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Thursday, May 18, 2006

Is Christianity on the wane?

Part of a very interesting discussion is one comparing Humanism and Christianity. Several commenters suggested that "Christianity is on the wane." I thought that was an odd thing to say and so I thought it might be wise to consider that thought.

My belief was that while Christianity was not doing well in old Europe and some other Western areas, it is growing pretty rapidly world-wide.

How Christianity is Growing Around the World

Excerpt: ...in 1900, there were approximately 10 million Christians in Africa. By 2000, there were 360 million. By 2025, conservative estimates see that number rising to 633 million. Those same estimates put the number of Christians in Latin America in 2025 at 640 million and in Asia at 460 million.

According to Jenkins, the percentage of the world’s population that is, at least by name, Christian will be roughly the same in 2050 as it was in 1900. By the middle of this century, there will be three billion Christians in the world -- one and a half times the number of Muslims. In fact, by 2050 there will be nearly as many Pentecostal Christians in the world as there are Muslims today.

But at that point, only one-fifth of the world’s Christians will be non-Hispanic whites. The typical Christian will be a woman living in a Nigerian village or in a Brazilian shantytown.

And these changes will be more than demographic. Jenkins points out that who he calls "Southern Christians" -- those living in Africa, Latin America, and parts of Asia -- are far more conservative, theologically and morally, than their counterparts in the West.


Christianity taking over planet?

Excerpt: What is the fastest-growing religion on Earth?

Most news reports suggest it is Islam.

But a new book makes a compelling case it is a new, or, perhaps, old form of biblically inspired evangelical Christianity that is sweeping through places like China, Africa, India and Southeast Asia.


In "Megashift," author Jim Rutz coins a new phrase to define this fast-growing segment of the population. He calls them "core apostolics" – or "the new saints who are at the heart of the mushrooming kingdom of God."

Rutz makes the point that Christianity is overlooked as the fastest-growing faith in the world because most surveys look at the traditional Protestant denominations and the Roman Catholic Church while ignoring Christian believers who have no part of either.

He says there are 707 million "switched-on disciples" who fit into this new category and that this "church" is exploding in growth.


Christianity Growing in Bhutan Despite Repression, Propaganda

Christianity growing in staggering fashion In Africa, Latin America and Asia

"There are more new Christians added to the world population than any other religion on earth every day. This data makes the entire discussion about "rates of growth" irrelevant."

Whereas news reports often suggest that Islam is the world's fastest growing religion, a careful look at the numbers suggests that Christianity is still the largest religion in the world and it is growing/spreading faster than the Muslim faith. It appears that Islam is the fastest growing religion in Europe, but this is a matter of immigration. More Christians are added to the population each day than any other religion and it is present in all 238 countries of the world and on all six continents is more widely distributed than Islam or other faiths.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

So Christianity continues to grow. I believe my Humanist friends wish to believe that it is "on the wane" because they think Humanism is a superior philosophy. Consistent commenter Dan S posted this:

"Kohlberg's classification [of stages of moral development - really, reasoning] can be outlined in the following manner:
LEVEL--STAGE--SOCIAL ORIENTATION

Pre-conventional.1.Obedience and Punishment
......................2..Individualism,
..................Instrumentalism, and Exchange
Conventional........3.."Good boy/girl"
......................4..Law and Order
Post-conventional..5..Social Contract
......................6..Principled Conscience
[. = spaces - does bloggercomments has any sort of space-preserving formating option?]

The first level of moral thinking is that generally found at the elementary school level. In the first stage of this level, people behave according to socially acceptable norms because they are told to do so by some authority figure (e.g., parent or teacher). This obedience is compelled by the threat or application of punishment. The second stage of this level is characterized by a view that right behavior means acting in one's own best interests.

The second level of moral thinking is that generally found in society, hence the name "conventional." The first stage of this level (stage 3) is characterized by an attitude which seeks to do what will gain the approval of others. The second stage is one oriented to abiding by the law and responding to the obligations of duty.

The third level of moral thinking is one that Kohlberg felt is not reached by the majority of adults. Its first stage (stage 5) is an understanding of social mutuality and a genuine interest in the welfare of others. The last stage (stage 6) is based on respect for universal principle and the demands of individual conscience. While Kohlberg always believed in the existence of Stage 6 and had some nominees for it, he could never get enough subjects to define it, much less observe their longitudinal movement to it."


