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mfbukowski

The Pragmatic, Secular Atonement

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, the narrator said:

Great. You both roped me in to a debate ;). It's non-verifiable because it lacks sense. The very notion of agency or a will involves applying one's thought/will/rationality/agency to a particular set of variables. If it is possible for a same person to arrive at the exact same set of variables and yet have a different outcome, then what sense does it have to even say they made a decision? Pointing to quantum physics doesn't work, because that still implies a determinism where the outcome is determined by quantum variability and not by any the person. In short, the dichotomy isn't determinism or free will, it's determinism or randomness.

We do not understand the paradoxes of quantum entanglement, or of spooky action at a distance, which should be impossible.  Indeed, because we are prisoners of our human senses, we cannot escape our own ignorance (David Hume), which leaves us as more victims than agents -- if agency is even possible -- just like any other simians or mammals.

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And this idea predates Calvin by centuries. Augustine wrestled with it in his City of God, where he concludes that the possibility of a person choosing the divine over nature is only possible because God alters the will of the person.

That only works if God is absolute, the only Necessary Being, all else being Contingent, which is the basis of Judeo-Christian-Muslim theology, and which is where Augustine, Aquinas, and Calvin all begin.  If, on the other hand, humans possess a spark of divinity, a particle of Necessary Being which has always existed, that changes the equation.

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Existential Comics had a good illustration of this a few weeks ago. A better one that I use with my students is Harold Ramis's Groundhog Day, where the folk of Punxsutawney are only able to act differently when Bill Murray's character interacts with them in some way, altering the set of variables that determine the choices they make.

 I once witnessed a debate between Hugh Nibley and an existentialist (William Barrett) in which Nibley responded to the existentialist dilemma of no exit by pointing out the LDS exit plan.  Bill Murray's character is indeed locked into an infinite loop-the-loop, in which the only variables are pretend choices.  Is human life really just a series of deterministic actions, which are mistakenly believed to be actual free choices?  Is human life just a simulation?  https://now.northropgrumman.com/is-our-entire-universe-just-a-simulated-reality/ .  Is that God's ultimate joke?  Or simply an interim means to an end?

Edited by Robert F. Smith

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2 hours ago, hope_for_things said:

When you're operating in a paradigm that assumes all the basic understandings it has are accurate descriptions of reality, then its easy to justify even the most severe kinds of consequences that this operating paradigm exacerbates.  Looking at these things critically and comparing them to other behaviors of other groups that have similar types of dynamics, the implications of this type of thinking looks very different to me.  

I agree with your first sentence here.  I don’t know why it would be different for other conservative faiths that teach a strict moral code.  Why would the implications be different?

Looking back at the strictness with which we raised our children, I do believe it would have been better to have loosened the reins at an earlier age.  They could have experimented with their agency and learned that choices have consequences on less weighty decisions.  As it turned out, three of our five are strong members.  Two went overboard with their decisions after leaving home and left the Church.  We are on good terms now and love them whether or not they ever decide they want to have anything to do with the Church going forward.

20/20 hindsight, there are many things we should have done differently and known better.  Thankfully, I believe God allows for the mistakes we all make.  I think He has provided a way to sort things out in the spirit world, if we don’t figure it out here in mortality.  (See 1 Peter chapters 3 and 4, and Doctrine and Covenants 138.)

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2 hours ago, the narrator said:

 

Great. You both roped me in to a debate ;). It's non-verifiable because it lacks sense. The very notion of agency or a will involves applying one's thought/will/rationality/agency to a particular set of variables. If it is possible for a same person to arrive at the exact same set of variables and yet have a different outcome, then what sense does it have to even say they made a decision? Pointing to quantum physics doesn't work, because that still implies a determinism where the outcome is determined by quantum variability and not by any the person. In short, the dichotomy isn't determinism or free will, it's determinism or randomness.

And this idea predates Calvin by centuries. Augustine wrestled with it in his City of God, where he concludes that the possibility of a person choosing the divine over nature is only possible because God alters the will of the person.

Existential Comics had a good illustration of this a few weeks ago. A better one that I use with my students is Harold Ramis's Groundhog Day, where the folk of Punxsutawney are only able to act differently when Bill Murray's character interacts with them in some way, altering the set of variables that determine the choices they make.

