Monday, 6 October 2008

Groundbreaking survey online this month

The Day of Rumbling Tummies arrives Thursday this week, and then observant COG members will be busy preparing for the Feast of Tabernacles. To all who are traveling: have a safe and enjoyable trip.

With the seasonal slump in blog hits pending, AW will be taking a break. Comments can still be submitted, but there may be some delay in posting them. Of course, if any major news breaks - Rod Meredith meets the Pope for example - an exception will be made to cover the story.

Before your jaundiced blog-meister toddles off with the fishing gear, here are a couple of items of interest.

Survey launches October 20: Probably the most significant survey of ex-WCG members ever launched kicks in on the 20th. British academic David V. Barrett will upload an online questionnaire on that date at

Barrett is author of The New Believers (Cassell, 2001) which included a substantial chapter on WCG. Now, as part of his PhD thesis on WCG, he is taking the time to listen to the views of former members. He writes:

I've written a questionnaire for former members and ministers of WCG which... should take about 25 minutes to complete... I'm particularly trying to find out things like this:

* What it felt like for members and ministers to discover that their own church was abandoning its teachings.

* What was it like to leave WCG after years of loyal membership.

*Why people left when they did - what was the trigger?

*Why members initially went to PCG, to GCG [Global] or to UCG.

*Why many members later moved on from these to other churches.

*How members of COGs that had separated from WCG earlier, such as Raymond Cole's Church of God, the Eternal or Garner Ted Armstrong's Church of God, International, were affected by the massive changes in WCG and their aftermath.

I aim to end up with the first major unbiased account of what happened in the years following HWA's death.

More information about the survey will be published in the upcoming Journal, and David Barrett has taken pains to keep the various COGs informed.

... I am doing this study with the full knowledge, and I hope cooperation of your church leaders... I'm hoping they will be as open and honest in their replies as I am certain you will be with yours.

I personally have great confidence in David's professionalism and impartiality, qualities that are very evident in his earlier book. More on this important development straight after the Feast when the survey goes online.

New Blog: Corky, a name familiar to AW readers through his perceptive comments to many posts, has launched his own blog. A refugee from WCG, Corky fell under the influence of the Christadelphian sect before moving on to a skeptical path. You can read his thoughts at


larry said...

I am guessing that we will learn that when one leaves the WCG, there really is no place to go. Everything else is a step down.

John 6:68-69

VonHowitzer said...

Fishing gear forsooth!

Methinks you are secretly keeping the FOT!!

However, if it is truly kept with bait and tackle, it may be the best FOT possible.


Anonymous said...

da no comments...........we are losing ground........

Corky said...

larry said...
I am guessing that we will learn that when one leaves the WCG, there really is no place to go. Everything else is a step down.

John 6:68-69

Jesus saying that to his disciples may be a lot different than an Armstrongite saying it to his. Jesus never had any part with the WCG.

Yes, there are plenty of places to go from WCG and they certainly aren't a "step down" but merely a change for the better - no matter what it is (except when trading one Armstrong cult splinter for another).

Just as the descendants of Noah built a metaporical city and tower whose top might reach to heaven on the plain of Shinar, Armstrong built a metaphorical city and tower called the WCG. But, just as those people who built that religion fell into disagreement and split up, so did the Armstrong tower builders.

Armstrong was not the first tower to heaven builder in the Christian era. The Catholic Church was first.

I get the impression from Genesis 11 that God doesn't particularly care for people building religious towers to heaven in order for them to "make a name" for themselves (v.4).

kiwi said...

One of the lingering legacies of our old WCG days is the peculiar phraseology of Cogdom.
For example it is a frequent CoG claim that the FOT represents the "greater harvest", and the (northern hemisphere) spring feasts of Passover/ Pentecost represent the early "smaller harvest". This is like a mantra in the CoGs.
The spring harvests are the grain harvests, and the holy days connected with those harvests speak of the saving work of Christ. He fulfilled their meaning while he was on earth. There is nothing "small" about them - those harvests are essential for life, just as Christ's work is essential for the spiritual life.
The fruit, grapes and olive oil harvested before FOT are blessings that follow the primary spring harvests and speak of the kingdom realised but the spring harvests, both literally and as spiritual typology, are the true "biggies".

Anonymous said...

