Christianity ... as presented to all the non-Christians


#1

Here is a short synopsis of the Christian belief system as gleaned from many posts:

God created the world, and humanity. Adam he created directly from dust, and then took a rib from Adam and created a woman. (Literal or allegorical?) He set up one test, which he knew humanity will fail. God became angry (when this anticipated failure happened) and cursed his creation. He chased out the humans from his presence. Sometime later, he became even angrier, and drowned the whole world, humans and animals alike in a huge flood. (Literal?)

Yet again sometime later, this immutable God changed his mind (new covenant?), and decided to give humanity another chance. So he became his own son, took all the sins of humanity on his own shoulder, and allowed himself to be crucified, so he can pardon the sins of humanity. (Why the charade? Why not just do it?) Of course he does not pardon all the sins, only the sins of those who are willing to eat his flesh and drink his blood (symbolically or really, is unclear).

Also it is a requirement that these humans who wish to be saved from everlasting damnation (again unclear what it means) must accept him as a savior, and must love him - of course freely and without coercion. If someone fails, then they will “freely” go to hell, a place, where is a total separation from God, the very same God who is everywhere (omnipresent).

Now, if someone accepts God, then he will be given an everlasting second of unspecified bliss and a perfect body when eternity ends. This will happen on Judgment Day, when God sits next to himself (Jesus), and dispenses perfect justice. Everyone who sinned, but repented before they had proof of God’s existence will be saved. Of course they do not deserve to be saved, it is actually God’s infinite mercy which will allow them to get into heaven. The very same justice or mercy (one gets confused at this point) will send the rest of us to everlasting torture or fire (unclear).

And all this happens, because God loves everyone, indiscriminately and wants to be loved by us, freely and without coercion. God could pardon the sins of everyone, but then he would not be just. God ought to send everyone to hell (because we deserve it - or maybe even worse!), but then he would not be merciful.

This infinite love (which is not an emotion - but an “act of will”) is not manifested here on Earth. God will allow the hungry go unfed, the sick uncured. God will not defend the tortured and raped. After all this world does not “matter”. Whatever happens here is of no consequence - with one exception.

The only thing that matters, that we accept every bit of misery that befalls on us as the just outcome of our sinful nature (installed by God) and glorify God for those instances when he lifts this misery from us. Which he cannot do very often, because then we would gain proof positive about his existence, and that would rob us of our free will to love him.


Now, a little clarification is in order. None of the words which describe God's "activity" are to be taken literally. Since God dwells outside time, all the words which describe God's activity should be replaced with the phrase "eternally willed". The resulting text is - strange... try it.

Well, this is it in a nutshell (by a nutcase?). Logical or illogical? More to the point: rational or irrational? You be the judge.

A disclaimer:

This summary is not meant to be mocking or sarcastic. It is not meant to be a caricature. It is how the “picture” is presented to the outsiders, be they of a different religion or an atheist. It was gleaned from the conversations on these forums, reading some apologist books and of course reading the Bible.

Your thoughts?


#2

Sounds like Christianity as described (or misdescribed) by a hostile atheist. What are you hoping to gain from your little tale?

BTW, do you just talk to Catholics about Christianity, or do you also talk to Protestants? Because much of what you wrote sounds more Protestant (and thus containing error) than Catholic.


#3

I agree. The longer I am on CA, the more often I do NOT want to read this type of “question”. I’m more interested in what Catholics have to say about their “beloved” Church. If the Church offends them so much, why spend time on this type of stuff unless the OP has doubts.

I just need to scoot past this stuff and get to what other CA believers have to post – what is edifying – what builds up the body of Christ!


#4

That is one wildly huge strawman you’ve set up there. Kudos.

– Mark L. Chance.


#5

Hostile? Why do you think so?

If there are errors in my summary, please enumerate them. Everything I said was posted on these boards (most on the Philosphy forum, to be sure). I usually post there.


#6

A bit more detail would be appreciated. A summary dismissal is not the best way to criticize. You see, it lacks credibility - it looks like that you cannot refute it. Of course looks can be deceiving, so maybe you have some valid points. Can I see them?


