Mod+ 275. MARK VERNON, IS CHRISTIANITY WORTH SAVING?

Discussion in 'Skeptiko Shows' started by Alex, May 12, 2015.

  1. Alex

    Alex New

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  2. erickh

    erickh New

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    Is Christianity worth saving? There is a pretty wide range of Christian churches out there so it is hard to make a blanket statement. However if you are talking about the fundamentalist variety that believe the Bible is infallible and the earth is 6000 yrs old then I would say No.

    There are certainly good parts of Christianity that are worth saving but it is up to the people themselves. If they stop attending the churches will close. I'm certainly against any possible legislation in making churches stop teaching obviously false doctrine, such as young earth creationism.
     
  3. This is a question for Christians among whom I am not a member so I will leave it for them to decide.


    The Amish are doing quite well financially and otherwise farming the dust. For some people, the threat of being left in the dust is not a problem that needs to be avoided.

    You can demand whatever you want but I don't think it is realistic to expect all Christians will agree with your view of history and science and morality. If you can't get mainstream scientists to recognize the afterlife, why do you expect Christians to accept your own views of the afterlife? If you can't get historical scholars to agree on history, why do you expect Christians to accept your views of history?

    Each person will find his truth where he chooses. My beliefs are based on empirical evidence from psychical research. I don't look to religion for truth and for that reason I am free to pick and chose what I please from religion. I look to religion for inspiration, and practical knowledge that science ignores, such as meditation, prayer, energy healing, and psychic development. There are no religions I consider to be exactly right in every point of doctrine including those I follow: Spiritualism and Buddhism. (Science has had its shameful episodes too - eugenics, innumerable retractions, weapons development, pollution, banned pesticides and pharmaceuticals. Materialism and naturalism are scams that continue to do immense harm to individuals and civilization. Is science worth saving? Maybe the Amish are right.) It is just a fact of reality that each person has to use his judgment and decide what to accept and what to reject. For that reason I try to use what I find good in Christianity and other religions and I don't demand that they change to satisfy my requirements. Some Christians think the religions I follow are evil, (so I understand the problems members of GLBT community have with Christianity) but I don't let that prevent me from benefiting from what is good in Christianity.

    I recognize the immense and under appreciated value of the contributions of Christianity to civilization and I admire the spirituality and love that many Christians whom I know live by and which they get from their religion. They have been inspirations and role models to me. You can take any field of human endeavor and list all the problems with it and make it sound like a curse on humanity but to make a sound judgment you have to consider the benefits as well as the costs.

    Here are some of my posts from the "Organized reliigion: is it all bad thread"
     
    Last edited: May 13, 2015
  4. Saiko

    Saiko Member

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    With all due respect for Alex, this is simply a dumb avenue to travel down. Christianity is not going away. Beyond that "should it be saved?" is like asking " is chocolate the best flavor ice-cream?" Why not ask "is vanilla the best?" Or in this case "Should Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, Wicca, Materialism or whatever be saved?"
     
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  5. Johnny

    Johnny New

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    I think Christianity and the Bible has a more mystical power than peoples misuse of it.

    And I don't think for one second that atheism or atheists have a superior framework for life over Christianity, or that the idea of exposing Christianity for its atrocities and prejudices is an adequate call for it's replacement or abolishment. Or that the development of the world would have progressed better without it. Or that our progress thus far would be guaranteed under another regime.



    I have yet to see Christian apologetics took apart, in fact it's the opposite, and watched William Lane Craig bury Sam Harris on the argument for the foundation of morality. Richard Dawkins was accused of cowardice by a fellow atheist for declining to debate William Lane Craig, And even Christopher Hitchens didn't beat William Lane Craig. Although I can't say I have heard the arguments by those mentioned by Alex, I will take the time to analyse them.


    Same sex marriage is now legal in the UK, so I don't think it will take forever for other Christian nations to adopt the same line of reasoning.


