Doug TenNapel – On Death

March 16, 2014

One of the reasons why I am a Christian is that this religion got what’s wrong with the world right. In my wanderings through philosophy and reason I went looking for any religion that would best demonstrate man’s great problem. All philosophies (including no philosophy) exist to address what’s wrong with the world. I found something wrong with the world, and I intuitively knew this from a very young age.

When I was four I remember both receiving cruelty from my peers as well as dealing it out to them. Doing bad was an act of religion, bad religion, that all of us participated in. We weren’t convinced we should do bad by a world view or philosophy, and though most of us were never taught to do wrong, that is what we all chose to do at some point.

Now look around the world and ask why we do wrong. Why is it that few people have the goal of doing what is bad and yet we somehow always manage to do something wrong? It became obvious to me that not only was there something wrong with the world, but that it was largely beyond our choice or upbringing, for I did what was wrong even to my own moral code and upbringing.

I had a reoccurring dream from those early years, I believe I was four or five years old, but I was walking through hot mud under a scorching sun and staggering between dead trees. I was lifted up in the air by the sun and it’s beams of light pierced through me, they knew me, and I was found wanting. It obliterated me. Now I don’t know if that dream was any kind of a sign, I don’t look to personal experience to exegete what God did or didn’t do. But regardless, it was clear in word pictures in my mind from early on that I believed something was deeply wrong with the world, my culture, and myself. So I’ve always been on a hunt to find a world view or life philosophy that embraced this fact, that there was something wrong with me. Most world philosophies actually tell me the opposite. They tell me there is something right with me. Those world view stories get an automatic rejection from me. You’ll have to come up with something better than “nothing is inherently wrong with you.”

In fact, when atheists criticize my religion the first thing I do is hang on the edge of my seat asking for their best shot against my religion. Many think I’m joking about wanting so badly to find a better argument or explanation than what I’ve got, but I’m serious. I so long to hear a decent, philosophically coherent explanation for the world’s problems. I get nothing of the sort. The only thing more ridiculous than Christianity’s explanation for sin and death is any alternative I’ve heard so far. Still, I’m always open to a good shot at that explanation. It makes for better conversation around a drink than what most people talk about.

My other problem with everything was that there was not only sin or imperfection in the world, but that there was physical death. When I was four years old, I considered that my time would one day end, and I wanted some kind of meaning or explanation for why. As a four year old I knew that people died and I wanted anyone else to admit that it was a problem. If someone couldn’t find that death was a problem then I had no interest in that world view. My own dad had some residual nihilist philosophy passed around from the 60s and seemed to have a hard time articulating death having any meaning. As a kid we used to sing meaningless songs about death:

“The worms crawl in

The worms crawl out

The worms play Pinochle 

on your snout.”

My second criteria for finding a legit religion had to embrace our physical death as real. There is something worse than mankind being sick or wrong, but that he experiences death and that death is a deeper evidence that something is out of order. This eliminates most Eastern religions that either embrace it as a recycling project, fertilizer project or deny death altogether.

I wasn’t raised in Sunday school, but I knew the scriptures well enough to know the shortest scripture in the Bible which is John 11:23:

“Jesus wept.”

Why is Jesus weeping? The context of the verse is that Jesus just learned that his old friend Lazarus has died. In just a few more verses, Jesus is going to raise him from the dead, and yet there are still tears to be had. Death is bad, and even when Jesus is going to resurrect Lazarus physical death is still a bad thing.

But I was aware of more than just dying, for I knew that I was guilty before a good God of some kind. I wasn’t merely guilty of sin, physically dying here on earth, but I was eternally dead. How could a four year old know he was supernaturally dead? I don’t know. I can’t explain how I know because back then I hadn’t been exposed to any formal religion and got glimpses of philosophy from the neighbor kids or perhaps my Pentecostal grandmother. Nothing explains why my view was so developed so early on, and yet, when I found the Bible some years later, I found a philosophy that made perfect sense:

Ephesians 2:2 “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sinsin which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient…  But because of his great love for us,God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6″

Dead in my transgressions? Where do I sign up?! There are many reasons to believe in Christianity, and perhaps a few lingering details that give me doubt or trouble… but I’ve always been in love with how it got my spiritual death right. I am a walking dead man, both physically and spiritually. The story begins with something being completely wrong and this is where other world views, myths and stories often get things wrong.

One day I’ll have to get at the rest of the story, but for now I’ll say that one reason why I’m a Christian is that it gets what’s wrong with the world right.

72 Responses to “Doug TenNapel – On Death”

  1. saltyhorse Says:

    > As a kid we used to sing meaningless songs about death:

    “The worms crawl in
    The worms crawl out
    The worms play Pinochle
    on your snout.”

    I wouldn’t say this song is meaningless, or that it removes meaning from death. It illustrates one aspect of death quite accurately, so, as far as kids’ songs go, it’s educational. By omitting other aspects it doesn’t deny them.

  2. robertmullin Says:

    Very well said, Doug. Thank you.

  3. lynnmaudlin Says:

    Good stuff, Doug– you were an amazing little kid.

  4. stjohnror Says:

    For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. -Romans 6:23

  5. jamessm Says:

    Doug, what branch of Christianity do you belong to?

    • tennapel Says:

      I’m just a Christian-Christian.

      • jamessm Says:

        There’s no such thing as a “Christian-Christian.” There are over 30,000 different denominations; you must pick one.

      • tennapel Says:

        I claim only Christ. We’ve no obligation to claim a denomination, though many denominations appeal to me.

      • robertmullin Says:

        Good for you. :) C.S. Lewis would call this “mere” Christianity, which I wholly endorse.

      • jamessm Says:

        You do know Christ himself founded ONE particular church that has existed since the time of the apostles, and is the largest branch of Christianity for a reason, right?

      • H.P. Says:

        It’s not enough to claim Christ, you have to claim His Church: The Roman Catholic Church. I know saying that may offend your protestant sensibilities, but when there are so many evangelicals converting to Catholicism, you know there’s a reason for that.

      • tennapel Says:

        I actually respect anyone these days willing to draw a line. All of the squishy talk of ecumenicalism among Catholics since the 60s hasn’t done sound theology any favors on either side of the Catholic line.

      • tennapel Says:

        It’s not enough to claim Christ

        No, it is exactly enough to claim Christ. That’s the whole taco!

      • Will Says:

        C.S. Lewis wasn’t merely a Christian, he was an Anglican, a religion that has much more in common with the Catholic Church than with American Evangelicalism.

      • tennapel Says:

        His best friend Tolkien was a Catholic and Lewis deliberately refused that church.

      • Will Says:

        Still, Lewis accepted some Catholic beliefs, like Purgatory.

      • Will Says:

        “No, it is exactly enough to claim Christ. That’s the whole taco!”

        Evangelical Christianity = Taco Bell
        Catholicism = authentic Mexican tacos

      • nnyb. Says:

        No offense Doug, but as far as the Catholic and Orthodox (as in Armenian, Ethiopian, Greek, Russian, etc) churches are concerned, you are not really saved. They probably won’t tell you that in front of your face, but most Christians in pre-Reformation churches see evangelical doctrines as heretical.

