Scholar explains how Christians and non-Christians can begin to understand one other

Dec 18, 2012

Ah, the Christmas season. It's the most wonderful time of the year. A time to celebrate peace, love and the religious beliefs of America's religious majority – whether you like it or not.

While some may declare there's a war on Christmas and choose to proclaim their faith with the shout of a , some find it an equally opportune time to boldly express their disdain for the holiday that has been foisted upon them.

There may be no easy solutions to this modern-day religious war, but one religious says that we all might be a little better off if we simply took the time to try and understand one another.

"Whatever side a person comes down on in this argument, I would encourage them to try and see the other's point of view and the complexity of the debate," says Leigh , the Edward Mallinckrodt University Professor at Washington University in St. Louis, who joined the university's John C. Danforth Center on Religion & Politics in 2011. "A basic level of civility is a good idea."

That civility is often missing on both sides of the argument, Schmidt says.

"I don't think insulting billboards or rants from atheist comedians are a particularly good way of engaging people, since they are designed to be sensational instead of substantial," he says. "On the other hand, you can see why atheists and non-believers have a chip on their shoulders in this culture. They have been a persecuted minority, and there were laws designed to suppress non-belief for a long time. Many people believe that this is a Christian nation and others should just keep their mouths shut."

Then how should we talk to one another about this? Or is it best to adhere to the adage of not discussing religion and politics in polite company?

"I think there are ways to get people to talk about their differences more constructively," says Schmidt, author of numerous books on American religion, including Consumer Rites: The Buying and Selling of American Holidays (Princeton University Press, 1995). "Non-believers need to hear how believers feel insulted by their remarks and, in turn, Christians need to hear all the ways in which non-believers feel slighted. There needs to be some understanding about why both groups seem so angry at one another. They need to understand where this anger comes from."

If we're going to move beyond this animosity, we need to start considering a different set of questions, Schmidt says. Questions like: Is it good for it to be so easy to laugh at another's religious belief? Should we be able to insult the faith of others as a free speech issue? How do different religious minorities cope with Christmas and the dilemmas that Christmas produces? What kind of sensitivity do we owe each other?

But civility, Schmidt says, doesn't mean foregoing rigorous debate for the sake niceness. While being respectful, both sides must be able to forcefully make their claims to being right.

"You can only press the point about respect for each other's feelings so far because there has to be some ground somewhere where you have the capacity to make this claim that others are wrong," says Schmidt, who previously held professorships at both Harvard and Princeton Universities. "You have to be able to make claims about what you really stand for, whether that is freedom of speech or civil liberties."

Relatedly, among Christians one of the most common holiday rituals is the annual bemoaning that the "Christian-ness" of the holiday is disappearing. To that point, Schmidt says people need to think more complexly beyond, "we're all going to hell in a hand basket."

Historically, he points out, many mainline Protestant denominations such as Congregationalists and Presbyterians didn't celebrate Christmas at all because they saw it as pagan and Catholic, and often an occasion for drunken street festivals.

"They didn't want it there at all," he says. "They thought Christian time should be organized Sunday to Sunday, Sabbath to Sabbath. They had a very even sense of what Christian time looked like, and that was without this big spike of activity around Christmas and Easter."

As Protestant and Catholic tensions lessened in America, the two sides began to agree more and more on this idea of "keeping Christ in Christmas," Schmidt says, making the campaign a more powerful and ecumenical cause.

"It became one more way that Christians could make a claim on the public culture," he says. "It's useful for people to talk about this and not just fall into the easy narrative of, 'we were once Christian and now were not as Christian as we used to be,' and 'it's so terrible that Christmas isn't what it once was and that we're all selling out to secularism.' But there are a lot of things that Christians can still feel good about in regard to how Christmas is being celebrated."

Schmidt says that Gallup polling shows that Christmas Eve and Christmas services, carol singing and nativity scenes all remain very popular, even among irregular churchgoers.

"We have this discussion every year but we have to keep having it because there's a deeper anxiety out there about the place of Christianity in our culture, and Christmas becomes the occasion to worry about that," Schmidt says. "In some ways, it's the perfect place and time to worry about it because Christianity is so prominent during Christmas and, at the same time, also so clouded by everything else that's going on. It's a wonderful metaphor for Christianity's ambiguous place in American culture."