    Take away a persons religion and replace it with what? All you get is people's own concoctions, and having to trust the human race to adhere to legitimate duty's and objective morals, is futile.


    I'm not a Christian but I have nothing against people who want to be, and want to truly adopt the values of Jesus, and as equally important, want to have a spiritual relationship and walk by faith with God in their hearts.

    I am pro all religions, as long as the practice doesn't hinder or harm another person. I'm not sure about Islam, but true teachings of Christianity and Hinduism and Bhuddism, teach at their core, peace and harmony to all mankind. And anything else is a perversion of scripture. It's easy enough to go to any part of the book and cherry pick, but the core message of the book is love for all humanity and for God. At least in my opinion anyway.
     
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  6. Alex

    Alex New

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    have you guys listened to the podcast... not a requirement... it just is a different conversation for those who have.

    Mark's dialogs with Rupert might also be relevant to the conversation.
     
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  7. Michael Larkin

    Michael Larkin Member

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    Alex's question at the end of the interview:

    Is Christianity worth saving? How do we move forward in light of this cultural tradition?


    [Alex thinks we need to be "super hard" on Christianity and demand it deliver the goods: scientifically, historically, sociologically (s,h,s)--in terms of dealing with what it's meant to us.

    He also thinks that doing that with people open to discussion (like Mark Vernon) could open a path forward. Those who cling to tradition that is out of sync with what we know (in terms of s,h,s) are going to be left in the dust.]
     
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  8. Bucky

    Bucky Member

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    That should tell you something about the "accuracy" of the "information" in RW :D
     
  9. David Bailey

    David Bailey Administrator

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    I have only listened to part of this interview so far, I decided to save the rest until I have a little more time to complete it.

    I think it is a really valuable interview.

    Jonny wrote:
    I agree that the real question is whether traditional religions should be saved - we only put Christianity first because most of us here come from the West (plus Russia). I don't think that is an easy question to answer because while I take Mark's point that to remove Christianity from the cultural life of the West, would leave a huge hole, it is also true that Christianity and Islam at least have a huge destructive potential, that never seems to go away.

    Jonny, it is important to realise that the very message of Christianity may have been distorted by the early Church - you can't really separate out the Biblical message from various distortions applied later! The problem is that every group of people motivated by religion claim to be following the true interpretation - including ISIS!

    We can't actually make this change, so in a sense it is pointless to ask the question! I think the best we can hope for, is to gradually replace it with something else that would keep the beautiful places of worship and the music, but reinterpret them all in a new way that would be consistent with all the evidence we discuss here.

    Most of us here dislike mindless scepticism, but it is always important to remember what produced it. It comes above all from people who are sickened by the violence and suffering that Christianity and Islam have inflicted on mankind.

    David
     
  10. Michael Larkin

    Michael Larkin Member

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    Is Christianity worth saving? How do we move forward in light of this cultural tradition?

    There are over two billion Christians in the world, and that's increasing, so Christianity's hardly in need of saving right now. Perhaps we should ask ourselves: what it is about a relatively small number of people that emboldens them to ask the question in the first place?

    I think they ask it because, from their viewpoint, they perceive it's in an existential crisis, and they are either seeking some kind of spiritual remedy, or, conversely, have adopted materialism. And a lot of that may come from the two camps each in its own way being dissatisfied with formalised religion. Maybe it's a question of what can be done about that to make it more palatable, or, as in the case of people like Sheldrake, of adopting Christian tradition as a framework within which to consciously set one's spiritual practice.

    The relationship of religious formulations to the essence of Christianity is rather like that of legal systems, which are vastly complicated, to the rather simpler idea of justice, which everyone feels the need for. I agree with Sheldrake to the extent that Christianity is something I feel most comfortable with; but my own framework is highly personal and almost completely devoid of traditional elements such as Sunday observance, keeping feastdays, singing hymns, reciting prayers and so on.

