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One God for Christians, Muslims and Jews? Good Question December 20, 2015

Posted by tkcollier in Religion.
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So why don’t evangelicals walk around saying they don’t worship the same God as the Jews, the same way they’re insisting on saying it about Muslims? Here’s the kicker: Evangelicals do believe they’re worshiping the God of the Old Testament — they just think Jews have failed to understand his essence as revealed in the New Testament.

InfadelIn evangelical theology, God revealed himself to the Hebrews without expressly making his triune nature known. The incarnation changed all that, and created the possibility of Christian salvation. The Jews failed to get the message. All along, they were worshiping the triune God. They just never knew it, and still don’t.

Hence, to an evangelical Christian, it would make no sense to say that Jews worship a different God — even though to the Jews, that God isn’t theologically very different from the God of the Muslims. To bring this full circle, note that Pope Francis might well believe the same thing. The difference is that he believes Muslims, too, are worshiping the God of the Hebrews. Given that the Prophet Muhammad himself believed that the God of the Jews and of the Christians was the same God he was serving, that view seems pretty convincing. The pope’s view would have the benefit of being consistent as among Jews and Muslims.

If all this makes you want to run to atheism, fair enough. Otherwise, Merry Christmas!

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1491 – The Atlantic October 12, 2015

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A long article about what the “New World” that Columbus discovered may really have been like, versus what we were taught in school.

Before it became the New World, the Western Hemisphere was vastly more populous and sophisticated than has been thought—an altogether more salubrious place to live at the time than, say, Europe. New evidence of both the extent of the population and its agricultural advancement leads to a remarkable conjecture: the Amazon rain forest may be largely a human artifact

Source: 1491 – The Atlantic

“Da Vinci Code” evidence found? September 19, 2012

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A historian of early Christianity at Harvard Divinity School has identified a scrap of papyrus that she says was written in Coptic in the fourth century and contains a phrase never seen in any piece of Scripture: “Jesus said to them, ‘My wife …’ ”

The finding was made public in Rome on Tuesday at the International Congress of Coptic Studies by Karen L. King, a historian who has published several books about new Gospel discoveries and is the first woman to hold the nation’s oldest endowed chair, the Hollis professor of divinity.

via Historian Says Piece of Papyrus Refers to Jesus’ Wife – NYTimes.com.

Atheists Most Knowledgeable About Religion September 28, 2010

Posted by tkcollier in Lifestyle, Religion.
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Americans are by all measures a deeply religious people, but they are also deeply ignorant about religion.

On average, people who took the survey answered half the questions incorrectly, and many flubbed even questions about their own faith.

Those who scored the highest were atheists and agnostics, as well as two religious minorities: Jews and Mormons. The results were the same even after the researchers controlled for factors like age and racial differences.

But what really dropped my jaw with surprise were the two lowest-performing groups: Black Protestants (13.4 percent) and Hispanic Catholic (11.6 percent).

via Atheists Outdo Some Believers in Survey on Religion – NYTimes.com.

What Religions Don’t Share May 9, 2010

Posted by tkcollier in Religion.
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Just as there are tall people in short families (none of the other men in Michael Jordan’s family was over 6 feet tall), there are religions that deny the existence of God and religions that get along just fine without creeds. Something is a religion when it shares enough of this DNA to belong to the family of religions. What makes the members of this family different (and themselves) is how they mix and match these dimensions. Experience is central in Daoism and Buddhism. Hinduism and Judaism emphasize the narrative dimension. The ethical dimension is crucial in Confucianism. The Islamic and Yoruba traditions are to a great extent about ritual. And doctrine is particularly important to Christians.

There is a long tradition of Christian thinkers who assume that salvation is the goal of all religions and then argue that only Christians can achieve this goal. Philosopher of religion Huston Smith, who grew up in China as a child of Methodist missionaries, rejected this argument but not its guiding assumption. “To claim salvation as the monopoly of any one religion,” he wrote, “is like claiming that God can be found in this room and not the next.” It might seem to be an admirable act of empathy to assert that Confucians and Buddhists can be saved. But this statement is confused to the core, since salvation is not something that either Confucians or Buddhists seek. Salvation is a Christian goal, and when Christians speak of it, they are speaking of being saved from sin. But Confucians and Buddhists do not believe in sin, so it makes no sense for them to try to be saved from it. And while Muslims and Jews do speak of sin of a sort, neither Islam nor Judaism describes salvation from sin as its aim.

via Separate truths – The Boston Globe.

Meet the New Faith – Same As The Old Faith March 30, 2010

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Ultimately, Calvinism’s contrast with chummier, Jesus-is-my-friend forms of evangelicalism may highlight a more fundamental change in the world of faith. Bestselling religion writer Phyllis Tickle sees the interest in Calvinism as the first phase of a backlash against the dominant religious trend of today: the rise of “Emergence Christianity.”

Emergence Christianity, which she identifies as a once-every-500-years religious shift, is less a doctrine or a movement than a postmodern attitude toward religion itself. Loosely organized, it values experimentation over traditional rules and Christian practice.

“When things go through this upheaval,” Ms. Tickle says, “there’s always those who absolutely need the assurance of rules and a foundation.”

Or, as Ms. Hagopian puts it with uncompromising Calvinistic clarity: “The dominant philosophy of American Christianity is so far removed from biblical truth. Life is not hunky-dory.”

Christian faith: Calvinism is back / The Christian Science Monitor – CSMonitor.com.

Globilization’s Religious Revival March 16, 2010

Posted by tkcollier in Geopolitics, Religion.
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Here’s the indisputable reality: All of the world’s major religions were formed during the Malthusian era of human economics, before the Industrial Revolution shifted Western societies from a subsistence paradigm to questions of how to deal with abundance.