All I can say is thanks for the link to the existential comic site.  I'm enjoying it.  

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6 hours ago, stemelbow said:

What about them? Not sure what you're driving at.  I dont' know what its like to kill someone with your vehicle or whether drunk, texting or just making a mistake.  That'd be awful, I'm sure.  And yes, there are many people, religious or not, who don't feel a lot of remorse for their wrongs, or for some reason feel justified for their wrongs.  What about their victims?  I dont' know.  We all potentially end up with the short of the stick in life.  Any of us could contract a terminal illness or lose a loved one at any given time--religious or not.  We all learn to deal with the things life throws at us, whether religious or not.

The intent behind the questions were to see if, in the secular world view, there is a propitiatory and redemptive entity for those cases where the individual offender lacks the capacity or interest to satisfactorily reconcile for his mistakes.  Doesn't the government typically fill that role in addition to seeing that justice is served?

Also, how does on incur a debt to society that is then paid by serving time?

Thanks, -Wade Englund-

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On 5/14/2019 at 9:58 AM, stemelbow said:

It seems to me, a secularist perspective would wonder what this has to do with atonement at all.  If we're left to repent and be forgiven what's the point of a god dying?  Let's learn from our mistakes, "move forward" is as much a non-believers motion in life as it is a believers.  We stumble, fall, get up, dust ourselves off and figure out where to go and how to get there again.  We can call the reset and re-evaluation a broken heart and contrite spirit if we want, but it hardly explains an atonement.

It's not intended to "explain an atonement".  That is a spiritual question received by revelation.

I think you make a valid point, but again this is more of an analogy to teach intellectually about the theory of the atonement, to have it make sense intellectually.

For me it is more of a way of asking if the whole concept "we are saved (from guilt) after all we can do" makes sense intellectually- and I think it serves that purpose.

That's the way my mind works anyway- is there any justifiable way to consider that "I could be saved by grace after all that I can do"?  I think that our penal system does the best they can at that.

The other question is whether or not we have a spiritual revelation that in fact there was a person called Jesus who somehow- in a way no one can possibly understand fully- made his sacrifice so that the miracle of spiritual salvation could "actually happen".  That is not an intellectual question- that is either revealed to you by God or it is not.

I think that we are "saved by grace/faith" is strictly a spiritual concept that makes no sense intellectually, but after a person does all he can to make up for his misdeeds, I think that changes things considerably.  I don't think anyone would particularly argue with that idea since we see it in our judicial system.

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Posted (edited)
14 hours ago, Wade Englund said:

In support of what you are suggesting, and prompted by @mfbukowski mention of remorse, I found this article on "How Do Atheists Absolve Themselves of Guilt?"

Simply put, the answer was that they absolve guilt "the same way everyone else [(i.e. Christianity)] does, but we don't invent extra characters to confuse the process."

This seems to imply that any mistake that an individual makes can be satisfactorily resolved or reconciled by that individual.

What about a person who made the mistake of driving drunk and crashing, causing the loss of limbs or even loss of  lives of innocent parties. How can that person adequately resolve or reconcile that mistake?

And, what about those people who feel little or no remorse or need to resolve or reconcile their mistakes?  What about their victims?

Are there not mistakes committed by individuals that are bigger than those individuals?

Thanks, -Wade Enlgund-

Great questions, and indeed I think such a person would do all they can do to fix the situation and then at least I think society would forgive them after apologies, but forgiving themselves is another issue.

That takes a belief in God I think, and a personal revelation that you have been forgiven.

But we are presuming a non-believer here so I don't know.  On the other hand the atheist giving the advice in your link completely- in my opinion- verifies what I am saying here, so I feel pretty good about it.

The reality is we need "extra characters" to make it really work ;)  From your link above

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But whether a believer or a non-believer, that is what you have always actually done. You’ve always forgiven yourself. There never was any divine stamp of approval. That was just a game. Now you only need to realize that after you have made all your best efforts to make things right, you can give yourself forgiveness instead of obtaining it from an imaginary celestial parent.

