Has anyone converted to Christianity because of anything they’ve read on these boards? Is it a waste of time for the posters, or do they (you) feel righteous by spewing? Aren’t there other boards where similar believers can PTL together?
I avoid Great Debates because it’s possible to get sucked in to witnessing or evangelizing, yet the threads pop up everywhere…
Seeing as how these boards are full of Christian-bashers, I would sincerely doubt that any new “recruits” are being gained here. I can’t imagine anyone feeling pressured by any Christians here, though I’m sure it’s possible; if anything, I think the Christians feel rightly discriminated against.
I would hope that no one would change religions (or pick up one, for that matter) solely on the strength of some posts written on an internet message board.
But as for the other question you are asking – why don’t Christians spew their righteous sentiment elsewhere – well, there are a lot of Christian-baiting threads within these forums. The faith isn’t defended particularly well, on the whole, which brings forth a few more rounds of “Spank the Fundie Chuds.” It’s a vicious cycle.
But truthfully I have never understood why there is such a compelling need for so many followers of my religion to blab incessantly about it. My relationship with God is personal and private, but more; why on earth would anyone over the internet care a shig about it? They don’t, and I don’t when it’s me on the other side of the monitor in that position. Yammering away at it should elicit no different a response than when some stranger talks your ear off about a subject you couldn’t possibly care less about in Real Life: some exasperated "Hmm!"s, some deliberate glances towards the clock and some sudden remembrances of other appointments.
Christianity really is, at its core, a beautiful and touching faith. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with an inherent agenda of kindness, respect for others, and sacrifice. But getting caught up in just how many “days” it took for the planet to form or the idea that somehow observing structural similarities between species somehow negates a worldview that maintains how k3w1 it would be if we were all pleasant to one another isn’t helpful to anyone. I don’t particularly enjoy kicking around the bases and seeing my religion get shredded, but due to the way in which it is represented I absolutely understand why it happens.
Er, Ben, I think Answers in Genesis, for one, subscribe to the idea that “evolution negates Christianity and goodness and light and leads directly to Communism and Nazism and death”. I believe the somewhat misleadingly named Holy Avenger was expressing opposition to the idea that evolutionary biology destroys the basic message of Christianity (and leads to Communism and Nazism and rock and roll music and premarital sex and so forth).
And the conversion thing hasn’t? :eek: Manny, you’ve just gotta spend more time in Great Debates!!
Seriously, an answer to that would be:
There are people who have found the idea of a loving higher power an acceptable theory, and have become UU members, at least partly through what’s gone on in GD. I don’t offhand know of anyone who has in fact become a full-fledged Christian, but I would not rule it out as a possibility.
In any case, we Christians are not necessarily out to make converts per se, but to witness for our faith. Ideally by showing what it means in our lives, not necessarily by debating particular dogmata.
As for the question of why evidence for evolution might be taken as contrary to Christianity, I offer you the following sequence of propositions, which are not necessarily logically connected. (That’s important.) They are phrased in as neutral language as I can muster, without my own views being taken into account.
There exists an ultimate ground of all being, which is responsible for the existence of the universe, life, and everything connected with it.
This entity is personal in nature.
This entity is interested in humanity, loves people, and communicates with them, or with some part of them.
This entity feels so much love for every human being that it incarnated as an avatar and underwent an excruciatingly painful death, albeit rising from that death, in their behalf.
There exists a collection of writings which purports to be a record of this entity’s interrelationships with mankind.
As such, this collection is without error.
The creation myth document found at the beginning of this collection is in fact a literal description of how the entity did create the universe, life, etc., as per point 1.
That myth does not take modern cosmology or evolutionary biology into account.
Obviously one can accept one or more of the first premises in this sequence, if one so chooses, without necessarily buying into the remainder. However, most (not all) fundamentalist Christians do in fact buy all eight propositions. And often when someone speaks against Christianity, he is in fact speaking against that stringent fundamentalism, not against the view that might concur with them through proposition 3 or proposition 5 and stop.
Good post, Polycarp. I call myself an agnostic rather then an atheist because I think #1 on your list of eight is possible. I reject each of the other seven with increasing certainty as the numbers go up. I really don’t see how any intelligent person could buy numbers 6, 7, and 8. Do people see it as a package deal? Do they think they can’t believe numbers 2, 3, and 4 without also believing numbers 6 though 8? But… plainly, many people DO believe 2 through 4 while rejecting 6 through 8.
Polycarp, you speak of people becoming UU members. I thought, huh? what’s that? Then, just as I was typing this, it struck me that you are probably referring to the Unitarians. I’d forgotten the existance of the second “U” (for Universalist). Some of us just don’t pay enough attention to matters religious to recognise initials and jargon that may seem very standard to you.
StayKat, why avoid Great Debates? Why not just avoid the Great Debate threads that discuss religion? Just ignore them as you would ignore sections of your daily paper that don’t interet you. (I toss the sports, business, and classifed ad sections straight into the recycling bin as soon as I pick up the paper.) There are many other interesting threads to peruse here.
