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John H - you wrote
Can anyone make a serious criticism of Christianity that doesn't involve ludicrous references to the crusades, the Spanish inquisition, or to cults on the American bible belt?

I'll have a go!

Umm - believing that a child can be born parthenogenetically; believing in an afterlife without evidence (converse doesn't prove this hypothesis is of equal a priori validity; see Occam).

I don't mean to sound like a trite aetheist because I love Anglicanism, truly. But here is the standard argument against Christian (or any similar) belief that was au courrant at Glasgow University in the late 80s:

Suppose the Christian God exists, and he is Love. He Loves Man so much that we are made in his image. Two other attributes are made for God: He is omniscient (He knows everything) and He is omnipotent (He is all-powerful).

So He loves us, He is the Creator, He knows everything and He is all-powerful. So why did He create the Universe in such a way that Man is made to suffer? Since He is all-powerful & knows everything, He could have created the universe in such a way that no sentient being ever suffered. He chose not to. This is a contradiction that God is Love. (Though not necessarily that He doesn't exist). Unless He was *not* able to create the Universe in such a beneficent way (in which case He is not omnipotent) or He simply didn't foresee the consequences (in which case He isn't omniscient). Whatever is offered as an explanation for our state, it is a flat contradiction of at least one of the claims routinely made for God.

I should say I think this is childish playing. But it's intellectually respectable not to be a believer; it no more entails that you're in danger of falling under the sway of socialism than it does you'll be fond of eating snails.

Le Nerd you can say anything to me but please don't ever imply I am a cricketer!!

PS I meant the suggestion seriously - why doesn't Tim invite Edward Leigh or a.n.other to write a Platform piece for us as an exposition of Cornerstone's values and political strategy?


LOL.

Cornerstone's members seem to have a pretty good record of gaining seats off our opponents in the last two elections.

Purge soccer supporters now. The Americans are right - it's fit only for children and wimmin, and excitable countries that chnage their national anthems rather too often.

Meanwhile, Graham, you were just about to explain to us how proto-Cornerstonery lost us those three elections. And not, Dave's mate Howard, Hague, and Major.

Sorry! Have been busy texting friends trying to get them to read my wretched platform piece (plug) and blethering on about the need to let people turn left at red lights elsewhere in this parish.

OK so you'll never buy this Le Nerd but here goes. I have a belief that regardless of what was written into the manifesto, the tone which surrounded the Tories at the last 3 elections was widely seen to be small-minded and nasty. No I don't believe it either but I felt it being projected back at me on doorsteps. Can you honestly say people didn't say to you "I can't believe a nice guy/girl like you is a Tory"? I can remember a time (young man) when I didn't know a single other Tory among the group of people I work with, all of whom ought to be by dint of their education and life opportunities and stuff. Something psychologically prevented them from self-identifying as Tories, and - here's what you'll not buy I predict - I think that was due to the tone which we allowed to creep in that seemed to define us as being anti-immigrant and just generally ungenerous and small-minded. I do have a particularly bad memory from the 2005 campaign of waking up to hear that Michael Howard (big respect) was campaigning that day against gypsies. It just wasn't a broad enough canvas for most people to want to identify with, even if they agree with the particular points.

That's how I feel about cornerstone & if that's not what they're about it would be great to get one of htem to write about what they're really up to - you can see there are others out there who have the same perception as I do.

Go on .. do your worst! I'm sat down on a comfy chair :-0)

So if I boil your (and Dave's) argument down to its essence: Labour smeared us three times in a row; their attacks on us (for being crazies) weren't fair; but, now that Labour's smears evidently are no longer sticking, we should abandon much of the stuff that was never unreasonable to believe in in the first place?

You'll with some justification sneer back at me, 'one more heave merchant!', but yup, I am. This government has run out of steam: we can win, and win as Tories, next time. If Cameron wins, the only thing that's going to happen is that a Labour Blairite will be replaced by a Conservative Blairite. And to hell with that as fate for the country.

You're very good! No I don't believe exactly that. I think different tactics are needed for different constituencies. In some places (eg my favourite county: Essex) then the Labour smears started falling off a long time ago. But in other places, which are stiff with the sort of bourgeois type that bring me out in hives, we absolutely need a different tone in order to even get a hearing out of them. I'm thinking the Tories that were Tory until 1992-4 and since then went LibDem. They will not vote for a party that they associate with driving gypsies into the sea, or as good as, hence Vote Blue Go Green &c. And actually it's quite refreshing to think, 'gosh I can be a Tory and care about those small quality of life things that you can't measure financially'.

Well we agree on the end which is something, and, Burnham-on-Crouch, for one, is an intimation of heaven as far as I'm concerned. The thing is _ I'm really not at all convinced that Dave shares the end of Tories being Tory. Tories being acceptable to the BBC, sure, but otherwise?

Le Nerd: Please don't worry - I never take healthy debate personally! This site is a great way of airing views and justifying them and can only help when a relative newcomer is forming their views.

But you are right: I definitely have an objection to a religious frame of reference when making policy decisions. For example when abortion legislation was introduced in 1967 as a way of stopping backstreet abortions, some MPs of a certain religious persuasion felt compelled, through their beliefs, to vote against a piece of legislation designed to stop endangering vulnerable women.

I do think that most people are more than just a bunch of prejudices/fixed ideas without a rational brain to let them see the other side of the argument - hence my being Christian but being able to see the Atheist/non-religious point of view and wanting to keep my faith well away from any decisions I make as an elected representative and at work.

