Do 21st Century Chistians Believe In Magic?

Modern religion is going through an identity crisis. In 1400 is was perfectly acceptable to truly believe in the supernatural/magical aspects of the Christian religion. Of course Jesus raised the dead! Of course witches existed and withered crops! In fact, to believe otherwise was actually considered ignorant.

Ah...but this isn't 1400 anymore. So we have a bunch of people who want to be "religious" but don't actually want to be associated with strong beliefs in the supernatural.

The recent spat of anti-evolution/pro-creationism debates regarding public education got me thinking: just what the hell is Christianity in 2009? Are they just a philosophy now (but still honor he rituals in Church) or do they still believe in magic, curses and witches?

The entire concept of Intelligent Design is nothing less that a conscious effort by the religious to get Christianity reclassified as a philosophy with all the academic rights and privileges therein.

The only difference between a "philosophy" and a "religion" is a belief in the supernatural. Marxism is a philosophy...one we can debate, analyze and conclude is either effective or ineffective in achieving it's stated goals. If, however, we believed that Karl Marx was a god that could raise the dead and transmute lead into gold through his magical powers then Marxism would be a religion.

Intelligent Design is a unique solution to a complex problem: how do we reclassify Christianity so that it isn't all about vengeful deities, blood curses, women being turned into salt, etc, etc?

This reclassification needs to happen because atheism is the fastest growing movement in America. Church attendance is falling very fast. Basically, no one believes in actual supernaturally powered witches anymore nor do they really believe in faith healing or any other supernatural/magical aspects of the religion.....and without belief in the supernatural aspects it ain't a religion. It's just some old Hebrew myths no more interesting or relevant to 21st century life than Greek myths.

So modern Christianity has two major problems: no one believes in the supernatural anymore and (worse) as a mere philosophy Christianity sucks. To be blunt this "philosophy" was written in the Middle East 2,500 years ago and the social structure of illiterate tribesmen of that time realllllly isn't compatible with contemporary morals and ethics.

Back then homosexuals were beaten to death. Women were 3rd class citizens and regarded as actual property. You couldn't wear fabrics woven from two different types of thread. It was okay to rape the women of the people you just defeated in war because, hey, that's just how life was back then. It was perfectly okay to own slaves and beat them -- and beat them! -- so long as you didn't cripple them!

Now you can have a "Bible study" every single day and the truth is this "philosophy" written 2,500 years ago is totally 100 percent inconsistent with 21st century morality. It is NOT okay to own slaves. Women are NOT property than can be bought and sold in 2009. You can't kill homosexuals.

So up until very recently people have been able to gloss over the rather primitive, violent and very unmoral "philosophy" of the Bible by claiming, "We have to obey it because God said so." But what happens when modern 21st Christians don't believe in actual/literal magic anymore? Then all they are left with is a ridiculous philosophy that worked great in 2 AD but just doesn't ******* make any sense in 2009 AD.

So getting back to Intelligent Design. IN 2009 Christianity just doesn't work. It is the equivalent of a 1970's 8-track trying to find  place in a world of iPods and digital music.

No one believes in the supernatural anymore and the ACTUAL philosophy outlined in the Bible is mostly primitive and not very compatible to 21st century living.

So the religious are trying to reclassify Christianity as a philosophy so that it gets the same academic respect as Greek Philosophy does.

But can you ***** away the supernatural from Christianity?

And if you do is the philosophy that's left really strong enough (or even coherent enough!) to stand on its own as the Greek philosophers?

Personally, I think if you ******** Christianity of it's supernatural authority....******** it down to nothing but a moral philosophy and compared it side-by-side to any of the modern philosophies or, hell, even Tony Robbins, then Christianity would just look irrational, primitive, counter-productive and ridiculous. That's taking the ENTIRE BIBLE and classifying it as a complete morality. No fair ignoring 99 percent of the Old Testament or the sections of the New Testament that are patently immoral by 21st century standards.

niceguyinhell niceguyinhell
31-35, M
13 Responses Mar 28, 2009

no christanity is not a philosophy...

