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

#1
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#2
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
"Is Christianity worth saving? That question isn’t even on the table. Christianity may be this institution that is so much a part of our culture, and it’s so intertwined with who we are, but don’t we need to ask, is this something we really have to preserve and protect?
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Is Christianity worth saving? ... How do we move forward in light of this cultural tradition that we have?"
This is a question for Christians among whom I am not a member so I will leave it for them to decide.


I think we need to be super hard on Christianity and demand that it delivers the goods scientifically, historically, sociologically in terms of really dealing with what it means to us. I think we should really hold it to the test. And when we do that with people who are really open and honest and bright like Mark Vernon there is a path forward. But I would suggest that the Christians who are not as willing to deal with all that their tradition has meant all the ways that their tradition has is provably demonstrably out of sync with science with history I think those people are going to be left in the dust.
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"
http://theweek.com/articles/551027/how-christianity-invented-children


How Christianity invented children

Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry

We have forgotten just how deep a cultural revolution Christianity wrought. In fact, we forget about it precisely because of how deep it was: There are many ideas that we simply take for granted as natural and obvious, when in fact they didn't exist until the arrival of Christianity changed things completely. Take, for instance, the idea of children.

Today, it is simply taken for granted that the innocence and vulnerability of children makes them beings of particular value, and entitled to particular care. We also romanticize children — their beauty, their joy, their liveliness. Our culture encourages us to let ourselves fall prey to our gooey feelings whenever we look at baby pictures. What could be more natural?

In fact, this view of children is a historical oddity. If you disagree, just go back to the view of children that prevailed in Europe's ancient pagan world.

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High infant mortality rates created a cultural pressure to not develop emotional attachments to children. This cultural pressure was exacerbated by the fact that women were more likely to develop emotional attachments to children — which, according to the worldview of the day, meant it had to be a sign of weakness and vulgarity.

Various pagan authors describe children as being more like plants than human beings. And this had concrete consequences.

Well-to-do parents typically did not interact with their children, leaving them up to the care of slaves. Children were rudely brought up, and very strong beatings were a normal part of education. In Rome, a child's father had the right to kill him for whatever reason until he came of age.

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One of the most notorious ancient practices that Christianity rebelled against was the frequent practice of expositio, basically the abandonment of unwanted infants. (Of course, girls were abandoned much more often than boys, which meant, as the historical sociologist Rodney Stark has pointed out, that Roman society had an extremely lopsided gender ratio, contributing to its violence and permanent tension.)

Another notorious practice in the ancient world was the sexual exploitation of children.
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Think back on expositio. According to our sources, most abandoned children died — but some were "rescued," almost inevitably into slavery. And the most profitable way for a small child slave to earn money was as a sex slave. Brothels specializing in child sex slaves, particularly boys, were established, legal, and thriving businesses in ancient Rome.
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Of course, the rich didn't have to bother with brothels — they had all the rights to abuse their slaves (and even their children) as they pleased. And, again, this was perfectly licit.
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This is the world into which Christianity came, calling attention to children and ascribing special worth to them. Church leaders meditated on Jesus' instruction to imitate children and proposed ways that Christians should look up to and become more like them.
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But really, Christianity's invention of children — that is, its invention of the cultural idea of children as treasured human beings — was really an outgrowth of its most stupendous and revolutionary idea: the radical equality, and the infinite value, of every single human being as a beloved child of God. If the God who made heaven and Earth chose to reveal himself, not as an emperor, but as a slave punished on the cross, then no one could claim higher dignity than anyone else on the basis of earthly status.

That was indeed a revolutionary idea, and it changed our culture so much that we no longer even recognize it.


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http://www.evolutionnews.org/2015/05/for_its_moral_i095901.html


For Its Moral Ideals, Evolutionary Materialism "Freeloads" on Christianity

Nancy Pearcey May 8, 2015

Westerners pride themselves on holding noble ideals such as equality and universal human rights. Yet the dominant worldview of our day -- evolutionary materialism -- denies the reality of human freedom and gives no basis for moral ideals such as human rights.