      • tennapel Says:

        I’m aware of that, though my Catholic buddy who is sitting right next to me just said my beliefs are heretical, but that it doesn’t mean I’m not saved. And it doesn’t bother me at all that a different denomination takes a stand on their beliefs. I take a stand on mine, too. I might find it perfectly fine to preach to Catholics, implying that they aren’t saved, I’m not offended by challenging other beliefs or others challenging mine. Tolerance.

      • Jeremy K. Says:

        I feel like Evangelical Christianity is for people who want it easy. I can see its appeal in American culture, but according to what I got from the Bible:

        1. Both faith AND works are necessary.

        2. You CAN lose your salvation.

        3. There isn’t going to be a rapture to take away all the believers before the end times.

      • devin Says:

        your relationship with god is between him and you. anything man has made to worship is a false idol, institutions will crumble..

        you may do the hardest work on this earth and no one could know aside from god and yourself (if you have the faith to not whine or moan about it, or expect retribution). you will see the signs.

        when you are with christ you will know the moment you lose your salvation, you will feel it if you are not selfish and your works will suffer because of it. the world is currently glorifying earthly, selfish suffering/salvation, and it always has.

        looking forward to armikrog, I was introduced to the neverhood as a kid and there hasn’t been anything like it since. best of luck, man.

      • devin Says:

        also, I highly recommend you read about the life and works of soren kirkegaard if you haven’t already. specifically, “the sickness unto death” and everything after it.

      • tennapel Says:

        Thanks, Devin. I haven’t read that work by Kierkegaard.

        I found a copy here: Sickness Unto Death


  6. Thanks for writing this. You articulated beautifully one of the same reasons why I also am a Christian. No other world view seems to nail the whole “sin and death” thing on the head….or offer such a wonderful hope and rescue from it.

  7. jmpadoc Says:

    Reblogged this on Notes from the Threshing Floor and commented:
    Like Mr. TenNapel, I have often been on the edge of my seat looking for a better explanation for what’s wrong with the world than the one Christianity offers. I mean, let’s face it–Christianity forces us to acknowledge that *we’re* the problem. I love Mr. TenNapel’s explanation about how Christianity gets what’s wrong with the world right. Great post.

  8. Landon Kemp Says:

    Very thought-provoking, Doug. Glad I could read it. It’s a fascinating view point, and I feel there’s a truth to it.

  9. Will Says:

    The question is: how do you know you claim the REAL Christ?

    We Catholics have almost 2000 years of tradition and an unbroken leadership starting with St. Peter (the Rock).

    What do Protestants have?

  10. Dave Says:

    Pretty awesome stuff. Just wondering though- what “lingering details” are you referring to?

  11. Bryan Says:

    Whichever belief system gets you through your day and helps you live a fulfilling and hopefully positive life is the right choice.

    Whether or not that choice is technically false makes no difference in the end.

    • robertmullin Says:

      Agree with the sentiment, though perhaps not with the conclusion. “In the end” is exactly when that sort of thing makes a difference. :)

    • lynnmaudlin Says:

      It makes all the difference in the world, if Christianity is true– :/

    • steve crespo Says:

      Hmmm… if it makes no choice in the end then the first half of your statement is absolutely meaningless.

      If you belief system DOESN’T get you through the day, or as we are seeing daily in the news, if your belief system leads you to cut the heads off of innocents, who cares? After all, as you so confidently assert: It makes no different in the end. Right?

      You see… you cannot assert the very thing you deny. You can’t assert that X is the right choice, and then claim all choices in the end are meaningless.

      Perhaps you need to rethink your position.

  12. Doug Lais Says:

    Thanks for your thoughtful analysis, Doug. The “What’s wrong with us” part is spoken of in Romans 7, where God’s law is in my mind, but the law of sin is in my members. The Catholic Church uses the term concupiscence to describe this state, and writes at length on the concept. Here’s a link to a short article in the Catholic Encyclopedia. I’m not trying to convert you to Catholicism, but it’s an inexhaustible treasure trove for the seeker. “http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/04208a.htm”

  13. Benji Wang Says:

    Yeah! Go for Jesus Christ!


  14. A powerful and welcome reminder. Thank you.

  15. sam Says:

    Hi Doug. I’m curious about your theological views. Are you an Arminianist or a Calvinist? Covenantal or Dispensational? Do you believe in the rapture, and if so, pre-trib or post-trib? Do you believe in eternal security? etc.


  16. Mm, though I found your views on this subject interesting, I disagree with your observation that all other explanations for what is wrong with . Though the people you talked to may have been incapable of providing a logical. Relating this to a less serious debate, I recently had an argument with a Mac fanboy, and while he could have actually named the numerous objective advantages that Mac OS had over Windows, he chose some of the most asinine and sometimes downright untrue points to back up what little of an argument he had (eventually resorting to just insulting random PC games). This likely could have been the case with the people you were talking to, who were incapable of coming up with a valid argument, despite the fact that there are perfectly valid alternative explanations.

    I also believe that what makes sense to people varies depending on the person, in that what might not make sense to you might make sense to someone else. For instance, while the Christian philosophies on death and the like make sense to you, they sound like pure bile to me. And that is not a jab at Christianity at all; it simply doesn’t really make sense to me, which shows how the same exact thing can be interpreted differently by different people.

    But, anyways, I do find it interesting to see others’ perspectives, even if I disagree with them. ;) I’m all for people believing what they want to believe, so long as they can intelligently back up their positions.

    • steve crespo Says:

      Although Christian views of death may sound like bile to you- and at one point I was in the same camp- it is important to realize that what we are talking about here are objective truths. That is, ideas on how the universe ACTUALLY is.

      It’s dangerous to treat such issues akin to how we would treat, say, eating broccoli. I love it, you may hate it, but the issue there is our OPINION on brocolli- not whether broccoli exists or not.

      And that’s what’s being discussed when talking about Christianity. Does God exist or not? Whether you like Him or not, is here there? Heaven or Hell? Is it real? And if it is, then you and I are headed for one or the other whether we like the sound of it or not.

      I appreciate you point, and maybe you didn’t mean this the way I took it, but in case you did, the issue is PURELY objective. If we treat it as subjective, then we do so at potentially a VERY, VERY great risk to ourselves.

      Peace!

  17. Kevin Says:

    Doug,

    If you were on the edge of your seat wanting me to take my best shot, then you are really no different than a prize fighter pointing at your chin and begging me to punch.

    That speaks more to your willingness to reinforce, or “show me what you’ve got”, than illustrate a desire to find things wrong with it.

    Simply said.. Your religion works for you, and you appear to be able to make it work for you. and that is a good thing. I respect that you can do that.

    Other religions are probably not going to connect with you because each religion has a cultural theme to them. (now, in my opinion, Pentacostalism has a ‘bit more character’ than other types of Christianity, so it would make sense that not everybody would gravitate toward it)

    Atheism might not connect with you because it is a different way at looking at things than religion would. –one which you are quite clear about avoiding. I might as well ask you to draw in a style you don’t like. It doesn’t make sense.

    its becoming clear to me personally that people are not represented by their religion, or the symbols within. It is said in religious circles that ‘each person finds God in their own way’. To me, that makes the case that religion merely provides a “flavor” to express one’s self in.