The implication is that a Humanist is often likely to be at level three, leaving the Christian behind at level two. But is there any doubt that Jesus Christ was beyond even stage six? He is the example for a Christian. One of my favorite quotes in the Bible is when it is said of Jesus, "Behold, He has done all things well!"

Jesus did not simply live a sinless life in which He did nothing wrong. He also did everything good at every opportunity. He went around the Jerusalem and Galilee and the surrounding countryside telling the truth, healing the sick, raising the dead, explaining His mission and simply living for others while living out the wishes of God the Father.

You see, the post-conventional individual still has to base his understanding of right and wrong on something. If he rejects Christianity and the Biblical standard of conduct, then he allows his reasoning and conscience and experience to have the last say. As I said, in this case man puts himself on the throne and can be no more moral or wise than a fallible and temporal man is able.

The Spirit-led Christian has principles based on the Word of God. Those principles were at the basis of the founding of my country, the USA, and I see no better nation on earth. Those principles are a basis for behavior but also the Christian has something even better than a principled conscience. He has a Eternal God who has placed His Spirit within that Christian, so that the Christian can, if he will, be able to be led by God. God's mind and understanding are neither fallible nor temporal and not subject to selfishness or error.

Christians come in all shapes and sizes. Many are erstwhile but misled. Some are insincere and pathetic. There are legalists who think that life can be boiled down to a set of hard and fast rules beginning with the clothes you wear and the kind of haircut you prefer. It has been said that 'Christians are the biggest handicap of Christianity' or something along that line. Alas, it is true.

And yet....and yet Christians in general are sincerely trying to live up to the challenge of Christ, to love God with all their being and to love their neighbors as they love themselves. There is no higher calling than this one.

People who know me personally come in and read this blog. I say this honestly, I do try to live up to this high calling and it is my own natural selfishness that is my biggest enemy. Those who know me consider me to be a good man. (right, guys??? Wink!) I know in my heart the many times I could do better. I want to do better. The Spirit of God within me moves me to do better for deep inside, fighting against my selfish nature, I do love God and mankind and I do really prefer doing good over bad. The Book of Romans truly addresses this struggle well, especially in chapters 3-8. In the end, God has conquered my selfishness and made it available for me to do the right thing every time if I will simply be in agreement with Him. My fellow Christians will understand this last paragraph, I would think.

To conclude, I believe Christians have the highest of calls and the highest of standards in common. The Humanist may or may not, but if the Humanist has the same call as the Christian, he still lacks the Spirit of God within to help him accomplish the goal. Therefore, to me, the greatest Humanist is the one who takes himself off of his own throne and gives that place to God, thus becoming a Christian fully empowered to carry out the greatest of goals.

22 comments:

creeper said...

Christianity appears to be doing well in developing countries, but in the US it's a different story.

And again, the Humanist does not put himself on the throne, but his fellow man, the society of man. That's a significant difference.

A Hermit said...

"The implication is that a Humanist is often likely to be at level three, leaving the Christian behind at level two."

Not all Christians; just the literalists...>;-}

Seriously, like I said before there ar emany people whose faith I admire, even though I don't share it. But they have moved beyond the simplistic view of morality as "following the rules or else".

"You see, the post-conventional individual still has to base his understanding of right and wrong on something. If he rejects Christianity and the Biblical standard of conduct, then he allows his reasoning and conscience and experience to have the last say. As I said, in this case man puts himself on the throne and can be no more moral or wise than a fallible and temporal man is able."

And Christianity is no different; it's not like the Bible provides a case-by-case list of do's and don'ts for you. You have to to use your own judgement, your own interpretation of the Bible's teaching and apply it to the real world.

Now, you can argue that Christians are "Spirit led", but then we're back to that special pleading thing. It's the inherent arrogance of that position that really led me to turn away from religion; the idea that somehow, just because someone believes in a particular version of God they have a better grasp of right and wrong seems so obviously wrong to me; Ghandi was no Christian, after all.

"The Spirit-led Christian has principles based on the Word of God. Those principles were at the basis of the founding of my country, the USA, and I see no better nation on earth."

I'm always astonished at how ignorant of their own history some Americans can be. Your constitution was based on everything from PLato to the Iroquois Confederacy and the humanistic principles of the Enlightenment. The closest the founding fathers of the United States came to religious influence was a Deistic nod to a creator, or "Nature's god"; Christianity had little to do with it.