Sigh.  How does he know what "actually happens"?   Where is his eye in the sky independent of human perception to tell him if his assertion about "what actually happens" actually does?

But thanks for the verification- great article to prove my point.  ;)

The propositions that God exists or does not exist still both require faith and personal revelation- at least for the former.  ;)

 

Edited by mfbukowski
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Posted (edited)
On 5/14/2019 at 11:46 AM, blueglass said:

I think I understand what you are asking here.  new atheists will attack the idea of Christian atonement as immoral.  You are trying to come up with a new view of atonement which would be delicious to even the likes of Christopher Hitchens.

Hitchens on Atonement:  

 

"Horrible idea of vicarious redemption.  I could pay your debt even if I didn't know you.  If you were my friend, if you were in debt I would take care of you.  I will serve your sentence in prison.  Throw your sins on me and they will melt away.

Immoral!   vicarious redemption is an immoral doctrine."  

Yes!  ;)  But it's not new perhaps- it is the idea of "forgiven after all we can do" - but really forgiven.  Here Hitchens says that we cannot give up the responsibility- and what I am saying is that Christ forgives that.  So in a sense yes you can never correct every bad thing you have ever done, but Christ forgives that IF you have.

You give your honest best and he makes up the rest so we can feel fully forgiven.  In Hitchens view we can never be forgiven of responsibility and that is where I would disagree.  Part of the plan was giving us choice- and we are not responsible for the decision to give us choice.  According to our symbolic stories, it was the plan of Satan to take away our choice. What was taken away - was the absolution of responsibility because we are by our nature able to choose. 

We had no choice to be able to choose or not choose so ultimately we do not have responsibility for that decision.  It was virtually guaranteed that we would sin, not absolutely, but Jesus was the only one who did not sin.

So in the atonement we are forgiven only for all we CAN do- not the responsibility to repent for what we cannot repent for.   That is why murder is the most grievous sin- one cannot repent for it.

It is not like "responsibility" is great cosmic cloud out in the world- it is what we ascribe to people performing acts.  It is the concept of justice.

Hitchens seems to reify "responsibility" as an entity out there that exists on its own, which is not the case.

When we do all we can do, the atonement takes up the rest- but we must do our part.

 

Edited by mfbukowski

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On 5/14/2019 at 11:46 AM, blueglass said:

I think I understand what you are asking here.  new atheists will attack the idea of Christian atonement as immoral.  You are trying to come up with a new view of atonement which would be delicious to even the likes of Christopher Hitchens.

Hitchens on Atonement:  

 

"Horrible idea of vicarious redemption.  I could pay your debt even if I didn't know you.  If you were my friend, if you were in debt I would take care of you.  I will serve your sentence in prison.  Throw your sins on me and they will melt away.

Immoral!   vicarious redemption is an immoral doctrine."  

 This guy cracks me up. Since all his statements have to be backed up by evidence to be true,  by his own assumptions , where is it is evidence for the immmorality of vicarious redemption?

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On 5/14/2019 at 12:09 PM, hope_for_things said:

The assumption here is that secular people are feeling a sense of guilt and regret for things they've done in their lives that can't be satisfied through other coping mechanisms and that an appeal to a religious theory is the only way to resolve these feelings of guilt.  I just don't think most secular people even see this as a problem that needs to be solved by religion....

...So in essence, the psychological mechanism at play is one that is imposed by the paradigm.  Someone who is secular may make a mistake and feel badly about it, but they aren't worried that they are eternally doomed and aren't looking for some deity to save them from a position of being an error prone human.  I would say the secular person is probably more concerned about finding processes that help them be better and hopefully learn to thrive in the world, rather than worrying about some future judgement or even the idea of sin in the first place.  

....On the other hand I really like the idea of a God that isn't tied to a particular place and time and transcends the material things that humans can comprehend.  On the other hand, any kind of a God that has the power to do things that many religions claim, is a God that I have a very hard time reconciling with the problem of evil.  

I guess I'm just not understanding in a very pragmatic way, what the benefits of the theology of religious thinking are.  I see more practical benefits in the community, personal structure, transformation elements, and I see them separate from theological ideas about God and atonement.   You may see them as inseparable for you personally, which is fine, but I think a person like me can get the benefits of religion without all those theological elements.  

