Firstly on the suicide stuff. That brings this admonition:On this forum, do not even approach anything that resembles a promotion of suicide.
This is not pure discussion and debate. Ideas have consequences. None of us knows who is reading here, and who may be struggling with depression or anxiety that could lead to worse. I know of many members here who have had these struggles. Show compassion for these people, if they are reading; do not make things even slightly worse for them.
Now back to my (likely last) lengthy treatment of these sorts of things.
Andrew wrote:My life hasn't been hard, in fact an easy one at that. And I think that is why my beliefs can potentially mean something - they are not just a way of dealing with hard times, they are the reality.
Interesting. This could be the result of a society that prizes victimhood and "sticking up for the little guy" overmuch: everybody wants a piece of the action. I can understand someone who's had a hard time thinking a hopeless worldview is the way to go -- that's why I leaned toward that assumption. But someone who's had it easy and just as easily admits it?
This makes me think of spoiled rich suburbanite white kids who want a piece of the seamy-side action, so they get into ghetto hip-hop.
There may be nothing wrong with the music, but they're just playing at the whole gritty tough-life thing. The real tough kids would laugh at them.
Meanwhile, you still have to deal with the fact that you are not the only person in your own customized universe (sounds like you are badly in need of the Total Perspective Vortex from The Restaurant at the End of the Universe
). What about the "problem of good"? People who've been in situations worse worse than yours turn to
God. Who do you think you are to know more than they do, as if you alone have discovered life's hardships? Such a view would be beyond arrogant and uncaring.
Randy Alcorn wrote:While Western atheists turn from belief in God because a tsunami in another part of the world caused great suffering, many brokenhearted survivors of that same tsunami found faith in God. This is one of the great paradoxes of suffering. Those who don't suffer much think suffering should keep people from God, while many who suffer a great deal turn to God, not from him.
Imagine eavesdropping on a conversation between [atheist and supposed "former Christian" author/activist Bart] Ehrman and the very people whose suffering he uses as an argument for disbelieving in God. After hearing Ehrman's case, someone says, "You've lost your faith because of my suffering? But my faith in God has grown deeper than ever. Why would I turn away from the only one who can comfort me, the only one who has planned eternal life for me, the only one who suffered immeasurably, beyond any of us, so that one day I need suffer no longer?"
You won't find the strongest Christian churches in the world in affluent America or Europe, where the problem of evil [as a debate issue has the most traction. In Sudan, Christians are severely persecuted, raped, tortured, and sold into slavery. Yet many have a vibrant faith in Christ. People living in Garbage Valley in Cairo make up one of the largest churches in Egypt. Hundreds of thousands of India's poor are turning to Christ. Why? Because the caste system and fatalism of Hinduism give them no answers. So they turn to a personal God who loves them and understands suffering. I have interviewed numbers of people who take comfort in knowing that this life is the closest they will ever come to Hell.
Later, Alcorn quotes the final "nihilism"-laced paragraphs of Ehrman's book (which is rather cheekily titled God's Problem
). First he quotes the man's encouragement to seek money, material goods, nice cars and homes and families and the good life. Then Alcorn goes on:
What we have in the here and now is all that there is. We need to live life to its fullest and help others as well to enjoy the fruits of the land. ... But just because we don't have an answer to suffering does not mean that we cannot have a response to it. Our response should be to work to alleviate suffering wherever possible and to live life as well as we can.
Do you see the inconsistency here? If we follow Ehrman's advice to "drive nice cars and have nice homes" and consume expensive meals and drinks and spend as much as we can—in fact, "the more the better"—then we will not
be working to alleviate suffering whenever possible.
What percentage of the royalties from Ehrman's best-selling book has he ear-marked for easing world suffering? If it seems unfair to ask, remember that I am merely applying the standard he expects God to live up to: using all of one's resources to relieve suffering. Does Ehrman place himself under the same condemnation he places God? Based on the lifestyle he seems to advocate, the answer appears to be no.
Compared to what other people have been through, I wouldn't claim to have a tough life either, Andrew
. Nor is any of this meant to minimize whatever struggles you have been through (though I daresay it seems bad now, mere religious propaganda by your parents or whomever won't seem so terrible after ten years). Instead I simply ask (again): if you are telling the truth about this, why are you letting them control the debate and "frame" Christianity in this way?
Andrew wrote:I am not enslaved because what I want does not determine what I believe.
I doubt anyone here believes you.
Ask yourself which worldview -- Christianity or supposed "nihilism" -- will be the most helpful if you want to make any of the below choices:
1) Should I maintain posted speed limits?
2) Should I bother about the whole "going to church" thing?
3) Should I sleep with my girlfriend (if she'll let me)?
Now ask yourself how you would decide each of those scenarios (but do not post the answers here, on a "family-friendly" forum).Stardf29
's firm rebuttal stands. (And by the way, in the future try keeping an open mind with the whole "analogy" thing?
You took The Black Glove
's brilliant J.K. Rowling analogy far too literally and missed the metaphor; and I thought Christians
were the "literalists" here. ...)
Andrew wrote:I only resent god, if he exists.
And that only adds to the proof: your want of resenting God leads to your professed belief. And by the way, why resent a God who (in your religion) is only behaving the way you want to behave -- as a "nihilist"? What is "wrong" (ha!) with Him acting as though there is no right and wrong, and only living His life as if life has no intrinsic meaning or value?
