Speaker by Various Artists

Read Post

Speaker: A conversation from belief

48 Responses

First ←Older Page 1 2 Newer→ Last

  • Francis Ritchie, in reply to BenWilson,

    The comeback is that the universal truth could exist without God’s involvement too.

    True. That's what I point out in the article I wrote on the Stephen Fry comments where I state a case a non-theist could make in response to it.

    Since Apr 2015 • 23 posts Report Reply

  • Francis Ritchie, in reply to Emma Hart,

    but seems to be the majority view in the US, that atheists are fundamentally untrustworthy.

    Because of US culture I wonder how many of the respondents have real live atheists in their lives ;) The beauty of living in New Zealand is the diversity of cultures and views.

    Since Apr 2015 • 23 posts Report Reply

  • David Hood, in reply to Francis Ritchie,

    I can, but it is a very quick and dirty graph from the data sitting on Wikipedia (intentional homicide rate by country/ irreligion rate by country) and one of the issues is that while homicide is a reliable indicator (it gets reported) it is a rare event (so the rate moves a bit between years). This means that it is a bit risky reading too much into individual positions.

    That said there are number of Latin American countries in the high religion high homicide upper left quadrant.

    Dunedin • Since May 2007 • 1445 posts Report Reply

  • andin,

    universal truth set by God (and implanted in various ways, such as culture).

    It’s not an argument that I can spend much time with beyond this as it’s not something I have delved into much (and I can see a million different ways to contradict it, each of which would require answers I’m not overly qualified to give),

    See thats just frustratingly vague. Lets just all close our eyes for a minute and look to the heavens. But it seems that is what this thing called faith is, a whole lot of airy answers to questions that need clarity. Anyhoo good luck with all that.
    And good luck with your projects. I see your childhood was spent amongst the "faithful" I wonder how that shaped what you are now, obviously a lot, but probably in ways you may not be fully aware of.

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1882 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Lyall,

    The problem with as I see it is that Religion is no longer a source of answers:

    A 2000+ year old document telling explaining how the universe was created, the history of the middle east and how we should treat each other (including foreigners, homosexuals, and women) we now find is 2000 years out of date in pretty much all of them.

    Unfortunately unlike a science book, law book or a political party manifesto it is hard to update (and while one sect may update the emphasis another won't) .

    So while someone like Frances will argue all the smart bits about Jesus and Faith whole glossing over the weird/nasty bits the Real Christians will point out that evolution is obviously a myth since it says in Chapter 1 exactly how the universe and earth was created and populated.

    There are plenty of other books out there telling you how to live your life, be a nice person etc. Some of these will even give better diet advice. Following one of them is probably better without the 2000 year old dodgy science , morals and requirement for worship, jihad, etc.

    Auckland • Since Feb 2007 • 57 posts Report Reply

  • Francis Ritchie, in reply to andin,

    See thats just frustratingly vague. Lets just all close our eyes for a minute and look to the heavens. But it seems that is what this thing called faith is, a whole lot of airy answers to questions that need clarity. Anyhoo good luck with all that.

    Andin, please accept my sincere and genuine apology that I can’t give you the debate/answers you may want/need on that stuff. I’m sure someone more inclined towards debating such things could. It’s not my area of expertise so venturing down that lane is out of my depth and not where I wish to sink my time and efforts.

    My concerns in life are for the well-being of people and as a public minister, what I spend my time doing is jumping into life with people over things as simple as coffee, hearing where they’re at and offering whatever I can into the reality of their life to let them know someone’s with them… whether we see eye to eye on the big stories or not.

    In the street that means that not only do I sit down with people who seek out my listening ear, but I also end up praying for strangers (a clerical collar is a magnet for all sorts of things), listening to people vent their frustration and anger about church and their experiences of it in the past, being spat on… that’s happened once and I still don’t know why… and I’ve even had a colourful discussion with a drunk in an Irish pub as I was trying to have a quiet Guinness with a friend. I also get people simply asking for a blessing and so I offer a kind word of hope into the middle of their life when asked for such a thing.

