The fruits of meaninglessness

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Without a vision of God, the people run amok. ~Proverbs 29:18

My friend, Bill, recently posted a comment in which he states:

FWIW, you have changed my mind on more than a few things, and one that I was very resolute about. I still have trouble digesting the emphasis on God in your posts though, not on an individual level but in it’s relation to society. It honestly seems like exactly the opposite of a position you’d hold so I’m missing something. Would love to discuss further some time 😉

This presents a very complicated issue, one that will require more extensive thinking and planning than are needed for most blog posts. I’ve thought about this what a post explaining my stance would entail, and felt that I perhaps would be too lazy to properly express myself, or perhaps merely incapable of doing so. My response could take a book, and there are many books written that would far surpass anything I could put down that would enunciate why I think that without God, society goes mad. Even as those who note society’s growing madness cannot fully grasp why this is happening. They still grasp at materialist reasons.

Several years ago, I gravitated toward Existentialism , not in a deliberate manner, not in a seeking for some “ism” to satisfy Man’s inherent need for meaning, though existentialism speaks primarily of Man’s need for meaning. The need for meaning is at Man’s core–without it he falls into madness, despair, self-destructive behavior, and loses almost all ability to examine himself. He becomes a ship without a compass, floating on a sea with no islands and no shores. His ship is quickly running out of food and drink. Even when I read of anti-theist movements like Bolshevism, there is the need for a driving force, a cause, a need to get up in the morning, for energy and drive.

Many who’ve read my writings or who’ve had cursory political conversations with me may believe that I am an ultra righter-winger, with no sympathy for the root of socialist or Communist thought. They would be wrong. My family on both sides was blue collar through and through. Welders, wood cutters, mill workers, union members. I know how tough physical labor is; I’ve done it myself on many occasions throughout my life, and I hated it; it was so boring all I could think of was the end of the day. Marx speaks to me at several levels. He talks about how the proletariat’s work is boring and provides only enough money to scrape by. Though I’d argue that my blue collar family did better than Marx would have predicted. My father, as a mill worker and welder, and my uncle as a boiler-maker, another uncle as a commercial fisherman, did quite well. The Communists and Socialists for the 40 hour work week and 8 hour days. People in Britain during the Industrial Revolution used to have to work 10-16 hours a day, 6 days a week. Believe it or not, being in the US Army made me more sympathetic to Marx, not less. I’ve seen how some managers and leaders will work people to death to make themselves look good, with almost no thought for others as human beings. On the other hand the Army has many traits inherent to a Socialist society, and these too create many problems. But in truth, I consider the US military to be one of the most un-American organizations in America. It removes too much choice, freedom of thought and audacity. It suffers its own consequences.

The people who fought for  justice for workers should be commended. There is a tendency toward increasing efficiency in any business, and often this results in people being treated as mere commodities. But not always, and I would argue that business can get more out of people and attract better people by treating them well.

One of the problems with the Manichean universe of Socialist/Capitalist conflict, is the belief that material needs are the basis for happiness. The Communists want us to believe that money is evil, and yet in many cases it is them who want the poor to have more money. It is they who primarily argue that money and the material comforts that it brings is what makes life bearable. Both Capitalists and Socialists argue almost the same thing. Almost. The big difference is that most free-market capitalists argue for freedom, that people should be free to get as rich as they please. It does not necessarily make a person evil to do so. Our nation is founded on basic freedoms, agreed upon in the Bill of Rights.

Even more important to me, is that Communism’s root is atheism. Communism expresses that Man’s only salvation is through materials, the exact thing that Marx explicitly railed against, but then built an ingenious argument for. Communists and their softer cousins, Progressives, expect too much from this life. The more you expect from this life, the more you will come to hate it. The more you come to find joy in small things, the more joy will be imparted to you.

Of all writers, perhaps Dostoevsky understood Man’s conundrum the best.

And so I seek a deeper meaning for myself and Mankind. Shredding all the money in the world, as the Communists want, will not bring nobility or contentment to humans. When I read the writings of the old Communists, Lenin, Mao, Marx, I’m astounded how men of such genius and energy could be so blind. Where did they get their energy? How could 75 years of hard living on this Earth give them enough motivation to fight so hard for something so transient? Where could they find the raw energy to commit such sustained atrocity, and to write with such power?