Hag Hasuccot or Feast of Booths exists to enable descendants of those who lived in the desert 40 years after escaping Egypt to experience, in retrospect, a little of what it was like to live in the precarious accommodations of our forefathers. HWA flipped the Godly intent into his own by teaching that FOT accommodations should be posh as possible, looking forward, not backward, to the prosperity of the coming Messianic Kingdom. There is no obvious Biblical authority for that interpretation.

The Armstrong experience was immensely interesting and pleasurable, but it missed many of the central points intended by God for Israelite experience. That much is clear from even a quick glance at the Biblical instructions.

It is my experience that almost everyone who reads the Biblical instructions will ignore them, choosing preferably to continue with the Armstrong prescription, somehow "knowing" that he was right, regardless of what one reads in the Scriptures.

On the other hand, Jews, who never received training from the Armstrong movement, still build their succas and eat in them, remembering those who endured those long desert years on their behalf, so many generations ago.

It's all a matter of perspective. One is Biblical; the other is more fanciful and interpretive.

What can one say? Perhaps aspects of life in the desert with God and Moses did contain a foretaste of the Wonderful World Tomorrow; and Armstrong's version, though disobedient to the Biblical instructions, still contained a germ of truth.

How's that for making excuses?

C'est la vie.

seeker said...

I am still in the COG's because our family (myself and my wife) came from humble beginnings yet we have experienced much better lives because of the knowledge we obtained from WCG. We were barely teenagers when our families came into WCG. Looking back in comparison with our neighbors and friends without WCG experience our lives have been rich with experience and many friends. This however, really would not be enough because in the end we die and then what happens? Because of this question I have studied the NT and am working on the OT. I personally do believe the basic doctrines promoted by WCG as a result of that study. But as I study I am very disappointed with the merchandising of the truth of the Bible. Yet in the end I feel that I have made a good bargain. A good life is priceless. Don't get me wrong our lives have not been with out challenges, disappointments, setbacks, or affliction. Yet we have come out of all of these situations by trying to follow the directions of the Bible.
I see this in those without WCG experience as well. Those who follow the guidelines of the Bible enjoy better lives. Many of my neighbors frankly have been very blessed with good children, good marriages, and plenty of financial blessings. In these cases they to have kept the guidelines of the divorces, love each other, teach their children and generally they are "good" people. Yet our lives also have FOT and HD experiences and tons of friends that my neighbors do not have. I am constantly talking about someone and realize that my neighbors do not have the extensive network of people in their lives that we do. In my case the vehicle happens to be WCG and now COG's. We don't belong to any one COG, but do continue to keep what we feel the Bible directs us to do. And in the end we pray that God will be pleased with us. As I said before it is a shame that the motives of the leaders of the COG's have not been more pure.

Leonardo said...

Barrett's section on the WCG is one of the fairest, most accurate and balanced treatments I've ever read authored by someone never having been associated with the WCG - and I've pretty much read them all.

And I even see that Larry weighed in on this subject with another one of his typically lame comments!

Leonardo said...

Hi Seeker,

I very much appreciate the thoughtful comments you've made above - and I agree with many of them, because this is the way I generally feel as well, that my experience in the WCG was, on balance, a pleasant experience, and that my life (from very humble origins as well) has been much improved as a result of having had this experience than it most likely would have been had I not become associated with it, in my case, when I was a teenager with little meaningful adult guidance back in the American Midwest during the mid 1970's.

But I could not fail to notice that the essence of your comments focus on the PRACTICAL side of being a member within the WCG, otherwise known as the argument from pragmatism. I've had many discussions with former WCG members, as well as current COG members, and when all is said and done, this is generally (99 times out of 100) the bottom line why most of them are still attending some form of COG - it's either for social reasons (friendships, social networks, relatives, etc.), or that they feel their lives have been improved as a result of living the way of life traditionally taught by the Church.

But as legitimate as these reasons are - and in no way am I trying to ridicule them or any such thing - but many other believers of other religions (some, very contrary to Church teachings) can honestly make the very IDENTICAL claims. I recall reading one of the best autobiographies I've ever read in my life - The Autobiography of Malcom X - where he documents how his lifestyle was drastically changed from being a sleazy, sordid street criminal involved in illegal narcotics trafficking to becoming a very honorable and articulate member of the Black Muslims.