Well, my question is "What's the point of a religion if we ***** away the supernatural?"<br />
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And I think it is valid to require that the ENTIRE religion (if you're going to be a member of it) be included. If you're just going to pick and choose sections you like and ignore sections you don't, then what's the point of self-identifying with the group? Why not just say, "I'm spiritual" as opposed to "I'm Christian"? That's almost like saying, "I'm a VEGAN, but I eat meat every day." Well....then I think it's fair to say you're not really vegan. Same with religion. "I'm a Christian, but I ignore 90 percent of the Bible because I don't agree with it philosophically." Or "I'm a Buddhist, but I still love beating the **** out of people and work full time in a slaughterhouse." Not sure it's possible to really say one thing and do another and still meet the qualifications of the group.<br />
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It really comes down to magic, doesn't it?<br />
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The only thing that separates religion from philosophy is magic and if people don't have a literal belief in the supernatural aspects of a religion....then what's the point of being "religious"?<br />
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And a good question is: is it even possible to take a rational approach to magic? If you're going to believe in one magical aspect of a religion (prayer, faith healing, etc) but still insist you're (not YOU personally. The "you" of the group) rational, pragmatic, etc....how exactly does that work?<br />
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That's not a snide comment, but a serious question.<br />
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A lot of people say, "I'm a Christian and do believe that there are powers we don't understand, but I am also a realist and rational."<br />
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So....why believe in the "magic" of the Hebrew myths but reject the "magic" of the Greek and Roman myths? How does someone rationally come to the conclusion that one set of magical claims is reasonable (Christians believing in the Jesus miracles) and another set of magical claims are false (Zeus sexing up all the ladies)?<br />
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Personally, I think its all just cultural. People are raised Christian in this country, they are raised to kinda/sorta accept the "magic" included in the religion at face value and then just build off that foundation.

"Personally, I think if you ******** Christianity of it's supernatural authority....******** it down to nothing but a moral philosophy and compared it side-by-side to any of the modern philosophies..."<br />
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<b>It's already beeen done.</b><br />
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http://www.amazon.com/Jefferson-Bible-Thomas/dp/0807077143<br />
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Thomas Jefferson's <b>The Life and Teachings of Jesus of Nazareth</b> edited out Old Testament brutality and New Testament magical razzle-dazzle in order to arrive at the depiction of the life of a very moral and mortal man.<br />
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To me, that's the essence of Christianity, if you're not starting from there, you're not Christian, no matter how many followers you have. If the word CHRIST is right in the title, than being Christlike should be a concern, it just isn't for most Christians. It especially jars me when I hear xenophobic diatribes from preachers, as if Christ did not <i>specifically</i> surround himself with the most bizzare, sinful outcasts he could to better understand them and himself.<br />
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This was Ghandi's criticism of Christianity as well.<br />
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However, I still think the Jesus of Jefferson, Tolstoy, and Ghandi is worth building a practice out of, even if few do. Even Dawkins supports <i>Atheists for Jesus</i>.<br />
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"No fair ignoring 99 percent of the Old Testament or the sections of the New Testament that are patently immoral by 21st century standards."<br />
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I'm always perplexed by Atheist demands on what I can pick and choose. It's like saying "hold still, so I can hit you."<br />
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Part of the nature of religion is its having to many varitations to make broad generalizations accurate. I think atheist religions like doaism, confucianism, and certain forms of buddhism or even christianity, are just as much religions as the rest of them, but scientific atheist tend to classify them as philosophies, something I've never seen philosophers do (we study the philosophy within religion, and are often taken aback by how badly it clashes with the religion itself).<br />
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I like a more philosophical approach to Christianity, but I don't think retaining your ability to separate reason from unreason makes you non-religious. This is a claim I often hear from atheists, but never members of atheist religions.

you have shared some pretty brilliant observations here. i don't know which i enjoyed more- the original story or the comment with all of the bible verses. I really couldn't stop laughing at that <br />
Great, great job :D

Very well reasoned and written post. My experience with religion is different though. I was taught science and evolution by nuns who also taught me that the stories in the bible were written for primitive people. These women were extremely enlightened and dedicated. They also believed in the supernatural. Why not? Does mankind know all there is to know? Can he see all there is to see? No, not yet, anyway. Turns out, a virgin can be impregnated after all! They do it every day in fertility clinics. So what else that we label "supernatural" is really an actual possibility? Much, I would wager. Some would say modern string theory almost encourages magical thinking. But that's just me.