Explore further: Study finds law dramatically curbing need for speed

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Study finds law dramatically curbing need for speed

Apr 18, 2014

Almost seven years have passed since Ontario's street-racing legislation hit the books and, according to one Western researcher, it has succeeded in putting the brakes on the number of convictions and, more importantly, injuries ...

Newlyweds, be careful what you wish for

Apr 17, 2014

A statistical analysis of the gift "fulfillments" at several hundred online wedding gift registries suggests that wedding guests are caught between a rock and a hard place when it comes to buying an appropriate gift for the ...

Can new understanding avert tragedy?

Apr 17, 2014

As a boy growing up in Syracuse, NY, Sol Hsiang ran an experiment for a school project testing whether plants grow better sprinkled with water vs orange juice. Today, 20 years later, he applies complex statistical ...

Creative activities outside work can improve job performance

Apr 16, 2014

Employees who pursue creative activities outside of work may find that these activities boost their performance on the job, according to a new study by San Francisco State University organizational psychologist Kevin Eschleman ...

User comments : 43

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

kevinrtrs
1.4 / 5 (18) Dec 18, 2012
As a matter of fact - Romans 11 makes it quite clear that the time will come when the gentiles [non-jewish community] will no longer be drawn to Christ, i.e. their time will draw to a close and they will no longer be allowed into the kingdom of God.
Similarly, the door will open for Jewish people to accept Jesus as the Christ they have been waiting for.

So this article talking about how atheists and Christians can begin to understand each other is simply a straw in the wind.

Atheists fully understand the Christian message, they just refuse to accept that there is a God who sent His son to die for their sins.
For them it would mean having to answer to a higher power for their actions - and that is clearly not acceptable to them.

But of course they go further - to the point of saying that parents telling their children about God and Christ amounts to child abuse. So they'd like to completely blot any such spiritual education from the face of the earth.There's no understanding requird
tadchem
4.2 / 5 (5) Dec 18, 2012
"There's many a slip 'twixt cup and lip", or in this case, there is a chasm between theory and implementation.
It is hard to change one's own mind; it requires a Herculean effort to change the minds of a large number of people; it is impossible to change the minds of *everybody*.
Torbjorn_Larsson_OM
4.6 / 5 (10) Dec 18, 2012
You know that accommodationist articles, as signaled by the title and the "scholar" being a "religious historian") must starts of with mischaracterising atheists.

Sure enough, the very first sentence has this strwaman: "some atheists find it an equally opportune time to boldly express their disdain for the holiday that has been foisted upon them." Yule is, as all holidays except one, historically secular holidays. (Secular, since we can't pin them down to monotheism, polytheism, schamanism, animism or just plain fun.) Sure people will voice disdain, but they are all sorts. Most atheists enjoy holidays!

So much for the correctness of the "religious" history displayed here. Which gets us back to the erroneous lede of course, as celebrating a holiday doesn't mean celebrating any particular of its religious roots. Here [Sweden] Yule is mainly the celebration of midvinterblot (asa polytheism) and "tomtar" (folk tales).
Torbjorn_Larsson_OM
4.6 / 5 (10) Dec 18, 2012
"Non-believers need to hear how believers feel insulted by their remarks". Not at all, as Dawkin's Convert's Corner shows. It is highly useful to deconvert religious, if that is the purpose of frank analysis.

@kevintrs: Why do you drag your religious texts during a discussion of holidays? It is neither here nor there.

"Atheists fully understand the Christian message, they just refuse to accept that there is a God who sent His son to die for their sins."

You can't accept what isn't factual. There is no evidence for gods but plenty against, and there was never a historical "god son" person.

Which isn't unique to christianity, none of the major religious mythical founders (Buddha, Confucious, Abraham, Muhammed, et cetera) were historical persons until you get up to literate Enlightenment when they turn to known scammers and con men - Smith (mormonism), Blavatsky (theosophy), Steiner (anthroposophy), Hubbard (scientology).
Torbjorn_Larsson_OM
4.6 / 5 (9) Dec 18, 2012
[cont] All you need is to show evidence for gods, and skeptics and atheists will go there the observations lead.

Yes, of course one-sided indoctrination is abuse in all person's eyes, it would be immoral to deem otherwise. It is only if you tell of all religions and none, that it is education.

