21 Jun Modernity, Postmodernity, Metanarrative and the Prayer of Jay-booz

Recently, I started corresponding with a young man who has been reading my blogs. From reading his email, it is clear that he is bright, quite articulate and painfully honest. When I first asked Tom (not his real name) to tell me about himself, this is what he wrote:

I’m a 28-year old white man. My parents are pastors in a suburb of Seattle. They founded the church they currently pastor when I was two weeks old.

I attended a private Christian elementary and junior high (but a public high school), then marched straight to a Bible college, my dad’s alma mater – it seemed like the logical “next step”. I never seriously considered any other colleges.

It’s an old, familiar story: fell in love, tried to have the perfect Christian wife and marriage…and was divorced 5 years later. I think that the breakdown of my marriage was just one, however significant, step down the road I’ve been on for years: if my faith, obedience, dedication and spirituality were not enough to keep my marriage together, what else could all the “Christian experts” have been withholding from me?

It was Tom’s last question that gripped my heart the most. A question that I never asked till I was well in my late 40’s, over 30 years after becoming a follower of Christ. A question that today Christians younger than my own children are asking me over and over again. How did we, evangelical Christians, come to the conclusion that our faith, obedience and spirituality should guarantee us of a life void of pain and failure? Of course, the preacher from the pulpit and the televangelist on TV are quick to point to the Bible. But I believe the answer lies in understanding the word metanarrative. However, to understand the phrase, one needs to understand two other phrases: modernity and postmodernity. I hope I don’t bore you to death!

Modernity
First introduced in 1627, this term describes the knowledge, power, and social practices which emerged in Europe around that time. Modernity was not associated solely with ‘newness’, but also with beliefs in rationality and ‘progress’, and came to be seen as a central attribute of Europe, which the rest of the world were expected (or compelled) to adopt. (Answer.com)
Postmodernity
Said to exist after modernity. Some schools of thought hold that modernity ended in the late 20th century, replaced by post-modernity, while others would extend modernity to cover the developments denoted by Postmodernity and into the present. (Answer.com)
Metanarrative
A metanarrative can include any grand, all-encompassing story, classic text, or archetypal (original pattern or model) account of the historical record. They can also provide a framework upon which an individual’s own experiences and thoughts may be ordered. These grand, all-encompassing stories are typically characterized by some form of ‘transcendent and universal truth’ in addition to an evolutionary tale of human existence (a story with a beginning, middle and an end).
According to Jean-François Lyotard, a defining condition of postmodernity is a widespread skepticism or “incredulity” toward metanarratives. (Wikipedia)
Examples of metanarratives
1. The Enlightenment theorists believed that rational thought, allied to scientific reasoning, would lead inevitably toward moral, social and ethical progress.
2. Marxists believe that human existence is alienated from its species being, although capable of realizing its full potential through collective, democratic organization.
3. Freudian theory holds that human history is a narrative of the repression of libidinal desires.
4. An uncritical belief in the free market is a belief that through humanity’s acquisition of wealth all who work hard and are afforded the right opportunities will succeed materially.
5. Categorical and definitive periodizations of history, such as the Fall of the Roman Empire, are rejected by postmodernism. Other periodization schemes include the Dark Ages and Renaissance.

Do we, Christians, have our own metanarratives, or as I like to put it, “one size fits all stories”? Do we insist that all the stories in the Bible are universal and if something was promised or worked for Abraham, Jabez or David should work for all Christians? Let me give you a couple of examples.

A year ago, two weeks after I had had my second operation in less than three months, a dear pastor friend of mine asked if I would fill in for a speaker who could not fulfill her commitments at his church. I readily accepted his offer for two reasons: friendship and needing to make some money. My friend’s church was about two hours west of where I live and because I was in too much pain, I asked another dear friend to drive us to the church.

The meeting went well and many people stayed afterwards to talk to me. As I was saying goodbye to my friend and his wife, because of the pain, I was leaning against the wall and kind of hunched over. It was then that he asked, “Why did you have a second operation after your cancer operation?”

“My cancer operation unmasked a hernia which needed to be taken care of.” “A hernia is nothing like cancer,” he replied.
“True, but the operation hurts more,” I answered.
And, that’s when he said something that completely threw me for a loop: “Joseph had many trials, but he never complained.”

According to my friend, since Joseph suffered much in his life and yet, never complained, I should have also acted accordingly and not reveled that I was in pain. If the Bible gives us that story, it is because God wants us all to behave as such—a biblical metanarrative. Actually, I wouldn’t have minded keeping my mouth shut and had never said anything about my pain, if my friend could have guaranteed the second part of that formula: Enduring the pain would eventually have made me the ruler of Egypt.

Do you remember Bruce Wilkinson, the author of the best selling book, The Prayer of Jabez, a 93-page, $10 tract published in 2000? The book, which sold over 22 million copies, is based on a passage in the book of Chronicles, in which a man named Jabez prays, “Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, and that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain.” And the Lord granted his wish. According to Mr. Wilkinson, the lesson is that God wants believers to ask for blessings. Those who ask—by reciting Jabez’s 33-word prayer—unleash miracles. Those who don’t ask don’t receive. Squabbling couples should ask for happy marriages, he writes. Business executives should ask for more customers—another biblical “one size fits all”.

Having heard the voice of God, in 2002, Wilkinson, whose self-help prayer book had made him a rich man, moved to Africa and announced his intention to save one million children left orphaned by the AIDS epidemic.

However, in October 2005, Mr. Wilkinson resigned from the African charity he founded. He abandoned his plan to house 10,000 children in a facility that was to be an orphanage, bed-and-breakfast, game reserve, bible college, industrial park and Disney-esque tourist destination in the tiny kingdom of Swaziland, came back to the US and went into an early retirement.

According to everything I have read, Bruce’s failure was mostly due to his lack of intercultural understanding and refusal to listen to the advise of the western aid-workers who had lived in Swaziland for many years. But, to me, his greatest mistake was to fall victim to his own myth. According to the Wall Street Journal, “Mr. Wilkinson says that he blames neither God nor man. He says he weeps when he thinks of his disappointed acolytes, and is trying to come to grips with a miracle that didn’t materialize despite his unceasing recitation of the Jabez prayer…”

To say that because God granted Jabez’s wish, He desires the same for everyone who prays the prayer, is as diluted and misguided as saying, “…rational thought, allied to scientific reasoning, would lead inevitably toward moral, social and ethical progress.” To believe that is simplistic, naïve and denies the complexity and mysteriousness of the God we serve. But even more heart-wrenching is not realizing how much damage Christian metanarratives have done to the faith of Christians like my young friend, Tom, a man who was taught that his faith, obedience, dedication and spirituality should be enough to keep his marriage together. And, of course, the reason his marriage failed was because he wasn’t faithful, obedient or spiritual enough.

Comments

comments

59 Comments
  • Please Do Not Go To A Bible College 2 | ShahShankedRedemption
    Posted at 11:04h, 04 July Reply

    […] Because I had many students who went through what Dave is experiencing — and I’m deeply sorry to say that some now consider themselves to be atheists — I wrote another post a few years back to deal exactly with the above issues and questions. Please see, Modernity, Post-Modernity, Metanarrative, And…. […]

  • Please Do Not Go To A Bible College 2 - shahzam factor
    Posted at 10:07h, 04 July Reply

    […] Because I had many students who went through what Dave is experiencing — and I’m deeply sorry to say that some now consider themselves to be atheists — I wrote another post a few years back to deal exactly with the above issues and questions. Please see, Modernity, Post-Modernity, Metanarrative And…. […]

  • Shah Afshar
    Posted at 05:32h, 17 January Reply

    Well said, Amanda.

