Is Faith Dangerous? A Question for Believers...

by AllTimeJeff 85 Replies latest watchtower bible

  • Apostate Kate
    Apostate Kate

    My faith is a very simple and simply thought out faith.

    When I look at the world, and the history of the world, and the true nature of man, I concluded that the answer to suffering could not lie within myself. I know myself well enough, when I am honest with myself, that I am; a liar, self motivated, self righteous, and good at messing things up and hurting people, with many tendencies that do not make the world a better place.

    When I look outside myself at where or who has the answer's to suffering I find Jesus.

    Matthew 25:35-36 for I was hungry, and you gave me food to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me drink; I was a stranger, and you took me in; naked, and you clothed me; I was sick, and you visited me; I was in prison, and you came to me.'

    Does faith have to more complicated than this? Can Jesus be dangerous? The only ones who thought so were the ones that killed him. My faith is in Him.

  • AllTimeJeff

    Hello Apostate Kate!

    I realize that this is a sensitive subject, so again, I would like to repeat for your sake and Blackswan as well, that I hope you won't interpret this thread as an attempt to mock or attack you. Again, I am interested in discussing the merits of these ideas.

    Because you have faith, it no doubt brings you comfort as you look at a very mad world. You were very sober in your analysis of yourself. We all have to admit there are parts of our personalities that aren't always ethical, nor do we always act the way we would like to. Human behavior is what it is. Religion and faith has long been used as a lens to intepret both good and bad behavior, admittedly, with mixed results.

    I would therefore suggest that the evidence says suffering is a result of the powerful lording it over the powerless. Almost universally, religion of all stripes are used to imply god is on the side of the powerful, and Christianity is no exception.

    Christ taught many noble things. The passage you quoted about feeding and clothing the hungry and naked is a great example. You then make the immediate jump and say afterward"

    Does faith have to more complicated than this? Can Jesus be dangerous? The only ones who thought so were the ones that killed him. My faith is in Him

    With all respect, your arguement in the last post wasn't even simple enough to make the link between Jesus humanitarian teachings and the need to put faith in him. And with all respect, Jesus isn't dangerous. According to all available evidence, he died over 2000 years ago. I know Christians say he is alive. Fine. I conceded that this belief comes from ancient scrolls. What other reason do I have for believing that these scrolls are accurate and true?

    So again, when I ask for evidence or reasons for belief and faith, what I typically find with believers are platitudes and pithy sayings. But nothing that can be logically argued or supported. That isn't meant to be an insult to believers, but I am curioius at the same time how much intellectual honesty is in evidence (or missing) that allows one to believe such things.

    I do appreciate both you Kate and Black Swan sharing your thoughts though.

  • Gopher
    Can Jesus be dangerous?

    Jesus, if he existed, hasn't been around here for nearly 2 milleniums.

    The more relevant question is: Can CHRISTIANS be dangerous?

    Many indications are - the answer is yes, in too many cases. Here's just one example, as explained by Baptist pastor J. Archie Hampton.

    Onward Christian warmongers

    A faith-based group called“Christians Reviving America’s Values” is concerned about the way the war in Iraq is being fought. As a Christian group we might think they are alarmed by the level of violence. Or maybe they are worried about the use of weaponry that unintentionally, yet inevitably, injures and kills civilians. Or maybe, in the spirit of many Christian leaders over the centuries, they believe that war itself represents a failure of Christian ideals.

    Sadly, this group of believers is not concerned that there is too much violence in the Iraqi conflict. On the contrary, they are upset our troops are restricted from being even more violent. In the name of Jesus, they want our soldiers to be able to kill more freely.

    Don Swarthout, president of CRAVE, has a long list of complaints about some of the restrictions placed on our troops as part of their rules of engagement. He cites in particular a seven step mental checklist that troops go through before pulling the trigger. He is also critical of restrictions that keep our troops from entering mosques as part of combat operations.