And let us be honest about this, it isn't the one-sided telling (exemplified by 'War on Christmas!', say) that is the end of it. It is the idea that religious own their children, 'my christian family'. Let the child decide its opinion and inclination or, again, there were never any education in the first place.

What is a belief worth, how weak isn't it, if it can't stand the scrutiny of comparison?
Thrasymachus
3.7 / 5 (10) Dec 18, 2012
The human species has been writing down their beliefs and thoughts for over 10,000 years, living in fairly large cities together for at least twice that span, and yet, the modern practice of rigorous science is only about 500 years old. Why did it take so long to develop science? Because science demands that we accept and make use of the probability that we are wrong about what we believe. For no doubt sound evolutionary reasons, we have a strong instinct to avoid or even deny the things that show us to be wrong.

Religion and science are fundamentally at odds with one another not because of what they believe, but because of how they believe. Religion accepts the subjective, immeasurable and one-off experiences as providing absolute justification for their beliefs. Science demands repeatable, measurable, inter-subjective experiences in order to provide only probabilistic justification for beliefs. One of these two sides is wrong, and both get mad when they are accused of it.
VendicarD
4.3 / 5 (6) Dec 18, 2012
Listen to some barking dogs, and then you will begin to understand how Christians fundamentalists think.
retrosurf
3.7 / 5 (6) Dec 18, 2012
Question:
What science is studied by a "religious historian"?

Answer:
None.

I suppose an article like this tossed onto a website that built its readership with a promise of science articles will generate a lot of pageviews, but there are some people who are going to view it like a dirty diaper floating in a punchbowl at a holiday party.

This is a cynically science-free article.
Mandan
4.4 / 5 (7) Dec 18, 2012
Thrasymachus:
"The human species has been writing down their beliefs and thoughts for over 10,000 years, living in fairly large cities together for at least twice that span, and yet, the modern practice of rigorous science is only about 500 years old."

I think your dates might be off. The earliest known forms of writing did not appear until about 3500 years before the birth of Christ, and anything that could be considered large urban centers did not appear until a couple of thousand years before that, which takes it back about 7500 years ago.

Furthermore, the classical Greeks were doing a pretty good job of critiquing religion and creating a materialistic underpinning for reality by the fourth and fifth centuries before Christ.

Otherwise, your comment is sound.

Thrasymachus
1 / 5 (6) Dec 18, 2012
History is a sub-class of the social sciences. It's not an experimental science, but rather, like economics, makes use of data-mining the past and looking for correlations according to some model as a proxy for experiment.

A religious historian is presumably an historian who studies the histories of religions. Of course, this historian is presenting a flawed opinion because he fails to understand the source of the division. Fundamentalist religion in the USA today is radically opposed to the very idea of a scientific method, not just the particular things scientists say. Asking Atheists to recognize that we hurt the religious folks' feelings when we say we don't believe in a god or afterlife, while at the same time asking Theists to recognize Atheists as an oppressed minority just isn't gonna wash. It's not about civility. Taking Theist's feelings into account is unscientific and uncivil for the Atheist. And Atheists are evil people who do not deserve compassion or mercy.
Thrasymachus
2.8 / 5 (8) Dec 18, 2012
The earliest form of writing things down evolved from using distinct clay tokens for counting, depositing those tokens in a jar, then sealing and impressing that jar with a symbol depicting both the number and type of tokens in the jar. These tokens, jars and seals are found in layers C14 dated to between 9300 and 8600 BCE.

Ancient Greeks did make progress, most notably on measuring experiences. They were still very behind on the notions of intersubjectivity, repeatability, and most importantly, the nature of probabilistic justification. They were pushing the bounds of some religions, but recall that Socrates was condemned to death for "corrupting the youth." The specific instance that justified this charge? You can find it in the Symposium, where Socrates presents an argument (that he tries to pass off on some old woman) that Love cannot be a God.
antialias_physorg
3.7 / 5 (6) Dec 18, 2012
While some Christians may declare there's a war on Christmas

How is having a holiday that was one evening long being expanded to over a month "a war on christmas" exactly?

I guess if we bring it back to its roots (celebrate it on that one evening, only - with no menation of it during the resr of the year) then everyone would be a lot happier.

But generally: religion is a private affair. It deals with the beyond/transcendent - or whatever you want to call it.
So keep it there and don't let it intrude into everyday affairs. I think even the most rabid atheist activist could live with that.
DavidW
1.6 / 5 (14) Dec 18, 2012
generally: religion is a private affair. It deals with the beyond/transcendent - or whatever you want to call it.


