Taking a Stand against Evil and Unbelief

There is no reason to “take a stand” against it.

Do you mean evil (‘it’ - you give no proper referent in your sentence, so readers must guess)? Does not your God tell you to take a stand against evil and unbelievers, Joshua? I’m quite sure I could find you a few passages in the Bible that say that, so probably you are not against acknowledging that too.

The God I worship requires taking stands sometimes. Is Joshua’s God against taking stands, even on questions of faith?

“The faith I have is not threatened by atheism.”

Yes, that is obvious. Read before, I noted that already. It isn’t in question so needed by you be raised.

Well, then welcome, in short: everyone. Who does your mission exclude &/or oppose, Joshua? Are you not even against stomping out evil ideologies on your Forum? Or are you really suggesting, “bring your evil ideologies, bring your anti-God ideologies, and let’s talk about them at Peaceful Science because that is what the Forum is meant for & best used for peoples’ time?”

At some point, if you follow biblical teachings, Joshua, my belief is that you will need to take a stand against atheism, evil & godlessness. Apparently at the moment that’s on your agenda at this Forum or at least we will agree that it is simply nowhere defined.

My wife’s pastor had a good rejoinder for the kind of “us vs. them” you’re urging, @auntyevology . "Remember --they’re not the enemy; they’re victims of the Enemy. 'Nuff said.

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Try another option that it’s instead Us vs Us, @Guy_Coe. That’s quite a different approach than Joshua’s. I’m saying US doesn’t need ‘it’. It would be strange if you didn’t agree, along with your wife’s pastor. Sadly, there are people who don’t know the difference.

You are an opponent of evil, sir, are you not? If so, enough said.

If you’re going to put my post first, then can I not name the thread? What a strangely chosen title! (Yes) Joshua.

Who has said “Atheists are evil”, such that you now feel a need & want to ask IF they are ‘evil’?

The context here is important. You are concerned that I am not “standing up to” to our resident atheist @Patrick. I feel this is important to explain.

First of all, I’m calling that bluff. Where does it say in Scripture that we should “take a stand” against atheism? Where does it say that we should “take a stand” against unbelief? Where does it say that atheism is evil?

Second, I’ve had no problem coherently explaining my disagreements with @Patrick. See Genetics, Genealogies, and Racism and Atheist Defends Human Rights. So do not misrepresent me as being pro-atheism here, just because I am kind to @patrick.

Third, @Patrick, to his credit, uses his real name and is here engaged with us declaring his honest position, including his informal affiliations. I have respect for that. I also am here using my real name, with a great deal to loose. The same goes for @Guy_Coe, @T.j_Runyon, @vjtorley, @Revealed_Cosmology, and just about everyone else on this forum. You, however, @auntyevology are here anonymously, at no personal risk, without attaching your name to your advocacy, and free of accountability. I’ve appreciated your contributions, but I have limited patience for anonymous grandstanding against by people at risk in the public square.

If you really care about “taking a stand”, put your money where your mouth is and identify yourself. If you won’t do that, then show some basic respect to the people here that are at risk, which do not include you.

I do not oppose any human, but I certainly oppose falsehood and evil. No one doubts my ability to make a forceful argument in service of truth.

I am working towards a common good, were we can all live in an authentic peace with one another. I believe that peace is not contingent on agreement, but it is contingent on understanding, and it requires us to be meek. Meekness requires turning from coercive power, especially when we find it legitimate.

Exactly right. The distinctive of our community is that we are to love our enemies like family. We are only able to do this because we have our view of the world reordered.

I am not a pacifist, but I am deeply influenced by Stanley Haurwas, one the greatest living theologians. Please watch this brief video by him, talking about opposing evil:

@Patrick, could you look at this too. I think you will find him interesting. What do you think?

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“First of all, I’m calling that bluff.” - @swamidass

Which Scripture translation do you prefer?

Atheism is not evil. It might be wrongheaded and false, but it is not evil. In our world, it is often a step towards truth, in rejecting man made religion, as all of us should.

I was raised a Christian, but found it false. It was nothing like the One I found in the Gospels. Had I not encountered Jesus I hope I would have had the courage to leave the false teachings of my upbringing and become an atheist. Some of the most ethical and honest people I know are atheists, and they are not evil. Had I not seen Jesus, I would be one of them too.