    While the Christian religion can be criticized in its inconsistent writing, its a lost cause. The river of denial is long and complex (and even scientists fall prey to this basic human “feature” in their discoveries).

    I think the strongest criticism against Christianity (or rather.. **religion in general**) would probably be that it has enshrined inconsistent **thinking** while at the same time insisting that that same thinking is consistent.

    It doesn’t matter the story, or lesson that is taught in your religion of choice, the standard that is used for **how you get there** is neither ironclad, verifiable, or reproducible. (for a concept that seeks to nail this down)

    • tennapel Says:

      Well, thanks for posting.

    • GaBe Says:

      You make a lot of claims about tennapel’s beliefs (not being verifiable, doesn’t accept other worldviews because of culture, etc…) but not much more than that: claims.

      However, I would like to suggest that you are mis understanding tennapel’s imagery of leading forward on the edge of his seat when you compare it to a fighter in a ring. Instead, maybe think of it like how a student eagerly wanting to learn more about the world, land forward on their seat in eager anticipation for what is presented in class – whether it be a teacher or fellow student.

  18. jessica151 Says:

    It’s really interesting to come across this blogpost on death after visiting Hiroshima today. I just kept on thinking about the consequences of sin, and how we desperately need a Savior. The neatest thing that caught me off guard was how much the city and people have healed. In the memorial park was a photo of a flower blooming among the wreckage shortly after the event–a symbol of hope.

    In this life hurt is inevitable, but healing will follow. It is comforting to know that there is hope in Christ Jesus for this world. This story has a happy ending…or rather beginning!

  19. Lynn Maudlin Says:

    My priest’s wife (Anglican) has an aunt who survived the attack; she was leading a group of school children in the new library, which was basically built of concrete. She’s still alive. Amazing.

  20. Burton Says:

    Jesus is a faggot

  21. Anna Says:

    Thank you so much for writing this – I love it when I hear about artists who I respect openly talking about following Christ. It makes me so incredibly happy!


  22. Thanks for posting this Doug. I’ve noticed early on the Christian metaphors used in The Neverhood. I wholeheartedly agree with you that Jesus is more than enough. We are the church, not buildings or denominations. Since you are so interested in death, you might find Francis Chan’s book Erasing Hell quite interesting.

  23. Ton Says:

    Sin n deth sin n deth, crystal meth is sin n deth

  24. Ben Says:

    This is a really interesting post Doug, and even though I saw it really late, I thought I would reply since I had a similar feeling when I was a child.

    I had trouble reconciling death also, but I ended up as an atheist. I gather from your post that you wanted an explanation for death and sin and that Christianity provided this, which is why you believe it. I have an alternative explanation for sin and death which is simple and straightforward. So let me take a shot!

    My explanation is as follows: Humans are simply animals trying to enjoy and find meaning in their lives. All evidence indicates that we will eventually die and cease to exist, and since life is fun (usually) we tend to enjoy it and not want it to end. Additionally, the prospect of life ending is very scary. Therefore, humans often death as a problem, but it isn’t. Death is just an animal life ending, which is neither objectively good nor bad.

    Sin is another word for bad behavior, and humans engage in bad behavior for a variety of personal and environmental reasons, as do other animals. Humans have very complex motivations for their actions because we are very intelligent, but that doesn’t mean our actions have an underlying meaning. We do some things to survive, some for fun, some to help others, etc. All of these are natural explanations for behavior, and nothing supernatural is necessary.

    The question, “what is the meaning of sin and death?” is incorrect in and of itself, because neither need to have a meaning. They simply are. Similarly, humans exist, but this doesn’t need to have an underlying meaning either.

    Death is scary and so is the prospect of human life having no inherent meaning or higher purpose. Because of this people search for answers to make themselves feel better and to give themselves purpose. Even though Christianity provides an answer to these existential questions, it provides no evidence that it is a true answer (and there is a lot of evidence that many things in the bible are untrue). Additionally, because christianity provides a supernatural explanation for life, it carries a HUGE burden of proof, which it does not reconcile.

    In summary, there is a natural explanation for the problems you perceive. The answer is that human life has no underlying purpose. This is a complete explanation to your questions, even though it may be a depressing and or disappointing one.

    When you consider your faith, ask yourself if you have the evidence to believe a supernatural explanation. If you do not, you should look for a natural explanation. Also ask yourself if you are believing something because you want to feel better or to give yourself a higher purpose, or if that is really where the evidence points.

    Incidentally, I’m a big fan of all of your work! I even have Earthworm Jim on snes, sega genesis and the gba. Keep up the good work, and I look forward to more from you.

    If you think something is inconsistent or doesn’t make sense, I’d be happy to expand or explain further!

    • tennapel Says:

      It’s not entirely accurate that I wanted an explanation for death, it’s that death, like life, demands an explanation. Christianity didn’t win my loyalty because it provided just any old explanation, but it provided the one that was the most rational.

      When you say all evidence indicates that we will die and cease to exist, you can’t be using the normal definition of evidence, because it can’t prove a universal negative like non existence. Saying we only believe in an ongoing life because we don’t want our fun life to end doesn’t explain why people who often live fun lives still choose to end their life, or why someone with a terrible life still wishes to live. We don’t often live for fun, though that may be the way it seems in our modern, comfortable existence.

      If our desire is to have the most fun, then believing Christianity would hardly beat out atheism. I would think being able to do anything without offending a good creator would be preferable to a strict moral construct. The prospect of life ending is scary to everyone, even those who believe in an afterlife. Believing in an afterlife doesn’t make children being tormented in this life any more comforting. A belief in absolute morals makes a child being tormented even more painful and makes life even less enjoyable.

      You didn’t provide a natural explanation for bad behavior. You categorized morality as natural without providing an explanation. You say, “bad behavior” then claim our actions don’t have an underlying meaning. Is rape actually wrong, or is it merely a convention? After all, animals do it all the time, and we’re just animals. You can’t give a natural reason why rape is wrong, because nature isn’t where we learn that eating our young is wrong, nature is where we learn it’s normal. You will have to appeal to something immaterial to tease out morals from behavior. You can say something happened, but you can’t give an “ought” without speaking the language of immaterial morals.

      My experience is that most people don’t look for answers. We generally don’t have to go on a quest to find meaning or purpose because it comes so readily to most people. So to say people merely search for answers to make themselves feel better seems like an insult to doctors, scientists, philosophers and artists. I’m not a Christian to make myself feel better though folks like Dawkins admit to believing Darwin because it finally made him a fulfilled atheist. At the very least I hope you’ll agree that if everyone looks for easy answers to make them feel better that it must also apply to the atheist, the materialist, the anarchist and the anti-Christian. How they could escape that accusation would require an explanation of how they are so unlike other people, particularly when they act similarly to everyone else in their thinking and motives.