So Malcom could make the same basic argument, but that doesn't necessarily constitute valid objective evidence that the entirety of the Muslim way of life is true, or is even "of God," to use a phrase.

Virtually ALL religions teach certain truths, which, when sincerely and persistently applied over a period of time, produce good results. But such religions also mix in a great many other rather bizarre concepts and practices that must be accepted by faith only, because there is simply no way to demonstrate them rationally or empirically.

I often remind people that if they started living by many of the eloquently-expressed principles contained in the vast works of William Shakespeare, for example, their lives would improve accordingly, but that would NOT be solid proof that his body of literature is the infallible "Word of God," instead it would just prove that his writings contained some very practical ideas that produce good results in the course of human life.

My goal is to earnestly and diligently seek after, and live by, OBJECTIVE TRUTHS as much as I possibly can, as much as my human mind is capable of discovering and identifying such realities – not just ones that merely have pragmatic value alone. Such practical results may be of transitory value in the course of living, yes, but do not constitute solid and irrefutable evidence that they are absolutely and objectively true in the ultimate sense.

larry said...

My comments are, of course, always insightful, erudite, succinct, and to the point. I try to be the voice of reason here.

Anonymous said...

Larry wrote:

"My comments are, of course, always insightful, erudite, succinct, and to the point."

And don't forget, humble.

seeker said...

Hi Leonardo,
Thank you for the kind words. You are right. The principles that we learned in WCG can be learned in other venues. As I mentioned my neighbors have also profited by their adherence to solid Biblical principles, even though they have acquired the direction from various sources. I have an aunt and uncle that are good Catholics and "good people" and their live have been blessed immensely. Catholics teach the keeping of the 10 commandments. My aunt and uncle both try to keep the commandments and attend mass very regularly.

Yet concerning all the people I have mentioned I notice that their lives center around the present. I have personally had two people call me, one on his death bed and the other one not on his death bed (neither knew nothing of what I believed or that I was an "Armstrongite") an ask me "what is going to happen to me?" Their voice in both cases had a profound fear and emptiness and a tone of desperation. So I know that their lives lack the spiritual knowledge of what the future holds for them. I think this is true of many of these "good people."
As I said I have been studying the Bible and have, at least for myself, concluded that most of the "truths" we learned (salvation, most prophecy...Holy Days, etc.) have a basis in the Bible. I understand that there is no solid proof that anything we "prove" from the Bible is "objective truth." There has to be an element of faith. On the other hand I sometimes ask myself...what else is there and what do I have to lose in believing this and following the Bible? There is no acceptable alternative. Don't get me wrong I do believe the Bible has the truth and the Christian God is the real God.

I would ask you, what "objective proofs" have you determined?

Leonardo said...

Larry wrote:
"My comments are, of course, always insightful, erudite, succinct, and to the point. I try to be the voice of reason here."

Problem is, Larry, you're NOT the voice of REASON - but instead the voice of unthinking, religious FAITH, as all of your comments clearly demonstrate.

Leonardo said...

Seeker wrote:
“I would ask you, what “objective proofs” have you determined?”

Hi Seeker,

I sincerely appreciate reading your thoughtful comments and some of the life experiences you spoke of in your latest post, as they were expressed in a thought-provoking and refreshing manner - in stark contrast to the fundamentalist rants and dogmatic assertions we sometimes have to put up with from some of the more, shall we say, inarticulate religious zealots who occasionally frequent this site.

But your question above is an excellent one, if I understand it correctly, and obviously would require a lot more exposition to explore than would be appropriate for a blog site post, so I can only touch upon the “tip of the iceberg” as far as objective facts or truths I’ve come to accept goes.

I suppose the most foundational one would be the existence of a true objective reality – “objective” meaning that reality (the totality of all that exists) ultimately IS WHAT IT IS, in spite of what we humans may subjectively WISH or WANT it to be.

The historical record of mankind, as well as everyday observation, shows clearly that much of mankind tends to fight against objective facts, instead substituting their own subjective wishes, ALWAYS with disastrous results. Man never has, nor ever will, win when he fights against facts. I perceive our primary task as human beings, literally from the time we are born, to be the gradual discovering of the various facets of this reality by means and methodologies that have actually proven effective in the past, and then to wisely harmonize as best we can with the facts as we discover them, for objectively reality never has and never will bow to subjective human wishes.