  • Amanda
    Posted at 14:34h, 16 January Reply

    I totally identify with this post and with "Tom." Although my life is far from pain free and perfect, I'm thankful to serve a God that doesn't have the same desires for everyone. I'm thankful for His grace and for His ability to use all situations for the good of those who love Him.

  • Cornelius
    Posted at 07:06h, 05 September Reply

    Shah?….

  • Cornelius
    Posted at 09:46h, 31 August Reply

    "What would it take for you to dismiss the claims of Christianity as false?"And/Or, Why do you dismiss the claims of Islam as false?

  • Cornelius
    Posted at 15:50h, 29 August Reply

    "Are you open to becoming a believer [again]"Absolutely, see above paragraphs. ^"why did you become an atheist? What led you to that decision?"Well, I'd start off by making the point that atheism is a default position. We're all born atheists (meaning not accepting any particular theologies or dogmas). We then are indoctrinated into whatever religion our parents or community is. So atheism isn’t a decision in the way that accepting a particular faith is a decision. I didn’t make the decision to become an atheist, I simply was intellectually honest with myself and accepted the fact that I didn’t believe in any of the claims of Christianity anymore. That is, I didn’t believe in claims such as: There is an anthropomorphic god with petty human emotions that made people, then was unable to forgive what he all-knowingly created, so he sent himself down to be sacrificed in order to appease himself and keep himself from burning all of his creation in eternal torment. By seeing the problems with the previous claims I didn’ t believe in them anymore. Thus, lack of belief, lack of theism, equals a-theism, non-theism. It’s not a new belief that I was adopting, I simply was NOT believing in certain theistic claims anymore.As I may have noted in previous posts; I was raised by a loving Christian family and was devout all of my life until about 22, when everything began to unravel. I no longer took Christian ‘claims to reality’ (because that is what they are) to be true. I see no evidence of an afterlife, a spiritual realm, deities, fairies, nor Santa. As of right now, I don’t think the claims to their existence hold ANY weight. This very fact adds to my disbelief. If something as important as God is impossible to prove, what does that say about the existence of God?BUT, I’m still open to changing my mind. There might be evidence revealing that fairies really do cause spring to come each year. If there is real, testable, verifiable, repeatable, falsifiable evidence that fairies are real, then I probably will accept that. That would make fairies a reality. So I am open to changing my mind and believing that fairies, deities, etc are a reality. But as of right now, since I don’t think the claims are any good, I am in the default position of non-believer, lack-of-belief, a-theist.Now, getting back to you with the same question (and the question I’ve previously asked you);What would it take for you to dismiss the claims of Christianity as false?

  • Shah Afshar
    Posted at 08:56h, 26 August Reply

    Hey Cornelius, sorry for my late reply. I watched the clip. Doesthat mean there is hope for you? Are you open to becoming a believer or nothing I can say can change your mind? Because the clip can go either way. I hope you know I'm joking.Hey, I'm just curious, why did you become an atheist? What led you to that decision?

  • Cornelius
    Posted at 03:35h, 26 August Reply
  • Cornelius
    Posted at 13:20h, 17 August Reply

    “you would like to provoke people” “Do you treat everyone this way or just the Christians and if so, why?” I suppose there is a little provocation, but it is in an effort to get people really thinking about their beliefs and religion. As for particularly focusing on Christians; I am a former Christian. I grew up with a solid Christian upbringing. Christianity is what I’m most familiar with (as opposed to other religions), though I have studied other world religions in a fair amount of depth.“God makes no sense to you” Not quite. The creation of gods makes perfect sense to me. There are many aspects about many gods that are reasonable ideas, but they fail any tests of credibility, falsifiability, and evidence. Some notions of deities make sense on their own, but when compared to other claims of aspects or characteristics of god-beings, they contradict and are illogical. That wasn’t worded very well at all, but I think you get the idea: The notion of a god makes sense in that I can see why the idea was invented. They are simply human ideas that don’t work. The idea of a god is like the idea of a perpetual motion machine. People have thought it up; it makes sense on a certain level, but ultimately is an impossibility.“You might… be able destroy any argument I give” I might.“One thing you will NEVER be able to take away from me is my experience”I’m not trying to take anything away from you. And of course I can’t experience your personal experiences, just as you can’t experience anyone else’s. Just as you claim that your personal spiritual experiences are significant, I can argue that my personal spiritual experiences with reality have led me to believe that I am the reincarnation of Ghandi. They don’t really mean anything. The personal experience argument for deities doesn’t count for anything. Are you convinced of the personal experience rantings of a lunatic in an asylum? Of course not. Makes me think of a quote,“A casual stroll through the lunatic asylum shows that faith does not prove anything.” – Nietzsche.“you will never be able to change my mind with your arguments.” Change your mind about what? I can change you mind about some things, but not others that you wall –off from criticism and reason. “Is there any particular life changing experience you've ever had?”I’ve had no life experiences of any kind… ; ) Whatever my life experiences (such as being baptized in the holy spirit in your church) don’t really matter in terms of discussing and debunking theistic claims, such as ‘there is a god’, ‘she is all-good’, etc.“Do you think someone can prove to you that the experience never took place?”The human brain is an incredible and power thing. You can’t prove that in my sleep last night my soul literally came out of my body and flew around my neighborhood in the shape of a phoenix. Personal experiences don’t lead us anywhere. They don’t matter when attempting to discuss whether claims are really real in REALITY.So basically, you’re saying that you have no real evidence of a spiritual realm that may contain gods, fairies, trolls, and unicorns? All you have is personal experiences that a troll came to you in a dream riding a unicorn, or something like that. Well that’s great, I’m sure it was a life changing experience, but that doesn’t really get our discussion anywhere. I want to know if there is any credible evidence of theistic assertions.Here’s a good point for discussion: If evidence could be brought forward for a Christian god, I would believe in the Christian god. Currently the claims are unfalsifiable; they cannot be proven nor disproven. My point is that I’m ready and willing to change my mind. I have an open-heart, as we used to say in church. My question is; If it can be sufficiently demonstrated to you that arguments for gods hold as much weight as arguments for reincarnation, fairies, or trolls… would you change your mind? Or have you walled off certain ideas from any scrutiny because you know they will not stand up to the test?

  • Shah Afshar
    Posted at 05:57h, 05 August Reply

    Cornelius, Sorry it's taken me a while to reply to you. I don't mind you referring to God as she. I believe that's why the Bible says HE made man and woman in his own image. He is very well in touch with his feminine side. However, to me, as you say, a reasonable man, it seems you would like to provoke people who don't see things the same way you do. Do you treat everyone this way or just the Christians and if so, why? God makes no sense to you, therefore, He should make no sense to anyone else either? You might argue with my theology and be able destroy any argument I give in my defense. One thing you will NEVER be able to take away from me is my experience with Christ and how He changed my life. That's why I told you you will never be able to change my mind with your arguments. Is there any particular life changing experience you've ever had? Do you think someone can prove to you that the experience never took place? I'm just curious.