    “How foolish can we be?” Swarthout told the Christian Newswire. “I was amazed to learn about these restrictions on our troops. It is time for America to fight this war to win.”

    Somebody say Amen?

    In the first place, the rules of engagement that our troops follow are intended to minimize civilian causalities. Urban warfare of the sort we are engaged with in Iraq is very difficult and dangerous. The enemy is not in uniform, does not march under a flag, and wears no insignias or emblems of rank. The insurgents, up until the moment they start firing at our troops, look exactly like ordinary Iraqis who are only trying to live and have a life.

    If counting to seven minimizes the number of innocent people killed, that’s a good thing. If a careful evaluation of each combat situation keeps us from killing women and children, that’s the sort of thing Christians should appreciate. It’s sort of like being militarily pro-life.

    Don’t get me wrong, it is perfectly legitimate to question the rules of engagement. Military tacticians, politicians and even ordinary citizens all have the right to question the techniques and practices that affect our troops.

    Just don’t make the practice of warfare a “Christian virtue,” because it is not. Arguing for practices that allow our troops to engage in more killing with less measured engagement practices in densely populated areas is about as far from traditional Christian ethics as you can get.

    In order to be faithful to the teaching of the New Testament, Christians should be in the forefront calling for an end to the war. And until the war ends, we should be at the front of the line demanding the war be fought in the most just and humane manner possible — as if “humane” and “war” can even be spoken in the same breath.

    Jesus once asked what good we accomplish if we gain the whole world, but lose our soul. In the context of military conflict, that wisdom sounds like this: If we unleash the full and unrestrained fury of our military might, inflicting death and pain on all in our path — innocent and insurgent alike — we may win the war, but we will have lost everything else we were fighting for.

    James L. Evans, a syndicated columnist, also serves as pastor of Auburn First Baptist Church. He can be reached through his Web site,

    J. Archie Hampton

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  • proplog2

    Who dares to apply the label "dangerous" to anyone's faith.?

    No body is really in charge. Evolution has to take its course.

    There is only one possibility that looks optimistic.

    Humans don't seem to make the right choices quickly enough. So they need some kind of help. "It is not up to man to direct his steps".

    There doesn't seem to be any unambiguous proof that there is an omnicient/omnipotent God.

    But there IS a possibility that there are other sentient life forms in the multi-verse that may like us and somehow luckily overcame their intrinsic selfishness. And there is a possibility that they could impose order on us as benevolent older brothers.

    Other than that. Forget about labeling peoples faith as "dangerous". It will just get you killed.

  • AllTimeJeff

    Hello Proplog2. I just wanted to clarify something. I hope that my attempt at arguing a point isn't being misinterpreted by you or others as an attack, or that I believe that I am in charge. I think however, that the superior arguement should win the day. Thus, I am attempting to quantify my own statements, and merely ask others, believers or otherwise, to please quantify their own statements as well. I am also asking that we try to be as honest as we can, and thus not only promote what we think we know, but also admit what we don't know, as honesty demands...

    With that said, I am not going after any particular belief system. What I suggest is dangerous is faith in unproveable, untestable concepts about the nature and beginning of god, of mankind, of planet earth, etc. Faith is acting with certainty on things that no one can be certain of. Doesn't history teach that this is dangerous to do?

    This isn't about labeling anyone. If anything, it is the great religions and belief systems of this world that have done the majority of the labelling of others. If you re read my posts thus far, I have not labelled any one. I am making an arguement about the premises of faith and belief systems, and the kind of scrutiny that we (don't) apply to them.

    Faith vs Fact is a long fight, but Science has been turning the tide, although frankly, it has been only in the last 2-300 years that Science has been unimpeded by religion trying to use Science for their own ends. Thus, we have accelerated our gathering of facts and knowledge, while supersititious ideas have been the main casualty. With this in mind, I leave off with another quote from a Sam Harris blog that I think sheds some light on our ability to choose what we believe in. I like this quote very much and agree with it.

