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Lynette Noelle Kelway James

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Lynette Noelle Kelway James


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Wed, Feb 10, 2016 - 09:23 AM

Would the world not be in a better state if everyone had and continued to follow the example of Jesus?

Can any Humanist deny that the world would be in much better shape if everyone followed the instructions of Jesus? Whether or not you believe that the world is better now than in the past would it not be rather pleasant to have a world with no crime, violence, wars, hatred, envy, adultery, promiscuity, intolerance, etc? Or would it not? Do we need evil in the world to make it interesting?


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Sue Parry
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Print Fri, Feb 12, 2016 - 10:20 AM
It seems to be very easy for people to convert a teacher with good ideas - and I don't doubt that Jesus had some - into an authority, and then into a a god to be followed unquestioningly. I suspect it's part of how we humans create gods, and thereby relieve ourselves of the responsibility of thinking for ourselves. For example, Jesus says "love thy neighbor as thyself." Sounds good. We hold it up as a moral ideal, but shouldn't we ask what it actually would mean for our behavior, how it would be implemented, and what the effect would be. Might still be good. Might not. And who's my neighbor? Next door? My community? Refugees? Daesh? Morality isn't simple, and rational thought is likely to lead to better results than blind obedience and/or lip service.


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Bo Bennett, PhD
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Print Wed, Feb 10, 2016 - 01:49 PM
Jesus' #1 command is to "love God." The problem with this is that many people interpret this command in ways that lead to increased crime (blowing up abortion clinics), violence (beating up gays), wars (ISIS), hatred ("you must hate your family if you want to follow me" - Jesus), etc. We need to teach people (children included) morality independent of authority, so "commands" can be evaluated based on a practical application where consequences of behaviors are considered.

Let's not forget...

Jesus declared “I have come to cast fire upon the earth” (Luke 12:49) and promised the death and suffering, the wailing and gnashing of teeth, and the burning of flesh for anyone who was against him (Matt. 12:30, Matt. 13:4-42, 50, Luke 11:23).

Again, we need to teach critical thinking skills and the difference between morality and obedience, so people can heed the good advice of Jesus and other religious figures, philosophers, poets, authors, etc. and leave the rest when the teachings lead to evil. The reverence should be in the idea itself; not the person who promoted it.
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Print Wed, Feb 10, 2016 - 10:57 AM
It certainly would be a better place if we followed the example of all of our great philosophers, including Jesus. Whether or not he, or any of his predecessors actually lived, their message is one of peace and cooperation for the common good. It isn't the person that we should follow, but the ideals they expressed.


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KO
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Print Fri, Feb 12, 2016 - 02:49 PM
Be forewarned that you asked a question of people who are very likely not of your faith tradition, and don't want to be. Many of them left it for something they think is better. Thus, you're inviting a question that will, of necessity, sound Anti-Christian to you. But you asked, so ...

There is a fundamental problem with Christian morality that, I think, makes it unsuitable. Jesus is supposed to have died for our sins. But no other human being can die for the sins of another. Every person is responsible for the wrongs that they do only to those people that they harmed. Thus, no one can take away anyone else's sins. I can't choose to go to jail for a crime my brother commits. That doesn't absolve him. It isn't justice by a long shot.

Of course, Christians respond that we are all sinners originally because of Adam and Eve. But, that does not answer the criticism, that makes it worse: now all humanity needs redemption because of something that an *alleged* ancestor did. Personal moral responsibility is abdicated by this central theological tenet of Christianity, not supported by it.

Further, most versions of Christianity require faith. Faith is pretending to know. I don't think that more people who rely on faith as a justification for their beliefs is a good thing.


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Steffen Haugk

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Print Thu, Feb 11, 2016 - 07:42 AM
What are his instructions?

For every 'nice' teaching there is a dubious one. For every call for love there is a threat.

I sometimes hear the figure of Jesus described as a great thinker or even philosopher. But I have yet to learn why. Can anyone name just one utterance of him that could be described as brilliant?

Also, what is wrong with adultery and promiscuity? It's not obvious to me.


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Chris Dunn

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Print Thu, Feb 11, 2016 - 12:28 PM
There are many ways in which the world would be made a better place if 'everyone' did this or that. It's when you decide on exactly what, and try to enforce a 'better world', that the evil comes into it.


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Justin K McClure

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Print Mon, Feb 22, 2016 - 10:34 PM
Maybe you should first elucidate "instructions of Jesus". It seems most people pick-choose the teachings they want to remember but forget the lessons which have no place in a civil humanistic society.
On a basic level if you infer these instructions are of love and forgiveness, then yes the world would be in better shape if we all followed that tutelage - however Jesus did not invent these traits. We all know how to love and forgive, therefore we do not need instructions from Jesus or anyone else.