#7

Error number one: Assuming such a limited subset of comments by a very limited subset of Christians – comments which having been edited for content by someone operating with an a priori assumption that Christianity is false – somehow summarize Christianity as it is presented “to all the non-Christians.”

Like I said: That’s one impressive strawman you’ve set up.

– Mark L. Chance.


#8

Are you stating that you are not in any way hostile to Christianity?

If there are errors in my summary, please enumerate them. Everything I said was posted on these boards (most on the Philosphy forum, to be sure). I usually post there.

I think it will be much more illuminating to have you offer an alternative, “rational” God-world. Assume that God exists and then tell us how God would have done things. Describe the world God, if he exists, would have created. Tell us those things in Christianity that God, if he exists, would not have done or allowed to happen.


#9

That is not much of an “error”. I posted on this website, and based the summary as I read the posts here.

I was hoping to see some factual criticisms, which point out that some of what I had posted are actually in error.


#10

Of course I am not hostile to the world-view or belief system of Christianity. I think that it is an irrational belief system, and I pointed out some of the irrationality in the OP. (Those are just a small sample of what I consider “incorrect”.)

I doubt it. Besides I already did that - many a times. This time I am not particularly interested in derailing this thread. Maybe another time we can talk about that subject.

If you have something particular to point out in my summary, which is clearly something that is incorrectly attributed to Christianity, please do so. I am willing to learn and always ready to admit when I am wrong.


#11

The surest way to do that is to compare what you wrote to the Catechism.

But I want to get back to this “more rational” world that you seem to think God would have created. Are you gonna address that? For every “less rational” aspect of Christianity, please provide the “more rational” alternative.


#12

Well I haven’t seen a single one of them, so I am stuck with you claiming irrationality without providing any counter-examples of more rational alternatives. This isn’t a different subject, it’s all the same subject.


#13

Ateista,

If you seriously want discussion/answers on the topics in your OP, you’ll need to open individual threads for each point. (I was going to respond, but quit when I considered how many different areas needed to be touched on.)

Nita


#14

Naturally, you are much more qualified in doing a comparision than I would. You would know which parts address the questions or observations I presented.

I don’t offer a “more” rational alternative in this thread. I am interested in your criticisms.

Since you insist, I can point you to the Philosophy section:

forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=229110

It is still a live thread, you can read a few of my thoughts on the subject.

Also in the thread:

forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=221071&page=14

which is now closed, because it exhausted its usefulness.

But, if you are interested, and those threads leave open questions, start a new one in this forum, and I will answer your questions to the best of my abilities.


#15

Thank you. For startes, just pick one, whichever you think is the most appropriate.


#16

Having read through them all, I have to say you have been reading with a “prove it to me” mind set that takes in only what supports what you already want to think. That’s my impression of your post. Now, am I right or am I also reading into your words what isn’t there?

God created the world, and humanity. Adam he created directly from dust, and then took a rib from Adam and created a woman. (Literal or allegorical?) He set up one test, which he knew humanity will fail. God became angry (when this anticipated failure happened) and cursed his creation. He chased out the humans from his presence. Sometime later, he became even angrier, and drowned the whole world, humans and animals alike in a huge flood. (Literal?)

Your summation is overly simplistic and uninformed. Catholics do not see the creation and the flood as you depict here. Really, you need to read about the things you are dismissing from reliable sources. I suggest the Catechism of the Catholic Church whose wording is more precise.

Yet again sometime later, this immutable God changed his mind (new covenant?), and decided to give humanity another chance. So he became his own son, took all the sins of humanity on his own shoulder, and allowed himself to be crucified, so he can pardon the sins of humanity. (Why the charade? Why not just do it?) Of course he does not pardon all the sins, only the sins of those who are willing to eat his flesh and drink his blood (symbolically or really, is unclear).

God’s immutability is not at all violated by him unfolding his plan of salvation, promised throughout the OT, within time.

As to why he didn’t just pardon the sins of humanity–is that what you really want? You don’t believe in justice? Not for any crime no matter how horrendous? How about your own sins, if you believe in sin? Do you want God to pretend you’re just fine as you are, or make the effort to help you become what you ought to be?

And the last part about the Church’s teaching regarding Eucharist is simply false. Once again, I recommend the CCC.