      Christianity provides the same evidence that all histories of their time provided; eyewitness accounts. Just because you want video doesn’t mean it was available for Christianity any more than it was available for Roman civilization. You should offer those many things in the Bible that are evidenced as untrue. Give your top three easiest to point out and clearly demonstrated. The claims of Christianity doesn’t carry any more burden of proof than any other statement made in history (I don’t find Hume’s demand reasonable). It need only demonstrate an average amount of proof to account for the events and it does so overwhelmingly to the fair minded. The problem is in finding a fair mind, not in finding reasonable evidence.

      “In summary, there is a natural explanation for the problems you perceive. The answer is that human life has no underlying purpose. This is a complete explanation to your questions, even though it may be a depressing and or disappointing one.”

      I’ve yet to find a natural explanation that explains how nature came into existence. Self creating matter is irrational. Moral beings without a supernatural Law Giver is absurd. Saying human life has no underlying purpose doesn’t explain anything and nobody has ever lived that out because of it’s impossibility. Your explanation is only depressing and disappointing in how short it comes to being a robust explanation of anything. The truth is neither depressing nor disappointing… though I usually find it wonderful.

      When I consider my faith, I never find myself in want of evidence to believe in supernature. It’s not hard to do, and given even the thoughts and ideals we argue here don’t exist in the materials it ought to be pretty easy for you believe in too. I would challenge you to find the source of why you act like a moral being of meaning who uses reason, logic and consciousness to ponder these things. It will take you beyond the mere particles, though the particles are amazing too. I have followed the evidence even through my own atheism, and wound up here in Christianity.

      • Ben Says:

        Hey cool, thanks for responding! It means a lot to a fan, and I really appreciate the detailed response and the civil discourse. I do have an explanation for the things you mentioned, so I’m really happy that you brought them up. I over simplified in some places for brevity, but I can expand. I’ll take it point by point.

        I agree that death deserves an explanation, but the explanation is simply that we get old, deteriorate and die. I disagree that Christianity is the most rational explanation because it uses supernatural explanations without good evidence.

        What I meant by “all evidence points to us ceasing to exist” is the following. Many studies have been done which indicate our personalities are formed by our brains. This is why brain injuries can change our personalities completely, and why people who have been brain damaged can appear to be totally different people to their friends. When people become brain dead they cease to be able to perform simple tasks or even to think. Additionally, there is no evidence that our existence or consciousness is anything other than brain activity. Therefore, when people completely die and their brain activity ends, it is reasonable to assume that their existence (their thinking) ends. So, I am not claiming to prove non-existence. I am saying that assuming non-existence is the default position because the evidence suggests that. To believe that our existence continues after our death is the position that has the burden of proof. This is because one would need to demonstrate that our existence is due to something other than our brains and then to demonstrate that it continues after death.

        It is true that it was an over simplification to say that we generally enjoy our lives and therefore want them to continue. Of course people have a multitude of reasons to continue living ranging from survival instinct to wanting to enjoy themselves. Nevertheless, many people are afraid of death. This is also because of a multitude of reasons, but some common ones include the fear of not existing, natural instinct, etc.

        I am not saying that having the most fun in life is the goal; I am suggesting that people often want to find meaning or purpose in their lives. This is probably because the idea that life is without purpose or meaning and or that death is final is uncomfortable. But there are other reasons to believe in Christianity, all of which have nothing to do with whether or not it is actually true.

        For example, studies have also shown that when people believe in Christianity (or other religions) that they experience greater comfort and even greater happiness than without. But I am not interested in what makes one happy; I want to believe things that are true.

        I love this next point! I can absolutely tease out morals without referring to something immaterial. There is no need for a supernatural explanation. Rape is wrong not because of some cosmic, universal law, but because it is empirically bad for people. Rape negatively affects the victim, and this is objective, not immaterial. People can and have studied this and have observed that it is emotionally damaging to the victim. It is also objectively true that if we can reduce it in a society, that it will be better for the society (because there will be less victims). Therefore, it should not be allowed in society and we can colloquially call it, “bad” (like I did above). I do not believe that behavior can be objectively bad on a cosmic scale (like I think you are suggesting…?), because how can we assume that humans are an objectively good thing for the cosmos? But this is just semantics, because if behavior is objectively bad for a society is should be avoided.

        This brings me to another point. We as a society cannot get our morals from the bible, because it advocates some heinous things. For example, Leviticus says in 20:13 that if two men sleep with each other they should be put to death, in 20:10 he says that adulterers should be put to death, in 19:19 he says you can’t wear clothes made of two fibers Etc. Since modern Christians do not follow these things, they obviously do not get their morality straight from the bible. Instead they MUST pick and choose what to claim they got from the bible. This is because we really get our morals from society, and that is why laws and moral change over time as societies change. But some things, like rape or murder, continue to be objectively awful for people and so continue to be illegal.

        I certainly agree that everyone naturally looks for easy answers to make themselves feel better and more fulfilled, atheists, anarchist, etc. included. Who could argue that? I do think it takes some effort to challenge easy answers and find the truth, which is what scientists aim to do. I am arguing that Atheists are correct to lack a belief in God because there is no evidence for God.

        I understand that the bible provides eyewitness accounts, and so they, like all historical eyewitness accounts should be taken with a grain of salt. This is because things get exaggerated overtime and because people tell history with their own biases. So, archaeologists, historians, etc. look for other evidence to corroborate the written histories. Also, the physical evidence of societies is plentiful and helps to solidify belief in those societies. For example, ancient Rome itself is easy to believe in because you can go to the ruins. However, the supernatural claims in the bible, like the supernatural claims in ancient Rome, should not be believed because there is no evidence. So no, we don’t believe in anything comparable in ancient roman history because we don’t believe the supernatural claims in ancient roman history. There are written histories of ancient roman and before them Greek gods, but I doubt you believe in those. So why believe in the supernatural parts of the bible, without evidence?

        I should frame this next point with the note that to believe in the bible’s supernatural claims, the burden of proof is on the believer. However, you asked for some evidence that it is not true, which I can easily provide. Lets just look at Genesis 2, because it does not fit in well with the general timeline of Earth or its inhabitants. Genesis 2 literally makes the claims that:

        1:One man is created before any other animal.

        The fossil record shows this is false.

        2:The first man did not evolve from another creature, but was created as a modern day man.

        Again, the fossil record shows this is false.

        3:Only one man and one woman were created initially, leaving literally two people to populate the earth with humans.

        The human race would be in dire straights if this were true.

        Now admittedly, Genesis is easy to pick on, and you could even argue that it is all meant to be taken symbolically, but if you need to pick and choose what to believe out of the book then why bother with it? Also, if the first few pages of the book directly diverge from what modern science says happened, that’s a poor start.

        “I’ve yet to find a natural explanation that explains how nature came into existence. Self creating matter is irrational.”

        Nobody knows how the universe came into existence, so nobody can provide a decent explanation of that yet. The best explanation we have so far is the big bang. But to say that a God must have created it is an argument from ignorance. It also begs the difficult question, “then who created this infinitely powerful supernatural God, because it is irrational that he created himself?”

