Christian Atheism at Speaker's Corner

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58 Responses to “Christian Atheism at Speaker's Corner”

  1. Santa's Knee says:

    @21: “Putanarian Universalism”?

  2. brooklyntwang says:

    is that C. Everett Coop, former Surgeon General?

  3. Takuan says:

    “Christianity, which only has a few violent spots in its history”

    yeah. right.

  4. Takuan says:

    Aye, we throw the sweaty thighs of our souls wide in acceptance of all paying doctrines.

  5. Jeff says:

    Puttanesca: From Wiki: “The name originated in Naples after the local prostitutes, Pasta alla Puttanesca meaning “Pasta in the way a whore would make it”. The reason why the dish gained such a name is debated. One possibility is that the name is a reference to the sauce’s hot, spicy flavour and pungent smell. Another is that the dish was offered to prospective customers at a low price to entice them into a brothel. According to chef Jeff Smith of the Frugal Gourmet, its name came from the fact that it was a quick, cheap meal that prostitutes could prepare between customers”

    Wow, what would work better to bring in johns than hookers that smell like fish and garlic?

  6. Takuan says:

    Johns, or souls, all organized religion is rooted in sex – either getting it or denying it for others

  7. abrad says:

    I think Paul confused this guy ,rather accept God,but respect Jesus.Dualism & Trinism must be rejected.

  8. Jeff says:

    #41 said, “True. Not really an ontological proof, but Christianity is momentous and decrying it is like decrying video games – you may try to change it, but you ain’t gonna stop it.”

    My point is, don’t you think a meme has to have some guts to stay active for 2,000 years? It’s not that Jesus has exclusive rights to strong memes, but that people can catch it and spread it so well. And as it happened in my home land, it was brought with love and compassion and it is passed on that way. As memes go, it’s a very good one. And if you don’t agree, well then, I guess you’re going to Hell.

    ha ha ha

  9. License Farm says:

    @ #10: “Jew” is usually seen as a racial grouping, not just a religious one; “Christian” isn’t.

    There is no such thing as “the Jewish race,” especially the whole idea the gene for it being carried by the mother. That idea was an invention of the Roman Empire that certain Jews took upon themselves. There is only patterns of breeding within the same pools, same as you find in any cohesive culture. Both misapprehensions have contributed to the persecution and stagnancies of Judaism in recent history.

    Also, there is a perspective on Judaism that “God” is not an entity to be believed or disbelieved in, but is the inevitable result of one living according to the ideals and framework of Judaism as prescribed. Therefore, the question of “believing” in God is rendered moot; Jews collectively create God through belief in themselves, not vice versa. IF there was a Jesus (a B-prime-style statement I don’t think is made enough), it’s more likely that the particular brand of Judaism he was preaching was closer to this idea, given his conflicts with the institutionalized temple of the time as an inert idol unto itself. Ergo, I doubt that a Jesus like that would want to be worshipped as an idol himself.

    @ #4: He could turn your lawn into weed.

    @ #7: Way to miss the point by retreating into catchphrases. How about that he’s not “wrong,” he just has a different perspective than you and most institutionalized Christianity?

  10. Anonymous says:

    just to report that the chap pictured at the top of this story, who was a regular at the corner, sadly died about 6 months ago.

  11. The Reverend says:

    @#45 License Farm: For someone calling himself The Reverend that’s a pretty literalist and anthropomorphasizing assumption.

    More of a simplication, really- The contemporaries of the early jews came from tribal/clan systems where there were a multitude of regional and tribal dieties. As near as we can tell, even if you didn’t worship them yourself, there was a tendancy to at least accept the existance of your neighbor’s gods in that sort of amalgamated society. Not doing so made it sort of hard to get along with the neighbors. There’s no hard evidence that the Jew’s DIDN’T share that attitude at one point, and the “literalist” reading seems to be one of several things that point towards it.

    If we look at the Jewish Kaballah (vaious attributed spellings), we find a concept of “god” as the sum total of all that is, divided up into various heirarchies, with the Tree of Life as a model of the journey from the lower plane (ours) to the godhead. In this model, there’s a great-one-with-everythingness, at the top and below that are a number of varied and less powerful entities that lower beings can relate to since they can’t comprehend god itself.

