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Tue Sep 25, 2012, 01:04 PM

Question for people with educated "mainstream" Christian friends

Most of my friends are either not at all religious, or they're sort of mildly religious (they say they believe in some sort of a vague "god," but I don't know what that means and I don't think they do, either). I do know some people who go to church or mass, but they're not the kind of friends I can question about what they believe, specifically.

My question to people who have educated friends/family who, say, go to church fairly often in what might be considered "mainstream" Christian churches (Presbyterian, Methodist, Episcopal, Catholic, maybe Lutheran, etc.) ... Do you think they actually expect Christ to literally come back from the dead at some point? I can sort of understand educated people who admire Christ's teachings and enjoy the community a non-fundy church creates, but I can't understand educated people who buy the whole resurrection story as something that will literally happen. How do you make yourself believe something like that and not put it in the context of a universe of billions of galaxies, billions of years of time, and life forms that have been evolving on earth for about three billion years? Do they really think that this planet is the center of all the cosmos and that the last 2,000 years on this planet have been the focus of it all, waiting for one dead guy from what we now call the Middle East? I just don't get how an otherwise intelligent person can buy into that type of mythology as the literal truth.

Thoughts?

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Arrow 30 replies Author Time Post
Reply Question for people with educated "mainstream" Christian friends (Original post)
Arugula Latte Sep 2012 OP
dmallind Sep 2012 #1
AlbertCat Sep 2012 #3
muriel_volestrangler Sep 2012 #2
Oregonian Sep 2012 #4
Arugula Latte Sep 2012 #5
Oregonian Sep 2012 #9
Arugula Latte Sep 2012 #11
Oregonian Sep 2012 #12
Arugula Latte Sep 2012 #13
Oregonian Sep 2012 #14
dimbear Sep 2012 #6
Curmudgeoness Sep 2012 #7
ScottLand Sep 2012 #8
Oregonian Sep 2012 #10
ScottLand Sep 2012 #21
Tobin S. Sep 2012 #15
Arugula Latte Sep 2012 #16
progressoid Sep 2012 #17
Manifestor_of_Light Sep 2012 #18
skepticscott Sep 2012 #19
Arugula Latte Sep 2012 #20
Pterodactyl Sep 2012 #22
Arugula Latte Sep 2012 #24
Pterodactyl Sep 2012 #25
Arugula Latte Sep 2012 #27
Pterodactyl Sep 2012 #28
Arugula Latte Sep 2012 #29
frogmarch Sep 2012 #23
littlemissmartypants Sep 2012 #26
oppressedproletarian Oct 2012 #30

Response to Arugula Latte (Original post)

Tue Sep 25, 2012, 02:32 PM

1. You'd be better asking them

But be prepared for semantic nit-picking and evasion on questions about things that are doctrinally key yet utterly implausible like the resurrection.

They'll happily throw creationism et al under the bus because there's a handy "allegorical" bolt-hole to explain it away. But the divinity, centrality and immortality of Jesus are tougher to jettison and remain even nominally Christian, so passive-aggressive hairsplitting is the norm.

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Response to dmallind (Reply #1)

Tue Sep 25, 2012, 05:27 PM

3. so passive-aggressive hairsplitting is the norm.

Mostly what I experience in this matter is that thing Daniel Dennett calls "belief in belief". It's not that they believe in any of it, but they don't disbelieve in any of it. It's kinda like it's HEALTHY to sorta go with the flow and not think too much about it. And it is if you're talking social norms.

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Response to Arugula Latte (Original post)

Tue Sep 25, 2012, 02:56 PM

2. No, I think many wouldn't expect a literal return by Jesus to the physical world

They would instead expect a form of 'good' afterlife with God as a benevolent ruler (though I think the point is that everyone would be so nice there wouldn't really be a need for 'rules'). But that doesn't rule out believing in the resurrection 2,000 years ago. How they think God interacts with the rest of the universe, if there's life in it, I'm not sure - I suspect most would be happy to say "I don't know; maybe I'll find out when I'm dead".

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Response to Arugula Latte (Original post)

Tue Sep 25, 2012, 06:10 PM

4. Most of my immediate family

 

are believers, and they believe Christ is on his way back, probably in this lifetime. No, they are not from a swamp in the South.

The # of people buying into this ridiculous mythology is awe-inspiring. If you grew up atheist, in an atheist household, or even a tame, secular household, you just can't wrap your mind about the thoughts some people have in religious families.

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Response to Oregonian (Reply #4)

Tue Sep 25, 2012, 07:02 PM

5. I know. My dad was never religious and my mom rejected it in college (in the 50s).

So, I have a very hard time understanding this stuff and how regular, non-crazy, non-fundy people can swallow it.