  • Cornelius
    Posted at 06:26h, 03 August Reply

    Well written Shah! I extend my hand in friendship to you as well.Thank you for the invite to get together. Unfortunately, I am not in California. But hopefully we can keep a little bit of dialog going on the internet."There is no way we can change each others minds" I think there is. You seem to be a rational reasonable man. I think we can talk about theological issues and when we come to a disagreement, we can focus on that specific point. Reason will shine through. God either makes sense or she doesn't. Christianity either makes sense, is reality and truth, or it is not.We can figure these things out and we can change minds… we just have to get them thinking first. ;)Care to comment on any of my point in the above dialog/debate?

  • Shah Afshar
    Posted at 05:13h, 01 August Reply

    Cornelius, You're welcome, my friend. I was hoping that you would realize that I don't consider you to be my enemy. I write these articles because, just like you, I seek truth. You believe you can find that through rationality and reason and Ian and I believe we find it through God. There is no way we can change each others minds by being condescending toward one another, especially if you knew my background. However, I believe we can be friends and exchange ideas in an atmosphere of trust and honesty and to that cause I am extending my hand of friendship to you. If you live in the area, I would love to hang out with you. I live in San Fernando, ca.

  • Cornelius
    Posted at 04:40h, 01 August Reply

    "we can always expect our view of what is good & God's view to coincide"Good is relative and an 'only good' god cannot be all powerful or all knowing as well.Very touching post Ian. I don't know what has happened to your son nor how it is shattering your particular theology but I wish you luck in your spiritual journey. Seek the truth through rationality and reason. Don't back down. Don't compartmentalize ideas or dogmas that scream out with inconsistencies and bad logic. Seek truth and reality no matter what the cost.—–I want to thank Shah for leaving the dialog above on his website. Thank you for not deleting it. Well done! You're a good man.

  • Ian
    Posted at 11:37h, 31 July Reply

    Hi ShahI want to thank you for your last blog in which you questioned the standard Christian assumption that we can always expect our view of what is good & God's view to coincide. At first, I rejected the point you were making but as I thought about it more & more I realised that the assumption you were questioning was my assumption. I am still struggling with what has happened to my son and how it is affecting his life precisely because my thinking goes along the lines of: 1. God has saved him; 2. God has guided him into this particular military career; 3. God has preserved him and enabled him to be successful in a situation with a more or less 50% failure rate; 4. God will look after him.What has happened has shattered that but I haven't yet found another way of thinking to replace it with. I think in your blog you questioned whether it is appropriate for us to think in terms of metanarrative at all. That's a postmodern position, as far as I understand it, and fits comfortably with open theism, a position I do not regard as Biblical. So I think the Biblical answer is elsewhere – or perhaps this is one of those circumstances that challenges us to live the life of faith without answers, like Job and many others in scripture.

  • Cornelius
    Posted at 03:55h, 15 July Reply

    Dennis, What about my paragraphs about belief and action? What did you think when you read them?Do you get the idea that you can TAKE ACTION based on BELIEF, but you CANNOT TAKE ACTION on LACK OF BELIEF?eg. I kill because of the belief that I am threatened.

  • Cornelius
    Posted at 03:47h, 15 July Reply

    Or what did you think of this?Premise: Everything that exists must have a cause.Premise 2: God existsConclusion: God must have a cause.This shows the infinite regress if one declares EVERYTHING has a cause. Why would God be exempt? She's definitely something and would be considered part of everything.

  • Cornelius
    Posted at 03:42h, 15 July Reply

    It makes me sad Dennis that I posted so much and you simply skipped over it all. I put my heart into responding to you with as clearly stated examples as I could put together. For example, what did you think of the reincarnation examples? Did you just pass over them and not give them a thought?FACT: You do not accept reincarnation. You dismiss the claim. You reject the idea. Does this mean your religion is non-reincarnation? NO! Stating that you DON'T believe in reincarnation does not assert any actual BELIEF of any kind. You simply lack the belief. Get it?I'd love for you to respond to each of my idea or paragraphs and tell me what you think. Did you accept the fact that the Romans sentenced Christians to death for being "atheists"?

  • Cornelius
    Posted at 03:34h, 15 July Reply

    Weak. I responded to almost every dumb paragraph you typed. I didn't respond the the dumbest stuff though. Respond to some of my commentsPlease specifically ask your question again and I will answer. When you do, please answer these questions as succinct and honest as possible:Do you understand that atheism (atheism in general, not strong atheism) is a lack of belief, it is not a set of beliefs?Do you understand that it has no dogma, set of rules, and no necessary beliefs? It is lack of belief or denial of theist claims.Would you be a murderous maniac (morally bankrupt) if you found out for a fact that there is no God?Last, have you read any real scientific materials on evolution and natural selection? Do you understand what a scientific theory actually is? Such as the theory of relativity, gravity, germs, and evolution.

  • Dennis
    Posted at 03:06h, 15 July Reply

    Hi Cornelius,I am waiting for answers to my questions other than "ha ha ha" and because "Cornelius says so"Dennis

  • Cornelius
    Posted at 10:18h, 14 July Reply

    I guess the "fool" gets the last word. 🙁

  • Cornelius
    Posted at 04:36h, 09 July Reply

    “atheism cannot explain the existence of the universe.”ATHEISM DOESN’T SEEK TO EXPLAIN ANYTHING! How bloody daft are you!? You’re the one trying to explain the existence of the universe. You explain it by saying “God dun it” Now you have to explain what God is, give evidence and tell us exactly how God created the universe. What’s that? You can’t? God doesn’t explain anything? Well that’s what I’ve been trying to tell you this whole time. I’m glad you’ve figured it out now that Gawd explains nothing.“the universe eternally existed or it leapt into existence by itself.”I don’t give a crap where you go with this. The fact is:God either eternally existed or leapt into existence himself right?So what does putting Gawd before the universe do to EXPLAIN ANYTHING!?It only adds one to the number of things we are trying to figure out.God absolutely fails as an explanation. Gawd explains NOTHING!“entropy” ha ha ha!“Premise 1: Everything that begins to exist has a cause.Premise 2: The universe began to exist.Conclusion 1: Therefore, the universe must have a cause.”I don’t know if the universe has a beginning. Indeed, why should it?Let me try you same crap:Premise: Everything that exists must have a cause.Premise 2: God existsConclusion: God must have a cause.Oops, that didn’t go well did it. You can’t just exclude Gawd from causality. God answers nothing!Stop saying “Negro” I’m getting offended. ; )“her atheist religion.” I’m about to leave.“the Bible teaches that all are the same” Outright lie!It teaches in genocide, sexism, and is pro-slavery. Have you read it?“I have shown atheists are anti life, anti liberty and they are racist murders”Shut up Dennis… You’re done.I see at the end you opened up the can of worms that known as ‘The Problem of Evil”. Bad idea.- – – – – – – – – – – Tom said… “If I'm in the deep South, and I'm gay, or transgendered, or a Muslim woman in a hijab, or an Arab, I suspect I'd be more trusting of a group of drunken Atheists than a group of people that believe that God wants to torture me eternally and so why don't we go ahead and get a head start?”Nice Tom!

