Category Archives: Uncategorized

Non-Exclusive Christians

Over the last 2 years of blogging, I have learned much more about the variety of Christians that exist.  Due to this learning, I have a post which considers “My Favorite Kind of Christian” which I constantly update.  I am fortunate to have several personal Christian friends and on-line Christian friends who hold almost all the qualities I list on “my favorites” list.

But I must say that my MOST IMPORTANT favorite Christian trait is Non-Exclusivity — a Christian who does not feel that non-believers are going to necessarily have a different fate than themselves after death.  In theology, this position is called one’s “soteriology”.

There are two qualities that I feel natural flow from a non-exclusive soteriology:

  1. an open view of others (women, homosexuals, other races).
  2. a missionology where the believer seeks to serve others well before they even contemplate converting others.

Following in second place of favorite Christian traits behind Open Soteriology (along with its tolerance and kindness) is a strong value for science.  I would hold these traits as my favorite for all religions.  All other theological issues (unless I have missed something) fall far behind in the theological pack.  For I care not what a person calls themselves, but how they live and how they use their thoughts and beliefs to anchor and connect their lives.

Question to Atheists:  What are your favorite types of Christians?
Question to Theists:  What are your favorite type of Atheists?

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Put Tables in your Post

Spice up your Post !

This is an addition to my post called “Blog Appearance“.  These posts are written especially for WordPress folks, though others could use some of the points.  Below is a way for HTML naive  folks to spice up their posts with TABLES by using the HTML tab in their editor.

Create a Table

Have you ever wanted to put a table in your post but don’t know HTML?  Well,  You can go to this Table Generator site and make a table.   After it generates your code, cut and paste it into your post but be sure to first click the “HTML” tab and enter it there.  Then go back to visual mode.  Let me know if this is unclear and I will write more.  Below is a table I created using the generator.  If you find a better generator, let me know.

Minimist Blogger Average Blogger Artistic Blogger
Uses Text Only Uses Pictures
Uses Texts
Uses Tables
Uses Colors
Uses Pictures
Uses Text

When I generated this code, I left off the last part of the code generated because it was advertising:

<p style=”font-family:verdana,arial,sans-serif;font-size:10px;”><a href=”http://www.quackit.com/html/html_table_tutorial.cfm&#8221; target=”_top”>Table tutorial</a></p>

But I will leave that ethical question up to you.   Here is another generator to experiment with.

If you want to make sure text aligns to the top of a cell,  you have to insert this code (valign=”top”) into each cell in the HTML.
So where you see: <td>
Change it to: <td valign=”top”>

You can also use the normal edit tools to change text color, boldness and centering.  Thus, the new table would look like this:

Minimist Blogger Average Blogger Artistic Blogger
Uses Text Only Uses Pictures
Uses Texts
Uses Tables
Uses Colors
Uses Pictures
Uses Text

There are many more tricks, but I will stop there unless folks show interest.  These tricks alone will considerably improve your post’s layout.  And remember, instead of text, you can put images inside a table cell.  You can make the border=0 and then the table acts as a layout device for putting several pics on a page.

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Related PostsBlog Talk: an index post of my posts about blogging.

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The Pup of God

This is a small section of my larger diagram in the last post.  It illustrates a choice between two translation methods:

  • Word-for-Word Translations
  • Dynamic or Functional Equivalents

Avalos gives a fun example distinguishing these two methods using John 1:29:

The next day he saw Jesus coming towards him and declared, ‘Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!
— John 1:29 (RSV)

In the RSV the phrase “the Lamb of God”  is translated from the Greek (ο αμνος του θεου ) using a Word-for-Word translation.

But what if the reader were an Eskimo and  unfamiliar with the pastoral culture where sheep are a highly valued animal and thus an animal used in sacrifices?  The meaning or the original intent of the author may be lost.  So instead, the translator may opt for a dynamic translation to convey what he feels is the real meaning of the phrase and instead translate it as “The Pup of God” — a baby seal.  Avalos uses “seal” in his story — “The Seal of God“, but the lamb is a baby sheep and is used intentionally instead of “sheep” to imply innocence and purity.  Thus, a baby Seal would be a pup.  So I am correcting Avalos. (a small point, perhaps)

After introducing these concepts, Avalos  shows how these distinctions are rather artificial but I won’t go into that detail now because I think the principle distinction is important: word-for-word translation vs. intent translation.

Think how the history of art might have changed:

Can you think of other preferable culture-specific Dynamic Translations examples?

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Note: the author of John most likely used “lamb” instead of “sheep” (its adult version) to capture the notion of purity and innocence and a more valuable sacrifice.  For he did not use use the Greek word πρόβατον which is the word in the NT most often translated “sheep” which is a general word for quadrupeds, as opposed to creeping, flying or swimming things.  And it generally implies tame animals and in Attic Greek, only sheep.

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Grace

“Grace” is a word Atheists can embrace.  Make it your own, take it out of the hands of those who perversely proclaim that we are born disgusting and deserving of torture and torment with our only hope being grace granted from a praise-lusting vengeful god.  Take grace back from narrow minds!

Grace is unexpected kindness from others.  Grace is the humble interdependence we have with fellow humans and all of nature.  Grace is a gift we give without expecting in return.   A thankful heart is one that realizes that we live by grace — we live by the kindness of others.

Don’t let the religious steal this beautiful concept.   Make “Grace” a word you are proud of.   Grace is an important understanding to living in this world where no gods, spirits or spooks exist.  Grace is caring for each other.