Survival economies demand a strict code, but abundance offers a choice: Do I adapt the ancient rules to this economic liberation or do I reject it as a socially driven moral evil?

Once the “go forth and multiply” logic is disrupted, then long-held strictures regarding marriage, family, sex, homosexuality, and other social institutions are suddenly put in jeopardy. This is where globalization’s economic connectivity generates revolutionary social change, unleashing personal freedom that by historical standards is stunning — even perverse.

The upside, of course, is the commensurate unleashing of personal creativity and innovation, something we’ll need in superabundance for the many resource-utilization challenges that lie ahead.

Globalization divides societies into short-term economic winners and losers, for the simple fact that some people adapt faster than others. The temptation for those who come out on the losing end is an end-times ideology that promises deliverance from these unacceptable circumstances. Such fundamentalism pursued peacefully presents no problem. The faithful simply live apart from the “evil world.”

This is how religion’s fundamentalist variants came to replace communism as the worldwide organizing principle for violent resistance to capitalism’s continued evolution and expansion around the planet.

via WPR Article | The New Rules: West Must Bridge Globalization’s ‘God Gap’.

Atheist Ireland Publishes 25 Blasphemous Quotes to Protest New Law January 2, 2010

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Freedom of Relgion should include freedom from religion. Well not in Ireland anymore. On 1 January 2010, the new Irish blasphemy law becomes operational. Blasphemy is now a crime punishable by a €25,000 fine ($40,000). The new law defines blasphemy as publishing or uttering matter that is grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters held sacred by any religion, thereby intentionally causing outrage among a substantial number of adherents of that religion, with some defenses permitted.

This new law is both silly and dangerous. It is silly because medieval religious laws have no place in a modern secular republic, where the criminal law should protect people and not ideas. And it is dangerous because it incentives religious outrage, and because Islamic States led by Pakistan are already using the wording of this Irish law to promote new blasphemy laws at UN level.

via Atheist Ireland Publishes 25 Blasphemous Quotes | blasphemy.ie.

5 Nuns In A Bar… October 6, 2009

Posted by tkcollier in Cool photos, Humor, Religion.
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Sisters Mary Catherine, Maria Theresa, Katherine Marie, Rose Frances, & Mary Kathleen left the Convent on a trip to St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City and were sight-seeing on a Tuesday in July.  It was hot and humid in town and their traditional garb was making them so uncomfortable, they decided to stop in at Patty McGuire’s Pub for a cold soft drink.

Patty had recently added special legs to her bar stools, which were the talk of the fashionable east-side neighborhood. All 5 Nuns sat up at the bar and were enjoying their Cokes when Monsignor Riley and Father McGinty entered the bar through the front door.

They, too, came for a cold drink when they were shocked and almost fainted at what they saw (more…)

The Evolution of Heaven July 26, 2009

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AscensionThe idea of followers of Jesus getting to join him in heaven upon dying probably didn’t take shape until about a half-century after Jesus died. To be sure, Jesus’s followers believed from early on that the faithful would be admitted to the “Kingdom of Heaven,” as the New Testament calls it. But “Kingdom of Heaven” is just Matthew’s synonym for what an earlier Gospel, Mark, had called the “Kingdom of God.” And this kingdom was going to exist on Earth, when God righted history’s many wrongs by establishing an enduringly just rule.

Had Christian doctrine not evolved in response to this challenge, it would have lost credibility as the Kingdom of God failed to show up on Earth—as generations and generations of Christians were seen to have died without getting their reward. So the Kingdom of God had to be relocated from Earth to heaven, where generations of Christians had presumably gotten their reward—and you could, too, if you accepted Christ as your savior.

immediate reward in the afterlife—must have come from somewhere, and the likely source is one of the religions with which Christianity competed in the Roman Empire.

via The Evolution of God – by Robert Wright.

Pimps of false hope and salvation by materialism July 12, 2009

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lakewood_chProsperity’s slap-happy belief system evolved from a spiritual imperative to accumulate wealth found in the end-times view known as postmillennialism. It holds that God promises 1,000 years of Christian dominion will precede his return; thus, wealth accumulation is a tool of evangelism, and a materialism arms race is the harbinger of Armageddon (a good thing in the Christian view). Today’s Prosperity movement has shed postmillennialism’s eschatological literal-mindedness, recasting it at times in rosier phraseology, like optimillennialism, best said with Osteen’s aw-shucks smile, but not abandoning the groundwork it laid for the unencumbered pursuit of success of “Prosperity Theology

via How will Prosperity Gospel ride out the hard economic times? – By Clint Rainey – Slate Magazine.

As an atheist, I truly believe Africa needs God December 27, 2008

Posted by tkcollier in philosophy & politics, Religion.
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The answer given by Sir Edmund Hillary to the question: Why climb the mountain? “Because it’s there,” he said.

To the rural African mind, this is an explanation of why one would not climb the mountain. It’s… well, there. Just there. Why interfere? Nothing to be done about it, or with it. Hillary’s further explanation – that nobody else had climbed it – would stand as a second reason for passivity.

Christianity, post-Reformation and post-Luther, with its teaching of a direct, personal, two-way link between the individual and God, unmediated by the collective, and unsubordinate to any other human being, smashes straight through the philosphical/spiritual framework I’ve just described. It offers something to hold on to to those anxious to cast off a crushing tribal groupthink. That is why and how it liberates.

I observe that tribal belief is no more peaceable than ours; and that it suppresses individuality. People think collectively; first in terms of the community, extended family and tribe. This rural-traditional mindset feeds into the “big man” and gangster politics of the African city: the exaggerated respect for a swaggering leader, and the (literal) inability to understand the whole idea of loyal opposition.

via As an atheist, I truly believe Africa needs God | Matthew Parris – Times Online.

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