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Know your Lenses

Know your Lenses

So this month we are talking about atheism. A great topic that I’m sure will generate plenty of hits to our blog. I want to write this week on presuppositions or the lenses which each of us views life. These are things that each and every one of us has within our minds which we bring with us as we interpret the external stimuli and ideas we are presented with. A most basic presupposition that we all carry is that gravity exists. In other words we never really have to think that when we get out of bed our feet will be pulled down, we just assume that they will. Of course this is an extremely basic one that has little philosophical weight.
However even more than something like gravity we all carry with us presuppositions about how the world should work and what should make sense. These can, and often are, a detriment to us unless we spend time double checking them. It is absolutely crucial that we as human beings become aware of these presuppositions lest we shut out ideas or individuals for illegitimate reasons.
This is an issue that time and time again gets in the way of two individuals sharing ideas and discussing them intelligently. For instance, I am a Christian and thus one of the major presuppositions I carry with me is that God exists (this of course brings with it a load of other presuppositions). Any discussion on the beginning of the world or about the nature of man is automatically put through the lens of this presupposition. It is not necessarily a bad thing but it is something that would undoubtedly put me at odds with someone who prescribes to a naturalism world view.
Now I do not have the time or the room to sit and unpack every possible presupposition that I or others have, however this is not my intent with this week’s post. Instead I simply want to begin a conversation on the importance of being aware of the self. In being aware of not only our own but also the presuppositions of others is crucial, especially in the area of philosophical and religious discussions. It allows us to be more open and less judgmental of ideas that are not our own. It makes us better defenders of our stances in that we are more readily able to discuss the issues others have with our beliefs. Most importantly it can aid in making discussions more mutually beneficial and help in keeping them from becoming a heated emotional shouting match.
So I urge everyone; Christian, atheist, naturalist, new age, young old, male or female to realize that they carry with them a lens through which they view and interpret everything in this world. It is not necessary to rid the self of these presuppositions but simply being aware of the impact they have on every aspect of our lives is crucial.
-Ender

 
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Posted by on December 12, 2011 in Atheism, Philosophy

 

It’s time for a reality check!

Well, it’s time for a new topic.  In case you’re stopping by for the first time, each month we pick a new topic to talk about and one of our four authors starts it off on the first week of the month.  Then each author takes a turn adding to what the previous author started.  Our hope and goal is to eventually have a GodDam Book where we turn our “topics” into chapters.   Last month was our first month trying this out and we really got a great response and some awesome feedback so here goes round two.

In the last month or so, the God Dam blog actually got quite a bit of traffic from a site called exchristian.net.  It was really cool to connect with a community of people who have been involved in the church in the past but are now atheist, agnostic, existentialist etc… It was interesting to hear some of the stories and dialogue with some of the people involved in a community that to be honest acts more like the church is supposed to than the church usually does.

With that in mind, as well as my own fascination with naturalism, I decided to make this month’s topic atheism.  I’ve recently started following a blog called the “friendly atheist” and this weekend they posted a video of Greta Christina (check out her blog here) and her speech titled, “Why Are Atheists So Angry”.  It’s about an hour-long but at least for me, it was worth it.

She begins her talk explaining why so many atheists are angry.  She talks about the oppressed women, and the raped children that religion seems to ignore if not encourage.  She talks about stupidity and close mindedness and hypocrisy but about 28 minutes in she makes an observation that I really thought was interesting.

To start off you must know her definition of religion. She gives it at about 26:40. She says that, “Religion is a belief in supernatural entities or forces that have an effect on the natural world. These entities or forces are invisible, inaudible, intangible and otherwise undetectable by any natural means.”  Now obviously we can debate whether or not this is the best definition for religion but that’s really not the point, so for the sake of the argument just go with it.

She goes on to say that because religion is based on invisible, inaudible, intangible, and otherwise undetectable sources, it has the potential to be very dangerous because there is no reality check.  This is something that I noticed my senior year in Bible College.  I saw professors and classmates who were convinced by scripture of certain things that simply didn’t work in real life.  They were rigid and unflinching and even made the claim that if evidence could be found to disprove them, they would not change because of what was stated in the Bible.

The general consensus is that Theology informs reality.  To me, that is kind of silly.  What if you’ve read the Bible wrong?  It’s happened before, just ask Galileo.

I feel like a more balanced approach is necessary for Christians. The bible is important but if what we see in reality doesn’t match up, we need to take a step back and re-evaluate.  If God is logical, and if he spoke through scripture into a logical world, then the Bible ought to work in reality. If it doesn’t then one of two things is happening.  Either we understand reality incorrectly, or we are reading the Bible wrong.