        “Moral beings without a supernatural Law Giver is absurd.”

        No it isn’t. We clearly get our morals from society. I don’t need a God to tell me not to do something when I can see centuries of empirical evidence that it is not a good thing to do. How much empirical evidence does one need to see that abusing a child, raping someone or murdering someone is not only bad for the victim, but also bad for the society as a whole, which we humans must live in to survive? Not much I think, although we have plenty.

        “When I consider my faith, I never find myself in want of evidence to believe in supernature.”

        What is your evidence of supernature? Honestly, I really am curious and I would love to hear it. I find myself desperately in want of this evidence.

        ” I would challenge you to find the source of why you act like a moral being of meaning who uses reason, logic and consciousness to ponder these things.”

        I love a challenge! I act like a moral being for many natural reasons and no supernatural ones, including but not limited to: my society guides me on how to act, I can see the evidence of certain behaviors being detrimental to other people and I avoid these behaviors, I don’t want to go to jail, I have empathy for other people and I like to make their lives better. I ponder these things and argue them because it is fun, and because I like to have other viewpoints presented to me to challenge mine. I’m still right down here with the particles though.

        “Saying human life has no underlying purpose doesn’t explain anything and nobody has ever lived that out because of its impossibility”

        I disagree here; I think it sums it up quite nicely, and it is the default position. To say life has a purpose is again to put the burden of proof on yourself. Why should it have a purpose? Also, I can tell you for sure that I believe there is no ultimate purpose or meaning to human life and I am happily living my life out, and will continue to do so. In essence because I (I’m not saying everyone here) enjoy my life and all the possibilities and fun it provides. That is plenty of reason to go on living, although Earthworm Jim 4 would be nice too. How is living like that supposed to be impossible?

        So there you have it, we agree on two points!

      • tennapel Says:

        Our personalities changing from a brain injury doesn’t demand absolute causation, it merely shows correlation. We do have good evidence that people dead on the operating table do experience things in a brain dead state and after they return to consciousness they can recall things they couldn’t have known when conscious. There is no absolute proof that we are our brains because we can’t find a “you” solely in that organ. We can only prove correlation.

        But if life is actually without meaning or purpose it would be strange that so many would want to find what doesn’t exist. If there was no meaning or purpose to life we ought to be content with that. C.S. Lewis said that hunger among us is a pointer that such a thing as food exists. Likewise the desire for longevity or an afterlife.

        If something is only bad because it is bad for society is smuggling morality in to a materialist universe where there should be none. You have to choose which hand you’re going to play, either morality or non morality. If there is morality then it also can’t matter if a society continues to thrive with or without rape. There is no gain of one over another in a non moral universe. It can’t matter all the way up the ladder no matter what the moral we’re debating. Anything being preferred, good or that ought to be is a point for my premise and against yours. Morality will only make sense when judged by an objective standard, an objective standard that the consistent materialist must reject.

        Ah, Leviticus! You quote that big bad book. You’ll have to get a more robust understanding of the Bible or you’ll take them out of context every time. You’re right that modern Christians don’t observe the law given to the Jews 3,500 years ago, but we don’t observe it for good reason… it’s not for us. You must read the new covenant to see what is for us gentiles and it’s just as condemning, for no man has loved his neighbor as himself. If morals flowed from society as you claimed then whatever a society deemed as moral (i.e. race based slavery) you would have to call moral at least for that society. Neither of us are prepared to say that so we can safely dismiss that as a fact.

        I disagree that atheists are following evidence to get to their philosophy. Existence is evidence enough for a creator, particularly given the atheistic claims to the contrary are so thin and contradictory. You can’t claim all of science, since there have always been people of faith among the sciences and until very recent times they were overwhelmingly Christian.

        You can find a Roman ruin, but you can also find archeological findings claimed in the old and new testaments. What kind of evidence would a supernatural event leave behind? I mean, besides a robust church? The events in the Bible happened out of moral necessity, not to provide us with incontrovertible evidence. It would be strange if Jesus did extra backflips back then to provide material evidence for the most hardened unbelievers among us. It’s an arbitrary standard to demand that Jesus perform evidence tricks for people who only disbelieve because of a post enlightenment construct. To a believer (be it a believer in Christian or Darwin) some evidence is enough and for non believers it would easily be the case that no evidence can be enough.

        Genesis 2 is a partial retelling of Genesis 1. IF you read 1:24 you’ll see that animals are made before man. Before you delve into pop-textual criticism you need to read Genesis for yourself and study it. The fossil record doesn’t demonstrate that man came from other creatures, not that it’s a problem with Genesis. Now your argument is with science itself. It’s called a missing link for a reason. Your third point is refuted by all mainstream science that traced our genetics back to one couple somewhere in Africa, cutely named Adam and Eve by scientists. It wasn’t a group of humans, but one couple. So your three claims of clear Bible errancy are effortlessly dismissed by even an imbecilic artist like me. To flippantly claim that the Bible is clearly refuted by science isn’t demonstrated by your three big claims. I assume your other claims would hold as much water, but you’re welcome to give them a shot. I suspect a rigid adherence to atheism and not logic is the operative in your arguments.

        An uncreated creator doesn’t demand creation, all physical matter and time does.

        You still haven’t demonstrated why an atheistic universe would demand that society as a whole ought to thrive. To thrive or not to thrive are interchangeable in a materialist view of the world.

        To answer your question about super nature could be a novel! My evidence for super nature even comes from atheistic scientists who have largely abandoned the idea that the natural can come into being without transcendence. Something must transcend the physical in the first place before the physical can exist. I would say that it is proven by the impossibility of the contrary but that’s probably not going to be very convincing to an atheist.

        Our society does have an influence on us, but it’s not absolute. We both act completely different from our social norms and moral demands in many ways, perhaps in more ways than we act within our societal norms. And if “culture says” is our standard then no culture could be condemned for throwing Jews into ovens because they were also operating by norms of their society, and these defenses were actually given in the Nuremburg trials and nobody on our side bought them.

        The burden isn’t on me to prove that life has purpose, because you already imbue your claims with lots of purpose. You’ve claimed that human flourishing without rape, murder etc. is better than to have rape and murder but you can’t explain why outside of a lack of suffering. But in a purposeless universe a presence of suffering is just as moral as a lack of suffering. To claim one is better is to appeal to a standard and you will not find this standard in the brain organ or in the materials. You’ll have to appeal to a non-contingent philosophical ideal that destroys the things you claim previously.

        As for Earthworm Jim 4… it would take a miracle!

  25. Ben Says:

    “Our personalities changing from a brain injury doesn’t demand absolute causation, it merely shows correlation. We do have good evidence that people dead on the operating table do experience things in a brain dead state and after they return to consciousness they can recall things they couldn’t have known when conscious. There is no absolute proof that we are our brains because we can’t find a “you” solely in that organ. We can only prove correlation.”