    Honestly, a lot of the time I’m just stumbling along doing my best to help in the middle of the ups and downs of life. Sometimes I succeed, sometimes I fail. But succeed or fail, I hope those real encounters with people leave their lives enriched somewhat from the connection.

    And good luck with your projects.

    Thank you.

    I see your childhood was spent amongst the “faithful” I wonder how that shaped what you are now, obviously a lot, but probably in ways you may not be fully aware of.

    Firstly, it shaped me in many many ways. Some of the experiences I had in that context were horrific, but I won’t go into detail as it’s not necessary. Along with the wonder and beauty of experiencing such a life, it’s probably the horrible experiences I had that have left the deepest impression and shaped me in ways that make me resonate deeply with those who feel hurt and anger towards the Christian community.

    In answer to the second part, you’re right, I’ll never be fully aware of how my context has shaped me. I don’t think any of us will ever be fully aware of that. We’re all products of our environment. Does that make me an ignorant fool who only believes as I do because of my context? Maybe (and most probably yes to a degree), but if it’s true of me then it can be as true of those who disagree with me. So hopefully we can all extend patience, empathy, humility etc towards one another.

    Since Apr 2015 • 23 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford, in reply to Simon Lyall,

    There are plenty of other books out there telling you how to live your life, be a nice person etc.

    I think you might have missed the point. Religion helps people to make sence of things that don’t make sence. I get the idea that Francis is attempting to demonstrate to us, how he reads his good book as a living document.

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4327 posts Report Reply

  • Oliver Thompson, in reply to Francis Ritchie,

    Hey Francis, and hi regulars here. Religion and the associated philosophy is a subject that’s interested me most of my life and had a big, practical influence – I grew up in the church, and moved with my family to Dunedin as a primary school child so that my father could study theology at Knox College. He never went on to become a minister, due to complicated and sad family implosions, but I thoroughly enjoyed my association with the faithful and thoughtful Presbyterians we met there. Caversham Presbytarian Church Youth Group circa 1990 had a collection of kind, welcoming and intellectually curious people that I’m pleased to have met.

    The religion wore off but I recall that sense of community very fondly and still find some of Jesus’ sometimes counter-intuitive advice very helpful, though I’m inclined to re-interpret “Thou shall love thy neighbour as thyself” through Lennon: All you need is love. This feels profoundly true and has helped me through some really dark days.

    As an atheist teenager and adult I’ve been through some argumentative stages, as you describe in your own story Francis, and I’m not really interested in arguing metaphysics any more. Your approach of religious story and life story seems much more productive, thanks.

    Lower Hutt • Since Apr 2011 • 9 posts Report Reply

  • Francis Ritchie, in reply to Simon Lyall,

    So while someone like Frances will argue all the smart bits about Jesus and Faith whole glossing over the weird/nasty bits

    Simon, thanks for your comment. Allow me to note that it was never my intent to argue for Christianity here. Nor was my intent to explain everything related to the Christian faith or the Bible. I’m not here to make a case for Christianity. To do that adequately would take a very long time indeed and would necessarily grapple with everything you have mentioned.

    Because of the intent of the original post and remaining in the conversation carrying the same intent, it’s not that I have tried to gloss over everything, it’s that I’m not here to deal with that stuff. After years of arguing around those issues on the internet, I’ve come to find it a woefully poor place to engage in such discussions. So you’ll have to forgive me for not going there if that’s what you would like to be discussing. I’m woefully aware that I would never be able to satisfy your problems with the Christian faith.

    If you want to read a little more on how I understand the Bible, again, with the awareness that I’m not here to argue for what I believe as right, this might interest you (or not) The Bible: It’s Not a Rule Book. You’ll need to read it with the understanding that most of the people who read my blog are Christian, so I largely had them in mind.

    To get a grasp on how I approach Genesis (sometimes differing from those Real Christians,) I would suggest reading John Walton’s NIV Application Commentary on that specific book within the Bible, with a focus on those first few chapters. I wouldn’t expect you to agree with it, but it’s worth a read.

    Since Apr 2015 • 23 posts Report Reply

  • Francis Ritchie, in reply to Oliver Thompson,

    Thanks, Oliver. As a fan of Lennon myself I loved that mention of him! I know many Christians dismiss his song, Imagine, but I find a lot in it that resonates with my faith.