I never said "secular people" need more than they have at their disposal to deal with guilt.  In fact I said the opposite- that they can feel peace "after all they can do" to resolve the problem!

I never said they need religion to resolve it.  All I am doing is offering an ANALOGY to show non-believers that the idea of a spiritual atonement is not crazy- and that they probably already believe in THAT principle.

It takes a spiritual awakening to do the rest, and if you do not think a spiritual awakening is required for us to understand the atonement of Christ- then that is what you believe. But then it seems that you do not believe in the atonement of Christ so that all fits!  :)  It is consistent.

A God who completely transcends humanity would have no interest in humanity- unless you postulate the "two nature" theory of traditional Christianity- transcendent and immanent at once- a contradiction to be resolved- and most churches usually develop some way of resolving that problem.    A truly transcendent God would be as uncaring as the universe itself- if the earth disappears tomorrow, such a God has no reason to care.  It is after all the way the universe works.  Supernovae probably happen on  a daily basis somewhere- but I am not an expert on such things.  Suffice it to say that "the universe" does not care if we survive or not.  There are fire ants in Texas- and I myself would not care if they all disappeared tomorrow.  In fact, I would find that rather pleasant.  ;)

What are the benefits of religious belief?  They are voluminous and verified.  I will leave it up to someone else to document that- Robert F Smith recently commented on that as I recall.

Is religious belief reasonable?  Rorty James and Dewey and Wittgenstein- and the various branches of different nuanced views of Pragmatism they fathered all thought those views "rational" even if they did not personally subscribe to them.  And even some of these arguably did accept "religious" beliefs.

It's not that I accept them "personally" as reasonable and then believe them- it is that I KNOW through religious experience that they are TRUE and I have seen reasonable ways to make them reasonable.

Intellectually the reason part came first, yes, but then I got zapped.

I am not here because the beliefs are reasonable- I could have picked any faith after understanding that they ARE reasonable- but I did not get "zapped" with a religious experience anywhere else.

That's about all I know.  I know God exists and wants me here.  Why that is, is his business.

 

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Posted (edited)
9 hours ago, mfbukowski said:

All I am doing is offering an ANALOGY to show non-believers that the idea of a spiritual atonement is not crazy- and that they probably already believe in THAT principle.

How does the suffering and death of Jesus fit into spiritual atonement? The former secularist in me rejected satisfaction, penal substitution and ransom theories. Every secularist I know does the same. It seems that helping people see the analogy is only the first step in piquing their interest. Why did Jesus have to suffer and die? Or, are you saying spiritual atonement can still be had if Jesus  is removed from the equation?

Edited by Spammer

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2 hours ago, Spammer said:

How does the suffering and death of Jesus fit into spiritual atonement? The former secularist in me rejected satisfaction, penal substitution and ransom theories. Every secularist I know does the same. It seems that helping people see the analogy is only the first step in piquing their interest. Why did Jesus have to suffer and die? Or, are you saying spiritual atonement can still be had if Jesus  is removed from the equation?

Not at all. I meant a spiritual UNDERSTANDING or testimony of the atonement, it's spiritual meaning and significance 

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11 hours ago, mfbukowski said:

I never said "secular people" need more than they have at their disposal to deal with guilt.  In fact I said the opposite- that they can feel peace "after all they can do" to resolve the problem!

I never said they need religion to resolve it.  All I am doing is offering an ANALOGY to show non-believers that the idea of a spiritual atonement is not crazy- and that they probably already believe in THAT principle.

It takes a spiritual awakening to do the rest, and if you do not think a spiritual awakening is required for us to understand the atonement of Christ- then that is what you believe. But then it seems that you do not believe in the atonement of Christ so that all fits!  :)  It is consistent.

The atonement paradigm that you've presented, might not seem crazy to someone who already accepts it, but if you really look at it from a secular perspective, it does sound a little cookoo for people that don't believe in God.  There is some power in the sky that is keeping score of all our actions and judging them on a scale of some kind and those actions require a reconciliation of sorts in order for us to pass a test?.  And then add into this equation that the only way full restitution can be made is through the brutal suffering and sacrifice of another person who somehow perfectly followed all these cosmic rules.  

