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The Forum > Article Comments > The scandal of Christianity > Comments

The scandal of Christianity : Comments

By Peter Sellick, published 22/6/2005

Peter Sellick argues that the critics of Christianity get it wrong.

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Great article Peter - a clear explanation of modern Christian thought on aethism in general. However I have a number of follow-up questions I would like your thoughts on;

1. How do you deal with the problem of evil? Whilst no philosopher, this question is the one thing that turns me away from any religion. How can the all-knowing, all-powerfull, all-loving Christian god permit such gross suffering and injustice in the world?

2. Do you really think any human being is capable of knowing or even possibly comprehending what a god would think about, or care about? Why should scholars living thousands of years ago be capable of understanding these things, but not today?

3. Why does the bible make no mention of anything beyond its' own planet and time? If god is all knowing, why did he not warn humanity of any future catastrophes? Why does he not mention alien civilisations? Why did he not make it clear the earth is round (or circles the sun?).

4. I thought your recognition of troubles in the church did not go far enough. Why does god permit his church to commit or be complicit in so many different crimes (including child abuse, the holocaust etc)? If Christianity is the true religion, why would he not put a bit more effort into making sure his priests acted like they are supposed to?

5. Finally, Christianity consists of many different schools of thought. Then there are many different religions. What is the truth? They can't all be right. There has to be a 'truth', i.e a state of affairs that is. If you are a Catholic that all of Islam is wrong. Or most of it is? Or What? If a god truly existed, I would expect him to let everyone know the truth, without question. What god would possibly want the situation we have today? Is it not just possible that religion is the product of people's basic need to have answers?

I'm not expert at all, and I look forward to some view on these...


Posted by gw, Wednesday, 22 June 2005 9:49:18 AM
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Great article but let me put a different spin.
The rise of anti-Christianity is part of an anti-religion wave that started few decades ago.The last few decades have seen rising extremism and fundamentalism. We have been so consumed with inter-religions debates forgetting the ‘invisible extremism’ and that is, in my view: ‘Extreme Militant Secularism’. (EMS : I just invented this term, all rights reserved).

I guess the question one could ask is ‘extreme secularism’ more dangerous than fundamentalism in any other religion? And answer is yes because:
a) it is invisible
b) It uses ‘proprietary’ metrics (ie needs, wants, interests)
c) it is unmeasurable: in any given religion, you can somehow draw a line between main stream and fundamentalism. This line becomes very blurred with extreme secularism.
It is an issue, but not sure if there is answer to it.
Posted by Fellow_Human, Wednesday, 22 June 2005 12:57:01 PM
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I can only speak for myself on this issue, but the only antipathy I feel towards Christians is when they seek to impose their values on me. I wouldn't call it 'rage' - rather, annoyance, of a very similar order to that which I experience when my phone rings and it's another telesales drone on the line.

As a frequent contributor to these forums, Sells should be aware that a small number of evangelical Christian zealots persistently utilise them as platforms to preach their invariably extreme fundamentalist beliefs.

That is bound to annoy those of us who wish to engage in rational and reasonable debate and discussion.
Posted by garra, Wednesday, 22 June 2005 1:23:11 PM
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The very erudite Peter Sellick has once again WOWed us with his slick prose and unfathomable logic.
If we cut through the endless string of questions being begged we come down to a few kernels of argument. Peter condemns atheists in failing to show that his god does not exist. Don't blame Newton Peter, you have failed, as usual, to show that a god does exist. You may be right in saying that there is no argument to show Christianity is "true" but not because it has no basis in "modern argument" but because of the source of your faith i.e. the Gospels.
Who cares about atheists, Communism, Facism and the like when your position always comes back to the Gospels, because after all that is all you have got to base your arguments on.
A. Paltry evidence of Jesus' existance. A phrase from Tacitus, a reworked paragraph from Josephus etc. none of whom met Jesus.
B. No contemporary achaelogical evidence of Jesus, his beliefs or deeds