I can understand why you have this view, given the complete misunderstanding of many of the teachings of Christ.

Truth and Life are the only Way to know God. According to Christ, we only know God while we are alive. Beyond that, he says it's not his place, only the Father's. The deaths and rebirths mentioned are of spirtual nature as experienced in day to day life of making choices.
DavidW
1 / 5 (8) Dec 18, 2012
Clearly, the needless animal suffering and slaughter supported by so many so called Christians is not the facilitation of the Kingdom of Heaven on earth, the very duty of Christian, Jew and Muslim alike.
Any doubt, just look, listen and smell the truthful evidence. Pastures, priests, etc., dare not contest these issues in person, in open public discussion with me. They run as fast as they can to avoid being caught in such a horrifying action against all that is holy. We are not Christians or Jew or any other label of our belief. We are alive. We are important. We are animals. We are equal. These are true.
DavidW
1.4 / 5 (10) Dec 18, 2012
The only way these two views are going to come together is when both accept the truth for what it is and where it leads. Any less and a person is lost, regardless of religious views.
DavidW
1.4 / 5 (11) Dec 18, 2012
Anyone here ever explain to a child living a rough life that they are important? Anyone ever continue and explain exactly the reason why we are important is that the truth says the most important thing in life is life and we are alive? They get it right away and flourish. It's amazing. The ego and false illusions of self are destroyed on the spot and the child is free. This is what the truth does. Us older adults, that didn't have mommy or daddy tell us these truthful things and after being subjected to endless years of lying scripts from, educators, to governments, to corporations, etc. have a much harder time accepting that we missed the basics of truth early on.
DavidW
1.7 / 5 (12) Dec 18, 2012
In God we trust. You want to trust God for real? This is done with two things: Your very life and following the truth. You don't want to believe in God, but instead want science as a replacement? Science invents the car. The truth tells us to drive carefully and to look both ways crossing the street or we can get hurt.

Neither position is valid without a firm understanding that both are worthless without the truth to follow and a life to do it with. We are all in the same place where the very truth is the most precious of all.
djr
4.4 / 5 (8) Dec 18, 2012
I find the whole process pretty interesting. Of course many years ago it was fine to burn people at the stake for heresy - and to put people like Galileo on house arrest for disagreeing with the almighty church. Well the tide of history moves on - the blatant excesses like burning at the stake are tempered - but still the church maintains a great deal of control within the culture - and certainly here in the U.S. - Atheism is still beat up on. The ACLU fights hard to enforce seperation of church and state - and the main culture beats up on them for it. Well the tide keeps coming in - and more and more atheists are coming out of the closet - so NOW the church starts putting out information like this - encouraging us all to play nice - and be polite to each other. It seems to be driven by fear - the realization that your days are numbered - as rational world views are taking over from the fairy in the sky with a magic wand stories. About time.
verkle
1.3 / 5 (12) Dec 19, 2012
It's interested to note the disinformation provided by atheists on this forum. Take a look at the great scientists of the last 500 years (from its modern birth), and you will find devout Christian after devout Christian. Belief in God and science are hand-in-hand.

But, recent atheists are trying to make up other stories, and claiming science for themself. Nothing could be further from the truth.

kochevnik
3.2 / 5 (13) Dec 19, 2012
@kevinrtrs So they'd like to completely blot any such spiritual education from the face of the earth.There's no understanding requ
Kevin are you that pastor caught molesting the congregation's children? The church that instead of banning the preacher, decided to ban all children instead?
But, recent atheists are trying to make up other stories, and claiming science for themself. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Yes every living thing in the universe is making up stories to avoid discussing your dead Jew zombie on a stick who had underage sex with his mother to save mankind from the sins he originally gave them. Makes complete sense.
@DavidW Science invents the car.
So Dave when a bus hits you are you going to the church or the hospital?
antialias_physorg
4.6 / 5 (10) Dec 19, 2012
Take a look at the great scientists of the last 500 years (from its modern birth), and you will find devout Christian after devout Christian.

No. You will just find a lot of VERY smart people who could easily figure out what it would mean if they didn't put on a great show of being devout christians in a completely christian/church dominated culture.