BTW, it is weird to see your DU name because that was my old DU name before I changed it in '08! I had it starting in 2001.

Also, belated welcome to DU!

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Response to Arugula Latte (Reply #5)

Wed Sep 26, 2012, 11:07 AM

9. Small world!

 

Where in Oregon are you from?

And thanks!

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Response to Oregonian (Reply #9)

Wed Sep 26, 2012, 11:09 AM

11. Live in Portland (since the mid-90s).

I've also lived in Calif. and the Midwest and East Coast.

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Response to Arugula Latte (Reply #11)

Wed Sep 26, 2012, 11:14 AM

12. Gorgeous city

 

I live in Bend. Previously lived in Eugene, Redmond, Corvallis, Junction City. One foray into Colorado Springs for a brief period. I'm not well-traveled, ha!

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Response to Oregonian (Reply #12)

Wed Sep 26, 2012, 11:18 AM

13. Love the Bend area!

The scenery is so diverse and breathtaking, and Bend itself is very charming.

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Response to Arugula Latte (Reply #13)

Wed Sep 26, 2012, 12:43 PM

14. It can be

 

During the housing boom, the city got WAY too big for its britches. Housing tracts with zero landscaping and odd, cheap construction was becoming a real menace, and infrastructure could not keep up with traffic. Bend was distinctly losing its "small-town" feel, as people from all over the country moved here, and a certain degree of isolationism set in.

Ironically, with the housing bust, the people still left are sort of stuck, and getting along better. I think we're improving, even though it's no longer growing at its previous clip.

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Response to Arugula Latte (Original post)

Tue Sep 25, 2012, 08:02 PM

6. Jesus is coming back in your lifetime, my friends, toward the end of a long life you enjoyed,

because you are very, very special. Those other guys in the last 2000 years not so much.

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Response to Arugula Latte (Original post)

Tue Sep 25, 2012, 09:45 PM

7. The people who I know

who are intelligent and well-educated, but are true believers, tend to not think too much about the mechanics of it all. It just is what it is.....that is why they call it blind faith. They know that they can never know, but they just believe. And they will not think too hard about it.

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Response to Arugula Latte (Original post)

Wed Sep 26, 2012, 04:13 AM

8. The ones I know don't think about it. They go to church on sunday and that's enough.

If more people put serious thought into it, there'd be more atheists and agnostics.

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Response to ScottLand (Reply #8)

Wed Sep 26, 2012, 11:08 AM

10. Wholeheartedly agree, Scott

 

And in fact the Gallup polls show that # of atheists/agnostics creeping up and up and up. Last count, I believe, is 20%, with another 30 or 40% counting themselves only somewhat religious or faithful.

http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Global-News/2012/0815/Atheism-on-the-rise-around-the-globe

"Atheism is on the rise in the United States and elsewhere while religiosity is declining, according to a new worldwide poll. “The Global Index of Religiosity and Atheism,” conducted by WIN-Gallup International headquartered in Switzerland, found that the number of Americans who say they are “religious” dropped from 73 percent in 2005 – when the poll was last conducted – to 60 percent. Those who said they were “convinced” atheists rose from 1 to 5 percent. And 33 percent of the people polled said that they don’t consider themselves as a “religious person."

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Response to Oregonian (Reply #10)

Thu Sep 27, 2012, 06:52 PM

21. I bet those numbers would also be different if more people weren't afraid to speak up.

It's hard to be the one that doesn't go along with the others.

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Response to Arugula Latte (Original post)

Wed Sep 26, 2012, 06:31 PM

15. The Niocene Creed

This is the version my wife's church believes. She is an Episcopalian

International Consultation on English Texts translation
as printed in:
The Lutheran Book of Worship
The Book of Common Prayer (Episcopal) English Language Liturgical Commission translation

We believe in one God,
the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen.

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one Being with the Father.
Through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven:
by the power of the Holy Spirit
he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary,
and was made man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son.
With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified.
He has spoken through the Prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. Amen.


So, yes is the short answer. I put it to my wife directly and she sounds non-committal in her personal view. She doesn't really know, but acknowledges that that is the belief of the church.

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Response to Tobin S. (Reply #15)

Wed Sep 26, 2012, 07:23 PM

16. Thanks for asking her.

I'm sure a lot of people are in the "I don't want to think too intensely or specifically about it" camp because once you start questioning ...