What I find remarkable about this exchange is that @patrick has been fair to me. He has taken the time to understand me, to celebrate that with which he agrees. He will accurately defend me from the loudmouths in his camp. Simply put, he treats me as a human, not as an avatar of beliefs he despises.

We all need to treat him as kindly as he has treated me. There are few more precious that someone across the divide that treats us kindly. Do not take a stand against kindness.

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Luckily then, I am not taking a stand against ‘kindness’. = )

Your admonitions have been provoked by mutual kindness between @Patrick and myself. This does not imply agreement, and does not need to be balanced with a “stand” as if there can be too much kindness.

Be kind. Respect those that identify themselves. Especially as you are anonymous.

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That’s your personal opinion. It is wrong about what provokes me. But that’s ok. You’re still a nice guy.

Which Scripture translation did you prefer, Joshua?

This thread brings to mind some of Ken Ham’s attacks upon Biologos which appeared on an Answers in Genesis some time ago. (I say “brings to mind” in the simplest sense, and not in order to say that anyone here is necessarily behaving like Ken Ham or promoting his specific agenda.) Ham was basically criticizing the Biologos “purpose statement” for not being similar to a church doctrinal statement. He was essentially encouraging his readers to despise Biologos for failing to demand that its participants all agree on what he considers fundamental Christian evangelical doctrines. Ham seemed oblivious to the fact that Biologos is not a church or a even a forum for a specific variety of Christian only. He proceeded to tell his readers that Biologos was “modernist” and wishy-washy, a theologically liberal bunch of sinners who had abandoned primary Christian doctrines in order to make friends with the world and win the approval of atheist scientists. Frankly, it angered me that Ham entirely ignored the educational purposes of Biologos and its goals of encouraging fruitful dialogue. Indeed, it was clear to me that Ham wanted Biologos to be hostile towards Roman Catholic participants. (He complained that Biologos was “weak” on salvation by grace alone and certainly on Biblical inerrancy.) To Ham, failing to promote AIG’s Christian fundamentalist doctrines at every opportunity made Biologos inherently evil and destructive.

I think about the accounts in the Acts of the Apostles where Peter and John and, later, Paul spoke to the powers that be after being arrested. They could have used those special opportunities to denounce those very people who were in power and even to list their most egregious acts of evil. Instead, they focused on the Gospel truths which really mattered. They certainly took strong stands but not in the sense of destroying dialogue and getting bogged down in every topic of disagreement. Indeed, the Apostle Paul was often downright super-respectful and gracious before rulers who we might consider deserving of neither.

One of my early mentors when I was a young minister always urged me to “choose your battles carefully and strategically.” He also liked to say that “Few people are more like a bull in a china shop than one who knows he is right and wants everybody else to know it—even when he truly is correct in his position.” There are many ways to “take a stand”. Some are wiser than others. Some are more effective than others.

When I used to be more involved in various forum discussions where both Christian fundamentalists and atheists posted in abundance, I was often attacked by the former for being “too friendly” with the latter. They complained that, unlike them (the aggressively adamant fundamentalists), I wasn’t constantly quoting scriptures which demanded that the atheists must repent of their sins and become Christians. I was told that I needed to be “a bold witness for Christ at all times.” Yet, I don’t think there was ever an atheist present in those forums who didn’t know that I was a Christ-follower and I also doubt that there were any ambiguities about my positions. Furthermore, I doubt that there was any atheist on those forums who hadn’t been told countless times that really ought to believe in God and that Christians thought that they should heed the Gospel message. Indeed, it reminds me of some of the fundamentalist preachers I knew back in the 1960’s who told me that if I failed to include at least a brief “repent or you are going to hell” message and altar call at the end of every sermon, I was “a liberal who has abandoned the true Gospel of Jesus Christ.”

I certainly believe that the participation of a diversity of atheists, agnostics, Roman Catholics evangelicals, fundamentalists, et al on this kind of forum enriches the dialogue and, ideally, encourages clarity. And being challenged in my positions only helps me to more carefully think through them. While I can understand why some people enjoy the reinforcement of echo chambers, I don’t find them a good use of my time.

Romans 12:18 says “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.” (Yes, the KJV is a reflection of the days of my youth when the modern English Bible translations had not yet become standard in most American Protestant churches.) The NIV rendering of Hebrews 12:14 is also helpful: “Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.” To me, this describes amicable dialogue quite well. When we seek peace wherever it is possible, we reflect the holiness of Jesus.

