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Discuss and debate religion

r/DebateReligion

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Posted by15 hours ago

I tried to describe this before, but probably could have done a better job. Someone will post a question that attacks Eternal Conscious Torment, or Penal Substitutionary Atonement, or Biblical Literalism, or Particularist Soteriology, and many times they will do a great job! The problem is that they, and many of the commenters, operate under the assumption that this is the official, correct, or even majority view under Christianity, probably because they are heavily favored in North America where I’m willing to bet most of us are from.

There is nothing wrong with arguing these points in a sub called “debate religion” but the mistake is thinking you’re fighting the whole religion when you do. Off the top of my head, I can think of counterexamples to the above that still uphold the integrity of what can broadly be called “Christianity”:

  1. Annihilationism, or the theory that the unrepentant dead simply cease to exist (much like death in an atheistic world) while the elect are saved. Has been held by many (admittedly never a majority of) significant church fathers since the first centuries AD, usually those who agree that eternal conscious torment is not compatible with a loving god

  2. Christus Victor, a theory where Jesus’s sacrifice is literally an attack on death itself that permits eternal life for the repentant, rather than god willingly inflicting the justly earned punishments of others upon an innocent man

  3. Many bodies including the papacy have accepted evolution as a viable scientific theory despite the genesis account; Alister McGrath is one example of a prominent Protestant theologian along the same lines

  4. The papacy and McGrath, as well as many others like CS Lewis, William lane Craig and Clark Pinnock, accept that the unlearned can be saved in spite of their ignorance. Several of these, particularly McGrath Pinnock and Lewis, even argue that God can work salvifically in the life of an adherent to another religion entirely; the Catholic Church may feel this way as well, though I am not catholic and can’t confirm such personally.

If you want to argue against those points anyway, go ahead, but understand that you aren’t really discussing all of Christendom when you do so. I’ve seen good discussions on why inclusivism or universalism or any other theological points need to be critiqued themselves, but it seems like they are easily buried under the same five posts on why “hell bad god fake” or “what about native Americans”.

Honestly a FAQ page or common repost ban would help, since it happens in all directions (I’d imagine the atheists here are tired of seeing “how can you even be moral” ten times a day).

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Posted by
ex-christian
1 day ago

Just to be clear, I’ll be using the word “evolution” throughout this post but I’m not using it in the proper form of describing changes in allele frequencies across generations of species. Instead, I’m using it to describe a change in doctrine/teachings as a whole across generations and even creating new “species” of religion. For example, Zoroastrianism evolving into various forms of Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, etc.

Thousands of years ago, people sought religion as a way to establish order, morality, hope, existential understanding, etc. into the world. This is impossible to be argued by any theist since there are so many religions that sprang up over time and are present to this day, but they all began somewhere. For example, the Greeks had their Gods who were feared by their followers, Buddhists built their monasteries so that they could reach enlightenment, Aztecs had their Gods who demanded they kill and conquer other tribes as well as themselves. Even today, there seems to be an endless supply of religions to choose from that all claim to, in some form or another, benefit the human soul.

It seems also that these religions unambiguously provided an avenue for people to be controlled based on these religions. In the past, people had a different moral code, whether that influenced the moral code of the religion at the time or if the moral code was determined by the dominant religion (think “Old Testament”) is difficult to say; however, most theists will agree that the moral code from thousands of years ago should not be followed today. Evidently, people in power had an incentive to push religion across time but to me, this also indicates a necessary shift in doctrine to accommodate some “target audience”.

As such, religion has, ironically, been evolving side-by-side with humans. It just makes sense. People innately live for meaning and purpose which religion provides for millions of people while also benefitting the people in power. I contend that on the surface, it’s basically a win-win, powerful people become established and the average person gains meaning and purpose.

Many theists would argue that this is evidence for some God/deity since people innately yearn for some type of symbology or understanding of the world. However, scientists (people who acknowledge the validity of the scientific method) would argue that this correlation certainly does not indicate a particular cause. Theists might say that the scientific method is not valid and reject your claim.

This can be said about many popular arguments, including the fact that religious institutions have been positive to at least some degree but an atheist would consider this to simply be an outcome related to behaving in any type of religious manner. Typically though, this is the end of that conversation because all that’s left to really do is agree to disagree. The atheist would accept evidence, such as the world exists, people yearn for purpose, various and that there are some positive aspects of a plethora of different religions but reject the claim that deities are anything more than a character in these stories. On the other hand, this bodes in favor of the theist because they can make a blanket rejection of scientific inquiry and deny any rejection of their own claim of a God directing people but they never have to explain why they believe the scientific method is invalid or why it would lend credibility to their God but not any other deity.

Religion has been evolving for thousands of years and is now at a point where followers can simply reject any evidence, no matter how credible, against their religion without ever even having to honestly engage with it. However, it seems like once you break it down like this it’s pretty easy to see the holes and deception that’s been going on throughout human history, unless of course you believe the devil is trying to trick you…

Again, religion has evolved side-by-side with humans and clearly has some advantages such as giving people a palatable answer to their questions of “why” and “what for”. Religion also has an advantage for organizations since they are able to control people with God as the ultimate policing entity sees everything you do and can send you to heaven or hell as He sees fit.

I acknowledge and admit that I like the positive things religion does for people (it legitimately brings some people peace though most of the time it’s because they mentally can’t cope with the nuances of life but they find peace nonetheless) and I hate taking that away but I hate the negatives more than that. Just because it might make life feel easier or populations can be controlled more easily does not make this story true more than celebrating Christmas would make Santa real. It’s fun to believe in and your Christmas presents might be analogous to the Christian equivalent of getting into heaven for doing the right thing (believing in Him John 3:16). However, like most atheists, I understand that meaning and understanding in our lives is simply limited to what we make of it in this human experience. Theists think it’s sad that atheists don’t have a God to give them purpose but I’m perfectly happy to be able to see and appreciate the world for what it is.

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