Andrew wrote:[W]e are supposed to lead others to Christ, so they will lead others to Christ, and to what end?
If you've only ever understood Christianity as a spiritual pyramid scheme, not beneficial to you unless you spread it to others, and as a mere system in which you must work, work, work to earn God's favor (before or after salvation), it won't sound like fun -- better: joy -- to you at all.
Until you see God as the most glorious Being in the universe, perfect holiness and love, more than worthy of your worship, and by comparison your sin as disgusting in His sight, none of this will make sense to you.
You need to know what you say you're rejecting. Maybe others have not taught you the whole truth (I am again trying to assume the best here).
With your reading comprehension it should be no trouble for you to delve deep into a book about God's nature and the reason why it is beneficial
for human beings to love and enjoy Him above all else -- and for Him
to love and enjoy being Himself above all else: Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist
by John Piper.
For a summary of Christianity's solid basis in the doctrine of Christ's death and resurrection, read The Cross-Centered Life
by C.J. Mahaney.
Andrew wrote:An eternity of worshiping him? Sounds like fun.
That depends on how you define "worshiping." Ask me more about the broader Biblical definition of worship if you wish -- only if you ask honestly will I continue to interact about this, and I'd love to do that.
Or go to your library and find the book Heaven
by Randy Alcorn, which outlines the too-often-neglected expansive Biblical view of resurrection, not just of Christ's people but the Earth and universe themselves. Also read If God is Good
, the natural followup to Heaven
about why, if God is good, there is suffering in our world.
Andrew wrote:[W]e're told it is wrong to lie, fight, and steal, when in reality the natural inclination is to do just that - look at any other animal, in addition to humans.
Yet you later stole from the Christian worldview -- again -- to complain about these very problems:
Andrew wrote:The world is already miserable, though. Let's talk about this world you're so in love with. In fact one country in the world:
In the United States over 22 million people have alcoholism, in 2008 alone there were over 89,000 reported rapes and 16,000 murders.
Why complain about these? They're the natural result of your
selfishness-based worldview, the logical conclusions of "nihilism." And can you point to anything anyone said claiming they're in love with this world?
Again I refer you to the Biblical teaching of resurrection. We only love life here, or love this world, because it reminds us of the next: the perfect world God has planned. Sunrises, parties, holidays, great conversation with friends, learning, debate, science and technology, new things, old things, singing, music, dancing, writing, art -- all these things hint of the New Earth to come. All can be worship, in service to our Creator. That is what true believers anticipate, as they find their joy in the Joyous One.
If you haven't been taught a Christianity that includes these truths, then I am sorry for you. However, at least you're hearing about it here.
Andrew wrote:If you stand for something in life, it means nothing if you do not stand for it in death.
You are presenting things as black-or-white, both/and, while Scripture (and others here) present this in living vibrant color. Christians do not strive for life with this kind of desperation. Rather, they see life as God's gift and worth defending, though they in Christ also do not fear death.
Pippin: "I didn't think it would end this way. ..."
Gandalf: "End? No, the journey doesn't end here. Death is just another path ... one that we all must take. The grey rain-curtain of this world rolls back, and all change to silver glass ... and then you see it."
Pippin: "What, Gandalf? See what?"
Gandalf: "White shores ... and beyond. The far green country under a swift sunrise."
Pippin: "Well, that isn't so bad."
Gandalf: "No ... no, it isn't."
With that, I draw to a close. Fencer
has already made his gracious exit, and now so do I, yet without as much of a good excuse as he has. Instead, I will no longer go round and round about professed "nihilism."
One who claims that suicide, or the death of a child, or any of that is not wrong does not have my respect, and has likely lost it with others here as well. Others (working according to the Christian worldview, even if they are not Christians) would move to help you, and we Christians have even more motivation to do so: because we "selfishly" want to love and care for you the way Christ loves us, and so become more like Him.
I am sorry if others professing Christianity have not shared the "repent, believe, come to Christ and rest" side of Biblical truth, and have instead only promoted a pyramid scheme. However, as I said before, you are hearing it here, from people who care about you, even long-range. They've given you attention, been friendly and welcoming, written you essays, quotes, and respected you like anyone else (age makes no difference there). And they've/we've cited resources you can look up if you truly wish to pursue this further and learn how real Christians think.
You are now responsible for making the choice: what will you do with this information? Ignore it, in favor of your own disposition to "resent" God (for supposedly behaving exactly how you want to be)? Or will you check into this further, thinking "independently" about these ideas and not blindly following your emotional reaction against God or other "Christians"?
I've grown so much and learned so much in these threads. For your civil attitude (against your "nihilism") and for reviving this topic, I am thankful.
However, mere posturing personally motivated propaganda for "nihilism" is already very tiresome. Other participants and topics are getting left out, and I'd love to engage with them as well. It's time to move forward.
If you wish to ask more, I'm sure many others here will be glad to answer about what Christianity really teaches and why Christians believe it.
But if you reply with more ipso facto
stuff, as if only your saying it makes it true for everyone, I won't bother about it. Let's have more actual discussion and willingness to learn other views. Friend, you make a lousy "god."
And I believe your "case" has been made well enough.