    There are very interesting responses. Let me address them one at a time. I never argued that correlation proves causation in my brain example, (correlation obviously does not prove causation). I simply argued that everything that we know to be ,”us”, in other words our personalities and our brain activity, is natural. I do not need proof that we are our only brains and nothing else, (like I said the evidence just suggests it so it is the default position). Instead if you think we are something else, then you are making a claim and you need to provide evidence of this supernatural explanation. Which is pretty tough to do.

    “But if life is actually without meaning or purpose it would be strange that so many would want to find what doesn’t exist. If there was no meaning or purpose to life we ought to be content with that. C.S. Lewis said that hunger among us is a pointer that such a thing as food exists. Likewise the desire for longevity or an afterlife.”

    No, it wouldn’t be strange at all. Humans aren’t content about anything. Humans are prone to all sorts of mental illnesses, dissatisfactions, strange desires, etc. This also has no bearing on whether or not anything is true.

    “If something is only bad because it is bad for society is smuggling morality in to a materialist universe where there should be none. You have to choose which hand you’re going to play, either morality or non morality. If there is morality then it also can’t matter if a society continues to thrive with or without rape. There is no gain of one over another in a non moral universe. It can’t matter all the way up the ladder no matter what the moral we’re debating. Anything being preferred, good or that ought to be is a point for my premise and against yours. Morality will only make sense when judged by an objective standard, an objective standard that the consistent materialist must reject.”

    I think you misunderstood my argument here, or that we are getting caught up in semantics. I’m calling something “moral” if it is good for people. But I also believe that ultimately people do not matter to the universe as a whole. So no, what is good for people is not inherently good (I think that is what you are calling moral) and it really doesn’t matter what we do on an objective, universal scale at all. It also doesn’t matter if we live or die on that scale. Of course, for natural but obviously subjective reasons, I like the human race and would like it to continue, even if it has no underlying purpose. So I think we can do things for the human race, and I would like to do them, even though I don’t think we ultimately matter. Also, things can be objectively good for people, even if humans themselves are not objectively good.

    “Ah, Leviticus! You quote that big bad book. You’ll have to get a more robust understanding of the Bible or you’ll take them out of context every time. You’re right that modern Christians don’t observe the law given to the Jews 3,500 years ago, but we don’t observe it for good reason… it’s not for us. You must read the new covenant to see what is for us gentiles and it’s just as condemning, for no man has loved his neighbor as himself. If morals flowed from society as you claimed then whatever a society deemed as moral (i.e. race based slavery) you would have to call moral at least for that society. Neither of us are prepared to say that so we can safely dismiss that as a fact.”

    Well that is my point though; you have to pick and choose what you take from the bible. Yes, yes, of course I’m aware of the parts of the new testament that distance themselves from the old, but they require a lot of symbolic interpretation. You cannot literally interpret it and follow it, but more on this later. I wasn’t taking Leviticus out of context at all. He literally condones putting people to death for the things I mentioned. Actually, I have no problem saying that a society which employed race based slavery would think the things that are doing are moral, but if they are empirically bad for people (like race based slavery is), then we can say they were wrong.

    “I disagree that atheists are following evidence to get to their philosophy. Existence is evidence enough for a creator, particularly given the atheistic claims to the contrary are so thin and contradictory. You can’t claim all of science, since there have always been people of faith among the sciences and until very recent times they were overwhelmingly Christian.”

    Atheists are following the evidence we have available to reach our philosophy (although calling a lack of belief in something a philosophy is a bit misleading). This is because there is no evidence of a supernatural creator. Obviously existence itself is not evidence of a creator because there are natural processes to describe it, even if we don’t have all of them yet. Saying we don’t know how the universe was created so God must have done it is a logical fallacy called an argument from ignorance. Also, I’m certainly not claiming all of science for atheists when there are clearly Christian scientists.

    “You can find a Roman ruin, but you can also find archeological findings claimed in the old and new testaments. What kind of evidence would a supernatural event leave behind? I mean, besides a robust church? The events in the Bible happened out of moral necessity, not to provide us with incontrovertible evidence. It would be strange if Jesus did extra backflips back then to provide material evidence for the most hardened unbelievers among us. It’s an arbitrary standard to demand that Jesus perform evidence tricks for people who only disbelieve because of a post enlightenment construct. To a believer (be it a believer in Christian or Darwin) some evidence is enough and for non believers it would easily be the case that no evidence can be enough.”

    Yes, I know you can find archeological findings claimed in the old and new testaments just like you can find roman ruins. This provides more evidence of the natural parts of the bible, just like it provides more evidence for the natural parts of ancient roman history and this is an important part of my point. There are supernatural parts of ancient roman history that provide the same standard of “evidence” as the supernatural parts of the bible. That is to say, ancient roman history provides eyewitness accounts of roman gods and other supernatural things. By your logic, shouldn’t someone believe these stories too, since they provide the same standard of evidence? After all, they provide some evidence, like you said, so why should any roman gods have to do any extra backflips to convince us now?

    “Genesis 2 is a partial retelling of Genesis 1. IF you read 1:24 you’ll see that animals are made before man. Before you delve into pop-textual criticism you need to read Genesis for yourself and study it. The fossil record doesn’t demonstrate that man came from other creatures, not that it’s a problem with Genesis. Now your argument is with science itself. It’s called a missing link for a reason. Your third point is refuted by all mainstream science that traced our genetics back to one couple somewhere in Africa, cutely named Adam and Eve by scientists. It wasn’t a group of humans, but one couple. So your three claims of clear Bible errancy are effortlessly dismissed by even an imbecilic artist like me. To flippantly claim that the Bible is clearly refuted by science isn’t demonstrated by your three big claims. I assume your other claims would hold as much water, but you’re welcome to give them a shot. I suspect a rigid adherence to atheism and not logic is the operative in your arguments.”

    I like this point because you have not refuted any of my points. Also, lol at “IF you read 1:24”. I read it and I studied it. I even have R. Crumb’s illustrated version (did you read that? It’s really quite good.). I know Genesis 2 is a partial retelling of Genesis 1, and I also know that if you read them both literally that they directly contradict each other on that point. That is why I said to read Genesis 2, which does indeed literally say man came first. So, my first point is absolutely logically consistent with a literal interpretation. Now, you can interpret it however you want, but that is picking and choosing at its finest.

    The fossil record along with the tremendous DNA evidence we have does indeed show that humans evolved from other creatures. There is no missing link as you put it. If you mean that we do not have fossils of literally every single transitional form, that is true and to be expected. Also, if you think that all mainstream science agrees that all humans came from just two original people, you need a more robust understanding of evolution. That is absolutely not true. If all humans came from just one original couple, that would cause an extreme bottle neck effect on the population and we would be extremely inbred. We had to have come from a much larger population to have the genetic diversity we have now. These aren’t really my big three best pieces of evidence, I just picked three things out of the first few pages that don’t make sense! I could go on and on, but once again, all of this is unnecessary anyway, because to believe the supernatural parts of the bible you need to have evidence of them. Without evidence you should not believe by default. You are making a claim that the bible is to be believed, so you have the burden of proof.

    “An uncreated creator doesn’t demand creation, all physical matter and time does.”

