn't seem to be a mark of intelligence.
posted by jethro on Sunday, 7/7/2002:
well there smartyr, i never said if i was a christian or not, that was just your wild assumtion. these trendy assholes you talk about sound alot like you but insted of calling people fags you label them as christians. if you claim to be such a educated atheist then why dont you discuss other religions, as you know there are three main ones, why must you constinantly refer to christianity? besides smartyr devout christians such as jason have been nothing but nice to you and listen to your ideas, it is you who is bullheaded and using such trendy non-educated words that do not infact express your point
posted by Shannon on Sunday, 7/7/2002:
Well, Smartyr... It seems like you definitely should take more time to gather your thoughts. Perhaps if you THOUGHT about what you wanted to communicate rather than spouting off so quickly, your postings might actually make sense. By the way, what “more educated and free thinking” group might you be referring to? And where exactly have those “cold, hard facts” been presented? If you are so much more enlightened than the others posting here, why don’t you take your extensive knowledge and extreme intelligence and do something worthwhile with it, instead of just making uneducated, ill-informed statements about others?
posted by jethro on Sunday, 7/7/2002:
oh yeah, dont you ever call me jay, im not your buddy
posted by someguy on Monday, 7/8/2002:
yea shannon is right, u should think these out a bit more. Also id like to apologize for being out of this discussion until now but i was on vacation with some honeys. but maybe u should rite more about things u know b/c u are just like jocks and label people u arent free thinking at all u have just labeled yourself as one and suck up to jeremy and his thoughts as much as possible
posted by BELIEF IN NOTHING on Monday, 7/8/2002:
"Christianity is a belief system of how the world is supposed to operate. Truth be known, if the world operated on its principles, we would live in a utopia."
Hey! With any perfect ideal, if everyone operated one day, we'd have utopia no matter what the belief was! Take anyone's mindset and think, if everyone thought of things in the same way as he did, that world would work. Christianity is no more then just one of many ideas of how the world works.
"Faith is believing in something that is not seen or fully understood. If Christianity were 100% without a doubt correct, it would require no faith to believe in its message. "
Hah.. you make it sound like religion is giving confidence to the ignorant!
posted by jerome on Friday, 7/12/2002:
jason has offered an excellent perspective, without sounding dogmatic. i would like to see him write more articles soon.
posted by Jeremy Hammond on Sunday, 7/14/2002:
My comments are available here in my new article.
posted by dhruv on Sunday, 7/14/2002:
earlier on this page were a few posts about 'proving' the existece of God.
with regards to the existence of God, there is certainly no proof, or almost no proof, except for such evidence as statistics on the healing qualities of prayer etc. it is an individual belief, and such occurrences can be attributed to God, or coincidence, as according to the person's own beliefs.
however, i will make one point for smartyr: scientifically speaking, God might just be at the disadvantage. the basic system of science is that the simplest theory stands.
posted by dhruv on Sunday, 7/14/2002:
which is easier to say, that everything occurs due to an unknown force that can't be seen, heard, touched, tasted or smelt, doesn't give a sign of His existence and is still the coordinator of this world, or to simply say that everything happens due to cause-and-effect? the simpler theory outrules God, and scientifically speaking, denies His existence.
i am not trying to be blasphemous (God forgive me if i have; i am a theist), and despite this little approach, i still believe in Him. i would thus have to agree with smartyr that these postings are probably not going to change anyone's beliefs, but also with jethro that they should help one evaluate them.
i look forward to smartyr's rewrite.
posted by smartyr on Wednesday, 7/17/2002:
Dhruv, you are exactly what I was hoping to see more of here. people who are open minded about faith. I am glad you have your faith but thankful that you respect mine and that you don't have to put it down just cuz you disagreee with it.I hope to hear more from you in the future
posted by santos on Wednesday, 7/17/2002:
i am very open minded about the faith of others. in the above article, i never put you down because i disagreed with you. i merely pointed out some problems in your assertions. i deconstructed your argument, that is, i uncovered its weaknesses. if you really wish to build a case against Christianity, that's perfectly O.K. with me... just build a sound one.
posted by dhruv on Wednesday, 7/17/2002:
this is a little observation that has been made before by many spiritual leaders:
God might be 'disproven' by science, and so might be all sorts of religious beliefs (the birth of christ by a virgin, moses parting the red sea..), but religion and science and merely two different ways of looking at life.
science looks at life, or its subject matter in completeness, in three 'layers':
observable reality, quantum reality and 'virtual' reality. the last one comprises things which are speculatory but very much a part of science, beyond the realms of composite matter. for example, the beginning of the universe.
posted by dhruv on Wednesday, 7/17/2002:
religion makes similar speculations on life, but perhaps from a different standpoint altogether. science will *attribute* things to different causes, whereas religion will link these to, perhaps, theological ones. the factual matter which it is based on, however, is the very same, common to both approaches.
while smartyr’s “fallout with Christianity” is linked to scientific disbelief, the (evidently vast) opposition criticizes him on the basis of religious belief. perhaps it is smartyr being a sensationalist, or the opposition being shocked by the newness of his ideas.
posted by (anonymous) on Friday, 8/30/2002:
dhruv, you make several good arguements, however you miss one important point in our criticization of smartyr: we're not criticizing him for his religious belief, we're criticizing him for the poor way he's developing his religious belief. Or at least that's the case with me...
posted by anonomous on Monday, 9/9/2002:
lets just solve this whole religion thing with a simple flip of a coin-heads, there is a god and everything in the bible is real and true - tails, there is no god. Got it? *flips.....
posted by Smartyr on Sunday, 9/29/2002:
why does santos saying he's open minded about religion sound disturbingly like my mom saying she's still with it?
posted by santos on Wednesday, 11/6/2002:
one can be open minded without accepting other's views. i consider logically sound points, informed perspectives, and all human experiences. i'm willing to admit the weaknesses of the christian perspective, are you willing to admit the weaknesses of your own smartyr?