Of course, as I’ve said before, an atheist is simply someone who has not found the evidence for the existence of any deity personally compelling. Is that any reason to attack them? No. Admittedly, some atheists angrily and aggressively deny the existence of God but I’ve known relatively few atheists who fit that description. (Certainly none of my atheist faculty colleagues when I was a young science professor matched that stereotype.) To me it is very unfair to stereotype all atheists in that manner, just as it would be unfair to characterize all Christians according to the views and behaviors of Ku Klux Klansmen who paint crosses on their robes and burn them into lawns. Likewise, I see no reason to be unwelcoming towards them in a forum like this one, even when they post explanations for why they are atheists and how they are often mistreated in our society. (Yes, various kinds of theists also get mistreated at times but why shouldn’t everyone have the right to describe their own personal plight in terms of societal biases?)

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I’ve changed the title because otherwise this thread split off by Joshua makes little sense. Joshua has set up a strawman for others to knock down with him. In fact, I’d gladly knock it down with you folks too! = )

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Yes, I found him very interesting and I understood his position. There really isn’t any reason why all people of all religions as well as the “nones” can’t live together peacefully and continue to create the world we want our children and grandchildren to live in.

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Great. I’m glad we are on the same page. Still waiting on those verses. I suppose I’d like the version most true to the original language on the verses you share.

That we’re on the same page and that page is the one in which you have erected a strawman that you’d now like to continue with is not acceptable to me. Why build on the wrongness of your strawman?

Your ‘still waiting’ demand comes well after I was waiting considerably longer for you to answer my question. So now you get less, which is still more than enough. Romans 12: 9 suits in this case: “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.” Romans 1: 18-19 fits too.

I’ll just repeat what I said above: if you follow biblical teachings, Joshua, my belief is that you will need to take a stand, in one way or another, against atheism, evil & godlessness.

Perhaps Joshua is quite deviant in thinking otherwise because perhaps in Joshua’s world no stands of any kind are needed (is he a postmodernist?). Some Millennials abhor making any value judgments at all. Perhaps even ‘hating evil’ should be thought as beneath kind-natured Joshua. The issue then as Joshua presents it so far here is not just one of being wrong about taking a particular stand, but of taking any stand ever at all about anything.

Notably, this says nothing about “taking a stand.”

Of course, I do hate what is evil. I am also open about my disagreement with atheism and godlessness. So what ever you mean by “taking a stand” it does not include these things.

You might have to fill us in on your personal definitions here.

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@auntyevology,

You know my feelings on the matter of atheists… at least in reference to this discourse group.
So you must accept that I’m sincere in such things.

However, your blanket statement that Joshua has to take a stand because of Romans 12:9 is either a flaw of your zeal, or of your logic.

A devoted Christian can hate the idea, but not hate the person who holds the idea. We’ve heard things like this plenty enough.

But Romans cannot be some kind of discriminator for what @swamidass, or anyone else, does with an effort like this. We here, nor anyone at BioLogos, are NOT likely to take communion before each day’s labors on this volunteer site.

Do you think you could refrain from invoking “moral jingoism” to justify policies for Peaceful Science? You are going to do what you do no matter what, but I’m going on record with why I find your reasoning coming from the part of your brain that is best engaged every Sunday and Wednesday, or whenever exactly you commune a power greater than all of us.

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@auntyevology,

When you get out of suspension, you might want to reconsider my earlier recommendations and what they implied:

  1. Peaceful Religion is not a denomination. It does not teach a special twist on redemption or atonement.

  2. It is an educational effort focusing on how Christians can accept both God’s capacity to use Evolutionary principles AND God’s use of Special Creation.

  3. Nothing said here has anything to do with atheists, who vary considerably on the gradient regarding a high interest in supporting efforts to bring awareness of evolutionary science to Creationist Evangelicals (vs the other end of the gradient which opposes any combination of science with religious ideas).

We have a very good idea of how Patrick thinks… but I still find you a puzzle. You seem to think @swamidass’ mission can only be accomplished when various and complex resolutions with theology have been resolved first.

This is patently wrong; but I look forward to you itemizing what you think is missing from these discussions.

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