It's good to proud of your country, by the way, I'm certanily proud of Canada (the REALLY best nation on Earth...and home of heroes), but when you start equating patriotism with piety I think you're heading down a dangerous road. Even worse when, as some Americans increasingly are doing, one equates Party with piety.

I greatly admire America, always have, and I love my own country, but I would never make the mistake of thinking that either of us have some special, supernatural place among nations. Nations, like individuals, rise and fall on their own merits; to assign some sort of divine status to any State is to surrender one's liberty to the whims of dogmatists.

James Madison, the "Father of the Constitution" said, "During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What has been its fruits? More or less, in all places, pride and indolence in the clergy; ignorance and servility in the laity; in both, superstition, bigotry and persecution." Memorial and Remonstrance

In this and many other writings Madison makes clear his oppostion to any co-mingling of politics and religion. He regarded such entanglements as inevitably leading to tyranny.

Or, as Sinclair Lewis said, "When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross."

Sincerely

A Patriotic Hermit

A Hermit said...

But back to the question of morality; Radar's position is that Christian morality is superior because faith grants the believer access to some absolute, infallible set of principles that can only come from God.

But let's think about this a bit. Plato, in his Euthyphro dialogue, asks "Are morally good acts willed by God because they are morally good, or are they morally good because they are willed by God?"

It's an important question; if God tells you something is good because it is good in and of itself then moral goodness exists independantly of God, and it is not necessary to posit the existence of God(s) to explain it. But if something is good only because "God says so" then morality is essentially arbitrary and therefore innaccessible to mere mortals. Even genocide can be morally justified; if God says "kill all the Ammonites, every man, woman and child" than genocide in that case becomes a moral good. Is this a superior morality? What "absolute value" is fulfilled here? We are also left with the problem of discerning which of the conflicting voices claiming to speak for God is really doing so. Not an easy task given that all of those competing voices claim divine inspiration but cannot offer any objective proof of their claim to speak for God.

Christians (and other theists) like to claim that their moral foundation is superior (even if they admit their behaviour isn't) simply because it supposedly comes from some supernatural place. But what is superior about that? If humanity did not exist morality would not exist. Moral and ethical behaviour is something human beings do, it is not a magic spell dropped on us from above, and it is dependant on human circumstances and human needs, not on doctrinal requirements. Morality is a form of human behaviour, with observable, real world consequences.

Sincerely

A Wordy Hermit

creeper said...

I've linked to this before, but it's an interesting addition to this particular debate: divine command theory

A Hermit said...

Thanks for the link Creeper, that says it so much better than I did...

I'll be bookmarking that one...

Anonymous said...

"My belief was that while Christianity was not doing well in old Europe and some other Western areas, it is growing pretty rapidly world-wide."

You're quite right - I was thinking Europe and too a lesser degree the U.S., but I should have been more specific. (My excuse? Well, I am from the U.S., the country where a significant chunk of people can't find Iraq on a map . . .)

Indeed, as the CBN link touches on, that the Southern Christians are more conservative tends to fuel things like the conflict in the Episcopal church and Anglicanism in general over gay bishops and such. And they're sending missionaries to reconvert the West - that's simply marvelous.

And I wonder what will happen in Russia, which is not faring very well lately at all . . .

"I believe my Humanist friends wish to believe that it is "on the wane" because they think Humanism is a superior philosophy. "

No, no - at least, I don't think Humanism is pushing Christianity out anywhere, as a cause-effect relationship (which isn't quite what you're saying, but . . .).

"The implication is that a Humanist is often likely to be at level three, leaving the Christian behind at level two."

Well, according to Kohlberg, most people stay at level two in general! (This is pretty old-school, and has been criticized on various grounds, such as gender and cross-cultural applicability, plus it looks at moral reasoning, which may or may not have much to do with actual behavior! - but it's an interesting starting point and I'm pretty clueless about newer research). If Humanists tend to be stage 5ers - which sounds right, but I don't know of any actual research - I think this might in part have to do with folks with such views being more likely to gravitate towards Humanism. Dunno.

I really wasn't trying to stick my tongue out at Christianity here; although I used to think along the lines Radar suspects, it now seems much more complicated. Like Hermit points out, you get people with post-conventional morality across all kinds of beliefs; it seems more like there are just different paths people take. After all, Kohlberg's model, like Piaget's cognitive development one (which it is based on), sees people as growing through a process of wrestling with the world, sorta - like what you're talking about so well here, in a sense. And Christianity can range from a pre-conventional morality (the simplistic 'pie in the sky when you die') to a post-conventional morality based, as you mention, on love - sorta like a ladder for people to climb.