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Response to Arugula Latte (Reply #16)

Wed Sep 26, 2012, 09:15 PM

17. My parents. I think they have thought a lot about it.

Specifically my father. He has two degrees, taught science for over three decades and is a believer. He's constantly reading various things about religion and science. A couple years ago he read "The God Delusion". I have his copy of Carl Sagan's "Demon Haunted World". He would never teach creationism and openly opposed it. Yet he still goes to church regularly and is most definitely a Christian. How he reconciles the some the conflicts between faith and reason. I don't know.

My brothers and I have had similar conflicts. While we weren't really talkative about it, I suspect I am the only one to fully purge organized religion from my system. My oldest brother was a Deacon in his church but has since stopped going completely. I think he still has some sort of "faith" just not in the official church. My other brother died a couple years ago but we often talked about the conflict of faith and reason. He still attended church but more as a social assembly than a need to be saved.

I think my Mother has more or less just accepted it. I do remember some discussions about certain church dogma, but she never openly questioned her underlying faith in God. I'd call her a typical liberal mainstream Christian.

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Response to Tobin S. (Reply #15)

Thu Sep 27, 2012, 04:15 AM

18. I think that is the Nicene Creed.

Slightly modernized. "Very god" becomes "true god". "veritas" is Latin for truth.

The churches I went to (Methodist & Presbyterian) used the Apostles' Creed. The Methodists do not say "he descended into hell".

Some people don't understand that small c catholic means "universal" in the phrase "the holy catholic church".

I don't stand up and recite creeds I don't believe in. That's why I am a Unitarian-Universalist!! No creeds!!

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Response to Arugula Latte (Original post)

Thu Sep 27, 2012, 11:52 AM

19. I don't think a lot of the people you mean

really, deeply believe that, and I think they'd squirm a bit if you pressed them with those types of questions. They go to their middle-of-the-road Christian churches, because that's what they grew up doing, and that's what normal, respectable white suburban folks do. They go through the motions. Daddy ushers, Mom helps serve coffee, they have their little parties for Susie's first communion or Johnny's confirmation. Call it habitual ritual if you like. It's not so much a matter of being deeply and sincerely religious as it is a matter of maintaining an acceptable veneer of non-atheism. Just enough so that people don't shun you and talk about you.

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Response to skepticscott (Reply #19)

Thu Sep 27, 2012, 12:09 PM

20. That makes sense.

It's hard for me to get a good picture of what goes on because I've always been so far removed from the churchy world. I've only sat in pews for weddings, and most of the weddings I've attended have not been at churches.

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Response to Arugula Latte (Original post)

Sat Sep 29, 2012, 11:06 PM

22. A technical point: "Do you think they actually expect Christ to literally come back from the dead?"

Technically, Christian belief is that he already did come back from the dead 2,000 years ago (or 2,000 minus 30 or so) and has been alive, not dead, ever since.

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Response to Pterodactyl (Reply #22)

Sun Sep 30, 2012, 01:18 AM

24. Right. I guess I should have just said "come back" -- to Earth, I guess.

I'm not sure where the hell he's supposed to be hiding out though.

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Response to Arugula Latte (Reply #24)

Sun Sep 30, 2012, 12:41 PM

25. The Christian belief is that he's with humanity spiritually...

Last edited Sun Sep 30, 2012, 11:56 PM - Edit history (1)

but physically in heaven for now.

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Response to Pterodactyl (Reply #25)

Sun Sep 30, 2012, 01:18 PM

27. Okay, that makes sense.

No wait, no it doesn't.

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Response to Arugula Latte (Reply #27)

Sun Sep 30, 2012, 02:32 PM

28. You can believe it or not. It is up to you.

Just want you to understand what Christians believe.

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Response to Pterodactyl (Reply #28)

Sun Sep 30, 2012, 08:29 PM

29. Well, I don't believe it, and I assumed people posting here in the atheist forum didn't either.

Thanks for the info. though. No harm meant.

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Response to Arugula Latte (Original post)

Sat Sep 29, 2012, 11:52 PM

23. Few of the religious people I know

went past high school, and some of them didn't go that far.

None of the college-educated people I know are religious.

So, I have no educated Christian friends...unless a semester or two at Bible college counts.

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Response to Arugula Latte (Original post)

Sun Sep 30, 2012, 01:02 PM

26. Come sit beside me and let us talk about

my friend Neville Goddard...

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Response to Arugula Latte (Original post)

Fri Oct 5, 2012, 01:52 PM

30. In the interests of

self-preservation, most religions have made it a virtue and a requirement to have blind "faith" in the teachings. And a grave sin not to, in most cases. This, along with mumbo-jumbo about how such lofty matters are "beyond our ken", serves to stifle those with doubts.

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