    Zoroaster came up with this whole universal good / universal evil concept, and it’s easy to see where it could have tied in with the Kabballistic concept of the godhead. Things kind of got murky, and the idea spread.

  12. jimtealiii says:

    Are his pockets taped on?

  13. Cpt. Tim says:

    I’m almost afraid to say anything in this one.

    Last night i was playing steak with a jew and an athiest (Steak is a game in which one goes to the local supermarket, you buy some stakes, take them back to one of the persons houses, grill them, eat them and then you win.) and we were talking about jews for jesus, and I suggested atheists for jesus.

    One of my friends said that wouldn’t work, but there are those (like myself) who believe Jesus existed as one of a myriad of would be messiahs, and did his spiel on earth and died. He had a following and people like Saul who were not successful in destroying the early church, hijacked it instead. (God in his infinite wisdom, who rarely speaks directly to humans, even in the bible made sure to tell Saul right away that he didn’t have to give up his roman diet. I wish he would have had something more useful for us.)

    With that in mind, if you knew what Jesus had actually said before the stories were spiced up he could easily be a followable philosopher. You can even do that now if you strip the supernatural stuff out you could be a follower. (i probably wouldn’t kill any fig trees.)

  14. noen says:

    25 @ Jeff
    “Another is that the dish was offered to prospective customers at a low price to entice them into a brothel.”

    Riiiiiight. That’s what all the Johns say don’t they? Those evil prostitutes and their enticing sauces!

    And tomorrow we introduce Jeff to twentieth century thought.

  15. SpocksBrain says:

    These people are very confused. Then again, why not? Faith justifies anything.

  16. Jeff says:

    @28, “Also, there is a perspective on Judaism that “God” is not an entity to be believed or disbelieved in, but is the inevitable result of one living according to the ideals and framework of Judaism as prescribed. ”

    The Humanists would agree with you. Those who believe in God would not. The reformed Jews that I know all say they believe in God. I only know a few Orthadox Jews and they seem to beleive also. Being a Jew is about understanding that Abraham was the first, and from that point forward there was a relationship with God and the Jews. “Worship no gods other than Me!” If you are not a monotheist, and you are not mindful of your relationship with God, then you are not a Jew. Of course, you can be a Jew and believe in Jesus also. Being a Jew or a Muslim or a Christian is about God. Not just being a good person.

  17. Jeff says:

    CPT Tim said, “…there are those (like myself) who believe Jesus existed as one of a myriad of would be messiahs…”

    Would be? How much staying power do you require? Obviously he wasn’t like every one else, and after 2,000 years I might venture to guess that the Good Word is as good as ever. Who else has moved humanity like Jesus? And for as long? I think there must be something real there for so many people to relate to. I’m not saying that humans have always used Jesus in the right ways, because it’s very obvious that there have been many bad things done in his name.

  18. Takuan says:

    and in the Amazon basin, entire tribes are still born, live rich, complex spiritual lives and die without ever having heard anything of Abrahamic religions.

  19. encarnacion says:

    #8 (StickArm), #9 (LEV3K) and #28 (LicenseFarm)
    You got me, I was being too cliche. Sometimes in posts I get into the tl;dr range, but in repairing that I ought not oversimplify. To LiscenseFarm alone, when it comes to the matter of just who God is not a matter of “different perspective”

    #15 (Jeff)
    I believe you were quoting #9, (LEV3K). I like your understanding of Christ’s teachings and Christianity, good on you mate.

    #17 (Tom) said: “An example of this is “Christian” positions on divorce and remarriage. Jesus was down on the former and flatly opposed to the latter, with no wiggle room. Yet one can find many “Christians” who have no problem with either divorce or remarriage”

    I know I’m really going off topic here, but it is something that needs to be addressed. It is true that many who call themselves Christians see no trouble in postconversion divorce and remarriage. But talk to others, and you will get a completely different story. See, while the divorce rate is about the same in or out of the church, let me intoduce you to a different rate: 20/80. Of the 20% in the church who do 80% of the work in the church, we (I count myself as one of those) cannot see divorce and remarrige so lightly. You see, it is we who are attempting to counsel divorcees as to what on Earth is going on, we who attempt to stand in for the parent that is just too busy with thier “other” family to be at the (insert awesome/tragic event in thier kid’s life here), and we who pick up the pieces of a divorce because one or both parties decided they did not want to. So in case anyone who is reading this wonders why some of those weird Christians just really can’t be chill about a “tiny little divorce”, there’s the answer. Also, this is why that it is so rare to ever hear of a postconversion divorce of someone in the 20% group.