When humans drift away from the deeper meaning of existence, they almost always fall into self-destructive cycles. The West is abandoning God. The message is that only the uneducated and unthinking believe in God. And yet the further we drift from God, the more uneducated and unthinking we become. Our depravity, fed from an infinite well in a meaningless universe, was its own end. The message fed to us has been that freedom from God was the key to happiness. Much or our “art” is a celebration of our basest instincts, a celebration of historically aberrant behavior, drug use, arrogance, hate, raw sexuality, the pointless accumulation of money and trinkets.

Marx’ opening statement in The Communist Manifesto rings true, but it is not complete:

The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.

In truth, all men have striven for meaning. Take away God and provide Man with only raw materialism, and we find that what Whitaker Chamber’s said presents a much fuller picture of human history:

“Man without mysticism is a monster”

And so, since the powerful motivator of “The Cause” the ideologies like Communism provided men like Lenin has been replaced by vacuous nihilism. Without an external materialistic philosophy to drive him, Man turns from killing one another and turns to killing himself. But what proof do I have? Aren’t Americans more comfortable than ever? Maybe, but are they happier? Look at these statistics and decide for yourself:

How are we better off? Are we a more or less religious people than we were through the 30s, 40s and 50s?  We are in very concrete ways, more violent, depressed, and stupid. What more measurement could we ask for to prove our decline?  The first challenge of doomsayers such as myself, is not to convince of the correct medicine for our sickness, but to convince people we are sick at all. If the demise of civilization were apparent to everyone, it would never happen. But as TS Eliot noted, it’s not with a bang, but a whimper that we die.

Beyond the scientific facts is my personal anecdote. And in the true existentialist tradition, anecdote is important to me. It is important to everyone, even the most rational among us. Nobody lives his life day to day on scientific experiment.  We know that getting hit by cars is bad for us, not based on Newtonian physics, but because we heard of someone else dying when they were struck by a car. And our parents told us not to play in the road. in my own experience, people now are indeed dumber, coarser, less able to see themselves as the world sees them. Lacking manners of the faintest sort, they are loud, base, uttering curse works in virtually every sentence. Many are unable to write a clear sentence, gravitate toward the most brutal and meaningless of music and cinema. If you want to know where a society is headed, look at its art.  This brutal music is not admired despite its barbarity and coarseness, but because of it. Many celebrate the worst traits in humans, while scoffing at nobility.

Why all people in Western Society, even Christians, must face Nietzsche

Nietzsche predicted the downfall of the West.  He declared:

God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. Yet his shadow still looms. How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it?

Nietzsche: “To make the individual uncomfortable, that is my task.”

Nietzsche, one of the few truth-tellers of the modern age. He is of the same blood line as Dostoevsky.  Nietzsche’s answer to the idea that God is dead and that we killed him with unbelief, is the construction of the Ubermensch , a human beyond the cares imposed on humanity by the inevitability of death.  To the Ubermensch, death, troubles, pain, mean nothing. The Ubermensch is able to find meaning in his life despite all of this. To Nietzsche, that is the only way to avoid utter despair and the logical conclusion of self-destruction: To become so strong psychologically, that none of it matters.

And that is why I, a Christian, still admire Nietzsche. He didn’t smooth things over for the atheists. He told them exactly what kind of world they would create. It would be a world, “beyond good and evil”, that is, evil. The classic Christian ethics would be tossed aside, and human psychology would be reduced to physiology.

And who has suffered first and foremost in our post-Nietzschean world? The intellectual elites in our universities, the libertine millionaires in Hollywood? No, it is the underclass. Our destruction is truly a grassroots movement.  There was a time in America when being poor was not synonymous with slovenly, greedy, thieving, bitter, uncaring, leading an unexamined life. I grew up poor and it was none of these things. There were of course exceptions, but now in many cases being poor is the direct result of a criminal mind.  And where did the criminal mind come from? It is the brood of a godless world. Unable to examine itself, a brute child who knows only the satisfaction and existence of its own passions.

We stand on the shoulders of giants. The slide to the bottom will not be instantaneous, but we have begun the journey.  The statistics that I posted above are but a small fraction of the facts displayed in several books that show where we are going. To some people, this decline will not be so apparent. America and Europe are, after all, not monolithic entities. Pockets of noble humans remain.  But even in many of these pockets, these noble humans have forgotten their Christian birthright.  And each generation’s memory lapses more.  And so, our society is not yet Somalia, but it is draining its well. As GK Chesterson stated:

The modern world, with its modern movements, is living on its Catholic capital.  It is using, and using up, the truths that remain to it out of the old treasury of Christendom.