They had plenty of examples to learn by what happens if you did not (Galilei, Giordano Bruno, ...)

And if you've noticed: since the time that threat has beem lifted the number of openly devout christian scientists in the hard sciences has dropped so close to zero that it makes no difference.

(This isn't idle speculation. Go look at any country where religious deviation is still peresecuted and you will notice that all their scientists are 'devout believers'. Notice the pattern?)
DavidW
1 / 5 (9) Dec 19, 2012
Sure, people have been killed in the name of God. However, the assumption that we would be better off is incorrect. People would still be cutting off the body parts of animals while still alive to keep them alive (fresh) longer. The very thought that we can define another as evil, a Christian, a Jew, an asshole, an atheist, etc., are all attempts to place one self above the truth and are lies. We are not above the truth. Yet, so far, it appears that every person that has responded has made a claim as to be able to define another beyond and above what the truth says and thus has lied. If a message is not rooted in truth it has little to nothing of value to offer others.
DavidW
1 / 5 (9) Dec 19, 2012
We may devoutly believe, but we can not BE devout believers.
No one is a dead Jew zombie. We are all living human animals.
No such thing as a devout Christian. we are all equal.
No such thing as atheists. We can believe there is no God, but we are not the ones that define another, that's for the truth to do.
We can't be Greek. We can live in Greece.

It takes desire, pratice, and application in the real truth to not end up with your pants down in a serious discussion. If others here are not going to confess they lied in trying to define others above the truth then they have not yet learned enough to have a truthful discussion about what is really true.

Go see, hear and smell the murder. Quit attempting to trivialize the needless suffering that would make everyone you know break down and cry to witness. That's truthful reality. Empty words from both sides failing to acknowlege the unnecessary and preventable suffering. Lies --> ego--> BS out of the mouth of humans.
Mandan
5 / 5 (8) Dec 19, 2012
DavidW:

You sound like a decent person who cares about the suffering of others. I'll never oppose such ones. I've known confessors of every faith in my life and many have been "the salt of the earth" while others have shared the same "wicked" basis they transfer onto the enemies of their Gods (aka "their" enemies).

It is for each of us to prove ourselves and to approve others on an individual basis-- what fruit do we and they actually bear as opposed to what deceptive garlands have we and they draped over ourselves to hide dead or thorny branches?

I do not think, like many, that religion and tribalism are mere social constructs. I am seeing increasing evidence that they are also evolved, emergent behavioral responses long helpful to our biological survival. As such the neural mechanisms behind their expression cannot be over-ridden, but only recognized, understood, and domesticated into a phenotype more useful to the present and future than to the stone or bronze ages of the past.
kochevnik
2.1 / 5 (7) Dec 19, 2012
Take a look at the great scientists of the last 500 years (from its modern birth), and you will find devout Christian after devout Christian.
Only because not being a devout xtian at the time was a death sentence
No such thing as atheists.
Keep telling yourself that 8P
Job001
1.8 / 5 (5) Dec 20, 2012
Kurt Gödel provided mankind reasonable proof that knowledge can only be understood with views without(outside) that knowledge. Excellent advice, to know thyself.
Job001
3.4 / 5 (5) Dec 20, 2012
Kurt Gödel provided mankind reasonable proof that knowledge can only be understood with views without(outside) that knowledge. Excellent advice, to know thyself.

Due to infinite regress, all assumptions fail when taken too far.
"Truth" is overrated as sterile until refined with outside views.
Mandan
5 / 5 (3) Dec 20, 2012
knowledge can only be understood with views without(outside) that knowledge. Excellent advice, to know thyself.


Michael Corballis, in his book 'The Lopsided Ape' aptly described both the goal and the paradox of the human capacity to "think" recursively:

"...to think about thought itself.. to use the concept of self recursively... [to] know that we know, decide whether to decide, and so on... inspect[ing] the act of thought itself, and not just the objects of that thought" and that "[t]he highest executive level of thought is presumably not accessible to inspection, however, for if it were, there would have to be a still higher level that inspected it!"
DavidW
1.4 / 5 (9) Dec 21, 2012
If we were to discuss the science of bringing people together, we all must start at any clear axiom. We are alive and therefore state that truth and life exist. Call it an axiom or truism, any method of logical reasoning requires such a defined point. We also cannot change the past. These things are not explained by math or science, but they are observed and expected to be true. We can take the truth of we are alive, the truth that we cannot change the past and the truth that the most important thing in life is life, and the truth that we are equal, and each works flawlessly as the first axiom together. When we remind another of the truth we achieve participating in their growth and fruition in life. We could ask for alot, but we can never really have anything more than that, and here, the truth and whatever created the truth gets the glory. Thank you for the kind words. We are all equal.
DavidW
1.6 / 5 (7) Dec 21, 2012