Christians need to start using the brains that God gave them and they need to add the reality check that seems to be missing in theology.

~James

P.S. Please leave feedback below, subscribe via email, or rss feed to the right, and come back next week for more on this same topic.

 
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Posted by on November 28, 2011 in Atheism, Philosophy

 

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Hurt shouldn’t make us deaf

Hurt shouldn’t make us deaf

I am one of those stereotypical Christians who has been very much damaged by my relationship with the church and the Church. I have not been entirely driven away from faith, but where I currently stand in regards to God and church is a place far removed from what most Christians would consider “enough”.

I am not going to try and defend where I currently am; I understand that by definition I am not being a very good Christian. Right now I am kind of okay with that. At the same time I am doing my best to not appear as a super Christian; I am not serving in a church currently, nor am I disciplining anyone. Anyone who comes to me for any kind of counsel or theological discussion is told about where I currently am; I will still talk with them but I do my best to make it known to them that I do not want to put on a mask of false piety.

I wanted to start a discussion from this side of the road, following in the vein of our “topic” this month. Knowing all of the other authors of this blog quite well, I’m comfortable saying I am in a unique place amongst them. I know James (as mentioned in his previous post ) discussed his own questioning. I am not really at the questioning phase of this journey just yet.

I am apathetic and I know that this is a problem that falls on my shoulders. I refuse to blame this on anyone or any particular church. However a large part of my disillusionment with Christianity is that so many Christians live hypocritical lives (myself included, I gladly point the finger at myself). I feel that my current place gives me a unique view of both believers and non-believers alike; I am not fully sold out on Christianity and yet I am not walking away from God just yet. It has given me several opportunities to speak to non-believers and have them be open considering I am not “cramming Christ down their throats.”

Now you might be asking why I have spent so much time talking about this. I want us to talk about talking. Discussions between believers and non-believers are not happening enough. Any more it only seems to be Christians sit in their groups talking in hushed tones and the non-believers are on the other side of some figurative border in their own groups. Right now most of the communication across this “border” is in the form of shouts and accusations, full of anger or judgment that has not brought either side ahead of the other.

Christians: stop bringing only messages of “You’re wrong!” and judgment to the table. Listen and openly discuss with those that hold different views from you. You’d be surprised how much you might actually learn.

Non-Christians: stop closing your ears on what you might consider “silly superstitions” and anger over judgment. Not every single Christian is responsible for the hurt that has been dealt to you; in fact it is probably the vast minority that you should be angry at. Be willing to talk and listen to them in their beliefs. You might find some things that shock you in their legitimacy and positive effects on the world.

Let’s stop fighting and start talking like civilized adults instead, what do you say?

-Ender

 
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Posted by on November 21, 2011 in church, disillusionment, Failure, Philosophy, Religion

 

Valued or Used

A box of General Mills’ Cookie Crisp breakfast...

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Have you ever noticed that there are way too many kinds of cereal?  I was walking down the cereal aisle as that very thought entered my mind.  As I am looking past all of the boxes of sugar encrusted corn starch, I hear a familiar sound: a child not getting his way.  There is a specific pitch the whine of a young child has that drives me insane.  A little boy is apparently in severe need of Cookie Crisp, and his mother decides it’s not an appropriate choice for him.  I soon decide cereal is no longer an important necessity, and as I vacate the aisle to regain my sanity I see the battle continuing to wage.

The temper tantrum that ensues when someone doesn’t get their way is not limited to the young, or to the cereal aisle.  I see it all the time amongst those who don’t feel life is going the way it should, and more often than not, I find myself doing the same.  When bills no longer are able to be paid, when I don’t get the job I deserve, or even when tragedy strikes, I throw a fit.  Not because I don’t trust Jesus, but because He isn’t making my life the way I feel it needs to be.  Like a kid in the cereal aisle, when I don’t get what I want I get mad at God.  I live my life correctly, I do all the right things, and none of the wrong, and still my life isn’t going the way it should.  I make promises to myself on God’s behalf thinking God will honor them as long as I live the good Christian life.  So when my life falls apart, I get mad at God for not holding up His end of a promise He never made!

And with this attitude, I am an idolater.

I take the one thing I am supposed to value above all else, and instead of doing such I use it to further my selfishness.