Make no mistake, the pale horse coming is not at a full battle gallop, but trots slowly at the horizon.  Ask yourself, if America were to decline and fall, what would it look like, if not exactly what it looks like now when compared to our past?

We must understand, that in this predominately agnostic society we created, we also created people who must do one of two things:

  1. Ignore the fact that all humans die, and that our life on this Earth means nothing without the hereafter. 75 years is the mathematical equivalent of zero when juxtaposed with infinity.  Any number is zero when compared to infinity.
  2. People who acknowledge the meaninglessness of a life and thus intentionally subscribe to nihilism and destructive though immediately satisfying behavior. I myself would do heroine if I thought there was nothing beyond this life.

All societies that have tried to create an Ubermensch-by any other name- have brought almost unimaginable horror to mankind.  The Nazis were directly influenced by Nietzsche. The Communists attempted a humanist utopia made of men who lived beyond the natural needs and desires of humans. The mountains of corpses generated from these societies are a lesson that the atheists of our day try to sweep away with their postmodern cynicism.

In ending, my thesis is that our society is disintegrating in very concrete ways. And why is this? Because we no longer have a reason to live, to do good…to even try. 

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14 thoughts on “The fruits of meaninglessness

    The fruits of meaninglessness | A. J. MacDonald, Jr. said:
    October 7, 2013 at 6:51 pm

    […] via The fruits of meaninglessness. […]

    ajmacdonaldjr said:
    October 7, 2013 at 6:57 pm

    Good article. I agree with you 100%.

    Bill said:
    October 7, 2013 at 8:56 pm

    As always this is a great analysis and I appreciate it. It’s a weird feeling b/c I agree with virtually all of it but I think the one mistake is that it’s intrinsically about God. Think of the following scenarios:
    1- There really is a god or gods, but they haven’t been revealed to us yet. Like Zeus, Mars or Poseidon of their time, we are falsely believing in one of the Abrahamic gods. Staying on this path we’re on keeps us from coming closer to or finding the real god. Normally, I’d never make such an argument or even contemplate it – but there’s just as much evidence for this scenario as the one that we’re right.
    2-The Abrahamic God is true and revealed himself, but through Language translations and semantic changes over time, some/much/most/all of what we currently believe is skewed or wrong. In such a case, we’d be actively moving away from God and salvation while believing just the opposite. Anyone who’s read Chaucer(or any middle english, old english) knows how different those versions are from current english (heck, US english has changed dramatically over just my life). Words, like “Faggot” mean two totally different things even in modern versions of English. So this scenario seems very likely. If there is a God and Devil, the devil’s best trick would have been to corrupt the teachings of god, thereby performing the ultimate trick, getting people to move away from god while belieivng they’re moving toward him.
    3-There is no god as we know him/her and all of this is pragmatically a waste of time. It may bring comfort or hope, but that would be offset by people feeling reduced responsibility for their actions b/c they’ve been forgiven (while not true for anyone, this is certainly true for many). There is damage done if this case is so, by people not using this life to the fullest b/c they believe in an eternity.

    There’s also all of the exploitation that goes on in the name of religion which will always be the case. Virtually everyone I know from people who are religious and really try to do it right to complete phony thumpers act differently when they’re around fellow Christians or in Church and much of it is not for the better. There’s tremendous judgment in many churches with much gossiping about who hasn’t been there lately, how much others give, what they’re wearing, how their kids behave. Here in Greenville, most of the protestant churches have “kiddy rooms” where people are expected to stick their kids so the service isn’t interrupted. That’s fine in a secular setting (like a restaurant) but if God’s word is so powerful, how can something like a crying baby (something which God engineered) interrupt it?