Why is that "understanding" even necessary.  I can point to countless scriptures that talk about what a person really needs is not an "understanding" of any kind of atonement theology, but rather just an orientation towards loving others and service.  That is my point, if religion really wants to connect with the secular people, it needs to ditch the emphasis on the complicated theological tradition, and put the emphasis on the practice.  The practices of service, love, reciprocity, sustainability, equality, community building, etc.  

For the old school types that find a lot of value in the theology, then great, let them use those concepts to motivate them to action, but don't try to shove these theological concepts on a person that won't connect with these ideas.  Thats a losing battle.  For someone who isn't inclined towards supernatural beliefs, talk about God as experience, rather than God as deity in the sky.  God as experience, is a God of mindfulness and a God of loosely held spiritual experiences that many people across different cultures have as they experience awe through things like music, love, exploration, learning, connection with family and friends and country.  This kind of spirituality is what secular people still need as well as its part of the human psyche and we've evolved to crave these kinds of connections. 

God for me, is these experiences.  God is not supernatural, its very natural.  Its not necessarily an external force I'm tapping into, but I can't rule that out completely, and I honestly don't care.  If a neuroscientist were to image my brain while I'm on a bike ride through the Swiss Alps, they would see certain patterns.  These same patterns would be manifest if I were dreaming about riding a bike through the Swiss Alps.  Its not that the two experiences are the same exactly, obviously a dream is different than a waking experience.  But in my mind they are so similar that its hard to tell the difference.  God is all about experience, and these experiences are what life is all about.  I believe that I can have those same experiences without the baggage of religious folk lore and superstitious thinking.  

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Posted (edited)
39 minutes ago, mfbukowski said:

Not at all. I meant a spiritual UNDERSTANDING or testimony of the atonement, it's spiritual meaning and significance 

Is a spiritual understanding of atonement a foundation for a hoped for eventual consideration of the feasibility of belief in actual atonement through Jesus’s required suffering and death? 

Or are you only proposing a good way for secularists to live their lives, without any appeal to truths about Jesus and his role in atonement, i.e., atonement without the Christian religion?

Edited by Spammer

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54 minutes ago, Spammer said:

Is a spiritual understanding of atonement a foundation for a hoped for eventual consideration of the feasibility of belief in actual atonement through Jesus’s required suffering and death? 

Or are you only proposing a good way for secularists to live their lives, without any appeal to truths about Jesus and his role in atonement, i.e., atonement without the Christian religion?

 Yes to the first question, no to the second. 

I have said this a few times in this thread.

This  Is only an analogy for non  believers To learn the principle that we can feel forgiveness after we have done all we can to correct the mistake and not repeat the mistake.

 I think the analogy makes the belief more reasonable, or at least easier to understand for nonbelievers 

 Once they understand the principle they must pray for a testimony that Jesus Christ was indeed our savior who provided the atonement for us.

 All the thread was intended to be about is questioning if such an analogy was useful. It seems a few understood the purpose of the thread and were positive about the idea if they understood it.

Many more did not understand it and made it much more complicated than it was intended to be.

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1 hour ago, hope_for_things said:

The atonement paradigm that you've presented, might not seem crazy to someone who already accepts it, but if you really look at it from a secular perspective, it does sound a little cookoo for people that don't believe in God.  There is some power in the sky that is keeping score of all our actions and judging them on a scale of some kind and those actions require a reconciliation of sorts in order for us to pass a test?.  And then add into this equation that the only way full restitution can be made is through the brutal suffering and sacrifice of another person who somehow perfectly followed all these cosmic rules.  

Why is that "understanding" even necessary.  I can point to countless scriptures that talk about what a person really needs is not an "understanding" of any kind of atonement theology, but rather just an orientation towards loving others and service.  That is my point, if religion really wants to connect with the secular people, it needs to ditch the emphasis on the complicated theological tradition, and put the emphasis on the practice.  The practices of service, love, reciprocity, sustainability, equality, community building, etc.  