  20. jimtealiii says:

    @#30 Cpt. Tim: Even though Paul was a Roman citizen, he was a member of the Sanhedrin and would’ve followed a strict Jewish diet. It was Peter who God told not to discriminate against the Gentiles because they ate pork.

    Since the teachings of Jesus are all about how to follow God, presumably it would be difficult, or at least frustrating, to reject God and try to follow Jesus.

    And I see you are the same guy I replied to yesterday. So… I’ll quit now.

  21. Philipshade says:

    Wouldn’t it be Jesusian Atheist?
    Since the Christ is technically the nomenclature for messiah. I mean if you don’t think Jesus was the messiah, then you wouldn’t call him the Christ.

  22. Davin says:

    That beats the hell out of the fire and brimstone college campus brigades.

    The picture is surreal. He’s like some kind of magical modern Dadaist.

  23. lev3k says:

    I wonder if he keeps a copy of the Jefferson Bible with him.

  24. Kid says:

    I like how the picture is named “xtianatheism.jpg”

  25. ill lich says:

    A photo is not enough. I would have stuck around with an audio recorder.

  26. marklyon says:

    I found a similar, but much grander, sign outpost near Vicksburg, Mississippi.

    Mark Lyon’s Travels – Kings Point Ferry

  27. mdhatter says:

    Jesus was way cool, he could even play hockey better than Wayne Gretsky.

  28. grey says:

    I swear I see Flannery O’Connor hiding behind that line of distant trees.

  29. borsic says:

    Oh man. If this is the same guy (which seems reasonable, because recruiting for his cause might be hard), then he has been standing on Speaker’s Corner since at least 1997!

  30. Cpt. Tim says:

    “Would be? How much staying power do you require?”

    Are you saying that because the jesus meme persisted it is a testament to its validity? does that mean all religions that have persisted x amount of years are correct?

    jimtealiii: You’re right about peter having the vision. My mistake. it still seems like a trifle compared to would could have been imparted. but i do like pork, so who am i to argue?

    “Since the teachings of Jesus are all about how to follow God, presumably it would be difficult, or at least frustrating, to reject God and try to follow Jesus.”

    Not if you take into context what i just said. I happen to believe that the bible is inaccurate representations of ordinary historical facts. Theres plenty of things jesus said that are useful in a non religious context.

  31. Keneke says:

    #34:

    “Who else has moved humanity like Jesus?”

    True. Not really an ontological proof, but Christianity is momentous and decrying it is like decrying video games – you may try to change it, but you ain’t gonna stop it.

  32. The Reverend says:

    @33:

    Actually, as far as I can tell, the monotheism concept was Zoroastrian, rather than Jewish. In the Hebrew scriptures, God tends to use the word “I” far less than he uses “We” and “Us” to describe himself. Why would the first commandment exist at all if there WEREN’T “other gods” to have before him in the first place.

    It seems pretty clear to me that the whole point to Judisam is that a specific diety and a specific tribe reached a mutually exclusive arrangement.

    It also seems clear to me that the whole point of Christianity is to follow Jesus- who basically said “the way to get to God is to be like me: feed the poor, heal the sick, love your fellow man, etc.”

    I would argue that you could be a christian atheist if you follow Jesus’ teachings purely because you feel that doing good is it’s own reward, regardless of what may come later. Of course, if the only reason you love your neighbor is to get rewarded after you die, then it doesn’t hold unless you have that whole Heaven/Hell=carrot/stick motivation that comes with an allmighty divine.

    Just my $0.02

  33. encarnacion says:

    um, no. “Christian Atheism” is to Theology as 2 is to binary. and the sign should read, “To follow Jesus reject sin.”

  34. Stickarm says:

    @7 “‘Christian Atheism’ is to Theology as 2 is to binary.”