  • Cornelius
    Posted at 04:35h, 09 July Reply

    “Before you blow a gasket in regards to my comments that atheism is a religion consider the following definitions:”No gasket blown. I expect you’d say it.I sat here and thought about it for a little bit… Do you realize that you are trying to make atheism (disbelief) a religion in order to show that it is ‘just as bad’ as any other religion, such as Christianity!? You’re trying to put it on the same ground as Christianity. It’s not. There are a whole set of beliefs that come with the dogma of Christianity. But lack of those beliefs is atheism. Atheism has no dogma, no beliefs. There are all manner of atheists; Hindu atheists, Buddhist atheist, Christian atheists (like myself). Does putting it that way help you understand?“The doctrine or belief that there is no God” – hard atheism, and unprovable. Can’t prove something does NOT exist. Can’t prove a negative. There will always be some jackass redefining the term ‘God’ and saying it exists.“Atheism is a religion that… believes in tenets such as the universe has no beginning or eternally existed (both of which are impossible) and morality is a personal, subjective decision.”Wrong. Not all atheists believe that. You’re now defining SOMETHING that an atheist might believe. The fact is, the ONLY thing that unites atheists is their LACK of belief in theist claims such as reincarnation or deities. You’re saying people called ATHEISTS believe X, you can’t say that! They don’t. There is no doctrine, there is no dogma in atheism. It is simply a term for those that REJECT theist claims. Am I getting through to you now?We don’t have a name for people that DON’T believe in witches. We don’t have a name for people that DON’T believe that Elvis is still alive. Why do we have a name for people that DON’T believe in deities? Do you see that it is a silly label to begin with? It was coined by the Romans AGAINST the Christians for Pete sake! (Bet you didn’t know that one!) The Christians rejected all the Roman gods. They were the original atheists! This is literally where the term atheist came from! You lack the belief in Jupiter, Zeus, Quetzalcoatl, etc. You’re an atheist.“Also, you claim evolution is scientific FACT”.Yes, and too deny this demonstrates EXTREME IGNORANCE. I’m not even going to bother addressing your denial of the theory of evolution. It’s like denying germ theory, or the theory of gravity. It’s like you’re trying to argue flat earth theory.“One: nowhere in the fossil record is there even one example of an organism evolving from one kind to another.” That’s not evolution my friend. You’re an idiot.“virtually every organism appears at once” wrong“evolution cannot account for the complexity of life” wrong“1 in 10 to the 10,241st power.” “8.857 X 10 to the 23rd power.” Wow, you’re very smart you can write down numbers.“atheism is a religion for people who do not want to believe in God.”I’m going to just start calling you names and forget trying to explain things to you if you continue on with this bullshit.More…

  • Cornelius
    Posted at 04:34h, 09 July Reply

    Hi Dennis, OK, Here we go:“Answer a fool according to his folly or he will seem wise in his own eyes”Thanks for calling me a fool Dennis. I’m used to it. I’m surprised you didn’t pull Psalms 14:1 out of your ass, like most arrogant Christians do.“Sorry, communism is not a religion it is a political system.”Correct! However, there was no freedom of religion. Freethinkers and opposition to the communist party in China and Russia were murdered by the thousands. The state imposed religion was a kind of worship of Mao. That was their religion Maoism. Atheism is not a religion.“The religion of Mao and Stalin was atheism, this is a fact.”WRONG! It is a fact that they claimed to be atheists. But it is a fundamental misconception that atheism is a religion. IT IS NOT! It is a lack of belief in theist claims.Look at it this way Dennis. Do you believe that reincarnation is a reality? If you’re a Christian, you reject this claim wholly. You believe souls/beings pop into existence when Gawd makes ‘em and then they all live forever in the heaven or hell that Gawd created for them. Right?So, you are an a-theist, non-theist, with respect to the belief in reincarnation. You are an a-reincanist. You reject the idea; just like I reject your claim that a “jealous” anthropomorphic space-daddy lives in the sky. Does that help demonstrate atheism a bit better?Disagreements, debates and discussions, such as the one we are having almost always differ on the point of DEFINITIONS (semantics). Your definition of atheism is very different from mine. Since you’re calling it a religion, your definition of religion is probably different too. If I can slightly change your close-minded definitions of ‘atheism’ and ‘religion’ and ‘evolution’ a little bit, then I’ll consider success. But if you continue to spout the fallacies you are saying, I’ll be saddened.“they did not murder because of their atheism”Correct.“their motives are not in question”Yes they are!!! You’re saying their lack of belief motivated them to kill! I’m simply disagreeing. They had all manner of beliefs that led to genocide. But LACK OF BELIEF cannot lead to action, only belief can. Let’s go back to our reincarnation example:You do not believe in reincarnation. You lack the belief. You literally CANNOT get yourself to believe it. Now, can you take action on a belief you don’t have? Absolutely not! But, you could take violent action against Hindus based on THE BELIEF that they are a threat to you. Do you see? An atheist or a Christian could kill a Hindu both based on THE BELIEF that they are a threat to us. We both lack the belief in reincarnation, but we are not killing because of our lack of belief in reincarnation. We are killing because of our BELIEF that Hindus are a threat. I hope this is making some degree of sense. I have explained it countless times to others and have had a varying degree of success.“Hitler was a Christian” agreed“the heart of this ruthless man who believed in social Darwinism”Actually, Hitler, Stalin and Mao publically DENOUCED Darwin’s theory of evolution and publically EMBRACED Lamarck’s theory of evolution. which totally failed. Nazi eugenics was not based on Darwin’s theory, but Lamarck. Even if they claim it was Darwinian, they clearly did not understand the difference between ‘natural selection’ and ‘artificial selection’. DO you know the difference?Please watch this video: What we are discussing is directly addressed at 4:01http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eGmLDKQp_Qc“[Lamarck’s] theory of evolution by acquired characteristics proved a failed hypothesis almost immediately, but it offered a sort of personal control over racial advancement which appealed to those ambitious in politics. Both Stalin and Mao embraced Lamarckism and publically denounced Darwinism, as Hitler did also. Yet Creationists label all three of them Darwinists and can’t distinguish Lamarck’s failure from Darwin’s success.”More…

  • "Tom"
    Posted at 09:55h, 08 July Reply

    Hi all, "Tom" from the OP here. Sorry I'm late to the party. I just wanted to say hi, to thank Shah once again for giving my story a voice, and for providing a safe place to discuss faith and doubt.I think that's really at the heart of the rethinking I've gone through over the last several years – in my previous faith community environments, any expression of doubt was quickly covered up, dismissed, or denied. Any moral failings of "us" was quickly forgiven or forgotten, but "they" – the outsiders, those with differing theologies or politics or symbolic worldviews – were viewed as amoral threats to Decency, out to destroy the nation, the church, and the world.I'll freely admit that I've been shaken out of that. Shah asks, Suppose you are walking in a dark alley in the middle of the night and a group of men are walking towards you. What would give you more comfort, to know that they are a bunch of atheists who just came out of the neighborhood bar or a bunch of Christian men coming from a Bible study?Unfortunately, I have to answer, "It depends." It depends on who, and where, I am. If I'm in the deep South, and I'm gay, or transgendered, or a Muslim woman in a hijab, or an Arab, I suspect I'd be more trusting of a group of drunken Atheists than a group of people that believe that God wants to torture me eternally and so why don't we go ahead and get a head start?