And you have not convinced me that Cornerstone's policies would take us forward; my experience on the doorstep over the last 4 years tell me that such views are far more likely to take us back to the nasty party image and we will be further from gaining power than ever before.

"I should say I think this is childish playing. But it's intellectually respectable not to be a believer; it no more entails that you're in danger of falling under the sway of socialism than it does you'll be fond of eating snails. "

Graeme, I wasn't talking about the intellectual case against Christianity. I wouldn't deny that it's intellectually respectable not to be a believer, and I've never said it means you are a socialist.

I was talking about the fact that most of the arguments about the bad effects of Christianity listed in the first half of this thread referred to things which happened centuries ago (crusades, inquisition etc). It's rather pathetic if the people can find for their visceral hatred of Cornerstone are the actions of the Catholic Church in the 15th Century.

I just wondered if they had anything better to come up with. I wasn't inviting a discussion on the intellectual case for atheism.

And Graeme, I fail to see what Michael Howard's single issue campaigning has to do with Cornerstone. Why should Cornerstone get the blame for Howard's tactical failings?

"...most of the arguments about the bad effects of Christianity listed in the first half of this thread referred to things which happened centuries ago (crusades, inquisition etc)"

If you want up to date examples, they are legion, but the worst in my opinion was the Vatican's tacit approval for Catholic missionaries in Africa to tell villagers that they would get AIDS if they used condoms. Unforgivable. At least by this mere mortal.

Politics should be about bringing people together; all religion seems to do is divide.

Graeme: I will certainly invite Cornerstone to write such a post.


Lucy, if you're a Christian, then you'd accept that yours is an ethical religion. Do you think that ethical points of view should play no part in political decision-making?


The curious thing is, Graeme, that if you were to analyse the sorts of policies that Cornerstone advocates, you'd probably find that there was quite a bit of common ground between you and them.

I know Sean. It's only fear of mentioning that I think aesthetics has a lot to do with political success that prevents me from stating it (because as clear a thinker as you would rip me to bits!) And it's not poss for me to disconnect "pure" policy from what someone else thinks about me. Heffer is an example: even when he writes something I believe in now, it's too late, I can't see past his rudeness.

On the contrary Sean, just because I am a Christian does not mean I can't question and/or disagree with many widely held "Christian" beliefs, for example, anti-homosexuality, anti-women priests, anti-abortion, anti-euthanasia, anti-organ donation etc. Ours is not a perfect faith; indeed I doubt any faith is.

On the other hand, I would advocate marriage - not due to religious belief, but because children of married couples statistically do better in school, commit less crime etc. I.e. I like research-based rather than faith-based solutions to society's problems.

Ethics in public policy, yes; religious convictions, no.


Yes, I see what you mean.

I suppose at quite an early age, I saw political life as being about working with people you often disliked, and, doubtless, who disliked you, in order to achieve the things that all of you believed in.

In fairness, I've made many more friends than enemies through the Conservative Party, but I've always been able to separate out dislike for others, or what they stand for, from my desire to get certain things achieved.


Well, Lucy, I find that my ethical beliefs are certainly influenced by my religous ones, and in politics, I would strive not to do something I considered to be ethically wrong. Obviously, there would be occasions where I would fail, or have to strike compromises that I felt uncomfortable with.

But given that God wants us to live moral lives, and not just to be worshipped in the right way, I think it's inevitable that my views about what I considered right and wrong would influence the way I voted on certain issues.

I certainly don't think it's possible to compare a politician, voting on an issue like abortion, to a lawyer conducting a case on behalf of a client.

"If you want up to date examples, they are legion, but the worst in my opinion was the Vatican's tacit approval for Catholic missionaries in Africa to tell villagers that they would get AIDS if they used condoms. Unforgivable. At least by this mere mortal."

If Africans followed Catholic teaching on sexuality, they would refrain from having sex outside of marriage. I fail to see how this teaching is responsible for the spread of AIDS!

Oh John come on!

"Oh John come on! "

?


Well, it does seem a bit harsh to attribute causative power to one set of views the RC Church propounds (opposition to contraception) but not to the other (sex should be within marriage).

Although personally I think that the AIDS crisis is so bad in Africa that any measure is justified in combatting it.

"the cornerstone group can't be masonic - there a number of catholics who are members. freemasonary and catholicism are enemies."

Rubbish. I'm a member of a lodge where one of the oldest members is a Catholic.

Mozart was a Catholic freemason.

see you later everyone & thanks for ever stimulating conversation.

@ John - now I understand the Magic Flute!


Oh yes, the Magic Flute is filled with masonic references.

My own lodge has several RC members.

"If Africans followed Catholic teaching on sexuality, they would refrain from having sex outside of marriage."

What a vile, ignorant thing to say!

Yes, in a village where water is scarce and food non-existent, I am sure the first thing on any self-respecting African's mind is getting an education, nay a Christian education!

But it's good that you let your opinion be widely known - reminds us who the enemy is.


Following this thread from start to finish, Lucy, do you think that political figures who have been influenced by Christianity have brought any benefits to the human race?


And if they have, is it despite, or because of, their religious beliefs?

Countless no doubt, Sean! However, in my humble opinion, the fairest politicians are those whose judgement is unimpaired by the influences of religion, discrimination, and filthy lucre!

Further, I don't think achievements have to be despite/because of their religion. The two are not mutually exclusive.

I'm closing this thread before it gets anymore off subject.

The comments to this entry are closed.

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