Besides issues of belief and fact, one could say that Humanism runs into trouble by not having that sort of range, while Christianity runs into trouble by having a built-in tendency towards getting in its own way, sort of, by being susceptible to amplifying lower-level tendencies . . After all, this model holds that moral growth is propelled in a way by necessity, by moral conflict. If someone never faced such conflicts, never was forced to deal with such issues, they would theoretically not develop (this is the premise of Dan Simmon's chilling horror novel Carrion Comfort). One might argue that there is one aspect or variety of Christianity (and religion in general, perhaps) that, by stressing divine and unquestioned authority, minimizes (or alters?) certain kinds of moral conflict past a specific level. In some ways - though not others, as you describe movingly in your post - one might claim that this aspect renders certain questions and anxieties meaningless. At worst - like other religions and ideolgies - it can be used to support truly bad acts, justified by God being on our side, with no doubt of our righteousness. Whether the fault lies with religion or people - who have a deep, unfortunate susceptibility to us vs. them thinking - well, I dunno - that's kinda a chicken/egg questiob. One of Humanism's strengths is that it does try to short-circuit this kind of thing.

In Kohlberg's model, individuals simply can't understand reasoning too far beyond where they are at - at best one stage above their own. If we look at Jesus as a rabbi, a teacher, we might see in early Christianity teachings inspired by a deep moral understanding, but also 'losing information,' in a sense, as they travel through people unable to fully understand them at that level. (One can argue that something similar happened in some Buddhist traditions).

On the other hand, at its best Christianity seems to offer a kind of moral scaffolding. There's a concept in education called the zone of proximal development, which is a fancy way of expressing the goldilocks principle - not to easy, that the learner can get by themselves, not too hard that they have no chance of understanding, but just above what they can manage independenly; what they can reach with a little help (from adults or peers). One might say there's a moral equivalent as well . .

What's interesting is that different religions do this in very different ways . . .

But really, this is above me. I have to go off and think some more. And this is all just what's in my head - I'm not claiming any great understanding, authority, etc.

" But is there any doubt that Jesus Christ was beyond even stage six? "
Actually, Kohlberg did argue for a stage 7, a sort if cosmic orientation, but it never went beyind an interesting hypothesis, I think . . .

Working in this tradition, Fowler came up with a stage-based model of faith development:

"Stage one – "Intuitive-Projective" faith (ages of three to seven), and is characterized by the psyche's unprotected exposure to the Unconscious.

Stage two – "Mythic-Literal" faith (mostly in school children), stage two persons have a strong belief in the justice and reciprocity of the universe, and their cosmic powers are almost always anthropomorphic.

Stage three - "Sythetic-Conventional" faith (arising in adolescence) characterized by conformity

stage four – "Individuative-Reflective" faith (usually mid-thirties to early forties) a stage of angst and struggle. The individual takes personal responsibility for their beliefs and feelings.

Stage five – "Conjunctive" faith acknowledges paradox and transcendence relating reality behind the symbols of inherited systems

Stage six – "Universalizing" faith, or what some might call, enlightenment."


but is sounds like it is rather controversial.

There's an interesting link here that uses Kohlberg from a fairly literal Christian perspective to, well, justify the apparently wrathful, destructive, genocide-instigating, obsessively legalistic God that appears in the earlier parts of the Bible - that is, that God had to act in a way that these people, at a low level of development, could understand. Unfortunately the writer ends up arguing that mass slaughter, seemingly (to us) arbitrary and wildly excessive retribution, the eating of prophet-mocking youths by bears, etc. was necessary because these people could only understand force and brutality, a mindset that is not unfamiliar today.


-Dan S.

Anonymous said...

Oops. I mean, an interesting link herebr/>a> . . .

-Dan S.

highboy said...

"And Christianity is no different; it's not like the Bible provides a case-by-case list of do's and don'ts for you."

Nor is it suppose to. The Bible is not about do's or don'ts. It is about the redemption of mankind and man's reconciliation with God.

"I'm always astonished at how ignorant of their own history some Americans can be."

