Subject: Re: Taking Christianity Seriously Date: 3 Aug 90 03:01:12 GMT ----- Regarding the

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From: turpin@cs.utexas.edu (Russell Turpin) Subject: Re: Taking Christianity Seriously Date: 3 Aug 90 03:01:12 GMT ----- Regarding the success of Christianity, Peter Mutsaers (muts@fysaj.fys.ruu.nl) writes: > The Truth is much easier to defend than something that is not true. ... The problem with this explanation is that we can tell when people are convinced of things because of compelling evidence and reasoned discourse, and when they are convinced in other ways, and almost universally Christianity is spread in other ways. You can credit the success of Euclid's geometry to reason, and of quantum mechanics to the evidence for it, but you cannot credit the success of Christianity to its truth. Even if it is true, it is not *knowledge* of its truth that brings people to it, because as most Christians will admit, their belief was predicated on a leap of faith. It probably helps the propagation of Christianity that it claims absolute truth but avoids any possible test of this truth in the natural world. This allows some people to claim "knowledge" of a comforting belief without having to practice the difficult and sometimes arduous task of examining evidence and evaluating reasons. > The fact that it is different, and all others look alike, makes a 'choice' > between the main religions on the earth easy to decide for Christianity: > If a number of religions claim to be true, but they all look alike, > then how can one of them be true? But if one of them is totally different > from all others, it gets more interesting, and more plausible that it > is the only true one. This is the way of thinking I had when I became > a christian at least. No two religions are identical. Each is unique. The judgment of which differences are important and which are trivial reflects a particular bias. Judaism is unique in being the oldest of the major monotheisms. Hinduism is unique in that the Vedic texts are the oldest known religious writings. Buddhism is unique in the philosophical ideas it offers about the nature of the world. It is only Mr Mutsaers's biases that cause him to think these unique qualities unimportant and that these religions all "look the same", while amplifying what he thinks is unique about Christianity. As we next see, he wants so much to credit certain commonly advertised attributes to Christianity that he ignores the facts. > In essence all religions are a set of rituals/good deeds/prayers/etc. > etc. to reconncile man with God/gods, to gain the favor of God or of > a particular god. This is not true of all religions, but it is true of Christianity. > As far as I know, christianity is the only religion that teaches that man > can not pull himself up by his own hair, we just cannot do it ourselves, > we are unable to 'earn a favor' of God, because He has made everything. Again, wrong. Neither Judaism nor Islam teaches that man is capable of attaining salvation on his own. Buddhism teaches that man's attempt to "pull himself up by his own hair" is foolish illusion. This parody of other religions is common to Christians, but it is a distortion. > I think many people experienced this themselves, it is not enough > to be nice/go to church/perform rituals. We are dependant on the mercy > of God. Christianity is the only religion that teaches this ... Again, wrong. Judaism recounts again and again the Hebrew god's faith to his people *despite* their continual straying from his path. > So there is no question of difficult things we must do or not do. It is > not difficult because we know it is the best, God helps us with it, > and if we fail we are sure of Gods forgiveness. Contrary to your assertion, orthodox Christianity and most variants demand that a person do at least three things to earn salvation: (1) believe some core set of Christian doctrine, (2) repent of sins, and (3) accept Jesus as their savior. Christians may dislike this phrasing of the matter, but that does not change what they offer. In comparison with other religions that offer salvation schemes -- which is by no means all of them! -- one can ask various questions about the tasks demanded of man. Are they right? Are they available to all men? Is the judgment accorded to failure just? But one cannot claim that the Christian scheme of salvation does not require man to earn salvation just because the tasks it sets him are different from those of (its parody of) other religions. This is a fraud, and a blatant one at that. Russell

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