I would like to know if Anthony Robbins encourages people to volunteer to do something for others instead of always focusing on what is best for "me." The reason why Christianity has lasted so many years is because many people have understood its value to humanity. This wonderful country, the best in the world, was founded on its principles. The problem with our society now is that we are kicking Christianity principles out of the schools, where kids could benefit the most from some good moral guidance. Unfortunately, too many young people are growing up confused and lost. Anyway, we are not going to give up. Many, many people are trying to keep Christianity alive in the world. Many people take their children to Awana after school to get the Word of God in their children's minds and souls. They also take their children to Sunday school. There is still hope! As far as people like Anthony Robbins, I am glad he is helping people make sense of their world, but he is not God, and people cannot connect with him in the same way that we can connect with God, deep in our souls, wherever and whenever we want, through the Holy Spirit. We get renewed, reenergized, and empowered on what is right, on focusing on the good. On top of that, taking children to Anthony Robbins seminars twice a week would be expensive. I am sure Anthony Robbins would expect to get paid for every single child and adult in attendance. Awana and Sunday school are free because they are done by volunteers, who give their time and effort in the name of the Lord, without the expectancy of pay. See the difference?

Couldn't you get the exact same wisdom from reading Tony Robbins "Personal Power"?<br />
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I'm being dead serious. Not joking at all.<br />
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And if not Tony, then pick any of a dozen other self-help books that can offer REAL insight.<br />
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The "wisdom" of the Bible (written 2,500 years ago) isn't really the "best" book in terms of morality or even common sense. <br />
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I could get with 15 people and "study" the book Moby **** and extrapolate profound "life lessons" from it every week....but that doesn't mean it's really the ideal book for that purpose. But then again if I were raised to believe that it was....then I wouldn't know any different.<br />
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I strongly encourage you to attend a Date With Destiny workshop (contact Anthony Robbins Inc).

Iused to think of Christianity as a bunch of lies, until I went through a very difficult situation in my life where nothing or no one could help me. My world had turned black and I was in a deep state of btterness and depression. The only thing that helped me regain hope and joy was some Christian people who were kind enough to care and help me make sense of my problem. They introduced me to the true meaning of God, his love for us, and the Bible's wisdom. I know there are a lot of things in the Bible that are astonishing and make no sense, like the woman that was turned into salt, the rapes, the killings, etc. That's the reason why I discarded Christianity long time ago as nothing but lies. Now, I explain those things to myself as proof that people are not perfect. People wrote the Bible, and people make mistakes. Why the rapes and the murders were allowed to happen in the first place, I have no idea. Why do we still have so much crime in our times? I will never know. However, I will not discard all the wisdom and guidance that I can use from the Bible to give meaning to my life and make sense of my world. I choose to focus on certain verses like those from Philippians 4:6-9: "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me - put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you." You need to be mature enough in your mind to understand and benefit from such wisdom. Don't try to understand it all right now. That's what I am doing. I do study the Bible with a group of people, and I learn something new every time. It's O.K. If you are not in a position right now to benefit from Christianity. God will wait for you, patiently and lovingly. He will not reproach you if you ever come to Him in the future looking for comfort, guidance, and/or love. I am the happiest amongst Christian people, who try their hardest to be nice to one another in the name of the Lord, our God. If we didn't have the Bible to guide us and shape us into decent, unselfish, loving, giving, caring people, we would be pretty wild people who would act like animals, trying to take advantage of ane another at any expense. As of right now, many Christian people volunteer all over the world to help feed the hungry, clothe the needy, take care of the sick, and introduce God to others who need to make sense of their world. I am thankful for that too. The only hope our world has is to believe in God and try to do the right thing in His name.