  • Dennis
    Posted at 06:36h, 07 July Reply

    I have shown atheists are anti life, anti liberty and they are racist murders; that evolution is impossible as is the humanist ideologies to the existence of the universe using science, facts, and history, so please do not respond to these arguments until you have actual facts, science and history to back up your claims. (Note: visiting the Richard Dawkins website does not count).Now, I asked you before, and I will ask you again, by what ethos do you judge someone to be a barbarian? And by what ethos do you judge God as being wrong by being jealous? Why is God wrong for jealously loving His bride?And I agree: I will not kill my neighbor because of the consequences. But by what ethos did our society determine murder is wrong? In regards to me being afraid Of God because of the hell fire I am not. Why not? Because Jesus died for my sins, and I have His perfection in place of my wickedness. But you say “how can a loving God send the rest of the people to hell?” The reality is everyone deserves to go to hell because everyone has sinned. But God, who is Love, made a way for us broken sinners to be forgiven. According to the Scriptures all have sinned, which has separated us from God. So God, Who is Love, died on the Cross in our place so we could be with Him. We could not pay the penalty so He paid it for us. That is true love. But the better question is why someone would willfully reject a free gift and accept an eternity in burning agony? But, either way you get what you want. Dennis“Do not answer a fool according to his folly or you will be like him yourself”

  • Dennis
    Posted at 06:35h, 07 July Reply

    Also, your atheism cannot explain the existence of the universe. You are stuck with two theories, neither of which is logical: one, the universe eternally existed or two, it leapt into existence by itself. In regards to the universe and the belief it has eternally existed this is impossible as entropy would have consumed it an eternity ago. Also, cause and effect proves the universe could not have created itself since that would be an effect without a cause. Consider the Kalam Cosmological Argument:Premise 1: Everything that begins to exist has a cause.Premise 2: The universe began to exist.Conclusion 1: Therefore, the universe must have a cause.Onto more wonderful atheists: Margret Sanger. “Sanger was a proponent of negative eugenics, a social philosophy which claims that human hereditary traits can be improved through social intervention. In 1939 Margaret Sanger started “The Negro Project”. She enlisted black preachers to support sterilization. The plan was shown in a letter to Clarence Gamble of the Procter and Gamble Empire,‘We should hire three or four colored ministers, preferably with social-service backgrounds, and with engaging personalities. The most successful educational approach to the Negro is through a religious appeal. We do not want word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population and the minister is the man who can straighten out that idea if it ever occurs to any of their more rebellious members.’” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Margaret_SangerShe is acting perfectly with her atheist religion. Atheism, like evolution is racist. In contrast the Bible teaches that all are the same in Christ, “Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.” And from the Old Testament, “Do not mistreat an alien or oppress him, for you were aliens in Egypt. Do not take advantage of a widow or an orphan.” Guess who were the forerunners for abolition in American and England? It was not the atheist but the Christians, like John Brown. I know, you are going to Richard Dawkins’ website for some objective research and you are going to find Scripture in the Bible about slavery. But the Bible first of all never condones slavery, but accounts for it as part of reality, and ultimately condemns it by putting slave traders in the same category as murderers. Of course this means nothing to you as you have no ethos to stand on and you, probably a pro-abortionist, would own slaves if you lived in 1850 America. Again, this is why Shah would rather run into a group of Christians instead of a group of atheists.

  • Dennis
    Posted at 06:33h, 07 July Reply

    Continued…In regards to Hitler as a Christian according to Scholarship corner “while it is often said that Hitler was a Christian, the Nuremberg documents clearly reveal the heart of this ruthless man who believed in social Darwinism and had devised plans to completely eliminate Christianity after the Third Reich was firmly established.”http://www.scholarscorner.com/apologia/deathtoll.htmlBefore you blow a gasket in regards to my comments that atheism is a religion consider the following definitions:Atheism according to Dictionary.com – “The doctrine or belief that there is no God; or disbelief in the existence of a supreme being or beings.” Atheism according to Wikipedia – “either the rejection of theism, or the assertion that deities do not exist. In the broadest sense, it is the absence of belief in the existence of deities.” (Notice the linguistic gymnastics here)Religion according to Dictionary.com – “a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe…” and “a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects”. By simply saying you are not religious does not preclude you from being religious, it is simply a redefining of terms. Clearly Atheism is a religion that does not believe in the existence of the supernatural, but believes in tenets such as the universe has no beginning or eternally existed (both of which are impossible) and morality is a personal, subjective decision. Also, you claim evolution is scientific FACT. But by merely stating it is a fact does not make it fact, just like saying atheism is not a religion does not make it non religious. Look at your argument for evolution being factual: evolution is a FACT because all the scientists say it is. Sorry, by simply saying something is true does not make it true even if everyone in the world says so. Furthermore, what does science have to do with a majority rule? Are we going to vote on what is fact and what is false? Case in point: in c1500 the Earth was considered to be the center of the universe. It was consensus science. Also, “Geosyncline theory” was one of the great unifying theories of the sciences until it was scrapped for plate tectonics. So, majorities are for democracies not science and people who cannot argue from science hide in consensus. Now, let’s look at actual facts. One: nowhere in the fossil record is there even one example of an organism evolving from one kind to another. Furthermore, the Cambrian Explosion flies right in the face of evolution because in one geologic instant virtually every organism appears at once. Not over billions of years but over 70 to 80 million years (note: 1 billion is a thousand million). Fact two: evolution cannot account for the complexity of life. Think about a computer popping out of the sand one day. Is that a possibility? Well it must be in your world because that is more likely than an E. coli bacteria forming out of the “primordial ooze”. In fact the chances of that happening (E. coli forming by random chance) are somewhere around 1 in 10 to the 10,241st power. I realize exponential figures are difficult to appreciate so to give some scale as to how impossible this is, the distance from here to the Andromeda Galaxy measured in inches is 8.857 X 10 to the 23rd power. Measured in centimeters it is 2.21 X 10 to the 24 power and in nanometers it is 2.21 X 10 to the 31st power. So as you can see one number in the exponent makes a huge difference in the quantity. But you will say “see, there is a chance!” But that is harder to believe than an all powerful God creating everything which is why atheism is a religion for people who do not want to believe in God. More to come

  • Dennis
    Posted at 06:31h, 07 July Reply

    Hi Cornelius,“Answer a fool according to his folly or he will seem wise in his own eyes”No stalling here I just have a wife, two kids, several mortgage payments and an imbecile for president who thinks it is better to bail out multi billion dollar banks than to let me keep the money I earn.In regards to your comments“Mao: State forced religion = communismStalin: State forced religion = communismHitler: A Christian ‘I am now as before a Catholic and will always remain so.” – Adolf Hitler’”Sorry, communism is not a religion it is a political system. The religion of Mao and Stalin was atheism, this is a fact. http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Was_Stalin_an_atheisthttp://richarddawkins.net/article,1779,Hitler-Stalin-Mao-etc-were-atheists-and-they-were-terrible–Answer-that,RichardDawkinsnetNow, I know you are going to say they did not murder because of their atheism, but their motives are not in question, only their religion and the amazing similarities between murder on a massive scale and atheists.

  • Cornelius
    Posted at 05:47h, 06 July Reply

    No rebuttals? The lack of response leads me to believe that you're all thoroughly defeated and are simply hoping I go away so you don't have to face the truth anymore."“why not kill my neighbor”? Because you will have to suffer the real, legal, and psychological consequences of killing. Do you desire to murder? Are you saying that you are morally bankrupt without your deity’s threat of hell-fire? I am a good person because I understand that it makes for a better life for me and others to be kind towards my fellow man."I especially like this one. I feel it hits hardest.