The gospels apparently bear up well under the srutiny of a believer like yourself Peter but fail comprehensively to convince the disinterested observer that they are nothing more than corrupted records of unknown events from antiquity. The discussion about the "truth" in Christianity can only be gleaned from sources which.
A. Are written by unknown authors
B. Have been written at unknown places.
C. Been revised, added to and tampered with.
D. Have been chosen for inclusion in the NT because of their adherence to fist century religious concepts inspired by Paul (who never even saw Jesus).
C. Contradict each other with no Gospel from a disciple or eye witness. (What happened to the Gospel of Peter? or James (the brother).)
D. Contain obvious allusions to Pagan beliefs and practices wrapped in a weird Jewish cult context.

Rail against our increasingly secular society as you must but first century superstition is continuing to fail us all.
Peter, first convince us the Gospels are true then we can work on the rest using your basis in faith.
Posted by Priscillian, Wednesday, 22 June 2005 1:49:02 PM
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Gw. The problem with evil is predicated, as you point out on a theism that gives God all of the old philosophical attributes. I would say this is not a Christian understanding but one imposed from outside of the tradition, from the Greeks etc. The God that Christians worship is the God who rules from the cross not from some point in the universe with absolute knowledge and power. The scandal that the NT points to is just this weak position of God in the world. If we think in terms of the Trinity then most of these problems are solved because they are based on monism worked out in terms of supreme being. Christianity subverts all such conceptions via the cross. Wondering what God cares about again assumes this monadal consciousness. The medium of the revelation of God is history, ie the history of Israel and the history of Jesus. That is why so much weight is placed on the bible.

When Christians talk about truth they point to Jesus, an historical person who got into trouble with those who could say with Pilate “what is truth?” Truth is therefore not to be had in terms of precepts but in terms of a particular life and death. The only way we can discern this is to listen to the stories about this man and see what happens to us.

The anti-Christian wave started in the 17th century and was linked with the rise of scientism that argued on the grounds of extreme scepticism that nothing can be held to be true if one cannot measure or test it. Since tradition could not be fitted into this category it was abandoned. The other force was romanticism that relied again on the individual as the one who must immediately experience something. Neither scientism nor romanticism could deal with intermediaries or history.

Garra, I share your annoyance and will certainly not try to impose anything one you.

Posted by Sells, Wednesday, 22 June 2005 2:35:02 PM
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If rational objection is rage then rage is what you're gonna get.

Heh, I just found out that the "pair of scissors" thread is still going, >300 posts. Yep, most arguments are about religion, or sex, or some other subject where widely varying postions exist. Debates on religion aren't all about xianity, and even when they are, Jesus is not the issue, but dogma or claims of fact. You are dreaming if you think we care about who Jesus associated with and him being an "outcast". The scandal(??) and why deism is preferred isn't because God has made himself known, but the exact opposite.

Secular != atheist.
Non-christian != atheist.

"If this is taken at face value, then someone like me could be seduced into thinking that those who rage may be tamed and turned around by rational argument. In my experience this is rarely possible, suggesting there is something else at work, something akin to the original offence that Jesus occasioned."

You ignore what "scientists turned theologians" say and assume they are witholding they're real reasons, you admit to not being able to give a straight answer, you say that it is not an intellectual decision, but you try to explain away your failure to convince. Are you afraid that you may be wrong? Are you worried about self-preservation? I will happily say that I do not want to see my skeptical side being destroyed, because it is logical to apportion belief to the evidence, if I'm wrong about other things I do not mind.

What rational argument did you expect us to be turned around by? You cannot provide objective evidence of Christianity or the accuracy of the Bible, so how do you expect to be able to convince any skeptic? Those of us who seek but aren't going to adopt a position that is logically flawed, such as begging the question? Show us that your story is true, or show us why we need a story. What scholarship? What in Christianity can't we find elsewhere?

We want to know! You ask us to forego logic, but why?
Posted by Deuc, Wednesday, 22 June 2005 2:52:33 PM
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