    Coarseness does seem to be on the rise, as does rudeness. It’s hard to really know for sure but it certainly seems that way. But I don’t think a belief in God has much to do with it one way or the other. Out of wedlock births are definitely a huge problem (well, at least in cases where both parents aren’t fully working to the best interest of the child, which is frequently the case) but that’s not a religious thing. Plenty of ‘religious’ people engage in premarital sex. Imagine a typical megachurch preacher railing regularly about divorce and ALL premarital sex with the vigor they do against gays. They’d have a very small congregation. Then look at Biblical literalism. People use it to justify their own bigotry quite a bit.If Jesus came down to Earth tomorrow and Said “I love Gay people, I made them and they can go to heaven and should be married” I’m absolutely positive most of the people that are anti-gay b/c it’s in the bible, woudl be just as anti-gay afterward. Fundy’s claim to not interpret the bible, to take it literally, but that’s simply impossible to do. People pick and choose everywhere with respect to what’s meant literally and what’s allegory. How many death penalty advocates have you heard citing an Eye for an Eye as their justification? Iv’e heard quite a bit.

    I never understood the huge issue between religion and evolution until recently (as a Catholic, I was brought up believing in Evolution). It does however create a huge issue. If we evolved from a common ancestor, when did we get souls? A 5 year old chimp has much more brain power and is much more human than an fetus, so is it possible chimps go to heaven /hell too? If so, then isn’t our treatment of them monstrous?

    In the end, ther’es a lot of douchey elitism in atheist circles. There’s a lot of phoniness and pretentiousness there too. There’s a lot of smug “I’m so much smarter than you ” sentiment . But there’s the same crap on the religious side. I think good people who are Christian strive to be better b/c of Christianity while bad people who are Christian hide behind it. A very similar dynamic occurs with Atheism. I would argue though, that if we embraced a mentality that the true enemies are cancer, aging, comets, black holes and we dedicated all of our resources to fighting those instead of each other, humanity would be infinitely better off. Religion is still doing tremendous amounts of dividing of people and folks are still dying, killing each other, stopping their kids from getting treatments etc b/c of it. There’s a lot of good done by religion, but I’d maintain the same good could be done without it. But much of the bad would have to find a new place to hang out without it. I’m sure bad people would just adopt something new, but religion makes a pretty great hangout for zealotry and hatred.

    you wrote a lot there and I appreciate it – I am going to give it a second /third read and let it sink in a little more. I’m still not sold, but I do concede the points you raised are hard to argue with (who knows, you might change my mind again – or at least get me to think a little harder about it) 😉

    magus71 responded:
    October 7, 2013 at 9:13 pm

    Bill, multiple books would be required to address all these things.

    Yes of course, people do stupid things in the name of religion. Nothing in the bible requires or endorses ignorance. As it says in the bible: “For lack of knowledge, my people perish.” To the statement that religion is doing a “tremendous amount of dividing”, I would reply, compared to what? It’s similar to the argument about industrialization and pollution. People complain about the pollution as if we ought to quit driving our cars. Yet who quits driving their cars? Very few. Let’s not forget what societies were like before Christendom. None of the atheists would be allowed to argue their points.

    CS Lewis argued that because animals don’t go to heaven, we should treat them sell since this is all they get. We at least get a reward after our difficulties.

    Still, I think the whole zealotry and evils or religion are a red herring by atheists. None of those atheists can answer the simple and fundamental question of philosophy: Why is there something instead of nothing?

    Bill said:
    October 8, 2013 at 2:03 am

    Man I feel like a total douche – I realized I darned near wrote a book. I know I’m a blabber mouth but sometimes I forget how much. Sorry about that. Anyway, the “Compared to what ” point is certainly a valid argument. I think though it’s an issue of whether or not it’s an exception or the rule with respect to bad things. Power corrupts. Groups have many heads but only one brain. Together, it seems like it’s kind of built into the process that there’s going to be some badness generated. Badness can be in terms of pragmatic bad, or spiritual bad. I still consider myself a Christian believe it or not and in my gut, I still believe strongly that Christianity is ‘right’. At the same time, the more I’ve read of the Bible, the more I believe it’s been very corrupted over time and that any form of literalism is a flawed endeavor. Even in my most devout days, I could never reconcile god’s omniscience with free will and I’ve read everyting I could find on the subject and talked to many people, but I’ve never heard anything that even comes close to reconciling the two. On teh question of why is there something rather than nothing, yep, I find that a pretty compelling argument. The counter argument is “if you can’t imagine the universe starting from nothing, believing God did it adds a step b/c you have to ask the same about God.” The best I can think of is that whatever it is, my human brain doesn’t have the capacity to understand it. I have a hard time attributing the moral decline in society with less belief in God or religion. I can’t tell you for instance, why kids shoot up schools but it has nothing to do with the fact we took prayer out of public schools. I admittedly have grown pretty hostile toward organized religion since living here in SC. I was already infuriated with the Catholic church after spending my life as a Catholic and seeing how horrendously the church behaved w/ respect to pedophilia. Living here in the Bible belt – I got really sick of all the nastiness around religion. Whatever one’s beliefs on homosexuality, there’s an almost sick obsession with condemnation with it here that has a passion that’s infinitely more intense than that to help poor people for instance. I’ll grant that beating up on Religion is too easy and yes, countering with “Compared to what” is a very compelling response. The zealotry and evil schtick is very frequently used as a red herring. I’d be happy with hearing more religious leaders acknowledge the problems though and condemn them with the fervency they condemn things like pre-marital sex, homosexuality and condoms.