Also, there was nothing written about Jesus for many years after his death, therefore his teachings could have been lessons made-up to give us all visualization on what life to lead. To that end we should remove the celebration of Jesus as a prophet and more focus on what he might have stood for.

How would the world be a better place? Forget Jesus and create your own ethos based on the morality which lives inside.


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Registered User Comments

Chris Dunn
Friday, February 12, 2016 - 01:52:20 PM
@Chris Dunn: Someone had the nerve to send me this reply to my comment: "That is why Jesus is different to most of the others. He never tries to force, only to call people to repentance. Those who are already righteous, he says, have no need of him as they are already whole." A beautifully simple response--accent on the word 'simple'. My only problem with that is so many people feel obliged to speak for Jesus--and they rarely agree. My real problem is that someone actually thought they could prosyletize me on the AskAHumanist forum.
Dear commenter: make public statements if you want to be taken seriously--sending these anonymous evangelical sneak attacks does nothing good for your case, or your cause, or whatever it is running around in that brain of yours. Your 'sell God' program is malfunctioning if you think it applies to every context--and I'm personally insulted every time someone talks to me like I was born yesterday, or need to be 'born again'.

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Lynette Noelle Kelway James
Friday, February 19, 2016 - 12:55:06 PM
I have made public statements! I want a discussion and I am sorry you are taking anything I say personally. You have presumably been dealing with "Christian"s who mare not following their teachers orders. I am merely trying to find out why there seems to be so much hatred for Christians in particular and why they are being persecuted and killed around the world. I would not dream of trying to convert a Humanist as I believe they are indeed decent people. I am sad to see you so angry for whatever reason that might be.

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KO
Friday, February 19, 2016 - 05:34:08 PM
@Lynette Noelle Kelway James:

I am merely trying to find out why there seems to be so much hatred for Christians in particular and why they are being persecuted and killed around the world.

Then you should ask that question of the people/groups who are doing so, rather than asking Humanists about prayer films and why they are not Christians. That's like asking golfers why Hockey fans like fighting so much.

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Chris Dunn
Friday, February 19, 2016 - 06:24:48 PM
@Lynette Noelle Kelway James:
You answer my charge as if I directed it at you. Then you make excuses for whoever actually emailed me. You say I take it personally. You say you sense hatred. You say I am angry. Let me tell you something, young person--you have got some kind of mess going on in your head and you are using religion to make it a problem for other people to worry about--you should take a good look in a mirror and ask yourself what is really bothering you--and leave Jesus, and the Humanists (I'm an atheist, by the way) out of it. I wish you good luck in future.

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Lynette Noelle Kelway James
Saturday, February 20, 2016 - 10:27:08 AM
@Chris Dunn:My apologies! I thought you must be Humanist as I thought only Humanists were meant to reply to public questions. I am asking these questions because I want to find out more about the beliefs of Humanists as I don't want to have a closed mind. I want to know about all religions and belief systems as they are called. I agree with most of what Humanists believe: it is just the belief in a higher power that is different. Does it really matter whether we do good just for the sake of it and in order to create a better world or whether we do good because we are told to by a superior intelligence? If it amounts to a less evil world does it really matter where the morals come from.

You flatter me! I am a 63 year old woman who happens to believe in God but who doesn't go to church very often - Christmas and Easter if I'm lucky - but who is very concerned that Christians are being portrayed as some evil force who are trying to frighten others into accepting what they believe which couldn't be further from the truth. I was not "indoctrinated " as a child - quite the reverse - I think I persuaded my family to go to church because that was where I felt most at home. I loved reading the bible stories, especially the gospels, from a very early age and I loved learning about all the great scientists like Galileo, Newton, Einstein, etc., and was fascinated by the fact that such important men could believe in both science and be religious at the same time. I still am! I still want to know the answer to the question "how and why do some of the world's greatest scientists believe in God?

I would not bother to ask these questions were it not for the fact that Christianity is being forced out of public life much to the detriment of everyone and I want to stop it going any further. That is all!

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Lynette Noelle Kelway James
Friday, February 19, 2016 - 01:16:19 PM
@KO: I agree with you. I do not believe Jesus died for my sins; rather that I am the one responsible for my deeds and it is only by obeying Jesus' commands can I hope to enter into his kingdom. For me there would be little point in his coming to earth if it wasn't to change one's behaviour. All I am saying is that the world must surely be a better of if everyone keeps to his teachings. Can you deny that it would be so and if so why?

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KO
Friday, February 19, 2016 - 05:28:16 PM
You say:

I do not believe Jesus died for my sins
... but then say...

only by obeying Jesus' commands can I hope to enter into his kingdom.
You're denying a central (perhaps *the* central) tenet of Christianity while maintaining that you have to obey his commands in order to receive eternal reward. His commands mattering at all, according to Christian doctrine, depends on the fact that he died for others' sins (a pernicious and immoral concept). The bible says clearly many times over that God gave his son to die for mankind. Yet, you just denied that.