    It could hardly be termed a framework, I suppose. It's rather nebulous and constructed around my ideas about spirituality, which are ever-evolving. I mean, how do I fit it in with my leaning to Idealism and Sufism for example? Somehow, I don't see these things as being in conflict: just as different facets of the same thing. A lot of the problem comes from seeing Christianity, or any religion, as being exclusive of all the rest, and of course, not every region of the world is at the same level of development--maybe Spiral Dynamics has something vaguely relevant to say about that.
     
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  11. Johnny

    Johnny New

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    Thank you David for your response, and I can understand where you are coming from, many people accuse religion for causing friction and violence and suffering, but I think it's easy to curse the darkness it is accused of and not so easy to hold it accountable for the light it shines in the world.

    I am pro all religion, because firstly I am sympathetic with Vedic philosophy, specifically
    Gaudiya Vaishnavism,
    Which aims for unity in diversity for all religions. And believes all roads lead to God. They do not concern themselves with convincing people to adopt their form of religion, but instead encourage people to follow the rules and regulations of their own religion, and they will be succesful in finding God.
    I believe the underlying principles in religion are not to cause violence and suffering but the total opposite, we can point to a few fringe groups like Isis, but they do not reflect the majority of Islamists, who are ashamed to be called associates of their faith. Simply because they do not reflect the opinions of the majority of Islamists.

    A quote by Oscar Wilde has always stuck with me,

    The more one analyses people, the more all reasons for analysis disappear. Sooner or later one comes to that dreadful universal thing called human nature.
    - Oscar Wilde

    We can blame
    religion for a great many things, that would only still exist in it's absence, wars would still happen, prejudice would still exist. mankind want of greed, or domination and power will not simply vanish, Even in the absence of religion, human nature is capable enough of causing the most outrageous atrocities, so it's easy to curse the darkness of religion but not so easy to make notable the light it shines, such as Christianity offering a framework or the very framework that has caused the progress of the western world, thus far, or the solace it offers for those who have lost loved ones, can anything be as valuable as that? Or is it better to believe there is nothing but a void after death, what about all the charitable causes and selfless acts by those who sincerely hold to the tenets of their faith. What about the spiritual connection it offers between an individual and God?

    Is Christianity worth saving? To me that is a loaded question, presupposing we have any power to save it or even abolish it. Or even replace it. Where does the foundation for morality come from, as I mentioned above, Sam Harris lost disgracefully to William lane Craig on this topic, science can only tell us what is, not what ought to be. Religion has its place in society, and if not misused, it can serve as a great framework for humanity.

    Of course not all people would agree with me, but that's how I see it. And until a better replacement is made, then I think it is worth saving, although I don't think I have a choice either way. It looks like it's here to stay. At least for now.


     
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  12. Typoz

    Typoz Member

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    Being brought up in the UK in a Church of England background, one might think I'd find a lot of common ground with Mark Vernon, but somehow I don't. I think the CofE influences in my schooldays were perhaps the biggest single reason for my becoming an atheist. For others the effect is perhaps more like apathy, it doesn't inspire. I suppose the issues I had as a child was that none of the dogma made any sense to me, but I wasn't bold enough to voice my objections at the time. Put most simply, I would just say that Jesus was not a Christian, and for me that's sufficient reason to not want to be part of it. (I could elaborate, but frankly it would not be helpful, such discussions stir up hostility rather than agreement).

    But to be more practical about it, over the centuries, the ordinary people were rather less free to openly voice dissent. That they can do so nowadays is not a sign of rejection of all spirituality, but instead perhaps a self-discovery and expression of spirituality. It is this vague spiritual sense in the population which is an untapped resource. The churches are no longer filled, because the message given out doesn't harmonise with the inner spiritual experiences of ordinary people. In this case I think it is Christianity which needs to change, to drop the role it played in previous centuries, of almost forcing its views upon the population, and instead accept more input from its members, become less hierarchical, less dogmatic, act in partnership as equals, rather than trying to play the role of a controlling parent.