For the old school types that find a lot of value in the theology, then great, let them use those concepts to motivate them to action, but don't try to shove these theological concepts on a person that won't connect with these ideas.  Thats a losing battle.  For someone who isn't inclined towards supernatural beliefs, talk about God as experience, rather than God as deity in the sky.  God as experience, is a God of mindfulness and a God of loosely held spiritual experiences that many people across different cultures have as they experience awe through things like music, love, exploration, learning, connection with family and friends and country.  This kind of spirituality is what secular people still need as well as its part of the human psyche and we've evolved to crave these kinds of connections. 

God for me, is these experiences.  God is not supernatural, its very natural.  Its not necessarily an external force I'm tapping into, but I can't rule that out completely, and I honestly don't care.  If a neuroscientist were to image my brain while I'm on a bike ride through the Swiss Alps, they would see certain patterns.  These same patterns would be manifest if I were dreaming about riding a bike through the Swiss Alps.  Its not that the two experiences are the same exactly, obviously a dream is different than a waking experience.  But in my mind they are so similar that its hard to tell the difference.  God is all about experience, and these experiences are what life is all about.  I believe that I can have those same experiences without the baggage of religious folk lore and superstitious thinking.  

 Thanks for the reply but I think you miss understood the purpose of the analogy. See my answer to Spammer immediately above.

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Posted (edited)
26 minutes ago, mfbukowski said:

Once they understand the principle they must pray for a testimony that Jesus Christ was indeed our savior who provided the atonement for us.

So what is lacking in the analogy that Jesus fills? If secularists see the pragmatic benefits of spiritual atonement and reconciliation through remorse, repentance and making amends (doing the time),  and are able to acquire it and feel better through their own efforts, why do they need to pray about Jesus? What does Jesus add? 

Edited by Spammer

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22 minutes ago, mfbukowski said:

 Yes to the first question, no to the second. 

I have said this a few times in this thread.

This  Is only an analogy for non  believers To learn the principle that we can feel forgiveness after we have done all we can to correct the mistake and not repeat the mistake.

 I think the analogy makes the belief more reasonable, or at least easier to understand for nonbelievers 

 Once they understand the principle they must pray for a testimony that Jesus Christ was indeed our savior who provided the atonement for us.

 All the thread was intended to be about is questioning if such an analogy was useful. It seems a few understood the purpose of the thread and were positive about the idea if they understood it.

Many more did not understand it and made it much more complicated than it was intended to be.

Ok, thanks for this response.  In this case, I don't think your analogy makes the belief more reasonable or interesting for a secular person.  

What about my recommendations and approach instead?  Is that because you view my approach to be so unorthodox that its heretical?  Why couldn't my recommended approach work?  

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Posted (edited)
20 minutes ago, Spammer said:

So what is lacking in the analogy that Jesus fills? If secularists see the pragmatic benefits of spiritual atonement and reconciliation through remorse, repentance and making amends (doing the time),  and are able to acquire it and feel better through their own efforts, why do they need to pray about Jesus? What does Jesus add? 

Spiritual experiences create belief in God, Moroni 10, etc.

 It worked for me. So how did you become a believer from being at atheist? If you went through that process I'm not understanding the question.

Edited by mfbukowski
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22 minutes ago, hope_for_things said:

Ok, thanks for this response.  In this case, I don't think your analogy makes the belief more reasonable or interesting for a secular person.  

What about my recommendations and approach instead?  Is that because you view my approach to be so unorthodox that its heretical?  Why couldn't my recommended approach work?  

 No those are fine approaches. Why did you think I would not agree with you?

Did I say that anywhere?No I did not.

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6 minutes ago, mfbukowski said:

No those are fine approaches. Why did you think I would not agree with you?

Did I say that anywhere?No I did not.

Quote

Or are you only proposing a good way for secularists to live their lives, without any appeal to truths about Jesus and his role in atonement, i.e., atonement without the Christian religion?

I wasn't sure because you said no to this question by Spammer.  So can you clarify, because all my approaches essentially remove the traditional theology around atonement and replace that with an emphasis on practice and experience.  