There is, genuinely, a fundamental moral problem with the doctrine of salvation. It is as I've stated in my first response to your OP. You've not addressed it, but instead turned a blind eye to it so that you could ask your question again.

Your question about his teachings: no. Mathew 22:38 reads:

"And He said to him, "'You shall love the Lord your God with all of your heart, and with all your soul and with all your mind." This is the great and foremost commandment.

The problem: the foremost commandment of the religion is to love an imaginary being. It is, in my humble estimation, a serious impediment to clear moral reasoning that we base our moral decisions off of the imagined love of a being that doesn't exist. Clear moral reasoning means reasoning about concrete factors that matter, like harm, human dignity, fairness etc...

Now the penultimate commandment to love your neighbor as yourself is the basis of all morality: the idea that no human being has a higher, nor lower, moral status than any other. That's great, but that ultimate commandment is awful stuff.

If this is to genuinely be a dialogue, it would behoove you at this point not to just ignore my criticisms of Christianity, but actually address them. I've given two: (1) salvation and original sin are morally repugnant because they abdicate personal responsibility and (2) loving God, as a moral doctrine, above all others is deleterious of the capacity to reason concretely and clearly about actual moral problems.

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Lynette Noelle Kelway James
Friday, February 19, 2016 - 01:07:53 PM
@Sue Parry: From where does your morality come? How would you teach children to live their lives in a way which benefits mankind and not in a selfish way where only their desires count? This is what is happening in the world today with most people living only for themselves. unable to feel for or empathize with others. If the world is so wonderful why are so many turning to drugs and drink? Are they not satisfied with what they have? Poor countries seems to fare much better on the "happiness" lists. Why should this be? Those who take up drugs and drink say their lives lack meaning and purpose. They can't connect with others, they feel dead. So what is the answer? Maybe humans have evolved to have a need for a higher power and if they have we should not try to change what may be of benefit to society.

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Lynette Noelle Kelway James
Wednesday, February 17, 2016 - 06:08:34 PM
@Bo Bennett, PhD: Thank you Bo for your response.
You, and others, keep referring to "interpreting" Jesus' teachings. Surely, "love your enemies, bless them that curse you, turn the other cheek, don't commit adultery, judge not," etc. can only mean what it says. How can any of these sayings be interpreted differently? They are straight forward commands to his followers. Of course, others have taught the same and that is fine but how can you make or encourage people to do good without a promise of reward or punishment. Wonderful if everyone did good and behaved themselves just for the sake of it or because it would lead to the betterment of mankind but, sadly, it isn't working and hasn't worked. It didn't work before Jesus' appearance on earth and it didn't work after he was killed so how else can humanity be encouraged to change its ways? Why did he attract such huge crowds and so much attention - and so much hatred? Had he not performed his miracles do you really think all those who followed him to hear him preach would have been the slightest bit interested in what he was telling them? I think not. So possibly the only way to stop humans behaving in a detrimental manner and one which he knew would bring about their downfall was to promise them a reward or warn them of what they might face in the hereafter. There was no way to tell if what he said was true or not but as he did appear to have extremely unusual powers it was more likely that he was in touch with some higher power and therefore it would probably be worth listening to and obeying his commands just in case.

Don't forget, as I wrote previously, no one was forced to believe him or follow him, it was merely a plea to do so for their own sake and for the sake of mankind. What would he have thought of today's world with a near breakdown of society, exactly as was predicted? No one can say he didn't try!

Regarding sinners, I don't think Jesus ever taught that we were all sinners otherwise he would not have said that those who were already "whole" did not need him. They didn't need him only those who were broken. He commanded "be ye therefore perfect" and sinners are not perfect. He gave them the chance to be.

If anyone can show me a command that could be interpreted in a way that could lead to any action that could be seen as ungodly then please let me see it. What he says about hating your mother and father, brothers, sisters, etc., I have always understood as meaning if your parents or your family stand in the way of your teaching, which he obviously felt was vitally important if the world was to escape from its wickedness, then it would be necessary to put him first and leave them to their own devices or else how would his word be spread. If a Humanist was brought up in a religious family who refused to let him/her follow what he/she believed and to go in search of some way of life contrary to that of their family, would it not be necessary for them to leave and put what they believed in before the wishes of their family?. Could it not end in a separation? "Hate", I understand in this context means "to love less" which would seem reasonable but whatever the exact meaning I think you can see my way of thinking on the matter. Family for Jesus was anyone who followed him and not merely those of the same blood.

Which of Jesus' commands could lead to evil? He does indeed say terrible things are coming on the earth and that is why he is so desperate for people to change their ways and LOVE rather than hate. I would like to know how a Humanist would go about changing people for the better because nothing has worked so far?

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