People working together and figuring it out is really nice. We depend on each other. We sometimes forget. The reality is it can be reduced to the simple words of love your neighbor as much as you love yourself. The truth puts forth those words as a law. Step outside the law, and guess what? We get big problems. Not because we stepped outside of the law, but because the truth said that law, as observed similar to as we can't change the past, and so it is manifest. This goes further. When we understand that we must follow the truth, the truth also says to love god with all your heart, soul, and mind, first. I don't know what bad things will manifest for failing to follow all of the laws the truth says we must follow. The truth says that in following truth and life we will find god and there is no other way. Compassion is truth manifest. When we see compassion we see god's word, the truth, in action. Oh, the master does speak. We must listen.
Lurker2358
2.3 / 5 (6) Dec 22, 2012
Kurt Gödel provided mankind reasonable proof that knowledge can only be understood with views without(outside) that knowledge. Excellent advice, to know thyself.


If that's the case, then cosmology is a false science, as are sociology, anthropology and even biology, because we are studying something of which we are a part.

Religion accepts the subjective, immeasurable and one-off experiences as providing absolute justification for their beliefs.


Not entirely true, but carry on...

Science demands repeatable, measurable, inter-subjective experiences in order to provide only probabilistic justification for beliefs.


Ah, so you admit the Big Bang is a religion, and not a science.

One of these two sides is wrong, and both get mad when they are accused of it.


Both sides are wrong, about many things.

When you accuse an innocent person they get mad, and for good reason.

When you accuse a liar, they tell more lies, and get mad when caught.
Lex Talonis
2.5 / 5 (10) Dec 22, 2012

"The religious beliefs of America's religious majority"

They can go fuck jesus in his imaginary gay arse.
Horus
5 / 5 (5) Dec 23, 2012
Thousands of years of oppressive religious indoctrination later and Schmidt is complaining about unrest and embittered atheists who aren't civil? The man cannot see the forest for the trees.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.7 / 5 (19) Dec 23, 2012
In God we trust. You want to trust God for real?
Yeah and I want him to explain why so many things he described in his book never happened. Flood, adam/eve, exodus, joshuan rampage,solomon/david kingdoms etc. And why is jesus mentioned nowhere but in his book?

God needs to come clean about why the book he wrote differs so substantially from the world he made.
Neither position is valid without a firm understanding that both are worthless without the truth to follow
The promises your god made are the same ones all religions make; eternal life, wish-granting, favored status, absolution of guilt. But as they are made by gods who write such faulty books, they must be faulty as well.

Science tells us this is so. Science tells us unequivocally that the books are all full of lies.

Any of you godders have a convincing explanation for this??

Faith = belief despite evidence. Evidence says the gods of the books do not exist.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.8 / 5 (20) Dec 23, 2012
People working together and figuring it out ...love your neighbor as much as you love yourself.
But...

"18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God's one and only Son. 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 All those who do evil hate the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed."

-In other words, unbelievers are evil by definition. And so they cannot be trusted. And so it is not safe to do business with them, or associate with them (other than to try to convert them), or, god forbid, move in next door or have one marry into your family.

And all religious books include this verbiage. Every one.

So right away we have problems among the faiths. Big, fundamental, unsolvable problems. THIS IS CODIFIED BIGOTRY. And, this is IMMORAL.
Skepticus
3 / 5 (4) Dec 24, 2012
"Scholar explains how Christians and non-Christians can begin to understand one other."
Imho, the only word needed is respect. You don't have agree or to believe in their beliefs, but it is civilized to give respect to believers of whatever. It is in the spirit of tolerance and free speech. Aren't most of of the free world "civilized" citizens are banging this gong sometimes or another,so why all the fuss?
retrosurf
5 / 5 (2) Dec 24, 2012
... Neither position is valid without a firm understanding that both are worthless without the truth to follow and a life to do it with. We are all in the same place where the very truth is the most precious of all.