 

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Posted (edited)
19 minutes ago, mfbukowski said:

Spiritual experiences create belief in God, Moroni 10, etc.

 It worked for me. So how did you become a believer from being at atheist? If you went through that process I'm not understanding the question.

I’m trying to think like an atheist. Pragmatically, what does belief in Jesus add, if I can gain a sense of fulfillment and peace and reconciliation - atonement- through amending my life through my own efforts?  I’m an atheist who committed a crime, I felt remorse and made amends, I paid the price and my debt to society. My victims and the court are satisfied. I’ll never do it again and know it was wrong. I’m a changed man. What’s the point of Jesus, then?  It seems that must be answered before we can expect an atheist to have the desire to pray. 

Edited by Spammer

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59 minutes ago, hope_for_things said:

I wasn't sure because you said no to this question by Spammer.  So can you clarify, because all my approaches essentially remove the traditional theology around atonement and replace that with an emphasis on practice and experience.  

 

Go back and look at Spammer's questions- I said Yes to the first question which was NOT like your question and NO to the second question which was, essentially, the same as yours.

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1 hour ago, Spammer said:

I’m trying to think like an atheist. Pragmatically, what does belief in Jesus add, if I can gain a sense of fulfillment and peace and reconciliation - atonement- through amending my life through my own efforts?  I’m an atheist who committed a crime, I felt remorse and made amends, I paid the price and my debt to society. My victims and the court are satisfied. I’ll never do it again and know it was wrong. I’m a changed man. What’s the point of Jesus, then?  It seems that must be answered before we can expect an atheist to have the desire to pray. 

But my question is- since you said earlier that you are a former atheist- answer your own question!

What does a belief in Jesus add in YOUR life?

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Posted (edited)
57 minutes ago, mfbukowski said:

But my question is- since you said earlier that you are a former atheist- answer your own question!

What does a belief in Jesus add in YOUR life?

1) Philosophical considerations have convinced me there might be something to this God thing.

2) “The line separating good and evil passes...through every human heart.” (Solzhenitsyn) The ugly history of humans on this planet is evidence that a Fall is possible. I view the sordid details as an experimental proof of the likelihood. There’s something wrong with the human animal. I see it through all of history, all around me and have experienced that brokenness in my own life. 

If there is a God, only one system accepts the reality of the flaw and offers a decent explanation. Something is broken that needs to be fixed.

IMO, Christianity offers the best explanation for humanity’s brokenness and the most compelling solution: the Creator becomes one of us to heal the wound and make us what he is. 

Finally, reading the New Testament, the Patristic literature and Margaret Barker’s stuff convinced me the ancient church was not LDS. Not even close. That explains why I didn’t (and won’t) return to the faith I grew up in.

My faith is only a hope, grounded on reading ancient philosophical and religious writings translated into English, that Christianity is true. I participate in and enjoy the Liturgy, hoping to be transformed so my own inner flaws are healed, hoping that my family and every human will also be healed. I only ever pray asking for those things. I never pray asking to find lost car keys or for help finding a job or whether a church is true.

Spiritual experiences have nothing to do with it. I don’t have any to point to. Never have.

So...assume I’m an atheist who believes that humanity is not broken, doesn’t need saving, and that I can make amends and find reconciliation all by myself through my own efforts. Why should I pray about Jesus? If I can acquire spiritual atonement through my own efforts alone, why do I need Jesus? I ask that because I think your analogy fails for people who believe they can make amends and experience the benefits of atonement through their own efforts alone. Lots of people are like that. Maybe most these days. You asked for opinions and that’s how I see it. 

 

Edited by Spammer

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19 hours ago, mfbukowski said:

 This guy cracks me up. Since all his statements have to be backed up by evidence to be true,  by his own assumptions , where is it is evidence for the immmorality of vicarious redemption?

His primary problem is with Leviticus 16 and using this to glorify what Christ did.  That we piled all the sins on Christ vicariously, and then let our enemies put him in a winepress, flogged and whipped him, and then nailed him to a cross.  

Lev 16:21.     Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat and confess over it all the iniquities and transgressions of the Israelites, whatever their sins, putting them on the head of the goat; and it shall be sent off to the wilderness through a designated man.

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