    What does it mean to say that a belief is "freely chosen"? If our beliefs purport to represent any state of the world (physical, historical, contemplative, or even fictional), we do not "choose" them. They tend to be forced upon us by compelling chains of evidence and argument. Did you freely choose to believe that Jesus was crucified rather than guillotined? I doubt it. The biblical account just happens to specify crucifixion, and you find this account compelling. (I presume it is also relevant that Jesus predates the guillotine by over a thousand years.) The point, of course, is that you are not free to believe whatever you want. And people who would avail themselves of such freedom are demonstrably crazy. Consensus really is the gold-standard here, as elsewhere. Consensus, of course, admits of exceptions. It is possible for a solitary genius to have the truth in hand before anyone else realizes it. Eventually, however, others will authenticate his/her results. This is also true of contemplative or classically "mystical" results. Yes, subjective experience is private to a significant degree, but it isn't merely so. Language allows us to form a consensus about what is reasonable to believe even about one's private experiences.
  • Apostate Kate
    Apostate Kate
    Religion and faith has long been used as

    sure and so has anything and everything that a human being touches...all we do is hurt and in Jesus Christ has never done any harm to anyone or it would not have been faith in Jesus but something else.

    The fact is as far as authentic Christian faith, it is not about the Christian but all about Jesus. My faith in him has shown me the answers to all my questions. He is the only one who has ever had the answer for the worlds problems. Although he offers so much more than that.

    Following Jesus is simple, yet all encompassing. My faith causes my life's goals to live like He would today, think like He would today and act like He would today. I do not follow people nor do I want anyone to follow me.

    It is a one on one personal relationship that can be measured in tangible ways. There was just a study done that proves that those who live lives of giving and charity live longer healthier happier lives than any other group!

    Some find mystery, contradiction and a lack of science in the Bible, I don't.

  • LittleToe

    Gee, papa, I'm a danger to society!!

    What about other untestable claims that the bible and other holy books claim? What scrutiny and testing are they held to? That is a key question to me.


    Why is that key? What is this insatiable need to unearth every stone in other peoples' lives? Residual proselytising after a lifetime of training?

    Question your questions - why are you asking them? What's my motivation?

  • BlackSwan of Memphis
    BlackSwan of Memphis
    The fact that a higher power could exist is not an excuse to put faith in it just because it would be nice.

    Not to you.

    It would make me feel better if I told myself over and over again that I have buried treasure in my backyard that I have never seen, but I am sure that it is there. If I really believed that and put faith in it, that would make my day.

    Depends on what you consider treasure.

    The fact that a higher power could exist is not an excuse to put faith in it just because it would be nice.

    Tell that to a man whose 7 year old daughter dies painfully of cancer and his wife dies of cancer 3 years before. To you it is no big deal. Perhaps you have been through just as much and have come out with no faith. To another faith is what sustains them. Maybe you missed that part. Perhaps the Flying Spaghetti Monster WON'T come DOWN and heal all and bring peace and blah blah blah. But to people, throughout the centuries who have suffered, faith is what sustained them. Is that wrong?

    It would make me feel better if I told myself over and over again that I have buried treasure in my backyard that I have never seen, but I am sure that it is there. If I really believed that and put faith in it, that would make my day.

    Again this depends on your idea of what treasure is. To some people a rock imprinted with the fossil of a microscopic bug like thing (this would be me) is treasure (anyone who has a clue what this is, feel free to add). To others the promises that Jesus presented are the greatest treasure. To another, the rain that falls after a rain dance during a drought.

    Is it right to believe so? Am I justified in doing so? Am I justified in thinking that god exists simply because I am alive? It might make me feel better, but what is the justification for the faith itself? Because I would like it to be so? To put faith in something or someone, again, what reasons should I do this?

    Why should you have to justify your faith or lack thereof to anyone? If you have no need for faith or God, then fine. Don't believe. Who cares?

