Incoming Email: "If a person that is gay claims to Christian, then the story
of Adam and Eve cannot be supported in their belief system. I would see a gay person being more inclined to believe in evolution."
Conservative Christians tend to follow the historical teachings of
Christianity. They interpret the stories in the first part of Genesis as indicating the
of humanity, and the entry of sin and death into the world. They generally believe in the scapegoating principle that guilt and the consequences of sin are transmitted from the guilty to the next generation who had nothing to do with the sinful act -- eating the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.
Many Liberal Conservatives take one of two positions:
Some interpret the
story of the Garden as a simple religious myth derived from earlier
Mesopotamian and Babylonian sources that contains very helpful
material for one's spiritual understanding and guidance. But the story is unrelated
Others consider that the Adam and Eve story really represents
the rise, not the fall, of humanity. It describes in symbolic form how
proto-humans -- human-like species who were more animal like than human -- became fully human
by the development of a moral and ethical sense.
Neither interpretation would necessarily present unique problems for gays and
lesbians. They might, for example, believe that sin did enter the world
through the behavior of Adam and Eve, and that it taints humanity and the rest
of the world to the present day. But they might also consider all safe and consensual sexual
activity by a committed couple in accordance with their sexual orientation to be free of sin, whether the couple is of
the same or opposite genders. Thus, even if they interpret the Adam and
story as introducing sin to the universe, they might not accept an
inevitable connection between
homosexual activity and sin. They might consider same-sex behavior
to be sinful only if it is non-consensual, manipulative, unsafe, performed by
person(s) with a heterosexual orientation, or perhaps outside of a committed
You commented on homosexuals and the belief in evolution. I have never seen any statistics on this.
Surveys have shown that over 99% of biological and
geological scientists believe that evolution really happened; some of them
would be gay or lesbian. Most American adults believe in either theistic
evolution or naturalistic evolution. I would guess that evolution is more
common among homosexuals than among heterosexuals on the basis that many
gays and lesbians have been rejected by their faith groups. This might
tend to make homosexuals also reject their faith group's teachings.
"If you say Jesus sinned then I know you ar [sic] from Satan!!"
Actually, we didn't say that. You are apparently referring to our essay "Did
Jesus lead a sinless life?." We simply explained the diversity of beliefs in North America concerning Jesus and sin.
In the essay, we explained that from a conservative Christian viewpoint, Jesus
-- and God the Father -- is incapable of sin.
Then we explain that if one looked
upon Jesus as a human being, subject to Jewish and Roman law, that he is alleged
to have committed actions which most people would consider as serious sin --
even criminal acts. This included: conspiracy to steal an animal, aggravated
assault in a religious building, violating various of the Mosaic laws, etc.
Many religious liberals and secularists take this view .
The point of our essays -- and of many other essays on our web site -- is that
there over 1,000 Christian organizations in the U.S. and Canada who teach many
different beliefs about Jesus, God, Christianity, the Bible, morality, human
sexuality, etc. Our web site merely tries to explain all sides to each topic.
This principle extends also to our essays on abortion access, equal rights for
gays and lesbians, spanking children, death penalty, etc.
We do not normally reach conclusions in our essays. We merely report the full
diversity of beliefs held by people of disparate theological backgrounds. We are
merely reporters, not innovative theologians.
Incoming Email: "Where I live, people who follow different
Christian denominations argue with each other. So do people from different
religions. How can I know which religion and which denomination is the true
Our response: The basic problem is that religions tend to be based on faith. Thus
they cannot easily be proven or disproven. If there were a way to prove religious
truth then the one "true" religion would be found or
created, and everyone would
convert to it.
Religion has to be accepted on faith. People come
from different faith traditions and accept different religious belief systems as
true. There is massive disagreement among religions and among
different traditions with a single religion concerning provably hundreds of topics. Some religions teach that the
number of Gods is zero; at least one teaches that Gods and Goddesses number
in the millions. They teach very different beliefs about social problems,
like abortion access, and equal rights for gays and lesbians including the right to marry.
Still, almost all religions to share one belief in common: the Ethic of Reciprocity (a.k.a. the
Golden Rule). It is expressed in slightly different ways by many different religions. If everyone were to follow the Golden Rule as
taught by their faith group, the world would be a much less violent and more loving place. That might be a good place for you to
start. If you integrate the Golden Rule ito your life and base your interactions with other people on it, then you have at least a base from
which to search for theological answers.
There may be no way of proving which
religion -- if any -- is "true" unless God exists and decides to communicates truth directly with humans. We conducted a pilot study to determine whether humans can assess the will of God. Our tentative conclusion is that they cannot.
While we may not be able to determine which religion is "true,"we can assess which
are the most useful. By
observing followers of different faith groups, and by comparing followers from various denominations, traditions and sects of each religion, we can see which ones have the
most loving members, and which have the most hate-filled believers. We can measure which groups encourage
violence, and which encourage peace and cooperation.
Incoming Email: How do we know whether Jesus died on the cross and was
resurrected three days later?
Our response: Actually, the most common interpretation of the gospels is
that Jesus died on a Friday afternoon and was resurrected sometime before the
early morning of the following Sunday. This means that, in modern terminology,
he was resurrected within a day and a half of his
death, not three days as is often said.
There are many theories about the existence of Jesus and the events related to his death. For example:
Conservative Christians are absolutely certain that Jesus was executed by the Romans via crucifixion,
died, was resurrected, and later ascended to Heaven. They regard the Bible as inerrant. Jesus' death is described in all four
Gospels. They feel that there is no possibility that it did not happen exactly as it
is explained in the Bible.
Many liberal Christians also believe that Jesus was crucified, died, and
resurrected. However, they believe that many of the details of these events
in the gospels are inaccurate. The Gospels include religious propaganda against Judaism, and attempts to absolve the Roman
Empire from responsibility in Jesus' death. Liberals tend to pay greater
attention to his teachings than his death.
Muslims, followers of Islam, generally believe that Jesus did not die on the cross but was elevated to Paradise by God while he was still alive.
They base this on the belief that God would never have allowed one of his main prophets to be executed in this way.
Since Jesus did not die, he was not resurrected. Muslims generally regard
Jesus as the second greatest prophet in history, exceeded in importance only
Some promote Docetism, the belief that Christ was pure
spirit and only had a phantom body; that is, Jesus merely appeared to be
human to his followers. They reasoned that a true emissary from the Supreme
God could not have been overcome by the evil of the world, and to have
suffered and died.
Other Gnostics believe that Christ did die on the cross. They define his resurrection as occurring when his spirit was
liberated from his body.
Some liberal Christian theologians, religious skeptics, and others believe that Jesus
existed, was crucified on the cross or stake, and his body was tossed into a mass grave site to be
eaten by scavengers. They believe that Jesus was not resurrected nor did he ascent to Heaven.
Other liberal theologians believe some of the following:
Jesus was an itinerant rabbi in first century CE Palestine, but that most of the content of Gospels are of events that never
happened; they were invented by biblical authors to promote their
theological beliefs. In particular, the Gospel of John contains very little
historically accurate material.
His life story was based on an individual who lived in the second or
third century BCE, overlaid with a lot of fictional
Jesus was not a real person. The stories of his life were based on prophecies in the Old
Testament, augmented with excerpts from the lives of a number of itinerant rabbis, and including fables and myths from other heroes/god-men/saviors, like Krishna from India and Osiris from Egypt
These various belief systems, and others, cannot be resolved. There will
probably never be a consensus about the details of the existence, life, death and
resurrection of Jesus.