For many of us, Jesus has turned into nothing more than a way to get what we want out of life.   If our marriage isn’t what we think it should be, then we come running to Him.  When we don’t have the money to pay our bills and have nowhere else to run, we fall on our knees and cry out to Him.  When a loved one suddenly dies we, amidst tears, cry out for answers.  All of these situations are the perfect time to chase after Christ and seek comfort and answers in Him, but it seems to only be during these situations we do such. We should pray for comfort in such times and we should indeed be confident Christ can and will carry us through; but what if it doesn’t play out how we want it to?  So often we turn to Him only when there is something we cannot get or do ourselves, and He quickly falls out of mind when we feel we have life under control.

Jesus is supposed to be:“… Like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.”  Matt 13:44

Christ is supposed to be someone that we value, someone we cherish, not an item to be wielded as a fix-all.  He is turned into a “break glass in case of emergency” and fails to hold our attention when life goes well.  We will never value something that we only turn to as a whining child pleas with his mother for his favorite cereal.  If satisfaction in Christ is not something we long for everyday, then He will never be more than a Santa Claus who when we sit on His lap we make our requests known, and come Christmas morning we are pissed that the gifts are all wrong.

We have trained people to treat Jesus as a means to an end and when we don’t get out of Him what we want, we throw him away.  To me, this sounds a lot more like a genie in a bottle than a savior, than a God.  Is this something valued?  Is this a Jesus that we treasure?  Or is this something we simply drop our wish list in front of and only give further thought to when He doesn’t meet our demands?

~ Aaron

 
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Posted by on October 17, 2011 in Philosophy, Religion

 

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Fight Me

I continually find myself completely amazed at the ignorance and intolerable pretentiousness of modern Christians. Though judgment and criticism of other worldviews is extremely common there is also a brawl going on within the church. I wouldn’t quite call it a war because there aren’t sides. The fighting is not just occurring on a day-to-day basis but also on a conversation to conversation basis. These theological fist fights are breaking out all over the place. The issue is that, instead of arguing, people are fighting. If that doesn’t quite make sense I’ll explain myself.

Argumentation is a style of conversation and it has a purpose in life. This purpose is growth. This is a specific type of argumentation however and is not what you usually see in the world. What I’m talking about is a conversation where I sit down and try my best to understand your side of the conflict and why I disagree with it, as well as explain my side of the conflict in a way that might help you understand it more and figure out why you disagree with me? It’s interesting how, nine times out of ten, if you simply listen to what the other person is saying you will find that they usually agree with you about 90 to 95% of the time. With this type of conversation we may reach a point where we disagree on something and we must part ways. IT’S NOT THE END OF THE WORLD!!!! We will both continue to live our lives and may be better enlightened about other views or even our own.

The issue is that this type of argumentation doesn’t happen any more. Even with some of my closer friends and mentors I find it increasingly difficult to reach any sort of conclusion with them because all they do is antagonize and… well… fight. This isn’t helpful for any one and it doesn’t get us anywhere. If we could sit down and I could hear you out without being attacked and you could hear me out without attacking, we could reach enlightenment together.

This will to introduce extreme conflict, which doesn’t belong, into the daily conversations about our Lord and our Bible is destroying people’s ability to communicate. The other day I found some one who had never heard of Old Earth Creationism. Since I thought it was an interesting concept I explained to him that some people believe that the earth was created by God over a long period of time based on the fact that the Hebrew word yom means time period and not necessarily “day” as it has been translated into English. This argument doesn’t stop there. People also believe that we judge time by the rising and setting of the sun and moon however the Bible says that there was evening and morning three times before the sun and moon were even created. In fact I told him it was interesting to find that there is much more support for an older earth or some weird combination of days and years which were about the time that God created the world in.

When I was finishedtalking about it I asked him what he tho

ught and he replied rather contemptuously with, “that’s wrong.” I flinched for a second.

“Um… No it’s actually right.” I said as I showed him a few verses and researched some Greek. He refused to read the literature I had pulled up on my computer and spat out again.

“That’s wrong.” Frantically attempting to figure out why he was so opposed to hearing this interesting bit of news I asked him.

“Why do you think that?”

“Because it just is,” after a quick pause I blinked, “and you are a moron if you think that.” He finished and walked away.

First of all I’d like to point out that old earth/new earth doesn’t matter. It has nothing to do with how we live our lives or how we understand God’s creation of the world. The passages about the creation were about CREATION, not really important how long it took. The reaction to an argument is what I’m getting at here. His particular reaction might have bothered me if I didn’t know this.

We are Americans and as Americans we have certain inalienable rights. Among these rights are the right to our opinion, our right to despise intellect and enlightenment, and our right to viciously commit ad hominem if any one says something we dislike. Maybe the constitution doesn’t read that way but it’s what people in America have come to believe is correct.