  • Carly
    Posted at 05:41h, 05 July Reply

    I always love your posts! They always fit with modern life. I totally agree with your post. My parents have transitioned from many christian faiths while growing up. The ended up in a pentecostal word of faith church. I think some of the things are great but they preach the all for one gospel and i don't believe that everyone is destined to have the same life. The also preach the if something is wrong you must be sinning. I agree we were never guaranteed a happy life and many televangelists preach that if you give money or say a certain prayer all your troubles will go away. That is not what life is about. We are meant to go thru struggles. The problem is too many preachers teach that you will have great wealth and happiness if you follow God. I am not saying that this is not possible but probably wont happen for most people. So be realistic and focus on the true message because as far as I know God's ultimate message is not wealth and earthly happiness.

  • Cornelius
    Posted at 08:22h, 30 June Reply

    “the atheists neither recognize an authority higher than humans”Because there isn’t one. And humans aren’t much of an authority anyway.“clearly demonstrated in EVERY atheist government.”Though there have been COMMUNIST governments that claimed to be ATHEIST, they had their own STATE RELIGION of COMMUNISM. There was no religious freedom. They DID NOT HAVE free religion. Remember: Atheist is simply LACK of belief in gods. It is LACK of belief in the claims religions make. ATHEISM IS NOT A BELIEF, it is lack of belief. There has never been an atheist government. If anything, a SECULAR GOVERNMENT (like our own) IS an atheist government. (It doesn’t have a stance of religion of any kind = atheist) “Darwinian-evolutionists”What exactly is that? Are you a Gravityist? Or a Germ Theoryist? Evolution is a FACT. It is a REALITY. To deny this is like denying the theory of Gravity, Germs, or Relativity. E=MC^2 is “just a theory”. Tell that to those who died at Hiroshima. Germs are “Just a theory”. Sure, pray to your god when sick, but when you really need help, run to a DOCTOR who understands the REALITY of germ theory. Too many are so VERY IGNORANT of real science, you are demonstrating yours. “if anyone is religious-other than atheism” ATHEISM ISN’T RELIGION!!! It’s LACK of belief in YOUR theist claims. I’ll keep repeating it so that you might understand.Mao: State forced religion = communismStalin: State forced religion = communismHitler: A Christian “I am now as before a Catholic and will always remain so.” – Adolf Hitler“This is why Shah asked you about running into a bunch of atheists or Christians in an alley since the atheists are guilty of more than 250 million deaths in the last 100 years alone.” People don’t kill because of LACK of belief. They kill because of belief. Do you want me to start quoting number of people killed BECAUSE OF RELIGIOUS BELIEFS!? Nearly most wars in history!Such very weak and predictable arguments Dennis. I’m disappointed. : (-Cornelius

  • Cornelius
    Posted at 08:20h, 30 June Reply

    “ Like simplicity producing complexity or an eternal universe.”Just because you can’t get your head around the beautiful complexity of the cosmos does not mean a magic man in the sky did it. Sorry.“the founding fathers… were heavily influenced by Christianity”Absolutely agree with you. They were trying to appease the religious while at the same time creating a SECULAR nation where the religious could not infect the government. But religion has been doing a damn good job of infecting power since the establishment of our great secular constitution.“In regards to the creation of a secular government I agree, the founders did not want a theocracy. But religion was excluded from the government because to establish a state religion would violate other people’s liberty.” Excellent, right on, and I agree.“The founding fathers, having been heavily influenced by Christianity, wanted people to have any religion they wanted, but that is not the same as saying the founders did not want religion at all.”I wasn’t saying this. I was simply asserting that the founders were not at all like typical Christians of today. A definite case can be made that they were Deists or Atheists. Please read some of our president’s quotes here:http://www.positiveatheism.org/hist/quotes/lincoln.htmhttp://www.positiveatheism.org/hist/quotes/jefferson.htmhttp://www.positiveatheism.org/hist/quotes/adams.htmI hope some of you seriously read these quotes. They demonstrate that our presidents of the past, WERE NOT like the Christians of today. You can decide for yourself if they were Christian, Deist, Anti-Religious, or Atheist. Can we agree that some of these quotes show an animosity toward religion or Christianity?Why do you assume that non-believers in gods don’t value life as “precious”? Of course we do!“that archaic, Bronze Age book, called the Bible”YES!“in His image”We made gods in our image. “It has been well said that if triangles had a god, they would give him three sides.” –MontesquieuSeriously think about that quote! The Christian god has petty human emotions such as “jealousy”. "For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God:" Exodus 34:14“No other god” What other gods was god worried about? Hmmmm… Could it have been for other man-made gods? It is clear the drama of the gods is simply mirroring human drama.“if I think we are products of random chance”Natural selection is not random.Also, you can’t have it both ways: If things aren’t random and ALL is planned and seen by God (determinism) then GOD IS RESPONSIBLE FOR ALL EVIL. He knowingly created evil. And no bullshit ‘theodicy’ or crap argument can get away from that fact. If God knows all and creates all, he knows and creates EVIL! No escape!“why not kill my neighbor”? Because you will have to suffer the real, legal, and psychological consequences of killing. Do you desire to murder? Are you saying that you are morally bankrupt without your deity’s threat of hell-fire? I am a good person because I understand that it makes for a better life for me and others to be kind towards my fellow man.MORE TO COME…

  • Dennis
    Posted at 04:14h, 30 June Reply

    Hi Cornelius,In regards to religion coming to a close because some (young and easily influenced) Christians are ashamed of being Christian is a really far stretch. Like simplicity producing complexity or an eternal universe. In regards to the founding fathers and quotes of them, the quotes I referenced clearly demonstrated they were heavily influenced by Christianity and are proof that many were in fact Christians themselves. I may be a devil but that does not change the content of the quotes. This is in stark contrast to your original assertion that the founders were anti-religious. In regards to the creation of a secular government I agree, the founders did not want a theocracy. But religion was excluded from the government because to establish a state religion would violate other people’s liberty. In fact this is demonstrated in two of the quotes you referenced:Thomas Jefferson – "I am for freedom of religion, & against all maneuvres to bring about a legal ascendancy of one sect over another."Thomas Jefferson – "The clergy, by getting themselves established by law and ingrafted into the machine of government, have been a very formidable engine against the civil and religious rights of man." The founding fathers, having been heavily influenced by Christianity, wanted people to have any religion they wanted, but that is not the same as saying the founders did not want religion at all. And I think it does matter if the founders were Christian or atheists because Christians and atheist have radically different ideas and these ideas have consequences. If I have the idea that human life is precious I will be more likely to save it. This idea comes right out of that archaic, Bronze Age book, called the Bible: “in His image He made them” and "Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made man.” Humans are given honor and value by being made in God’s image which is not dependent on Man. Conversely, if I think we are products of random chance and all my decisions are meaningless then why not kill my neighbor and sell his organs, or better yet, say the unborn are tissue and harvest their organs. In fact it would be unnatural not to. The founders employed the idea that “all men are created equal, endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights…” Wow, that sounds like “love your neighbor as yourself”. However, the atheists neither recognize an authority higher than humans nor assume humans have rights at all other than what the strong dictate their rights are. This is commensurate with Darwinian evolution and clearly demonstrated in EVERY atheist government. Furthermore, where in the Constitution does it say “there shall be separation between Church and State”? Guess what, it does not. This phrase is from a letter written from President Thomas Jefferson to a religious group who was being persecuted by another religious group and using the government as a tool. Sound familiar? It reminds me of the Darwinian-evolutionists silencing the intelligent designers. He wrote to assure them the government would not interfere with their religion. This is commensurate with the 1st amendment which states Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof… If the founders were atheists the 1st amendment it would say something like “if anyone is religious-other than atheism-they are to be executed…” Disagree? Look at Mao or Stalin or Hitler or the Bolsheviks and their wonderful re-education camps.This is why Shah asked you about running into a bunch of atheists or Christians in an alley since the atheists are guilty of more than 250 million deaths in the last 100 years alone.Dennis