For instance, with respect to the existence of God (let’s assume the traditional God of western theism, whom you would refer to as “the God of the Bible”) - either He does objectively exist (in actual reality, and not just within the confines of the subjective human imagination), in which case all the “rational” arguments leveled against His existence down through the ages would be absolutely meaningless. The existence of such a Being would clearly be the most important fact of reality a rational mind would have to take into consideration as it moves through the human life experience.

But if such a God does NOT actually exist, then all the religious scriptures written down through the centuries, all the arguments “proving” His existence, all the personal testimonies and subjective perceptions of believers, all the religious monuments in the world (such as the many incredible works of art, architecture, and beautiful music that has been composed to the honor and glory of such a God down through the ages), and, perhaps above all, the subjective human LONGINGS that such a God would exist, would mean absolutely nothing, as none of these human endeavors would alter the fact one iota that God exists ONLY in the fertile regions of the human imagination; that men created God, rather than God created them.

As another illustration of this principle of objective truth: around the time of the early 16th century sincere and genuine religious believers were deeply threatened by the gradual discovery that the earth revolved around the sun, rather than the prominent belief at the time that the sun revolved around the earth. I’ve studied, and am quite familiar with, the specific arguments both the Catholic and the Protestant Churches employed to fight against and “disprove” this “heretical” teaching, as well as the various scriptures they used to buttress their arguments. But ultimately Renaissance humanity (especially the religious authorities) were forced by the objective facts to yield to the gradually accumulating and indisputable evidence that Galileo was correct, and they were wrong.

The objective truth was what it was, in spite of Church folks wanting to believe otherwise and feeling threatened by this new “teaching of the Devil” - helio-centrism.

Few people in modern times understand how incredibly earth-shattering this was to the “certain” worldview of most religious believers at the time. Yet today we take this observation for granted, as a well-established, uncontroversial fact of science - just like we do the understanding that the earth is a sphere, rather than a flat, island-like disk floating on water, another age-old belief that objective evidence proved false, yet which was perceived as a great threat to people’s religious faith at the time.

There are so many other aspects that this involves, but I’ll stop here.

Certainly none of us have all, or even most, of the answers (though many religious fanatics of various persuasions delude themselves into thinking they DO, and don’t even remotely recognize the incredible amount of arrogance they have) - and so a humble, child-like, open-minded and teachable spirit is the only reasonable approach to take as we go through this earthly experience called life. I know in my own sojourn that many of the “certainties” I earnestly believed in during my younger years as an AC student I’ve been forced to see through time and experience were either in need of great revision, or perhaps needed to be completely replaced. This all takes real effort, and the willingness to admit error.

I think that’s the big draw, the big temptation, of accepting things “on faith” – it’s so much easier, and involves little or no intellectual effort or study or research or deep reflection of any kind. Just BELIEVE, and all will be well.

If only life were that simple and easy.

seeker said...

Thanks for taking the time to put down your thoughts. I found them to be much the same experience that I have been going through. Only you put them into words that solidify many of those experiences.

I too, have studied history, perhaps not as much as you have, but even history presents different views that conflict with each other. The point is who can you believe? Since we were not there during the recorded event we can only rely on what is reported. These reported events invariably include agenda's, as you pointed out concerning the place of the earth in the universe. We can know with certainty today because of all the scientific evidence available to us. So in this instance we are in the presence of what can be recorded. This is not always the case that science will definitely give us the information that we need determine an "objective proof." Perhaps in the future science will shed light on more issues, but we live now in the present information available. Someone living in the 16th century would have this problem because they would not have what we have available to us now. And we have this problem in other areas, some which science will never be able to resolve. The spiritual realm is such an example. Unless the spiritual realm reveals itself to our physical senses we can never really be sure of its existence or lack thereof.
I have been collecting history books for over 5 years and have found that the history of the 17th, 18th, and 19th century is quite different from modern history. The question is which history is valid? Both undoubtedly are agenda driven. I will say this: the older history uses extensive quotes of more ancient historians while modern history rarely refers to older historians. This leads me to believe more in the older histories because as they quote even older historians I feel that it beings me to being more in the "presence" of the event.

What is truth? (Pilate asked) and yet we have the same questions today. The conclusion I have adopted at this time is to take the preponderance of evidence available and make the best decisions possible. I call myself the "seeker" on this blog and any others because it is a quest. Thanks again for your words.