  • Proto-Indo-European: gwer:  to praise, welcome
  • Sanskrit: grnati: sings, announces
  • Greek: karites: one of the three sister goddesses who were bestower or charm and beauty
  • Latin: gratia: agreeableness, charm; favor, good will, kindness
  • English grace:
    1) Elegance and beauty of movement or expression
    2) Consideration of others
    3) Disposition of kindness and compassion
    4) to decorate and make attractive
    5) a short prayer before a meal
    6) (Christian theology) : the free and unmerited favor or beneficence of God

triangle_end_tiny

See other “Word!” posts, here.

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The Death of Biblical Literacy

Part of my Avalos Series

In a comment in my post earlier today, Hector Avalos (the author himself) directs us to his excellent, short article which was published today:  “The Praise of Biblical Illiteracy“.  There, as in his book, he clearly states:

My main point is that biblical illiteracy should not always be regarded as a bad thing.
-Hector Avalos

I agree with him strongly.  Certainly the vast majority of believers will disagree.  But I am going to wager that many atheists and even agnostics are going to also disagree with him.  And perhaps I understand why they would defensively disagree.  For  I, like many of them, even though an Atheist, have lots invested in the Bible.  I know a fair bit about it.  I know how it ties into history and literature.  If literacy died, my knowledge would become largely useless.

It seems a human reflex to preserve that with which we are familiar.  There are movements to preserve languages, cuisines, customs, music and even technologies.  We make museums like tombstones for those things that do succumb.  I have had several mini-deaths in my life where I had to give up whole areas of knowledge: Hindi, Japanese, Homeopathy, Acupuncture …  I use to have a rather large sum of knowledge in all these yet I gave them up as I pursued other knowledge and activities, that knowledge, without its necessary nourishment, has withered.  It is sad to see a familiar thing die.  But all things die. (See my mini-death post)

Avalos’ fine article lays out many reasons to support his desire,  I have just added my two cents to help others see their own psychological reflexes which may block them from hearing some of Avalos’ fine insights.  Please to give his article a read if you don’t plan to read his book.

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The Default Bias

The Default Bias is another common human cognitive defect.  It seems that to avoid the discomfort of complex choices, we humans usually opt for the default supplied to us.  Thus many of our “choices” are not choices in any real sense.  This is further evidence for the illusory notion of both free will and the reflective intentional life.

The Default Bias can be seen in religion.  Greater than ninety percent of religious people belong to the religion of their birth — the default religion offered to them by the accident-of-birth.   Heck, even later converters choose from only those right in front of their noses.  But least self-righteous, hyper-rationalists dismiss the Default Bias as a uniquely theistic defect, let me illustrate this bias among largely atheistic Europeans.  The example below is taken from a 17 min TED talk by Dan Ariely (Duke University) on behavioral economics.

When looking at organ donation rates in European countries, we see that the distribution is bimodal — high donators and low donators.  Though people in these countries will object, the following pairs of countries are more similar than not and yet have opposite rates: Netherlands-Belgium, UK-France, Denmark-Sweden.  Intuitively inspecting which country falls into which mode reveals no clear pattern.   So what causes this difference?

Simple!  The Organ Donation check box on their driver license applications differ.  The low donating countries have the default as “I will NOT donate”, where as high donating countries have “YES I will donate” as the default.

Low Donor Countries

Leave it unchecked and your organs will NOT be donated

High Donor Countries

Leave it unchecked and you become a donator !

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Notes:

  • HT to Leah for the video
  • Luke does a superb interview with Stephen Maitzen (Atheist philosopher at Acadia University in Nova Scotia) where they discuss the accidental nature of belief choices using interesting phrases like: “The Argument from Divine Hiddenness”, “The Demographics of Theism” and “Clustered Distribution of Theism”.  Give it a listen if you have time.
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Varieties of Christian Eschatology

Eschatology

Above I have offered a diagram to summarize most of the many conflicting Christian Eschatologies (End-Time Theologies) which have been generated by Christian theologians over the last 2,000 years. Today (9/2014) I am updating the first chart I put here on 11/2009. I have improved the chart, thanks to comments from my readers.  Better late than never, eh?  That plus the first chart was done in software I don’t have now, so I had to totally recreate them using new software — so I procrastinated for five years!

If I have to pick one, I’d say the A-Millenialist is my favorite Eschatology version — see my post on My Favorite Types of Christians. Atheists may ask, “Why would you have a favorite version if they are all silly myths?” Well, that is a long story but basically my strong pragmatist side feels that some wrong ideas are worse that others because of the way they are used.  And even wrong ideas, if used well, can be better than right ideas used poorly.

What is your favorite version?

As always, even after this new version, all corrections & suggestions are coveted !

 

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My Educational Background

  • Master of Education (Lock Haven Univ. , PA)
  • Master of Public Health (Johns Hopkins Univ, MD)
  • Cert. International Business Management (Georgetown Univ., DC)
  • Cert. Homeopathy (International Foundation of Homeopathy, WA)
  • Bachelor of Science–Physician Assistant (Duke Univ., NC)
  • Oriental Medical Practitioner (Meiji School of Oriental Medicine, Japan)
  • Philosophy Graduate Training (“ABD”= never finished the Ph.D., Phil of Religion, Symbolic Logic)
    • Berkeley Urdu Language Program (Lahore, Pakistan) 1 yr
    • University of Minnesota 2 yrs
    • University of Wisconsin 1 yr
  • Bachelor of Arts–Psychology, Education (Wheaton College, IL)
    • A Christian College (minors German, Biology)
  • drop out of Electrical Engineering school (Cornell Univ, NY)
  • Elementary – High School Education –> public educ. in Ohio

SeeAbout (for more about the Sabio)

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