I agree that the posts in this board would unlikely make anyone convert to Christianity and it would be pretty scary if they did covert as a result of reading these messages. (It should be for a reason of faith…)
These messages, I would hope, would serve as an ‘eye opener’ to different ways of thinking. I believe that was the point HA was making.
To ‘convert’ someone, you really need to be on a one on one level. Trying to convert someone to a religion in here is impossible as the others that will be reading are going to jump in and shoot down invalid arguments.
I when to a Catholic school as a kid and we got it drilled into our heads…we didn’t know anything outside of God. We were told he existed by the teachers, and as sure as the grass is green, we believed them. (They are an authority figure after all and no one was there to say otherwise.)
Here is a different matter. I joint this board a while back and at that point I had been an athiest/humanist for many years. The message here only strengthened my personal position on the whole thing.
IE: I have found that when an argument is running rampant here, those that are on the side of science always ask for evidence to back up the claims may by ANYONE,(and not just the religious people)and if your post does not aggree with teh fact, they tell you so.
Where as, in religious (usually Christian) debates, those on the side of religion seem to stumble and faulter as they can not seem to back up their claims with any evidence other than “The Bible says so”
Now, they will say that they are not ‘stumbling and faultering’ at all, but what they must learn is that there are those who are reading these posts that are ‘outside’ the argument looking in. (Like myself) They will take points made by both sides and weigh them against each other.
Now ‘nineiron’ mentioned Christian Bashing…I don’t know if I’d go that far. Just because someone brings up a piece of evidence to go against a Christians statments doesn mean he’s out-right bashing him.
From what I have seen, those that argue on the side of Christianity seem to be the bashers because the other party did not agree with them. They say one thing and to another.
For instance, HA says the following.
Kindness and respect…interesting…take some of these quotes into account. (There are a few )
Dan Quayle (Dan Quayle apparently believes that non-Christians don’t have the right to life and liberty)
Senator Joseph Lieberman, speaking at Fellowship Chapel in Detroit while running for Vice President, Aug. 27, 2000 (like most Judeo-Christian bigots, he assumes all faiths share the same God).
Pat Buchanan, February 11, 1996 (it apparently doesn’t occur to him that secular humanism is a philosophy rather than a religion, and as such, has no “gods”, nor does it occur to him that in order to drive secular humanism out of public schools, they will have to abolish all science classses).
George H.W. Bush, 1988, while serving as Vice President of the United States (he’s basically saying that neither Thomas Jefferson or Abraham Lincoln were citizens or patriots)
Sen. Joseph McCarthy, February 9, 1950 (both Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson would have been considered enemies of the state under McCarthyism)
Rev. Jerry Falwell (according to Mr. Falwell, a man like Albert Einstein was a “failure as a human being”. If only we could have more such “failures”)
John Knox, founder of Presbyterianism in Scotland (sadly, there is no theological problem with this position, since God repeatedly orders that idol worshippers and their children be put to death in the Bible)
Daniel P. Moloney, Associate Editor of First Things, the Journal of Religion and Public Life (according to this definition, Gandhi’s Christian oppressors were more moral than he was)
Pat Robertson, in an address to his American Center for Law and Justice, November, 1993.
Notice how he doesn’t seem to realize that freedom of religion is in the constitution even if the exact phrase “separation of church and state” is not, and that freedom of religion is impossible in the presence of a state-sponsored religion. Also notice how he ignores the fact that the word “God” doesn’t appear in the US Constitution either.
Pat Buchanan, speaking before the Christian Coalition in 1993
(if Christianity makes men free, perhaps he could explain why the African slave trade was created and maintained by Christians, and why Lincoln, an atheist, had to fight a bloody civil war against the Bible-belt states in order to put a stop to slavery in the United States)
Cardinal Jorge Medina Estevez, quoted in AANEWS for September 20, 2000 (in other words, he thinks that anyone who isn’t a Christian must be under the influence of Satan)
Adolf Hitler, April 26, 1933. (And NO…Hitler was not an athiest…but a devout Christian. Look it up.)
Al Gore (apparently, he agrees with Adolf Hitler about the profound need for “believing people”).
Senator Joseph Lieberman, speaking at Fellowship Chapel in Detroit on Aug. 27, 2000 while running for Vice President (grievously misrepresenting one of the so-called “Founding Fathers”).
John Adams’ real words, not the ones Senator Lieberman puts in his mouth:
John Adams, second President of the United States, quoted from A Defense of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America, 1788.
More of John Adams’ real sentiments on religion:
John Adams, in a letter to Thomas Jefferson.