Anonymous said...

Atonement,the day of the rumbling tum.

Personally, I would prefer the
Tumbling Rum.


Mel said...

Larry wrote:
"My comments are, of course, always insightful, erudite, succinct, and to the point. I try to be the voice of reason here."

Larry, is "the voice of reason here" a position you applied for- and were granted, or do you just like to think you have superior truthy-ness, and need to tell others they are wrong, in order to prop up the otherwise dubious "truth" in your own mind?

Anyhoo, The Donald has asked to pass along the following message to you, 0 "Voice of Reason":


PS: The Donald hopes that was succinct enough.

Leonardo said...

Well, Seeker, to respond to your Oct. 15th 3:55 post in terms of the religious concept of ultimate judgment by a Higher Power, I would say people living today (assuming they live in situations that permit them the time to seek out and reflect upon such things) will be held to a higher standard due to the fact that we have a greater portion of the historical record to look back at, reflect upon and learn from. A child knows more about life than an infant; but a teenager knows more about life than a child; a middle-aged adult more than a teenager; and a sound-minded senior citizen has a more mature grasp on life than a middle-aged adult.

And while the conclusions of the “hard” sciences (such as physics, chemistry, biology, engineering, etc.) are much less the target these days of legitimate debate and opposition than the more “softer” fields of inquiry (history, philosophy, psychology, sociology. etc.), still, this by no means leads us to the false view that we cannot arrive at any definite and objective conclusions with respect to the latter subjects.

Let us avoid like a plague the widespread mistake of concluding that because 100% philosophical certainty may not be possible, that therefore NO degree of certainty is possible.

You cite conflicting historical perspectives. I respond by pointing out that historical methods have — slowly, through time and experience — been refined, improved and have therefore become more objective. And while, as you correctly point out, there legitimately are different perspectives, it’s important that we don’t fall victim to the politically-correct nonsense that “all opinions are equally valid.” They most definitely are NOT. Life experience and observation shown us time and again that certain opinions are much more deeply grounded in the facts (as best as we presently understand them) than others; withstand the test of time more effectively than others; and can endure considerably more rigorous scrutiny than others.

With respect to history, yes, historical events and personages indeed are viewed from differing vantage points, and often from conflicting ideological positions, and thus often recorded differently. But I would answer this in the following way: those who refuse to fall victim to the trap of the selective use of evidence (those blinded by an ardently-held ideology, thus causing them to highlight only those facts that support the particular version of history they’re trying to promote, while simultaneously ignoring disconfirming facts hostile to the conclusions they want to reach) can, if they are humbly willing to expand their minds by exposing them to sources of learning that contain varying perspectives, gradually obtain a balanced, fair and accurate general outline of history that is quite objective — though, of course, always being subject to further revision in the light of new discoveries.

Also, another critically important factor to consider here is methodology. Just like we can observe on the tangible everyday level of life that the different and often conflicting lifestyles people choose produce different kinds of consequences — quite obviously not all the same in terms of quality — so we must make the same basic judgments with respect to methodology. We can look back through the historical record on many differing methods and means mankind has used to determine factual truths (historical, scientific, economic, political, philosophical, religious or whatever)—and it’s quite evident that certain methods are much more valid, accurate, and produce much better, more objective real-world results in terms of giving us a clearer overall picture than others.

As you correctly observed from your reading, until about of the time of the Enlightenment, and especially the 19th century, historians indeed relied very greatly on ancient authority. But though this practice has not been eliminated, it has had to be revised in light of the enormous amount of knowledge of the ancient world that has since been discovered by archeologists, linguists, etc.

Many of the same things can even be said of “hard science” as well. I greatly respect what has come to be known as “the scientific method” — but I do NOT believe in SCIENTISM, the philosophical position that the ONLY valid truths are scientific truths discovered by the scientific method.

But if I understand your current theological position correctly, you basically are being guided by a version of Pascal’s Wager. And I definitely understand this, for it’s only prudent that we don’t place the all-too-fragile eggs of our metaphysical speculations all in one basket.

You wrote: “The spiritual realm is such an example. Unless the spiritual realm reveals itself to our physical senses we can never really be sure of its existence or lack thereof.”