    That is only because you have arbitrarily decided that. Really, an uncreated creator absolutely demands an explanation, and is a huge logical leap. How can you say for sure that an uncreated creator is the only alternative for the universe coming into existence when there could be any number of natural explanations that we don’t know yet? Also, this is a supernatural explanation that carries a huge burden of proof.

    “You still haven’t demonstrated why an atheistic universe would demand that society as a whole ought to thrive. To thrive or not to thrive are interchangeable in a materialist view of the world.”

    Just to clarify this point, all that being an atheist means is that a person lacks a belief in God. These other points about morality, about the bible, etc. are all totally different topics. Even believing there is no God is a different point from being an atheist (lacking a belief in God). Anyway, I haven’t demonstrated that a society as a whole ought to survive because it shouldn’t necessarily. I would just like the human race to continue for subjective, biased reasons, but I don’t think there is any objective reason for us to continue, no.

    “To answer your question about super nature could be a novel! My evidence for super nature even comes from atheistic scientists who have largely abandoned the idea that the natural can come into being without transcendence. Something must transcend the physical in the first place before the physical can exist. I would say that it is proven by the impossibility of the contrary but that’s probably not going to be very convincing to an atheist.”

    Well, I think your evidence is really weak. Not only does it not convince me, but I doubt it would convince anyone because it is an argument from ignorance. Do you have anything besides this and the bible? Where is the evidence that something must transcend the physical before the physical can exist? Also, how is the contrary that the universe just sprang into existence, impossible? There could be (and I really think there is) a natural explanation for how this happened that we don’t know yet and that you are discounting, but by doing so you are committing a logical fallacy. I don’t know how the universe came into existence, but there could be any number of natural explanations that nobody knows yet.

    “Our society does have an influence on us, but it’s not absolute. We both act completely different from our social norms and moral demands in many ways, perhaps in more ways than we act within our societal norms. And if “culture says” is our standard then no culture could be condemned for throwing Jews into ovens because they were also operating by norms of their society, and these defenses were actually given in the Nuremburg trials and nobody on our side bought them.”

    I never said ,”culture says” is our standard. As I said above, I think for something to be considered “moral” it should be empirically good for people (it should positively impact them as a whole). So in this case moral just means a standard of behavior concerning what is acceptable to do. I also think that for something to be considered immoral that it should empirically negatively affect people as a whole. That is evidence based. Throwing Jews into overs in empirically bad for Jews, hence we should not do it and we can condemn societies that do. We do not need a universal constant that says certain behavior is bad because it is unnecessary; we can derive what is good for us through the evidence. Nonetheless, we get a lot of our morality from our societies, even if the morality touted in our societies isn’t evidence based. So yes, in Nazi Germany they believed their actions were perfectly justified and moral, but we can make a strong argument that they were wrong based on the evidence. But making the argument that it is wrong on a cosmic scale requires some evidence.

    “The burden isn’t on me to prove that life has purpose, because you already imbue your claims with lots of purpose. You’ve claimed that human flourishing without rape, murder etc. is better than to have rape and murder but you can’t explain why outside of a lack of suffering. But in a purposeless universe a presence of suffering is just as moral as a lack of suffering. To claim one is better is to appeal to a standard and you will not find this standard in the brain organ or in the materials. You’ll have to appeal to a non-contingent philosophical ideal that destroys the things you claim previously.”

    The burden of proof is on you because you are making the claim that life has a purpose. My claims have no implied purpose; I think we are just using the word moral differently. I do think that our universe is purposeless and that the presence of suffering is just as “moral” on a cosmic scale as a lack of suffering.

    However, even without an underlying purpose, I value humans for subjective reasons and I want them to continue and to enjoy their lives, and certain behaviors (like rape and murder) are empirically bad for them and so should be avoided. I don’t have to appeal to anything supernatural here at all. My brain creates my love for people, so I would like them to live as well as possible. That doesn’t mean they have a purpose in the universe though.

    “As for Earthworm Jim 4… it would take a miracle!”

    Bummer! Although, I want a new EWJ from you and from the original team at Shiny, and I would prefer no EWJ to an inferior version. I remember that version that was going to come out on the PSP, and that looked baaaaad…

  26. nicksayre Says:

    Doug, I fist encountered your work in Flight. Yours was my fav story! I came to your site today to see what you’re up to these days and got shivers like crazy when I saw this post.

    I was raised in the church but never could find reasons to believe. The ones you listed here were the ones that I ultimately found. YES there is brokenness and death but God is bigger. Christianity not only explains the things that some philosophies get right, but it encompasses them, explains them better than they do themselves.

    I wouldn’t be a Christian today if I had not found these things to do so.

    Please take a look at “The Reason for God” by Timothy Keller. His cogent arguments about the world and God saved me.

  27. Ripley Says:

    I think people would have a better chance of finding God through engineering and science than being bored half to death at church.

    Also, what are your thoughts on life extension/immortality? What about the possibility of A.I.? Would you consider a sapient, thinking, feeling machine to also be “broken” the way humans are? What about our primordial ancestors? Do you think the entire genetic lineage that lead up to modern humanity is broken?

    The possibility of escaping death via technology grows ever closer, so if there is no more death does that mean we are no longer broken and sinful?

    • tennapel Says:

      Great questions, Ripley. People do find God through engineering and science in a addition to being bored half to death at church. Many a good scientist and physicist will tell you they’ve been bored to death in their fields of study too.

      It’s speculative to talk about AI, but I assume we may one day ape what God has done all along, combine particles to make a house for a soul to interact with. We do something similar with human cloning, we can tease out life with our Frankenstein methods. And yes, we would continue to make heart broken, fallen beings. The first mark that any AI reached human status would be that he was a narcissist with a predisposition to porn addiction and snarking on the internet.

      You’ll never be able to escape death via technology. Our bodily death is only an outward symbol of an inward truth. The death of the body isn’t man’s greatest fear, it’s the death of his soul. And you can keep his body alive all you want but you’ll never make him feel like his soul is whole, complete and healed. To make that being live forever without some kind of salvation is another definition of hell, not the absence of death.

      • Ripley Says:

        Ohhh, I see what you mean. Interesting, you’ve put a lot more thought in to this than you let on in your initial post. So do you feel that all life in the universe, not just humanity, is doomed to eternal ennui?

  28. tennapel Says:

    All life in the universe as we know it will end given its natural course. It had a beginning and it will have an end.

  29. revereche Says:

    The human soul is certainly foul with sin, but why follow a religion that only encourages us to sin more? Against women, against those decreed “different,” against the very environment we live in! Christianity has encouraged too much evil in this world.

    • tennapel Says:

      If this religion is encouraging us to sin more then you have to define what you mean by that higher religion that has the right and absolute code to judge the other religion on such grounds. Sin implies a broken law, so who is the law giver? I know of no sin that the Bible justifies against women or against people for the reason of being different. Even I’m different than you and you just implied I sin so is your religion also not against those of who are merely different?

      Christianity has been the single most effective religion in the world, and you likely live in a country capable of freely making your accusations because of a Judeo-Christian influence.