    <looks around room>

    On the flip side why should a person who has faith feel the need to justify their faith to anyone other then themself? In your reality, there is no room for God. Ok. As I said, to a person who is suffering, their reality demands faith to survive. Perhaps it itself is a great product of the mind to keep us alive during times of distress. Who are you to demand that they prove anything to you? If they evangelize that's one thing, but not every person of faith feels the need to do that. If a person tries to evangelize you, you have every right to ask your questions and get answers and if the answers are not rational, you have every right to tell them to let you be. Otherwise........what am I missing?

    I sometimes don't get these type of questions. The answer is pretty simple. You don't have a need, be it spiritual or psychological for God or faith or anything. Like many others. So, don't. Others do. It gets them through the day. It has for centuries.

    History as best man can tell is littered with the solid evidence of ignorance and war that faith promulgated, with or without holy books.

    People don't like religion because it's brought war upon the land. Well, hell, ya don't need religion for war. You have oil! You have gold! You have land! You have wealth! You have servants to be! There are so many other reasons for war that have also proven themselves to be successful. So if we're going to dog on faith, let's dog on man's greed which probably comes from some animalistic primal thing or somethin like that.

    Point being, religion itself is an excuse. Take away religion and you still have man and no matter what, man will always come up with some great excuse to get what he wants. Religion has been in the right place at the right time for the wrong people.

    What can a person of faith tell me on the matter?

    Well, I suppose now is as good as time as any to do this...

    I AM COMING OUT OF THE BROOM CLOSET Y'ALL! If ya haven't noticed I'm not really a person of faith in the tradtional sense. I am something of a pantheisitic pagan, althought the pantheism part is starting to slide. Don't have much of a notion on deity right now. More of a ...oh forget it. That could take many pages to discuss.

    As far as the Native Americans go, lets take an example. The rain dance. To be sure it is a part of their culture and history. But with what we now know about weather, are any of us justified to believe that the weather is caused by rain dances of the Indians? Surely if I were investigating the faith of the Native Americans, I would be compelled to ask them to compare their religion and belief system on the weather with what science now knows about it. Who would win that arguement based on fact? Can we base weather forecasts on faith?

    Depends on who you talk to. What if you talk to 10 Native Americans who have done a rain dance during drought. 5 tell you the dance did shit for them. The other 5 say, well we got rain. You might have a great explanation, so freakin' logical that it makes the first 5 cheer you on. The other group says to you "Yeah, you might be right. But this is our experience and we were there and you weren't. This is our evidence on which we base our faith."


    Faith in unproven and unproveable assumptions about the spirit world has dominated mankind.

    You weren't there when Jesus was performing miracles. You weren't there during a drought when a rain dance was performed and rain fell. You need proof that you can rest your beliefs on. For you that proof is not there. To others the Bible or the Egyptian Book of the Dead (I've only read a part of this, so don't read too much into that) is proof enough. Why? Because it is. It is their reality that works for them.

    I am certainly not disagreeing with you completely on this matter. Sheesh you are talking to a person who has tossed these questions around a lot lately. I suppose while I see your angle very clearly, I also see people who without faith that there is a greater cause or higher sense of justice, would probably not make it to the next phase of their life, which could very well be a very important phase to all of mankind. Who knows?

    A person who prays to God today to get through another day of hell, might well be the person who works as an amassador for the UN (think Brangelina) and helps hundreds of people to get food and water, and they do this because of appreciation for what God "has done for them". On the other hand, a person who needs faith to wake up in the morning, might be the Big Atheist to convert an entire nation to atheism which brings about a new sense of peace.

    Each person will go through various phases and stages in their life to get to where they are now (or later haha). When the believer produces a cure for some freaky version of smallpox that another believer created to destroy man, do we ask for justifcation for their beliefs? Nope. We look at the works themselves. Their beliefs, better or worse got them to where they are.

    Yin and yang.