    On the whole, even though it might not look like it, I’m pretty sympathetic to your own perspective. At the end of the day, I’m a fan of God and agree there’s a lot of upside to Christianity, the only place I differ is on the vehicle. If people prayed on their own for an hour each Sunday, if people donated money to help others directly (or to more targeted charities that didn’t involve preachers with Rolex watches, Armani suits and 8000 sq ft houses for instance) and if they were just as adamant about forgiveness and love as they were about an eye for an eye, I could definitely live with any shortcomings religion had. I’d be more than content if the bridge between Christian Religions and Christ was much smaller. I obviously have some more thinking to do here – your posts tend to do that 😉

    ajmacdonaldjr said:
    October 8, 2013 at 3:17 am

    Bill, I think a simplification may be helpful. As Albert Camus said: the only philosophical question is suicide. And, contrary to this, the only theological question is: did Jesus rise from the dead? If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, then the Bible and Christianity is a lie. If Jesus did rise from the dead, then the Bible and Christianity is the truth. We either believe Jesus rose from the dead or we don’t, and that’s all it boils down to in the end.

    Bill said:
    October 8, 2013 at 3:57 am

    @ajmacdonaldjr – I appreciate your response . I don’t really know the answer or that there is an answer to many of my questions – I’ve had quite a few swings in terms of my faith and my religiosity. The most psychologically comfortable position for me is to think that the Bible is right and that Christianity is in fact, the correct path and answer. When I think it through (particularly after reading the Bible) I’m increasingly overcome with the feeling that there’s too much wrong with the Bible to really accept it – not that there’s something wrong with Jesus or Christianity, but the Bible and modern religion. I’ve flirted with Atheism but that same feeling that I’m missing something was too strong to ignore so here I am, stuck in the middle trying to figure it out.

    Up front let me say I mean this with all due respect – but I don’t think the conclusion you state can be safely drawn based on the premise. Assume Jesus did rise from the dead. That doesn’t mean the story of Genesis is true or that Revelation will be true. It’s entirely possible that Jesus rose from the dead but through translation errors or malfeasance or other problem, stories were reported inaccurately or entirely made up. Jesus could rise from the dead and a scribe could have inserted X. Moreover, there’s not one version of the Bible, there are several. If you speak different languages or familiar with translators, it’s clear that there are several different translations of any non-trivial statement, even when translators are highly competent and have the best of intentions. Just look at US vs UK English and a word like “Faggot”. Even in the same language there are countless idioms “Bad”, Fat”, “Dope”, “Regular” on and on that have different, often opposite meanings. Add on to this, that eye witness evidence is the weakest evidence there is. Take any crime or car accident with multiple witnesses and frequently the stories are widely disparate. Even if Jesus did rise from the dead, each of these factors could greatly influence the record of what happened. Again, I’d note that I personally do believe Jesus is the son of God (which is precisely why I’m having such a hard time with the issue) but it’s totally conceivable to me that even if he did rise from the dead, even if all the reporting was perfect, even if the translation was perfect, that it wouldn’t automatically make him the son of God. On the same note, if Evolution is true (and I firmly believe it is) then we were much less evolved creatures a while back. I have a lot of trouble believing we evolved from fish, but I have 0 doubt that we share a common ancestor with Chimpanzees. If that’s the case, when did we get souls? If the common ancestor had a soul, so do Chimps unless the soul was somehow removed. The reason this matters to me related to why biblical literalism matters – if Genesis isn’t true, verbatim, then there’s no original sin (at least there’s absolutely no reason to believe it, religiously or otherwise) and if that’s the case, then humanity wins the default judgement on salvation. You can’t get into heaven without Jesus, but you don’t get hell either just b/c you were never exposed to Christianity or chose not to believe it. All those souls existing in limbo isn’t a great thought, but it’s tolerable – but the thought of all the wondeful Hindus, Jews, Atheists I’ve known going to hell for original sin- that’s very hard to swallow.. Again though, I realize i”m monopolizing the conversation here which is bad manners and not my intent. Obviously it’s something I’m fairly conflicted about these days so I spend a good bit of time trying to reconcile things and since I’m not getting any younger, time isn’t on my side in figuring it out.