So where did the idea of equal rights come from?

The 19th-century political thinker Alexis de Tocqueville said it came from Christianity. "The most profound geniuses of Rome and Greece" never came up with the idea of equal rights, he wrote. "Jesus Christ had to come to earth to make it understood that all members of the human species are naturally alike and equal."

The 19th-century atheist Friedrich Nietzsche agreed: "Another Christian concept ... has passed even more deeply into the tissue of modernity: the concept of the 'equality of souls before God.' This concept furnishes the prototype of all theories of equal rights."

Contemporary atheist Luc Ferry says the same thing. We tend to take the concept of equality for granted; yet it was Christianity that overthrew ancient social hierarchies between rich and poor, masters and slaves. "According to Christianity, we were all 'brothers,' on the same level as creatures of God," Ferry writes. "Christianity is the first universalist ethos."

The Confession of Richard Rorty

A few intrepid atheists admit outright that they have to borrow the ideal of human rights from Christianity. Philosopher Richard Rorty was a committed Darwinist, and in the Darwinian struggle for existence, the strong prevail while the weak are left behind. So evolution cannot be the source of universal human rights. Instead, Rorty says, the concept came from "religious claims that human beings are made in the image of God." He cheerfully admits that he reaches over and borrows the concept of universal rights from Christianity. He even called himself a "freeloading" atheist: "This Jewish and Christian element in our tradition is gratefully invoked by freeloading atheists like myself."

At the birth of our nation, the American founders deemed it self-evident that human rights must be grounded in God. The Declaration of Independence leads off with those bright, blazing words: "We hold these truths to be self-evident -- that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights."

In the summer of 2013, a beer company sparked controversy when it released an advertisement for Independence Day that deleted the crucial words "by their Creator." The ad said, "They are endowed with certain unalienable rights." (Endowed by whom?) The advertisement is emblematic of what many secularists do: They borrow ideals like equality and rights from a biblical worldview but cut them off from their source in the Creator. They are freeloaders. Christians and Jews should reclaim those noble ideals, making the case that they are logically supported only by a biblical worldview.

Atheists often denounce the Bible as harsh and negative. But in reality it offers a much more positive view of the human person than any competing religion or worldview. It is so appealing that adherents of other worldviews keep freeloading the parts they like best.
More articles by Nancy Pearcey
http://www.discovery.org/scripts/viewDB/index.php?command=submitSearchQuery&query=Nancy Pearcey&orderBy=date&orderDir=DESC&searchBy=author&searchType=all&includeBlogPosts=truecommand=submitSearchQuery&query=Nancy Pearcey&orderBy=date&orderDir=DESC&searchBy=author&searchType=all&includeBlogPosts=true



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http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2013/10/01/a_response_to_richard_dawkins_120165.html
Years ago, I interviewed Pearl and Sam Oliner, two professors of sociology at California State University at Humboldt and the authors of one of the most highly-regarded works on altruism, The Altruistic Personality. The book was the product of the Oliners' lifetime of study of non-Jewish rescuers of Jews during the Holocaust.

The Oliners, it should be noted, are secular, not religious, Jews; they had no religious agenda.

I asked Samuel Oliner, "Knowing all you now know about who rescued Jews during the Holocaust, if you had to return as a Jew to Poland and you could knock on the door of only one person in the hope that they would rescue you, would you knock on the door of a Polish lawyer, a Polish doctor, a Polish artist or a Polish priest?"

Without hesitation, he said, "a Polish priest."

...


To put this as clearly as possible: If there is no God who says, "Do not murder," murder is not wrong. Many people or societies may agree that it is wrong. But so what? Morality does not derive from the opinion of the masses. If it did, then apartheid was right; murdering Jews in Nazi Germany was right; the history of slavery throughout the world was right; and clitoridectomies and honor killings are right in various Muslims societies.

So, then, without God, why is murder wrong?

Is it, as Dawkins argues, because reason says so?