Also it is a requirement that these humans who wish to be saved from everlasting damnation (again unclear what it means) must accept him as a savior, and must love him - of course freely and without coercion. If someone fails, then they will “freely” go to hell, a place, where is a total separation from God, the very same God who is everywhere (omnipresent).

Sorry, this is all wrong. Catholics don’t believe what you’ve cited here. There may be others that do, but not Catholics. Read the CCC on the topic.

Now, if someone accepts God, then he will be given an everlasting second of unspecified bliss and a perfect body when eternity ends. This will happen on Judgment Day, when God sits next to himself (Jesus), and dispenses perfect justice. Everyone who sinned, but repented before they had proof of God’s existence will be saved. Of course they do not deserve to be saved, it is actually God’s infinite mercy which will allow them to get into heaven. The very same justice or mercy (one gets confused at this point) will send the rest of us to everlasting torture or fire (unclear).

This paragraph is such a jumble it doesn’t even make sense. That’s not really surprising considering you haven’t a clue what Christianity actually teaches. Read the CCC.

And all this happens, because God loves everyone, indiscriminately and wants to be loved by us, freely and without coercion. God could pardon the sins of everyone, but then he would not be just. God ought to send everyone to hell (because we deserve it - or maybe even worse!), but then he would not be merciful.

Really? Nope. Try again. :slight_smile: You already know what I’m going to write, but I’ll recommend it again anyway–read the CCC.

This infinite love (which is not an emotion - but an “act of will”) is not manifested here on Earth. God will allow the hungry go unfed, the sick uncured. God will not defend the tortured and raped. After all this world does not “matter”. Whatever happens here is of no consequence - with one exception.

Not even close! It is up to men to defend other men from cruelty and crime. Or shouldn’t we be held accountable for our own actions? If you say no, what you are advocating is God make us into automatons. We Catholics believe we are to act in the world as the “Body of Christ.” We are his hands and feet to serve others–so we might bring peace and true happiness into the world.

The only thing that matters, that we accept every bit of misery that befalls on us as the just outcome of our sinful nature (installed by God) and glorify God for those instances when he lifts this misery from us. Which he cannot do very often, because then we would gain proof positive about his existence, and that would rob us of our free will to love him.

Not hardly. You misstate Church teaching outrageously and then challenge us to prove you wrong. It doesn’t work that way. You need to show us that you have got it right–not an easy task when you are so uninformed about the basics of theology. No one can say he has truly rejected something unless he has full knowledge of what he is rejecting. Impressions of what the Church teaches are not the same thing as the teachings themselves. Read the CCC.


#17

But you said Christianity was irrational, and now you refuse to offer anything to back up that claim. You can’t expect people reading this thread to wander about reading and citing other threads for background. Just post the single greatest irrationality of Christianity as you understand it and we can proceed to investigate (a) whether your understanding is correct in that instance, and (b) whether it is as irrational as you claim.


#18

Okay. Will start at the beginning since I have no idea what would be most appropriate.

God created the world, and humanity. Adam he created directly from dust, and then took a rib from Adam and created a woman. (Literal or allegorical?) He set up one test, which he knew humanity will fail. God became angry (when this anticipated failure happened) and cursed his creation. He chased out the humans from his presence.

God created us out of love and created us to love. Love for someone involves choosing to love them. The “one test” was the opportunity God allowed for Adam and Eve to choose Him to love. (Love for God includes believing, trusting in His love for us, obeying Him because we believe His commands are for our good, etc. etc.)

So, even tho Adam and Eve chose love for themselves and the serpent over love for God, God did not annihilate them. He continued to desire the existence of the human race and to love them to the degree that He Himself would take on their human nature and physically die to redeem and show His love for them. (This redemption foretold right at the beginning; Gen 3:15)

There is nothing in Scripture or Catholic teaching that says God got angry when Adam sinned. As you noted, He knew beforehand it would happen. But I guess you might say, God practices “tough love” - in other words, what He said would happen if they disobeyed, did happen. Death entered: physical and spiritual death. He **does not curse **Adam and Eve, but He **does curse **the serpent and the ground.