  • Carly
    Posted at 03:56h, 29 June Reply

    I always love your posts! They always fit with modern life. I totally agree with your post. My parents have transitioned from many christian faiths while growing up. The ended up in a pentecostal word of faith church. I think some of the things are great but they preach the all for one gospel and i don't believe that everyone is destined to have the same life. The also preach the if something is wrong you must be sinning. I agree we were never guaranteed a happy life and many televangelists preach that if you give money or say a certain prayer all your troubles will go away. That is not what life is about. We are meant to go thru struggles. The problem is too many preachers teach that you will have great wealth and happiness if you follow God. I am not saying that this is not possible but probably wont happen for most people. So be realistic and focus on the true message because as far as I know God's ultimate message is not wealth and earthly happiness.

  • Cornelius
    Posted at 06:32h, 27 June Reply

    Hi guys, Cornelius again. I’m happy with your responses. For a while there, I thought my blog graffiti would just be ignored. I’m glad you addressed it.Regarding the founders being Christian. We can both put quotes together of ANYONE using terms like “created” and “God” this and “creator” that. As Shakespeare said, “The devil can cite scripture for his purpose.” I would absolutely agree that North America was colonized by western Christian minds. I can’t prove that the founding fathers weren’t Christians, but much of their writings demonstrate that they DEFINITLY WERE NOT devout or dogmatic Christians. They were politicians and leaders of men. But one thing is for certain; they believed that it was EXTREMELY IMPORTANT to create a SECULAR nation that would not allow the power-hungry tentacles of any religious sect to slither its way in to grasp control over our free nation. Look at the sad case of Iran if you want to know what a theocracy looks like.We could argue that the founding fathers were Christian, Deist, Atheist, etc. but it doesn’t really matter. They founded a secular nation, and though the Christian right has done an excellent job of infiltrating and tearing down the barriers between church and state, I think in the long run the wall between church and state will remain firm. The Christian Right propagates the lie that we are a Christian nation, or that we need to go back to a theocracy; but the truth is we never were and never will be.As to meeting a group of god-believers or a group of non-believers in a dark alley: That is silly. You’re trying to build on the negative image and continue to demonize the atheist person. It’s OK. That is how it has always been in history. But things are finally changing. The masses are waking up. The lies just aren’t standing up to the reality and information that is so plain to see for all of us. The stats show that the internet generation is quickly seeing through the lies and BS of religion. A much higher percentage of young people today do not affiliate themselves with any religion. They check the box “Non-Religious” on the surveys. Even the kids IN THE CHURCH vehemently deny the label “religious”. “I’m not religious!” they say. When they parrot the words, “It’s relationship, NOT religion” they die a little inside because they know that it is in fact just another world religion. Religion’s days are numbered; whether or not the fanatics nuke a bunch of people before it completely dies. It’s going… it’s just taking a lot longer than many predicted.

  • maxloon
    Posted at 12:09h, 26 June Reply

    k thank you. i just know there is a constant push for "right way" to pray. anyway thanks for ur input. i always believed prayer to be that as well

  • Shah Afshar
    Posted at 12:05h, 26 June Reply

    Thanks Dennis for your great reply. I'm glad we both survive the bad teachings and still have our faith in Christ. My hear goes out to many who have been greatly hurt and live with a lot of guilt for not living up to a false measuring stick.As for our friend, Cornelius, it's one thing to disagree with with Christians, but to flatly deny that the nation's fathers had anything to do with theChristian faith is downright dishonest. Dennis Prager always asks Corneliuses of this world the following question:Suppose you are walking in a dark alley in the middle of the night and a group of men are walking towards you. What would give you more comfort, to know that they are a bunch of atheists who just came out of the neighborhood bar or a bunch of Christian men coming from a Bible study?

  • Dennis
    Posted at 04:54h, 26 June Reply

    Hi Shah,Great blog. When I first came to Christ I was slammed by the name and claim crowd. I heard it said many times that if I was a Christian my life would be great. But my life was not and I almost through in the towel. But God is faithful. And He showed me that life with Christ is not supposed to be trouble free. All one has to do is look at Jesus: a homeless man, with no wife, no kids, no money, and who was ultimately tortured to death. And where in the bible does it say Joseph did not complain? My guess is he did, like Jesus My God, My God, why have you forsaken MeAlso, it is written: When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider: God has made the one as well as the other…So, I will stick with Jesus.Now on to Cornelius:I did not think Shah’s blog was a venue for debating revisionist history and liberal ideologies but here we are…In regards to America being founded on Christianity consider The Declaration of Independence:We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable…I believe no one can read the history of our country without realizing that the Good Book and the spirit of the Savior have from the beginning been our guiding geniuses … Whether we look to the first Charter of Virginia … or to the Charter of New England … or to the Charter of Massachusetts Bay … or to the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut … the same objective is present … a Christian land governed by Christian principles. I believe the entire Bill of Rights came into being because of the knowledge our forefathers had of the Bible and their belief in it: freedom of belief, of expression, of assembly, of petition, the dignity of the individual, the sanctity of the home, equal justice under law, and the reservation of powers to the people … I like to believe we are living today in the spirit of the Christian religion. I like also to believe that as long as we do so, no great harm can come to our country. Supreme Court chief justice, Earl Warren We have staked the whole future of American civilization, not on the power of government…[but] upon the capacity of each and every one of us to govern ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God. John Quincy Adams It is only in this way that we can hope to arrive at truth, and fulfill the great responsibility which we hold to God and our country.Patrick HenryWe have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry would break the strongest cords of our constitution as a whale goes through a net.John AdamsIn regards to the Old Testament being barbaric one has to read in the genre it was written. Specifically, in the stoning of children one has to understand this command is not for children in our sense of the word but it was written in regards to adult offspring. Further, nowhere is it delineated to stone non-virgins. It does say to execute both the man and the woman if they are caught in adultery. This may seem barbaric, but by what ethos do you measure barbarism? In regards to the rest of the Old Testament one has to remember that Jesus is the antidote to all our shortcomings- He fulfilled all the Law and its requirements and that the law was added to show us how bankrupt and decrepit we are and how much we need Him.Dennis

  • Shah Afshar
    Posted at 15:06h, 25 June Reply

    Max, prayer is communing with God so it can be all of the above. There's no one way of doing it.

  • Shah Afshar
    Posted at 12:12h, 25 June Reply

    Nick, I see you haven't changed a bit. so my writing is sick, but you ate it up. I hope you don't get sick 😉 It's always good to hear from you.

  • Shah Afshar
    Posted at 12:10h, 25 June Reply

    Cornelius, thank you once again for making my point and creating another metanarrative,Religion = Magic = NonsenseThose who live by formulas shall die by them too.