Christopher Columbus to the Native Americans, 1492 (and the Americans still celebrate Columbus Day; we might as well wonder why the Germans don’t celebrate Hitler Day)
Rev. Romaine F. Bateman, Feb. 18, 1932 (it’s true that Washington paid lip service to Christians around him but never prayed or worshipped himself, and that Lincoln was an atheist, but strangely enough, those men are still held in high esteem by most Americans)
Joseph Lieberman, speaking at Fellowship Chapel in Detroit on August 27, 2000
(notice how he assumes that strong religious faith will improve morality, even though there isn’t a shred of evidence to support this idea; not only did Adolf Hitler’s Christian-schooled Nazi youth grow up to be somewhat less than virtuous, but the American pro-Christian Barna “Research Group” has been trying to find statistical differences in moral behaviour of atheists and Christians for years, without success).
Jerry Falwell (many atheists have criticized the Christian doctrine of resignation; that those living in squalid conditions or suffering with disease should accept their lot in life, as it is God’s will and should therefore not be questioned or resisted; this doctrine assists those who enjoy wealth, privilege, and comfort, by giving them an excuse to assume that the less fortunate somehow deserve their fate)
Francisco de Aguilar (replace “smallpox” with AIDS and you will see that precious little has changed in the Christian fundamentalist mind over the past five centuries)
Not very loving words from those that supposedly have “kindness, respect for others”.
I think that it is this bigotry that causes some people to get thier backs up when debating in here. Any people from the outside seeing this sort of thing are unlikely to say, “Hey! I think I’ll join that religion.”
Holy Avenger, you say, “I don’t think there’s anything wrong with an inherent agenda of kindness, respect for others, and sacrifice.” But that’s not how I (viewing it from the outside) see christianity. My impression is that anyone who thinks christianity is about kindness, respect for others, and sacrifice has made up his or her own personal version of christianity, keeping the good parts and rejecting the bad parts.
What are the bad parts? In particular, I see a lack of respect for others. I see people with a harsh, cruel, unlivable list of rules about sex and reproduction who are very intolerant of anyone who disagrees with those rules or anything else they say. I see people who say “we’re right, and anyone who disagres with us is wrong”. I hear the message that the only way to avoid an eternity of torment in hell is to belive exactly the right things; no matter how good a life I may lead, no matter how kind, respectful of others, and self sacrificing I may be, I DON’T go to heaven if I’m a Bhudist, a Wiccan, an agnostic, or even if I subscribe to the wrong version of christianity, among the many, many versious out there.
Wow, Doubleclick! Could you tell us when and where Al Gore said that we don’t have (or shouldn’t have?) freedom from religion?
The guy really isn’t all that much better then Bush. Does he think every non-religious person in the country should be compelled to choose a relgion, join it, attend services, and give it money?
The freedom NOT to have a religion is vital. The freedom not to be compelled to live by the rules of a religion in which one does not believe is vital. That’s one of my main beefs with christianity. The catholics, in particular, seem determined that the govt should force everyone to obey their rules. Like, no one has the right not to be catholic.
However, spending time on this board has helped me become more knowledgable about how Christians feel and the reasoning they use to get to those positions.
I now know more about the differences between the different sects of Christianity (and Judaism as well) than I ever did before I got here.
Also, this board reinforced something I always knew but it’s still nice to witness to get independant verification:
Christians are not always assholes.
The loudest factions of Christianity are the people who bang on your door, who scream out at sinners on college campuses, who pound a pulpit on TV while driving a LExus and shtupping their secretaries, who lie for God about how He created us and ask public schools to teach those lies, who picket the funerals of gay men who dies of AIDS, and the media of course spends time with the loudest types of ANYTHING.
It’s not hard to get the impression that these folks are not just a majority, but are INDICATIVE of Christianity.
At SDMB, the assholes get called upon, and it’s not an “atheist, Humanist conspiracy of persecution,” but by other Christians here. Trisk will always be a hero of mine even if he would never willingly accept the mantle for his way with these cretins, a patience and understanding that I could never muster, but with all of the fury as my best rants.
And as I said, I knew this before I got here, but seeing it in action is so impressive.
So, no, the SDMB didn’t make me a Christian. I doubt that will ever happen because I have too much respect for the other religions, including my own Jewish heritage.
But it helped me find my own spirituality, and I’d like to think that God (called Christ by some) is just fine with that. I am one of the UU converts that Polycarp spoke of.
My education here made me a better person, at any rate, and isn’t that what a Christian wants to be, even if the motivations for such might be different?
"Vice President Al Gore, though, has come out in support of “faith-based partnership” which include bringing sectarian groups into the operation of social services. Gore, in fact, unveiled his “New Partnership” faith scheme in May, 1999 during a speech at a Salvation Army drug rehabilitation center in Atlanta, Georgia. There, he warned against “hollow secularism,” and almost anticipating Lieberman’s remarks declared: “I strongly believe in the separation of church and state. But freedom of religion does not mean freedom from religion, there is a better way.”
If there is reason to doubt this actually happened, please let me know.