    One thing which did resonate from Mark Vernon's comments, in Britain we do have some wonderful churches and cathedrals. It is often said that the church is not about the buildings. But in a way these are a valuable resource. It can be a breathtaking experience sometimes to simply step inside some of these great structures, it is almost enough to bring about a spiritual experience in its own right, without any ceremony or words being necessary. In this sense I would not want to see Christianity disappear, I don't want these places to become museums or commercial premises of one sort or another. I think the continuity of spiritual expression over hundreds of years is worth keeping going, though as I expressed earlier, I think the role of the clergy as well as the dogma may need to change.
     
    Last edited: May 13, 2015
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  13. Alex

    Alex New

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    you might want to give a listen to Sheldrake's Science Set Free podcast (if you haven't already). I found him to be more tied to traditional Christian ideas than I expected.
    .[/quote]
     
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  14. Alex

    Alex New

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    I get what you mean, but none of us are "pro all religion"... and we shouldn't be.

    I'm pro positive personal spiritual transformation in all forms... and believe/observe that Christianity (particularly the contemplative traditions) can be a great path. Mark makes this point nicely in the interview.
     
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  15. soulatman

    soulatman Member

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    I haven't heard the podcast yet,

    However, I wanted to get this in before the forum becomes awash with responses.

    I have recently stumbled across Gnostic Christianity, and I am absolutely amazed by it's richness, and depth. Finally finding a version of the Christian tradition where Jesus Christ suddenly really seems to be at home and to come alive through the overarching philosophy and theology of Gnosticism.

    Prior to finding Gnosticism, I must admit that I had totally given up on the many subtle flavours of the mainstream version of Christianity, and I was actually angry at the fear and oppression it placed upon the shoulders of the masses, both psychologically and spiritually.

    However, Gnosticism is like finding the missing link between all the great religions and their traditions of truth. It is invariably in the more esoteric and mystical traditions where what look like disagreements between the traditional versions of the religions, show themselves to be in reality an absolute agreement about the nature and purpose of existence. Compare the fundamental messages of the more mystical traditions of Buddhism and Hinduism, with Sufi Islam, Gnostic Christianity and mystical Judaism (eg Lurianic Kabbalah), and one is amazed to find the same fundamental truths taking centre stage in each one.

    I would argue a big yes, Christianity is worth saving ... But first and foremost, it needs to be saved from the Christians lol.

    My two pence (cents for my American cousins) :)
     
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  16. Johnny

    Johnny New

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    Sure Alex, And when I listen to your podcasts, it's like I do actually share very similar views with you, Being Pro positive spiritual transformations in all forms, sits well with me. I think I may have jumped the gun with my above responses and admittedly I didn't give this interview a fair enough hearing, at least to my own satisfaction. I will get round to it soon. And will refrain to comment further until I do.

    But to add, Guadiya Vaishnavism is in fact, Pro all religion, as long as it's an established authorized religion. it can be summed up nicely by George Harrison from the Beatles, as follows.


    From the Hindu perspective, each soul is divine. All religions are branches of one big tree. It doesn't matter what you call Him just as long as you call. Just as cinematic images appear to be real but are only combinations of light and shade, so is the universal variety a delusion. The planetary spheres, with their countless forms of life, are naught but figures in a cosmic motion picture. One's values are profoundly changed when he is finally convinced that creation is only a vast motion picture and that not in, but beyond, lies his own ultimate reality.
     
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  17. Bucky

    Bucky Member

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    That would be pennies, actually :)
     
  18. Typoz

    Typoz Member

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    I would have said penn'orth (for our British contingent) :)
     
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  19. Bucky

    Bucky Member

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    Had to look it up!
     
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  20. Michael Larkin

    Michael Larkin Member

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    I think I know what you mean.:)
     
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