Yes. Exactly so.

TheGhostofOtto1923
3.4 / 5 (15) Dec 24, 2012
You don't have agree or to believe in their beliefs, but it is civilized to give respect to believers of whatever.
To a religionist, all other religions are blasphemy. As their numbers grow and conflict ensues, tolerance gives way to persecution and eventually pogrom.

Ask any Copt whether he is feeling particularly comfortable in Cairo at the moment. This too is Inevitable. Like the seasons said wise old Solomon.
Skepticus
3 / 5 (4) Dec 25, 2012
@Ghost
imho,"To a religionist, all other religions are blasphemy" is wholesale generalization.
Blasphemy is the act of insulting or showing contempt or lack of reverence for a religious deity or the irreverence towards religious or holy persons or things.
Islam take a hardcore approach to blasphemy, having death penalties for perceived major offenses against their dogma, and faith in that must not be questioned. Christianity has a less confrontational approach, attempted to overcome them with proselytism to bring disbelievers to God while verbally condemning the blasphemers.
Buddhism will try to convince and win over disbelievers by pointing to the merits of the reasoning in their teachings, if people come, good, if not, their (spiritual)loss.
Also, I see that most of the posters here have discussed from their viewpoints of monotheistic ,Abrahamic religions, as if "religions" are defined solely in those they are familiar/ raised up with.
That's a narrow world view, in this age.
FrankHerbert
2.9 / 5 (10) Dec 25, 2012
Religion is the appendix of society. It may have served a purpose, but now it just flares up and kills people.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.3 / 5 (16) Dec 25, 2012
imho,"To a religionist, all other religions are blasphemy" is wholesale generalization
imho, you simply dont know much about religion. You havent studied it, havent read its books, havent watched each and every one revert when times get bad.

AS I SAY, the only ones left standing are the ones which are best at outgrowing and overrunning their less capable, and now extinct, counterparts. They continue to struggle for king of the hill because that is what they are Designed to do.
Christianity has a less confrontational approach
You READ their book and you see the same verbiage as can be found in the quran. Not a word has been changed since the grand inquisitor found justification in it to burn cathars, witches, eastern orthos, and heathens occupying the holy land.

And there are ample examples since, where those passages were used to do similar evil.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.4 / 5 (15) Dec 25, 2012
Buddhism will try to convince and win over disbelievers by pointing to the merits of the reasoning in their teachings, if people come, good, if not, their (spiritual)loss
Yes, all religionists do dont they? And when that doesnt work they will try something a little more draconian...

"The worst communal violence in a generation in June, and again in late October, between Rakhine Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims killed about 200 people and left at least 110,000 displaced, the vast majority of them Muslims."

Here theyre killing each other over a temple:

"The Cambodian–Thai border dispute began in June 2008 as the latest round of a century-long dispute between Cambodia and Thailand involving the area surrounding the 11th-century Preah Vihear Temple"

And here they want ethnic cleansing:

"Mr Rathana and his fellow hard-line monks are urging the president, Mahinda Rajapaksa, to keep the promise upon which he came to power in late 2005: to crush the Tamil Tigers with military force"
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.4 / 5 (15) Dec 25, 2012
That's a narrow world view, in this age
Yours is quite a myopic view in this age when we have so much access to uncensored history and news of religion-caused violence and oppression around the world.

Sects and interpretations and translations come and go but the books NEVER CHANGE. Sooner or later someone turns to those explicit instructions on what to do with the infidels who are getting the food, jobs, and housing that true believers are not.

If currently dormant religionists were sincere about portraying their religions as peaceful, and they ALL do, then they ought to remove those inflammatory and despicable portions.

But that would never work would it? Always some who would object to altering the compleat and unabridged word of god.

More news stories

Egypt archaeologists find ancient writer's tomb

Egypt's minister of antiquities says a team of Spanish archaeologists has discovered two tombs in the southern part of the country, one of them belonging to a writer and containing a trove of artifacts including reed pens ...

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...

Ex-Apple chief plans mobile phone for India

Former Apple chief executive John Sculley, whose marketing skills helped bring the personal computer to desktops worldwide, says he plans to launch a mobile phone in India to exploit its still largely untapped ...

Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

A Filipino nurse who tested positive for the Middle East virus has been found free of infection in a subsequent examination after he returned home, Philippine health officials said Saturday.

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.