    For that matter, is it necesarry that I believe that Christ is my savior before I accept the Golden Rule, or to love thy neighbor as thyself?

    Nope! I agree wholeheartedly with you on this!

    Is it possible that Jesus had a very enlightened view of how man should treat one another?

    Yep! I agree very much with this!

    Does that mean I have to believe he was born of a virgin, executed and resurrected on the third, day and is now god to follow the Golden Rule?

    Nope! I agree with this as well. I think there is a possibility others actually said something similar to this before him.

    Think of this though, it got said. Not only did it get said and taught, it's a huge teaching of the Christian church. It's as you said, the Golden Rule! Had he not been thought of as God, would we have it today? Would the words of Buddha had the same impact? Maybe! I'd like to think so. But this is what we have. And while the bible has been the source of distress, it also has been the source of that teaching and others that I personally take to heart. Be they from God or an enlightened man who was ahead of his time and a part of the evolution of man, they are still words that I genuinely appreciate were said and taught.

    Religion is not necesarry for me to treat someone as I want to be treated.

    You are absolutely right! Who said it was?

    <looks around room>

    Still, religion has been a vehicle for teachings. Some good, some bad. So take the good and toss the bad and if the religion pisses you off you can throw that out too.

    It shouldn't be a requirement for me to believe in something absolutely no one can prove before I am a "nice person".

    damn straight.

    It is amazing to see through the lens of the past how quickly Christians forgot the Golden Rule and to love thy neighbor and turn Jesus into the millenial judge when it came to their own political purposes.

    Yep. But be careful not to group Christians into one solid group and torch them all for the sins of their forefathers. Many can take the teachings of Jesus and move forward with the religion and blind faith and do great things. I'm sure you know this, it's just a reminder.

    All because people had FAITH that he was ruling in heaven, thus unspeakable crimes resulted.

    Yep. But there have been many other Christians and Moslems and Jews and you name it, who have refused to have no part in these crimes due to their faith in that higher power.

    Where do they get these contradictory ideas about Christ as lover of man and judge of man?

    You tell me...

    The same source, the bible.

    The bible says a lot of things, but the last time I checked I don't think it actually gives it's followers the right to torture and murder others. Yes the OT has some pretty nasty things to say about YHWH, but I think we are mostly discussing Christianity at this point which would more then likely be based on the teachings of the apostles as set forth in the NT, and as I said the last time I checked, it doesn't give man the right to torture. (I have others here to thank for pointing this out to me). Point being, man has gone in and abused the words and teachings of others to justify their greed and desire to destroy. That greed and desire was there before religion, and would be there after it.

    The only way then I could accept Christ is to turn off what I look at as evidence and say "I am through looking at the facts and am now willing to believe this ancient idea about Jesus.

    Why do you have to "accept Christ" to appreciate his teachings? Many do not accept him as their personal Savior, but see him as you might, an enlightened man, and move forward. If others don't like it, what are they going to do? If they believe you are going to hell, well, that's their loss that they can't see you as a good guy who can appreciate the value of humanity.

    The evidence and facts point to something else, that Jesus was nothing more then an unusually enlightened man living in a less then enlightened time of human history.

    That is your perspective, which I am not saying is wrong. Just making a point.

    His words were recorded, his works, exaggerated.

    You weren't there, I wasn't there, and unless someone has some pretty wild proof, no one here on this planet at this time was there. So all we have to go on is the written words of men who lived during or more accurately, after his time. (Although I realize that can be disputed).

    For some that is enough.

    For you and me at this point, it is not.

    Live and let live.

    So I need faith to believe in him, or I won't be able to believe that Jesus is savior at all, because their is no factual reason to belive this concept otherwise.

    See above.

    Of course, you probably wouldn't be willing to do that with any other major world religion, but you are more likely to do so with Christianity, as it is the religion you grew up around and are familiar with.

    Do what?

    That does made a difference, doesn't it?

    uhmmm ok.