    Lou said:
    October 8, 2013 at 3:36 pm

    Wow! So much to think on and write about! You are a brave man to take on such a topic.

    My first thought is that God is truth and He is Spirit. His word is truth and Spirit. I believe that God created man in His own image – spirit – He breathed life into man. Why would I believe that a monkey or a fish was created somewhere along the way by some means or other, and then we all evolved from that creature? It is easier for me to believe that God created man and we all came from man. I know, I know, there is more to the theory of evolution than that, but I am one of the poor, simple masses. It makes more sense to me that one creator created all and that we are similar in design due to the same designer.

    God also created darkness and light – good and evil. Man chose to believe the lie, and sin and death and evil entered the picture. From Adam on, we have his image – sin and death and lies, and yes, distortion of God’s word as man remakes God into whatever image he wants. Through distortion and lies, man has made many gods and made God into his own image causing even more confusion. Bill is right – how do you know what is truth when there is so many thoughts and beliefs in one religion. Many words have changed. I suggest using a Strongs concordance to help with that. You can get a better idea of what the prophets of the Bible actually said. After that, you have to have faith, hearing, and obedience to understand the Spirit of the word. Spirit is the key here.

    I find that most people believe that man has a spirit or soul, and therefore man searches for something that reconciles that spirit to a higher spirit. Searching for what? Peace? Reconciliation? Goodness? Rest for their soul? These things are heaven. The absence of these things is hell. The people run amok. Society goes mad. Peace, peace when there is no peace.

    Just a side note: Funny that you said the US military was a very Socialistic institution – very un-American. I have always thought public schools were very Socialistic and un-American.

    ajmacdonaldjr said:
    October 8, 2013 at 3:36 pm

    I think you should understand that the Bible, more so than any other ancient book, or collection of books, has the most reliable textual evidence. If you wish to discount the Bible due to scribal and intentional errors, then you must discount all other ancient books too, because they have far less textual evidence.

    I suggest you examine the textual evidence for the Bible, especially the New Testament.

    The Bible, especially the New Testament, exists as a collection of manuscripts in museums around the world. These are what translators use. Bible translators don’t buy a copy of the Bible at the local Christian bookstore to use for translation…. regular people buy translations of the Bible translators have compiled after having studied the manuscripts.

    A good example of the accuracy of the Old Testament was proven by the Dead Sea Scrolls, which date to the time of Christ. Until they were discovered the oldest OT manuscripts dated back to the 10th century. Skeptics were sure the scrolls would prove how much the text was altered over 1,000 year period, but the opposite proved to be true: the text on the scrolls was virtually identical to the 10th century text.

    The New Testament has over 5,000 ancient manuscript fragments and manuscripts located in museums around the world, which give scholars and translators ample opportunity to compare and look for discrepancies. The few discrepancies are noted in all good translations, as well as Greek New Testaments, with the GNT’s noting also the museum location of the manuscript or fragment in question.

    No other ancient books have this sort of evidence. And, as I said, if you wish to deny the accuracy of the NT, you should, logically, doubt all other written accounts of ancient history as well, since they have nowhere near the extant textual evidence the NT does.

    The plethora of NT fragments that scatted far and wide soon after the death and resurrection of Christ (the oldest date to the early 2nd century) removed any possibility for intentional forgery, because there were already too many copies floating around.