  • Shah Afshar
    Posted at 12:09h, 25 June Reply

    Tim, thanks for your comments. Yes, there are some biblical metanarratives that is worthy of Christ followers. I truly believe that He changed my life when I invited him into my life and the Bible testifies to that. But this doesn't mean that everyone should experience the same thing upon accepting Christ. I believe the bottom line is that we all look at truth through our own glasses of culture, upbringing, race and so on. So, what seems to be true for you is not the same for me.

  • Shah Afshar
    Posted at 11:54h, 25 June Reply

    Heather, if we are honest, we'll all admit that we have the same issues with prayer as you do. I believe that's how a spiritual life should be lived, with a lot of doubts that causes us to constantly wrestle with God.

  • Shah Afshar
    Posted at 11:47h, 25 June Reply

    Joy, the more we realize God's mysteriousness, the more we will rely on faith rather than our man-made spiritual formulas.

  • Shah Afshar
    Posted at 11:44h, 25 June Reply

    Cornelius, I think you got this blog mixed up with Dennis Prager's. I wasn't dealing with any atheistic beliefs. What we are talking about is the problem with the mentality of "one size fits all". However, thank you for making my point for me by saying, ""moral, social and ethical progress…" Do you realize that in the 20th century, your atheistic enlightened communists killed more innocent people than any other time in history and please don't tell me that they were not civilized.

  • Shah Afshar
    Posted at 11:18h, 25 June Reply

    Shawn, having traveled around the world,it's sickening to see how this type of teachings gets to the 3rd nations where people are so desperate to see miracles from God. I think this is some of the crap that bothers me a lot.

  • Lydia
    Posted at 14:09h, 23 June Reply

    Really interesting about Bruce Wilkinson, and his failed miracle. I remember when the Prayer of Jabez was so big at my church. How silly when I think about it now. I agree that those one-size-fits all metanarratives can be harmful. I wish we'd stop thinking that way. I think people have started to move away from that more and more. It seems like slow progress. Especially when seeing young people who are still thinking this way.

  • maxloon
    Posted at 18:06h, 22 June Reply

    what is prayer and what does it look like? psalms? shouting? bowing? closing your eyes? would like ur input. nice blog by the way

  • nick ray pack
    Posted at 15:50h, 22 June Reply

    profesha, this blog was sick. ate it up! i appreciate your thoughts

  • Cornelius
    Posted at 07:19h, 22 June Reply

    Tim said, "I believe there IS truth, and that it CAN be known."Yes! The truth is we don't need witch doctors nor their magic at all!The truth is:Religion = Magic = Nonsense

  • Tim Mossholder
    Posted at 06:56h, 22 June Reply

    Great conversation! It seems to be a human characteristic to want "formulas" that will answer to life's complex and challenging issues. We want magic: a set of specific steps we can follow that will unlock the help we need. We want witch-doctors: those who "know" how to work this magic. Unfortunately, many spiritual leaders (even those who have been Christ followers, though they hold no corner on this market) have been willing to be modern witch-doctors, offering formulas for life's issues.Here's something to ponder: are there ANY biblical metanarratives that are worthy of consideration for Christ followers?I believe there IS truth, and that it CAN be known. How do we interact with truth in such a way that it does not become formulaic, overly simplistic, or "magic"?

  • Anonymous
    Posted at 06:27h, 22 June Reply

    Great post, Shah. The longer I am a Christ follower, the more I realize He did not come to earth for the purpose of giving us a convenient, pocket-sized meta-narrative containing formulas for receiving all we desire in life. I am wary of any theology that, as you observe, "denies the complexity and mysteriousness of the God we serve."-Joy E.

  • Cornelius
    Posted at 01:43h, 22 June Reply

    Anonymous said, "The majority of our founders had a strong faith in God…"John Adams, "God is an essence that we know nothing of. Until this awful blasphemy is got rid of, there never will be any liberal science in the world."Thomas Jefferson – "I am for freedom of religion, & against all maneuvres to bring about a legal ascendancy of one sect over another."Thomas Jefferson – "Christianity neither is, nor ever was, a part of the common law."Thomas Jefferson – "The clergy, by getting themselves established by law and ingrafted into the machine of government, have been a very formidable engine against the civil and religious rights of man."George Washington – "we ought to ascribe the absence of any regulation, respecting religion, from the Magna-Charta of our country." responding to a group of clergymen who complained that the Constitution lacked mention of Jesus Christ, in 1789, Papers, Presidential Series, 4:274, the "Magna-Charta" here refers to the proposed United States Constitution.Is America A Christian Nation? http://www.ffrf.org/nontracts/xian.php

  • Anonymous
    Posted at 01:33h, 22 June Reply

    I think another metanarrative is that God had especially blessed the United States. The majority of our founders had a strong faith in God (whether Christians or deists) and one could stretch a comparison to the Israelites saved by God from the tyranny of Egypt, but we can hardly see ourselves as the Israelites today. We are closer to Egypt in the story.I appreciate your post. I vacillate between the extremes of believing that God will answer every prayer the way I want (the Jabez thing or views of the N.T. in metaphysical terms, e.g. the Sermon on the Mt.) and thinking my prayers won't make a difference in my life. I trust the truth is somewhere between the two but I haven't found that happy medium (is happy medium another metanarrative :)).~Heather Moreno

  • Cornelius
    Posted at 01:30h, 22 June Reply

    Shawn said, "There will come a day when all will be well and all will be made right."When we become adults we realize that nothing is fair. It is a childish notion to think that it's possible for everything to be "made right". The rain falls on the just and unjust alike, as they say.

  • Cornelius
    Posted at 01:19h, 22 June Reply

    "moral, social and ethical progress…" is evident today in that nobody (in the civilized world) obeys bronze-age Old Testament laws; such as stoning to death your children, non-virgins, and those that pick up sticks on the Sabbath. We are more enlightened now! Even the Christians obey our secular laws rather than obey these barbarous old testament ones given by a wrathful and jealous man in the sky.

  • henryjz
    Posted at 23:56h, 21 June Reply

    Shah… I was excited to see another post. You really need to post more often!Anyway, once again you sift through all the distractions of what might be worthy of criticism in evangelicalism and get to the heart of it… our flawed metanarratives. I never really thought of it that way, but it makes soooo much sense. I continue to appreciate your honesty and your gift of diagnosing root matters that need to be dealt with.I'll definitely be reposting this on my blog. Since metanarratives tend to be most easily passed on to children, I think this is something that those in children's ministry really need to be wary of.

  • Shawn
    Posted at 14:53h, 21 June Reply

    Thanks Shah. We've talked about it… The Jabez thing has always drove me crazy. When you look at his name, Jabez and it's meaning, you realize in some sense he was cursed by his parents and lived with a sense of shame. His humble prayer was for God to lift his shame——not make him rich and give him everything he could ever dream of. He wanted the curse of his name lifted from him… that is the gospel.I think we struggle with the modern dilemma of believing we should have heaven now and that life is supposed to be complete here. It is not. I don't think we in the more financially affluent church think about heaven as often as believers did just a handful of decades ago did. I'm grateful for our material blessings, but it does sadden me that we (I'm including myself here) have bought into the idea that all will and should be well with our lives this side of heaven.There will come a day when all will be well and all will be made right. I'm looking forward to it. I pray "Tom" finds the presence of God in the silence after Job's friends are done offering there advice.Thanks Shah! Love you man.

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