    2 in binary is 10. Your simile is kind of confusing.

  35. Keneke says:

    Funny how, with the complexity of humans and the vast amount of emotional depth each person has, that we still cling to 2 dimensional versions of Christianity. Does a belief in Santa Claus mean that you stay stuck in that belief because of itself? No, you grow out of it when you are ready. Same for the hell aspect of Christianity – you grow out of it, even while remaining within the church (or not), as your relationship with God grows. This is probably the biggest misconception of Christianity today.

    I feel it’s the same way for movies – violent movies do not corrupt society, violent movies are a reflection of the corruption already there. Therefore, if you see Christians acting on simplistic morality, don’t blame the religion, blame the person.

  36. lev3k says:

    #7 (Encarnacion)

    Why would it be impossible for a Christian to be atheist? There are atheist Jews.

  37. Cpt. Tim says:

    “don’t blame the religion, blame the person.”

    what if the persons personal journey puts them at a point where they’re still following bits of religion to instruct them to kill other people for various things. its not their fault they haven’t evolved past it yet right?

  38. sweep says:

    @#9

    “Jew” is usually seen as a racial grouping, not just a religious one; “Christian” isn’t.
    Christian would normally of course refer to someone who believes that Jesus was the son of god, but this guy is using it to mean a follower of Christ’s teachings. There’s nothing wrong with that IMO.
    The man obviously likes what Jesus had to say, but doesn’t believe in imaginary friends.

  39. michaeldelves says:

    This guy is great! I’ve chatted to him on a number of occasions. Basically he believes that world peace is the ultimate goal for mankind, and that the route there is by following Jesus but not believing in God. This might be a noble cause, but is slightly hampered by the fact that he is probably the most miserable evangelist I’ve ever met. My personal favourite is Olumba Olumba Obu (King of Kings and Lord or Lords) Photo in action, His website.

  40. lev3k says:

    #10

    I’m aware of that. By atheist Jews, I mean people who follow Jewish traditions and practices, but do not necessarily believe in a deity that lies behind those traditions.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humanistic_Judaism

  41. noen says:

    If you meet Jesus on the road kill him.

  42. Purly says:

    God is dead! Long live God!

  43. Jelf says:

    Great photo, Cory!

  44. License Farm says:

    @ #52 Encarnacion: To LiscenseFarm alone, when it comes to the matter of just who God is not a matter of “different perspective”

    Actually, yeah, that’s exactly the case I’m making, as evinced in the pronouns we’re employing: you refer to God as a “who”; I refer to God as a “what.” This distinction may seem trivial to you, but I assure you, to me and many others it is not. And yet I do not begrudge you what to me seems a misconception of that ultimate truth, so I try to avoid employing value judgments as your statement of “not a matter of ‘different perspective’” seems to imply. It is ALWAYS a matter of different perspective; it is never anything but. None of us is an absolute authority, no matter what book we wave around; try to bear that in mind before you lecture anyone on exactly what a “good” “Christian” ought to be doing.

  45. Jeff says:

    #7, Encar. said, “There are atheist Jews.

    One of modern Judaism’s revolutionary figures, Rabbi Sherwin T. Wine, died recently. He was from the Detroit area and was the founder of Humanistic Judaism. He was a very knowledgable historian and I enjoyed listening to him speak. From his point of few, the culture of the Jews was the important part of living as a Jew. Very intelligent fellow, but he didn’t believe in God, and that sort of kills the basis for Judaism, as I see it. After all, the Jews are the Chosen People and have a convenient with He Whose Name Is Not Spoken. And you can’t be a Christian and be an atheist, unless you’re are simply following the teachings of Jesus and do not require most of what he said to have any divine relevancy. Following the Path is hard, and most people do it because they want to show God they are worthy of being saved. If you just want to be a humanist, be a Buddhist, which really requires very little in the way of the Devine.

  46. JohnnyWeird says:

    #9: More than you’d think. It was only recently (last decade or so, I think) that the Jewish Theological Seminary of America added a question to its application asking prospective students to describe their views of the divine.

    While it’s not the view I cleave to, Jewishly, it’s very easy to live as a Jew without believing in God. As opposed to Christianity, with its clear view of an afterlife central to its theology, Judaism can be practiced as a continuance of an ancient ethnic tradition.