Seeker, what is this “spirit realm” you talk of? Can you define it for me? — other than saying “Well, it’s NOT physical, or detectable by the five senses, or like anything we as humans would be familiar with.” OK, if it’s NOT these things, then what exactly IS it then? How can we intellectually accept, let alone base our entire worldview upon and guide our lives by, a realm that cannot be defined or identified in any concrete, specific or intelligible kind of way?

Any possible transcendental “spirit realm” (at least as currently understood and proposed) must be accepted on pure faith, and in my present view, is based on nothing more than the wishful thinking of ancient (as well as modern) people. IF such a realm doesn’t truly and objectively exist, then wishing won’t turn it into a reality, except perhaps maybe in the private world of our own subjective imaginations.

I ask you, do you believe in invisible flying pink fairies? If not, then WHY not? I mean after all, can you prove they DON’T exist. This is the kind of foolish “reasoning” religious folks have always used. They cannot produce any kind of empirical evidence or logic whatsoever to intelligibly demonstrate that such a magical “spirit realm” truly exists — and they know it. So they are forced to fall back on the basic argument all religious believers since the dawn of time have ultimately had to lamely retreat to: “But you can’t prove the supernatural doesn’t exist — therefore my subjective wish is just as valid as your conclusions based on rational empirical evidence.”

But it’s impossible for the human mind to prove a negative!

Anyway, those are some of my current perspectives — though always subject to change when presented with legitimate evidence that my mind can actually grasp onto, rather than mere religious ASSERTION, ancient or modern.

Seeker, your comments show that you are asking quite good and intelligent questions, and thinking very deeply. And I can only wholeheartedly respect and applaud your current journey. We ALL are on such an astounding sojourn, it’s just that some are much more conscious of it than most.

It's pretty clear from the biblical account that when Pilate asked his famous question "What is truth?" that he didn't sincerely MEAN it, and so Jesus of Nazareth didn't give him an answer.

Let us ask this vital question, and keep on asking it, and sincerely MEAN it with all our hearts, until we find the answers, because they ARE out there.

“It is possible to seize upon worthless things easily and in heaps — for the path to them is level and lies very near. But the Creator has placed sweat before every worthwhile achievement. Far and steep is the road that leads to it, and rough at first. But when one comes to the height, then truly it is easy, though so hard at first.” — Hesiod

(Please pardon the length of this post!)

Seeker said...

Thanks for the dialogue. I agree that we must continue to seek the truth, as much as it is available.
Concerning the validity of the spiritual world, the only evidence we have is the results of the actions promoted by the concepts that accompany the belief in their existence. That was what I was referring to in my initial comment. No, we cannot know for a certainty that the spiritual world exist. Yet, perhaps because we as humans try to reason beyond our temporary status as flesh and blood it seems inherent in most people to desire something beyond our physical life. It gives comfort and perhaps that alone is worth while. Yet, recognizing this, I desire, as you, to "know the truth." But again the only way we can "know the truth" for a certainty is by some faith. That faith has to be built on in some cases, circumstantial evidence as best as we can ascertain. At least that is how I view this quest. As an example, what evidence do you have for "pink flying fairies?" What do they promote? What have they done (create the world?), do they have documents that have withstood the test of time?? (The dead sea scrolls record Isaiah just as we have it today) I could go on, but perhaps you get my point. The God of the Bible does describe himself, not as a pink fairy but in Rev 1 and other places as in human form. The preponderance of what is promoted by the Bible suggest its veracity. An example is the flood. Whether you believe in it or not one cannot deny the existence of such a legend in virtually all civilizations. These legends are to much alike to brush aside as coincidence. So, how do you explain this? except there must be some validity to the record in the Bible. The legends do not only involve the flood by various customs of different peoples in different parts of the world. Halloween is an example, but I won't take the time to go into the details of that at this time. Nonetheless, such "circumstantial evidence" is not scientific proof but can be considered a preponderance of evidence upon which to establish a guarded but mailable belief or faith.

Again, I have enjoyed the dialogue, and I do feel that it has been profitable.

Purple Hymnal said...

Anyone know what the password is for the survey?

Purple Hymnal said...

Never mind I didn't read the other entry closely enough. My bad. :-P

It's certainly thought-provoking, I'll say that much.

Anonymous said...

I'd love to complete this survey, but I have no idea what the password is. Can anyone point me in the right direction, as I didn't understand purple hymnals comment.