~Ray

 
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Posted by on September 26, 2011 in Bible, Logic, Philosophy, Religion

 

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Welcome to the God Dam Blog


If you’re reading this blog it’s probably because you are curious and that’s totally understandable. You might be asking yourself, “Why would someone have a blog called God Dam?”  “They didn’t even spell it right?” “Plus it’s kind of tacky and it might even be a little offensive.”

Well, here’s the truth.  We didn’t spell it wrong.  What we are referring to with the term God Dam are the barriers, walls, or dams that have been set up theologically and culturally which tend to exclude people from fellowship in the church.  These dams are often built with the greatest of intentions, but are more often than not, built on tradition and pious doctrine. They are rarely, if ever, helpful in the endeavor of encouraging current Christians and/or reaching out to the lost.  The goal of the four authors and various guest authors of this blog is to break down these barriers by asking the questions that aren’t allowed to be asked, challenging the doctrines that aren’t allowed to be challenged, and creating a community where genuine fellowship and dialogue can take place in a safe, fun and stimulating environment.  We want to give Christians, ourselves included, an outlet and opportunity to vent frustrations with the church, discuss difficult theology on both a philosophical and practical level, and fellowship with other people struggling with the same, or similar questions.It might get tacky, It might get offensive, and it will probably get intense but the desired goal is authentic discussion and fellowship.  In a culture that is so focused on answers, we want to take some time to ask the questions.

Don’t forget to subscribe to receive the God Dam Blog by e-mail.  Just click the button to your right that says, “Let’s do this thing”

~The GDB Team

 
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Posted by on September 14, 2011 in Bible, Logic, Philosophy, Religion, Uncategorized

 

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Failure is NOT an Option

As my first post for this blog I thought it necessary and beneficial to lay some groundwork as well as clear the air. I want to make it clear to all our readers that failure is not an option. I think that it’s only honest to let you know that I’m talking about all kinds of failure here. Moral failure, physical failure, spiritual failure, grammatical failure, philosophical failure, etc… etc… etc… In your comments to our posts, in your daily life, and even in your drive through orders at McDonalds – Failure is simply not an option – It’s a requirement.

One of the most liberating statements that I heard during my journey through Bible College was that failure was a requirement. We, as fallen individuals, will fail. There is no way around it and that’s okay. I had spent the majority of my life fighting failure. I spent countless hours working to avoid failing a test, a relationship, a moral conviction, and especially my parents. And I spent countless more hours lost in grief because I had failed at not failing.

Hearing that failure was a requirement and realizing that this concept wasn’t new revelation but that it was the foundation of the gospel was a breath of fresh air. Scripture had been trying to get this through my brain for years. “All fall short of the glory of God”, “There is no one righteous, no not one”. Scripture had told me that I was a failure from the beginning and I had ignored it. Now don’t accuse me of being a Calvinist yet. This post is not my stance on Total Depravity. I had ignored the fact that I was destined to fail but I had also ignored the magical, brilliantly beautiful, gospel truth that failure was okay. That it was covered by Christ’s blood.

This renewed realization of the simple rudiments of the gospel changed my life, ministry, parenting philosophy, and self-esteem. It gave me freedom to fail and then learn from that failure rather than wallowing in self-pity and grief until the shame cycle drove me back to the same failure that had started the whole process. Now, instead of surprised or disappointed by my own failure, I almost get excited because I know God is and will continue to use failure in my life to teach me and mold me into the person he wants me to be. You see we often learn more from our failures than from our successes. As frustrating and counterproductive as that may seem on the surface it’s true.

 

Batman Begins

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In the last couple of years I’ve adopted this phrase in my home, in my ministry and even with my peers. Failure is a requirement of life. When students in my ministry fail morally or spiritually, I jump at the opportunity to encourage them and teach them to grow through failure rather than be controlled by it. When friends fail I do everything that I can to be the one that is there to dust them off, pick them up and send them on their way. In the movie “Batman Begins“, Bruce Wayne continually remembers a quote from his childhood that His father had told him; “And why do we fall, Bruce?… So we can learn to pick ourselves up” (I bet when you started reading this you didn’t realize that Batman’s father and I are super close and have the same parenting philosophy.)So… as you continue to read this blog, as I hope you do. And as you continue on your own journey through life, always remember that Failure is never merely an option… It is a requirement.

~James

 
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Posted by on September 13, 2011 in Failure, Philosophy, Religion

 

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