    Apologies for the mild venom in this post; I’ve had strongly negative experiences with devout Christians and more humanistic Jews.

  47. License Farm says:

    @ #42 The Reverend: It seems pretty clear to me that the whole point to Judisam is that a specific diety and a specific tribe reached a mutually exclusive arrangement.

    For someone calling himself The Reverend that’s a pretty literalist and anthropomorphasizing assumption. I’m telling you as someone who is by background if not by practice of that group, that’s the most simplistic reading possible, and is less reflective of the actual Jewish attitude than it is of other faiths trying to force more of a parallel than there actually exists.

  48. Tom says:

    Jeff @15: Jews follow Lord Voldemort? :-)

    More seriously, most modern Christians live by a “what we think Jesus ought to have said” version of Christ’s teachings, which makes the denial of the existence of the Christian god a relatively minor theoretical point.

    An example of this is “Christian” positions on divorce and remarriage. Jesus was down on the former and flatly opposed to the latter, with no wiggle room. Yet one can find many “Christians” who have no problem with either divorce or remarriage.

    So I guess my question is, if people who believe in the Christian god but don’t follow important aspects of Christ’s teachings get to call themselves Christians, why shouldn’t someone who follows Christ’s teachings but doesn’t believe in the Christian god get to use the term? How much of Christ’s actual doctrine do you get to jettison before you lose membership in the club?

    To put it in more traditional terms, is one saved via good works (believing and acting on the practical teachings of Jesus, regardless of doctrinal niceties and contentious iotas) or grace (believing in the theoretical infrastructure Jesus invoked, while rejecting most or all of the practical teachings, like any good Inquisitor)?

  49. Landowner says:

    Jesus (fictional character) had a lot of great things to say. It’s a pity that most of his followers do the exact opposite.

  50. obdan says:

    whatever,…he’s a kook, doing what kooks do. does this really require attention?

  51. Takuan says:

    in the end, our most sacred right is Freedom FROM Religion. You have to keep an eye on these people or they’ll quietly enslave you.

  52. wangleberry says:

    TTL NSNTY

    T FLLW THS KK
    RJCT RLTY
    (nd sbsttt yr wn)

  53. Santa's Knee says:

    FSM Atheism: “To follow the noodle, one must reject the sauce.”

  54. Jeff says:

    Tom said, “To put it in more traditional terms, is one saved via good works…”

    I think there are some specifics in Christianity that are conveniently ignored (your example of divorce), but with the proviso that it was not a true marriage to begin with. This allows for human error and continues the Jewish custom of allowing divorce under certain circumstances. But scripture makes it pretty clear that Jesus did more than say, “Go out and do good works.” He said that He was the Way. I don’t see much point in believing in the Christian system unless you believe the basic tenets as but forth by most scripture. One of those being that Jesus was God incarnate and that God came to Earth to help save us. We could go on for ages if this is true or not. I assume there are many truths and it’s all subjective past a very basic level.

  55. Takuan says:

    Not necessarily; we of the Putanesca Schism hold that all is admissible, nay,even insertible.

  56. js7a says:

    lol, people like to seem so certain about the things they admit they only know through “faith,” i.e., making up stories about invisibul ppl.

  57. Keneke says:

    > what if the persons personal journey puts them at a point where they’re still following bits of religion to instruct them to kill other people for various things. its not their fault they haven’t evolved past it yet right?

    How seriously can you take a person who takes a peaceful religion (Thou shalt not kill, Golden Rule, “the first among these is love”, etc. ad infinitum) and uses it for evil? I don’t know much about Islam, but it seems to create a culture of aggression, unlike Christianity, which only has a few violent spots in its history, which I doubt that any 2000-year institution could avoid from time to time.

    Or, to steal a line from the NRA: Religion doesn’t kill people. People kill people.

  58. Jeff says:

    #45 said, “If we look at the Jewish Kaballah (vaious attributed spellings), we find a concept of “god” as the sum total of all that is, divided up into various heirarchies…”

    Kaballah (as any true Madonna fan will tell you), arrived rather late in history. It’s pretty crazy stuff.

    523

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