Here is some "timeless wisdom" written 2,500 years ago that is still instructive to us here in the 21st century.<br />
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NKJV 10. 2 Kings 2:23-24<br />
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"Then he went up from there to Bethel; and as he was going up the road, some youths came from the city and mocked him, and said to him, “Go up, you baldhead! Go up, you baldhead!” So he turned around and looked at them, and pronounced a curse on them in the name of the LORD. And two female bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the youths."<br />
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Anyone struggling to make sense of our current economic crisis and the complexity of credit derivative swaps need look no further than that beautiful passage. The Greeks had nothing on the poetry of the Biblical authors.<br />
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ESV Deuteronomy 23:1<br />
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"No one whose testicles are crushed or whose male organ is cut off shall enter the assembly of the Lord."<br />
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Hmmm. Not very enlightened toward the handicapped. Strange that an all-knowing super-deity would seem so accommodating to those poor souls that have been injured. I guess seriously injured war vets would be turned away from church. Is this "wisdom" still applicable in the 21st century? <br />
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Genesis 38:8-10<br />
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"Then Judah said to Onan, 'Go in to your brother’s wife, and perform your duty as a brother-in-law to her, and raise up offspring for your brother.' Onan knew that the offspring would not be his; so when he went in to his brother’s wife, he wasted his seed on the ground in order not to give offspring to his brother. But what he did was displeasing in the sight of the LORD; so He took his life also."<br />
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This would be right at home on Jerry Springer! I suppose this "beautiful" passage does have a place in the 21st century.<br />
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Deuteronomy 25:11-12<br />
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"If two men, a man and his countryman, are struggling together, and the wife of one comes near to deliver her husband from the hand of the one who is striking him, and puts out her hand and seizes his genitals, then you shall cut off her hand; you shall not show pity."<br />
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Modern day translation: Don't be touching my ****, *****! Or I'll cut your hand off!<br />
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Beautiful. Timeless. Transcendent wisdom.<br />
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After wiping a tear away from reading that last passage I think maybe I'm mistaken. Maybe the timeless, simple wisdom of the 2,500 year old illiterate tribesman of the Middle East does have a place in 21st century America.<br />
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Don't be touching my ****, *****. Truly only a infinitely wise and loving God could hae inspired such a timeless message.

I forgot all about the Catholics and the Marion Miracles. So glad you brought that up! That is the kind of "magic" and "magical thinking" that really (imho) illuminates how out-of-place supernaturally-based religion is in the 21st century.<br />
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Seeing "apparitions" in a piece of toast and then trying to assign some profound meaning to that "miracle" is not any more dignified or scientific than your typical Bigfoot researcher. Actually, I take that back. Bigfoot researchers are a LOT more scientific in their thinking than the typical worshiper who thinks an all-powerful being communicates important messages to humans in burnt toast.<br />
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The point being that no matter how you dress it up....religion is not dignified.<br />
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The religious are trying (hard) to achieve the same academic seriousness as Greek Philosophers...but in the end its still all about magic and cannot be taken any more seriously than astrology or alchemy. <br />
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But it is endlessly fascinating (to me anyway) watching people trying to re-invent and re-interpret a (imho) poorly written primitive mythology from the Middle East and make it seem "relevant" to the 21st century human.

Intellect and faith are mortal enemies.<br />
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See, christians believe in the supernatural deity, ascension, miraculous healing, next life, etc. <br />
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It is the belief in a SUPERNATURAL DEITY who is all seeing, omnipotent, and omnipresent, that makes it a religion. The belief in a THEOS, from which we can derive different lifestyles and belief systems - that of the theist and that of the atheist. <br />
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The issue of contemporary relevance - the changes in philosophy and practices if the faith from old to new testament are clear. As christians, we are not allowed to persecute homosexual, non believers, eastern mystics, prostitutes, etc. We are told not to "consort" with them.<br />
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The BIBLE is the root of christians "goodness". It is the foundation of our morality even while there are many christians who are doing the 'wrong " thing. It is the yardstick by which we measure and mete out justice and by which we identify oppression.<br />
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Peace. Love and Grace to you.<br />
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b

I love this story. Love it. I give it two thumbs up, and makes me regret not having a third. <br />
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A perfectly reasonable and rational inquiry which illustrates how the monstrous morality of the Bible is not compatible with modern society. That doesn't mean that it's impossible to be Christian and still be a good person, but it shows that if people are good, they are good IN SPITE OF the Bible, not because of it. <br />
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Bravo, Niceguy.

I hadn't considered this before, but you have some valid points. They are trying to reclassify it as a logical assistant for understanding the human condition and choices. It does lack compared to real philosophical study. The problem is that most people don't read or study other ways of thinking. The only one they ever contemplate is Christianity. The religious right in my family feel it is a sin to read other concepts and views that don't hold Christianity as an ideal. So, how do we get these minds to break out and see that their are other choices. It takes time and energy and they don't want to put forth the effort. They prefer to sit on their high throne and look down on all of the evil ones that think. There are different brands of every religion or human group. CS Lewis is an exception in my eyes. He actually says that not educating yourself is paramount to sin. His view of Christianity is his own personal brand of philosophy, so some have already chose to change their views from the mystical.