It is not ignorance, it is a simple fact. That is why our elected presidents must swear on the Bible, as opposed to Plato or the Iroquois Confederacy. It is why one of our presidents (Jefferson) paid U.S. tax dollars to convert Indians to Christianity, and not to adopt humanistic principles. It is why supposed deists such as Jefferson signed all their letters "Our Lord Christ", and not "Our Lord the non-specific deity."

"Even genocide can be morally justified; if God says "kill all the Ammonites, every man, woman and child" than genocide in that case becomes a moral good. Is this a superior morality? What "absolute value" is fulfilled here?"

Yes. The value is God exercising His soveriegnty over all things, establishing His chosen people, Israel, as a nation. Israel is God's example. (Of a lot of things, both good and terrible)

Anonymous said...

" That is why our elected presidents must swear on the Bible, as opposed to Plato or the Iroquois Confederacy." (emphasis added)

"The Presidential oath of office is described in Article II, section 1 of the Constitution:

"Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation:--"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

Nothing in this section requires that the oath of office be taken on the Bible. Neither do the words "so help me God" appear in the oath. While Presidents often include this phrase in their inauguration ceremonies, the words are customary; they are not required by the Constitution and have no legal significance.

Additionally, we note that the words required by the Constitution are described as an "Oath or Affirmation," and that the President is allowed to simply affirm his faithfulness to the Constitution. The word "affirmation" was inserted in this section precisely to allow Presidents to avoid swearing oaths to God as a condition of taking office. This provision seems particularly intended for Quakers (who had religious objections to taking oaths), but it is worded broadly enough to encompass any person who objects to taking an oath, including non-theists.

At the time of the Constitution several states allowed Quakers to escape taking an oath as a condition of assuming elected office. The 1780 Constitution of the state of Massachusetts, for example, provided that:

"when any person shall be of the denomination called Quakers, and shall decline taking said oath, he shall make his affirmation in the foregoing form, omitting the words "swear" and inserting, instead thereof, the word "affirm," and omitting the words "So help me God," and subjoining, instead thereof, the words, "This I do under the pains and penalties of perjury.""

Conversely, the 1776 Delaware and 1777 Vermont constitutions did not restrict affirmations to Quakers. Like the Federal Constitution, these states allowed any citizen otherwise qualified for public office to affirm loyalty to a state, if conscientiously scrupulous of taking an oath. Still, the federal Constitution went far beyond the practices of even these states by prohibiting religious tests for public office (see below).


Finally, we note that even the "oath" form of the words prescribed by Article II, section 1 is secular in content. Unlike the oaths required in some states, the federal Constitution does not specify to whom the President "swears." God is not mentioned; it is almost as if the framers purposely worded the oath to allow the President decide for himself who, if anything, is being sworn to.


from here

Also, it would be hard to lay one's hand on Plato or the Six Nations . . .

"It is why supposed deists such as Jefferson signed all their letters "Our Lord Christ", and not "Our Lord the non-specific deity."

Signed? Signed isn't the right term, really. Do you know the context of this phrase in these letters? I'll give you a hint - what does A.D. stand for?

>"Even genocide can be morally justified; if God >says "kill all the Ammonites, every man, woman >and child" than genocide in that case becomes a >moral good. Is this a superior morality? What >"absolute value" is fulfilled here?"

"Yes. The value is God exercising His soveriegnty over all things, establishing His chosen people, Israel, as a nation."

See, the problem here, for me at least, is if this is accurate, than I can only imagine God as such a monster - a very powerful and goal-oriented monster, granted - that any human with a hint of dignity or morality would be bound to defy and oppose him in any possible way.

I'm not sure this is quite the effect you're going for.

-Dan S.

loboinok said...

"I'm always astonished at how ignorant of their own history some Americans can be."

I agree, so in all fairness, if you are going to refer to the last half of James Madison's life, you might want to balance it with some of his earlier life. Especially since his views and beliefs changed so much.

highboy said...

"See, the problem here, for me at least, is if this is accurate, than I can only imagine God as such a monster - a very powerful and goal-oriented monster, granted - that any human with a hint of dignity or morality would be bound to defy and oppose him in any possible way."

I suggest you read more into the Old Testament to see what kind of people He was wiping out. By the way, any hint of morality or dignity is there because God, the Monster, put it there.

Anonymous said...

Dan S. quotes . . .