      • revereche Says:

        List of sexist Bible verses:
        http://www.religiouscriticism.com/bible/the-sexist-bible/

        Verses justifying killing someone for suggesting another belief:
        https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Deuteronomy+13

        List of atrocities committed in the name of Christianity:
        http://www.truthbeknown.com/victims.htm

      • bogleech Says:

        Doug, you sure can’t be including America in that equation, since America is another in the long, long list of cultures where “Judeo-Christian influence” is the ENTIRE OBSTACLE in the way of that freedom.

        It has traditionally been Judeo-Christian groups trying to block people from expressing views they don’t like, no matter how harmless those views are. Burning books. Terrorizing LGBT’s and other religious denominations. We have earned our free speech through *vanquishing* the values you’re claiming gave them to us.

        And we will continue to do so. People have the right to be Christian, but Christians do not have the right to tell others what to believe and how to live based on what some doddering old men wrote in a book ripped off from still older religions, offering no new or original thoughts at all in the process.

        A “real” Christian who “really” followed Jesus would be nothing like most of you. Really read what he’s quoted as saying and it’s clear that it is, in fact, deed-based and not faith-based whether someone goes to hell. The greedy, abusive and selfish are condemned by him and all others embraced.

    • Josh Says:

      I’m not sure that your understanding of Christianity is fully-formed if you’re under that impression that the Bible only calls out (or promotes sin against) select groups.

      Don’t base your opinions on what “Christians” in the media say – base them on Jesus Christ (and the messages presented on his behalf by INSPIRED writers) I’d encourage you to read through the Bible (don’t roll your eyes…the NIV Bible contains a touch over 726,000 words – the Harry Potter series contains a bit over 1,084,000 – it’s not a hard read) Is much of the message counter to what is popular in culture today? Yes. I do not apologize for that. It was equally as difficult to hear when it was initially introduced as well. With that said, I don’t think you’ll find any promotion of sin towards ANY sinner (and by that – I don’t mean popular minority groups – I mean all people, myself included, as sinners).

      • bogleech Says:

        The phrase “popular minority groups” shows what kind of person you are, Josh. People get raped, beaten, murdered for revealing that they’re attracted to the same sex or don’t feel like the gender society insists they should be, but to you, it’s just some “popularity contest.”

      • Josh Says:

        Bogleech – I have no idea how you drew all of that from the phrase “popular minority groups”. It’s amazing that you can determine exactly what kind of person I am from a 3-word phrase on a comic writer’s blog. To clarify for those not blessed with your gift, by “popular minority groups”, I mean groups that are covered in the media versus those that aren’t. My actual point was that ANY abuse done to anyone – not just the ones that you seem to have prioritized in your comments – is not only **not promoted** within true Christianity, but is in complete contradiction to Christian instruction. It’s not passive, either. Jesus calls for his followers to love fellow man and enemies as much as they would love themselves.

        There are all sorts of subsets of people that are in at least one minority. (Within the context of “Christianity”, there are several as well.) Calling myself a “Christian” does not make me a Christian any more than calling myself a doctor gives me a medical degree . To be a CHRISTian means that you follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. I’ve read the New Testament (several times this year alone) and I don’t recall Jesus (or the inspired NT writers) having instructed anyone to rape, beat, murder – or even verbally assault – anyone. Anyone doing so isn’t a Christian / follower of Christ, they’re a liar and worse.

        The reason I said to read the Bible all the way through, is because the Old Testament “sets the scene” for the New Testament. When Jesus arrives in the New Testament, he’s changing the focus from the Hebrews and their law (of the Old Testament) to all of mankind. The new message provided in the NT is for His followers (of all creed) and replaces the old law provided exclusively for the Hebrews. (That’s why it’s ridiculous to people that have actually read / understood the Bible when commenters cherry-pick random scriptures from Deuteronomy as an example of “Christian instruction”. It’s not applicable and completely taken out of usable context.)

      • revereche Says:

        Just gonna copypasta:

        List of sexist Bible verses:
        http://www.religiouscriticism.com/bible/the-sexist-bible/

        Verses justifying killing someone for suggesting another belief:
        https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Deuteronomy+13

        Of course, you can be Christian and be a decent person, certainly. But, that doesn’t change the fact that Christianity has done a tremendous amount of harm. The near extinction of Native Americans and Australians is proof of that.

  30. Josh Says:

    Reverche – I’m by no means saying that horrible, horrible things haven’t been done in the name of Christ. I AM saying that those things weren’t done under the authority of Christ.

    Punching you and saying Doug TenNapel told me to is not the same as Doug actually telling me to punch you. In punching you, I wouldn’t (to my knowledge) be doing what Doug TenNapel wants; nor does punching you in the name of Doug TenNapel put him at fault for your hurt nose.

    Please read my comments above with regards to your postings of the Deut. passage and the “bible is sexist” page. Essentially – the Bible is to be read in context of itself and can’t be cherry-picked as a means to prove fallacy.

    brass tacks: I won’t hesitate to share the message of Jesus as the Savior with someone, just like I wouldn’t hesitate to tell someone where the exit is in a burning building. If a person chooses to ignore that information and sit down on the floor as the roof collapses around him, I suppose that’s his prerogative. I’ll still try and hold the door open as long as I can, though.

    • revereche Says:

      “Please read my comments above with regards to your postings of the Deut. passage and the “bible is sexist” page. Essentially – the Bible is to be read in context of itself and can’t be cherry-picked as a means to prove fallacy.”

      With interpretations different enough to justify hundreds of different denominations. However, I’m expected to only accept as Christian the interpretations that any given Christian I’m talking to has decided are the correct interpretations.

      The Bible endorses slavery, but you’ll tell me I’m reading it wrong. However, you’ll condemn homosexuality because the Bible condemns it, and never consider that maybe you’re reading that wrong!

      In the end, it doesn’t matter what the Bible says, because *you’re* going to cherry-pick, and expect me to read your mind and agree with you on every point! This is why Christians are impossible to talk to with any semblance of logic.

      • Josh Says:

        There are several different denominations and I disagree with of them. Clearly interpretation IS key. I personally wouldn’t accept anything that any “Christian” told me to be true unless they could give me a reason as to why they believe that way. You shouldn’t either. I doubt that most “Christians” have any idea why they hold the beliefs that they hold. I’d bet that most have no idea where to even start a Biblical study. I believe that Christians are called to study the scriptures fervently and understand what they’re reading. I also believe in literal interpretations (again – while in context).

        I know you weren’t really asking, but – regarding slavery in the first / second century times: short answer is that it’s not the same situation we think of with the old south. Obviously, there were some slave masters that would have been abusive (just as there are bosses today that are abusive) – but slavery was like indentured servanthood. The apostle Paul likens this same form of slavery to Christianity in that Christians are indebted to Christ for “paying” for their sins with his life. If Paul meant the modern understanding of slavery, this analogy would make no sense.

        I’d be more than happy to discuss what I believe to be a true, non-cherry-picking interpretation of the Bible in a private discussion setting if you’re interested. If not, just know I’ll be holding the door :)


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