    Did I happen to say welcome to the forum?

  • AllTimeJeff

    Thanks Kate!

    Jesus Christ has never done any harm to anyone or it would not have been faith in Jesus but something else.

    I am not clear on what you mean by this. I agree wholeheartedly that Jesus has done no harm to me or anyone personally. Please allow me to point out though that sincere faith in Jesus as the son of god runs throughout the JW's. Correct? That being the case, all of these millions of sincere JW's are essentially wrong as far as you and I have judged. Their faith motivates a weird view of prosytelizing, of blood, of shunning, of limited contact with the world. Yet, it is precisely their belief that they have faith in Jesus that motivates them. In addition, I know many JW's as well as other more traditional Christians who live life exactly the way you do, who love Christ even more then Jehovah. (they have admitted this to me) Yet, their faith also allows them to practice hurtful things. All in the name of Jesus. That is what the evidence points to. With respect, such a conclusion seems to be a little simplistic. You might feel that others use Jesus and/or hijack "christianity", but that is the precise problem one encounters when you use ancient scrolls about people who lived thousands of years ago, and make the untestable and unproveable claim that from such sources lie the enlightenment and answers for us all.

    The fact is as far as authentic Christian faith, it is not about the Christian but all about Jesus.

    Thanks for sharing this. I would respectfully disagree for this reason. You make a claim, whether you realized it or not, to know what is authentic, and what isn't authentic Christian faith. In addition, it contradicts what Jesus said

    John 13:35 ""By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." NAS 1995 version

    By Jesus own teaching, how could it not be about the Christian? And what evidence of this kind of Christianity do we see from Christian religions today? Surely what is authentic to any belief can't be left up to the individual totally. You are for sure an excellent person Kate, but it doesn't in any way defend the claim to truth that Christianity promotes, such as Jesus being the way, truth and life. Nice people exist in the Islamic, Taoist, Buddhist, and yes, Atheist worlds. So one cannot use one persons behavior alone as the measuring stick as to where truth exists and whether or not to put faith in such theologies.

    It is a one on one personal relationship that can be measured in tangible ways. There was just a study done that proves that those who live lives of giving and charity live longer healthier happier lives than any other group!

    Again, this isn't the exclusive property of Christians. Many live such lives outside Christianity. It essentially proves nothing about the truthfullness of the religion or explain the contradictions.

    Some find mystery, contradiction and a lack of science in the Bible, I don't.

    I will let that statement alone. I would be remiss to say that in my view, that statement is wrong. Their are many contradictions in the bible, and certainly a lack of science. But that isn't the point of this thread, we will agree to disagree on that one, ok?

    Thanks again Kate.

  • AllTimeJeff
    Gee, papa, I'm a danger to society!!

    LOL! Not you Little Toe, the idea that you can and should put faith in ideas no one has any idea about. Thanks for allowing me to clarify that.

    What about other untestable claims that the bible and other holy books claim? What scrutiny and testing are they held to? That is a key question to me.


    Why is that key? What is this insatiable need to unearth every stone in other peoples' lives? Residual proselytising after a lifetime of training?

    Question your questions - why are you asking them? What's my motivation?

    You didn't answer my question first. Please allow me to ask you, are you a believer in a religion and thus, have faith in god? If yes, what do you use as evidence? If you haven't given that a lot of thought, would you be willing to admit that?

    My motives are explained in my opening salvo on this thread, but it isn't to unearth every stone in others lives. If you could please point out to me in my posts where you get that inference, I will correct it immediatly. I am not going after small stones, but rather, I am investigating the big rocks that constiute faith in untestable and unprovable ideas concerning the nature of god and religion.

    If I may ask,why do you believe the way you do? If evidence that you can explain and quantify doesn't matter to you, but you would rather believe with a minimum of evidence, that is your right. Just please make a statement saying such. I am sure you will clarify where you stand, and I thank you for the opportunity to clarify myself!

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