Deuteronomy 2:30-35

"30But Sihon king of Heshbon would not let us pass by him: for the LORD thy God hardened his spirit, and made his heart obstinate, that he might deliver him into thy hand, as appeareth this day.
. . . .
 33And the LORD our God delivered him before us; and we smote him, and his sons, and all his people.

 34And we took all his cities at that time, and utterly destroyed the men, and the women, and the little ones, of every city, we left none to remain:

 35Only the cattle we took for a prey unto ourselves, and the spoil of the cities which we took."

Deuteronomy 3:3-6
"3So the LORD our God delivered into our hands Og also, the king of Bashan, and all his people: and we smote him until none was left to him remaining.
. . .

 6And we utterly destroyed them, as we did unto Sihon king of Heshbon, utterly destroying the men, women, and children, of every city."

Deuteronomy 7:2-6
" 2And when the LORD thy God shall deliver them before thee; thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor shew mercy unto them:

. . .
 5But thus shall ye deal with them; ye shall destroy their altars, and break down their images, and cut down their groves, and burn their graven images with fire.

 6For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God: the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth.

Deuteronomy 20:10-17

"10When thou comest nigh unto a city to fight against it, then proclaim peace unto it.

 11And it shall be, if it make thee answer of peace, and open unto thee, then it shall be, that all the people that is found therein shall be tributaries unto thee, and they shall serve thee.

 12And if it will make no peace with thee, but will make war against thee, then thou shalt besiege it:

 13And when the LORD thy God hath delivered it into thine hands, thou shalt smite every male thereof with the edge of the sword:

 14But the women, and the little ones, and the cattle, and all that is in the city, even all the spoil thereof, shalt thou take unto thyself; and thou shalt eat the spoil of thine enemies, which the LORD thy God hath given thee.

 15Thus shalt thou do unto all the cities which are very far off from thee, which are not of the cities of these nations.

 16But of the cities of these people, which the LORD thy God doth give thee for an inheritance, thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth:

 17But thou shalt utterly destroy them; namely, the Hittites, and the Amorites, the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee:

Haditha 11:19

"From the beginning, Iraqis in the town of Haditha said U.S. Marines deliberately killed 15 unarmed Iraqi civilians, including seven women and three children.

One young Iraqi girl said the Marines killed six members of her family, including her parents.  “The Americans came into the room where my father was praying,” she said, “and shot him.”
. . . .
A videotape taken by an Iraqi showed the aftermath of the alleged attack: a blood-smeared bedroom floor and bits of what appear to be human flesh and bullet holes on the walls.

The video, obtained by Time magazine, was broadcast a day after town residents told The Associated Press that American troops entered homes on Nov. 19 and shot dead 15 members of two families, including a 3-year-old girl, after a roadside bomb killed a U.S. Marine.

On Nov. 20, U.S. Marines spokesman Capt. Jeffrey Pool issued a statement saying that on the previous day a roadside bomb had killed 15 civilians and a Marine. In a later gunbattle, U.S. and Iraqi troops killed eight insurgents, he said.

U.S. military officials later confirmed that the version of events was wrong.
. . . .
Military officials say Marine Corp photos taken immediately after the incident show many of the victims were shot at close range, in the head and chest, execution-style. One photo shows a mother and young child bent over on the floor as if in prayer, shot dead, said the officials, who spoke to NBC News on condition of anonymity because the investigation hasn't been completed.

One military official says it appears the civilians were deliberately killed by the Marines, who were outraged at the death of their fellow Marine.

“This one is ugly," one official told NBC News.

Three Marine officers — commanders in Haditha — have been relieved of duty, and at least 12 Marines in all are under investigation for what would be the worst single incident involving the deliberate killing of civilians by U.S. military in Iraq."

Anonymous said...

"I suggest you read more into the Old Testament to see what kind of people He was wiping out."

See, genocide is ok, because they were bad people!

-Dan S.

highboy said...

"See, genocide is ok, because they were bad people!"

And? If an entire nation was Hell-bent on destroying us, would you not wipe them out? What would be shocking about this anyway? God destroyed the whole world BECAUSE IT WAS BAD. He'll destroy it again BECAUSE IT'S STILl BAD.

What is your point by emphasiing the word "children" over and over again? Clean up your own back yard, where liberals are killing babies by the thousands every year, than presume to judge God.

"One young Iraqi girl SAID the Marines killed six members of her family, including her parents."

Proof?