Leonardo said...

seeker wrote:
"It gives comfort and perhaps that alone is worth while. Yet, recognizing this, I desire, as you, to "know the truth."

Hi Seeker,
I see what you mean. But I just don't see any long-range value whatsoever in a comforting falsehood - if that's what it ultimately proves to be. I'm sure alcohol or street narcotics also gives a temporary escape from the discomforts of life, but where do they ultimately take a person? The same thing with a warm and fuzzy fantasy.

But preferring reality to be a certain way, while humanly understandable, doesn't magically convert it from what it objectively IS to what we subjectively WANT it to be.

You wrote: "...what evidence do you have for "pink flying fairies?" What do they promote? What have they done (create the world?), do they have documents that have withstood the test of time??... The preponderance of what is promoted by the Bible suggest its veracity.

No legitimate empirical evidence whatsoever for flying invisible pink fairies – just like no legitimate empirical evidence for a magical “spirit world” either. The only difference is that the latter has a much longer and more deeply-rooted lifespan in the minds of ancient human beings than flying invisible pink fairies do.

I don't know what pink fairies promote since I just made it up as an illustration. But what has religion promoted? Read Sam Harris' THE END OF FAITH for just a brief summary of what religion in general has brought to mankind, or his even shorter book LETTER TO A CHRISTIAN NATION. When the historical record is seen on balance, it's not a pretty picture.

And, contrary to what most Christians want to believe, many of the writings of the Bible have NOT stood the test of time, except that they have survived through the ages. So have many other ancient documents, but this doesn’t prove that they are the inerrant “Word of God.”

Numerous archeologists have made findings that are quite disconfirming of the biblical accounts. Yet virtually no believers I know of are even remotely aware of this scholarship. I know we were never taught it in any class at AC. Why? Because it just doesn’t fit in with the view of reality we WANT to be true.

As Sir Francis Bacon once said: "Man prefers to believe what he prefers to be true."

At AC, for instance, or at any other respectable institution of higher learning, fairness and objectivity would have dictated that ALL legitimate sides of a particular proposition be presented accurately (no “straw men” arguments or misrepresenting the other perspectives) – then let’s carefully analyze the arguments and honestly see what general direction the complete evidence points toward.

Instead, what religious folks tend to do is carefully select the evidence that confirms their perspective, while ignoring the rest. In my view, this just isn’t being fair or honest or honorable with the facts – and that tells me a lot about the REAL underlying ethics and morality of true believers.

You wrote: “The preponderance of what is promoted by the Bible suggest its veracity. An example is the flood. Whether you believe in it or not one cannot deny the existence of such a legend in virtually all civilizations. These legends are to much alike to brush aside as coincidence. So, how do you explain this?”

Yes, I agree with you that the fact that a flood of great proportions is recorded in many of the legends of cultures around the world would indicate that some kind of unusual historical event happened that sufficiently impressed enough people to have recorded it or orally passed it down to future generations did, in fact, occur. But whether that actual event has been greatly exaggerated is yet another issue. Such accounts are very different in specifics. So which one is the "Word of God?" Answer: the one we WANT to be true, i.e., the one OUR religion teaches.

And arguing from the perspective of the COG’s view of the immortal soul, that it doesn’t exist, how would you answer to the fact that many historical cultures around the world believe in this teaching? Cultural consensus through the ages and around the globe doesn’t necessarily constitute evidence that such a consensus is true. Most cultures believed the world was flat for most of man’s history, but that didn’t make it a true belief.

At least this is where I’m at now in my perspectives – but I’m open to NEW views as long as they can be reasonable demonstrated to be TRUE views.

I simply cannot believe that if a Creator truly exists, that such a Being would not be greatly impressed by minds that value honesty and fairness with the facts as best as they can know them, rather than by minds who accept some rather bizarre teachings on blind faith just to grovel at the feet of and placate their image of an angry God.

Purple Hymnal said...

"Can anyone point me in the right direction, as I didn't understand purple hymnals comment."

Read carefully.

seeker said...

Hi Leonardo,
I am currently on a trip and won't be home for two weeks. I do have some things to post, but don't have time to think things through. I will post on one of the newer subjects when I answer.

Leonardo said...

OK, Seeker, hope you have a safe and productive trip!