    Thanks for sharing about the warmth of what you encountered growing up as well, even though that's not where you are now. It would be easy, with a change in view, to become cynical and jaded about what you grew up with. I really appreciate your approach.

    Since Apr 2015 • 23 posts Report Reply

  • Chopper,

    Nice post Francis. I found myself nodding a lot as I read it (and not in a going to sleep way).

    Since Jul 2008 • 19 posts Report Reply

  • Francis Ritchie, in reply to Chopper,

    Nice post Francis. I found myself nodding a lot as I read it (and not in a going to sleep way).

    I'm glad you managed to stay awake! :)

    Since Apr 2015 • 23 posts Report Reply

  • linger,

    Mitch Benn points out the limits of Lennon's song:

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1890 posts Report Reply

  • Francis Ritchie, in reply to linger,

    Brilliant!

    Since Apr 2015 • 23 posts Report Reply

  • andin,

    So hopefully we can all extend patience, empathy, humility etc towards one another.

    That go for stephen joyce (and others) as well? :-))

    Hey I know many of the religious persuasion try to live good lifes. But being as such, is not a guarantee. We all screw up. And if you'll excuse a generalization. Its when we have the best of intentions we'll screw up the most.
    One thing I learnt from religion, people are at their best when they have a selfless common goal to unite them. Funnily enough when war broke out is a good example
    Tho' there is a part of, not all of us, people thats easily swayed sometimes, to do dumb things. And when they get together ,phew!
    People will cope with adverse conditions, man made at present, as best they are able.
    Yeah they'll bludge, steal, con, accumulate obscene wealth and want forgiveness from some quarter. The human condition as it is said.
    You want to help, great.
    Just my opinion, but sometimes the powers that be take a too dominant role in our lives to our detriment. When we should be working together to solve our collective woes. Not locked into perpetuating a (lets be dramatic) death machine. And in NZand a few other places... now is one of those moments, they're just fleeting years, lifetimes... dunno.

    Oh Yeah

    I would never be able to satisfy your problems with the Christian faith.

    Its not the Christian faith (I know you only speak for your own faith) its just that its such a common phenomenon in all cultures so maybe it isnt a god its in us.
    So I have got my receiver turned off or what!

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1882 posts Report Reply

  • Francis Ritchie, in reply to andin,

    For what it's worth I wholeheartedly agree with pretty much all of that comment. And far from having your receiver turned off, judging by that comment, it's functioning very well indeed ;)

    Since Apr 2015 • 23 posts Report Reply

  • Lee R,

    Hello Francis,

    I think this is what stands in the way, hypothetically, between you and me, or people like me and people like you, no matter how well you listen, or how much effort you give to assisting people in need:

    "... all people are endowed with a morality that is seated in a universal truth set by God (and implanted in various ways, such as culture)."

    Do I need to explain how this undermines your claim that your god exists "inside you"? Do I need to explain the massive social divisions this sugests is the purpose of your god? No, I do not. Firstly because you can go there by memory yourself - something along the lines of "Jesus" coming to break up families and the bonds between people, pitting them against each other - and because I do not want to be responsible for damaging your faith, even if you are responsible for perhaps inadvertently taunting those outside your faith - which may be why people have spat on you in the past.

    This is not because I consider myself "more moral" than you. My style of morality - and immorality - exists without both your internal god, or your more apparent external god. I thought I knew your prefered god once, then he showed me who he really was and we've been "at war" ever since. You will be cheered to know that, so far, he is winning, but I would rather lose; I'd rather be wiped away by the same god that restored Job, than bow in silence to Him.

    To end on a cheery note, if I come across a real god, one that doesn't say one thing and do another; one that, if he wanted to pick a fight, would finish off a mere mortal in a millisecond, I'll let you know. There's no reason why a moral "god" can't exist, even if the christian god treats humanity as a narcisstic source to escape his own struggle for consciouness.

    Auckland • Since Apr 2015 • 1 posts Report Reply

  • Francis Ritchie, in reply to Lee R,

    Lee, firstly and genuinely, thank you for your honesty.