My reason says murder is wrong, just as Dawkins's reason does. But, again, so what? The pre-Christian Germanic tribes of Europe regarded the Church's teaching that murder was wrong as preposterous. They reasoned that killing innocent people was acceptable and normal because the strong should do whatever they wanted.

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http://ncu9nc.blogspot.com/2015/03/video-lecture-by-john-lennox-explains.html

Andrew Sims

Andrew Sims, past president of Royal College of Psychiatrists, has said: "The advantageous effect of religious belief and spirituality on mental and physical health is one of the best kept secrets in psychiatry and medicine generally. If the findings of the huge volume of research on this topic had gone in the opposite direction and it had been found that religion damages your mental health, it would have been front-page news in every newspaper in the land (from Is Faith Delusion)."

more

In the majority of studies, religious involvement is correlated with well-being, happiness and life satisfaction; hope and optimism; purpose and meaning in life; higher self-esteem; better adaptation to bereavement; greater social support and less loneliness; lower rates of depression and faster recovery from depression; lower rates of suicide and fewer positive attitudes towards suicide; less anxiety; less psychosis and fewer psychotic tendencies; lower rates of alcohol and drug use and abuse; less delinquency and criminal activity; greater marital stability and satisfaction… We concluded that for the vast majority of people the apparent benefits of devout belief and practice probably outweigh the risks.

Jürgen Habermas

For the normative self-understanding of modernity, Christianity has functioned as more than just a precursor or catalyst. Universalistic egalitarianism, from which sprang the ideals of freedom and a collective life in solidarity, the autonomous conduct of life and emancipation, the individual morality of conscience, human rights and democracy, is the direct legacy of the Judaic ethic of justice and the Christian ethic of love. This legacy, substantially unchanged, has been the object of a continual critical reappropriation and reinterpretation. Up to this very day there is no alternative to it. And in light of the current challenges of a post-national constellation, we must draw sustenance now, as in the past, from this substance. Everything else is idle postmodern talk.[37][38][39][40]

From the video:

Behind the European Declaration of Human Rights lies Christianity, behind universities, hospices, hospitals, lies Christianity, behind the abolition of slavery lies Christianity. It is a delusion that Christianity has done no good what so ever.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

“Over a half century ago, while I was still a child, I recall hearing a number of old people offer the following explanation for the great disasters that had befallen Russia: "Men have forgotten God; that's why all this has happened." Since then I have spent well-nigh 50 years working on the history of our revolution; in the process I have read hundreds of books, collected hundreds of personal testimonies, and have already contributed eight volumes of my own toward the effort of clearing away the rubble left by that upheaval. But if I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous revolution that swallowed up some 60 million of our people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat: "Men have forgotten God; that's why all this has happened.”

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http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/29/o...s-kristof-a-little-respect-for-dr-foster.html
Today, among urban Americans and Europeans, “evangelical Christian” is sometimes a synonym for “rube.” In liberal circles, evangelicals constitute one of the few groups that it’s safe to mock openly.

Yet the liberal caricature of evangelicals is incomplete and unfair. I have little in common, politically or theologically, with evangelicals or, while I’m at it, conservative Roman Catholics. But I’ve been truly awed by those I’ve seen in so many remote places, combating illiteracy and warlords, famine and disease, humbly struggling to do the Lord’s work as they see it, and it is offensive to see good people derided.​


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I never heard of atheism helping anyone to turn their life around the way religion has done for many people.

Neither of professional musician Dan Conway's parents were religious and he was an atheist until he felt his life was going in the wrong direction...

The relevant part of the video starts at 9:38


"In some way's I guess things were going well. As you said I got to perform on Australia's Got Talent. ... I'm no stranger to the music business so ... I had a record deal when I was 16 with Sony and another one sometime later I think with EMI. So I was no stranger to all that. But, I was actually really unhappy. And I was only growing more unhappy. And I wasn't living well. The more time went on the more I was hurting myself and others. It wasn't pretty. I came to a place where I just want to think ... maybe there's something to this God thing and maybe I missed it. So I thought, I want to know. I want to know I don't really want to be into what feels good or what suits me I actaully want to know what's the truth."
This was an from an atheist from birth, born to atheist parents being skeptical about atheism: "I don't really want to be into what feels good or what suits me. I actually want to know what's the truth".