"was broadcast a day after town residents TOLD The Associated Press that American troops entered homes on Nov. 19 and shot dead 15 members of two families, including a 3-year-old girl, after a roadside bomb killed a U.S. Marine."

Proof?

Seems to me there is still an investigation going on. You might want to wait for the facts instead of the he said/she said stuff. What would shock you about God killing off people anyway? He had Israel kill the pagans off in certain areas so He could give them their land. Is America any different? We killed the pagans, (not all, but an extremely large chunk) and took their land. If what God did appalls you you might consider moving.

creeper said...

"If an entire nation was Hell-bent on destroying us, would you not wipe them out?"

Very human of you. For God there is no "us" and "them". He is all, no?

"See, genocide is ok, because they were bad people!"

Those absolutes only go so far, Dan.

highboy said...

"Very human of you. For God there is no "us" and "them". He is all, no?"

No, He is not. Unless I'm misunderstanding you. (totally possible) I'll ask to explain what you mean before saying something stupid.

highboy said...

As far as absolutes go, you guys keep twisting the argument. The absolute truth that Christians are refering to is the ONE way to Heaven: Jesus Christ. There a million ways to serve Him, as the Bible clearly illustrates. Absolute morality, in the Christian perspective, is obeying whatever God commands, and He gives us the Holy Spirit to discern. For example: My friend invites me out to dinner, but he doesn't eat pork. Therefore, it would be wrong of me to eat pork in front of him. Another friend invites me to dinner and offers to buy me pork. It would then be wrong of me NOT to eat pork. The absolute in this case is not eat or don't eat pork, but rather don't let something like food come between you and a friend. Did this make sense to anyone but me?

Anonymous said...

" Did this make sense to anyone but me?"
Yep. Seems quite sensible. The example, anyway.

-Dan S.

creeper said...

Highboy,

"No, He is not. Unless I'm misunderstanding you."

Specifically in what way is God not all?

"As far as absolutes go, you guys keep twisting the argument. The absolute truth that Christians are refering to is the ONE way to Heaven: Jesus Christ."

We weren't talking about absolute truth, but about an absolute moral standard. Besides, Jesus Christ being the ONE way to Heaven is not an absolute truth, but an article of faith.

"There a million ways to serve Him, as the Bible clearly illustrates. Absolute morality, in the Christian perspective, is obeying whatever God commands, and He gives us the Holy Spirit to discern."

He gives you the Holy Spirit to discern, or he gives you absolute rules to discern? Big difference.

"For example: My friend invites me out to dinner, but he doesn't eat pork. Therefore, it would be wrong of me to eat pork in front of him. Another friend invites me to dinner and offers to buy me pork. It would then be wrong of me NOT to eat pork. The absolute in this case is not eat or don't eat pork, but rather don't let something like food come between you and a friend. Did this make sense to anyone but me?"

It does, but not in the way you probably intended it, which I presume to be: as a defense of moral absolutism.

Where does God absolutely command not to let something like food come between you and a friend?

The whole thing appears to be no less relative than that which you're so eager to criticize, whether you want to call it secular humanism or whatever.

The wikipedia entry on 'Evil' makes this interesting point:

"Views on the nature of evil tend to fall into one of two opposed camps. One, moral absolutism, holds that good and evil are fixed concepts established by God, nature, morality, common sense, or some other source. The other, moral relativism, holds that standards of good and evil are only products of local culture, custom, or prejudice. Moral universalism is the attempt to find a compromise between the absolutist sense of morality, and the relativist view; universalism claims that morality is only flexible to a degree, and that what is truly good or evil can be determined by examining what is commonly considered to be evil amongst all humans."

FWIW.

highboy said...

"Specifically in what way is God not all?"

God isn't sin, evil, wood, metal, air, water, earth, wind, fire...

Though something tells me I'm still misunderstanding you. For some reason, and I'm not saying its you, you are the one I always misunderstand.

"Where does God absolutely command not to let something like food come between you and a friend?"

In almost every single one of Paul's letters.

loboinok said...

"Where does God absolutely command not to let something like food come between you and a friend?"

Romans 14:14-23

creeper said...

"God isn't sin, evil, wood, metal, air, water, earth, wind, fire..."

It seems to me you've constructed a very small God for yourself, a kind of caricature mini-God. Maybe the one you have in mind is different from the Creator one - the one you talk about picks sides with and against entire peoples, all a bit strange. Isn't he bigger than that?

loboinok, thanks for the specific reference.