    Allow me to address a couple of things:

    Do I need to explain how this undermines your claim that your god exists “inside you”? Do I need to explain the massive social divisions this suggests is the purpose of your god? No, I do not.

    The bit you’ve pointed out was me explaining the argument that some use in relation to questions that were asked early in the conversation after I said this:

    I’m also not someone who thinks that anyone who doesn’t line up with my own worldview has no basis for an ethical or moral approach to life.

    I have not claimed the bit you quoted as my own view.

    You’ve also attributed a claim to me that I have not made; God being internal. Nor have I made a claim that he is external. My initial post is quite devoid, deliberately, of any argument for or against God and any major case on who God is and what God may be like (the closest I get to that is talking about I understand Jesus); though if I were to go there I would make a case for God being external AND internal… I don’t think the two are mutually exclusive.

    and because I do not want to be responsible for damaging your faith, even if you are responsible for perhaps inadvertently taunting those outside your faith – which may be why people have spat on you in the past.

    Don’t worry, an internet comment won’t damage my faith. I’m a little more robust than that, having dealt with much heavier things in my life :)

    I find it interesting that you would assume that someone may have spat on me because I might have taunted (deliberately or not) them. It happened once and was a random person in the street. I was walking down a busy street, minding my own business. I had not noticed the person walking past me until they spat on me and then they kept going.

    I feel no animosity towards them. I choose to wear a clerical collar in public. This makes me a magnet for people’s positive and negative feelings towards the Church and the Christian community. Having experienced horrific things in my own life, I can understand why some people feel nothing but anger towards what I publicly represent. I have to deal with people’s assumptions all the time and whatever they choose to project onto me. I’ve chosen to take the good and the bad that come with that.

    In terms of the rest of what you’ve said, that sounds like a rough journey. Somewhere in it, however it turns out, I hope you find peace. If you ever want to vent about it to a listening ear, let me know. I would gladly sit over a coffee and listen. It’s highly likely that I wouldn’t have any great answers and you could probably run rings around me philosophically, but I’m willing to listen and take whatever you might need to throw on the table.

    Since Apr 2015 • 23 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

    A bit of light relief, from the anxiety of taking it all to seriously:)

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4327 posts Report Reply

  • Francis Ritchie,

    I love it, Steven. That made me laugh :) For what it's worth I believe in both the Big Bang, followed by evolution, AND Genesis. Trying to explain that in this forum would take far too long though, so again I'll just point to John Walton's NIV Application Commentary on Genesis as worth a read.

    PS is that John Saffron (spelling?)? I loved his television series looking at (and experiencing) different religions. Plenty of laughs but great insight as well.

    Since Apr 2015 • 23 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

    Safran. He’s provocative.

    I kind of understand what you mean about having two world views. I atended my school teachers Tangi, at the Whare Nui, and his burial in the yard, which was next to the classroom.

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4327 posts Report Reply

  • Francis Ritchie, in reply to steven crawford,

    Safran. That’s him :) Thanks. I found the series wonderfully provocative, full of sarcasm, but honest and even handed in its approach.

    I’m sure that Tangi was a good experience.

    I should note that I don’t see evolution and the Genesis narratives as contradictory worldviews or understandings of the truth of life (obviously both atheists and literal 6 day creationists will strongly disagree with me) if we take into account the context and cultural expression that birthed the Genesis narratives first rather than our own cultural approach to such writings. I think I mentioned it earlier, but John Walton’s NIV Application Commentary is a good read for exploring this, rather than trying to explain it all here :)

    Since Apr 2015 • 23 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford, in reply to Francis Ritchie,

    I should note that I don’t see evolution and the Genesis narratives as contradictory worldviews or understandings of the truth of life …

    When went to Northland polytechnic –as an adult student– to learn how to read and write, I chose whakairo as an elected. I discovered the idea that Clasical Maori had religion rather than mythology.

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4327 posts Report Reply

First ←Older Page 1 2 Newer→ Last

Post your response…

Please sign in using your Public Address credentials…

Login

You may also create an account or retrieve your password.