"And so I committed I'm going to figure it out. I'm going to commit to following the evidence wherever it leads. I became a regular debate viewer on line and read books on God and his existence. When I got real radical I'd listen to a sermon or two. All as an atheist. But the most crucial part of that was really when I examined my own heart and did that the very last. But when I saw what was in there and when I considered who Jesus might be that led me to believe in God. Everything changed at that point. I guess I had a really a change of being. Somewhere deep I don't even know where. And that changed my thinking my desires, my outlook, so I guess it was natural that my music changed with it."


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Neither of professional musician Dan Conway's parents were religious and he was an atheist until he felt his life was going in the wrong direction...
I've heard and read a lot of stories like this and it is one of the reasons I have a generally favorable opinion of religion. This type of evidence shows that there is something good in religion and rather than rejecting all religion because some of it is bad, we should try to understand what is good in it and figure out how to use that in a practical way to improve people's well being.


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"Organized religion: Is it all bad?"

It seems to have helped Lee Strobel.

Strobel is a journalist and his research into the authenticity of the Gospels transformed his life. He started out as an atheist skeptic but when he used his credentials as a reporter to get access to the worlds leading historians, the results of his research made a believer out of him.


"... [believing] began a transformational process for me where over time my philosophy and my attitudes, relationships, parenting, world-view, all of that began to change over time for good. Really for good."

"When Lee became a Christian his whole life started to change to the extent that our five year old daughter who also saw those changes went to her Sunday school teacher and told her that she wanted Jesus to do in her life what He had done in her Daddy's life."​


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Organized religion: Is it all bad?
I would say not, one reason - the Discovery Institute which funds a lot of research (by Stephen Meyer, William Dembski, Douglas Axe et al.) and education programs on intelligent design gets substantial funding from evangelical Christian foundations and individuals.

From an historical perspective, it is sadly, bafflingly, ironic that we have come to such a state where academic and scientific freedom have been turned on their heads to the extent that scientists who are critical of Darwinism have to go to religious organizations for funding.

However science and religion do not have to be opposed to each other, should not be opposed to each other, and it is unfortunate that the division ever came about. To the ancient Greeks there was no separation. Maybe it is a good thing that now at least in this area science and religion can work together.

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Here is another example of religion and science complimenting each other. It is a fact sheet produced by the Magis Center of Reason and Faith outlining the evidence from the big bang and the fine tuning of the universe that the universe was created by a transcendent creator....

http://www.magiscenter.com/pdf/Magis_FactSheet.pdf
By Fr. Robert Spitzer, S.J., PhD.
The Magis Center of Reason and Faith is a private, non-profit organization dedicated to explaining the consistency between science and spirituality in contemporary physics. In the past ten years, implications of transcendence in physics, philosophy of mathematics, and metaphysics have become more pronounced. Indeed, no other decade in history has revealed more or better evidence for God. So what is this evidence?
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As you will see from this fact sheet, if you put all this evidence together, it strongly leads to the conclusion that the universe was created by a trans-universal (supernatural) power. The evidence also indicates that this transuniversal power is highly intelligent. Fred Hoyle, one of the world’s most prominent astrophysists and an ardent atheist, completely changed his mind when he examined some of this evidence.
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While this information is readily available to those who know where to look, very few people are aware of these breakthroughs in our ability to understand Creation scientifically. The Magis Center is working on a wide range of initiatives designed to deliver this information to the public, from documentaries to academic curricula and new media. This fact sheet provides a brief overview of the argument for a Creator combining physics and basic logic.
...
 
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#4
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?"
 
#5
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.
 
#7
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.]
 
#9
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 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
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
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.
 
#11
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

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.


 
#12
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.
 
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#13
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.
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.
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#14
I am pro all religion, because firstly I am sympathetic with Vedic philosophy, specifically
Gaudiya Vaishnavism,
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.
 
#15
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) :)
 
#16
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.

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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