Incoming Email: "Your metaphysical
errors are of graver a deficiency than any electronic errors. Religious
tolerance? Should one tolerate falsehood? You'd probably say yes."
Our response: Yes. We should tolerate falsehood.
According to the Times News Service, Dominus Iesus -- the recent Encyclical by the Pope -- implies that "Churches such as the Church of England,
where the apostolic succession of bishops from the time of St. Peter is
disputed by Rome, and churches without bishops, are not considered
'proper' churches." That is, the Catholic Church considers non-Catholic religious groups
to be false.
Many conservative Protestant denominations believe that Roman Catholicism,
liberal Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, etc are false religions.
Some fundamentalist and other evangelical Christians even consider some of
these religious to be forms of Satanism.
According to many Muslims and Jews, Christianity is a false polytheistic
religion that is does not recognize the single, indivisible nature of Allah or Yahweh.
It seems that most people consider their own denomination or tradition within
their own wing of their own religion to hold the fullness of truth, and consider all the other
denominations, traditions, wings, sects, and religions to be false.
Not tolerating other religions leads directly towards the
situations during past decades in Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Cyprus,
Nigeria, Sudan, Middle East, Iraq/Iran, Afghanistan, India, Sri Lanka,
Philippines, Indonesia, etc. This is the path that ends up at the gas ovens of Nazi Germany, to ground zero where the World Trade Center once stood, and the blood-stained sands where ISIS beheaded innocent people.
So, we recommend religious tolerance. We should allow persons of other
religions to coexist in freedom without oppression or discrimination, even
if their beliefs seem quite strange to us. In that way, we can expect them to
to coexist, even if our beliefs are quite strange to them. Again, the
alternative leads to genocide.
Why doesn't this web site take a stand on abortion?
Incoming Email: "I was doing research on abortion and
stumbled on your website. Why don't you decide whether you're for or
against it and go with it."
Our response: I think that you misunderstand the nature of our web
Unlike about 99.9% of the religious web sites on the Internet, we do not
promote one point of view. We are a multi-faith group with diverse
beliefs concerning deity, humanity and the rest of the universe. Members of our group
have diverse personal beliefs about women's abortion access. We try to
explain all points of view accurately, clearly, and concisely.
On topics related to Bible passages, we explain at least the conservative
and liberal Christian position. Sometimes, we toss in the beliefs of the
early Christian church from the 1st and 2nd century CE. Often the three
belief systems are quite different. Where groups like the Southern Baptists,
Catholic Church, Episcopalians, etc. have different beliefs, we often explain
these as well.
On topics related to homosexuality, we explain the beliefs of religious
conservatives; we also explain the beliefs of the LGBT community, human sexuality researchers,
therapists, and religious liberals.
We are not promoting our own beliefs here. We are acting as reporters,
explaining the beliefs of others.
There are literally tens of thousands of pro-life sites out there
which promote restriction or elimination of access to abortion services. Many are not particularly
accurate. There are many hundreds of pro-choice web sites who are keen to
preserve access to abortion. Many of them are not particularly accurate either. We feel that
there is a need for a web site to present all sides to each topic. We hope
that people will find the information on this web site helpful while making their own
How can a Christian disbelieve any major part of the Bible?
Incoming Email: "...explain to me how a Christian would
discount anything in the Bible. I don't mean picking and choosing parables
as literals but not believing something to be the foundation of humanity."
A major difference among these various groups relates to
the nature of the Bible, The following is a gross
over-simplification, but may give you some idea of the dynamics involved.
Those in the most conservative wing of Christianity tend to believe
that the Bible is the Word of God, that it was written by authors who were
inspired by God, and that the original, autograph
copies, as written by the authors, are
Those in the liberal wing of Christianity tend to believe that the
Bible was written by a variety of authors each of whom promoted their own
belief systems. Since it was written over an approximately 1,000 year
interval, it shows a gradual transformation in Hebrew and Christian beliefs.