Also, He **drives them from the Garden **of Eden lest they eat of tree of life and “live for ever” (Gen 3:22). There is a lot of mystery as to what the tree of life means; what eating of it’s fruit would produce within a human being. One opinion is that our soul would not physically separate from our mortal body - what you might call “final” death, as opposed to the physical death that always takes place in the cells of our body and would continue to take place. Not a pleasant thought at all to spend eternity under those circumstances!!
Regardless, for those who know God and trust in His love, we believe it was for our good that He prevented us from eating of the fruit of that tree.

Nita


#19

A post script to my previous post.

Adam he created directly from dust, and then took a rib from Adam and created a woman. (Literal or allegorical?)

Forgot to comment on this - and DO NOT wish to get into the whole evolution thing. But, isn’t it amazing that there is no “element” in the physical body that is not found elsewhere in the physcal creation - the earth. Our bodies are made of the same stuff as the earth. And this in Scripture thousands of years before there even was a table of elements!!


#20

You seem to have thought this through so I am going to answer you directly. I am not going to sugar coat this or simplify it more than necessary. God is infinite, we shouldn’t assume that he is simple or easy to understand/comprehend.

“God created the world, and humanity. Adam he created directly from dust, and then took a rib from Adam and created a woman. (Literal or allegorical?) He set up one test, which he knew humanity will fail.”

God gave us freedom so that we would not be slaves. We could freely accept or freely decline in obedience to him. A choice that does not have consequences is not a free choice. For instance, if I let you choose peanut butter & jelly or tuna but no matter what you choose I give you tuna, you aren’t free are you?

In the same vane, if God says gives us the option to accept or reject him, but takes us against our will into his glory in Heaven, then he clearly is not respecting our freedom.

Also, God knows everything, but that doesn’t mean that he causes everything. He may know that you are going to cross the street without looking both ways, but he does not cause the bus to hit you. Foreknowledge does not violate freedom.

God knew that truly free human beings would reject him eventually, but he, in his infinite wisdom, decided that a few free and fallen souls which are then redeemed are more glorious than multitudes of holy puppets. Glory be to God!

“God became angry (when this anticipated failure happened) and cursed his creation. He chased out the humans from his presence. Sometime later, he became even angrier, and drowned the whole world, humans and animals alike in a huge flood. (Literal?) “

God the Father’s emotions are a personification of His virtue. They are words that we use to try and fit some picture of an immutable God into our tiny brains. Anger generally refers to his justice. This is the virtue that allows true and appropriate consequences for actions. A human that has rejected God must accept the consequences of that rejection, which is manifested by having to work for food and being separated from him. Again, if he chose to keep us with him, even when we rejected him, then we would be nothing more than slaves.

“Yet again sometime later, this immutable God changed his mind (new covenant?), and decided to give humanity another chance.”

This is another personification of God. You are clearly right in saying that he is not immutable and therefore does not change his mind. From all eternity, God knew the Incarnation would take place.

“So he became his own son, took all the sins of humanity on his own shoulder, and allowed himself to be crucified, so he can pardon the sins of humanity. “

Again, the trinity existed from eternity. The second person of the trinity is the Divine Logos (word) which created the world. It always existed. In the fullness of time, he took on a human nature and was made flesh.

“(Why the charade? Why not just do it?)”

His justice requires a free payment for the sins that we freely commit. Unfortunately for us, no one can make that payment because we all deserve hell. Therefore, only someone who does not deserve hell/death can pay the price of our sins for us. It must be paid, it cannot just be ignored or it would be violating the freedom of Adam. You seem want God to break the rules he established.

“Of course he does not pardon all the sins, only the sins of those who are willing to eat his flesh and drink his blood (symbolically or really, is unclear). “

Christ’s sacrifice is enough to pardon every sin ever committed. Now we are no longer irrevocably separated from him. Now, we can, as individuals, accept him or reject him.

The Eucharist is one of Christ’s hardest teachings, but who said that living as God intends should be easy?

Eating his flesh (not symbolically) is one of the things that Christ has commanded us to do. Ignoring his commandments isn’t a good way to freely accept him is it?

This is the highest summit of all Christianity. I strongly encourage you to delve more deeply into this mystery.

God bless!

~ Jacob


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