    The best book to read on this subject is: “The Text of the New Testament”, by Bruce Metzger. This is a link to the .pdf, but you can buy a copy of it on Amazon too: http://ia601207.us.archive.org/17/items/TheTextOfNewTestament4thEdit/TheTextOfNewTestament4thEdit.pdf

    Another good book, which you can read online, is “The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable?”, by Bruce Metzger: http://www.bible.ca/b-new-testament-documents-f-f-bruce.htm

    Another interesting fact is that of the Septuagint, which was a Greek translation of the OT created 200 years before Christ. It is evidence that everything the OT said about the coming Messiah was in fact fulfilled by Christ. And this was the version on the OT the writers of the NT used when they quoted the OT – http://www.ecclesia.org/truth/septuagint.html

    One of the main reasons I am a Christian is the textual evidence for the reliability of the Bible, and it’s a subject well worth studying.

    Bill said:
    October 9, 2013 at 4:25 am

    I realize I already did way more than my sharing of talking in this thread so I’ll keep it very short. I reread your post a few times and thought it through – Trying to argue both sides makes you think through the positions in depth. No matter how hard I try, I can’t poke a hole or answer “Why is there something rather than nothing”. Even going with Evolution and science, I’m stuck with the notion that everything we experience has a naturalistic cause, but something had to get things started, and something had to get us from simply chemical reactions to ‘life’ and consciousness.It’s very easy to accept that time and numbers have no beginning and end, so if they can do it, other things certainly can too. I keep telling myself “there’s no way you can get an answer so just give up” but it’s hard to just let go. This was a great post though Doug and I appreciate it – I didn’t see a way to edit or remove my comments but I do feel I ran on at the mouth/fingers way too long – so my apologies to any other readers on that – I was going to pen a post of my own but quickly realized even beginning to cover any argument Id’ put forth would be much to long to be readable. For now, maybe that can be a goal – come up with a succinct way to frame a discussion, trying to use logic or reason to verify God’s existence and whether or not the Abrahamic godis the correct one is better left for later – maybe as a retirment project 😉

    VXXC said:
    November 10, 2013 at 9:56 pm

    “But in truth, I consider the US military to be one of the most un-American organizations in America.” And it still doesn’t win wars. Now that’s meaningless. Yes I was there too.

    Yes we need God.

    As to Marx – I think most working Americans had the Marxists figured out by the late 1920s. Many American intellectuals still do not.

    You might want to look deeper and at English roots. Look at the Roundheads, the Puritans.

    Understand that Harvard and Yale were seminaries, and the New England Theocracy often tried to establish the Kingdom of God on Earth.

    That Holier than Thou has been a status seeking tactic since Salem [longer, but in America Salem is a good start point].

    And that 50 years ago they became Holier than Jesus and threw down their God, this is the root of all our dysfunctions.

    apollonian said:
    January 3, 2014 at 1:58 am

    Following upon AJ’s outstanding posting, just above: note the magnificent literary value of New Test. (NT), esp. as it follows for integrity the Old Test. (OT). Thus the story goes, Christ is preacher of the real meaning of OT: “love God and do justice” (Gosp.s MARK 12:29-31, MATT 22:37-9). And Christ is opposed, esp. by the Pharisees, also the Sadducees who then conspire to kill him–the Pharisees preaching the Talmudic war program, that it’s ok to lie to gentiles, etc.

    Thus I appreciate NT upon purely rationalist basis, beginning w. premise one can’t prove Christ didn’t exist, isn’t God the Son, etc. Then u have outstanding scientists and expositionists like Rodney Stark who’s written extensively about the great and humanitarian civilizational effects of Christianity: the steady removal/passing of slavery, the emphasis upon individual responsibility and ethics, the development of ind. freedom, in accord w. Cicero’s nat. law, science, the methodical understanding of the objective reality implicitly stressed by Christ who assures us of foremost virtue of TRUTH TRUTH TRUTH as ONLY way to Godly happiness, etc.

    Thus aside fm anything else, one can appreciate New Test. and Christianity for its strict literary value–in similar manner as appreciation of Homer’s Illiad and Oddyssey, New Test. making Homer, great as it is, to seeming merely 2 dimensional. Thus Christ taught the value of TRUTH TRUTH TRUTH, paving the way for human reason, science, and Constitutional gov. in most practical way–opposed to the lies and warfare of Jews Talmud, for example.

    Anderson said:
    March 17, 2014 at 10:20 pm

    Magus, just wanting tos ay that all of your posts leave me with something to ponder on for a time. It is great to get outside the world full of useless banter and read a compelling argument with great insight. Thank you and continue to get the generation thinking….

    magus71 responded:
    March 17, 2014 at 10:55 pm

    Glad you like the writing, Anderson.

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