The writers lived in a pre-scientific age. Thus their
knowledge of cosmology, human sexuality, how languages developed, what
causes rainbows, how species developed, etc. were quite primitive. So their
writings on these topics are typically wrong. Their writings also reflected
the customs of the time, which accepted human slavery; genocide; the execution of witches, gays, people who picked up sticks on Saturday, and non-virgin
brides; torture and raping of prisoners; polygyny -- a variety of polygamy with one husband and more than one wife; the oppression of women;
xenophobia; religious intolerance;
dictatorships; theocracies; sexism; homophobia, the transfer of sin and its punishment from the guilty to the innocent; and other practices which are abhorrent -- or
becoming abhorrent -- in today's culture. Most feel that although these
practices were clearly not the will of God -- then or now -- they appear in the Bible
the authors honestly believed that God supported them. They sincerely,
devoutly and thoughtfully felt that they were describing the will of God.
The Bible contains hundreds of inconsistencies. For example, the synoptic
gospels -- Mark, Matthew and Luke -- clearly teach that there are two
ways to reach heaven: by treating
other people kindly and with love, or by emulating Jesus' lifestyle of a
poverty stricken itinerant preacher. The Gospel of John clearly teaches that one goes to heaven if you
accept Jesus to be the Son of God. The writings of Paul clearly state that
goes to heaven if you recognize Jesus' resurrection.
For another example,
many passages in the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) clearly teach that the
universe has many gods. They are described in anthropomorphic terms --
are large, extremely powerful, human like creatures with bodies. It is
the later prophets who made the transition to consider Yahweh as the only
God, and to accept the belief that God is a spirit.
Religious conservatives tend to pick certain texts as definitive --
writings on salvation and the description of God as spirit in the above
cases. Those passages which disagree are usually interpreted symbolically.
passages can only be harmonized by really stretching their interpretation to an
extreme. But conservatives do this because they believe strongly in the
overriding principle of biblical inerrancy.
Religious liberals generally accept that the Bible shows an evolution in religious
and spiritual thought. Thus, they have no problem with different and
conflicting paths to salvation and different concepts of God. They would
surprised if the Bible was internally totally consistent.
Conservative Christians generally believe the Bible to be true on all
matters such as theology, morality, spirituality, astronomy, geology, biology,
cosmology, etc. You cannot pick and choose what passages to believe and
which to reject.
Liberal Christians generally believe that the Bible is helpful in
spiritual and moral matters. However, we have to reject parts of it as not
representing the will of God. We have to reject other parts because they
established laws that are abhorrent by today's moral standards. This is
what one would expect since the books were written by authors who lived in a pre-scientific era and who were
tainted by primitive lifestyles and culture.
Since the visitor asked about homosexuality:
Religious conservatives tend to concentrate on the
half dozen or so "clobber" passages which
they interpret as condemning certain types of same-sex behavior and generalize those passages to refer
all same-sex activity, whether performed by two men or two women, who are
a one-night stand or a committed relationship.
Religious liberals frequently believe that we can safely ignore biblical passages
homosexuality as we do those on human slavery, executing non-virgin
etc. They are simply relics from an earlier age that are:
Invalidated by current scientific knowledge, and/or
today's different moral and ethical standards.
Also, they might point out that their interpretation of the "clobber" passages do not refer to homosexual activity
generally, and certainly not to same-sex behavior within a committed
relationship. Rather they refer to very specific behaviors:
homosexual rape (Genesis 19)
homosexual ritual sex in Pagan temples (two passages in Leviticus)
homosexual prostitution (many places in the Old Testament)
men molesting boys (1 Corinthians)
heterosexuals engaged in homosexual behavior (Romans)
men engaging in bestiality (inter-species sex) with angels (Jude)
Many view the Bible as silent on sexual activity within committed
relationships. This includes relationships between two men or two women who have been
in a civil or religious ceremonY in one of the areas of the world that allow this, including:
13 countries: Holland, Belgium,
Spain, Canada, South Africa, New Zealand. England and Wales, Scotland, etc.
19 states and the District of Columbia in the United States.